Who were the “Libertines?”

WHO WERE THE “LIBERTINES?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

The title is found a single time in the Authorized Version, Acts 6:9: “Then there arose certain of the synagogue, which is called the synagogue of the Libertines, and Cyrenians, and Alexandrians, and of them of Cilicia and of Asia, disputing with Stephen.” Exactly who are these “Libertines?”

As their name implies, they are liberated. In Latin, they are known as “libertini,” meaning “freedmen.” According to Smith’s Bible Dictionary, Libertines “were probably Jews who, having been taken prisoners by Pompey [106–48 B.C.] and other Roman generals in the Syrian wars, had been reduced to slavery, and had afterward been emancipated, and returned, permanently or for a time, to the country of their fathers.”

Thayer’s Greek Lexicon supplies additional insight concerning Libertines: “Jews who had been made captives by the Romans under Pompey but were afterward set free; and who, although they had fixed their abode at Rome, had built at their own expense a synagogue at Jerusalem which they frequented when in that city. The name Libertines adhered to them to distinguish them from the free-born Jews who had subsequently taken up their residence at Rome.”

Ironically, the Libertines were physically free but spiritually bound—captive to sin and Satan. Instead of listening to Stephen and converting to Jesus Christ, they argued with him and conspired to get him in trouble with the common Jewish people in Jerusalem! They blasphemed against the Holy Ghost. Unfortunately, apostate (unbelieving) Israel subsequently killed Stephen and contributed to their fall in Acts chapter 7. (See our related studies linked below.)

Also see:
» What does “suborned” mean in Acts 6:11?
» Why did Jesus Christ stand in Acts 7:55-56?
» Did Acts 7:60 predict the Dispensation of Grace?
» Have I blasphemed against the Holy Ghost?
» Is Israel “cast away,” or not? Has Israel “fallen,” or not?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.