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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Acts 5

 

 

Introduction

CHAPTER 5

Acts 5:2. After γυναικός, Elz. Scholz have αὐτοῦ, which Lachm. Tisch. Born, have rightly deleted, as it is wanting in A B D* א, min., and has evidently slipped in from Acts 5:1.

Acts 5:5. After ἀκούοντας, Lachm. Tisch. Born. have deleted the usual reading ταῦτα; it is wanting in A B D א*, min. Or. Lucif. and several VSS., and is an addition from Acts 5:11.

Acts 5:9. εἶπε] is very suspicious, as it is wanting in B D א, min. Vulg.; in other witnesses it varies in position, and Or. has φησίν. Deleted by Lachm. Born. and Tisch.

Acts 5:10. παρὰ τ. π.] Lachm. and Tisch. read πρὸς τ. π. according to A B D א, Or.; other witnesses have ἐπὶ τ. π.; others, ὑπὸ τ. π.; others, ἐνώπιον. Born. also has πρὸς τ. π. But as Luke elsewhere writes παρὰ τ. π. (Luke 8:41; Luke 17:16), and not πρὸς τ. π. (Mark 5:22; Mark 7:25; Revelation 1:17), the Recepta is to be retained.

Acts 5:15. παρὰ τὰς πλ.] Lachm. reads καὶ εἰς τὰς πλ after A B D** א, min. D* has only κατὰ πλ.; and how easily might this become, by an error of a transcriber, καί τὰς πλ., which was completed partly by the original κατά and partly by εἰς! Another correction was, καὶ ἐν ταῖς πλατείαις (E). No version has καί. Accordingly the simple κατὰ πλατ., following D*, is to be preferred.

Instead of κλινῶν, Lachm. Tisch. Born, have rightly κλινορίων (so A B D א); κλινῶν was inserted as the wonted form.

Acts 5:16. εἰς ἱερουσ.] εἰς is wanting in A B א, 103, and some VSS. Deleted by Lachm. But the retention of εἰς has predominant attestation; and it was natural to write in the margin by the side of τῶν πέριξ πόλεων the locally defining addition ἱερουσαλήμ, which became the occasion of omitting the εἰς ἱερουσ. that follows.

Acts 5:18. τ. χειρ. αὐτῶν] αὐτῶν is wanting in A B D א, min. Syr. Erp. Arm. Vulg. Cant. Theophyl. Lucif., and omitted by Lachm, Tisch. Born. But see Acts 4:3.

Acts 5:23. ἑστώτας] Elz. has ἔξω ἑστ. But ἔξω has decisive evidence against it, and is a more precisely defining addition occasioned by the following ἔσω.

πρό] Lachm. Tisch. Born. read ἐπί, according to A B D א, 109; πρό is an interpretation.

Acts 5:24. τε ἱερεὺς καὶ στρατ. τ. ἱεροῦ κ. οἱ ἀρχιερ.] A B D א, min. Copt. Sahid. Arm. Vulg. Cant. Lucif. have merely τε στρατ. τ. ἱεροῦ κ. οἱ ἀρχιερ. So Lachm. Rinck, and Born. But ἱερεύς being not understood, and being regarded as unnecessary seeing that οἱ ἄρχιερ. followed, might very easily be omitted; whereas there is no reason for its having been inserted. For the genuineness of ἱερεύς also the several other variations testify, which are to be considered as attempts to remove the offence without exactly erasing the word, namely, οἱ ἱερεῖς κ. στρ. τ. ἱερ. κ. οἱ ἀρχ. and τε ἀρχιερεὺς κ. στρ. τ. ἱερ. κ. οἱ ἀρχ.

Acts 5:25. After αὐτοῖς Elz. has λέγων, against decisive evidence. An addition, in accordance with Acts 5:22 f.

Acts 5:26. ἵνα μή] Lachm. Born. have μή, according to B D E א, min. But the omission easily appeared as necessary on account of ἐφοβ. Comp. Galatians 4:11.

Acts 5:28. οὐ is wanting in A B א*, Copt. Vulg. Cant. Ath. Cyr. Lucif. Rightly deleted by Lachm. and Tisch., as the transforming of the sentence into a question was evidently occasioned by ἐπηρώτησεν.

Acts 5:32. After ἐσμεν, Elz. Scholz, Tisch. have αὐτοῦ, which A D* א, min., and several VSS. omit. It is to be defended. As μάρτυρες is still denned by another genitive, αὐτοῦ became cumbrous, appeared inappropriate, and was omitted. B has καὶ ἡμεῖς ἐν αὐτῷ μάρτυρες (without ἐσμεν), etc. But in this case EN is to be regarded as a remnant of the ἐσμεν, the half of which was easily omitted after ἡμεῖς; and thereupon αὐτοῦ was transformed into αὐτῷ. The less is any importance to be assigned to the reading of Lachm.: καὶ ἡμεῖς ἐν αὐτῷ μάρτυρές ἐσμεν κ. τ. λ.

Acts 5:33. ἐβουλεύοντο] Lachm. reads ἐβούλοντο, according to A B E, min. An interpretation, or a mechanical interchange, frequent also in MSS. of the classics; see Born, ad xv. 37.

Acts 5:34. βραχύ τι] τι, according to decisive evidence, is to be deleted, with Lachm. Tisch. Born.

ἀποστόλους] A B א, 80, Vulg. Copt. Arm. Chrys. have ἀνθρώπους. So Lachm. Tisch.; and rightly, as the words belong to the narrative of Luke, and therefore the designation of the apostles by ἀνθρώπους appeared to the scribes unworthy. It is otherwise in Acts 5:35; Acts 5:38.

Acts 5:36. προσεκλίθη] Elz. Griesb. Scholz read προσεκολλήθη, in opposition to A B C** א, min., which have προσεκλίθη; and in opposition to C* D* E H, min. Cyr., which have προσεκλήθη (so Born.). Other witnesses have προσετέθη, also προσεκληρώθη. Differing interpretations of the προσεκλίθη, which does not elsewhere occur in the N. T., but which Griesb. rightly recommended, and Matth. Lachm. Tisch. have adopted.

Acts 5:37. ἰκανόν to be deleted with Lachm. and Tisch., as it is wanting in A* B א, 81, Vulg. Cant. Cyr., in some others stands before λαόν, and in C D, Eus. is interchanged with πολύν (so Born.).

Acts 5:38. Instead of ἐάσατε, Lachm. has ἄφετε, following A B C א. A gloss.

Acts 5:39. δύνασθε] Lachm. Tisch. Born. have δυνήσεσθε, according to B C D E א, min., and some VSS. and Fathers. Mistaking the purposely chosen definite expression, men altered it to agree with the foregoing future.

Instead of αὐτούς, which Lachm. Tisch. Born, have, Elz. and Scholz read αὐτό, against decisive testimony. An alteration to suit τὸ ἔργον.

Acts 5:41. After ὀνόματος Elz. has αὐτοῦ, which is wanting in decisive witnesses, and is an addition for the sake of completeness. Other interpolations are: ἰησοῦ,

τοῦ χριστοῦ,

ἰησοῦ χριστοῦ,

τοῦ κυρίου,

τοῦ θεοῦ.


Verses 1-10

Acts 5:1-10. Ananias ( חֲנַנְיָה, God pities; Jeremiah 28:1; Daniel 1:6; LXX. Tobit 5:12(163)) and Sapphira, however, acted quite otherwise. They attempted in deceitful hypocrisy to abuse the community of goods, which, nevertheless, was simply permissive (Acts 5:4). For by the sale of the piece of land and the bringing of the money, they in fact declared the whole sum to be a gift of brotherly love to the common stock; but they aimed only at securing for themselves the semblance of holy loving zeal by a portion of the price, and had selfishly embezzled the remainder for themselves. They wished to serve two masters, but to appear to serve only one. With justice, Augustine designates the act as sacrilegium (“quod Deum in pollicitatione fefellerit”) and fraus.

The sudden death of both is to be regarded as a result directly effected through the will of the apostle, by means of the miraculous power imparted to him; and not as a natural stroke of paralysis, independent of Peter, though taking place by divine arrangement (so Ammon, Stolz, Heinrichs, and others). For, apart from the supposition, in this case necessary, of a similar susceptibility in husband and wife for such an impression of sudden terror, the whole narrative is opposed to it; especially Acts 5:9, the words of which Peter could only have uttered with the utmost presumption, if he had not the consciousness that his own will was here active. If we should take Acts 5:9 to be a mere threat, to which Peter found himself induced by an inference from the fate of Ananias, this would be merely an unwarranted alteration of the simple meaning of the words, and would not diminish the presumptuousness of a threat so expressed. Nearly allied to this natural explanation is the view mingling the divine and the natural, and taking half from each, given by Neander (the holy earnestness of the apostolic words worked so powerfully on the terrified conscience), and by Olshausen (the word of Peter pierced like a sword the alarmed Ananias, and thus his death was the marvel arranged by a higher disposing power). But this view is directly opposed to the contents and the design of the whole representation. According to Baur, nothing remains historical in the whole narrative except that Ananias and his wife had, by their covetousness, made their names so hated, “that people believed that they could see only a divine judgment in their death, in whatever way it occurred;” all the rest is to be explained from the design of representing the πνεῦμα ἅγιον as the divine principle working in the apostles. Comp. Zeller, who, however, despairs of any more exact ascertainment of the state of the case. Baumgarten, as also Lange (comp. Ewald), agrees in the main with Neander; whilst de Wette is content with sceptical questions, although recognising the miraculous element so far as the narrative is concerned. Catholics have used this history in favour of the two swords of the Pope.

The severity of the punishment, with which Porphyry reproached Peter (Jerome, Epp. 8), is justified by the consideration, that here was presented the first open venture of deliberate wickedness, as audacious as it was hypocritical, against the principle of holiness ruling in the church, and particularly in the apostles; and the dignity of that principle, hitherto unoffended, at once required its full satisfaction by the infliction of death upon the violators, by which “awe-inspiring act of divine church-discipline” (Thiersch, Kirche im apost. Zeitalt. p. 46), at the same time, the authority of the apostles, placed in jeopardy, was publicly guaranteed in its inviolableness (“ut poena duorum hominum sit doctrina multorum,” Jerome).

ἐνοσφίσ.] he put aside for himself, purloined. Titus 2:10; 2 Maccabees 4:32; Joshua 7:1; Xen. Cyr. iv. 2. 42; Pind. Nem. vi. 106; Valck. p. 395 f.

ἀπὸ τ. τι΄ῆς] sc. τι. See Fritzsche, Conject. p. 36; Buttm. neut. Gr. p. 139 [E. T. 159]. Comp. Athen. vi. p. 234 A: νοσφ. ἐκ τοῦ χρήματος.


Verse 3

Acts 5:3. Peter recognises the scheme of Ananias as the work of the devil, who, as the liar from the beginning (John 8:44), and original enemy of the πνεῦμα ἃγιον and of the Messianic kingdom, had entered into the heart of Ananias (comp. on John 13:27; Luke 22:3), and filled it with his presence. Ananias, according to his Christian destination and ability (James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:9), ought not to have permitted this, but should have allowed his heart to be filled with the Holy Spirit; hence the question, διατί ἐπλήρωσεν κ. τ. λ.

ψεύσασθαί σε τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἃγ.] that thou shouldest by lying deceive the Holy Spirit: this is the design of ἐπλήρωσεν. The explanation is incorrect which understands the infinitive ἐκβατικῶς, and takes it only of the attempt: unde accidit, ut πνεῦμα ἅγ. decipere tentares (Heinrichs, Kuinoel). The deceiving of the Holy Spirit was, according to the design of Satan, really to take place; and although it was not in the issue successful, it had actually taken place on the part of Ananias.

τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἃγιον] Peter and the other apostles, as overseers of the church, were pre-eminently the bearers and organs of the Holy Spirit (comp. Acts 13:2; Acts 13:4); hence through the deception of the former the latter was deceived.

For examples of ψεύδεσθαι, of de facto lying, deception by an act, see Kypke, II. p. 32 f. The word with the accusative of the person (Isaiah 57:11; Deuteronomy 33:29; Hosea 9:2) occurs only here in the N. T.; often in the classical writers, see Blomfield, Gloss. ad Aesch. Pers. 478.

This instantaneous knowledge of the deceit is an immediate perception, wrought in the apostle by the Spirit dwelling in him.


Verse 4

Acts 5:4. When it remained (namely, unsold; the opposite: πραθέν), did it not remain to thee (thy property)? and when sold, was it not in thy power?

That the community of goods was not a legal compulsion, see on Acts 2:43.

ἐν τῇ σῇ ἐξουσίᾳ ὑπῆρχε] sc. τιμή, which is to be taken out of πραθέν. It was in the disposal of Ananias either to retain the purchase-money entirely to himself, or to give merely a portion of it to the common use; but not to do the latter, as he did it, under the deceitful semblance as if what he handed over to the apostles was the whole sum. The sin of husband and wife is cleverly characterized in Constitt. ap. vii. 2. 4 : κλέψαντες τὰ ἴδια.

τι ὅτι] quid est quod, i.e. cur? Comp. on Mark 2:17. Wherefore did. st thou fix this deed in thy heart? i.e. wherefore didst thou resolve on this deed (namely, on the instigation of the devil, Acts 5:3)? Comp. Acts 19:21; the Heb. שׂוּם עַל לֵב (Daniel 1:8; Malachi 2:2), and the classical expression θέσθαι ἐν φρεσί, and the like.

οὐκ ἐψεύσω ἀνθρώποις, ἀλλὰ τῷ θεῷ). The state of things in itself relative: not so much … but rather, is in the vehemence of the address conceived and set forth absolutely: not to men, but to God. “As a lie against our human personality, thy deed comes not at all into consideration; but only as a lie against God, the supreme Ruler of the theocracy, whose organs we are.” Comp. 1 Thessalonians 4:8; Winer, p. 461 f. [E. T. 621]. The taking it as non tam, quam (see also Fritzsche, ad Marc. p. 781) is therefore a weakening of the words, which is unsuited to the fiery and decided spirit of the speaker in that moment of deep excitement. The datives denote the persons, to whom the action refers in hostile contradistinction.(164) Bernhardy, p. 99. Examples of the absolute ψεύδεσθαι with the dative are not found in Greek writers, but in the LXX. Joshua 24:27; 2 Samuel 22:45; Ps. 17:44, Ps. 77:36. By τῷ θεῷ Peter makes the deceiver sensible of his fatal guilt, for his sin now appeared as blasphemy. This τῷ θεῷ is quite warranted, for a lying to the Spirit (Acts 5:3, τὸ πνεῦμα) is a lie against God ( τῷ θεῷ), whose Spirit was lied to. Accordingly the divine nature of the Spirit and His personality are here expressed, but the Spirit is not called God.


Verse 5-6

Acts 5:5-6. ἐξέψυξε] as in Acts 12:23; elsewhere not in the N. T., but in the LXX. and later Greek writers. Comp. Acts 20:10. ἀποψύχειν occurs in the old Greek from Homer onward.

ἐπὶ πάντας τοὺς ἀκούοντας] upon all hearers, namely, of this discussion of Peter with Ananias. For Acts 5:6 shows that the whole proceeding took place in the assembled church. The sense in which it falls to be taken at Acts 5:11, in conformity with the context at the close of the narrative, is different. Commonly it is taken here as in Acts 5:11, in which case we should have to say, with de Wette, that the remark was proleptical. But even as such it appears unsuitable and disturbing.

οἱ νεώτεροι] the younger men in the church, who rose up from their seats ( ἀναστάντες), are by the article denoted as a definite class of persons. But seeing that they, unsummoned, perform the business as one devolving of itself upon them, they must be considered as the regular servants of the church, who, in virtue of the church-organization as hitherto developed, were bound to render the manual services required in the ecclesiastical commonwealth, as indeed such ministering hands must, both of themselves and also after the pattern of the synagogue, have been from the outset necessary. See Mosheim, de reb. Christ. ante Const. p. 114. But Neander, de Wette, Rothe, Lechler, and others (see also Walch, Diss. p. 79 f.) doubt this, and think that the summons of the νεώτεροι to this business was simply based on the relation of age, by reason of which they were accustomed to serve and were at once ready of their own accord. But precisely in the case of such a miraculous and dreadful death, it is far more natural to assume a more urgent summons to the performance of the immediate burial, founded on the relation of a conscious necessity of service, than to think of people, like automata, acting spontaneously.

συνέστειλαν αὐτόν] means nothing else than contraxerunt eum.(165) Comp. 1 Corinthians 7:29. We must conceive the stretched out limbs of him who had fallen down, as drawn together, pressed together by the young men, in order that the dead body might be carried out. The usual view: they prepared him for burial (by washing, swathing, etc.), confounds συστέλλειν with περιστέλλειν (Hom. Od. xxiv. 292; Plat. Hipp. Maj. p. 291 D Diod. Sic. xix. 12; Joseph. Antt. xix. 4. 1; Tobit 12:14; Sirach 38:17), and, moreover, introduces into the narrative a mode of proceeding improbable in the case of such a death. Others incorrectly render: they covered him (de Dieu, de Wette); comp. Cant.: involverunt. For both meanings Eur. Troad. 382 has been appealed to, where, however, οὐ δάμαρτος ἐν χεροῖν πέπλοις συνεστάλησαν means: they were not wrapped up, shrouded, by the hands of a wife with garments (in which they wrapped them) in order to be buried. As little is συνεστάλθαι in Lucian. Imag. 7 : to be covered; but: to be pressed together, in contrast to the following διηνεμῶσθαι (to flutter in the wind). The explanation amoverunt (Vulgate, Erasmus, Luther, Beza, and others) is also without precedent of usage.


Verse 7

Acts 5:7. But it came to pass—about an interval of three hours—and his wife came in. The husband had remained away too long for her. A period of three hours might easily elapse with the business of the burial, especially if the place of sepulture was distant from the city (see Lightfoot). After ἐγένετο δέ a comma is to be put, and ὡς ὡρ. τρ. διάστ. is a statement of time inserted independently of the construction of the sentence. See on Matthew 15:32; Luke 9:28; Schaefer, ad Dem. V. p. 368. The common view: but there was an interval of about three hours, and his wife came in, is at variance with the use, especially frequent in Luke, of the absolute ἐγένετο (Gersdorf, Beitr. p. 235; Bornemann, Schol. p. 2 f.). As to the καί after ἐγένετο, see on Luke 5:12. On διάστημα used of time, comp. Polyb. ix. 1. 1.


Verse 8

Acts 5:8. ἀπεκρίθη] comp. on Acts 3:12. Bengel aptly remarks: “respondit mulieri, cujus introitus in coetum sanctorum erat instar sermonis.”

τοσούτου] for so much, points to the money still lying there. Arbitrarily, and with an overlooking of the vividness of what occurred, Bengel and Kuinoel suppose that Peter had named the sum. The sense of tantilli, on which Bornemann insists (Schol. in Luc. p. 168), results not as the import of the word, but, as elsewhere frequently (see Stallb. ad Plat. Rep. p. 416 E, 608B Lobeck, ad Soph. Aj. 747), from the connection.


Verse 9-10

Acts 5:9-10. Wherefore was it agreed by you (dative with the passive, see on Matthew 5:21) to try the Spirit of the Lord (God, see Acts 5:4-5)? i.e. to venture the experiment, whether the πνεῦμα ἅγιον, ruling in us apostles, was infallible (comp. Malachi 3:15; Matthew 4:7). The πειράζων challenges by his action the divine experimental proof.

οἱ πόδες] a trait of vivid delineation (comp. Luke 1:79; Romans 3:15; Romans 10:15); the steps of those returning were just heard at the door (see on John 5:2; Acts 3:10) outside (Acts 5:10).

πρὸς τὸν ἄνδρα αὐτῆς] beside her (just buried) husband.


Verse 11

Acts 5:11. φόβος] quite as in Acts 5:5, fear and dread at this miraculous, destroying punitive power of the apostles.

ἐφ ̓ ὅλην τ. ἐκκλ. καὶ ἐπὶ πάντας κ. τ. λ.] upon the whole church (in Jerusalem), and (generally) on all (and so also on those who had not yet come over to the church, Acts 5:13) to whose ears this occurrence came.


Verses 12-16

Acts 5:12-16. After this event, which formed an epoch as regards the preservation of the holiness of the youthful church, there is now once more (comp. Acts 2:43 f., Acts 4:32 ff.) introduced as a resting point for reflection, a summary representation of the prosperous development of the church, and that in its external relations.

δέ is the simple μεταβατικόν, carrying on the representation.

By the hands of the apostles, moreover, occurred signs and wonders among the people in great number. And they were all (all Christians, comp. Acts 2:1, in contrast to τῶν δὲ λοιπῶν(166)) with one accord in Solomon’s porch (and therefore publicly): of the rest, on the other hand, no one ventured to join himself to them; but the people magnified them (the high honour in which the people held the Christians, induced men to keep at a respectful distance from them): and the more were believers added to the Lord, great numbers of men and women; so that they brought out to the streets, etc. The simple course of the description is accordingly: (1) The miracle-working of the apostles continued abundantly, Acts 5:12 : διὰπολλά. (2) The whole body of believers was undisturbed in their public meetings, protected by the respect(167) of the people ( καὶ ἦσαν, Acts 5:12 λαός, Acts 5:13), and the church increased in yet greater measure; so that under the impression of that respect and of this ever increasing acceptance which Christianity gained, people brought out to the streets, etc., Acts 5:14-15. Ziegler (in Gabler’s Journ. f. theol. Lit. I. p. 155), entirely mistaking the unartificial progress of the narrative, considered καὶ ἦσανγυναικῶν as a later insertion; and in this Eichhorn, Heinrichs, and Kuinoel agree with him; while Laurent (neutest. Stud. p. 138 f.) recognises the genuineness of the words, but looks on them as a marginal remark of Luke. Beck (Obss. exeg. Crit. V. p. 17) declared even Acts 5:15 also as spurious. It is unnecessary even to make a parenthesis of Acts 5:14 (with Lachmann), as ὥστε in Acts 5:14 is not necessarily confined in its correct logical reference to ἀλλ ̓ ἐμεγ. αὐτ. λαός alone, but may quite as fitly refer to Acts 5:13-14 together. Compare Winer, p. 525 [E. T. 706].

τῶν δὲ λοιπῶν] are the same who are designated in the contrast immediately following as λαός, and therefore those who had not yet gone over to them, the non-Christian population. It is strangely perverse to understand by it the newly converted (Heinrichs), or the more notable and wealthy Christians like Ananias (Beza, Morus, Rosenmüller). By the τῶν λοιπῶν, as it forms the contrast to the ἅπαντες, Christians cannot at all be meant, not even as included (Kuinoel, Baur).

κολλᾶσθαι αὐτοῖς] to join themselves to them, i.e. to intrude into their society, which would have destroyed their harmonious intercourse. Comp. Acts 9:26, Acts 10:28, Acts 17:34; Luke 15:15. This αὐτοῖς and αὐτούς in Acts 5:13 must refer to the ἅπαντες, and so to the Christians in general, but not to the apostles alone, as regards which Luke is assumed by de Wette to have become “a little confused.”

μᾶλλον δέ] in the sense of all the more, etc. See Nägelsbach on the Iliad, p. 227, ed. 3. The bearing of the people, Acts 5:13, promoted this increase.

τῷ κυρίῳ] would admit grammatically of being construed with πιστεύοντες (Acts 16:34); but Acts 11:24 points decisively to its being connected with προσετίθεντο. They were added to the Lord, namely, as now connected with Him, belonging to Christ.

πλήθη] “pluralis grandis: jam non initur numerus uti Acts 4:4,” Bengel.(168)

κατὰ πλατείας (see the critical remarks)] emphatically placed first: so that they (the people) through streets, along the streets, brought out their sick from the houses, etc.

ἐπὶ κλιν. κ. κραββάτ.] denotes generally: small beds ( κλιναρίων, see the critical remarks, and comp. Epict. iii. 5.13) and couches. The distinction made by Bengel and Kuinoel with the reading κλινῶν, that the former denotes soft and costly, and the latter poor and humble, beds, is quite arbitrary.

ἐρχομ. πέτρου] genitive absolute, and then σκιά: the shadow cast by him.

κἄν] at least ( καὶ ἐάν, see Herm. ad Viger. p. 838) is to be explained as an abbreviated expression: in order that, should Peter come, he might touch any one, if even merely his shadow overshadowed him. Comp. Fritzsche, Diss. in 2 Cor. II. p. 120, and see on 2 Corinthians 11:16.

That cures actually took place by the shadow of the apostle, Luke does not state; but only the opinion of the people, that the overshadowing would cure their sick. It may be inferred, however, from Acts 5:6 that Luke would have it regarded as a matter of course that the sick were not brought out in vain, but were cured by the miraculous power of the apostle. As the latter was analogous to the miraculous power of Jesus, it is certainly conceivable that Peter also cured without the medium of corporeal contact; but if this result was in individual instances ascribed to his shadow, and if men expected from the shadow of the apostle what his personal miraculous endowment supplied, he was not to be blamed for this superstition. Zeller certainly cannot admit as valid the analogy of the miraculous power of Jesus, as he does not himself recognise the historical character of the corresponding evangelical narrative. He relegates the account to the domain of legend, in which it was conceived that the miraculous power had been, independently of the consciousness and will of Peter, conveyed by his shadow like an electric fluid. An absurdity, which in fact only the presupposition of a mere legend enables us to conceive as possible.

τὸ πλῆθος] the multitude (vulgus) of the neighbouring towns.

οἵτινες] as well those labouring under natural disease as those demoniacally afflicted; comp. Luke 4:40 f.

Then follows Acts 5:17, the contrast of the persecution, which, however, was victoriously overcome.


Verse 17-18

Acts 5:17-18. ἀναστάς] The high priest stood up; he raised himself: a graphic trait serving to illustrate his present interference. Comp. Acts 6:9, Acts 23:9; Luke 15:18, al. “Non sibi quiescendum ratus est,” Bengel. The ἀρχιερεύς, is according to Acts 4:6, Annas, not Caiaphas, although the latter was so really.

καὶ πάντες οἱ σὺν αὐτῷ, οὖσα αἵρεσις τῶν σαδδουκ.] and all his associates (his whole adherents, Acts 5:21; Xen. Anab. iii. 2.11, al.), which were the sect of the Sadducees. This sect had allied itself with Annas, because the preaching of Christ as the Risen One was a grievous offence to them. See Acts 4:1-2. The participle οὖσα (not οἱ ὄντες is put) adjusts itself to the substantive belonging to the predicate, as is often the case in the classical writers. See Kühner, § 429; Stallb. ad Plat. Rep. p. 333 E, 392 D. Luke does not affirm that the high priest himself was a Sadducee, as Olshausen, Ewald, and others assert. This remark also applies in opposition to Zeller, who adduces it as an objection to the historical character of the narrator, that Luke makes Annas a Sadducee. In the Gospels also there is no trace of the Sadducaeism of Annas. According to Josephus, Antt. xx. 9. 1, he had a son who belonged to that sect.

ἐν τηρήσει δημοσ.] τήρησ. as in Acts 4:3. The public prison is called in Thuc. 5:18. 6 also merely τὸ δημόσιον; and in Xen. Hist. vii. 36, οἰκία δημόσια.


Verse 19-20

Acts 5:19-20. The historical state of the case as to the miraculous mode of this liberation,—the process of which, perhaps, remained mysterious to the apostles themselves,—cannot be ascertained. Luke narrates the fact in a legendary(169) interpretation of the mystery (comp. Neander, p. 726); but every attempt to refer the miraculous circumstances to a merely natural process (a stroke of lightning, or an earthquake, or, as Thiess, Eck, Eichhorn, Eckermann, and Heinrichs suggest, that a friend, perhaps the jailor himself, or a zealous Christian, may have opened the prison) utterly offends against the design and the nature of the text. It remains matter for surprise, that in the proceedings afterwards (Acts 5:27 ff.) nothing is brought forward as to this liberation and its circumstances. This shows the incompleteness of the narrative, but not the unhistorical character of the fact itself (Baur, Zeller), which, if it were an intentional invention, would certainly also have been referred to in the trial. Nor is the apparent uselessness of the deliverance (for the apostles are again arrested) evidence against its reality, as it had a sufficient ethical purpose in the very fact of its confirming and increasing the courage in faith of the apostles themselves. On the other hand, the hypothesis that Christ, by His angel, had wished to demonstrate to the Sanhedrim their weakness (Baumgarten), would only have sufficient foundation, provided the sequel of the narrative purported that the judges had really recognised the interposition of heavenly power in the mode of the deliverance. Lange, apost. Zeitalt. II. p. 68, refers the phenomenon to a visionary condition: the apostles were liberated “in the condition of genius-life, of second consciousness.” This is extravagant fancy introducing its own ideas.

ἄγγελος] not the angel, but an angel; Winer, p. 118 [E. T. 155].

διὰ τῆς νυκτός] per noctem, i.e. during the night; so that the opening, the bringing out of the prisoners, and the address of the angel, occurred during the course of the night, and toward morning-dawn the apostles repaired to the temple. Comp. Acts 16:9, and see on Galatians 2:1. The expression is thus more significant than διὰ τὴν νύκτα (Nägelsbach on the Iliad, p. 222, ed. 3) would be, and stands in relation with ὑπὸ τὸν ὄρθρον, Acts 5:21. Hence there is no deviation from Greek usage (Winer, Fritzsche).

ἐξαγαγ.] But on the next day the doors were again found closed (Acts 5:23), according to which even the keepers had not become aware of the occurrence.

Acts 5:20. σταθέντες] take your stand and speak; in which is implied a summons to boldness. Comp. Acts 2:14.

τὰ ῥήματα τῆς ζωῆς ταύτης] the words of this life. What life it was, was self-evident to the apostles, namely, the life, which was the aim of all their effort and working. Hence: the words, which lead to the eternal Messianic life, bring about its attainment. Comp. John 6:68. See on ταύτης, Winer, p. 223 [E. T. 297 f.]. We are not to think here of a hypallage, according to which ταύτης refers in sense to τ. ῥή΄ατα (Bengel, Kuinoel, and many others). Comp. Acts 13:26; Romans 7:24.


Verses 21-23

Acts 5:21-23. ὑπὸ τὸν ὄρθρον] about the dawn of day. On ὄρθρος, see Lobeck, ad Phryn. 275 f.; and on ὑπό, used of nearness in time, see Bernhardy, p. 267. Often so in Thuc.; see Krüger on i. 100. 3. Comp. 3 Maccabees 5:2; Tobit 7:11. The ἀκούσαντες is simply a continuation of the narrative: after they heard that, etc., as in Acts 2:37, Acts 11:18, and frequently.

παραγενόμενος] namely, into the chamber where the Sanhedrim sat, as is evident from what follows. They resorted thither, unacquainted with the liberation of the apostles which had occurred in the past night, and caused the Sanhedrim and the whole eldership to be convoked, in order to try the prisoners.

καὶ πᾶσαν τὴν γερουσίαν] The importance which they assigned to the matter (comp. on Acts 4:6) induced them to summon not only those elders of the people who were likewise members of the Sanhedrim, but the whole body of elders generally, the whole council of representatives of the people. The well-known term γερουσία is fittingly(170) transferred from the college of the Greek gerontes (Dem. 489. 19; Polyb. xxxviii. 5. 1; Herm. Staatsalterth. § 24. 186) to that of the Jewish presbyters. Heinrichs (following Vitringa, Archisynag. p. 356) considers πᾶσ. τ. γερουσ. as equivalent to τὸ συνέδριον, to which it is added as honorificentissima compellatio. Warranted by usage (1 Maccabees 12:6; 2 Maccabees 1:10; 2 Maccabees 4:44; Judith 4:8; Judith 11:14; Judith 15:8; Loesner, p. 178); but after the quite definite and well-known τὸ συνέδριον, the addition would have no force.

Acts 5:23 contains quite the artless expression of the official report.


Verse 24-25

Acts 5:24-25. τε ἱερεύς] the (above designated) priest, points to the one expressly named in Acts 5:21 as ἁρχιερεύς. The word in itself has not the signification high priest; but the context (so also in 1 Maccabees 15:1; Baruch 1:7; Hebrews 5:6; and see Krebs, p. 178) gives to the general expression this special reference.

στρατηγὸς τ. ἱεροῦ] see on Acts 4:1. He also, as the executive functionary of sacred justice, was summoned to the Sanhedrim.

οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς] are the titular high priests; partly those who at an earlier date had really held the office, and partly the presidents of the twenty-four classes of priests. Comp. on Matthew 2:4

The order in which Luke names the persons is quite natural. For first and chiefly the directing ἱερεύς, the head of the whole assembly, must feel himself concerned in the unexpected news; and then, even more than the ἀρχιερεῖς, the στρατηγός, because he, without doubt, had himself carried into effect the arrest mentioned at Acts 5:18, and held the supervision of the prison.

διηπόρουντοῦτο] they were full of perplexity (see on Luke 24:4) concerning them (the apostles), as to what this might come to—what they had to think of as the possible termination of the occurrence just reported to them. Comp. on Acts 2:12, also Acts 10:17.

ἑστῶτες κ. τ. λ.] Comp. Acts 5:20-21.


Verses 26-28

Acts 5:26-28. οὐ μετὰ βίας] without application of violence. Comp. Acts 24:7 and the passages from Polybius in Raphel. More frequent in classical writers is βίᾳ, ἐκ βίας, πρὸς βίαν.

ἵνα μὴ λιθασθ.] contains the design of ἐφοβοῦντο γὰρ τ. λαόν. They feared the people, in order not to be stoned. How easily might the enthusiasm of the multitude for the apostles have resulted in a tumultuous stoning of the στρατηγός and his attendants ( ὑπηρέτ.), if, by any compulsory measures, such as putting them in chains, there had been fearless disregard of the popular feeling! It is erroneous that after verbs of fearing, merely the simple μή, μήπως κ. τ. λ., should stand, and that therefore ἵνα μὴ λιθ. is to be attached to ἤγαγενβίας, and ἐφοβ. γ. τ. λ. to be taken parenthetically (so Winer, p. 471 [E. T. 634], de Wette). Even among classical writers those verbs are found connected with ὅπως μή (with ἵνα μή: Diod. Sic. ii. p. 329). See Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 116; Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. ii. 9. 2; Krüger on Thuc. vi. 13. 1.

Assuming the spuriousness of οὐ, Acts 5:28 (see the critical remarks), the question proper is only to be found in καὶ βούλεσθε κ. τ. λ., for which the preceding ( παραγγελίᾳδιδαχῆς ὑμῶν) paves the way.

παραγγ. παρηγγ.] see Acts 4:17-18.

ἐπὶ τ. ὀνομ. τ.] as in Acts 4:17.

βούλεσθε] your efforts go to this; “verbum invidiosum,” Bengel.

ἐπαγαγεῖν κ. τ. λ.] to bring about upon us, i.e. to cause that the shed blood of this man be avenged on us (by an insurrection of the people). “Pro confesso sumit Christum jure occisum fuisse,” Calvin. Comp. Matthew 23:35; Matthew 27:25; Acts 18:6; Joshua 23:15; Judges 9:24; Leviticus 22:16. On the (contemptuous) τούτῳτούτου Bengel rightly remarks: “fugit appellare Jesum; Petrus appellat et celebrat, Acts 5:30-31.”

Observe how the high priest prudently leaves out of account the mode of their escape. Disobedience towards the, sacred tribunal was the fulcrum.


Verse 29

Acts 5:29. καὶ οἱ ἀπόστολοι] and (generally) the apostles. For Peter spoke in the name of all; hence also the singular ἀποκριθ., see Buttm. neut. Gr. p. 111 [E. T. 127].

πειθαρχεῖν κ. τ. λ.] “Ubi enim jussa Domini et servi concurrunt, oportet illa prius exsequi.” Maimon. Hilchoth Melach. iii. 9. Comp. on Acts 4:19. The principle is here still more decidedly expressed than in Acts 4:19, and in all its generality.


Verses 30-32

Acts 5:30-32 now presents, in exact reference to the previous θεῷ μᾶλλον, the teaching activity of the apostles as willed by God.

θεὸς τ. πατ. ἡμ.] Comp. Acts 3:13.

ἤγειρεν] is, with Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Erasmus, and others, to be referred to the raising from the dead, as the following relative sentence contains the contrast to it, and the exaltation to glory follows immediately afterwards, Acts 5:31. Others, such as Calvin, Bengel, de Wette, hold that it refers generally to the appearance of Christ, whom God has made to emerge (Acts 3:22; Acts 3:26, Acts 13:23; Luke 1:69; Luke 7:16).

διαχειρίζεσθαι] to murder with one’s own hands. See Acts 26:21; Polyb. viii. 23. 8.

Comp. διαχειροῦσθαι, Job 30:24. This purposely chosen significant word brings the execution of Christ, which was already in Acts 4:10 designated as the strict personal act of the instigators, into prominent view with the greatest possible force as such. So also in the examples in Kypke, II. p. 34. The following aorist κρεμάσ. is synchronous with διεχειρ. as its modal definition.

ἐπὶ ξύλου] on a tree: an expression, well known to the hearers, for the stake ( עֵץ, Genesis 40:19; Deuteronomy 21:22; Isaiah 10:26; comp. Acts 10:39; 1 Peter 2:24; Galatians 3:13) on which criminals were suspended. The cross is here designedly so called, not because the σταυρός was a Roman instrument of death (see, on the other hand, Acts 2:36, Acts 4:10), but in order to strengthen the representation, because ἐπὶ ξύλου reminded them of the accursed (see on Galatians 3:13).

Acts 5:31. Him has God exalted by His right hand to be the Leader (not as in Acts 3:15, where a genitive stands alongside), i.e. the Ruler and Head of the theocracy (a designation of the kingly dignity of Jesus, comp. Thuc. i. 132. 2; Aesch. Agam. 250; and τιμαὶ ἀρχηγοί, Eur. Tr. 196), and a Saviour (the author and bestower of the Messianic salvation). On the idea, comp. Acts 2:36. As to τῇ δεξ. αὑτοῦ, see on Acts 2:23.

δοῦναι μετάνοιαν κ. τ. λ.] contains the design of τοῦτοντῇ δεξιᾷ αὑτοῦ: in order to give repentance to the Israelites and the forgiveness of sins. With the exaltation of Christ, namely, was to commence His heavenly work on earth, through which He as Lord and Saviour, by means of the Holy Spirit, would continually promote the work of redemption to be appropriated by men (would draw them to Him, John 12:32-33) in bringing them by the preaching of the gospel (1 Peter 1:23) to a change of mind (comp. Acts 11:18; 2 Timothy 2:25), and so, through the faith in Him which set in with the μετάνοια, making them partakers of the forgiveness of sins in baptism (comp. 1 Peter 3:21). The appropriation of the work of salvation would have been denied to them without the exaltation of Christ, in the absence of which the Spirit would not have operated (John 7:39; John 16:7); but by the exaltation it was given(171) to them, and that, indeed, primarily to the Israelites, whom Peter still names alone, because it was only at a later period that he was to rise from this his national standpoint to universalism (chap. 10).

With the reading αὐρτοῦ μάρτ. (see the critical remarks), μάρτ. governs two genitives different in their reference, the one of a person and the other of a thing (see Winer, p. 180 [E. T. 239]; Dissen, ad Pind. Ol. i. 94; Pyth. ii. 56), and αὐτοῦ could not but accordingly precede; but the emphasis lies on the bold ἡμεῖς, to which then τὸ πνεῦμα κ. τ. λ. is added still more defiantly.

τῶν ῥημάτ. τούτων] of these words, i.e. of what has just been uttered. See on Matthew 4:4. Peter means the raising and exaltation of Jesus. Of the latter the apostles were witnesses, in so far as they had already experienced the activity of the exalted Jesus, agreeably to His own promise (Acts 1:5), through the effusion of the Spirit (Acts 2:33 f.). But Luke, who has narrated the tradition of the externally visible event of the ascension as an historical fact, must here have thought of the eye-witness of the apostles at the ascension.

καὶ τὸ πνεῦμα δὲ τὸ ἅγιον] as well we … as also the Spirit (on the other hand, see Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 181), in which case δέ, according to the Attic usage, is placed after the emphasized idea (Baeumlein, Partik. p. 169). The Holy Spirit, the greater witness, different from the human self-consciousness, but ruling and working in believers, witnesses with them ( συμμαρτυρεῖ, Romans 8:16). Comp. Acts 15:28.

τοῖς πειθαρχ. αὐτῷ] to those who obey Him. In an entirely arbitrary manner this is usually restricted by a mentally supplied ἡμῖν merely to the apostles; whereas all who were obedient to God (in a believing recognition of the Messiah preached to them, comp. Acts 2:38, Acts 11:17, and so through the ὑπακοὴ τῆς πίστεως, Romans 1:5) had received the gifts of the Spirit. They form the category to which the apostles belong.


Verse 33

Acts 5:33. διεπρίοντο] not: they gnashed with the teeth, which would be διέπριον τοὺς ὀδόντας (Lucian. Calumn. 24), but dissecabantur (Vulgate), comp. Acts 7:54 : they were sawn through, cut through as by a saw (Plat. Conv. p. 193 A Aristoph. Eq. 768; 1 Chronicles 20:3; see Suicer, Thes. I. p. 880; Valckenaer, p. 402 f.),—a figurative expression (comp. Acts 2:37) of deeply penetrating painful indignation. Alberti, Gloss. p. 67: πικρῶς ἐχαλέπαινον. It is stronger than the non-figurative διαπονεῖσθαι, Acts 4:2, Acts 16:18.

ἐβουλεύοντο] they consulted, Luke 14:31; Acts 15:37. The actual coming to a resolution was averted by Gamaliel.


Verse 34

Acts 5:34. Gamaliel, גַּמְלִי אֵל, retributio Dei (Numbers 1:10; Numbers 2:20), is usually assumed to be identical with Rabban Gamaliel, הַזָּקֵיִ (senex), celebrated in the Talmud, the grandson of Hillel and the son of R. Simeon,—a view which cannot be proved, but also cannot be refuted, as there is nothing against it in a chronological point of view (Lightf. Hor. ad Matth. p. 33). He was the teacher of the Apostle Paul (Acts 22:3), but is certainly not in our passage to be considered as the president of the Sanhedrim, as many have assumed, because in that case Luke would have designated him more characteristically than by τις ἐν τ. συνεδρίῳ φαρισ. That he had been in secret a Christian (see already Recogn. Clem. i. 65; Beda, Cornelius a Lapide), and been baptized, along with his son and Nicodemus, by Peter and John (Phot. cod. 171, p. 199), is a legend deduced by arbitrary inference from this passage. See Thilo, ad Cod. apocr. p. 501. An opposite but equally arbitrary extreme is the opinion of Pearson (Lectt. p. 49), that Gamaliel only declared himself in favour of the apostles from an inveterate partisan opposition to the Sadducees. Still more grossly, Schrader, II. p. 63, makes him a hypocrite, who sought to act merely for his own elevation and for the kingdom of darkness, and to win the unsuspicious Christians by his dissimulation. He was not a mere prudent waiter on events (Thiersch), but a wise, impartial, humane, and religiously scrupulous man, so strong in character that he could not and would not suppress the warnings and counsels that experience prompted him to oppose to the passionate zeal, backed in great part by Sadducean prejudice, of his colleagues (Acts 5:17); and therefore to be placed higher than an ordinary jurist and politician dispassionately contemplating the case (Ewald). Recently it has been maintained that the emergence of Gamaliel here recorded is an unhistorical rôle (Baur) assigned to him (see also Zeller); and the chief(172) ground alleged for this view is the mention of Theudas, Acts 5:36 (but see on Acts 5:36), while there is further assumed the set purpose of making Christianity a section of orthodox, or in other words Pharisaic Judaism, combated by Sadducaeism. As if, after the exaltation of Christ, His resurrection must not really have stood in the foreground of the apostles’ preaching! and by that very fact the position of parties could not but necessarily be so far changed, that now the main interests of Sadducaeism were most deeply affected.

νομοδιδάσκαλος] a νομικός, one skilled in the law (canonist) as a teacher. See on Matthew 22:35.

βραχύ] a short while, Thuc. vi. 12; Polyb. iii. 96. 2; 2 Samuel 19:36.

On ἔξω ποιεῖν] to put without. Comp. Xen. Cyr. iv. 1. 3; Symm. Psalms 142:7

τ. ἀνθρώπους (see the critical remarks): thus did Gamaliel impartially designate them, and Luke reproduces his expression. The order of the words puts the emphasis on ἔξω; for the discussion was to be one conducted within the Sanhedrim. Comp. Acts 4:15.


Verse 35

Acts 5:35. ἐπὶ τοῖς ἀυθρώπ. τούτοις] in respect of these men (Bernhardy, p. 251) might be joined to προσέχετε ἑαυτοῖς (Lachm.), as Luther, Castalio, Beza, and many others have done (whence also comes the reading ἀπὸ τῶν κ. τ. λ. in E); yet the currency of the expression πράσσειν τι ἐπί τινι (Wolf and Kuinoel in loc., Matthiae, p. 927) is in favour of its being construed with τί μέλλετε πράσσειν. The emphasis also which thus falls on ἐπὶ τοῖς ἀνθρ. is appropriate.

πράσσειν (not ποιεῖν): agere, what procedure ye will take. Comp. Acts 3:17, Acts 19:36; and see on Romans 1:32. Gamaliel will have nothing προπετές (Acts 19:36) done; therefore they must be on their guard ( προσέχ. ἑαυτ.).


Verse 36

Acts 5:36. γάρ] gives the reason(173) for the warning contained in Acts 5:35. In proof that they should not proceed rashly, Gamaliel reminds them of two instances from contemporary history (Acts 5:36-37), when fanatical deceivers of the people (without any interference of the Sanhedrim) were overthrown by their own work. Therefore there should be no interference with the apostles (Acts 5:38); for their work, if it should be of men, would not escape destruction; but if it should be of God, it would not be possible to overthrow it.

πρὸ τούτων τῶν ἡμερ.] i.e. not long ago. οὐ λέγει παλαιὰ διηγήματα καίτοιγε ἔχων, ἀλλὰ νεώτερα, μάλιστα πρὸς πίστιν ἦσαν ἰσχυρά, Chrysostom. Comp. Acts 21:38. Yet the expression, which here stands simply in contrast to ancient incidents (which do not lie within the experience of the generation), is not to be pressed; for Gamaliel goes back withal to the time before the census of Quirinus.

θευδᾶς] Joseph. Antt. xx. 5.1, informs us that under the procurator Cuspius Fadus (not before A.D. 44; see Anger, de temp. rat. p. 44) an insurgent chief Theudas gave himself out to be a prophet, and obtained many adherents. But Fadus fell on the insurgents with his cavalry; they were either slain or taken prisoners, and Theudas himself was beheaded by the horsemen. This narrative suits our passage exactly as regards substance, but does not correspond as regards date. For the Theudas of Josephus lived under Claudius, and Tiberius Alexander succeeded Cuspius Fadus about A.D. 46; whereas Gamaliel’s speech occurred about ten years earlier, in the reign of Tiberius. Very many (Origen, c. Cels. i. 6, Scaliger, Casaubon, Beza, Grotius, Calovius, Hammond, Wolf, Bengel, Heumann, Krebs, Lardner, Morus, Rosenmüller, Heinrichs, Kuinoel, Guericke, Anger, Olshausen, Ebrard) therefore suppose that it is not the Theudas of Josephus who is here meant, but some other insurgent chief or robber-captain acting a religious part,(174) who has remained unknown to history, but who emerged in the turbulent times either of the later years of Herod the Great or soon after his death. This certainly removes all difficulties, but in what a violent manner! especially as the name was by no means so common as to make the supposition of two men of that name, with the same enterprise and the same fate, appear probable, or indeed, in the absence of more precise historical warrant, otherwise than rash, seeing that elsewhere historical mistakes occur in Luke (comp. Acts 4:6; Luke 2:1-2). Besides, it is antecedently improbable that tradition should not have adduced an admonitory example thoroughly striking, from a historical point of view, such as was that of Judas the Galilean. But the attempts to discover in our Theudas one mentioned by Josephus under a different name (Wieseler, Synops. p. 103 ff., and Baumgarten, also Köhler in Herzog’s Encykl. XVI. p. 40 f, holding it to refer to the scribe Matthias in Joseph. Bell. i. 33. 2, Antt. xvii. 6; Sonntag in the Stud. u. Krit. 1837, p. 638 ff., and Ewald, to the insurgent Simon in Joseph. Bell. ii. 4. 2, Antt. xvii. 10. 6; Zuschlag in the monograph Theudas, Anführer eines 750. in Paläst. erregten Aufstandes, Cassel 1849, taking it to be the Theudion of Joseph. Antt. xvii. 4, who took an active part in the Idumean rising after the death of Herod the Great), amount only to assumptions incapable of proof, and are nevertheless under the necessity of leaving the difference of names unaccounted for. But inasmuch as, if the Theudas in our passage is conceived as the same with the Theudas mentioned by Josephus, the error cannot be sought on the side of Josephus (Baronius, Reland, Michaelis, Jahn, Archäol. II. 2, § 127); as, on the contrary, the exactness of the narrative of Josephus secures at any rate the decision in its favour for chronological accuracy over against Luke; there thus remains nothing but to assume that Luke—or, in the first instance, his source—has, in the reproduction of the speech before us, put into the mouth of Gamaliel a proleptic mistake. This might occur the more easily, as the speech may have been given simply from tradition. And the tradition which had correctly preserved one event adduced by Gamaliel (the destruction of Judas the Galilean), was easily amplified by an anachronistic addition of another. If Luke himself composed the speech in accordance with tradition, the error is in his case the more easily explained, since he wrote the Acts so long after the insurrection of Theudas,—in fact, after the destruction of the Jewish commonwealth,—that the chronological error, easy in itself, may here occasion the less surprise, for he was not a Jew, and he had been for many years occupied with efforts of quite another kind than the keeping freshly in mind the chronological position of one of the many passing enthusiastic attempts at insurrection. It has been explained as a proleptic error by Valesius, ad Euseb. H. E. ii. 11, Lud. Cappellus, Wetstein, Ottius, Spicileg. p. 258, Eichhorn, Credner, de Wette, Neander, Bleek, Holtzmann, Keim,(175) as also by Baur and Zeller, who, however, urge this error as an argument against the historical truth of the entire speech. Olshausen considers himself prevented from assenting to the idea of a historical mistake, because Luke must have committed a double mistake,—for, first, he would have made Gamaliel name a man who did not live till after him; and, secondly, he would have put Judas, who appeared under Augustus, as subsequent to Theudas, who lived under Claudius. But the whole mistake amounts to the simple error, that Luke conceived that Theudas had played his part already before the census of Quirinius, and accordingly he could not but place him before Judas.(176)

εἶναί τινα] giving out himself ( ἑαυτόν, in which consists the arrogance, the self-exaltation; “character falsae doctrinae,” Bengel) for one of peculiar importance: προφήτης ἔλεγεν εἶναι, Joseph. Antt. xx. 5. 1. On τίς, eximius quidam (the opposite οὐδείς

Valckenaer, ad Herod. iii. 140), see Wetstein in loc.; Winer, p. 160 [E. T. 213]; Dissen, ad Pind. Pyth. viii. 95, p. 299.

προσεκλίθη] to whom leaned, i.e. adhered, took his side: πολλοὺς ἠπάτησεν, Josephus, l.c. Comp. Polyb. iv. 51. 5; also πρόσκλισις, Polyb. vi. l0. 10, v. 51. 8.

ἐγένοντο εἰς οὐδέν] ad nihilum redacti sunt. See Schleusner, Thes. IV. p. 140. They were, according to Josephus, l.c., broken up ( διελύθησαν) by the cavalry of Fadus, and partly killed, partly taken prisoners.

The two relative sentences προσεκλ. and ὃς ἀνῃρέθη are designed to bring out emphatically the contrast. Comp. Acts 4:10.


Verse 37

Acts 5:37. ἰούδας γαλιλαῖος] Joseph. Antt. xviii. 1. 1, calls him a Gaulanite; for he was from Gamala in Lower Gaulanitis. But in Antt. xviii. 1. 6, xx. 5. 2, Bell. ii. 8. 1, xvii. 8, he mentions him likewise as γαλιλαῖος. Apparently the designation “the Galilean” was the inaccurate one used in ordinary life, from the locality in which the man was at work. Gaulanitis lay on the eastern shore of the Sea of Galilee.

He excited an insurrection against the census which Augustus in the year 7 aer. Dion. (thirty-seven years after the battle of Actium, Joseph. Antt. xviii. 2. 1) caused to be made by Quirinius the governor of Syria (see on Luke 2:2), representing it as a work of subjugation, and calling the people to liberty with all the fanatical boldness kindled by the old theocratic spirit. Joseph. Antt. xviii. 1. 1. See Gerlach, d. Röm. Statthalter, p. 45 f.; Paret in Herzog’s Encykl. VII. p. 126 f.

ἀπέστησεὀπίσω αὑτοῦ] he withdrew them (from the government), and made them his own adherents. Attraction: Hermann, ad Vig. p. 893.

ἀπώλετο] a notice which supplements Josephus. According to Joseph. Antt. xx. 5. 2, two sons of Judas perished at a later period, whom Tiberius Alexander, the governor of Judaea, caused to be crucified. Comp. Bell. ii. 8. 1. Still later a third son was executed (Bell. ii. 17. 8 f.; Vit. v. 11).

διεσκορπίσθησαν] they were scattered,—which does not exclude the continuance of the faction, whose members were afterwards very active as zealots, and again even in the Jewish war (Joseph. Bell. ii. 17. 7); therefore it is not an incorrect statement (in opposition to de Wette).


Verses 38-40

Acts 5:38-40. καί] is the simple copula of the train of thought; τὰ νῦν as in Acts 4:29.

ἐξ ἀνθρώπων] of human origin (comp. Matthew 21:25), not proceeding from the will and arrangement of God (not ἐκ θεοῦ).

βουλὴ αὕτη τὸ ἔργ. τοῦτο] “Disjunctio non ad diversas res, sed ad diversa, quibus res appellatur, vocabula pertinet.” Fritzsche, ad Marc. p. 277. This project or (in order to denote the matter in question still more definitely) this work (as already in the act of being executed).

καταλυθήσεται] namely, without your interference. This conception results from the antithesis in the second clause: οὐ δύνασθε καταλῦσαι αὐτούς. For similar expressions from the Rabbins (Pirke Aboth, iv. 11, al.), see Schoettgen. Comp. Herod. ix. 16 : , τι δεῖ γενέσθαι ἐκ τοῦ θεοῦ, ἀμήχανον ἀποτρέψαι ἀνθρώπῳ. Eur. Hippol: 476. The reference of καταλύειν to persons ( αὐτούς, see the critical remarks) who are overthrown, ruined, is also current in classical authors. Xen. Cyr. viii. 5. 24; Plat. Legg. iv. p. 714 C Lucian. Gall. 23. Comp. κατάλυσις τοῦ τυράννου, Polyb. x. 25. 3, etc.

Notice, further, the difference in meaning of the two conditional clauses: ἐὰν and εἰἐστιν (comp. Galatians 1:8-9; and see Winer, p. 277 f. [E. T. 369]; Stallb. ad Plat. Phaed. p. 93 B), according to which the second case put appeared to Gamaliel as the more probable.

μήποτε καὶ θεομάχοι εὑρεθῆτε] although grammatically to be explained by a σκεπτέου, προσέχετε ἑαυτοῖς (Luke 21:34), or some similar phrase floating before the mind, is an independent warning: that ye only be not found even fighters against God. See Hom. Il. i. 26, ii. 195; Matthew 25:9 (Elz.); Romans 11:21; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 283; Nägelsb. on the Iliad, p. 18, ed. 3. Valckenaer and Lachmann (after Pricaeus and Hammond) construe otherwise, referring μήποτε to ἐάσατε αὐτούς, and treating ὅτιαὐτούς as a parenthesis. A superfluous interruption, to which also the manifest reference of θεομάχοι to the directly preceding εἰ δὲ ἐκ θεοῦ ἐστιν κ. τ. λ. is opposed.

καί] is to be explained elliptically: not only with men, but also further, in addition. See Hartung, Partikell. I. p. 134.

θεομάχοι] Symm. Proverbs 9:18; Proverbs 21:16; Job 26:5; Heraclid. Alleg. 1; Lucian. Jov. Tr. 45. On the thing itself, comp. Hom. Il. vi. 129: οὐκ ἂν ἔγωγε θεοῖσιν ἐπουρανίοισι μαχοίμην.

ἐπείσθησαν] even if only in tantum; and yet how greatly to their self-conviction on account of their recent condemnation of Jesus!

δείραντες] The Sanhedrim would at least not expose themselves, as if they had instituted an examination wholly without result, and therefore they order the punishment of stripes, usual for very various kinds of crime (here: proved disobedience), but very ignominious (comp. Acts 16:37; Acts 16:22.).

Concerning the counsel of Gamaliel generally, the principle therein expressed is only right conditionally, for interference against a spiritual development must, in respect of its admissibility or necessity, be morally judged of according to the nature of the cases; nor is that counsel to be considered as an absolute maxim of Gamaliel, but as one which is here presented to him by the critical state of affairs, and is to be explained from his predominant opinion that a work of God may be at stake, as he himself indeed makes this opinion apparent by εἰἐστιν, Acts 5:39 (see above).


Verse 41

f

Acts 5:41 f. χαίροντες] comp. Matthew 5:11-12

ὑπὲρ τοῦ ὀνόματος] placed first with emphasis: for the name, for its glorification. For the scourging suffered tended to that effect, because it was inflicted on the apostles on account of their stedfast confession of the name. Comp. Acts 9:16. “Quum reputarent causam, praevalebat gaudium,” Calvin. The absolute τὸ ὄνομα denotes the name κατʼ ἐξοχήν,—namely, “Jesus Messiah” (Acts 3:6, Acts 4:10), the confession and announcement of which was always the highest and holiest concern of the apostles. Analogous is the use of the absolute שֵׁם (Leviticus 24:11; Leviticus 24:16), in which the Hebrew understood the name of his Jehovah as implied of itself. Comp. 3 John 1:7.

κατηξιώθ. ἀτιμασθ.] An oxymoron. Comp. Philippians 1:29; 2 Corinthians 11:26-30; Galatians 6:14; Galatians 6:17, al.; 1 Peter 2:19.

πᾶσαν ἡμέραν] every day the οὐκ ἐπαύοντο in preaching took place. See Winer, p. 162 [E. T. 214]. They did it day after day without cessation.

κατʼ οἶκον] domi, in the house, a contrast to ἐν τῷ ἱερῷ. See on Acts 2:46.

ἀνεπαύοντο διδάσκοντες] See Herm. ad Viger. p. 771; Bernhardy, p. 477.

καὶ εὐαγγελ. ἰησ. τ. χ.] and announcing Jesus as the Messiah, a more specific definition of διδάσκοντες as regards its chief contents.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Acts 5:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/acts-5.html. 1832.

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