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Bible Commentaries

Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament

Acts 5

Verse 1

Acts 5:1 . Ἀνανίας σὺν Σαπφείρῃ , Ananias with Sapphira ) Names expressing grace and beauty , but attached to persons whose principles were bad.

Verse 2

Acts 5:2 . Ἐνοσφίσατο , he fraudulently kept back ) The sin of Achan and that of Ananias were in many respects similar, at the beginning of the churches of the Old and New Testament respectively; and the same verb, ἐνοσφίσατο , fraudulently appropriated or kept , is used of Achan, in Joshua 7:1 . The former, however, in the Old Testament, according to the direction of God, was killed by the hand of men; the latter, in the New Testament, by the Divine hand, at the word of the apostle. The sin of Judas also was similar to that of Ananias. ἀπὸ τῆς τιμῆς , of the price ) These two seem not to have believed that Christianity would last long. συνειδυίας , being conscious of it) They sinned the more grievously, since they might have mutually dissuaded one another from the sin. ἐνέγκας μέρος τὶ , having brought a certain part ) just as if it were the whole. Ananias however had wished to seem to have brought the whole: therefore he had not kept back much.

Verse 3

Acts 5:3 . Ἐπλήρωσεν ) hath filled , viz. with audacity and fraud, without there being any resistance made to him on thy part. Ananias himself perhaps did not think that Satan was lurking beneath the temptation. The fulness of heart which comes from Satan is the highest degree of wickedness. ψεύσασθαί σε ) that thou shouldest deceive , as far as it lay in thy power, as if the Holy Spirit did not know thy deception: Acts 5:9 . Ψεύδομαι , with the Accusative occurs, Deuteronomy 33:29 , LXX., ψεύσονταί σε οἱ ἐχθροί σου : thence in Psalms 66:0 . (in Sept. 65) 3; Job 6:10 ; Job 8:18 . It is more expressive than if joined with the Dative. [40] τὸ Πνεῦμα τὸ Ἅγιον , the Holy Spirit ) Who is in us (comp. 2 Corinthians 13:3 , “Christ speaking in me”), 1 Thessalonians 4:8 , “He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us His Holy Spirit;” and by whose direction the goods of the Church are administered.

[40] With the Accus. “ to deceive a person by a lie:” with the Dat. ver. 4, “ to tell a lie to or in reference to a person.” E. and T.

Verse 4

Acts 5:4 . Μένον , whilst remaining ) That is, whilst the land remained unsold. σοὶ ἔμενε , it remained to thee ) The making of one’s goods common property, was a matter of option. ἐν τῇ σῇ ἐξουσίᾳ , in thine own power ) A mere purpose, where there is no vow, does not bind to do anything which is good in itself, and yet not necessary. Comp. Joh. Val. Schmidii diss. jur., delivered at Leipsic, A.D. 1712, “de proposito in mente retento nihil operante,” § 18. τί ὅτι , wherefore ) Ananias sinned most freely (unscrupulously) and with long-continued purpose. ἔθου , laid up [‘conceived’]) The same sin originated at once from the man and from Satan . τῷ Θεῷ , unto GOD) What thou hast professed to give to God, thou hast appropriated to thyself. The relation (ratio) of the Holy Spirit in the sentence is contained under the government of the particle ἀλλὰ , but , not under that of the particle οὐκ , not . Therefore this is the sense: Ananias lied unto God and His Spirit , not unto men and Peter. Venture, if thou durst, O Socinian, to express it thus, “He lied not to the Holy Spirit and Peter, but to GOD.” The lie of Ananias, as he lied to the Holy Spirit, and as he lied to GOD, is altogether the same sin, and equally grievous: nay, in some measure it is more grievous, as he lied to the Holy Spirit. Comp. Mark 3:28 , “He that blasphemeth against the Holy Ghost, hath never forgiveness.” A most solid argument, whereby it is proved that the Holy Spirit is a person, and a person of the Godhead.

Verse 5

Acts 5:5 . Πεσὼν , having fallen down ) The terror of Ananias is a specimen of the terror wherewith the ungodly shall be struck in the judgment, without being bereft of life, as he was. ἐξέψυξε , was deprived of life, gave up the ghost ) By this verb a miserable death is denoted; Acts 5:10 ; ch. Acts 12:23 , Herod; Judges 4:21 , Sisera, (in the Alex. MS. of LXX., ἐξέψυξεν , for ἀπέθανεν ). You may ask why so heavy a punishment and so sudden a death was inflicted at this time of the New Testament, which was so full of grace? Comp. 9:55, 56, where Jesus rebukes John for desiring fire from heaven, “The Son of man is come not to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.” The answer is, I. The disciples of their own accord had demanded fire to fall on the Samaritans: whereas in this case the Holy Spirit directs Peter. II. Jesus, in His then existing state of humiliation, had been unknown to the Samaritans, and was afterwards to be preached to them: Ananias and Sapphira had most evidently known the glory of Christ, and the presence of the Holy Spirit, and had had most abundant means of salvation afforded to them. III. Ananias and Sapphira sinned most heinously, most unscrupulously, and by mutual consent, and suddenly filled up the full measure of their sin. IV. At the beginning of that dispensation, a salutary example was given in their case to many, and fear was the result of it. V. What was added to the severity of the punishment in respect to the body, may have been taken off from it in respect to the soul. φόβος , fear ) Counteracting the force of the very bad example. τοὺς ἀκούοντας , them who heard ) Not merely upon those who saw what was done. So in Acts 5:11 .

Verse 6

Acts 5:6 . Οἱ νεώτεροι , the young men ) Peter directed these to do this office. συνέστειλαν ) wound him up for burial. ἔθαψαν , buried ) at once. For there was no need of delay.

Verse 7

Acts 5:7 . Διάστημα , the space ) The woman, being the weaker vessel, had a longer space for repentance. A precious interval of three hours! μὴ εἰδυῖα , not knowing ) For if she had known, her confession would have been nothing great. Nor was she worthy to know, since she had tempted the Spirit of the Lord.

Verse 8

Acts 5:8 . Ἀπεκρίθη ) answered to the woman, whose entrance into the assembly of the saints was equivalent to her speaking. εἰπέ μοι , tell me ) He exhorts her to tell what the real facts of the case were. εἰ τοσούτου , whether for so much ) Here Peter, as it seems, expressed the sum. οἱ πόδες , the feet ) This is more express than if his expression were, they who have buried .

Verse 10

Acts 5:10 . Εὗρον , found her) after their return from burying Ananias.

Verse 11

Acts 5:11 . Ἐκκλησίαν , the church ) Here for the first time (with which comp. note on ch. Act 2:47 ) mention is made, and therefore a genuine specimen afforded, of the Church, as constituted in the New Testament, called forth by the Gospel, separated from Judaism, grafted on Christ by baptism, cemented together by fellowship of every kind, and disciplined by the death inflicted on (by the excision of) Ananias and Sapphira. In the meantime Luke used the designations, disciples and the number of names (ch. Act 1:15 ); all that believed (ch. Act 2:44 ); the number of the men (ch. Act 4:4 ): the multitude of them that believed (ch. Act 4:32 ). πάντας , all ) Even we ought to fear . τοὺς ἀκούοντας , them that heard ) “Without doubt the rulers of the Jews also heard of these things: and yet they did not institute proceedings on that account against Peter. The sin (delinquency) of Ananias was now palpable, and the punishment evidently miraculous.

Verse 12

Acts 5:12 . Ἅπαντες , all ) who believed. στοᾷ , in the porch ) a spacious place.

Verse 13

Acts 5:13 . Τῶν λοιπῶν , of the rest ) who were not believers. κολλᾶσθαι , join himself ) on familiar terms.

Verse 14

Acts 5:14 . Πλήθη ) multitudes . The Plural expresses greatness of numbers. The definite number is not now any more given, as it is in ch. Acts 4:4 .

Verse 15

Acts 5:15 . Ὥστε , insomuch that ) This depends on Acts 5:12 , at the beginning [“And they were all women,” in Acts 5:14 , being a parenthesis]. κατὰ τὰς πλατείας , into , or along the streets ) [ secundum plateas ]. The preposition has a distributive sense without the article, Acts 5:42 , κατʼ οἶκον , house by house : not with the article, ch. Acts 8:3 , “Entering into the houses ,” κατὰ τοὺς οἴκους . κλινῶν καὶ κραββάτων ) A couch , κλινὴ , is more costly: a pallet , κράββατος , more humble. Πέτρου , of Peter ) He, who had denied Jesus, was now the more on that account conspicuous in faith. αὐτῶν , of them ) See the App. Crit., Ed ii., on this passage, as to the addition, and they were delivered from their infirmity . [41] The force of this clause is virtually contained in verses 12 and 16.

[41] E e add καὶ ῥύσθωσιν ἀπὸ πασης ἀσθενείας ἦς εἶχον . D has ἀπηλλάσσοντο γὰρ ἀπὸ πάσης ἀσθενείας ὡς εἷχεν ἕκαστος αὐτῶν : d somewhat similar. Lucif. 201 has et liberabantur ab infirmitate suá : and so the oldest MS. of Vulg., viz. Amiat., also others, inserting ‘omnes.’ E. and T.

[16. Πέριξ , round about ) The success of the Gospel cause advances continually to greater distances and more widely. V. g.] ἅπαντες , all ) There was now no ἀπότευγμα , failure , no abortive attempt to work miracles, as before: Matthew 17:16 , The man having the lunatic son, “I brought him to Thy disciples, and they could not cure him.”

Verse 17

Acts 5:17 . Ἀναστὰς , having risen up ) He thought that he ought not to remain quiet. τῶν Σαδδουκαίων , of the Sadducees ) Many gathered themselves together to these, so as that they might the more assail the resurrection of Jesus Christ. ζήλου , with indignation or angry zeal ) The impotence of this feeling is made apparent by their whole proceeding.

Verse 19

Acts 5:19 . Ἄγγελος , the angel ) “You will in all cases find that these great consolations were not vouchsafed except to those much afflicted:” Justus Jonas. τὰς θύρας , the doors ) ch. Acts 12:10 , Peter, released similarly from Herod’s imprisonment; Acts 16:26 , Paul, in the gaol of Philippi.

Verse 20

Acts 5:20 . Πορεύεσθε , go ) at once. σταθέντες , standing ) most freely. ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ , in the temple ) in public, as before. τῷ λαῷ , to the people ) whereas the rulers do not wish them to hear. πάντα , all ) without any curtailment. τὰ ῥήματα τῆς ζωῆς ταυτῆς , the words of this life ) That is, these words of life . With this comp. Acts 5:32 . So among the Hebrews the adjective often is connected with the latter of the two substantives. Comp. ch. Acts 13:26 , “The word of this salvation.” The words of life , John 6:68 (” Lord, Thou hast the words of eternal life”), are to be proclaimed without fear, viz. the words concerning the life of Christ and of believers.

Verse 21

Acts 5:21 . Γερουσίαν ) A word of the Septuagint.

Verse 23

Acts 5:23 . Κεκλεισμένον , shut ) The angel again had shut it, after having opened it for Peter: Acts 5:19 .

Verse 24

Acts 5:24 . Διηπόρουν , they were perplexed ) The world, in harassing the servants of God, involves itself in countless perplexities, and attributes all the blame to them: ch. Acts 12:18 , Acts 16:20 , Acts 17:6 .

Verse 25

Acts 5:25 . Ἑστῶτες , standing ) In antithesis to, ye have put .

Verse 26

Acts 5:26 . Οὐ μετὰ βίας ) not with violence : which otherwise they would not have abstained from. Often the rude zeal of the multitude, though not good in itself, is conducive to a good cause: Luke 20:6 .

Verse 27

Acts 5:27 . Ἐπηρώτησεν , asked ) expostulating with them.

Verse 28

Acts 5:28 . Παραγγελίᾳ , with injunction ) He is ashamed to say, with threatening : with which comp. ch. Acts 4:17 ; for they were not able to punish them ( Act 4:16 ). παρηγγείλαμεν , we enjoined ) See the coarse cunning of the enemies of the Gospel! They, according to their own pleasure, both make and wrest aside and invent edicts, laws, and prohibitions, which cannot but be broken by the witnesses who obey the GOD of truth, in order that the innocent may be punished as if they were guilty. O the injustice of such men! τούτῳ τούτου , in this name of this man) He avoids using the name Jesus . Peter uses the name, and does it honour; Acts 5:30-44.5.31 . τὴν Ἱερουσαλὴμ , Jerusalem ) in which, say they, we keep watch. βούλεσθε , ye wish ) An invidious word. The apostles did not wish that; but they taught according to the truth, that Jesus was impiously murdered by the Jews, and at the same time they showed a way whereby the latter might experience the power (virtue) of Jesus’ blood in imparting grace and salvation. ἐπαγαγεῖν ) So Judges 9:24 , ἐπαγαγεῖν τὴν ἀδικίαν καὶ τὸ αἷμα αὐτῶν ἐπιθεῖναι ἐπὶ Ἀβιμέλεκ . ἐφʼ ἡμᾶς , upon us ) They themselves had a little before taken upon themselves the blood of the Just One in words, Matthew 27:25 ; and in actual deed, presently after, Acts 5:30 , “they took the reed and smote Him on the head.” [This is the custom of adversaries. Having obtained their opportunity, they show themselves fierce, mad, and unrelenting: then, when the victory inclines to the opposite side, they are unwilling to admit that they have sinned either in deed or intention.]

Verse 29

Acts 5:29 . Πετρος , Peter ) Although Peter had already more than the others felt the hatred of the world, yet he does not put away from himself the task of speaking and acting. He also does not now use the title in addressing them, as in ch. Acts 4:8 ; nay, this is as it were the continuation of his speech on that occasion, accompanied with increasing severity. Θεῷ , God ) who by the angel ordered him to speak: Acts 5:20 . ἀνθρώποις , men ) viz. you who order us to be silent.

Verse 30

Acts 5:30 . Τῶν πατέρων , of our fathers ) ch. Acts 3:13 . ἤγειρεν , hath raised up ) of the seed of David: ch. Acts 13:23 , Acts 3:22 . For it was this raising up that was referred to by the promises given to the fathers. The same verb occurs, Luke 1:69 . διεχειρίσασθε ) He had previously said, ἀνείλετε , ἀπεκτείνατε , ἐσταυρώσατε ; he now uses a severer expression [“ye have laid violent hands on”]. ἐπὶ ξύλου , on a tree ) In a tree (the tree of knowledge of good and evil) was the beginning of sin: in a tree was the atonement for it.

Verse 31

Acts 5:31 . Ἀρχηγὸν καὶ σωτῆρα , a Prince and Saviour ) The Author of salvation: Hebrews 2:10 , ἀρχηγὸν τῆς σωτηρίας : that is, He exalted Him to be a Prince and Saviour; ch. Acts 2:36 . ὕψωσε , hath exalted ) The exaltation presupposes the resurrection from the dead, or even includes it. Philippians 2:9 . δοῦναι , to give ) Repentance is a joyful gift , not a matter of sorrow: ch. Acts 11:18 ; 2 Timothy 2:25 . μετάνοιαν , repentance ) whereby Jesus is accepted as a Prince . ἄφεσιν , forgiveness ) whereby He is accepted as a Saviour . ἁμαρτιῶν , of sins ) even of that sin which ye have committed against Jesus, Acts 5:28 .

Verse 32

Acts 5:32 . Καὶ , and ) and in consequence. δὲ , indeed ) This particle amplifies. The testimony of the Holy Spirit is weightier than that of the apostles. τοῖς πειθαρχοῦσιν , who obey ) God, saith Peter, hath given us the Holy Spirit: it is He who impels us to give testimony; and we obey; Acts 5:29 . We should note the difference between the two words, comparing Acts 5:36-44.5.37 ; Acts 5:40 , where πείθεσθαι occurs: it is this, according to Ammonius; πείθεσθαι is said of one who voluntarily assents to another ( τὸ ἑκουσίως συγκατατίθεσθαι : so also ὑποτάσσεσθαι ), but πειθαρχεῖν of one who obeys the command of another ( τὸ κελεύοντι πεισθῆναι ). [42] Comp. Acts 27:11 ; Acts 27:21 , “The centurion believed ( ἘΠΕΊΘΕΤΟ ) the master of the ship:” “Ye should have hearkened (complied with my counsel, ΠΕΙΘΑΡΧΉΣΑΝΤΆς ) unto me.”

[42] Πειθαρχεῖν , from ἀρχὴ , implies some degree of constraint or obedience to authority and command . Πείθεσθαι and ὑποτάσσεσθαι are more spontaneous. See Tittm. Syn. N. T. E. and T.

Verse 33

Acts 5:33 . Διεπρίοντο ) they were cut to the heart; ch. Acts 7:54 . So the Latins say, ‘findor.’ [“Cor meum finditur ”. Plaut. Bac. ii. 3, 17.] ἐβουλεύοντο ) they took counsel .

Verse 34

Acts 5:34 . Ἀναστὰς , having stood up ) as being about to speak at some length. ἐν τῷ συνεδρίῳ , in the council ) GOD can raise up on every side defenders. Φαρισαῖος , a Pharisee ) And therefore believing the resurrection of the dead, which was denied by the Sadducees [who formed a large part of the counsellors present, Act 5:17 ]. τίμιος , had in reputation ) in high esteem. παντὶ τῷ λαῷ , among all the people ) although the rulers, the Sadducees, Acts 5:17 , did not esteem him so much. ἔξω , forth out of doors ) So the anger of the rulers was softened. βραχύ τι , a little space ) A courteous speech.

Verse 36

Acts 5:36 . Πρὸ , before ) It is an excellent way to support counsels by examples. These Gamaliel prudently puts first, and then adds the consequence to be inferred from them. ἑαυτὸν , himself ) A characteristic of false teaching: ch. Acts 8:9 . εἰς οὐδὲν , to nought ) Not merely their counsels, but themselves came to nought. How many wretched men have been led on to destruction by false teachers!

Verse 37

Acts 5:37 . Μετὰ , after ) It must therefore be a different Theudas whom Josephus places after this Judas [not before him, as here]. ταῖς ἡμέραις , in the days ) A time then well known and suited for attempts to effect a revolution.

Verse 38

Acts 5:38 . Λέγω ὑμῖν , I say unto you ) This formula in this passage has in it something of a bland, rather than a severe character. ἐάσατε , let them alone, allow them ) viz. to do what they are doing. We ought to give our assent to a cause that is manifestly good: we ought to resist one that is manifestly bad. But in the case of a matter sudden, new, and doubtful, and in relation to adversaries inflamed with anger, the counsel of Gamaliel is a pre-eminently salutary one. ἢ , or ) He means to say by this word, that it should be rather termed a work than a counsel . At least the apostles were doing all things, not by their own, but by the Divine counsel . καταλυθήσεται , it will be dissolved , or come to nought ) It both can and will be dissolved, either by you or by others, or of itself.

Verses 38-39

Acts 5:38-44.5.39 . Ἐὰν ᾖ , εἰ ἔστιν , if it should prove to be, if it is ) The former expresses mere conditionally; the latter, inasmuch as being antithetical to the former in this passage, implies something absolute and positive [If it be, as it is; since it is]. Therefore also Gamaliel expresses this second alternative in the second person plural [ Ye cannot overthrow it], not in the first.

Verse 39

Acts 5:39 . Μή ποτε καὶ , lest haply even ) This use of the particles implies courtesy. The even signifies, that, independently of the vainness of the attempt, they would be guilty even of reckless impiety. This clause depends on the sense of the clause immediately preceding: ye cannot , and therefore ye ought not attempt, to dissolve or overthrow it. θεομάχοι ) This word is put by Symmachus more than once for the Hebr. רפאים . The conjugates are Θεοῦ and θεομάχοι . [There is a large number of such persons. V. g.] εὑρέθητε , ye be found) in the issue.

Verse 40

Acts 5:40 . Ἐπείσθησαν ) They agreed or assented , viz. so far as that they did not kill the apostles: for the members of the council did not adopt a better tone of mind. δείραντες , having beaten them) This had not as yet been done by the Jews, who were afterwards about to inflict severer punishments. Even the world proceeds by successive steps, either as their hatred increases, or else under the show of equity [or leniency].

Verse 41

Acts 5:41 . Χαίροντες , rejoicing ) The characteristic of truth in afflictions, joy, real, profound, and pure. ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος , for the name ) viz. His name, the name forbidden in Acts 5:40 . Some have added, τοῦ Ἰησοῦ , or τοῦ Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ , or τοῦ Χριστοῦ . [43] The phrase is put absolutely, as in 3 John Acts 5:7 , ὙΠῈΡ ΤΟῦ ὈΝΌΜΑΤΟς : Leviticus 24:11 . The name Jesus had been expressed by Luke in the preceding verse. The reference in this verse is to it with an elegant ellipsis of the pronoun. κατηξιώθησαν ἀτιμασθῆναι , they were counted worthy to suffer insult [shame]) A choice Oxymoron [see Append.]: so, “ To you it is given to suffer,Philippians 1:29 : comp. 1 Peter 2:19 . [Contumely before men is a dignity before GOD. V. g.]

[43] ABCD d Memph. Theb. and Syr. read simply ὀνόματος . Rec. Text adds αὐτοῦ with Orig., and, acc. to Tisch., with Lucif. (But Lachm. quotes Lucif. for ὀνόματος simply.) E e adds Ἰησοῦ (and so Vulg.), or τοῦ Κυρίου Ἰησοῦ . E. and T.

Verse 42

Acts 5:42 . Οὐκ ἐπαύοντο ) they did not cease ) whatever prohibition the world might issue. τὸν ) They announced that Jesus is the Christ.

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Bibliographical Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Acts 5". Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. 1897.