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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
Acts 5



Verse 1

Acts 5:1-11. Ananias and Sapphira.

“The first trace of a shade upon the bright form of the young Church. Probably among the new Christians a kind of holy rivalry had sprung up, every one eager to place his means at the disposal of the apostles” [Olshausen]. Thus might the new-born zeal of some outrun their abiding principle, while others might be tempted to seek credit for a liberality which was not in their character.

Verse 2

kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it — The coolness with which they planned the deception aggravated the guilt of this couple.

brought a certain part — pretending it to be the whole proceeds of the sale.

Verses 3-6
fill” - “why hast thou suffered him to fill”

thine heart — so criminally entertaining his suggestion? Compare Acts 5:4, “why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart?” And see John 13:2, John 13:27.

to lie to the Holy Ghost — to men under His supernatural illumination.

Verse 4

While it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? — from which we see how purely voluntary were all these sacrifices for the support of the infant community.

not lied to men but God — to men so entirely the instruments of the directing Spirit that the lie was rather told to Him: language clearly implying both the distinct personality and the proper divinity of the Holy Ghost.

Verse 5

Ananias … gave up the ghost … great fear came on all that heard these things — on those without the Christian circle; who, instead of disparaging the followers of the Lord Jesus, as they might otherwise have done on the discovery of such hypocrisy, were awed at the manifest presence of Divinity among them, and the mysterious power of throwing off such corrupt matter which rested upon the young Church.

Verse 6

the young men — some of the younger and more active members of the church, not as office-bearers, nor coming forward now for the first time, but who probably had already volunteered their services in making subordinate arrangements. In every thriving Christian community such volunteers may be expected, and will be found eminently useful.

Verses 7-11

Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much — naming the sum.

Verse 9

How is it that ye have agreed together — (See on Acts 5:2).

to tempt the Spirittry whether they could escape detection by that omniscient Spirit of whose supernatural presence with the apostles they had had such full evidence.

feet of them that buried thy husband are at the door — How awfully graphic!

Verse 10

buried her by her husband — The later Jews buried before sunset of the day of death.

Verse 11

And great fear came upon all the church, etc. — This effect on the Christian community itself was the chief design of so startling a judgment; which had its counterpart, as the sin itself had, in Achan (Joshua 7:1-26), while the time - at the commencement of a new career - was similar.

Verse 12

Acts 5:12-26. The progress of the new cause leads to the arrest of the apostles - They are miraculously delivered from prison, resume their teaching, but allow themselves to be conducted before the Sanhedrim.

Solomon‘s Porch — (See on John 10:23).

Verses 13-16

of the rest durst no man join himself, etc. — Of the unconverted none ventured, after what had taken place, to profess discipleship; but yet their number continually increased.

Verse 15

into the streets — “in every street.”

on beds and couches — The words denote the softer couches of the rich and the meaner cribs of the poor [Bengel].

shadow of Peter … might overshadow some of them — Compare Acts 19:12; Luke 8:46. So Elisha. Now the predicted greatness of Peter (Matthew 16:18), as the directing spirit of the early Church, was at its height.

Verses 17-23

sect of the Sadducees — See on Acts 4:1 for the reason why this is specified.

Verse 19

by night — the same night.

Verse 20

all the words of this life — beautiful expression for that Life in the Risen One which was the burden of their preaching!

Verse 21

entered into the temple, etc. — How self-possessed! the indwelling Spirit raising them above fear.

called … all the senate, etc. — an unusually general convention, though hastily summoned.

Verse 23
shut … keepers … before the doors, but … no man within — the reverse of the miracle in Acts 16:26; a similar contrast to that of the nets at the miraculous draughts of fishes (Luke 5:6; John 21:11).

Verses 24-26

they doubted — “were in perplexity.”

Verse 26

without violence, for they feared, etc. — hardened ecclesiastics, all unawed by the miraculous tokens of God‘s presence with the apostles, and the fear of the mob only before their eyes!

Verse 27-28

Acts 5:27-42. Second appearance and testimony before the Sanhedrim - Its rage calmed by Gamaliel - Being dismissed, they depart rejoicing, and continue their preaching.

ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine — noble testimony to the success of their preaching, and (for the reason mentioned on Acts 4:4) to the truth of their testimony, from reluctant lips!

Verse 28

intend to bring this man‘s blood upon us — They avoid naming Him whom Peter gloried in holding up [Bengel]. In speaking thus, they seem to betray a disagreeable recollection of their own recent imprecation, His blood be upon us,” etc. (Matthew 27:25), and of the traitor‘s words as he threw down the money, “I have sinned in that I have betrayed innocent blood” (Matthew 27:4).

Verse 29-30

Then Peter, etc. — (See on Acts 2:22, and see on Acts 3:13, etc.).

Verse 31

Prince and a Saviour — the first word expressing that Royalty which all Israel looked for in Messiah, the second the Saving character of it which they had utterly lost sight of. Each of these features in our Lord‘s work enters into the other, and both make one glorious whole (compare Acts 3:15; Hebrews 2:10).

to give — dispensing as a “Prince.”

repentance and remission of sins — as a “Savior”; “repentance” embracing all that change which issues in the faith which secures “forgiveness” (compare Acts 2:38; Acts 20:21). How gloriously is Christ here exhibited; not, as in other places, as the Medium, but as the Dispenser of all spiritual blessings!

Verse 32-33

we are his witnesses … and the Holy Ghost — They as competent human witnesses to facts, and the Holy Ghost as attesting them by undeniable miracles.

Verse 33

cut to the heart and took — “were taking.”

counsel to slay them — How different this feeling and the effect of it from that “pricking of the heart” which drew from the first converts on the day of Pentecost the cry, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). The words used in the two places are strikingly different.

Verse 34
Gamaliel — in all probability one of that name celebrated in the Jewish writings for his wisdom, the son of Simeon (possibly the same who took the infant Savior in his arms, Luke 2:25-35), and grandson of Hillel, another celebrated rabbi. He died eighteen years before the destruction of Jerusalem [Lightfoot].

Verses 35-39

Theudas — not the same with a deceiver of that name whom Josephus mentions as heading an insurrection some twelve years after this [Antiquities, 20.5.1], but some other of whom he makes no mention. Such insurrections were frequent.

Verse 37

Judas of Galilee — (See on Luke 2:2, and see on Luke 13:1-3) [Josephus, Antiquities, 13.1.1].

Verse 38
of men, it will come to naught — This neutral policy was true wisdom, in the then temper of the council. But individual neutrality is hostility to Christ, as He Himself teaches (Luke 11:23).

Verses 40-42

beaten them — for disobeying their orders (compare Luke 23:16).

Verse 41
rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name — “thought worthy by God to be dishonored by man” (Matthew 5:12; 1 Peter 4:14, 1 Peter 4:16) [Webster and Wilkinson]. This was their first taste of persecution, and it felt sweet for His sake whose disciples they were.

Verse 42

in every house — in private. (See on Acts 2:46).

ceased not to preach Jesus Christ — that is, Jesus (to be the) Christ.


Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Acts 5:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, October 21st, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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