WHAT ARE “LEWD FELLOWS OF THE BASER SORT?”
by Shawn Brasseaux
Our King James Bible abounds with interesting phraseology and Acts 17:5 is no exception. It says, “But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.” As a pastor friend often comments about the verse, “You may not understand that expression ‘lewd fellows of the baser sort’ but you at least know it does not sound good!” We will analyze the phrase and learn just how “bad” it really is. Context first, though.
While Paul and Silas were conducting Paul’s second apostolic journey, they came to Macedonia (northern Greece), to a city named Thessalonica, where there was a Jewish synagogue. For two or three weeks, Paul reasoned with them out of the Scriptures. He used the Old Testament to prove that Jesus was Christ. Some in the audience believed the Gospel of the Grace of God—Christ Jesus died for their sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Luke writes in chapter 17 of Acts, verse 4, a great multitude of religious Greeks and many chief women believed unto eternal life. Acts 17:5 (the verse in question) picks up the account. Satan was very upset!
Unbelieving Jews who followed Paul everywhere, became envious that God was now working amongst and saving the pagan Gentiles. In response to Paul’s ministry triumphs in Thessalonica, these lost Jews gathered a mob of the worst people they could locate. These men were “lewd” (wicked), but to make it worse, they were “of the baser sort” (the worst of the worst!). That mob then caused a riot in Thessalonica. It physically attacked a Christian, Jason, and his household. After that intense day, Paul and Silas by night barely escaped to nearby Berea with their lives (verses 6-10)!
Saints, may we learn this simple lesson. Let us brush off the silly and snide comments, awful frowns, and rude gestures from the lost world. After all, the Bible says Christians have been assaulted (literally) “by worse!”