Zenas

ZENAS (zē'nas, Gr. Zēnas). A Christian lawyer in Crete whom Paul asked to be sent to him, with Apollos, in Nicopolis (Titus.3.13).


ZENAS ze’ nəs (Ζηνα̂ς, G2424, Titus 3:13. No doubt a shortened form of Zenodoros, “gift of Zeus”). A Christian missionary who worked with Titus on the Island of Crete, or who with Apollos was on a missionary journey for Paul and visited Crete.

Paul knew of this and directed Titus to send Zenas and Apollos on to him in Nicopolis speedily (spoudaiōs) with provisions and full equipment (Titus 3:13). No doubt he had a special need for Zenas’ particular expertise since he is described as “Zenas the lawyer” (nomikos). A nomikos was a learned man skilled in the interpretation of Roman or Jewish law. Most likely Zenas was an expert in the Jewish Torah. The vv. just preceding (Titus 3:9-11) speak of religious legal disputes. Jewish lawyers are mentioned in the gospels as men of high status, perhaps scribes or rabbis among the Pharisees and Sadducees. After Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees came together and “one of them, a lawyer” (nomikos), asked Jesus a bold question: “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the law?” (Matt 22:34, 36; cf. Luke 10:25). In Luke 7:30 lawyers are mentioned again in association with the Pharisees: “the Pharisees and the lawyers rejected the purpose of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.” Jesus pronounces woes upon lawyers because of the legal burdens they placed upon the people (Luke 11:45-52).

All this would indicate that Zenas was a Jewish scholar and legal authority turned Hellenist who took a Gr. name when he was converted to Christianity. Some scholars believe that in view of the anti-Jewish sentiments expressed in the Pastoral Epistles (1 Tim 1:7ff.; Titus 1:10-14) he was a secular jurist, but the evidence in the gospels seems to point in the direction of a Jewish person. Paul received much assistance in his mission endeavors from Zenas and others like him. This could explain why Titus was to see that he was fitted and equipped for the journey in every way: “Do your best to speed Zenas the lawyer and Apollos on their way; see that they lack nothing” (Titus 3:13; cf. Rom 15:24; 1 Cor 16:6). It is possible they were carrying this very letter to Titus in Crete, but it seems such instructions would be given verbally rather than in a letter they were carrying. The passage illustrates vividly the Christian hospitality and obvious support the early churches gave to brethren and workers traveling from one church to another. The closing vv. of Titus indicate the variety and mobility of the early missionaries in the Pauline group. Zenas is mentioned in the Acts of Titus (5th cent.) and some say he wrote a Life of Titus. Late tradition says he became a biship in Pal. in Lydda.

Bibliography

D. Guthrie, The Pastoral Epistles (1957), 209-211; C. K. Barrett, The Pastoral Epistles (1963), 147, 148; J. H. D. Kelly, The Pastoral Epistles (1963), 256-259.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

(Zenas (Tit 3:13); the name in full would probably be Zenodorus, literally, meaning "the gift of Zeus"):

1. A Jewish Lawyer:

Paul calls Zenas "the lawyer." The meaning of this is, that, previous to his becoming a Christian, he had been a Jewish lawyer. The lawyers were that class of Jewish teachers who were specially learned in the Mosaic Law, and who interpreted that Law, and taught it to the people.

They are met with again and again in the Gospels, where they frequently came into contact with Christ, usually in a manner hostile to Him. For example, "A certain lawyer stood up and made trial of him, saying, Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" (Lu 10:25). our Lord replied to him on his own ground, asking, "What is written in the law? how readest thou?" Regarding this class of teachers as a whole, it is recorded that "the Pharisees and lawyers rejected for themselves the counsel of God" (Lu 7:30). The term nomikos, "lawyer," applied to Zenas, is in the Gospels varied by nomodidakalos, "a teacher of the law," and by grammateus, "a scribe": all three terms describe the same persons. Before his conversion to Christ, Zenas had been a lawyer, one of the recognized expounders of the Law of Moses.

A different view of Zenas’ occupation is taken by Zahn (Introduction to the New Testament, II, 54), who says that in itself nomikos could denote a rabbi, quoting Ambrosiaster, "Because Zenas had been of this profession in the synagogue, Paul calls him by this name." But Zahn gives his own opinion that "since the Jewish scribe who became a Christian, by that very act separated himself from the rabbinic body, and since the retention of rabbinic methods and ways of thinking was anything but a recommendation in Paul’s eyes (1Ti 1:7), Zenas is here characterized, not as legis (Mosaicae), doctor, but as juris peritus. The word denotes not an office, but usually the practical lawyer, through whose assistance e.g. a will is made, or a lawsuit carried on. Plutarch applies this name to the renowned jurist Mucius Scaevola."

The ordinary meaning seems preferable, which sees in Zenas one who previous to his conversion had been a Jewish rabbi.

2. Paul’s Wishes regarding Zenas:

It is not certain where Paul was when he wrote the Epistle to Titus. But he directs Titus to come to him to Nicopolis, where he had resolved to spend the ensuing winter. And he adds the injunction that he desires him to "bring Zenas the lawyer and Apollos"--Paul’s old friend from Alexandria--with him "on their journey diligently, that nothing be wanting unto them" (the King James Version). This may mean that Paul wished to have Zenas and Apollos with him at Nicopolis; but, on the other hand, it may not have this meaning. For the King James Version in translating "bring" is in error. The word signifies, as given in the Revised Version (British and American), "set forward" on their journey, that is, furnish them with all that they need for the journey. But even supposing Paul is not instructing Titus to bring Zenas and Apollos to Nicopolis--though this is perhaps what he means--yet it is most interesting to find these two friends of the apostle mentioned in this particular way, and especially at a time so near to the close of his life. Paul was unselfish as ever, solicitous that Zenas and Apollos be comfortably provided for on their intended journey. He is full of affectionate regard for them, interested in their welfare at every step; while he himself is far distant in another country, he remembers them with tender and sympathetic friendship. Doubtless the two friends reciprocated his affection.

Nothing more is known of Zenas than is contained in this passage.