- ze'-nas (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?" (Lk 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" (Lk 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 (1 Tim 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.