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Excellent, Most Excellent

EXCELLENT, MOST EXCELLENT (NT κράτιστος, G3196, superlative of κρατός). The word “excellent” in Eng. VSS trs. a considerable number of Heb. and Gr. words. The title “most excellent” is found four times in the NT. It was used in the Gr. of those times in two ways. (a) It was the official rendering of the Lat. vir egregius, which meant a man of equestrian rank, that is, one of the knights who came in order after senators in Rome. Procurators were usually drawn from them. The title was applied to Felix (Acts 23:26; 24:3) and to Festus (Acts 26:25), both being procurators of Judaea. (b) It was used more generally as a courtesy title in addressing one honored for his position (Luke 1:3), e.g., Theophilus (referred to) may have justified the official use of the title. Strong reasons can be given to support the view that the author of Luke and Acts addressed an apology for Christianity to an influential Rom. governor. It is unlikely that Theophilus was a Christian, for in all probability he would then have been addressed by some such term as “brother.” MM quote Zahn as saying that “there is no instance in the Christian literature of the first two centuries where a Christian uses a secular title in addressing another Christian.”