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Bible Commentaries

The Expositor's Greek Testament

Acts 5

 

 

Verse 1

Acts 5:1. ἀνὴρ δέ τις: in striking contrast to the unreserved self-sacrifice of Barnabas, St. Luke places the selfishness and hypocrisy of Ananias and Sapphira. It is in itself no small proof of the truth of the narrative, that the writer should not hesitate to introduce this episode side by side with his picture of the still unbroken love and fellowship of the Church. He makes no apology for the facts, but narrates them simply and without comment.— ἀνανίας—written in W.H(168) (so Blass) ., prob. Hebrew חֲנַנְיָה = Hananiah=to whom Jehovah has been gracious (the Hebrew name of Shadrach, Daniel 1:6, LXX, Jeremiah 28:1, Tobit 5:12, (Song of the Three Children, ver. 66) (Lumby, but see also Wendt, note, in loco).— σαπφείρῃ, so also W.H(169), either from σάπφειρος ( σάμφ., so here σαμφ., (170)*, Blass), a sapphire, or from the Aramaic שַׁפִּירָא, beautiful. The latter derivation is adopted by Blass (Grammatik des N. G., p. 8), and Winer-Schmiedel, p. 76. It is declined like σπεῖρα, μάχαιρα, Acts 10:1; Acts 12:2, etc., in N.T., and so makes dative , Winer-Schmiedel, pp. 80, 93, and Blass, u. s.κτῆμα = χωρίον, Acts 5:3 : but may mean property of any kind. It is used in the singular several times in the LXX, as a possession, heritage, etc., Job 20:29, Proverbs 12:27; Proverbs 31:16, Wisdom of Solomon 8:5, Ecclus. 36:30, 51:21, etc.


Verse 2

Acts 5:2. ἐνοσφίσατο: may merely mean from its derivation, to set apart νόσφι. But both in LXX and N.T. it is used in a bad sense of appropriating for one’s own benefit, purloining, Joshua 7:1, of Achan, 2 Maccabees 4:32, so here and in Acts 5:3, and Titus 2:10, cf. also a similar use of the word in Jos., Ant., iv., 8, 29 (so in Greek authors, Xen., Polyb., Plut.).— ἀπό: the same combination in Joshua 7:1 (cf. Acts 2:17 above, ἐκχεῶ ἀπό, cf. Hebrew מִן. See Bengel’s note, in loco, on the sin of Achan and Ananias).— συνειδυίης: it was thus a deliberate and aggravated offence. On the irregular form, instead of - υιας, cf. the LXX, Exodus 8:21; Exodus 8:24, 1 Samuel 25:20; and see also Winer-Schmiedel, p. 81, note, and Blass on instances from the papyri, in loco.— παρὰ τοὺς πόδας: a further aggravation (Acts 4:35), since the money was brought ostentatiously to gain a reputation for the donors. Blass well comments: “in conventu ecclesiæ hoc liberalitatis documentum editum”; cf. Calvin, who in marking the ambition of Ananias to gain a reputation for liberality adds: “ita fit ut pedes Apostolorum magis honoret quam Dei oculos”.


Verse 3

Acts 5:3. διὰ τί: not simply “why?” but “how is it that?” R.V., cf. Luke 2:49; the force of the Greek seems to emphasise the fact that Ananias had it in his power to have prevented such a result, cf. James 4:7, 1 Peter 5:9ἐπλήρωσεν, occupavit (cf. John 16:6), so that there is room for no other influence, Ecclesiastes 9:3. On the Vulgate, tentavit, which does not express the meaning here, see Felten’s note.— ψεύσασθαι, sc., ὥστε, often omitted; cf. Luke 1:54, the infinitive of conceived result, see Burton, N. T. Moods and Tenses, pp. 148, 154. The verb with the accusative of the person only here in N.T., but in LXX, Deuteronomy 33:29, Psalms 65:3, Isaiah 57:11, Hosea 9:2, 4 Maccabees 5:34, etc., and frequently in classical writers.


Verse 4

Acts 5:4. οὐχὶ, “id quaerit quod sic esse nemo negat,” Grimm, “while it remained, did it not remain thine own?” R.V. Very frequent in Luke as compared with the other Evangelists, see also Acts 7:50. This rendering better retains the kind of play upon the word μένω, to which Weiss draws attention, and compares 1 Maccabees 15:7 for the force of ἔμενεν.— πραθὲν, i.e., the price of it when sold (rectius πραθέντος τὸ ἀργύριον, cf. Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 57 (1896)); so αὐτά in Acts 2:45 is used for the prices of the possessions and goods sold. The whole question, while it deprived Ananias of every excuse, also proves beyond doubt that the community of goods in the Church of Jerusalem was not compulsory but voluntary.— ἐξουσίᾳ, power or right ( ἔξεστι): “The Ecclesia was a society in which neither the community was lost in the individual, nor the individual in the community,” Hort, Ecclesia, p. 48.— τί ὅτι, sc., τί ἔστιν ὅτι, cf. Luke 2:49, and Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 101 (1893), Blass, Grammatik des N. G., p. 173.— ἔθου ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ σου, Acts 19:21, and Luke 21:14. The phrase is rightly described as having a Hebraistic colouring, cf. LXX, 1 Samuel 21:12, Daniel 1:8, Haggai 2:16; Haggai 2:19, Malachi 1:1, and the Homeric θέσθαι ἐν φρεσί, ἐν θυμῷ βάλλεσθαι.— τὸ πρᾶγμα τοῦτο: so frequently in LXX, Genesis 44:15, Exodus 1:18, Joshua 9:24, 1 Chronicles 21:8; Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 149 (1896).— οὐκ ἐψεύσω: the words do not here of course mean that Ananias had not lied unto men, but an absolute negative is employed in the first conception, not to annul it, but rhetorically to direct undivided attention to the second, cf. Matthew 10:20, Mark 9:37, 1 Thessalonians 4:8, Winer-Moulton, Leviticus 8, 6. The dative of the person is found after ψεύδεσθαι in the LXX, but not in classical Greek. The sin of Ananias was much more than mere hypocrisy, much more than fraud, pride or greed—hateful as these sins are—the power and presence of the Holy Spirit had been manifested in the Church, and Ananias had sinned not only against human brotherhood, but against the divine light and leading which had made that brotherhood possible. In the words there lies an undeniable proof of the personality and divinity of the Holy Ghost, and a refutation of Macedonius long before he was born (see Bede’s note in loco, and on patristic authorities, Felten). We cannot satisfactorily explain the words by supposing that offence against the public spirit of that Church is meant, and that the sin against the Holy Ghost may be identified with this.


Verse 5

Acts 5:5. ἀκούων, “as he heard these words” = μεταξὺ ἀκούων, so Weiss, Blass, Rendall.— ἐξέψυξεν: only found here, in Acts 5:10 of Sapphira, and Acts 12:23 of the death of Herod, in the N.T.; not found in classical writers, and only twice in the LXX, Judges 4:21 where A reads it to describe the death of Sisera, but = a Hebrew word which may only mean to faint, to faint away; Ezekiel 21:7 (12) where it translates a Hebrew word כָּהָה meaning to be faint-hearted, to despond, to be dim. But as Blass points out it is used by Hippocrates; indeed it would seem that its use is almost altogether confined to medical writers (Hobart, Zahn). It is therefore a word which may probably be referred to St. Luke’s employment of medical terms; Hobart, Medical Language of St. Luke, p. 37, for instances of its use not only in Hippocrates but in Galen and Aretaeus (Lumby refers to Acta Andr. et Matth. Apocr., 19, where the word is also used of men suddenly falling down dead). In classical Greek ἀποψύχειν ( βίον), or ἀποψ. absolutely is the term employed. There can be no doubt that the narrative implies the closest connection between the guilt of Ananias and his sudden death. It therefore cannot be regarded as a narrative of a chance occurrence or of the effect of a sudden shock caused by the discovery of guilt in St. Peter’s words. No one has shown more clearly than Baur (Paulus, i., 27–33, especially against Neander) that all such explanations are unsatisfactory (see also Zeller and De Wette). In the early history of the Church, Origen, Tract. ix. in Matt., had espoused the view that Ananias had died overcome by shame and grief at the sudden detection of his sin. But no such explanation could account for the death of Sapphira which Peter foretells as about to follow without delay. That the narrative is not without historical foundation is frankly admitted by Wendt, and also by Baur, Zeller, Overbeck, and most recently by Weizsäcker, Holtzmann, Spitta. But this stern condemnation of any attempt to lie unto God is a stumbling-block even to those who with Wendt recognise not only some historical fact underlying the narrative, but also the danger and culpability of the action of Ananias and his wife. It may however be justly observed that our Lord Himself had condemned no sin so severely as that of hypocrisy, and that the action of Ananias and Sapphira was hypocrisy of the worst kind, in that they sought by false pretences to gain a reputation like the Pharisees for special sanctity and charity; the hypocrisy of the leaven of the Pharisees had entered the Church (Baumgarten), and if such a spirit had once gained ground in the Christian community, it must have destroyed all mutual affection and all brotherly kindness, for how could men speak the truth, every one with his neighbour, unless their love was without hypocrisy? Romans 12:9; how could they claim to be citizens of a city, into which none could enter who “made a lie”? Revelation 21:27; Revelation 22:15. The sin before us was not one sin but many (Chrys., Hom., xii., on Acts 5:9), and in its deliberateness it came perilously near that sin against the Holy Ghost which, whatever else it may mean, certainly means a wilful hardening against divine guidance. For further considerations on the necessity of this unhesitating condemnation of such a sin at the outset of the life of the Church, see St. Chrysostom’s remarks. We must guard against supposing that St. Peter had imprecated the death-penalty upon Ananias (as Porphyry asserted, see against such a view, Jerome, Epist., 130). St. Jerome speaks of Ananias and Sapphira as not only deceitful, but also as timid stewards, keeping back a part of the price “through fear of famine which true faith never fears”. On his judgment that the avenging stroke was inflicted, not in cruelty to them, but as a warning to others, see below.— καὶ ἐγένετο φόβος μέγας κ. τ. λ., i.e., upon all who were present, as distinct from Acts 5:11—but see Page’s note. Overbeck, with De Wette, regards the remark as proleptical, as if the writer hurried to describe the impression made—but why should the words not include the judgment uttered by St. Peter? for the construction see Luke 1:65; Luke 4:36. On the characteristic reference to φόβος as following upon the exhibition of divine miraculous power both in St. Luke’s Gospel and the Acts, see Friedrich, Das Lucasevangelium, p. 77, and above on Acts 2:43.


Verse 6

Acts 5:6. ἀναστάντες, see on Acts 2:14.— οἱ νεώτεροι: the fact that they are called simply νεανίσκοι in Acts 5:10 seems decisive against the view that reference is made to any definite order in the Church. Nor is it certain that we can see in the fulfilment of such duties by the νεώτεροι the beginnings of the diaconate, although on the natural distinction between πρεσβύτεροι and νεώτεροι it may well have been that official duties in the Church were afterwards based, cf. 1 Timothy 5:1, Titus 2:1-6, 1 Peter 5:5, Clem. Rom., i. 3; iii. 3; xxi. 6; Polycarp, Epist., v., 3 (cf. Luke 22:26). In comparatively early days it belonged to the duties of the deacons to provide for the burial of the strangers and the poor, but it seems hardly probable that οἱ νεώτεροι were appointed as a separate body to bury the dead, before any attempt had been made to relieve the Apostles of the more pressing duty of distributing the public funds, Acts 6:1. On the other hand it is possible that the company of public “buriers” whom the prophet saw in vision, Ezekiel 39:12-16, may have become quite customary in N.T. days. R.V. margin renders simply “the younger men”.— συνέστειλαν, “wrapped him round,” R.V., probably in their own mantles (for no formal laying-out in robes can be supposed by the context), for which περιστέλλω would be the usual word, cf. Eur., Troad., 378 (see Grimm, Blass, Weiss). But Meyer on the other hand is against the parallel, and argues, following Grotius, that the word should be rendered “placed him together,” i.e., laid out or composed his limbs, so that he might be carried out more conveniently (so too Overbeck, Holtzmann, Zöckler). Vulgate, amoverunt, followed by Luther, Erasmus, Beza, cannot be said to be supported by any parallel use of the word (Par.2 also same verb as Vulg.). The word is frequently used by medical writers in various senses, one of which, to bandage, to compress by bandaging, is that which seems to afford a possible parallel to its use here, Hobart, Medical Language, etc., pp. 37, 38. The use of the word by Josephus, Ant., xviii., 3; xix., 4, is not sufficient to justify us in taking it here to express all the preparations for burial.— ἐξενέγκαντες: outside the walls of the city, the usual place for graves—only prophets and kings had their graves in the city—Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, i., 4, 475, “Grab”; Edersheim, Jewish Social Life, p. 169, cf. the use of ἐκφέρω and ἐκκομίζω in classical Greek, Latin, efferre.— ἔθαψαν: partly for sanitary reasons, partly to avoid defilement; the interval between death and burial was very brief, especially in Jerusalem (Numbers 19:11, Deuteronomy 21:23; Hamburger, u. s., i., 2, 161, “Beerdigung,” with reference to this passage, Edersheim, u. s., p. 168; for the existing custom in Jerusalem of speedy burial, see Hackett, in loco, and Schneller, Kennst du das Land? (eighth edition), p. 188).


Verse 7

Acts 5:7. ἐγένετο δὲκαὶ, cf. for construction Luke 5:1; Luke 5:17; Luke 8:1; Luke 8:22; Luke 9:51; Luke 14:1, etc. Hebraistic, if not strictly a Hebraism; on καί thus uniting two co-ordinate statements with ἐγένετο see Plummer’s valuable note, p. 45; St. Luke, first edition; and on the use of καί see Simcox, Language of the N. T., pp. 161, 162; Blass, Grammatik des N. G., pp. 256, 257.— διάστημα: as if a nominative absolute, here parenthetical from ὡς, cf. Luke 9:28. Cf. Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 83 (1896). St. Luke alone uses διάστημα (only here in N.T.), cf. Polyb., ix., 1, 1; διάστημα τετραετές, and the verb διίστημι, cf. Luke 22:59; Luke 24:51, Acts 27:28. In Apocryph. Act. Andrea, 14, we have ἡμιωρίου διάδτημα (Lumby), and in LXX, cf. Ecclesiast., prol., 24, 3 Maccabees 4:17.— ὡς = ὡσεί, fere, cf. Acts 1:15, Acts 2:4, etc.— ὡρῶν τριῶν: Nösgen supposes the approach of the next hour of prayer in this mention of the time, μὴ pro οὐ (Blass), see also Lumby’s note.


Verse 8

Acts 5:8. τοσούτου, monstrat pecuniam, Blass, so Zöckler, Holtzmann, Felten, Weiss, and others: genitive of the price. The position of the word in the question is emphatic, cf. Luke 15:29. Blass would render non pluris (Bornemann, tantilli), but this is implied rather than expressed by the word here (see Wendt’s note for classical instances). The question of St. Peter and the emphatic reply of Sapphira show that opportunity was given her by the inquiry to retract, and that she wilfully persisted in her sin (Chrys.; so Calvin, “tempus illi ad resipiscendum datur”).


Verse 9

Acts 5:9. τὶ ὅτι, Acts 5:4. συνεφωνήθη: only here in the N.T. in the passive, for its use in the active, Acts 15:15. Blass maintains that this passive usage συμφωνεῖταί τισι is Latin rather than Greek (convenit inter aliquos), and that it may have arisen from the intercourse between Greeks and Romans, see in loco, and Grammatik des N. G., pp. 112, 235; in LXX only in the active. Cf. also Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 155 (1893). “The aggravation was that they committed the deed as with one soul, just as upon a settled compact between them,” Chrys., Hom., xii.; cf. the plural ἀπέδοσθε.— πειράσαι: the rendering “to tempt,” does not seem to express the idea so well as “to try,” to make trial whether the Holy Ghost would discover their deception, whether He knew all things: cf. Acts 15:10, and in LXX, Exodus 17:2; Exodus 17:7, Psalms 77(78):41, 56, etc. (in Revelation 2:2 the same verb as here = “try,” A. and R.V.).— ἰδοὺ, see on Acts 1:10. οἱ πόδες, cf. Luke 1:79, Romans 3:15; Romans 10:15. A Hebraistic expression—the whole description is full of dramatic intensity—the returning steps of the νεώτεροι are heard ἐπὶ τῇ θύρᾳ. But Alford thinks that they were probably bare-footed, and that the words mean that the time was just at hand for their return, cf. James 5:9.— ἐξοίσουσίν σε, see on Acts 5:6.


Verse 10

Acts 5:10. παραχρῆμα, see on Acts 3:7. The introduction of the word shows that the writer regarded the death as supernatural, see above on Acts 5:5. πρός, by, beside her husband = παρά with dative, Blass, Grammatik des N. G., p. 135, note; Winer-Moulton, xlix. h. Although the whole narrative shows that in each case the death was caused by the judgment of God, yet nothing whatever is said as to the world beyond the grave: “As it is, both the man himself is benefited, in that he is not left to advance further in wickedness, and the rest, in that they are made more earnest,” Chrys., Hom., xii. Wendt points out that the punishment inflicted by St. Paul, 1 Corinthians 5:5, was of a wholly different kind, because it had the avowed aim of saving the spirit of the sinner in the day of the Lord by delivering him over to Satan for the destruction of the flesh; but it should not be forgotten that St. Peter himself speaks of a judgment according to men in the flesh, which has its issue in a life according to God in the spirit (1 Peter 4:6). St. Augustine’s words may fairly be quoted not against but in favour of applying to the cases before us the principle of judgment employed by St. Paul: “Credendum est autem quod post hanc vitam eis pepercerit Deus.… Correpti sunt mortis flagello, ne supplicio puniantur æterno,” Serm., de Verbis Act. v., 4, cf. Origen, Tract. viii., in Matth., and Jerome, Epist., 130. See Speaker’s Commentary, in loco, and Bengel, Felten, Zöckler, Plumptre. Felten’s reverent thoughts, p. 124, may well be compared with the remarks of Dr. Pusey on the case of Ananias, What is of Faith? etc., p. 14.


Verse 11

Acts 5:11. φόβος μέγας: evidently one purpose in the infliction of this stern penalty was at once obtained, see above on Acts 5:5.— ἐφʼ ὅλην τὴν ἐκκλησίαν: St. Luke, as it seems, uses the word ἐκκλησία here for the first time. Dr. Hort thinks that he may employ it by anticipation, and that we cannot be sure that it was actually in use at this early date (Ecclesia, p. 49), but, as the same writer reminds us, our Lord’s saying to St. Peter, Matthew 16:18, must have had its influence upon the minds and teaching of the Apostles. Moreover, we can see a special fitness in the employment here, after the preceding description, not only of the growth, but of the organisation of the Christian community, Acts 4:32 ff., and of the judgment which followed upon the attempt to challenge its powers and to violate its harmony, cf. Bengel’s note, in loco. The context too probably marks a distinction between the members of the ἐκκλησία and those without (Weiss, Hort, Blass).


Verse 12

Acts 5:12. δέ: merely transitional; ἐγίνετο marking the continuance of the miracles; διὰ τῶν χειρῶν characteristic of St. Luke in Acts, cf. Acts 2:23; Acts 7:25; Acts 11:30; Acts 14:3; Acts 15:23; Acts 19:11. On Luke’s fondness for this and similar phrases with χείρ, see Friedrich, Das Lucasevangelium, p. 8; Lekebusch, Apostelgeschichte, p. 77. Such phrases, cf. διὰ στόματός τινος, are thoroughly Hebraistic; so also in Acts 3:13, Luke 3:21, κατὰ πρόσωπον, and for other instances, Blass, Grammatik des N. G., pp. 126, 147.— στοᾷ σολ., Acts 3:11.— ἅπαντες, cf. Acts 2:1, including other believers as well as the Apostles, see below. ὁμοθυμαδὸν, see Acts 1:14.


Verse 13

Acts 5:13. τῶν δὲ λοιπῶν: variously interpreted (1) of the rest of the believers in contrast to the Apostles, but this is unnatural, as the Apostles are not elsewhere regarded as objects of fear to their fellow-believers, and ἅπαντες above certainly need not = ἀπόστολοι as Hilgenfeld interprets it. See, however, Alford, in loco, and Gore, Church and the Ministry, p. 256, note. J. Lightfoot applies ἅπαντες to the hundred-and-eight (the Apostles making up the hundred-and-twenty), who durst not join themselves in the dignity and office of Apostleship, properly so called, having seen the judgment that one of the Twelve had brought upon Ananias, one of their own number (as Lightfoot ranks Ananias amongst the hundred-and-twenty); (2) of non-believers as contrasted with ἅπαντες; this is adopted by Blass, but it obliges him to translate κολλᾶσθαι, se eis immiscere=interpellare, vexare, whereas the word is more often used, as he admits, both in the Acts and in the LXX of friendly intercourse דבק, Deuteronomy 10:20, 2 Samuel 20:2, 2 Kings 18:6, Psalms 118(119):31, cf. Acts 8:29; Acts 9:26; Acts 10:28; Acts 17:34; (3) of the rest including λαός, who stood aloof from joining their lot, but at the same time regarded them with respect; (4) of the rest, i.e., rulers, scribes, priests, men of position, as contrasted, ἀλλά, with the λαός, the populace, cf. Acts 4:21, where the same contrast is marked (so Hort, Page, Rendall), see also Luke 21:38. For κολλᾶσθαι see further on Acts 5:36.


Verse 14

Acts 5:14. μᾶλλον δέ προσετίθεντο: the favour of the people which still protected the Church (cf. Acts 5:17) resulted in further increase of believers, “were the more added,” um so mehr; imperfect, signifying the continuous growth of the Church; on the verb see Acts 2:41. πλήθη, plural (only here in N.T.), because not only men as in Acts 4:4, but women also (Weiss), but Bengel “pluralis grandis: jam non initur numerus, uti 4, 4,” to the same effect Blass, “sæpe fiebat ut magnus numerus accederet, inde plur. hic tantum N.T.”. On St. Luke’s characteristic fondness for this and similar words see Acts 4:32. γυναικῶν: this mention of women forms as it were an introduction to the further mention in Acts 6:1 ff., cf. Acts 8:3, where women are again mentioned amongst the victims in the general persecution of the Church (see Plumptre’s note, in loco). This constant reference to the share of women in the ministry of the Gospel and the life of the Church is characteristic of St. Luke in both his writings.


Verse 15

Acts 5:15. ὥστε καὶ εἰς, “insomuch that they even,” R.V.— κατὰ, T.R., so Alford, Meyer, “all down the streets,” as if the streets were entirely beset with sick folk (see Holtzmann, in loco).— πλατείας, feminine of the adjective πλατύς, sc., ὁδός, a broad way, so here, the open streets, in classical Greek, and frequently in LXX, chiefly for Hebrew, רְחֹב, Tobit 13:17, Judith 1:14; Judith 7:14; Judith 7:22, 1 Maccabees 1:55; 1 Maccabees 2:9, 3 Maccabees 1:18, used by St. Luke three times in his Gospel, Acts 10:10, Acts 13:26, Acts 14:21, but only here in Acts, see below on Acts 9:11. For κλινῶν read κλιναρίων, which is found only here in N.T., not at all in LXX, and very rarely in other Greek authors, Aristoph., Frag., 33, d, and Arrian, Epict. Diss., iii., 5, 13, where it is used for the couch of a sick person; Artem., Oneir., ii., 57. As Dr. Hobart points out, St. Luke employs no less than four different words for the beds of the sick, two in common with the other Evangelists, viz., κλίνη (not in John), and κράβαττος (not in Matthew). But two are peculiar to him, viz., κλινίδιον (Luke 5:19; Luke 5:24), and κλινάριον only here. Neither word is found in the LXX, but κλινίδιον, although rare elsewhere, is used in Artem., also in Plutarch, and Dion. Hal. (Antiq. Rom., vii. 68), for a litter for carrying the sick, Hobart, Medical Language, etc., pp. 116, 117. Dr. Kennedy sees in κλινίδιον an instance of rare words used by the comic poets, especially Aristophanes, found also in the N.T., and almost nowhere else, and hence a proof of the “colloquial” language of the N.T. writers (Sources of N. T. Greek, pp. 76–79). But the fact remains that the word in question is found only in St. Luke, and that both it and κλινάριον were employed for the couch of a sick person.— ἐρχομένου πέτρου, genitive absolute, “as Peter came by,” R.V. (very frequent in Luke), it does not mean, as Felten admits, that none of the other Apostles possessed such powers.— κἄν = καὶ ἐάν—even if it were only his shadow, “at the least his shadow,” R.V., cf. Mark 5:28; Mark 6:56, 2 Corinthians 11:16; the usage is not unclassical, Soph., Elect., 1483; Simcox, Language of the N. T., p. 170; Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 118 (1893).— ἐπισκιάση with dative, Luke 1:35, Mark 9:7; (171) so W.H(172), future indicative σει, a construction common with ὅπως in classical Greek (Page); for other examples of the future indicative with ἵνα see Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 81 (1893), of which several are found in the N.T., although not in classical Greek; cf. Luke 14:10; Luke 20:10, 1 Corinthians 9:18, 1 Peter 3:1, Acts 21:24, W.H(173); John 7:3, Galatians 2:4, etc.; Burton, u. s., p. 86. Undoubtedly this action of the people showed the lively power of their faith (Chrys., Theod., Aug(174)), but the further question arises in spite of the severe strictures of Zeller, Overbeck, Holtzmann, as to how far the narrative indicates that the shadow of Peter actually produced the healing effects. Acts 5:16 shows that the sick folk were all healed, but Zöckler maintains that there is nothing to show that St. Luke endorses the enthusiastic superstition of the people (so J. Lightfoot, Nösgen, Lechler, Rendall). On the other hand we may compare Matthew 9:20, Mark 6:56, John 9:5, Acts 19:12; and Baumgarten’s comment should be considered that, although it is not actually said that a miraculous power went forth from Peter’s shadow, it is a question why, if no such power is implied, the words should be introduced at all into a narrative which evidently purports to note the extraordinary powers of the Apostles. The parallels just instanced from the Gospels could, of course, have no weight with critics who can only see in such comparisons a proof that the Acts cannot rise above the superstitious level of the Gospels, or who start like Renan with “an absolute rule of criticism,” viz., the denial of a place in history to all miraculous narratives. (175) adds ἀπηλλάσσοντο γὰρ κ. τ. λ.: but even here, as Blass says, Luke does not distinctly assert that cures were wrought by the shadow of Peter, although there is no reason to deny that the Evangelist had this in mind, since he does not hesitate to refer the same miraculous powers to St. Paul. Hilgenfeld refers Acts 5:14-16 to his “author to Theophilus,” and sees in the expressions used in Acts 5:16 a reminiscence of Luke 6:17.


Verse 16

Acts 5:16. δὲ καὶ: very common in St. Luke, Luke 2:4; Luke 3:9; Luke 5:10; Luke 9:61; Luke 14:12, etc., and also nine times in Acts. St. John uses it frequently, but seldom in Matt. and Mark; used for the sake of giving emphasis.— πέριξ only here, strengthened for περί, not in LXX, but see Hatch and Redpath, found in Acta Andr. et Matth. Apocr., 26 (see Lumby’s note), in classics from Æschylus.— τῶν π. πόλεων, “the cities round about Jerusalem,” omitting εἰς before ἱερουσ.— ὀχλουμένους: only here in N.T., cf. Luke 6:18, οἱ ἐνοχλούμενοι (W.H(176), R.V.) ὑπὸ πν. ἀκαθ. Both verbs are peculiar to St. Luke in the N.T. in connection with disease ( ἐνοχλεῖν is used in Hebrews 12:15 in a different sense), and both were often used by medical writers. In Tobit 6:8, ὀχλῇ the simple verb is used of the vexing and disturbing of an evil spirit, and ἐνοχλεῖν is used several times in the LXX, of being troubled with sicknesses, Genesis 48:1, 1 Samuel 19:14; 1 Samuel 30:13, Malachi 1:13. So J. Weiss, who is by no means inclined to overrate Dr. Hobart’s work, regards the use of the two verbs just mentioned as the employment in St. Luke of technical medical terms, Evangelium des Lukas, pp. 273, 274 (1892); found in Hipp., Galen, Dioscorides, cf. in the latter, Mat. Med., iii., 116, τοὺς ὑπὸ ξηρᾶς βηχὸς καὶ ὀρθοπνοίας ὀχλουμένους θεραπεύει, see also Luke 6:19; Luke 8:46, for a like effect following on the manifestation of the miraculous powers of Christ.


Verse 17

Acts 5:17. ἀναστὰς, see on Acts 1:15, cf. Acts 6:9 : it may denote a hostile intention (but need not force this), Mark 3:26, Luke 10:35, Matthew 12:41, in LXX, Job 16:8; see Overbeck, Blass, Weiss; ἀρχ., i.e., Annas not Caiaphas, Acts 4:6.— πάντες οἱ σὺν αὐτῷ: the context seems to imply that more are included than referred to in Acts 4:6.— οὖσα αἴρεσις (= οἵ εἰσιν αἵρεσις), a rare employment of the relative in the N.T., but found in Luke and Paul, most of all in the latter; cf. Acts 16:12, 1 Corinthians 3:17, Galatians 3:16, Ephesians 3:13, Acts 6:2, Philippians 1:28, etc. (cf. Revelation 4:5; Revelation 5:9); Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 192 (1896).— αἵρεσις: (1) a choosing, choice, so in classical writers, cf. also LXX, Leviticus 22:18; Leviticus 22:21, 1 Maccabees 8:30; (2) that which is chosen, a chosen method of thought and action; (3) later, a philosophic principle; those who have chosen certain principles, a school, a sect, so six times in Acts. It is used thrice elsewhere in N.T., 1 Corinthians 11:29, Galatians 5:20, 2 Peter 2:1 in the plural, of factions or parties within the Church; in its later ecclesiastical use, applied to doctrines, “heresies,” which tended to cause separation from the Church. The word need not therefore be used in a bad sense, although it is so used of the Nazarenes, cf. Acts 24:5; Acts 24:14, Acts 28:22, whilst on the other hand St. Paul uses it of the Pharisees, Acts 26:5 (cf. Acts 15:5), in no depreciatory sense (cf. its use by Josephus of the Sadducees, Ant., xx., 9, 1). Lumby gives a disparaging use of the word in Apocr. Act. Phil. in Hellad., 10, see his note. It is not expressly said by St. Luke that Annas was a Sadducee, although he seems to imply it. But this is not in itself inconceivable (see Acts 4:1) in spite of the strictures of Zeller and Overbeck; Josephus distinctly says, u. s., that the son of Annas who bore his father’s name was of the sect of the Sadducees, and if he mentions this as something peculiar, and as showing why the younger Annas was so bold and insolent (Zeller, cf. Nösgen’s note, in loco), yet there is no difficulty in supposing that the elder Annas was at least associated with the Sadducees if only for political reasons.— ζήλου: jealousy, R.V., so rightly A.V in Acts 13:45; Wycliffe “envy,” cf. Romans 13:13, 1 Corinthians 3:3, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Galatians 5:20, James 3:14; James 3:16, Clem. Rom., Cor(177), iii. 4 and iv–vi (cf. Numbers 25:10-11, 1 Maccabees 8:16, οὔκ ἐστι φθόνος οὐδὲ ζῆλος ἐν αὐτοῖς, and 2:54, 58, Psalms of Solomon 2:27), and in some places of the jealousy which God has, as in 2 Corinthians 11:2, Numbers 25:10-11, and cf. Psalms of Solomon Acts 2:27, Acts 4:2, 1 Maccabees 2:54. But φθόνος is capable only of an evil signification. By Aristotle ζῆλος is used in its nobler sense (Rhet., ii., 11), as opposed to τὸ φθονεῖν, but it seems to be used by other writers as = φθόνος or coupled with it. The meaning is defined by the context. Trench, N. T. Synonyms, i., 99. Here the envy and jealousy of the Sanhedrim was provoked by the popular favour shown to the disciples, and hence to their doctrine of the resurrection.


Verse 18

Acts 5:18. ἐπέβαλον τὰς χεῖρας: a phrase used twice in St. Luke’s Gospel, and three times in the Acts, cf. Genesis 22:12. Cf. Hebrew שָׁלַח יָד אֶל.— ἐν τηρήσει δημοσίᾳ, “in public ward,” R.V. δημ. used here as an adjective, only found in N.T. in Acts, in the three other passages used as an adverb, Acts 16:37, Acts 18:28, Acts 20:20 (2 Maccabees 6:10, 3 Maccabees 2:2), cf. Thuc., v., 18, where τὸ δημόσιον = the public prison. See note above on Acts 4:3. Hilgenfeld is so far right in pointing out that the two imprisonments, Acts 4:3 and Acts 5:18, are occasioned by two different causes, in the first case by the preaching of the Apostles to the people, and in the second by the reverence which their miracles gained from the people.


Verse 19

Acts 5:19. ἄγγελος δὲ κ.: the narrative must be accepted or rejected as it stands. As Wendt, following Zeller in earlier days, candidly admits, every attempt to explain the narrative by referring the release of the prisoners to some natural event, such as an earthquake or lightning, or to some friendly disposed person, who with the assistance of the gaoler opened the prison doors, and who was mistaken by the Apostles for an angel in the darkness and excitement of the night, is shattered at once against the plain meaning of the text. Nor can it be deemed satisfactory to believe that St. Luke has unconsciously given us two narratives of the liberation of St. Peter, here and in 12, and that the former is merely an echo of the later deliverance transferred to an earlier date (Weiss, Sorof, Holtzmann). But St. Luke had the best means of knowing accurately the events narrated in 12 from John Mark (see below on chap. 12, and Ramsay, St. Paul, etc., p. 385), Introd., p. 17, and there is no ground whatever for supposing that 12 is simply an embellished version of this former incident. Attempts have been made to show that St. Luke introduces the same doubling of narratives in his Gospel (Wendt, Holtzmann), e.g., the sending forth of the disciples in Acts 9:3 and Acts 10:1, but the former chapter is concerned with the mission of the Twelve, and the latter with that of the Seventy. Further objections have been made as to the uselessness of the miracle—the disciples are found, to be imprisoned again! But not only was the miracle a source of fresh strength and faith to the disciples, but—as Hilgenfeld notes—their release can scarcely be described as purposeless, since it called forth a public transgression of the command of silence imposed upon the two chief Apostles, Acts 4:17-21. Moreover, the deliverance was another indication to the Sadducees, if they would have accepted it, that it was useless for them to attempt to stay the movement. “Quis ergo usus angeli?” asks Blass; and he answers: “Sed est aliquis: augetur enim apostolorum audacia (Acts 5:21), tum ira adversariorum magis accenditur; nihilominus Deus suos perire non patitur”. That the Sadducees should ignore the miracle (Acts 5:28) is surely not strange, although it may well have influenced their subsequent deliberations; that the action of the Sadducees should now be more coercive than on the former occasion was only natural on the part of men who feared that vengeance would be taken on them for the death of Jesus by an uprising of the people (Acts 5:28; Acts 5:26).— διὰ νυκτὸς = νυκτός, νύκτωρ (cf. Luke 2:8) in classical Greek. The phrase is used four times by St. Luke in Acts, cf. Acts 16:19; Acts 17:10; Acts 23:31, and cf. Luke 5:5 (and Acts 9:37, , διὰ τῆς ἡμέρας): nowhere else in N.T. In all the passages Meyer thinks that the expression means throughout the night, but such a meaning would be inconsistent with the context at all events here and in Acts 16:19; and Acts 17:10 is doubtful.—See Blass, Grammatik des N. G., p. 129, “by night” (nachts). Simcox speaks of this expression in Acts as an “almost adverbial phrase,” Language of N. T., p. 140.


Verse 20

Acts 5:20. πορεύεσθε: characteristic of St. Luke both in Gospel and Acts. The word appears here in Acts for the first time, and it is found in St. Luke’s Gospel about fifty times, and in this book nearly forty (Friedrich, Lekebusch).— σταθέντες, Acts 2:14, on this pictorial use of the word, see Page’s note, and Friedrich, Das Lucasevangelium, p. 42; so also ἀναστάς, ἐπιστάς, ἐγερθείς, καθίσας, στραφείς—here it intimates the boldness with which the Apostles were to proclaim their message.— ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ: they were to speak not only boldly but publicly.— τῆς ζωῆς ταύτης (cf. Acts 13:26, τῆς σωτηρίας ταύτης, and Romans 7:24), i.e., the life to which the whole Apostolic preaching referred, the life which the Sadducees denied, bestowed by Him who was Himself the Resurrection and the Life, cf. Acts 3:15, Acts 4:12. This or a similar explanation is accepted by Holtzmann, Wendt, Weiss, Zöckler, Blass. On the attempt to explain the words as simply = these words of life, see Winer-Moulton, xxxiv. 3, b., and see also Grimm, sub v. ῥῆμα.


Verse 21

Acts 5:21. ὑπὸ τὸν ὄρθρον, “about day-break,” R.V., i.e., without delay they obeyed the angel’s command (Weiss). The words may also indicate the customary usage of Palestine where the heat was great in the daytime. The people rose early and came to our Lord to hear Him, Luke 21:38 (John 8:2). ὑπὸ = sub, circa (of time), so in classical Greek, Blass, Grammatik des N. G., p. 132. The first sacrifice took place in the Temple very early, Edersheim, Temple and its Services, p. 132, and it may be that the Apostles went to catch the people at the hour of their early devotions (Plumptre).— ὑπό is used nowhere else in the N.T. with an accusative in this sense, cf. Tobit 7:11, , al; ὑπὸ τὴν νύκτα, 3 Maccabees 5:2παραγενόμενος: having come, i.e., to the place where the Sadducees met, not merely pleonastic; the verb may fairly be regarded as characteristic of St. Luke in both his writings—it occurs eight times in his Gospel and thirty in the Acts, and frequently absolutely as here—elsewhere in N.T. only eight or nine times, frequent in LXX.— τὸ συνέδριον καὶ πᾶσαν τὴν γερουσίαν: does γερουσία represent an assembly or body in addition to the συνέδριον, or do the two words represent the same Court? The word γερ. appears nowhere else in the N.T., but in the LXX it is used in several places of the Jewish Sanhedrim, 1 Maccabees 12:6, 2 Maccabees 1:10; 2 Maccabees 4:44; 2 Maccabees 11:27, Judges 4:8; Judges 14:4; Judges 15:8. In the N.T. the Sanhedrim is also called πρεσβυτέριον, Luke 22:66, Acts 22:5. If the two words denote the same body καὶ must be regarded as merely explicative (so Wendt as against Meyer) to emphasise the solemn importance and representative nature of the assembly (so Grimm-Thayer to signify the full Sanhedrim sub v. γερ. and so apparently Blass). If we adopt Rendall’s view καί may still be explicative, but in another way, specifying the comprehensive character of this meeting as compared with the hasty and informal gathering in Acts 4:5-6 (cf. Kuinoel’s view, in loco). The difficulty has caused others to suggest that γερ. refers to men of age and experience who were asked to join the Council as assessors, or to some other assembly larger than the Sanhedrim and only summoned on special occasions. For the former view, Lumby and Plumptre (see also Page’s note) refer to Mishna, Joma, i., 1, where mention is made of “the chamber of the assessors,” parhedrin = πάρεδροι. Further we may note, Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. i., p. 172, E.T., in a note on this passage points out that as there can be no doubt as to the identity of the two conceptions συνέδριον and γερουσία (so too Zöckler and Weiss, in loco), καί must be taken as explanatory, or St. Luke makes a mistake in assuming that the συνέδριον was of a less comprehensive character than the γερουσία, “the Sanhedrin and all the elders of the people together”. Schürer prefers the latter alternative, but the former may reasonably be maintained not only from the Greek text but also because St. Luke’s information admittedly derived from a Jewish-Christian source is not likely to have been inaccurate. Hilgenfeld agrees with Weiss that in the source the O.T. expression γερουσία, Exodus 3:16; Exodus 4:29; Exodus 12:21, stood alone, but that the reviser prefixed the usual expression συνέδριον which in Acts 5:27; Acts 5:34 is found without any addition. On “Synhedrion,” see Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, ii., 8, 1149, and “Aelteste,” i., 1, pp. 59, 60, and O. Holtzmann, Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte, pp. 175, 176 (1895).— δεσμωτήριον, Acts 16:26; Thuc. vi. 60 and LXX, Genesis 39:20-23; Genesis 40:3-5. On the jurisdiction of the Sanhedrim and its right to order arrests by its own officers, and to dispose of cases not involving capital punishment, Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. i., 187, 188, E.T., O. Holtzmann, u. s., p. 173.


Verse 22

Acts 5:22. ὑπηρέται: apparently some of the Temple guard, Acts 5:26; see above on στρατηγός Acts 4:1, and Edersheim, Temple and its Services, pp. 119, 120. In the N.T. the word is not used of the military.— ἀναστρέψαντες: used only here in this sense (Acts 15:16 is not strictly a parallel), cf. LXX, Genesis 8:9, 1 Kings 21(20):5, and frequently.


Verse 23

Acts 5:23. ἐν πάσῃ ἀσφαλείᾳ, “in all safety,” R.V. (not cum omni diligentia, Vulgate); “in omni firmitate,” Flor.; in LXX generally μετά with genitive; cf. 2 Maccabees 3:22; 2 Maccabees 15:1, μετὰ πάσης ἀσφ. The Vulgate is misleading; the words mean not that the prison had been carefully shut, but that it was found in a state of perfect security.


Verse 24

Acts 5:24. τε ἱερεὺς καὶ στρατηγὸς τοῦ ἱεροῦ καὶ οἱ ἀρχ.: if we retain ἱερεύς it must mean the high priest, Acts 5:27, cf. 1 Maccabees 15:1; Jos., Ant., vi., 12, 1. But Weiss and Wendt both follow W.H(178) and R.V., and omit ἱερεὺς καὶ (so Blass (179)). στρατ. and οἱ ἀρχ. are thus closely united by the τε καὶ, inasmuch as the former in the flight of the prisoners had the greatest responsibility, and the ἀρχ. had occasioned the imprisonment, Acts 5:17. The στρατ. τοῦ ἱερ. was present at the meetings of the Sanhedrim, and assisted in their deliberations.— ἀρχιερεῖς: see on Acts 4:1. The word is probably used as including the heads of the twenty-four courses, those who had been high priests and still retained the title, and also those referred to in Acts 4:6. Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. i., 203–206; O. Holtzmann, Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte, p. 142.— διηπόρουν, Acts 2:12, “were much perplexed,” R.V.—See on περὶ αὐτῶν, sc., λόγοι: not the Apostles, as Alford and Meyer.— τί ἂν γένοιτο τοῦτο, “whereunto this might grow,” so A. and R.V. Blass interprets quomodo hoc factum esse posset, cf. Acts 10:17; Grammatik des N. G., p. 173. St. Luke alone uses the optative with ἄν in the N.T., cf. Luke 1:62; Luke 6:11; Luke 9:46, Acts 5:24; Acts 8:31; Acts 10:17; Acts 17:18 (Luke 15:26; Luke 18:36, Acts 26:29, doubtful text); Burton, N. T. Moods and Tenses, pp. 80 and 133; see also Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 66 (1893).


Verse 25

Acts 5:25. ἰδοὺεἰσὶν: on the characteristic use of the verb εἰναι after ἰδοὺ or ἴδε in St. Luke’s writings as compared with other N.T. writers and the LXX, see Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., pp. 200, 205 (1896); cf. Acts 2:7, Acts 16:1, and Luke 2:25; Luke 7:25; Luke 11:41, etc.— παραγεν., see on Acts 5:22.— ἑστῶτες, cf. Acts 5:20. antitheton: posuistis (Bengel).


Verse 26

Acts 5:26. ἤγαγεν: but imperfect with W.H(180) and Weiss, so Blass “quia modus quo res gesta est describitur; perfecta res indicatur, Acts 5:27, ἀγαγόντες”.— οὐμετὰ βίας, “but without violence,” R.V. Weiss compares with the whole phrase ἦγενβίας (Exodus 14:25); βία three or four times in Acts only, Acts 21:35, Acts 24:7 (omit W.H(181), R.V.), Acts 27:41; used in the LXX in the same sense as here and with the genitive, cf. Exodus 14:25 (cf. Acts 1:14), 3 Maccabees 4:7; classical usage more frequently has βίᾳ, ἐκ βίας, etc.— ἐφοβοῦντο γὰρ: the favour of the people which the Apostles so fully enjoyed at this time might well have caused an outbreak of fanaticism as later in the case of Stephen. The subjects to ἐφοβ. and to ἔστησαν (27) are στρατ. and οἱ ὑπηρέται. St. Chrysostom well comments on those who would thus fear—not God, but the people. On the Greek of the verse, see Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 116 (1896).— ἵνα μὴ λιθασθῶσιν: the reading μὴ undoubtedly correct, so W.H(182), Wendt, Weiss, Blass.— τὸν λαόν: denoting the persons feared, and μὴ λιθασ., the thing feared, so that the meaning is as in R.V., “for they were afraid that they should be stoned by the people,” or ἐφοβοῦντο γὰρ τὸν λαὸν may be taken as parenthetical (so Weiss), and μὴ λιθασ. as limiting ἦγενβίας. In the N.T. after verbs of fearing the subjunctive only is used where after secondary tenses we should have expected the optative, or sometimes the subjunctive is explained as implying more certainty of a result. Burton, N. T. Moods and Tenses, pp. 95, 96.— λιθασ.: very seldom in Attic Greek, where we should expect καταλεύειν; only twice in LXX, 2 Samuel 16:6; 2 Samuel 16:13, where usually λιθοβολέω (not used in classical writers, but six or seven times in N.T.); but λιθάζειν is found eight or nine times in N.T.


Verse 27

Acts 5:27. ἔστησαν, cf. Acts 4:7, during the investigation the judges would sit, Acts 6:15, Acts 23:3, the accused, the witnesses, and those speaking, stood, Mark 14:57; Mark 14:60, Acts 4:7; Acts 5:27; Acts 5:34; Acts 6:13; Acts 23:9, O. Holtzmann, Neutestamentliche Zeitgeschichte, p. 177.


Verse 28

Acts 5:28. παραγγελίᾳ παρηγγείλαμεν: for the Hebraism cf. Acts 4:17, “we straitly,” etc., R.V. (and A.V.), expressing intensity—“commanding, we commanded you,” Wycliffe. The T.R. makes the clause a question, commencing with οὐ, but the evidence is too strong against it, evidently it was occasioned by the ἐπηρώτησεν, but St. Chrysostom adopts it, see Hom., xiii., 1. Bengel remarks on παραγγελίᾳ, “pudet dicere minando, Acts 4:17, nam non poterant punire” But St. Chrysostom rightly notes that they ought to have asked πῶς ἐξήλθετε, i.e., from the prison, but they ask as if nothing had happened.— ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι τούτῳ, Acts 4:17, here as there the Council do not mention the name of Jesus, perhaps because they disdained it; in sharp contrast stands not only St. Peter’s mention of the name, but his glorying in it, Acts 5:30-31.— τὴν ἱερουσαλὴμ: fem. here and elsewhere, cf. Galatians 4:25, Revelation 3:12, so in Matthew 2:3, Blass, Grammatik des N. G., p. 32; Winer-Schmiedel, p. 153.— διδαχῆς, “teaching,” R.V., cf. Matthew 7:28.— βούλεσθε: the charge was untrue—the wish was their own, not that of the Apostles, cf. Matthew 27:25. St. Peter’s earnest desire was that they should be saved.— ἐπαγαγεῖν, Acts 18:6, Acts 22:20, and 2 Samuel 1:16, cf. 2 Peter 2:1; 2 Peter 2:5; nowhere else in N.T.— ἐφʼ ἡμᾶς: to bring His blood upon us, i.e., the vengeance of the people for His murder, αἷμα pro φόνον, Hebraistic—no thought of divine punishment from their point of view; cf. LXX. Genesis 20:9, Exodus 32:34, Judges 9:24, and cf. Joshua 23:15 (in N.T., Matthew 23:35, Revelation 18:24).


Verse 29

Acts 5:29. St. Peter as the spokesman, primus inter pares; the Apostles as a body are associated with him in his answer: “but Peter and the Apostles,” R.V. A.V. renders “Peter and the other Apostles,” and we may understand an ellipse of ἄλλοι or λοιποί before οἱ ἀπόστολοι, Blass, Grammatik des N. G., p. 286.— ἀποκ., cf. Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 112 (1896).— πειθαρχεῖν: only used by St. Luke and St. Paul; cf. Acts 5:32, Acts 27:21, Titus 3:1; in this chapter and in St. Paul, in its classical use, obeying one in authority, or τοῖς νόμοις, etc. The word is used in Polybius, and Josephus, and frequently in Philo, but only three times in the LXX cf. 1 Esdras 8:94, of obeying the law of the Lord. The reply of St. Peter, who speaks for all the Apostles, is practically the same as in Acts 4:19, but still more decisive in its tone as was natural after the recent command, Acts 5:20.


Verse 30

Acts 5:30. θεὸς τῶν πατέρων ἡμῶν, cf. Acts 3:13. St. Peter, as before, will not dissociate himself from the common wealth of Israel, or his hearers from the message and works of the Christ.— ἤγειρεν: does this word refer to the Resurrection, or to the sending of Jesus into this world, and His raising up by God as the Messiah? The former is the view taken by St. Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Erasmus, and amongst moderns by Meyer-Wendt, Nösgen, Alford, Overbeck, Felten, Blass, Holtzmann, Weiss, Hilgenfeld; but in Acts 3:15, Acts 4:10, the phrase is ἤγειρεν ἐκ νεκρῶν (cf. Sirach 48:5 : ἐγείρας νεκρὸν ἐκ θανάτου), although in Acts 10:40, Acts 13:37, the word evidently refers to the Resurrection. Others interpret the word as ἀνίστημι in Acts 3:22, and as in Acts 13:22, ἤγειρεν αὐτοῖς τὸν δαυείδ (cf. Luke 1:69; Luke 7:16), so Calvin, Bengel, De Wette, Lechler, Hackett, Page. One of the chief arguments for the former interpretation is the contrast marked in the next clause between the death of the Cross and the Resurrection, but this contrast would still be marked by the following verb. Is it not possible that, as in the days of old God had raised up a Saviour, or Saviours, for Israel, cf. Judges 2:18, ἤγειρε κ. αὐτοῖς κριτάς, Judges 3:9; Judges 3:15, ἤγειρε κ. σωτῆρα τῷ ., St. Peter may now speak of Him as raising up ἰησοῦς, i.e., a Saviour? see further, Acts 5:31.— διεχειρίσασθε, cf. Acts 26:21, “whom ye slew, hanging Him on a tree,” R.V., not as in A.V., “whom ye slew and hanged on a tree,” which would make the words refer to a Jewish mode of punishment, for, according to Jewish law, only those were hanged who were already dead (Deuteronomy 21:22, Joshua 10:26). The word which means in middle to lay hands upon, and so to slay, to kill, is only used by St. Luke (not in LXX), and forcibly represents the guilt of the Jews in the murder of Jesus, as if they had perpetrated it with their own hands (cf. Acts 26:24), “made away with violently,” Page; cf. instances in Wetstein (trucidastis).— κρεμάσαντες ἐπὶ ξύλου, LXX, Genesis 40:19, Deuteronomy 21:22-23, Joshua 10:26, Esther 5:14; Esther 6:4 (Galatians 3:13). Although St. Luke uses κρευασθείς of crucifixion, Luke 23:39, St. Peter alone uses the exact phrase of the text given in Acts 10:39, and so he too has ξύλον, 1 Peter 2:24, for the Cross (although St. Paul uses the same word, Acts 13:29). The word may therefore have a place amongst the many coincidences between St. Peter’s addresses and the language of his Epistles, see above on pp. 121 ff. The fact that their victim was thus accursed in the eyes of the law aggravated their guilt, and at the same sharply contrasted their act and that of God; for a similar contrast see Acts 3:14-15.


Verse 31

Acts 5:31. ἀρχηγὸν καὶ σωτῆρα: the former word as it is used here without any qualification, cf. Acts 3:15, may imply, like σωτῆρα, a reference to the earlier days of Israel’s history, when God raised up for them from time to time judges of whom the title ἀρχηγός, Judges 11:6; Judges 11:11, might be used no less than σωτήρ. In Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, St. Peter saw the true Leader and Saviour. For St. Peter no less than for St. Paul the ascended Jesus had led captivity captive and received gifts for men, cf. Luke 24:47-49.— ὕψωσεν τῇ δεξιᾷ αὐτοῦ, cf. Acts 2:33 : “exalt with his right hand,” R.V., “at” margin. Here as elsewhere Briggs interprets τῇ δεξιᾷ as local not instrumental, and prefers R.V. margin, Messiah of the Apostles, p. 37, note; but see note on Acts 2:33 above. The verb is used also by St. John 3:14; John 8:28; John 12:32, and also by St. Paul, Philippians 2:9 (see Westcott on St. John 3:14). But in the passive (as twice in St. John) it is employed in the LXX of the high exaltation of the Servant of God, in the picture which had evidently passed before the eyes of St. Peter, Isaiah 52:13; and he sees in the ascension of his Lord, and His spiritual sovereignty, a fulfilment of the prophecy of the suffering Servant, who is also a Prince and a Saviour.


Verse 32

Acts 5:32. “And we are witnesses of these things,” R.V. (W.H(183)), but in margin, “witnesses in Him,” ἐν αὐτῷ (cf. Luke 24:47); “nos in eo testes sumus,” Iren., see also above critical notes. For an explanation of the reading in T.R. and the two genitives, see Simcox, Language of the N. T., p. 84, note, and compare 2 Corinthians 5:1, Philippians 2:30, 1 Thessalonians 1:3.— ῥημάτων: here=Hebrew דָּבַר, cf. Acts 10:37 (Grotius, Blass), the words standing for their contents, i.e., the things, the facts. Meyer understood the facts to be the Resurrection and Ascension of Jesus, but Wendt understands them to be the gifts of the Messianic salvation mentioned in Acts 5:31, and compares Acts 5:20. But the use of the word in Acts 5:20 need not limit its use here: the Apostles were called above all things to witness to the facts of Christ’s life, Acts 10:37, and the ζωή in Acts 5:20 depended upon the Resurrection. In Luke 1:37 R.V. has “no word,” ῥῆμα, where A.V. has “no thing,” cf. Luke 1:65, where A. V. has “things” in the margin ( ῥήματα), and R.V. reads “sayings” in text: Luke 2:15, where R.V. has “this thing” ( ῥῆμα) in the text, and “saying” in margin; in Luke 2:19; Luke 2:51, R.V. has “sayings” in the text, “things” in the margin—so in LXX, the same uncertainty, cf. Genesis 15:1; Genesis 18:14, Exodus 2:14-15. ῥῆμα is used frequently by St. Luke in his writings, and much more so than by the other Evangelists; although it is found in all parts of the Acts, it is noticeable that it is employed more frequently in the earlier chapters, as in the first two chapters of the Gospel.— καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον δὲ: on the expression see Acts 4:8. The Holy Ghost συμμαρτυρεῖ with the Apostles, Romans 8:16 (cf. Acts 15:28). We may well compare with these words of St. Luke our Lord’s parting words in John 15:26-27. Here we have also the twofold witness—the historical witness borne to the facts—and the internal witness of the Holy Ghost in bringing home to men’s hearts the meaning of the facts (see Westcott on St. John, in loco).— τοῖς πειθαρχοῦσιν αὐτῷ: not to be limited to the Apostles, although by repeating this verb used at the opening of the speech St. Peter intimates that the ὑπακοὴ τῆς πίστεως (Romans 1:5) was the first requisite for the reception of the divine gift. In their own case the witness of the Spirit had been clearly shown, not only in the miracles which the Apostles had done, but also in the results of their preaching, in the enthusiasm of their charity, and we need not limit with Nösgen the thought of the gift of the Holy Spirit to the events of Pentecost. If this short speech of St. Peter, 29–32, reads like a summary of much which he is represented as saying on former occasions, we have no warrant for dismissing it as unhistorical, or even for supposing that St. Luke has only given us a summary of the address. It is rather “a perfect model of concise and ready eloquence,” and a striking fulfilment of the Lord’s promise, Matthew 11:19. Nothing was more natural than that St. Peter and his fellow-Apostles, like men whose minds were finally made up, should thus content themselves with an emphatic reassertion of the main issues involved in teaching which was already widely known, and with a justification of their disobedience to man by an appeal to the results which accompanied their obedience to God.


Verse 33

Acts 5:33. διεπρίοντο: lit(184), were sawn asunder (in heart), dissecabantur, Vulgate (cf. use of findo in Persius and Plautus), cf. Acts 7:54 (Luke 2:35), Euseb., H. E., v., i., 6 (see Grimm, sub v.). The word is used in its literal sense in Aristoph., Equites, 768, Plato, Conv., p. 193 a, and once in the LXX, 1 Chronicles 20:3. The rendering “sawed their teeth” would certainly require τοὺς ὀδόντας as in other cases where the verb (and the simple verb also) has any such meaning. Dr. Kennedy, Sources of N. T. Greek, pp. 72, 73, also refers to its use in the comic poet Eubulus (Meineke), 3, 255, and classes it among the words (colloquial) common to the comic poets (including Aristophanes) and the N.T. Here we have not the pricking of the heart, Acts 2:37, which led to contrition and repentance, but the painful indignation and envy which found vent in seeking to rid themselves of the disciples as they had done of their Master.— ἀνελεῖν: the verb is found no less than nineteen times in Acts, twice in St. Luke’s Gospel, and only two or three times in the rest of the N.T., once in Matthew 2:16, Hebrews 10:9 (2 Thessalonians 2:8); often used as here in LXX and classical Greek; it is therefore not one of those words which can be regarded as distinctly medical terms, characteristic of St. Luke (so Hobart and Zahn), although it is much used in medical writers. The noun ἀναίρεσις, Acts 8:1, is only found in St. Luke, and is also frequent in medical writers, Hobart, Medical Language of St. Luke, pp. 209, 210; but this word is also used in LXX of a violent death or destruction, cf. Numbers 11:15, Judith 15:4, 2 Maccabees 5:13. At the same time it is interesting to note that ἐπιχειρεῖν, another medical word characteristic of St. Luke, and used by him in the sense of attempting, trying, is found with ἀνελεῖν in Acts 9:29, cf. Zahn, Einleitung, ii., p. 384, with which Hobart compares μὲν γὰρ ἰατρὸς ἀνελεῖν ἐπιχειρεῖ τὸ νόσημα (Galen), see in loco.


Verse 34

Acts 5:34. ἀναστὰς, see Acts 5:17.— συνεδρίῳ: the word is used here and in Acts 5:27 above, without γερουσία, and this seems to indicate that in Acts 5:21 the Sanhedrim is meant, and no additional council.— γαμαλιήλ: it has sometimes been urged that Saul, the persecutor, could not have been the pupil of such a man as is here described—a man who was so liberal in his religious opinions, and so adverse to political agitation. But whatever may have been the extent of his liberality, Gamaliel remained firmly attached to the traditions of the fathers, and whilst we may see in his recorded principle his abhorrence of wrangling and over-scrupulosity, we may also see in it a proof of his adherence to traditionalism: “Procure thyself a teacher, avoid being in doubt; and do not accustom thyself to give tithes by guess” (Edersheim, History of the Jewish Nation, p. 128). But in itself there is nothing strange in the fact that Saul should surpass the zeal of Gamaliel, for not only does history often show us how one side of the teaching of a master may be exaggerated to excess by a pupil, but also the specific charge against Stephen of destroying the Temple and of changing the customs of Moses had not been formulated against St. Peter and his brother-Apostles, who still attended the Temple worship, and whose piety gained them the regard of the people. That charge against the first martyr was nothing less than the charge brought against Jesus of Nazareth: the burning words and scathing denunciations of Stephen could only be answered, as those of Jesus had been answered, by the counter charge of blasphemy, and the punishment of death (see Sabatier’s L’Apôtre Paul, 21 ff.).

Gamaliel appears as an ordinary member, and there can be no reasonable doubt that the high priest was always the President during the Roman-Herodian period. Not until after the destruction of Jerusalem, when the priesthood had lost its importance, was a Rabbi chosen as President of a reconstituted Sanhedrim. For a summary of the views for and against the Rabbinic tradition that this Gamaliel was the President of the Sanhedrim, see Appendix iii., “The President of the Sanhedrim,” by the late Rev. H. A. White, in Dr. Edersheim’s History of the Jewish Nation, p. 522 ff. The influence of Gamaliel may easily be understood (1) when we remember that whilst the ἀρχιερεῖς belonged chiefly if not exclusively to the Sadducees, the Pharisees who also had seats in the Sanhedrim (cf. Acts 23:6, and Jos., B. J., ii., 17, 3, Vita, 38, 39, C. Apion, ii., 22) possessed practically a predominating influence in the Council. The remark of Jos., Ant., xviii., 1, 4, gives us, as Schürer says, “a deep insight into the actual position of matters,” Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. i., p. 178 ff., E.T., and O. Holtzmann Neutest. Zeitgeschichte, p. 175. (2) But we have also to take into account the personal influence of the man, which was no doubt at its height about the time described in Acts 5—he died A.D. 57–58. Not only was he the first teacher of the seven to whom the title Rabban was given (higher than that of Rab or Rabbi), but Jewish tradition respecting him shows the dignity and influence which attached to his name, Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, ii., 2, 236, and see on the titles given to Gamaliel, Derenbourg, Histoire de la Palestine, pp. 239–246, and Schürer, u. s., p. 364. We may see a further proof of his influence in the fact that a certain proviso with regard to the determining leap year, which was passed in the Sanhedrim in his absence, was only to come into force if it received the confirmation of Gamaliel (Edajoth, vii., 7). So far then St. Luke’s account of the weight which would be carried by Gamaliel in the assembly is amply justified, and Schürer’s description of the constitution of the Sanhedrim, u. s., p. 174 ff., is sufficient reply to the strictures of Jüngst against Gamaliel’s appearance as a member of the Council, cf. Derenbourg, u. s., pp. 201, 213. On the words attributed to Gamaliel see below.— νομοδιδάσκαλος: only in St. Luke and St. Paul, cf. Luke 5:17, 1 Timothy 1:7, almost = γραμματεύς, νομικός, not found in LXX.— βραχύ ( τι): = “a little while,” R.V., Luke 22:58, “a little space,” A.V.; ambiguous, in classical Greek the word might be used as either βραχύ, a short distance, Xen., Anab., iii., 3, 7, or ἐν βραχέϊ, “in a short time,” Herod., Acts 5:24, cf. Thuc., vi., 12. In Acts 27:28 the word may be taken either of space or time (see Blass). In the LXX it is used of space in 2 Samuel 16:1, and 2 Samuel 19:36, and most likely of degree in Psalms 8:6 (although the expression may be taken of time, cf. Hebrews 2:7; Hebrews 2:9, R.V.), and of time in Psalm 93:17, and in Isaiah 57:17 (Weiss, Westcott; but see Hatch and Redpath, doubtful). But whether we take the word of space or time in this passage, it is noteworthy that St. Luke alone of the N.T. writers can be said to use βραχύ temporally (in Hebrews it is a quotation), Friedrich, and so Klostermann, Vindiciœ Lucanœ, p. 54.— ἔξω ποιεῖν (hinausthun): only here in this sense, cf. Blass, in loco, for classical instances, and cf. Psalms 141:8 (Symmachus)—Weiss, Wendt.


Verse 35

Acts 5:35. ἄνδρες ἰσραηλεῖται, see on Acts 2:22. προσέχετε ἑαυτοῖς: phrase only found in St. Luke, cf. Luke 12:1; Luke 17:3; Luke 21:34, and Acts 20:28. προσέχειν without the pronoun is found six times in Matthew alone of the Evangelists, but in LXX frequently used in the phrase πρόσεχε σεαυτῷ. The phrase may be connected with ἐπὶ τοῖς ἀνθρώποις τούτοις, “as touching these men, what you are about to do,” R.V., hence the reading ἀπὸ τῶν, etc., E. Or we may take it with μέλλετε πράσσειν, “what you are about to do to these men”. In favour of the latter it may be said that the construction πράσσειν τι ἐπί τινι is very common, whereas προσέχειν ἑαυτοῖς is never found in construction with ἐπί, and that this rendering rightly marks the evidently emphatic position of τοῖς ἀνθρώποις (so Weiss, Wendt, Holtzmann, Hackett).— τί μέλλετε πράσσειν, quid acturi sitis, Vulgate. Burton, N. T. Moods and Tenses, p. 36, μέλλειν never found with future infinitive except in the phrase μέλλειν ἔσεσθαι used in Acts, almost always has a present infinitive, although its force is akin to that of the future (Grimm-Thayer); also Simcox, Language of the N. T., p. 120. μέλλειν is used over thirty times in Acts in all its parts, and is found very often in St. Luke’s Gospel.


Verse 36

Acts 5:36. πρὸ γὰρ τούτων τῶν ἡμερῶν: Gamaliel appeals to the experience of the past—the phrase is placed first with emphasis, cf. Acts 21:38; on St. Luke’s fondness for phrases with ἡμέρα see above, and Friedrich, pp. 9, 89. But whilst Gamaliel appeals to the past, his appeal is not to a remote but to a near past which was still fresh in the memories of his generation, perhaps because, as St. Chrysostom urges, such recent examples μάλιστα πρὸς πίστιν ἦσαν ἰσχυρά.— ἀνέστη, cf. Acts 7:18, like the Hebrew קוּם, and so constantly in LXX, Exodus 1:8, Deuteronomy 13:1; Deuteronomy 34:10, Judges 2:10; Judges 4:9; Judges 5:7, etc.— θεῦδας: St. Luke evidently places Theudas before Judas. But a difficulty arises from the fact that the only Theudas of this period known to us is placed by Josephus in the reign of Claudius, about the year 44, 45. He gave himself out as a false prophet, gathered round him “a great part of the people,” and persuaded them to follow him to the Jordan with a promise that its waters should miraculously divide before him as in the days of Moses. But the Roman procurator, Cuspius Fadus, sent a troop of horse to meet him, some of his followers were slain, others taken captive, whilst he himself was made prisoner and beheaded, and his head sent to Jerusalem, Jos., Ant., xxx., 5, 1. But a serious chronological discrepancy must be faced if the Theudas of Josephus is the Theudas of St. Luke. Gamaliel speaks of a Theudas who arose before the days of the enrolment, R.V., which marked the attempt of Judas, i.e., about 6–7 A.D. But are they the same? As early as the days of Origen their identity was denied (c. Cels., i., 57), see “Acts,” B.D.2, Bishop Lightfoot, p. 40, and in comparing the two accounts in Josephus and Acts there is no close resemblance beyond the name, see Nösgen, in loco, and Belser, Theol. Quartalschrift, i., p. 70 (1896). St. Luke speaks definitely of 400 followers; Josephus evidently considers that the pretender was much more successful, so far as numbers were concerned, for he writes: πείθει τὸν πλεῖστον ὄχλον. These and similar discrepancies are also well insisted upon by Zahn in his recent Introduction, ii., 416, 417 (1899), and his own conclusion is that only such ordinary words are common to the two accounts as Luke, ἀνῃρέθη; Jos., ἀνεῖλε; Luke, ἐπείθοντο; Jos., ἔπειθε; and that we cannot get beyond the bounds of possibility that the two authors refer to the same fact (on Zahn’s criticism of Krenkel’s view of the dependence of Luke on Josephus in the narrative, see u. s.). In referring to the appearance of the many false Messiahs, such as the Theudas of Josephus, Ant., xx., 5, 1, Dr. Edersheim, Sketches of Jewish Social Life, p. 66, remarks: “Of course this could not have been the Theudas of Acts 5:36-37, but both the name and the movement were not solitary in Israel at the time”; see also Ramsay, Was Christ born in Bethlehem? p. 259. And no testimony could be stronger than that of Josephus himself to the fact that at the time of the Advent Judæa was full of tumults and seditions and pretenders of all kinds, Ant., xvii., 10, 4, 8; B. J., ii., 4, 1. The view has been maintained by many commentators that the Theudas of Josephus may reasonably be supposed to be one of the many false teachers and leaders mentioned by the Jewish historian and not always by name, who pandered to the feverish hopes of the people and gave themselves out as of kingly rank—(so recently Belser, Felten, Page, Plumptre, Knabenbauer). The name Theudas contracted from Theodorus may not have been so common as that of Simon or Judas (although on the other hand, see Nösgen, Apostelgeschichte, p. 147)—“Josephus describes four men bearing the name of Simon within forty years, and three that of Judas within ten years, all of whom were instigators of rebellion”—but it was the Greek equivalent to several familiar Hebrew names, e.g., Jonathan, Matthias; and Bishop Lightfoot allows that there is something to be said for Wieseler’s suggestion that on the ground of the name the Theudas here may be identified with Matthias, the son of Margalothus, an insurgent in the time of Herod, prominent in the pages of Josephus, Ant., xvii., 6, 2 (see also Zöckler on the whole question, Apostelgeschichte, p. 197, 2nd edit.). We must admit the objection of Wendt that this and other identifications of names and persons cannot be proved (and some of them certainly are very precarious, as Alford pointed out), but we cannot suppose that St. Luke could have made the gross blunder attributed to him in the face of his usual accuracy (see Blass, Acta Apostolorum, p. 90), or endorse with Schürer what he calls “the slight authority of the Acts in such matters” (Jewish People, div. i., vol. ii., p. 169). If it is hardly possible that Josephus can have been mistaken, although some writers have held that it is by no means impossible that even here he may have been (cf. Alford, Rendall, Belser, and compare the remarks of Zahn, ubi supra), we may at least claim the same probability of freedom from error for St. Luke, “temporum bene memorem se scriptor monstrat: quo minus est probabile eum de Theuda tam graviter errasse quam plerique putant” (Blass), and see the recent remarks of Ramsay, Was Christ born at Bethlehem? p. 252 ff. It cannot be said that some recent attempts at a solution of the difficulty are very promising; for whilst H. Holtzmann severely blames Blass for maintaining that some Christian had interpolated the name Theudas in the text of Josephus (see Blass, in loco, and p. xvi., edit. min.), he himself is prepared to endorse the view recently maintained amongst others by Clemen that the writer of Acts in his mention of Theudas gives us a vague but yet recognisable recollection of Jos., Ant., xx., 5, 1; see in loco and Theol. Literaturzeitung, 3, 1896, and 13, 1897. B. Weiss thinks that the notorious difficulty may easily be got rid of by supposing that the reviser inserted the example of Theudas in the wrong place, Einleitung in das N. T., p. 574.— λέγων εἶναί τινα ἑαυτόν: of consequence, really “somebody,” cf. Acts 8:9 (and R.V.); “ein grosser Mann,” Blass, Grammatik des N. G., p. 76; so we have its opposite, οὐδείς, cf. instances in Wetstein in classical Greek; so in Latin quidam, aliquis, Juvenal, i., 74; Cicero, ad Atticum, iii., 15; and cf. also 1 Corinthians 3:7, Galatians 2:6; Galatians 6:3; Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 148 (1893). And yet the jealous eye of the Pharisees was blind to the difference between such a man as Theudas, whom Gamaliel so contemptuously described, and the Apostles who sought not their own honour (Nösgen); cf. Vulgate, “dicens se esse aliquem,” so Rhem. and Wycl., “saying that he was somebody”.— προσεκολλήθη: better reading προσεκλίθη, a word not found elsewhere in N.T., cf. 2 Maccabees 14:24; and so also in LXX, cf. Psalms 39(40):2, Symmachus; cf. Polyb., iv., 51, 5; so also πρόσκλισις; for its further use see Clem. Rom., Cor(185), xlvii., 4— ὡσεὶ ( ὡς) τετρακοσίων, see above on “Theudas”.— ἀνῃρέθη, see also on ἀναιρέω, Acts 5:33, often of violent death in Acts. The two clauses stand in sharp contrast—the one emphasises the large number which joined Theudas, the other the fact that notwithstanding he was slain; cf. Acts 4:10.— διελύθησαν κ. τ. λ.: nowhere else in N.T., but its use is quite classical, cf. Thuc., ii., 12; Xen., Cyr., v., 5, 43; Polyb., iv., 2. Blass remarks that the whole phrase “apte de secta quæ paullatim dilabitur, minus apte de multitudine per vim disjecta”.— ἐγένοντο εἰς οὐδέν: phrase only here in N.T. (cf. Acts 19:27), but see in LXX, Job 24:25, Isaiah 40:17, Wisdom of Solomon 3:17; Wisdom 20:16. γίνομαι εἰς in LXX and also in classics; in N.T. cf. Luke 13:19; Luke 20:17, Acts 4:11, and cf. 1 Thessalonians 3:5. In the first passage it is Hebraistic; in the passage before us and in 1 Thess. the phrases are quite possibly Greek, cf. especially Simcox, Language of the N. T., p. 143. The phrase is more frequent in St. Luke’s writings than in any other books of the N.T., except the Apocalypse.


Verse 37

Acts 5:37. ἐν ταῖς ἡμέραις τῆς ἀπογ., see Blass, in loco, on St. Luke’s accuracy. We must be careful to distinguish this from Luke 2:1. The tribal method of numbering which forms an essential part of St. Luke’s story in the Gospel may explain why no such serious disturbance followed as resulted from the Roman numbering and valuation which marked Quirinius’ second Roman administration, “the great census,” ἀπογ. (in 6–8 A.D.), taken when Judæa had just become a part of the Roman province of Syria. This “great census,” taken after the Roman method, involved the imposition of a tax, Jos., Ant., xviii., 1, 1, and it was this impost which roused the indignation of Judas. To pay tribute to a foreign power was to violate an Israelite’s allegiance to Jehovah: “We have no Lord and Master but God,” was the watchword of Judas and his followers. For the whole subject see Ramsay, Expositor, April and June, 1897, and Was Christ born at Bethlehem? (1898), e.g., pp. 107, 108, 127, 139.— καὶ ἀπέστησε λαὸν: used here transitively, and here only in the N.T., cf. Deuteronomy 7:4, and in classical writers, Herod., i., 76. The verb ἀφίστημι is not found in any of the Gospels except St. Luke’s, where it occurs four times, and in the Acts six times. It is not only one of the words characteristic of the two books, but also of St. Luke and St. Paul (so also μεθίστημι, see on Acts 19:26), as it is only found once outside St. Paul’s Epistles (in which it is employed four times), viz., Hebrews 3:12; “drew away some of the people,” R.V. There is no word which actually expresses this as in T.R., where we have ἱκανόν = “much,” A.V.— ὀπίσω αὐτοῦ: this prepositional use of ὀπ. is not found in classical writers, where the word is always an adverb. In the N.T. and LXX the prepositional use is derived from Hebrew אַחֲרֵי, cf. Acts 20:30, Luke 9:23; Luke 21:8. Blass, Grammatik des N. G., p. 126.— διεσκορπίσθησαν: it is true that the sect revived under the name of Zealots, and played an active part in the Jewish wars, but there is no reason for charging St. Luke’s account with inaccuracy (so Overbeck following De Wette). The fate of the leader and the dispersion of his followers was quite sufficient to point the moral which Gamaliel wished to draw.


Verse 38

Acts 5:38. καὶ τὰ νῦν, cf. also in Acts 4:29, Acts 17:30, Acts 20:32, Acts 27:22. τὰ neuter accusative absolute—as respects the present, now, cf. 2 Maccabees 15:8; thus in all parts of Acts, Vindiciœ Lucanœ, Klostermann, p. 53, so Zeller, Lekebusch, Friedrich. The expression is quite classical.— ἐάσατε: ἐάω characteristic of Luke, and is only used once elsewhere in the Gospels, Matthew 24:43 (also in 1 Corinthians 10:13), but twice in St. Luke’s Gospel, and seven times in Acts— ἀφίηιι occurs only thrice in Acts 8:22; Acts 14:17.— καταλυθήσεται, “will be overthrown,” R.V. evertere, Blass, so Rendall. This rendering gives the proper force of the word; it is not διαλύομαι as in Acts 5:36, which might be rendered “will be dissolved,” but κατά indicates subversion, cf. Romans 14:20, Acts 6:14, Galatians 2:18; cf. 2 Maccabees 2:22, 4 Maccabees 4:16, and frequently ibid., Vulgate, “dissolvetur”.


Verse 39

Acts 5:39. ἐάνεἰ δὲ: it has sometimes been thought that the change of mood from subjunctive to indicative, “but if it is of God,” as if indicating that the second supposition were the more probable (cf. Galatians 1:8-9), indicates sympathy on the part of Gamaliel. It is of course possible that he may have been rendered favourably disposed towards the Christians by their strict observance of the Law, and by their appeal to a doctrine which widely divided Pharisees and Sadducees. Others have attributed the change in mood, not to Gamaliel at all, but to the author (so Overbeck, Holtzmann), and have maintained (so Blass, Weiss, cf. Winer-Moulton, xli. 2) that the indicative may be used because the second is the case with which the Council had actually to deal, the assertion, i.e., of the Apostles. There may also be an underlying contrast between the transitoriness of all mere human schemes, all of which would be overthrown, and the certainty of that which is “of God,” and which has Him for its Author. There cannot be the least ground for supposing that Gamaliel’s counsel was in its tenor a mere invention, as it bears the impress of a thorough Rabbinical wise saying, cf. Sayings of the Jewish Fathers, v., 24 (Taylor, p. 93, second edition). See too Herod., ix. 16; Eur., Hippol., vi., 76; for the construction, cf. Burton, N. T. Moods and Tenses, p. 96, and Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., pp. 103, 113 (1893), who compares LXX, Genesis 44:23; Genesis 44:26.— οὐ δύνασθε: R.V. and W.H(186), δυνήσεσθε. καταλῦσαι with accusative of person in Xen., Cyr., viii., 5, 24; Plato, Legg., iv., p. 714, ., cf. 4 Maccabees 4:16. But without this addition it is usual to refer back to προσέχετε in Acts 5:35 (cf. Luke 21:34) for the construction of μήποτε; but μήποτεεὑρεθῆτε may be explained on the principle that a verb of fearing is sometimes unexpressed, the idea of fear being supplied by the context (in clauses where μή with the subjunctive is found), Burton, u. s., p. 96.— μήποτε, “lest haply,” its use in later Greek, Blass, Grammatik des N. G., p. 208. καί sometimes interpreted (so Alford, Wendt, Holtzmann), as if it meant not only against man but also against God. θεομάχοι: not found elsewhere, but cf. LXX, Job 26:5, Symm., and in Proverbs 9:18; Proverbs 21:16, applying the word to the Rephaim (see B.D.2 “Giants”); in 2 Maccabees 7:19 we have θεομαχεῖν ἐπεχείρησας. In classical Greek the same verb is found, see Grimm and Wendt for instances; θεομαχία, Plato, Rep., 378, D. (as certain books of the Iliad were called, especially the 19). The tolerance of the sentiments here attributed to Gamaliel is undoubtedly in perfect accordance with what we know of his character and opinions; the decisions attributed to him, e.g., that relating to the law of the Sabbath (Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, ii., 2, 237; see also Derenbourg, Histoire de la Palestine, pp. 239–246, and cf. also Renan, Apostles, p. 153, E.T.), are marked by a tendency to mildness and liberality; and perhaps a still more remarkable illustration of the same tendency is afforded by the enactment so often referred to him (Hamburger, u. s.) to allow to the poor of the heathen, as well as of Israel, the gleaning and a participation in the corn left standing in the corner of the fields, to inquire after the welfare of the Gentile poor, to maintain them, to visit their sick, to bury their dead (the prayer against heretics belonged not to this Gamaliel, but to Gamaliel II.). But the decision of Gamaliel was not prompted by any sympathy with the Christians; it was the judgment of toleration and prudence, but certainly nothing more, although it scarcely falls under the head of “cynical”; it was rather, as Ewald called it, that of an ordinary politician. No credence whatever can be attributed to the tradition that Gamaliel became a Christian, or that he was secretly a Christian, although we may sympathise with St. Chrysostom’s words, “it cannot be that he should have continued in unbelief to the end”. The Talmud distinctly affirms that he died a Jew, and, if he had betrayed his faith, we cannot understand the honour which Jewish tradition attaches to his name, “Gamaliel,” B.D.2; Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. i., p. 364. Wendt, while he refuses to admit the historical character of the speech of Gamaliel, is evidently puzzled to discover any definite grounds for St. Luke’s wilful introduction of the famous Rabban into the scene (so too Feine). He therefore supposes that the decision in Acts 5:38, in which he sees a wise saying similar to those attributed to other Rabbis, was assigned by tradition to Gamaliel, and that St. Luke, who was in possession of the further tradition that Gamaliel had given a decisive judgment in the trial of the Apostles, introduces this saying into the speech which he attributes to Gamaliel as fitting to the occasion. But there is no indication in our authorities that the sentiment thus attributed to Gamaliel was in any way different from what might have been expected of him (see Schürer, Jewish People, u. s.). The chief objection to the speech, viz., the alleged anachronism involved in the mention of Theudas, really begs the question as to its authenticity, and even on the supposition of an inaccuracy in the point mentioned, we cannot get rid of the fact that the attitude of Gamaliel in itself betrays no inconsistency. It was this alleged anachronism which caused Spitta to refer the incident of Gamaliel in this chapter to his inferior source ., and to refuse to adopt the solution of Weiss and Feine, who solved the difficulty involved in the mention of Theudas by introducing the hand of a reviser.


Verse 40

Acts 5:40. ἐπείσθησαν δὲ αὐτῷ: whatever scruples Gamaliel may have had in pressing matters against the Apostles, or even if the teaching of Christ, as some have conjectured, with much of which he might have sympathised as a follower of Hillel, had influenced his mind, or if, like Joseph of Arimathea, he too had not consented to the counsel and will of his fellow-Sanhedrists, there is no reason to suppose (see above) that he ever advanced beyond the compromise here suggested. It may be that Neander was right in his judgment that Gamaliel was too wise a man to render a fanatical movement more violent still by opposing it. Others however see in his words a mere laisser-aller view of matters, or a timid caution which betokened a mere waiter upon Providence. But at the same time there are occasions when Gamaliel’s advice may not be out of place, see Bengel on Acts 5:38, and Farrar, St. Paul, i., 110 ff.— δείραντες, Deuteronomy 25:3, 2 Corinthians 11:24 : the punishment was for minor offences, and it was now inflicted upon the Apostles because they had trangressed the command enjoined upon them previously, Acts 4:18. The Pharisees, probably by their superior number in the Sanhedrim (Jos., Ant., xiii., 10, 6), were able to secure the following of Gamaliel’s advice, and to prevent extreme measures against the Apostles, but they were not prepared to disregard the previous injunction of the Council which bade the Apostles refrain from uttering a word in the name of Jesus. But the Apostles themselves must have seen in the punishment a striking fulfilment of their Lord’s words, as in the closing hours of His earthly life He foretold their future sufferings for His Name. The penalty which must have been a very painful one, although the command not to exceed forty stripes often led to its mitigation, was often inflicted by the synagogues, and not only by the great Sanhedrim, for all kinds of offences as against heretics and others. These Acts 5:40-42, with the exception of the words ἐπείσθησαν δὲ αὐτῷ, were referred by Jüngst to the redactor on the ground that they do not fit in well after Gamaliel’s speech, and that the Apostles would have been at once released, but the Apostles were punished for a transgression of the command previously laid upon them in Acts 4:18. According to Jüngst, who here follows Spitta, the original conclusion of the narrative is to be found in inserting after Acts 5:39, chap. Acts 6:7! Here we are told is a notice, which is quite out of place where it now stands, that a great number of the priests were obedient to the faith: this was the result of the speech of Gamaliel, and his warning not to be found “fighting against God”; a speech delivered in the Sanhedrim in the midst of the priests!


Verse 41

Acts 5:41. οἱ μὲν οὖν: no answering δέ as after Acts 1:6, Acts 2:41, but explained because immediately upon ἐπορεύοντο (which answers to ἀπέλυσαν) follows χαίροντες, marking the attitude of the Apostles, and showing how little they proposed to obey the injunction from fear of further punishment. But see also Mr. Rendall’s note, and also his Appendix on μὲν οὖν, Acts, p. 163, in which he examines this view at length; according to him there is an answering δέ, but it is found in the antithesis to this sentence in chap. Acts 6:1, the connection being that the Apostles now became more absorbed in their spiritual work, and a murmuring arose in consequence of their neglect of the distribution of the common funds. But this antithesis does not seem natural, and a censure on the Apostles is not necessarily contained in Acts 6:1. ff.— ἐπορεύοντο χαίροντες: “imperf. quia describitur modus” (Blass, Grammatik des N. G., p. 186; if one prophecy of their Lord had been already fulfilled, another was fulfilled in the sequel, Matthew 5:11-12, Philippians 1:29.— κατηξιώθησανἀτιμασθῆναι: oxymoron, cf. 2 Corinthians 6:8-10; cf. Bengel’s note—he calls it “eximium oxy.”. The verb καταξ. is used by St. Luke in his Gospel, Acts 20:35 (Acts 21:36, T.R., but not W.H(187) or R.V.), and here; only found once elsewhere, 2 Thessalonians 1:5, in a passage where the thought of Christian suffering and inheritance is combined; 2 Maccabees 13:12, 3 Maccabees 3:21; 3 Maccabees 4:11, 4 Maccabees 18:3. ἀτιμασθῆναι only used once elsewhere by St. Luke, cf. Luke 20:11, where it is also found in connection with δέρω.— ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόμ., “the Name”—i.e., the Name κατʼ ἐξοχήν, cf. 3 John 1:7, and James 5:14 (Acts 2:7) ( τοῦ κ. doubtful), cf. also Clem. Rom., 2 Cor. (so called), xiii. 4, Ignat., Ephes., iii., 1, used here as the absolute use of שֵׁם in Leviticus 24:11; Leviticus 24:16, by which the Jews understood Jehovah. See Grimm, Mayor’s St. James above, and Taylor, Pirke Aboth, p. 67, second edition; cf. τῆς ὁδοῦ, “the Way,” Acts 9:2, etc.— πᾶσάν τε ἡμέραν: the τε joins the imperfect ἐπαύοντο closely to the preceding, indicating the continuance of the work of the Apostles in spite of threats and blows, and of their resolve to welcome suffering for Christ as an honour = κατὰ πᾶσαν ἡμέραν. This use of παύεσθαι with the participle almost entirely in Luke and Paul may be regarded as a remains of literary usage, Luke 5:4, Colossians 1:9, Ephesians 1:16 (Hebrews 10:2); Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 193 (1893).— ἐν τῷ ἱερ. καὶ κατʼ οἶκον: the words may mark a contrast between the public preaching which was not discontinued, cf. Acts 5:21, and the teaching continued at home in a household assembly, or κατά may be taken distributively, and refer to the Christian assemblies met together in various houses in the city, as in Acts 2:46. See Zöckler’s note, and Edersheim, Jewish Social Life, pp. 259, 260.— τὸν χρ. .: “Jesus as the Christ,” R.V. The contents of the first Apostolic preaching, the sum and substance of the Apostles’ message to their fellow-countrymen. This is allowed and insisted upon by Schwegler, Renan, and others, but in the statement what an intimate knowledge of the life of Jesus is presupposed, and how great must have been the impression made by Him upon His daily companions!

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicol, W. Robertson, M.A., L.L.D. "Commentary on Acts 5:4". The Expositor's Greek Testament. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/egt/acts-5.html. 1897-1910.

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