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Bible Commentaries

Vincent's Word Studies

Acts 5



Verse 2

Kept back ( ἐνοσφίσατο )

Only here, Acts 5:3, and Titus 2:10, where it is rendered purloining. From νόσφι , aloof, apart. The verb means to set apart for one's self; hence to appropriate wrongfully.

Verse 3

To lie to ( ψεύσασθαι )

Rather, to deceive. The design of Satan was to deceive the Holy Ghost. To lie to would require a different case in the noun, which occults in Acts 5:4, where the same verb is properly rendered lie (unto God). Satan fills the heart to deceive. The result of the attempt is merely to lie.

Verse 4

Whiles it remained, was it not thine own ( οὐχὶ μένον ? σοὶ ἔμενε )

A play on the words. Lit., remaining, did it not remain to thee? Rev., very happily, whiles it remained, did it not remain thine own?

Conceived ( ἔθου )

Lit., put or fixed. Wherefore didst thou fix this deed in thy heart? - i.e., resolve upon it.

Verse 5

Gave up the ghost ( ἐξέψυξε )

Used by Luke only. A rare word, occurring in the Septuagint, and in medical writers. See Ezekiel 21:7, “Every spirit shall faint. See, also, on failing, Luke 21:26.

Verse 6

Wound him up ( συνέστειλαν )

Better, as Rev., wrapped him round. The verb means to draw together, or draw in; hence used for shortening sail, reducing expenses, lowering or humbling a person. In 1 Corinthians 7:29, it occurs in the phrase, “the time is short ( συνεσταλμένος , Rev., properly, shortened );” i.e., drawn together, contracted. In the sense of wrapping up it is found in Aristophanes, of wrapping cloaks or garments about one; also of tucking up the garments about the loins, as a preparation for service. In the sense of shrouding for burial, it occurs in Euripides (“Troades,” 382): “They were not shrouded ( συνεπεστάλησαν ) by the hands of a wife.” In medical language, of bandaging a limb; of the contraction of tumors, and of organs of the body, etc. Some, however, as Meyer, refer the word here to the pressing together of the dead man's limbs.

Verse 8


“The woman, whose entrance into the assembly of the saints was like a speech” (Bengel).

For so much ( τοσούτου )

Perhaps pointing to the money still lying at his feet.

Verse 9

Ye have agreed together ( συνεφωνήθη ὑμῖν )

The verb is passive. Lit., was it agreed by you. The figure in the word is that of concord of sounds. Your souls were attuned to each other respecting this deceit. See on music, Luke 15:25.

To tempt ( πειράσαι )

To put it to the proof whether the Holy Spirit, ruling in the apostles, could be deceived. See on Acts 5:3.

The feet

Graphic. The steps of the young men returning from the burial are heard at the door.

Verse 12

Were wrought ( ἐγένετο )

The best texts read ἐγίνετο the imperfect, were being wrought from time to time.


The whole body of believers.

Verse 13

The rest

Unbelievers, deterred by the fate of Ananias from uniting themselves to the church under false pretences.

Join himself ( κολλᾶσθαι )

See on Luke 15:15; and Luke 10:11. In all but two instances (Romans 12:9; 1 Corinthians 6:17), the word implies a forced, unnatural, or unexpected union. Thus Philip would not, without a special command, have “joined himself” to the chariot of the Ethiopian prince (Acts 8:29). Saul's attempt to join himself to the apostles was regarded by them with suspicion (Acts 9:26); and the fact that certain persons “clave to” Paul in Athens is expressly contrasted with the attitude of the citizens at large. The sense of an unnatural union comes out clearly in 1 Corinthians 6:16.

Verse 14

Were added ( προσετίθεντο )

Imperfect: kept being added.

Verse 15

Couches ( κραββάτων )

See on Mark 2:4.

The shadow of Peter passing by

But the proper rendering is, as Peter passed by, his shadow might, etc.

Verse 18

In the common prison ( ἐν τηρήσει δημοσίᾳ )

Incorrect. Τήρησις is not used in the sense of prison, but is an abstract term meaning ward or keeping, as in Acts 4:3. There is no article, moreover. Note, too, that another word is used for the prison in the next verse ( τῆς φυλακῆς ). Rev., therefore, correctly, in public ward.

Verse 19

By night ( διὰ τῆς νυκτὸς )

More correctly, during the night: διά , in the course of. Compare Acts 16:9.

Verse 20


Compare Acts 2:14; and see on Luke 18:11; and Luke 19:8.

Of this life

The eternal life which Christ revealed. It is a peculiar use of the phrase, which is commonly employed in contrast with the life to come, as 1 Corinthians 15:19. Compare John 6:63, John 6:68. Not equivalent to these words of life.

Verse 21

Early in the morning ( ὑπὸ τὸν ὄρθρον )

Ὑπό , beneath, is often used in the sense of just about, or near. Ὄρθρον , is from ὄρνυμι , to cause to arise: the dawn.See on Luke 24:1. Render as Rev., about daybreak.

Taught ( ἐδίδασκον )

Imperfect: began teaching.

The council ( συνέδριον )

The Sanhedrim.

The senate ( γερουσίαν )

From γέρων , an old man, like the Latin senatus, from senex, old. Taking on very early an official sense, the notion of age being merged in that of dignity. Thus in Homer γέροντες are the chiefs who form the king's council. Compare the Latin patres, fathers, the title used in addressing the Roman senate. The word in this passage is the name of the Spartan assembly, Gerousia, the assembly of elders, consisting of thirty members, with the two kings. “The well-known term,” as Meyer remarks, “is fittingly transferred from the college of the Greek gerontesto that of the Jewish presbyters.” They summoned, not only those elders of the people who were likewise members of the Sanhedrim, but the whole council (all the senate ) of the representatives of the people.

Prison ( δεσμωτήριον )

Still another word for prison. Compare Acts 5:18, Acts 5:19. Rev., prison-house. The different words emphasize different aspects of confinement. Τήρησις is keeping, as the result of guarding. See on Acts 5:18. Φυλακή emphasizes the being put under guard, and δεσμωτήριον the being put in bonds.

Verse 22

Officers ( ὑπηρέται )

See on Matthew 5:25.

Verse 24

They doubted ( διηπόρουν )

See on Luke 9:5. Rev., were much perplexed, giving the force of διά , thoroughly at a loss. Compare Luke 24:4.

Verse 28

Did not

The best texts omit οὐ , not, and the question.

We straitly charged

So Rev. ( παραγγελίᾳ παρηγγείλαμεν )Lit., we charged you with a charge. See on Luke 22:15, with desire I have desired.

Intend ( βούλεσθε )

Or ye want. See on willing, Matthew 1:19.

This man's

The phrase is remarkable as furnishing the first instance of that avoidance of the name of Christ which makes the Talmud, in the very same terms, refer to him most frequently as Peloni=“so and so.”

Verse 29

We ought ( δεῖ )

Stronger, we must.

To obey ( πειθαρχεῖν )

Not often used in the New Testament to express obedience, the most common word being ὑπακούω . Sometimes πείθω is used. But this word, in itself, is the only one of the several in use which expresses the conception of obedience exclusively. Ὑπακούνειν is to obey as the result of listening to another: πείθεσθαι is to obey as the result of persuasion. This is the special term for the obedience which one owes to authority ( ἀρχή ): It occurs four times in the New Testament: Acts 5:29, Acts 5:32; Acts 27:21; Titus 3:1; and in every case, of obedience to established authority, either of God or of magistrates. In Acts 27:21, where it is used of the ship's officers hearkening to Paul's admonition not to loose from Crete, Paul speaks of his admonition as divinely inspired; compare Acts 27:10. In Acts 4:19, Peter and John say hearken ( ἀκούειν )That is a mere listening to or considering the proposition made to them. This is a deliberate course of action.

Verse 30

Ye slew ( διεχειρίσασθε )

Only here and Acts 26:21. To slay with one's own hands.


See on Luke 23:31.

Verse 31


See on Acts 3:15.

Repentance - remission

See on Matthew 3:2; and James 5:15; and Luke 3:3.

Verse 32


See on Acts 1:22.


See on Acts 5:29.

Verse 33

They were cut to the heart ( διεπρίοντο )

Only here and Acts 7:54. The verb means, originally, to saw asunder. A strong figure for exasperation.

To slay

See on Luke 23:32.

Verse 34

The apostles

The best texts substitute τοὺς ἀνθρώπους ,the men.

A little space ( βραχύ )

Better as Rev., a little while.

Verse 36

Joined themselves ( προσεκολλήθη )

The best texts read προσεκλίθη , were inclined; i.e., leaned to, or took sides with.

Verse 37


Note the word for obeyed ( ἐπείθοντο ) implying the persuasive power of Theudas' boasting. See on Acts 5:29.

Taxing ( ἀπογραφῆς )

See on Luke 2:1, Luke 2:2.

Much people

The best texts omit much.

Were dispersed ( διεσκορπίθησαν )

See on Matthew 25:24.

Verse 38

Refrain ( ἀπόστητε )

Lit.,stand off.

Of men ( ἐξ ἀνθρώπων )

Out of men, proceeding out of their devices.

It will come to naught ( καταλυθήσεται )

Lit., be loosened down. Used of the dilapidation of the temple (Luke 21:6), and of the dissolution of the body under the figure of striking a tent (2 Corinthians 5:1). See on Mark 13:2.

Verse 39

To fight against God ( θεομάχοι )

Lit., to be God- fighters.

Verse 41

They were counted worthy to suffer shame ( κατηξιώθησαν ἀτιμασθῆναι )

This is an instance of what rhetoricians style an oxymoron, from ὀξύς , sharp, and μωρός , foolish; a pointedly foolish saying, which is witty or impressive through sheer contradiction or paradox, as laborious idleness, sublime indifference. In this case the apostles are described as dignified by indignity.


Copyright Statement
The text of this work is public domain.

Bibliography Information
Vincent, Marvin R. DD. "Commentary on Acts 5:4". "Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament". Charles Schribner's Sons. New York, USA. 1887.

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