What was the School of Tyrannus?

11 Jan
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Some have suggested the school of Tyrannus was a private synagogue, but this seems unlikely in that the text seems to imply Paul reasoned in the only synagogue in Ephesus. Rather, it was probably a private school run by someone named Tyrannus, and Paul was granted or perhaps rented the use of it for the afternoon hours of each day. We have an ancient text that adds information to the end of Acts 19:9, saying that Paul taught there “from the fifth hour to the tenth” [manuscript D Syriac (Western text)]. This was probably something that was written in the margin of a manuscript and ended up in the text itself through a copy error. The point is, the information probably represents either an authentic tradition that those were the hours Paul used to teach there, or those were the hours schools of this kind were normally unused by the owner and could be rented out for other public purposes.

This seems to have been Paul’s normal procedure upon leaving or being expelled from the synagogue of any city. He normally used a large residence offered by one of his more prominent and wealthy disciples or rented an establishment whereby he could reason and persuade people, whether Jew or gentile, that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world. In Philippi, Paul worked from Lydia’s home (Acts 16:14-15), and in Thessalonica it seems he operated from Jason’s home (Acts 17:5-9). In Athens he used the marketplace and the Areopagus, probably because the few believers there may not have owned a suitable place for public discussion, or if they did, didn’t offer it to Paul for the sake of the Gospel. However, when he arrived at Corinth, he used the residence of Justus (Acts 18:4-7), which seems to have had a common wall with the local synagogue there.

These places were used by Paul to discuss freely anything and everything which pertained to the Scriptures. In the synagogue one could do this to a point. Once it was considered offensive, the Gospel could not be preached there. For example, it seems that Jesus could be preached as long as the gentiles were not equally accepted alongside the Jews. Once the Jews understood they had to give up their favored status with God, that is, that men were justified by faith rather than works (their traditions), the Gospel of Christ was no longer welcome. The synagogues in Palestine did not hinder the Gospel, as long as their traditions were not brought into question. In other words, saying one was justified by faith in Jesus, but still practicing the traditions of the elders (Jewish tradition), never really brought those traditions into question, because it was the Jewish culture. It was simply the way all religious Jews lived. This is what is meant when the Scripture says Paul was the apostle to the gentiles but Peter to the Jews. Paul preached gentiles didn’t have to become Jews to be saved. This was not a problem in Judea and Galilee. Most, if not all, believers were Jews, and believers simply practiced the traditions of the elders. It was the Jewish custom or culture. Jesus was not against the practice, unless those traditions of men interfered with the truth or the commands of God. He practiced those very customs, until the Pharisees began blaming some of Jesus’ less kosher disciples for wrongdoing (Mark 7:1-9).

We often criticize the Jewish synagogues unjustly, saying they were against Christ. Actually, this is not true. The Jews most certainly rejected Jesus as their Messiah eventually, but it was not necessarily so from the beginning. The fact is, one could hardly preach or teach in any of our own Christian denominations as freely as Paul preached in the Jewish synagogues of the first century. The Jews put up with Paul’s “freedom in Christ” for two weeks at Antioch of Pisidia, three weeks at Thessalonica, for an unknown number of weeks at Corinth and three months at Ephesus. I hardly think anyone who took issue with any of the traditions peculiar to any one of our Christian denominations would be allowed to preach or teach for a moment longer than the teaching was found out.

We need to understand that Paul was not preaching anything major being wrong per se with Judaism. He believed in the same God that was worshiped throughout Palestine and the Diaspora. He used the very same Scriptures they used and taught the very same things out of the Law and the Prophets. When he was among Jews, he lived as a Jew (1Corinthians 9:20). Jesus was not the problem from the beginning. It was always the traditions of men—the traditions of the elders that turned the Jews against the Gospel of Christ. The same is true today in our own denominations. Many (not all) of our brethren in one denomination are taught and believe that other Christians who don’t worship God in their specific denomination (i.e. those who don’t hold to their specific human doctrines) are not really believers at all. This is wrong. This type of “tradition” is what got Paul expelled from the synagogues, and this human tradition was never taught by him in the “schools” such as the one of Tyrannus in Ephesus.

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Posted by on January 11, 2010 in Gospel, Religion


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16 responses to “What was the School of Tyrannus?

  1. Joanna

    May 27, 2019 at 01:17

    Very Good!

  2. Eddie

    January 27, 2017 at 07:28

    Greetings Dave, and thanks for reading my blog and for taking the time to comment.

    Actually, the Scriptures tell us that Paul was to go to gentiles, kings and the children of Israel (Acts 9:15). If you are judging by numbers alone, both the Lord and Peter also had poor results among the Jews. The nation as a whole continued to rebel against God, until he was finally forced to judge them in 70 AD.

  3. Dave

    January 26, 2017 at 20:08

    Actually, Paul was commissioned to go to the Gentiles (Romans 11:13; 2 Timothy 1:11) but, for some curious reasons, he kept preaching to the Jews. Even when he saw a vision to go into Macedonia, rather than preaching to the Gentiles, he focused on the Jews. His actions were very consistent throughout the book of Acts, though he was evidently not following his ministry.
    And he had poor results among the Jews–people getting hardened and turning against him. Eventually, he ended up losing his life.
    Jesus, and later, Peter, was the one commissioned to the Jews.

  4. Eddie

    November 15, 2016 at 05:35

    Greetings Pastor Galen, and thank your for your informative comment. I praise God for people like you, who are stirred up by the Spirit to go to foreign lands to preach the Gospel. It is interesting to see that you find it an advantage to do as Paul did here as you build up a local church in Asia. Lord bless you.

  5. Galen Currah

    November 14, 2016 at 17:01

    We, who work to multiply house churches of new disciples in anti-christian lands, steer folk away from the construction of chapels, until they have won 100s of families and community attitudes have shifted favourably.
    Still, we find it a distinct advantage to construct or to rent training facilities, where we can receive local folk who plant house churches, strengthening their faith, skills and vision.
    Whilst most pastoral training occurs withing generations of leaders coaching leaders, those periodic gatherings for old and new leaders keep a movement going. “Till all Asia hears the Word of the Lord.”

  6. Eddie

    August 26, 2016 at 20:05

    Greetings Robert. I am uncertain as to the purpose of your comment. Neither I nor has Melanie Jones claimed Judaism is compatible with Christianity, so what is your point?

    As an aside, it seems that Messianic Jews have no problem celebrating Christ according to the traditions of Judaism. So, again, I fail to see what you may be getting at here.

  7. Robert

    August 26, 2016 at 19:42

    The School of Tyrannus – Actually whenever Paul taught that Jesus was the Messiah the Jews blasphemed. This was the “Jewish” response in the 1st century and it is still the same today. Paul was commissioned to go the Jews, after a time he shook the dust off his clothing and went to the Gentiles (Acts 18:4,6- Acts19:8,9). The Jewish religion has never excepted Christ and without proclaiming Jesus as the Messiah they are lost in their ceremonial exuberance. Of course there have always been those that choose to believe this will not change. But to say that The Christian religion and Judiasm was compatable is simply not true.

  8. Laura Holdway

    April 5, 2016 at 07:11

    In reply to Melanie Jones.

    I commented to a friend just yesterday that I have gone back over some of the things that I have taught, preached, written and knew it had to be God for it absolutely amazed me. Thanks for this insight. May God continue to give you knowledge and understanding to be able to share with others.

  9. Eddie

    November 2, 2013 at 11:55

    Yes, I am often surprised over the validity of things I wrote years ago, and when this occurs my eyes are turned to God, knowing it was through his inspiration that such a thing is true. Thank you for your encouraging comment, and for reading my blog. Lord bless you in your ministry.

  10. Melanie Jones

    November 2, 2013 at 09:38

    Does it not baffle you how something you wrote in 2010 can be still so relevant today. I am a minister of the gospel and I am often in awe when I read sermons I wrote ten years ago and find them completely relevant for today although so much in our world has changed…I know such is the Word of God..Luke 21:33 – Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away.
    Great article sir. It was very insightful, especially as it related to the teaching of Jesus not always being the issue but the traditions of men being more of the problem. I enjoyed the read.

  11. Eddie

    May 23, 2013 at 20:47

    Your welcome, my friend, Lord bless you.

  12. Ishmael

    May 23, 2013 at 17:48

    Thanks for the clarity about the school of Tyranus dis has answered my theological question on the authenticirt of paul’s teachings and how he got to know all that he knew in a very short space of tym

    Regards : Ishmael Phara South Africa,Pretoria

  13. Matthew

    November 6, 2012 at 06:04

    The school of tyrannu is not just an ordinary school but a place of occupancy in the spirit

  14. Ed Bromfield

    April 11, 2011 at 16:32

    Greetings Georgia, and thank you for reading my blog and taking the time to comment. I found your words encouraging. Thanks again and Lord bless.

  15. Georgia Estes

    April 10, 2011 at 16:09

    This was helpful. Thank you. I had wondered if the School of Tyrannus was a Jewish “shul” or synagogue…but had forgotten about the earlier “tossing out.” I don’t suppose the Jewish community was large enough to hold two synagogues in the same town???
    But you built on the idea of receptivity in a way I did not expect. You are right…we would not have invited Paul back for the second “talk” if we did not like the first one!

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