Tyrannus

TYRANNUS (tī-răn'ŭs, Gr. Tyrannos, tyrant). According to a well-supported reading of Acts.19.9, Paul taught daily at Ephesus “in the lecture hall of Tyrannus.” This could indicate a public building traditionally so named or a school founded by Tyrannus. Another common reading, “in the school of one Tyrannus” (kjv), would refer to the school of a living Ephesian schoolmaster named Tyrannus. W. M. Ramsay discusses the question in The Church in the Roman Empire, p. 152, and St. Paul the Traveller and Roman Citizen, p. 271.


TYRANNUS tī răn’ əs (Τύραννος, tyrant), an Ephesian in whose hall Paul lectured (Acts 19:9). When the Jews of Ephesus opposed Paul’s teaching in the synagogue, where he had boldly preached for three months about the kingdom of God, he and his followers withdrew to the lecture hall of Tyrannus. Here he reasoned daily for two years. The Western text adds, “from the fifth hour to the tenth,” meaning eleven o’clock in the morning until four in the afternoon. If this is correct, Paul took advantage of the hottest hours of the day when most people rested after the midday meal. The hall would normally be vacant, and perhaps rent cheaper, after Tyrannus, or whoever the teacher was, lectured in the cooler morning hours (see Martial 9:68; 12:57; Juvenal 7:222-226). This would allow Paul to work at his own trade during business hours (Acts 20:34; 1 Cor 4:12). Then, instead of resting, he engaged in mission work and apologetics when those in trades and business were at leisure to hear him. As a result, “all the residents of Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:10).

It is not certain just who Tyrannus was. There were lecture halls in gymnasia to be found in every Gr. city where a philosopher, orator or poet could expound his views or give a recitation. Tyrannus may have been a Gr. rhetorician living in Ephesus at that time, having his own private lecture hall. Meyer thinks he was a Jewish rabbi, in whose private synagogue Paul and his doctrines were more secure from annoyance than in the public synagogue (H. A. W. Meyer, Handbook to the Acts of the Apostles, in loc.). The Western text adds, “a certain Tyrannus,” indicating a particular individual. It may be that the “hall of Tyrannus” was either a building for hire, named after its owner, or the private residence of a sympathetic donor. Whatever the case, Paul’s regular and unmolested use of the room for two years, with such a wide hearing, indicates his exclusive use of a spacious, well-situated room for a period of each day.

Bibliography

H. A. W. Meyer, Critical and Exegetical Handbook to the Acts of the Apostles, 4th ed. (1869), 368; W. M. Ramsay, The Church in the nodetitle Before A.D. 170, 7th ed. (1903), 152; W. M. Ramsay, St. Paul the Traveller and Roman Citizen, 8th ed. (1905), 271; F. J. Foakes-Jackson and K. Lake, The Beginnings of Christianity, IV (1933), 239; R. B. Rackham, The Acts of the Apostles, 14th ed. (1951), 251, 252.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

When the Jews of Ephesus opposed Paul’s teaching in the synagogue, he withdrew, and, separating his followers, reasoned daily in the school of Tyrannus. "This continued for the space of two years" (Ac 19:9,10). D Syriac (Western text) adds after Tyrannus (Ac 19:9), "from the 5th hour unto the 10th." Schole is the lecture-hall or teaching-room of a philosopher or orator, and such were to be found m every Greek city. Tyrannus may have been

(1) a Greek rhetorician or

(2) a Jewish rabbi.

(1) This is the common opinion, and many identify him with a certain Tyrannus, a sophist, mentioned by Suidas. Paul would thus appear to be one of the traveling rhetors of the time, who had hired such a hall to proclaim his own peculiar philosophy (Ramsay, Paul the Traveler, 246, 271).

(2) Meyer thinks that as the apostle had not passed wholly to the Gentiles, and Jews still flocked to hear him, and also that as Tyrannus is not spoken of as a proselyte (sebomenos ton Theon), this schole is the beth Midrash of a Jewish rabbi. "Paul with his Christians withdrew from the public synagogue to the private synagogue of Tyrannus, where he and his doctrine were more secure from public annoyance" (Meyer in the place cited.).

(3) Another view (Overbeck) is that the expression was the standing name of the place after the original owner.

S. F. Hunter