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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Acts 5

 

 

Verse 1

1. But—A contrast to the free benefaction of Barnabas is now introduced with a but.

Ananias—The Greek form (shortened into Annas and Latinized by Josephus into Ananus) of Hanan or Hananiah.

Sapphira— Signifying beautiful.

Possession—Namely, a piece of land, Acts 5:3.


Verses 1-11

IV. PENTECOSTAL CHURCH UNFOLDING IN PENAL POWER.

1. Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:1-11.

The Spirit of light and love dwelling in this Pentecostal Church is also the Spirit of judgment. And, as the Spirit has now shown its power of love, so in this Church is the very place to show how severe its absolute standard of judgment is. And this is now done in the case of Ananias and Sapphira.

Their offence, according to the average standard of human morality, was not a very heinous one. In performing a large act of charity they had not defrauded anybody of a penny. They had simply retained a part of their own money and then denied the fact. Should a tradesman at the present day, for the sake of an undue credit for liberality, pretend to have donated half his income when he had given only a quarter, it would simply be esteemed a disreputable prevarication, but not sufficiently criminal to be amenable to human law. To worldly men, therefore, the fate of these two persons will ever seem to be unreasonably severe. We reject all naturalistic solutions, such as maintain that the deaths were not miraculous, but the natural effects of terror. Nor is any solution obtained by subdividing the sin into various parts, as some commentators have done, and showing to how many sins it amounted. Nor can any person probably be satisfied unless he can see the validity of the following considerations:

1. The Divine Spirit being present with unparalleled power in the Church, the sin, as Peter says, (Acts 5:3-4,) is directly against Him. The sinner comes directly in contact with the pure Absolute, and is tried and executed by the absolute Purity and Law. Now the wonder is, when we realize that Presence, not that any one should be struck dead, but that any one, even the holiest of infirm mortals, should for a moment live. And this is a complete answer so far as any absolute injustice is concerned. Yet the question still remains, Why were these two selected as instances of absolute justice? It is, then, not a question of right or wrong, but of divine propriety. The question is not, Was this dispensation just? for of that there is no doubt; but it is, Why was this particular justice inflicted?

2. The reason for this selection was to present and record at this beginning of the Christian Church a representative and memorial instance of the just doom of the hypocrite. The first Sabbath-breaker; and Achan, the appropriator of a Babylonish garment on the first entrance into Canaan; and Nadab and Abihu at the first founding of the priesthood, were punished with death at a beginning, with absolute justice. This was, in each case, a primordial token, and a declaration to all the future, what, if inflicted with exactness, the true deserts and punishments of the transgressor are. Such inflictions are at start the divine protest against the conclusion that God’s future forbearance towards sin is any contradiction of the fatal desert of sin. They are examples hung up at the commencement, once for all, that the wages of sin is death, a death which it is God’s right at any moment to inflict. Now this present couple were at any rate deliberate, positive, conceited, and intentionally permanent hypocrites. Their death was God’s declaration to all future ages of the true deserts of all deliberate hypocrites in the Church of Christ.

This special punishment was not meted out, therefore, from the fact that these two were sinners above all others. Worse sinners, both in the apostolic and later Church, have lived and died naturally. Simon Magus was a far viler sinner, yet underwent a far milder penalty before this same apostle.

3. Peter’s share in the matter is not that of an originator or proper author of the death of the two sinners, but of a divinely required agent of God. By the extraordinary charism of the discerning of spirits he knows their secret sin; by the inspiration of the indwelling Spirit he knows their doom; by the impulsive command of God he pronounces it. Of the sentence the omnipotent God, is the executioner.

4. Romanists maintain that the act was simply a deed of excommunication performed by Peter, and of the same nature as the destruction of the flesh specified by Paul in 1 Corinthians 5:5. And on this Romanism and her Pope have based that terrible right of excommunication before which kings and nations once trembled, by which the fiery and bloody Inquisition was established, and dissenters from Popery, by thousands, have been cruelly murdered. Yet it is no doubt true that apostles were sometimes the required agents of divine infliction, and that St. Paul’s words describe a case like this of Ananias. And thence, after all, we deduce the consoling view that this display of wrath was an infinite mercy. It probably was the destruction of the flesh that the spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus, 1 Corinthians 5:5. We do not, therefore, recognise this as a case of the sin against the Holy Ghost. For not every insult to the Spirit is recognised by the Holy Ghost as the blasphemy against itself. (See note on Matthew 12:32.)


Verse 2

2. Brought—It would seem that the money was brought and presented to the apostles in the meeting-room (note Acts 2:2) of the church. Yet the three hours of Acts 5:7 presuppose a lengthened stay at the place.


Verse 3

3. Satan—As in this Church there is a present Spirit, so there can scarce be scandalous sin without a present Satan.

Lie to the Holy Ghost— Dwelling not in Peter or the apostles alone, but in its fulness in the entire Church; so that the unhappy man walks into the very presence of Infinite Purity with a hypocrisy in his heart and a lie on his tongue. The terrible collision is, therefore, immediate and unmitigated.


Verse 4

4. Not thine own—He could have kept his own and be held as maintaining his own right unquestioned.

Sold—These questions of Peter show that the bestowment of goods was perfectly voluntary and not a law, and that the crime was a free and deliberate act in its successive stages.

Lied—His crime was a lie, and before God every liar is worthy of death. The wonder is not that a liar should be struck dead, but that liars should be allowed by God to live. It becomes modern sinners not to cavil at Ananias’ fate, but to wonder at the mercy of its not being their own.

Unto God—That is, unto God the Spirit. That Spirit, then, is a Divine Person. He is not merely an emanation from God, but he is God emanating from God—God in emanation, God going forth in his holiness and power. This is, therefore, an important text in explanation of the personality of the Spirit.


Verse 5

5. Fell down—Not by any exertion of Peter’s power. The insulted Holy Spirit stepped in and gave an instance of his estimate of sin.


Verse 6

6. Young men—It does not appear that these were in any proper sense churchly officers. Their corporeal strength as young men occasioned their being the natural doers of the heavy work of the Church.

Wound him up—In extemporized funereal wrappings, in apparently awful haste, probably by the apostle’s orders, unknown even to his wife! But on account of the heat of the climate in the East burials are usually on the day of death; in Jerusalem within three or four hours. Connected with the same fact, doubtless, was that ceremonial uncleanness of touching a corpse, (Numbers 19:11,) which also induced rapid interment.


Verse 7

7. Three hours—During which they carried the corpse to the burial-place, usually without the city, prepared the grave, performed the burial, and returned to the assembly room. Sapphira may be supposed to be remaining at her perhaps distant home.

His wife… came in—Hapless woman! Little knows she that she has been three hours a widow; that her husband lies a dishonoured corpse in a shameful grave. Still less does she dream how brief her widowhood will be. Her heart is full and eager with the deadly sin.


Verse 8

8. Peter answered—The term answered presupposes previous interchange of words, omitted for brevity.

Tell me—It is asked, Why did not Peter kindly forewarn her against committing the fatal crime and so prevent her fate? But, alas! her crime was already committed. To speak the lie out only made it vocally manifest to men. The full-formed, long-retained lie in the human heart, the definite will and determination, were all complete and visible to the divine Spirit. Exposure and penalty were all that remained.

For so much—Either Peter named the sum which Luke vaguely implies in these words, or he pointed to the money lying in exact amount before them both. Sapphira’s echoing affirmation, For so much, indicates both the latter to be the fact and the fixed precision of her falsehood.


Verse 9

9. Agreed together—So that it was a deliberate, contrived, mutual sin.

To tempt the Spirit—That is, to try and put to the test the present Holy Ghost. The Romanist commentator to the Rhemish Testament deduces a strong case here for the hierarchy: “To take from the Church, or from the governors thereof, things dedicated to their use and the service of God, or to lie unto God’s ministers, is so judged before God as if the lie were made and the fraud done to the Holy Ghost himself.”


Verse 11

11. Great fear—A solemn consciousness how awful in judgment is even the Spirit of love was the feeling of the Church.

Heard—Without but near the Church.


Verses 11-16

2. Third Repose Period of the Church, Acts 5:11-16.

In the former two periods of Church repose Luke describes an internal state pervaded by love alone; but here a solemn awe chastens the spirit of all, and yet increases the moral and converting power of the Church.


Verse 12

12. All—Luke now proceeds to give an illustration of the awe of the public toward the apostles. When Peter and John addressed the people on a former occasion in Solomon’s Porch some of the class of opposers present in their assembly went and informed the authorities and brought on a persecution. Since that they had held their meetings in their own room. (Note Acts 5:2.) But now the apostles, not two but all, had again met with one accord in the Porch with the following result. The all here refers to the apostles just mentioned; but we need not deny that a company of attendant Christians is implied as present with them.


Verse 13

13. The rest—The rest besides and hostile to the apostles and their company, such as those who on the former occasion produced the persecution.

Durst no man—From a sense of guilt and a remembrance of the fate of Ananias.

Join… to them—Mingle again in their assembly. It was a great triumph not only that the believers dare enter the Porch, but their opposers dare not.

The people—The same sort of people as in Acts 4:21, deterred the rulers from persecution.

Magnified them— Acknowledged their great goodness and mighty power.


Verse 14

14. Believers… added—Luke had given the increase in numbers formerly, (Acts 4:4,) but now they were too numerous for his census.


Verse 15

15. Insomuch that—What is now stated, the bringing vast numbers to be healed, was the consequence of all that is narrated in the last three verses; namely, the miraculous deeds, the awe and love of the people, and the increased number of believers.

Beds and couches—Beds and pallets or mats.

Shadow—Mentioned as showing the enthusiastic, perhaps superstitious, faith of the people, not as affirming that miracles resulted from Peter’s shadow. But see note Acts 8:24.

Upon this passage, Acts 5:11-16, a variety of interpretations have been given; but without discussing them we give our own, which differs slightly, especially in Acts 5:13, from all others. Dr. Clarke thinks the order of the verses deranged and gives a rearrangement. So great a liberty with the text is inadmissible, and, so far as we can see, wholly unnecessary.


Verse 17

17. High priest—Caiaphas, the same who arraigned the Saviour a few short months ago. Well might the apostles say to such men, (Acts 5:30,) Jesus, whom ye slew.

Rose up—As if he could sit and see the bold proceedings of the apostles no longer.

With him… Sadducees—Whether Caiaphas was a Sadducee or not is not very clear; but that the Sadducees were in the present case his instigators is certain, and for reasons detailed in our notes on Acts 4:1.


Verses 17-42

V. PENTECOSTAL CHURCH IN SECOND AND SEVERER PERSECUTION AND RESULTS, 17-42.

1. Imprisonment of Apostles and Arraignment, Acts 5:17-32.

As our history grows, larger events open on us. In the first persecution (Acts 3:1 to Acts 4:22,) two apostles were arrested, and the Sanhedrin from fear or the people had dismissed them with a requirement of silence, which the apostles faithfully promised to disobey. So far from silence, the apostles persisted in miracles and preaching; and after the terrible phenomenon or Ananias and Sapphira they boldly ventured to hold assembly in Solomon’s Porch, to the awe of their adversaries, to the love of the people, and the rapid increase of the Church. The incensed Sadducean authorities now proceed to bolder measures. Spite of the people or of divine interference, and even of their want of authority to inflict capital punishment, they are ready to put the entire twelve apostles to death forthwith; and, even when cooled by the remonstrances of Gamaliel, heading the Pharisaic party, they cannot dismiss the apostles without inflicting upon them an ignominious chastisement.


Verse 19

19. The angelAn angel, rather. (See note introductory to Acts 3:1.) Thrice does an angelic interposition occur in the first half of Acts. Renan, admitting the authenticity of the last half makes this supernaturalism the ground of questioning that of the first half. But, 1. Our very plan of the book, p. 12, shows the symmetry and oneness of the whole. 2. We have shown reason for supposing that Luke was present and witness of the scenes of this first half. 3. During this half the pentecostal power was unspent. (See p. 10.)

It is asked, Of what use was this miracle, since the apostles were again forthwith surrendered to the Sanhedrin? To this Baumgarten well replies, In the miracle God showed that he left his servants to suffer for his cause, not because he is not able to serve Caiaphas as he did Ananias and Sapphira, deliver his apostles, and make Jesus Messiah triumphant over all by omnipotent miraculous power, but because he purposes to leave human agents to their own agency. And the result was that, though the apostles severely suffered, yet they rejoiced “that they were worthy to suffer shame for his name.” Just so, we may add, Jesus before surrendering himself to his apprehenders (John 18:6) first struck them to the ground and then accepted their bonds.


Verse 20

20. Go—A new commission from God assuring them that a higher power than high priests and Sanhedrins was on their side.

Stand—A sublime word for these apostles occupying the post of danger for the salvation of the world.

In the temple—In the very citadel of the persecution, at the very spot of their arrest, on the very pedestal of their former address to the nation of old Israel.

This life—Such a life as the world never knew before. So in Acts 13:26, word of this salvation; and Romans 7:24, body of this death.


Verse 21

21. Early in the morning—Literally, at daybreak. (See note on Luke 21:38.)

High priest came—Came not to the temple, but to Gazith, the hall of the Sanhedrin at the southwest corner of the Court of Israel.

With him—Probably the parties named in Acts 4:6.

The council—The Sanhedrin.

Senate—The Greek word for senate here used is γερουσια, (derived from γερων, an old man, as the Latin word senatus is derived from a word of the same meaning, senex,) and is equivalent etymologically to eldership. This word is in the Apocrypha applied to the Sanhedrin itself, and perhaps even here it is but a magnifying phrase for the council or Sanhedrin already mentioned.

All the senate—The most imposing body possible to the Jewish state was summoned together on this occasion; not solely because a most solemn question under the old Mosaic law was to be tried, namely, whether the workers of certain miracles were prophets of God or agents of Beelzebub. It was also because the contest now was with the people, who were largely on the side of the apostles, endangering the predominancy, as was feared, of the ruling Sadducean powers.


Verse 23

23. Shut with all safety—The supernatural agent had not only opened the prison doors and sent the apostle from prison to temple, but had again closed the prison, and all so quietly that the keepers tranquilly supposed that the prisoners were still in custody.


Verse 24

24. Captain of the temple—The Jewish commandant over the Jewish police guard who kept order on the temple grounds.

Chief priests—The heads of the priestly courses and priests who were relatives of the high priest.

Whereunto this would grow—Literally, what it might become.

The matter had already assumed a very supernatural shape; these men were reputed as possessing miraculous powers; and truly, if prison doors could not hold them how was it possible to manage their case?


Verse 25

25. Came one and told them—This high court is ridiculously relieved of its perplexity as to the whereabouts of their prisoners by a chance messenger, who declares that they are standing in the temple repeating the offence for which they were imprisoned.


Verse 26

26. Without violence… feared the people—The officers find the apostles apparently in the midst of high discourse, with the people so strongly on their side that they doubtless courteously invite them to wait on the high priest at the Sanhedrin office.


Verse 28

28. Saying—The high priest institutes not first inquiry into miracle, though that may afterward come up. He takes high ground upon charge of disobedience to the sacred magistracy. And here the sceptic asks, How did this court dare attempt to arraign men of miraculous powers? Could not beings who had set dungeon bars and bolts at naught bring down the roof of the council house upon their heads? And how happens it that not the slightest reference is made to the wonderful miracle by which they had nullified the power of the court? No old English court, we reply, ever hesitated to try a sorcerer however mighty his supernatural powers. The Sanhedrin doubtless believed itself possessed of divine authority by the Mosaic law to try the genuineness of a miracle. No prophet or wonder-worker of the Old Testament, whether supernal or infernal, was supposed to be empowered arbitrarily to work miracles at his will so as to endanger the court divinely authorized to try him.

This name… this man’s blood—Phrases that show a dread to mention the solemn name of Jesus.

Straitly—Strictly.

Filled Jerusalem with your doctrine—With the cowardice of guilt, these men imagine that all Jerusalem is about to turn up Nazarene.

Bring this man’s blood upon us—The adherents of this high priest did at the crucifixion utter the awful imprecation, His blood be upon us and our children; and it is no wonder that he fears its awful fulfilment.

He dreads lest the rising of the people, becoming Christian, should inflict the punishment due to his crime, or even, perhaps, that, being divinely empowered, these apostles may bring a divine judgment upon his head.


Verse 29

29. Then—To the charge of disobedience the apostles take the high ground that obedience to them would be disobedience to God. This was in fact declaring that, though they might be magistrates of secular Israel, yet they were not authority in the present kingdom of God, the new theocracy. Caiaphas was no high priest, for the only high priest was at the right hand of God. The Sanhedrin were no judges in the new theocracy; for these twelve apostles, by them falsely judged, were now in spirit and in truth sitting upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of the true Israel.

Peter and… apostles… said—Either Luke gives a summary of the utterances of all the apostles, or the words of Peter alone in the name of all the apostles.

We ought—The apostles here explicitly affirm what they submit to the judges in Acts 4:19.


Verse 30

30. God of our fathers—By this solemn expression the apostles assume that Jesus and themselves are in true line of descent from the fathers and under sanction of their God. It was the God of Abraham by whom Jesus was exalted.

Raised up Jesus—These confessors are most careful in face of those Sadducees to insert the doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus in their avowal.

Ye slew—Here again is the charge direct and personal. All sins and all sinners have virtually nailed Jesus to the cross; but these men literally, by direct authorization, performed the deed for all.

A tree—The Greek word does indeed literally signify tree or wood; but it also signifies the perpendicular beam of a cross, and so the word might have been correctly rendered cross.


Verse 31

31. With his right hand—Rather, to his right hand.

For to give—The preposition for, placed thus before an infinitive, has been so long disused in English as to have become nearly vulgar; but it is strictly philosophical, and is a literal translation of the Greek itself. The infinitive being in fact the name of the action has the nature of the noun, and so with proper accuracy would take a preposition before it.

Repentance… forgiveness— Repentance, being a human act, can hardly be said strictly and simply to be given, and therefore it would seem that it is the privilege or power of repentance which is here meant. So when “the blind receive their sight” it is the power of seeing, not the act that is received. But foregiveness may indeed be granted or given; and yet it is not in its fulness and reality given by God to all Israel. We understand, then, that the apostle is talking not of what is actually given in either case, but what it is God’s conditional design to give; that is, it is what Christ is exalted as a Saviour to give upon the proper condition on Israel’s part.


Verse 33

33. When—The firm repetition by the apostles of their conscientious disobedience to the Sanhedrin, and of their explicit charge against them of Messiah-murder and of the exaltation of Jesus to God’s right hand, was the greatest of possible offences. They were forbidden to proclaim the name of Jesus, and they promptly proclaimed it, first in the temple and then in the Sanhedrin.

Cut to the heart—The phrase to the heart, as the italics indicate, is superfluously added by the translators. The phrase they were cut signifies literally in the Greek they were sawn through, and it describes by a strong figure the pang of indignant passion cutting through the entire person of a perfectly angry man.

Took counsel—Not that they entered into consultation audibly, but that they framed the purpose unanimously in their heart.

To slay them—As a court they had not the power of capital punishment, so that they were now simply inspired with a mad impulse of slaughter of the whole twelve by illegal violence, such as was perpetrated seen after upon the proto-martyr Stephen. But in the midst of their paroxysm a man of no ordinary presence stands forth, and, with words of singular calmness, brings them to a semblance of reason.


Verse 34

2. Speech of GamalielPeaceful results, Acts 5:34-42.

34. Gamaliel—”Gamaliel Hazzaken,” says Dr. Etherbridge in his “Hebrew Literature,” is “deservedly regarded by the Jews as one of the most illustrious of their princely teachers. He is held to have been the thirty-fifth receiver of the traditions from Mount Sinai, and he added to all the amplitude of Hebrew lore a large acquaintance with Gentile literature, the study of Greek being connived at, in his case, by his rabbinical brethren on the plea of his having need of that language in diplomatic transactions with the secular government. A master also in the astronomy of that day, he could test, it is said, the witnesses for the new moon by a chart of the lunar motions he had constructed for the purpose. His astronomical skill was employed also in the rectification of the Jewish calendar. It is recorded that he delighted much in the study of nature, and in the beautiful in all its manifestations. In short, Gamaliel appears to have been a man of an enlarged and refined mind, and no very stringent Pharisee though connected with the sect. Casual notices of him in the Talmud make this evident. Thus, he had a figure engraved upon his seal, a thing of which no strict Pharisee could approve. Nor could such an one have permitted himself to enter a public bath in which was a statue of Aphrodite. But this Gamaliel is reported to have done at Ptolemais, justifying himself by the argument that the bath had been built before the statue was there; that the building had been erected not as a temple, but as a bath, and as such he used it; and, moreover, that if it were not lawful for him to be except where idolatry had not held its rites, he should not be able to find a place to remain in upon the face of the earth. The attitude assumed by Gamaliel toward the Christians has induced others to surmise that this distinguished rabbin was at heart a believer in the Messiahship of Jesus. That he was a more enlightened and liberal man than his colleagues we see no reason to doubt; but the degree in which he approached the truth as it is in Jesus we have no sufficient data to ascertain. Neander has observed that ‘the great respect in which Gamaliel has been held by the Jews is a sufficient proof that they never doubted the soundness of his creed, or thought he could be accused of any suspicions connection with the Nazarenes.’ Some time after his elevation to the presidency, Gamaliel, pressed by the distresses of the times, transferred the locality of the sanhedrial schools from Jerusalem to Jamnia or Jophna, a town on the coast, not far from Joppa. He there completed the labours of his life, and died some fifteen years before the final ruin of his country. At his decrease men said that the kabod hat-torah, ‘the glory of the law,’ had departed, and on the solemnization of his funeral obsequies his favourite disciple Onkelos expended eighty talents of money in perfumes.”

A Pharisee—As a leading Pharisee, and a believer with the apostles and against the Sadducees in the resurrection of the dead, Gamaliel was inspired with a moment of sympathy with the apostles.

Had in reputation—A diffuse phrase for honoured. Gamaliel’s popularity among all the people, who generally favoured the Pharisees, furnished to the Sanhedrin some assurance that a ground might be taken by which the present hostile feeling of the people against them might be neutralized. Sensible that they had gone too far, they were inclined to accept a compromise which he should propose.

To put the apostles forth—In order that the consultation might be in their absence. They are recalled at Acts 5:40. They did not, therefore, hear the discussion, nor the speech of Gamaliel, which was its principal feature.

A little space—Of time.


Verse 36

36. Theudas—Josephus relates an account of a Theudas which precisely agrees with this statement of Gamaliel, but which happened a number of years after this speech was made. Hence writers have charged a contradiction between the two. But surely Josephus’ statement that a Theudas of this sort existed after this speech does not contradict the assertion that a Theudas existed with similar fortunes a good while before. The fact that an Adams was American President in 1827 who was born in New England, was American minister in Europe before he was president, and, unlike the presidents of his times, served but a single term, being defeated by a Democratic successor, does not disprove that there was a President Adams in 1798 of whom precisely the same facts were true. Theudas was a very common name among the Jews, and the rise and destruction of small insurgents was a very common fact. Dr. Wordsworth says that there were two apostles named Judas and two James; and there were three eminent rabbies named Gamaliel. Josephus’ Theudas was very probably a descendant of an earlier Theudas, whose dispersed followers he rallied and sustained his ancestor’s fame. Inasmuch as the name Theudas, being a contraction of Theodorus, is the Greek translation of the Hebrew name Matthew. Dr. Beard, in Kitto’s “Cyclopaedia,” identifies Gamaliel’s Theudas with an insurgent Matthew who lived in the time of Herod. This Matthew rallied a host of soldiers in Jerusalem to oppose idolatry. Upon a false rumour of Herod’s death he attempted to remove certain Roman eagles placed by Herod over the great gate of the temple; but his followers were dispersed, and Matthew was burnt.


Verse 37

37. Judas of Galilee—This statement by Gamaliel is either confirmed or left undenied by Josephus’ account of him. He is called Gaulonite from his having been born in Gaulonitis; but Galilean, probably because he afterward lived in Galilee.

Taxing—The taxing consequent to the census of Luke 2:1, (where see our note,) and about seven years subsequent to it.


Verse 38

38. And now—As the inference from these narratives. There is in Gamaliel’s counsel the non-committalism of a politician rather than the decision of a sage or a saint. Not so did Gamaliel’s great pupil wait to see how things would turn out before he made his moral decision.


Verse 39

39. If it be of God—Gamaliel here does suggest the possibility that Jesus was from God. It may have been a momentary sincere feeling. The real fact probably was that, knowing that the popular mind was just in this state of doubt, Gamaliel grounded himself upon it to work a defeat of the Sadducean party.

Lest—This lest depends upon the phrase let them alone in Acts 5:38.


Verse 40

40. To him they agreed—Doubtless from the self-possession of Gamaliel, as well as his affording the Sadducees a mode of compromising the matter with the popular party.

Beaten them—In contradiction to the advice of Gamaliel, which they had accepted. But it was still politic compromise. They had yielded their surrender to Gamaliel’s party; they must claim the prerogative to beat the apostles as their own compensation.

Should not speak—They here repeat that order which they very well knew the apostles had promised to disobey, and which they afterward very faithfully disobeyed according to promise.


Verse 41

41. Worthy to suffer shame—By a beautiful paradox they feel the glory of the disgrace. The scourge or whip usually had two lashes knotted with bone or brazen circles, or terminated with hooks, and was significantly called the scorpion. It was inflicted upon the bare back; apparently of the entire twelve. Paul suffered this five times; Jesus, once.


Verse 42

42. Ceased not to teach—They preached not in dark corners or private rooms merely, but daily in the temple.

Jesus Christ—That is, Jesus the Messiah. These unsilenceable men, with a persistence that truth and duty alone could justify, ceased not to proclaim to reluctant Israel that the Messiah had come and was yet to come again.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Acts 5:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/acts-5.html. 1874-1909.

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