Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 6 October 2017; Revised 30 November 2017
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Scripture Text: The Scripture text used in this commentary is prepared by Blaine Robison and based on the Nestle-Aland Greek New Testament. The essentially literal translation seeks to reflect the Jewish character of the author and writing. See my web article The Jewish New Testament. Scripture quotations may be taken from different versions. Click here for abbreviations of Bible versions.
Sources: Bibliographic data for works cited may be found at the end of the chapter commentary. Works without page numbers are cited ad loc. Important Jewish sources include the following:
● DSS: Citations marked as "DSS" are from the Dead Sea Scrolls, a collection of Jewish manuscripts of Scripture and sectarian documents found in the Qumran caves. Most of the Qumran MSS belong to the last two centuries B.C. and the first century A.D. Online. Click here for DSS abbreviations.
● LXX: The abbreviation "LXX" ("70") stands for the Septuagint, the Jewish translation of the Hebrew Bible into Greek, which was in use among Jews by the mid-2nd century B.C.
● Josephus: Citations for Josephus, the first century Jewish historian (Yosef ben Matityahu), are from The Works of Flavius Josephus (c. 75–99 A.D.) trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
Grammar: Unless otherwise noted the meaning of Greek words is from F.W. Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (2009), and the meaning of Hebrew words is from The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon (1981), abbreviated as "BDB." See the Greek Guide for the meaning of grammar abbreviations. The numbering system of the Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible is identified with "SH" (Strong's Hebrew number) and "SG" (Strong's Greek number). Strong's Online.
Terminology: In order to emphasize the Jewish nature of the apostolic canon and its central figure I use the terms ADONAI (for 'LORD' when quoting a Tanakh source), Yeshua (Jesus), Messiah (Christ), Tanakh (Old Testament), and Besekh (New Testament).
Arrest of Peter and John, 4:1-4
Hearing Before Annas and the Council, 4:5-12
Deliberation of the Council, 4:13-17
Ruling of the Council and Release, 4:18-23
Power in Prayer, 4:24-31
Power in Sharing, 4:32-37
Sunday, Sivan 14, A.D. 30
Arrest of Peter and John, 4:1-4
1 Now, as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the deputy high priest of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them,
Luke continues his narrative from the previous chapter with Peter addressing a crowd in the portico of Solomon. The portico of Solomon was part of the outer wall of the Temple complex and located on the eastern side of the Court of the Gentiles.
Now: Grk. de, conj. used to indicate (1) a contrast to a preceding statement or thought, "but;" (2) a transition in presentation of subject matter, "now, then;" or (3) a connecting particle to continue a thought, "and, also," sometimes with emphasis, "indeed," "moreover" (Thayer). The second meaning applies here. as they were speaking: Grk. laleō, pres. part., is used in the Besekh primarily to mean making an oral statement and to exercise the faculty of speech; assert, proclaim, report, say, speak, talk about, utter. to: Grk. pros, prep., the root meaning of which is "near" or "facing" (DM 110), may depict (1) motion toward a destination or goal ("to, toward"), (2) close proximity ("at") or (3) association ("with"). The preposition refers to the direction of speech by the apostles.
the people: Grk. laos, a group of humans, understood geographically or ethnically, and often in the apostolic narratives groups associated with the God of Israel. In the LXX laos renders Heb. am, (SH-5971), folk, people, nation or inhabitants of a locality, first in Genesis 14:16. In this verse laos corresponds to the Heb. am-ha'arets, "people of the land," whom the ruling classes and religious elite despised as ignorant masses accursed for not knowing and keeping Torah (John 7:49). Rabbinic snobbery and discriminatory treatment of ordinary people may be seen in these Talmud passages.
"Our Rabbis taught: Who is an Am ha-arez? Whoever does not recite the Shema' morning and evening with its accompanying benedictions; such is the statement of R. Meir. The Sages say: Whoever does not put on the phylacteries. Ben Azzai says: Whoever has not the fringe upon his garment. R. Jonathan b. Joseph says: Whoever has sons and does not rear them to study Torah. Others say: Even if he learnt Scripture and Mishnah but did not attend upon Rabbinical scholars, he is an Am ha-arez. If he learnt Scripture but not Mishnah, he is a boor; if he learnt neither Scripture nor Mishnah, concerning him Scripture declares, I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and with the seed of beast." (Sotah 22a)
"Our Rabbis taught: Let a man always sell all he has and marry the daughter of a scholar. … but let him not marry the daughter of an am ha-arez, because they are detestable and their wives are vermin, and of their daughters it is said, Cursed be he that lieth with any manner of beast. … R. Eleazar said: An am ha-arez, it is permitted to stab him [even] on the Day of Atonement which falls on the Sabbath. … R. Hiyya taught: Whoever studies the Torah in front of an am ha-arez, is as though he cohabited with his betrothed in his presence. … Our Rabbis taught: Six things were said of the amme ha-aretz: We do not commit testimony to them; we do not accept testimony from them; we do not reveal a secret to them; we do not appoint them as guardians for orphans; we do not appoint them stewards over charity funds; and we must not join their company on the road. Some say, We do not proclaim their losses too [i.e., return their lost property]." (Pesachim 49b)
Luke's narrative purposely draws a sharp contrast between the people to whom Peter was announcing good news and members of the Jewish hierarchy who arrive. the priests: pl. of Grk. hiereus, personnel in charge of sacrifice and offering at worship places, particularly the tabernacle and Temple. In the LXX hiereus renders Heb. kohen, first in Genesis 14:18. The priests were originally organized into 24 divisions or courses by David (1Chr 23:6; 24:7–18). Josephus tallies the number of priests at this time as at least 20,000 (Against Apion, 2:8). Jeremias calculates the number of priests actually needed for each of the 24 courses as 300 per week based on Mishnah requirements (203). Each of the twenty-four divisions served in the temple for one week twice a year, and all priests were present for the three major pilgrim festivals (Jeremias 199). These priests would no doubt be trusted representatives of the chief priests.
and: Grk. kai, conj. that marks a connection or addition. Kai has three basic uses: (1) continuative – and, also, even; (2) adversative – and yet, but, however; or (3) intensive – certainly, indeed, in fact, really, verily, yea (DM 250f). The first use applies here. Kai is used in the LXX to translate the vav (ו) character added to words for conjunctive effect. There are over 50 conjunctions in biblical Greek, but kai is by far the most common in the Besekh, occurring over 9,000 times (BibleHub). The excessive use of conjunctions is evidence of either an original Hebrew text or Jewish Greek. See my note on the significance of conjunctions in the Besekh.
the deputy high priest: Grk. stratēgos was used originally of a leader or commander of an army, a general; and then a Roman praetor, provincial magistrate (Acts 16:20, 22, 35, 36, 38). Among Jews the term was used of the ruler of the temple and chief of the Levites who kept guard in and around the temple (Luke 22:4, 52; Acts 4:1) (Mounce). In the Besekh the term occurs only in the writings of Luke. In the LXX stratēgos occurs 22 times and is used for a high ranking government official or military officer (e.g., 1Chr 11:6; 2Chr 32:21; Ezra 6:6; Neh 2:16; Esth 3:12; Jer 51:23; Ezek 23:5; 32:30; Dan 3:2; 6:7). The term is never used of position within the Temple organization.
According to BAG stratēgos was a loanword in rabbinic usage and thus came to be used to identify the chief priest in charge of the Jerusalem Temple, second only to the high priest. Josephus refers to the stratēgos of the Temple ("commander" in Ant. XX, 6:2 and "captain" in Wars VI, 5:3). Among the Jews this official was known by the title segan ha-kohanim, deputy high priest (Avot 3:2; 4:1; Tamid 7:3; Ta'anit 13a; 31a; Yoma 3:5). Segan (SH-5460; BDB 1104) is Aramaic and in the Tanakh found only in the Aramaic portion of Daniel, there of Babylonian prefects. The Hebrew equivalent of segan used of the deputy high priest is nagid (SH-5057; BDB 617), leader, ruler, prince, found in 1Chronicles 9:11, 2Chronicles 31:13; Nehemiah 11:11 and Jeremiah 20:1 (Skarsaune 98). The LXX of those passages uses Grk. hēgemōn (leader, governor), to translate nagid.
Almost all versions translate the title as "captain," but in modern culture "captain" can have many applications with varying degrees of authority. Identifying the deputy high priest as "captain" has the effect of minimizing the office and restricting it to one function.
of the temple: Grk. hieron, sanctuary or temple. When used of the Temple in Jerusalem hieron applies to the entire 35-acre complex with its courts, rooms and chambers, in contrast to naos, which refers to the sanctuary where priests offered sacrifices. For a description of the construction and characteristics of the temple see my comment on Mark 11:11. See an illustration here.
Some versions treat the title stratēgos tou hierou as a reference only to the deputy's security role and translate hieron as "temple guard(s)" (AMP, CEB, CEV, GW, NAB, NASB, NET, NIRV, NIV, NLT, NOG, TEV). However, if Luke had meant "temple guard" surely he would have used the word for "guard" (Grk. phulax, 5:23). As deputy to the high priest the segan had permanent oversight over all Temple activities and of all officiating priests (Jeremias 163). He had a special place at the right hand of the high priest in sacrificial ceremonies and could step in to fulfill the duties of high priest if necessary. In addition, the segan supervised the Levitical security force that protected the temple. He was an ex-officio member of the Sanhedrin.
and: Grk. kai. the Sadducees: pl. of Grk. Saddoukaios (for Heb. Ts'dukim). The Sadducees as one of the four prominent Jewish groups in the first century (Josephus, Ant. XIII, 5:9; 10:6; XVIII, 1:1, 4; Wars II, 8:2, 14). Yochanan the Immerser called the Sadducees vipers (along with the Pharisees) and Yeshua warned his disciples to beware the "leaven of the Sadducees" (Matt 16:6, 11). The origin of the Sadducees is a matter of controversy, since there are no extant Sadducean documents. The party can be traced back to the time of the Hasmoneans and Maccabees as indicated by Josephus (Ant. XIII, 10:6).
Flusser notes that whatever the philosophical leanings of the rank and file priests the Temple aristocracy was identified with the Sadducees (44, 104). Sadducees are mentioned as among the chief priests in Acts 5:17. The membership of the Great Sanhedrin included a group of Sadducees and a group of Pharisees (Acts 23:6), but no other evidence exists that gives any kind of precise numbers nor their representation among the priests, scribes and elders. The Sadducees and Pharisees had very different belief systems. In contrast to the Pharisees, the Sadducees rejected tradition and accepted only the written Torah as authority. The Sadducees considered the expectation of a heavenly intervention by a personal Messiah to be a vain hope (Longenecker).
Rather, the age of God's promise had begun with the Maccabean heroes and was continuing on under their supervision. For the Sadducees the Messiah was an ideal, not a person, and the Messianic Age was a process, not a cataclysmic or even datable event. Furthermore, as rulers to whom a grateful nation had turned over all political and economic powers during the time of the Maccabean supremacy, for entirely practical reasons they stressed cooperation with Rome and maintenance of the status quo. After the destruction of the Temple in A.D. 70 the Sadducees effectively ceased to exist, although their legacy was passed on to other Jewish groups that favored the authority of the written Torah over the Oral Law, such as the Karaites.
came upon: Grk. ephistēmi, aor., may mean (1) to come or stand near in a non-threatening mode; or (2) come or stand near in a discomfiting or threatening mode. The second meaning applies here. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun used to distinguish a person or thing from or contrast it with another, or to give him (it) emphatic prominence. The pronoun may mean (1) self, (2) he, she, it, or (3) the same. Just as the people had hurried after Peter and John (3:11), so the ruling authorities also made haste and intruded themselves into this setting.
2 being annoyed because of their teaching the people and proclaiming in Yeshua the resurrection from the dead.
being annoyed: Grk. diaponeomai, pres. pass. part., be annoyed or vexed. because of: Grk. dia, prep., may mean (1) "through," whether in the sense of a location, duration or instrumentality; or (2) "because of," denoting causality or the reason for something occurring. The second meaning applies here. Luke then gives two reasons why the Sadducees were annoyed with the apostles. their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. teaching: Grk. didaskō, pres. inf., to teach or instruct. Thayer defines the verb as "to hold discourse with others in order to instruct them, deliver didactic discourses." In the LXX didaskō is used to translate nine different verbs (DNTT 3:760). In contrast with Greek education Jewish teaching since the time of Moses has been more concerned with communicating God's ethical demands than imparting information (DNTT 3:766). the people: Grk. laos. See the previous verse.
The first cause of annoyance was that the apostles were teaching the people. Longenecker observes that the Sadducees were "greatly disturbed" because the apostolic teaching was viewed as a threat to the status quo. Like their Master, Peter and John were rallying popular support and acting unofficially in a way as to disrupt authority vested in Sadducean hands. However, another consideration is that teachers, who were normally scribes, had to complete a lengthy period of training and be formally recognized as having the authority to teach. Moreover, teaching the am-ha'arets would be equivalent to casting pearls before swine (cf. Matt 7:6).
and: Grk. kai, conj. proclaiming: Grk. katangellō, pres. inf., to proclaim, with connotation of broad dissemination; announce, declare, proclaim. in: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position, lit. "in" or "within." Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous, a transliteration of the Hebrew name Yeshua ("Jesus" in Christian Bibles). Yeshua is a contraction of the Hebrew name Y’hoshua ("Joshua"), which means "YHVH [the LORD] is salvation" (BDB 221). The meaning of his name is explained to Joseph by an angel of the Lord, "You shall call his name Yeshua, for he will save his people from their sins" (Matt 1:21). For more information on the meaning our Lord's name, his identity, and the history of translation of the name see my web article Who is Yeshua?.
the resurrection: Grk. anastasis may mean either (1) rise, which may be bringing to a higher position in a physical sense or a higher status in a relational sense; or (2) resurrection from the condition of being dead (BAG). Anastasis is the principal Greek word in the Besekh for resurrection, with references divided between the resurrection of Yeshua and the resurrection at the end of the age. The noun is derived from the verb anistēmi, which means to rise, stand up or get up and in its ordinary use refers to one who is sitting or lying down. The source verb in no way implies the dead are lying down or sleeping. The noun anastasis occurs in Zephaniah 3:8 for Heb. qum, to arise, stand up, stand, BDB 877), which could be a Messianic prophecy of Yeshua's resurrection.
from: Grk. ek, prep. used to denote exit or separation from something with which there has been a close association, lit. "out of, from within" (Thayer). the dead: Grk. nekros, adj., without life in the physical sense. In the first century the subject of life after death was a matter of much discussion and debate. Pharisees and Sadducees were sharply divided over the issue of physical life after death with the Sadducees denying the possibility (Josephus, Wars II, 8:14). The Sadducees denied not only the resurrection of the body (Matt 22:23), but also the immortality of the soul and future retribution, as well as the existence of angels and spirits (Acts 23:8). The Pharisaic Rabbinic authorities believed that the Scriptures pointed to resurrection (Sanhedrin 90a-b, 91b). The Pharisees also declared that anyone who said the resurrection of the dead is not intimated in the Torah has no part in the world to come (Sanhedrin 11:1).
Sadducean theology explains their focus on the present existence and the consequent pursuit of wealth. Thus, the second reason for annoyance is that the apostles were not just simply declaring that Yeshua was raised from the dead, but that his resurrection confirmed the biblical hope of the resurrection (Job 19:26; Dan 12:13). Moreover, the general resurrection will occur "in Yeshua," i.e., on his authority when he returns (Matt 24:31; John 5:25-29; 6:39-40). Paul will eventually say that he was put on trial because of his belief in the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:6; 24:21). The apostles implied that the Sadducees were guilty of heresy against Scripture. Such an attack on their authority and their theology could not be allowed to stand. See my article The Mystery of the Resurrection.
3 And they laid hands on them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.
And: Grk. kai, conj. they laid: Grk. epiballō, aor., to move something so as to put it over or on something; put on, lay on; frequently with a suggestion of violence by grasping with "the hand." hands: pl. of Grk. cheir, hand as an anatomical term, but used here idiomatically of arrest. on them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. and: Grk. kai. put: Grk. tithēmi, aor., to arrange for association with a site; place, put, set out, serve, lay down. them in: Grk. eis, prep. that focuses on entrance, frequently in relation to a direction toward a goal or place and consequent arrival; among, in, into, to, towards.
custody: Grk. tērēsis, the act of keeping under guard; custody, detention. The use of the modern colloquial term "jail" in many versions is inappropriate to the first century Jewish situation. The location was not the place of confinement for members of the public (Acts 5:18), but some other place over which the Temple police had control. Gill suggests that it was outside the Temple, but Luke left the exact location unknown. We should remember that imprisonment for a specified period of time was not a form of punishment under Jewish law as it is in modern times. So the place of confinement was a place to keep someone until disposition was made of his case. The exception, of course, was a place where the king might keep political prisoners, such as Herod imprisoning Yochanan the Immerser in a castle fortress (Mark 6:17; Ant. XVIII, 5:2).
until: Grk. eis. The preposition is used here with a temporal emphasis. the next day: Grk. aurion, generally means the next day, tomorrow, but also may lack a nocturnal interval and mean soon, in a short time. for: Grk. gar, conj. is generally accepted as a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that." Gar is normally translated "for." it was: Grk. eimi, impf., a function word used in a wide variety of grammatical constructions, primarily to declare a state of existence, whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate. The verb may also denote (1) temporal existence in a place (2) an event taking place, and (3) reference to time as here. (BAG). already: Grk. ēdē, adv., with focus on temporal culmination, now, already.
evening: Grk. hespera, of or at evening. Peter and John had come to the temple for the ninth hour (3:00–4:00 pm) prayer service. The day was drawing to a close with the sun setting. Curiously the Temple police showed the apostles more respect than they did to Yeshua who was immediately put on trial even though it was illegal to conduct legal proceedings at night. The temporal reference "until the next day" is helpful in determining this day on the calendar. The Sanhedrin normally met daily during the daytime, and did not meet on the Sabbath, festivals or festival eves. Civil cases could be concluded at night, but capital cases had to begin and end in the daytime (Sanh. 4:1). The second and fourth days of the week (Monday and Thursday) were the usual days to hold court hearings (Sanh. 8a, see f21; B.K. 112b, see f27). So, the events of this day probably occurred on Sunday, a week after Pentecost.
4 But many, having heard the message, believed; and the number of the men came to be five thousands.
But: Grk. de, conj. many: pl. of Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope, here indicating a high degree in amount. having heard: Grk. akouō, aor. part., may mean (1) to hear, with the focus on willingness to listen or to heed the substance of what is said; (2) hear with comprehension, understand; or (3) receive information aurally, hear, hear about. The first meaning has relevance here. In the LXX akouō consistently stands for Heb. shama, which not only means to apprehend, but also to accept and to act upon what has been apprehended (DNTT 2:173).
the message: Grk. logos, vocalized expression of the mind, as communication ranging broadly in extent of content and variety of form; word, discourse, statement, message or speech. In the LXX logos stands principally for Heb. dabar (SH-1697), which has a similar range of meaning: saying, speech, word, message, report, tidings, discourse, story, command, advice, counsel, promise, thing, or matter, whether of men or God (Gen 29:13; BDB 182) (DNTT 3:1087). The mention of logos alludes to Peter's sermon in 3:12-26. In terms of outcome the phrase "heard the message" includes the conviction of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual things must be spiritually appraised (1Cor 2:14-15). As promised by Yeshua (John 16:8-11) during the proclamation of the good news the Holy Spirit convinced the crowd of its validity and pertinence to themselves.
believed: Grk. pisteuō, aor. (derived from pistis, trust, faithfulness), to have confidence in the reliability or trustworthiness of some thing or someone. In the Besekh the verb often has the sense of a personal trust in God's power and His nearness to help. Thus the CJB renders the verb as "trusted." In the LXX pisteuō renders Heb. aman (SH-539), to be reliable, to stand firm, trust, believe, be faithful, first used in Genesis 15:6 where it describes Abraham's response to God. In the book of Acts the participial form of pisteuō is only used of followers of Yeshua. A participle is a verbal substantive (DM 220), and as such it has an adjectival quality. That is, the participle not only describes action but also character of the one performing the action. Those who accepted the message became "trusting ones" in Messiah Yeshua.
and: Grk. kai, conj. the number: Grk. arithmos, number or total, and may refer to a specific number, a total number of something or the numerical value assigned to specific letters of the alphabet (BAG). of the men: pl. of Grk. anēr, an adult man without regard to marital status. In the LXX anēr renders several Heb. words, but primarily: (1) ish, man; (2) enosh, men, people; (3) ba'al, lord, husband, head of a household (DNTT 2:562). This mention of men contrasts with 2:41 where it says "about three thousand souls were added." Census data in Scripture normally denotes men (e.g., Matt 14:21; 15:38; John 6:10).
came to be: Grk. ginomai, aor. pass., to transfer from one state or condition to another, which may be expressed in one of three ways: (1) come into being birth or natural process; be born or produced; (2) exist through application of will or effort by a person; be made, be performed; or (3) undergo a state of existence, change or development; come to be, become, take place, happen, occur, arise, be, appear, come, arrive. The third meaning applies here. The verb implies a final result as they came to be counted, whether that day or in days to come.
five: Grk. pente, the numeral five, a cardinal number. thousands: pl. of Grk. chilias, the number one thousand (for Heb. eleph, SH-505). Gilbert (a non-Messianic Jewish scholar) suggests the number was exaggerated (205), but this defamation of Luke's scholarship is from unbelief. The grammatical construction is clear that the number is of those who believed, not of those who were present at the Temple. The number also is in addition to the three thousand (plus) who responded to the first sermon of Peter.
The plural form "thousands" alludes to the Jewish practice of numbering that was established when Moses organized the men into "thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens," according to the advice of Jethro, his father-in-law (Ex 18:21, 25). In the second year into the wilderness God directed the counting of all the sons of Israel at least 20 years old (Num 1:2-3). "Thousand" is an absolute number, so the total number of men who believed was easily divided into five thousand-member groups. Luke, of course, is not implying that no women responded to the good news, but the significance of saying "men" alludes to the number of households impacted. Most of these men would be married.
Monday, Sivan 15, A.D. 30
Hearing Before Annas and the Council, 4:5-12
5 Now it happened on the next day, their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered in Jerusalem;
Now: Grk. de, conj. it happened: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See the previous verse. on: Grk. epi, prep., used primarily as a marker of position or location ('at, in, on, upon, over'), but here as a marker of time. the next day: Grk. aurion; i.e. "Monday." See verse 3 above. Monday was a usual day for court hearings. their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The pronoun takes in the apostles and the crowd. rulers: pl. of Grk. archōn, one who has eminence in a ruling capacity or one who has administrative authority, used of appointees in a government capacity. Among Jews the term is used of synagogue officials (Matt 9:18; Luke 8:41; Acts 14:5), religious party leaders (Luke 14:1), and members of the Sanhedrin (Luke 18:18; 23:13, 35; 24:20; John 3:1; 7:26; Acts 4:5, 8; 13:27; 23:5).
In the LXX archōn occurs relatively often in historical books and is used to translate three different Hebrew words for positions of authority (DNTT 1:165). First is Heb. rosh (SH-7218), "head," used for a political or military leader, and also a head of a family (Num 25:4; 1Chr 8:6). Second is Heb. sar (SH-8269), "prince," holder of authority and power, leader, nobleman or ruler (Gen 12:15; Jdg 8:3). Second is Heb. nasi (SH-5387), "one lifted up," head of a tribe or a patriarch (Num 2:3, 5, 7). In this context "rulers" includes the high priest and chief priests that held seats on the ruling council, but also leaders in the Pharisee party such as Nicodemus (John 3:1) and Gamaliel (Acts 5:34).
and: Grk. kai, conj. elders: pl. of Grk. presbuteros may mean (1) ranked as superior in age, older, older one; or (2) ranked in terms of official responsibility, elder(s). The second meaning applies here. In the LXX presbuteros renders Heb. zaqen (SH-2205), old, aged; and in the plural "elders." Presbuteroi first occurs in Exodus 19:7 to identify the leaders of Israel. It was from this group that the seventy elders were chosen to assist Moses (Num 11:24). In this context the "elders," as distinguished from the chief priests and scribes, referred to wealthy men, the heads of patrician families, who held seats on the ruling council, such as Joseph of Arimathea (Jeremias 228). The elders and Sadducees were often aligned. There is no definitive historical information on the number of elders that served the nation. This group is likely the "elders of the people" Luke mentions elsewhere (Luke 22:66; Acts 5:21).
and: Grk. kai. scribes: Grk. grammateus refers to a specialist in legal matters. In the LXX grammateus renders two Hebrew words, shotêr and more frequently sophêr (DNTT 3:477f). The word shotêr (SH-7860, official; officer, BDB 1009) is initially used of men chosen to be part of the seventy elders (Num 11:16), and then later of other officials (Deut 20:5; 1Chr 23:4). The word sophêr (SH-5608, secretary, scribe, BDB 708) was used for the secretary to a ruler, a prophet or a military officer (2Sam 8:17; Jer 36:4, 18, 32; 37:15), as well as one skilled in Torah laws (Ezra 7:6; Neh 8:1). In the Besekh the term always has its Jewish meaning of one learned in Torah. Scribes were clearly influential. For more information on the scribes see my commentary on Mark 1:22. Jeremias says that the Pharisaic party in the Sanhedrin was composed entirely of scribes (cf. Matt 21:45; Luke 20:19) (236).
The titles of "rulers, elders and scribes" may refer to constituent members of the Judean supreme court of Israel, the Great Sanhedrin. See the note on verse 15 below. were gathered: Grk. sunagō, aor. pass. inf., to bring together in a collective manner; assemble, gather. in: Grk. en, prep. Jerusalem: Grk. Ierousalēm, a transliteration of Heb. Yerushalaim ("the dwelling of peace"). The city is situated some 2500 feet above sea level and eighteen miles west of the northern end of the Dead Sea, is renowned as the capital of all Israel, afterwards of the Kingdom of Judah and the seat of central worship in the temple. At the time of the Exodus the city was inhabited by the Jebusites (Josh 15:8), but then captured by the tribe of Judah (Jdg 1:8). The city was also known as the City of David (2Sam 5:7).
By the end of David's reign the city had expanded to cover seven mountains: Mount Zion, Mount Ophel, Mount Moriah, Mount Bezetha, Mount Acra, Mount Gareb, and Mount Goath (Neil 289). Jeremias estimated the resident population of the city in the time of Yeshua at about twenty–five to thirty thousand (252). For the faithful Jew the city of Jerusalem represented all that was dear in the covenant relationship with God. David spoke of Jerusalem "as a city that is bound firmly together, to which the tribes go up, the tribes of the Lord, as was decreed for Israel, to give thanks to the name of the Lord" (Ps 122:3–4 ESV).
Another psalmist expressed his affection thus, "If I forget you, O Jerusalem, may my right hand forget her skill, may my tongue cling to the roof of my mouth if I do not remember you, if I do not exalt Jerusalem above my chief joy" (Ps 137:5–6 NASB). Jerusalem is the city God favors above all other cities of the earth and the focus of His covenantal faithfulness (Ps 135:21; 147:2; Ezek 5:5; Zech 2:8). The city figured prominently in Messianic expectation (Isa 59:20; 62:11; Zech 9:9). Jerusalem is the "city of the great king" (Matt 5:35). It was the city in which the Messiah was to be killed and raised to life. It was also the city from which the message of God's salvation would go forth (Isa 2:3; 40:9; 41:27; Mic 4:2). In the millennial kingdom Jerusalem will be the capital and center of the Messiah's government (Zech 14:16; Rev 20:9).
For Luke to say the Sanhedrin was gathered in Jerusalem is striking. It might seem to be a tautology, considering that the whole story takes place in Jerusalem and the city was the locus of authority for the Jewish rulers. Bruce suggests the location was a council-chamber immediately to the west of the Temple precincts (97). Lightfoot says the phrase "in Jerusalem" is a contrast to the Temple where the rulers typically met (4:43). The Sanhedrin had in fact removed itself from meeting in the Hall of Hewn Stones next to the Temple sanctuary, first to Hanuth, a chamber on the Temple mount outside the Hall of Hewn Stones. Sometime later the Sanhedrin removed from the Temple Mount entirely to an unspecified place in the city (Rosh Hashanah 31a).
The change in meeting locations for the Sanhedrin took place 40 years before the destruction of the Temple (Avodah Zarah 8b; Sanhedrin 41a). In other words the change took place in A.D. 30., and according to the narratives of the Jewish trials of Yeshua, the move outside the Temple mount had already occurred (cf. Matt 26:58; Mark 14:55; Luke 22:54; John 18:12-15, 24). A possible location for the meeting of the Sanhedrin on this occasion would be the palace of Annas, an extensive complex located several streets west of the Temple mount. Another possibility is a synagogue (cf. Matt 10:17; Acts 5:40). The Talmud says that, at the time of the destruction of the second temple, there were 394 synagogues in Jerusalem (Ket. 105a). The high priest apparently had his own synagogue (Sotah 7:3; Yoma 7:1).
6 and Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and as many as were of high-priestly descent.
and: Grk. kai, conj. Annas: Grk. Annas, for Heb. Hananyah, merciful. the high priest: Grk. archiereus, a high or chief priest. In the LXX archiereus occurs only two times in the canonical books, but 41 times in the Apocrypha (DNTT 3:35). In Leviticus 4:3 archiereus renders Heb. Hakohen Hamaschiach, "the anointed priest" and inserted in Joshua 24:33 without Heb. equivalent to describe Aaron. The Hebrew title Hakohen Hagadol, 'the high [or great] priest,' occurs 11 times in the Tanakh (Lev 21:10; Num 35:25, 28; Josh 20:6; 2Kgs 12:10; 22:4, 8; 23:4; 2Chr 34:9; Neh 3:1, 20), but in all of these passages the title is translated in the LXX by Grk. ho hierus ho megas, 'the great priest.'
The office of high priest was established by God to be a descendant of Aaron (Ex 27:21; 30:30). The high priest was the chief executive officer over all the priests. Only he could enter the holy of holies on Yom Kippur to offer an atoning sacrifice for the nation and complete the other sacrificial requirements specified for that day (Lev 16). The high priest also shared with the priests the duties of conducting the regular meal offering (Lev 6:14-15), caring for the lamp that burned continually (Ex 27:21) and arranging the showbread (Ex 25:30). More significantly the high priest carried the breastplate with the names of the tribes inscribed and acted as mediator between Israel and God (Ex 28:29). He alone could consult the Urim and Thummim before God, and according to his decision Israel must obey (Num 27:21).
Annas was appointed to the high priesthood about A.D. 6 by Quirinius, governor of Syria. He was deposed in A.D. 15 by Valerius Gratus, the Roman prefect who ruled Judaea (15-26 A.D.). Nevertheless, by Jewish law the title of "high priest" continued for life. As an emeritus high priest he continued to exercise considerable influence and retained membership on the Sanhedrin. Annas could be considered the godfather of the Temple crime family. Yeshua twice cleared the temple of commercial activity by which they profited enormously (John 2:14-17; Mark 11:15-17). Their agents charged exorbitant fees to exchange Roman currency into the Jewish shekel to pay the annual temple tax, which itself was contrary to Torah.
Priests under the supervision of Annas operated markets to sell sacrificial animals. Since they controlled the determination of fitness of any animal for sacrifice they could force pilgrims who could not bring their own animals to pay high prices. The commercial sacrificial organization under the control of Annas gave a whole different meaning to "bought with a price" (1Cor 6:20). The name of Annas may appear first in the list of names here for two reasons: (1) his precedence illustrates the degree of influence that Annas wielded in Temple affairs and the Sanhedrin; (2) when Yeshua was arrested he was taken first to Annas for him to interrogate (John 18:12-14, 19-23).
and: Grk. kai. Caiaphas: Grk. Kaiaphas, (from Heb. Qaipha), a personal name meaning "rock" or "depression" (HBD). Caiaphas was the present ruling high priest. He was appointed to that office by Valerius Gratus, in A.D. 18 and removed in A.D. 36 by Vitellius, governor of Syria. The name of Caiaphas (whose given name was Joseph) appears nine times in the Besekh (Matt 26:3, 57; Luke 3:2; John 11:49; 18:13–14, 24, 28) and in Josephus (Ant. XVIII, 2:2; 4:3). Joseph Caiaphas was the son-in-law of Annas, son of Seth, a member of a wealthy and powerful priestly family in Jerusalem (John 18:13). Historical sources indicate that Joseph descended from a polygamous family through Levirate marriage (Jeremias 94).
In 1990 a rockhewn burial chamber was uncovered to the south of Jerusalem and within it was a stone box containing bones (ossuary) bearing the Aramaic inscription "Yehosef bar [son of] Qafa [Caiapha]." It is assumed that this tomb belonged to the family of the High Priest Caiaphas ("Caiaphas," Jewish Virtual Library). Caiaphas is remembered as the one who had advised the Judean authorities "it is advantageous for one man to die on behalf of the people" (John 11:50; 18:14). Caiaphas conducted the second trial of Yeshua after his arrest (Mark 14:69-70; John 18:24).
and: Grk. kai, conj. John: Grk. Iōannēs attempts to transliterate the Heb. Yōchanan ("John" in Christian Bibles) and means "the Lord is gracious." The Western text reads "Jonathan" instead of "John," making the reference to the son of Annas who succeeded Caiaphas as high priest in A.D. 36 (Bruce 98). Yochanan was an honored name in the history of the Israelite priesthood. Scripture mentions three priests named Yochanan: a Levite who was descended from a distinguished line of priests and who served as high priest in the reign of King Rehoboam (1Chr 6:9-10), one who was high priest when Ezra returned from exile (Ezra 10:6; Neh 12:11, 22-23) and another post-exilic priest (Neh 12:13, 42) (Barker 193f). There was also the famous Hasmonean high priest and prince John Hyrcanus (175-104 B.C.).
and: Grk. kai. Alexander: Grk. Alexandros, a popular Greek name that meant "defending men," from the Greek alexō ("to defend, help") and anēr ("man"). The name is borne by five persons in the Besekh (also Mark 15:21; Acts 19:33; 1Tim 1:20; and 2Tim 4:14). It was not unusual for a Jew to have a Greek name; since the disciples of Yeshua also bore Greek names (Andrew, Philip, and Timothy). This Alexander may have been named in honor of Alexander Jonathan, son of John Hyrcanus, who was king of Judea and high priest (102-76 B.C.). Nothing more is known of this Alexander, except that his name is not in the list of high priests who followed Caiaphas (Jeremias 378).
and: Grk. kai. as many as: Grk. hosos, correlative pronoun signifying maximum inclusion; as many as, all who. were: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 3 above. of high-priestly: Grk. archieratikos, adj., belonging to or related to a chief priest. The word occurs only here in the Besekh. descent: Grk. genos may mean (1) line of descent with focus on the role of progenitor, as in the ancestor of something; (2) role of birth in terms of a geographically identified people group; (3) a people group; (4) a group with a distinguishing characteristic. The first meaning applies here. Many members of the family of Annas became high priests after him, including five of his sons as well as his son-in-law. Luke effectively draws attention to the nepotism of the family of Annas holding the key positions of power.
Longenecker commits a faux pax (in my view) saying, "In stressing that the early opposition to Christianity arose principally from among the Sadducees, Luke makes the point that the Sadducean element was especially well represented in this first trial of the apostles." In historical terms Christianity arose from the church fathers (2nd-8th cent.), not the apostles. The truth of this assertion can be determined by answering a few questions:
1. Did Yeshua or the apostles say that God rejected Israel and canceled His covenant with Israel? (Matt 10:6; 15:24; Luke 1:31-33; Rom 11:1-2)
2. Did Yeshua or the apostles reject Torah commandments as God's standard for righteous living? (Matt 5:17-19; Rom 7:12-16)
3. Did Yeshua or the apostles reject the calendar God directed His people to follow? (Matt 26:29; Luke 22:1, 8; John 7:2, 10; 10:22; Acts 17:26; Col 2:16)
4. Did Yeshua or the apostles expect Jewish disciples of Yeshua to abandon circumcision of their babies and keeping Shabbat? (Matt 12:8; Luke 2:22; 4:16; Acts 16:3; 21:20-21; Php 3:5)
5. Did Yeshua or the apostles declare the doctrine of transubstantiation? (cf. Matt 26:26-28 and John 10:7, 9. Only consider that God and the apostles prohibited drinking blood, Gen 9:4; Deut 12:16; 15:23; Acts 15:20, 29)
6. Did Yeshua or the apostles introduce doctrines or practices as core beliefs that had no biblical foundation? (Matt 15:9; John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 2Cor 11:4; Gal 1:7; 1Tim 2:5; 4:1-4; 2Pet 2:1)
7. Did Yeshua or the apostles say that God canceled Israel's ownership of the Land? (Luke 21:24; Acts 1:6-7; 13:17-20; 26:6-7; Rom 9:3-4; Gal 3:15-17)
Yeshua and the apostles did none of these things but the church fathers and their successors in the Catholic Church did all of them. In fact, Christianity (including Protestant churches) has yet to renounce Replacement Theology, and many leaders in Christianity are willing to embrace Two-Covenant Theology.
7 and having placed them in the midst, they began to ask, "By what power, or in what name, have you done this?”
and: Grk. kai, conj. having placed: Grk. histēmi, aor. part., may mean (1) cause to be in a place or position; or (2) be in an upright position, used of bodily posture. The first meaning applies here. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Peter and John, plus the healed man (verse 14). It's not clear whether the healed man was also detained overnight or was called as a witness. in: Grk. en, prep. the midst: Grk. mesos, at a point in or near the center, middle, but in a group setting 'in the midst of' or 'among.' The Sanhedrin members sat on throne-like chairs arranged in the form of a semi-circular threshing floor, so that they might see one another, and they were flanked by a court clerk on either side who recorded the minutes of the meeting (Sanh. 4:2). they began to ask: Grk. punthanomai, impf., to inquire for information or to learn as a result of inquiry.
By: Grk. en. what: Grk. poios, interrogative pronoun, used (1) in reference to a class, sort or species, of what kind?; or (2) equivalent to the interrogative pronoun tís, which? what? power: Grk. dunamis, the quality or state of being capable, here as an exhibition of a singular capability. The mention of power likely referred to either the power of God or the power of Satan, which they had accused Yeshua of employing to exorcise demons (Luke 11:14-23). or: Grk. ē, conj. used to denote an alternative. in: Grk. en. what: Grk. poios. name: Grk. onoma is used in its central sense of identifying someone with a proper name. In Hebrew literature "name" also carries the extended sense of qualities, powers, attributes or reputation.
have you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. The plural form acknowledges that both apostles were involved in the miracle. done: Grk. poieō, aor., a verb of physical action that may refer to (1) producing something material; make, construct, produce, create; or (2) to be active in bringing about a state of condition; do, act, perform, work. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX poieō renders chiefly Heb. asah (SH-6213), accomplish, do, make, work (first in Gen 1:7), and used of a wide range of human and divine activity. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. The question is deliberately ambiguous, since there was no legal basis for this hearing.
8 Then Peter, having been filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers and elders of the people,
Then: Grk. tote, temporal adv. that focuses on a time or circumstance that is closely associated with what precedes in the narrative; at that time, then, thereupon. Peter: Grk. Petros, personal name meaning 'a stone' (BAG, Mounce), although Thayer says the name signifies a stone, a rock, a ledge or a cliff, and Danker defines the name as "rockman." Petros translates the Hebrew name Kêpha ("rock"), a loanword in Hebrew (SH-3710; BDB 495), which was given to him by Yeshua (John 1:42). Peter was unquestionably the leader of the apostles. For a summary of Peter's life and ministry see my article Simon Peter: Rock of the Body of Messiah. having been filled: Grk. pimplēmi, aor. pass. part., to cause to be in a condition that allows for no further addition, to be filled. The verb in this context does not mean being filled as a vessel is filled with water, but being fully possessed by or being completely under the control of.
with the Holy: Grk. Hagios has two distinctive uses in Scripture: (1) as an adj., meaning set apart for dedication to the interests or expectations of deity; and (2) as a pure substantive to refer to that which has been set apart (BAG). The term is used of sacred things, places, people, angels and God. In the LXX hagios translates Heb. qadosh (SH-6918), which means separate, sacred, holy. Qadosh is first used of God in Leviticus 11:44. Spirit: Grk. pneuma (for Heb. ruach, Resh-Vav-Chet), wind, breath or spirit; here referring to the Holy Spirit. Pneuma is used for the human spirit and transcendent beings (Matt 8:16; Heb 1:14), particularly the Spirit as God's self-expression (Gen 1:2; Mark 1:10). In Scripture "holy" is only used as an adjective of "spirit" to refer to the Holy Spirit, a name or face of God.
"Holy Spirit" is not the title of a separate being, because God is Spirit (pneuma ho theos, John 4:24), just as God is the Word (John 1:1). The specific name "Holy Spirit" occurs only three times in the Tanakh (Ps 51:11; Isa 63:10, 11) given as Ruach Qodesh. The Holy Spirit is identified by three other forms in the Tanakh (Ruach Elohim, Gen 1:2; Ruach YHVH, Jdg 3:10; and Ruach Adonai YHVH, Isa 61:1). The Greek text of this verse does not have the definite article for either "Holy" or "Spirit," corresponding to the lack of the definite article in the three passages of Ruach Qodesh.
Luke is not referring to the infilling of the Spirit that Peter received on Pentecost, but rather an immediate experience in the same sense as the expression in the Tanakh of the Spirit coming upon someone and inspiring prophesying or empowering mighty feats (cf. Num 11:25; Jdg 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 15:14; 1Sam 10:10; 19:20, 23; 2Chr 20:14-15; cf. Acts 19:6). In this situation, the immediate effect of being filled with the Holy Spirit was boldness to speak (cf. verse 13 and 31 below). Longenecker says that the verb "filled" denotes a special moment of inspiration that complements and brings to a functional focus the presence in every believer's life of the person and ministry of God's Spirit. On the contrary, not every believer experiences the divine empowerment and revelation given to Peter on this occasion. But, as Moses said, "If only ADONAI would make all the people prophets! If only ADONAI would put the Spirit on all of them!" (Num 11:29 TLV).
said: Grk. legō, aor., to make a statement or utterance, whether orally or in writing, often used to introduce quoted material. The focus of the verb may be declarative, interrogative or imperative. In the LXX legō renders Heb. amar (SH-559), to utter, say, shew, command or think. The Greek verb "say" functions here as quotation marks for the text following since ancient writings did not contain punctuation. to: Grk. pros, prep. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Peter could have retorted, "done what?" But, he kept calm and interpreted their question in the manner of his choosing.
Peter addressed the leaders in a respectful manner. Rulers: pl. of Grk. archōn. See verse 5 above. The noun probably refers to the leaders mentioned in verse 6 and the chief priests, altogether some fifteen to twenty persons. and: Grk. kai, conj. elders: pl. of Grk. presbuteros. See verse 5 above. of the people: Grk. laos. See verse 1 above.
9 "if we are being examined today on a good work to a crippled man, by what he has been healed,
if: Grk. ei, a conditional conjunction (followed by any verb) expresses a condition, thought of as real, or to denote assumptions, i.e. viewed as factual for the sake of argument (HELPS). we: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. are being examined: Grk. anakrinō, aor. pass., to engage in careful inquiry, make a close study of, ask questions about, to examine or investigate. Longenecker notes that in classical Greek anakrinō means a preliminary inquiry and suggests something about the nature of Jewish jurisprudence. today: Grk. sēmeron, adv., today, this day, now. on: Grk. epi, prep. a good work: Grk. euergesia may mean (1) rendering of beneficial service, kindness; or (2) the content of beneficial service; good deed, benefit. The second meaning applies here.
The TLV renders the noun with the Heb. mitzvah, which in modern Jewish culture does mean a good deed. However, in Scripture mitzvah (SH-4687; BDB 846) lit. means "commandment," and is not really appropriate for this context. The CJB and MW have "good deed." The OJB has the Heb. ma'aseh [good] tov [good], which is quite appropriate. to a crippled: Grk. asthenēs may mean (1) weak in body; sick, sickly; or (2) lacking capacity for something, weak. Danker assigns the first meaning to this passage, but the man had a congenital disorder, not an illness. Several versions have "crippled," which is more relevant to the context (CEV, ESV, HNV, NCV, NLT, NOG). A few versions have "disabled" (AMP, CJB, CSB, HCSB).
man: Grk. anthrōpos, human being or man, here used of an adult male. In the LXX anthrōpos renders three Hebrew words: (1) adam, SH-444, used for a human male or generically for man and woman and as a contrast to animals (e.g., Gen 1:26, 27); (2) ish, SH-376, adult male or husband (Gen 2:23, 24) and (3) enosh, SH-582, man or mankind, often signifying the aspect of weakness and mortality (Job 5:17; Ps 8:4-5) (DNTT 2:564). by: Grk. en, prep. what: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. he: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, lit. "this one."
has been healed: Grk. sōzō, perf. pass., to deliver, or rescue from a hazardous condition; save, rescue. The verb is used in reference to rescue a suffering one (from perishing), e. g. one suffering from disease, to make well, heal, restore to health (Matt 9:22; Mark 5:34; Mark 10:52; Luke 7:50), as well as rescue from spiritual peril (Matt 1:21; Luke 13:23; 19:10). In the LXX sōzō translates no less than 15 different Hebrew verbs, but the most important is yasha, (SH-34-67), to deliver, liberate and save (e.g., 1Sam 23:5), and malat, (SH-4422), to escape, deliver, or save. The Hebrew verbs are used in relation to various external threats and bodily peril, especially enemies (DNTT 3:206).
Two important principles may be noted in the Tanakh. First, deliverance may come about through men, even though possessing significant limitations (e.g., Gideon, Jdg 7:2). Second, the pious Israelite was aware of the fact that deliverance comes ultimately from God himself (Ps 18:2; 44:3). We should note that the usual verbs for healing (therapeuō, iomai) are not used to described the man being delivered from a lifetime of disability to a bright future of strength and vitality. The choice of sōzō may reflect the dramatic nature of the healing but also point to spiritual healing as well. The unknown man was likely among the 5,000 men who put their trust in Yeshua.
10 "let it be known to you all and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Yeshua of Nazareth, the Messiah, whom you crucified, whom God resurrected from the dead, by him this man stands before you whole.
let it be: Grk. eimi, pres. imp. See verse 3 above. known: Grk. gnōstos, adj. (from ginōskō, to know), perceived, understood, known, which may be used to mean (1) known, such as being known to someone; or (2) that which can be known or what can be known about something. The second usage applies here. The adjective implies certainty of the information to be shared and combined with the verb intends a wide dissemination. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every. The adjective represents the full membership of the Sanhedrin, but perhaps extending to the ruling class as represented on the Sanhedrin. and: Grk. kai, conj.
to all: Grk. pas. The singular form refers to the corporate identity of the nation. the people: Grk. laos. See verse 1 above. Peter makes clear that his message is for the common people as well as the ruling class. of Israel: Grk. Israēl, a transliteration of the Heb. Yisrael, which means "God prevails" (BDB 975). The name first appears in Genesis 32:28 where the heavenly being with whom Jacob struggled said, "From now on, you will no longer be called Ya'akov, but Isra'el; because you have shown your strength to both God and men and have prevailed" (CJB). The phrase "people of Israel" carries the meaning of the chosen people of God that descended from the great patriarch. Peter makes clear that the good news is for the Jew first (cf. Rom 1:16).
that: Grk. hoti, conj. that serves as a link between two sets of data, whether (1) defining a demonstrative pronoun; that; (2) introducing a subordinate clause as complementary of a preceding verb; (3) introducing a direct quotation and functioning as quotation marks; or (4) indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. The fourth usage applies here. by: Grk. en, prep. the name: Grk. onoma. See verse 7 above. of Yeshua: Grk. Iēsous. See verse 2 above. of Nazareth: Grk. Nazōraios, a rough transliteration of the place name Nazaret, Nazareth. Yeshua is frequently identified by his hometown (Matt 2:23; 21:11; 26:71; Mark 1:24; 10:47; 14:67; 16:6; Luke 4:34; 18:37; 24:19; John 1:45; 18:5, 7; 19:19).
Nazareth was located about seventy miles northeast of Jerusalem in lower Galilee about halfway between the Sea of Galilee and the Mediterranean Sea. A Roman road from Capernaum westward to the coast passed near Nazareth, over which Roman legions frequently traveled. The small town does not appear in the Tanakh at all and only came to prominence because of its association with Yeshua. Some Christian versions translate the noun inaccurately as "Nazarene" (AMP, CEB, DLNT, HCSB, LEB, NASB, NET, NLT).
the Messiah: Grk. Christos, the expected fulfiller of the hopes of Israel for an end-time deliverer, the Messiah. The English "Christ" transliterates the Greek title, but does not translate it. In Greek culture christos comes from chriein, to rub lightly, and in its secular use had no religious connotation at all. Christos as an adjective described someone smeared with whitewash, cosmetics or paint, and was anything but an expression of honor. As a personal reference it even tended toward the disrespectful (DNTT 2:334). Jewish translators of the LXX chose Christos to render Heb. Mashiach (SH-4899), anointed, Anointed One, and in so doing infused new meaning into the Greek word. Mashiach is used in the Tanakh for the Messiah (Ps 2:2; Dan 9:25-26) and this usage defined the term among Jews in the first century.
whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun used to give significance to the mention of a person, thing, or piece of information that precedes; who, which, what, that. you crucified: Grk. stauroō, aor., cause to undergo physical crucifixion; crucify. In the LXX the verb occurs only in Esther 7:9 to render Heb. talah (SH-8518), to hang, used in reference to the execution of Haman. The Judean authorities did not personally crucify Yeshua, but their decision to hand over Yeshua to Pilate made them responsible. For a description of crucifixion see my note on Mark 15:13. The verb points to the fulfillment of Daniel's prophecy that the Messiah would be "cut off" (Dan 9:26), and to the prophecies of David (Ps 22:16) and Zechariah (Zech 12:10) that the Messiah would be pierced.
whom: Grk. hos. God: Grk. theos, God or god, which must be determined from the context; here the God of Israel. In the LXX theos primarily renders the name of the Creator God Elohim (2568 times), but sometimes YHVH (300 times) (DNTT 2:67-70). Given the plural nature of Elohim the full triunity of God must be represented in theos. The only God in existence is the God who created the heavens and the earth out of nothing (Gen 1:1) and who chose Israel out of all the nations on the earth for a covenantal relationship (Ex 19:5; Isa 44:6; 45:5-6; 46:9). In the Besekh theos is used overwhelmingly for the God of Israel, the only God in existence.
resurrected: Grk. egeirō, aor., to rise or raise, is used with a variety of meanings: (1) to arouse from sleep, to awake; (2) to arouse from the sleep of death, to recall the dead to life; (3) to cause to rise or raise, from a seat or bed; or (4) to raise up, produce, cause to appear, such as appear before the public or a judge, erect a building, or incite opposition. The second meaning applies here. Egeirō appears frequently in the Besekh in reference to resurrection. The usual verb to describe being raised from the dead is anistēmi ("to rise, stand up," e.g., John 6:39-40, 44, 54; 11:23-24), but egeirō is especially suitable in this context because Yeshua's resurrection was unique. The best descriptive translation is, "brought him back to life" (GW, NOG, TLB).
from: Grk. ek, prep. the dead: Grk. nekros, adj. See verse 2 above. The affirmation of God resurrecting Yeshua is meant as a fulfillment of prophecy (Ps 2:7-8; 16:10; Isa 53:9-10). by: Grk. en, prep. him: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, "this." See verse 7 above. The pronoun in this position refers to the subject immediately preceding; i.e., "the one just mentioned" (Thayer). Most versions don't translate the preposition-pronoun, but some have "by him" (AMPC, CSB, ESV, JUB, KJV, LEB, NKJV, RSV). this man: Grk. houtos. The second use of the pronoun would mean, "this one visibly present here," i.e., the healed man (Thayer). stands: Grk. paristēmi, perf., may mean (1) to place beside; present; or (2) be in a position beside; stand near or stand by. The second meaning applies here. The perfect tense points back to the point of the healing and the continuing nature of the physical restoration.
before: Grk. enōpion, prep., from a word meaning "facing" with the basic idea of being 'in sight of' or 'in the presence of.' you: Grk. humeis. whole: Grk. hugiēs, adj., sound, whole, healthy. Peter declared that the healed man is exhibit A, testifying to the faithfulness of God to keep His promises to Israel, as foretold by the prophets.
11 "This is the stone having been rejected by you, the builders, which has become into the head of the corner.
Peter then quotes from Psalm 118:22. Psalm 118 concludes the Egyptian Hallel (Ps 113‒118; cf. Ps 114:1), which was sung by the Temple Levite choir as people slaughtered lambs for the Passover Seder on Nisan 14 (Pesachim 5:5). Singing the Hallel was prescribed in the Mishnah as an obligatory duty of the Passover Seder (Pes. 9:3; 10:5, 6) and the apostles recorded that Yeshua's last Seder ended with a hymn (Matt 26:30; Mark 14:26). The psalm was also quoted by pilgrims as they entered Jerusalem to celebrate Passover (Matt 21:9; Mark 11:9-10; Luke 19:38). The Mishnah notes that the Hallel also belonged to the celebration of Sukkot (Sukkah 4:3). Psalm 118 does not have an authorship superscription, but it dates from pre-exilic times.
In its original setting Psalm 118 no doubt expressed thanksgiving for the rescue of Israel at the exodus and the eventual journey's end at Mt. Zion. In the first century the psalm expressed the hope for arrival of the Messiah and national salvation. This: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 3 above. the stone: Grk. lithos was a generic word for stone of various types, whether construction materials, millstones, grave stones, precious stones, tablets or small rocks. having been rejected: Grk. exoutheneō, aor. pass. part., to consider of no account or worth, to regard as a nobody, treat with contempt, reject. by: Grk. hupo, prep. may be used to denote (1) an agent or cause, by; or (2) a position that is relatively lower; below, under. The first usage applies here.
you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. the builders: pl. of Grk. oikodomos, an architect or a builder (Mounce). The term occurs only here in the Besekh. which: Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. has become: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. part. See verse 4 above. into: Grk. eis, prep. the head: Grk. kephalē, generally the head as an anatomical term, but used here of an architectural extremity. In the LXX here kephalē renders Heb. rôsh (SH-7218), head, chief. of the corner: Grk. gōnia, an exterior angle, projecting corner (Mounce). In the LXX here gōnia renders Heb. pinnah (SH-6438), corner, chief. Thus, many versions render the phrase "head of the corner" as "cornerstone."
Longenecker says that in the first-century A.D. the Jewish Testament of Solomon 118, employs the expression "the stone at the head of the corner," which unambiguously refers to the final capstone or capstone placed on the summit of the Jerusalem temple to complete the whole edifice. It's possible that an actual incident in the building of the temple by Solomon gave rise to the poetic words and in so doing served as an acted out parable of the Messiah. That the cornerstone refers to the Temple is supported by Peter's reference to the Judean rulers as the "builders," since the priests performed the actual construction of Herod's Temple.
Yeshua too quoted Psalm 118:22 during his Temple teaching in his last week (Matt 21:42). He then followed with an explanation of why he quoted from the Psalm.
"'Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. 44 And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.' 45 When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them. 46 When they sought to seize Him, they feared the people, because they considered Him to be a prophet." (Matt 21:43-44 NASB)
Hearing Peter on this occasion the chief priests may well have made the connection to Yeshua's earlier application of the psalm. They would not have assumed as the church fathers did that Yeshua announced the end of God's covenant with Israel and the transfer of His covenant to an antisemitic religion based in Rome. The Temple ruling council was the central institution that administered God's law, God's justice and the life of God's people. They had rejected and condemned the Messiah. Wright observes that the chief priests naturally feared that Peter and John was trying to upstage them, to diminish or overturn their power and prestige and take it for themselves (62). They were right to fear, because the apostles represented the reordering of the people of God under new leadership.
12 "And there is not salvation in no one else; for neither is another name under Heaven given among men by which it behooves us to be saved."
And: Grk. kai, conj. there is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 3 above. not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation. salvation: Grk. sōtēria means rescue, deliverance or salvation from physical harm, but often from God's wrath (Rom 5:9; 1Cor 5:5). In the LXX sōtēria translates six different Hebrew formations derived from the root verb yasha, to deliver (DNTT 3:206). In the religious sense sōtēria is deliverance from both the curse and consequences of sin. The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). Salvation is sometimes spoken of as a present experience (1Cor 1:18; Eph 2:5; Titus 3:5), but it is also a future expectation to be fulfilled by the Second Coming of Yeshua (Rom 5:10; 10:9; 13:11; 1Cor 3:15; 1Th 2:16; 5:9; 1Tim 4:16; Heb 1:14; 9:28).
Salvation is both individual and national in reference to Israel. Luke has already stressed the salvation of Israel in Zechariah's hymn of praise (Luke 1:69, "a horn of salvation"), in Simeon's prayer (Luke 2:30, "your salvation"), and in introducing the ministry of Yochanan the Immerser (Luke 3:6, "God's salvation"). These scenarios envision the Messiah delivering Israel from her enemies and establishing his kingdom to rule the earth. This Messianic hope was announced by the prophets (Isa 46:3; 51:5-6; 62:11; Jer 23:5-6; 30:7; 33:16; Ezek 37:24-28; Dan 7:13-14; Zech 9:9; 12:7-10; 14:1-9).
in: Grk. en, prep. no one: Grk. oudeis, adj. used to indicate negation of a person or thing as actually existing at a given place or moment; no one, not one, nobody, none. The adjective admits no exceptions other than what is stated. else: Grk. allos, adj. used to distinguish from one or more other entities; other (of two), another. for: Grk. gar, conj. neither: Grk. oude, adv., links a negative statement as complement to a preceding negative; neither, nor. is: Grk. eimi, pres. another: Grk. heteros, adj., a distributive pronoun that may (1) distinguish one item from another in a numerical sense, other, another; or (2) express dissimilarity of one item relative to another, whether generically or qualitatively; other, another or different. The second meaning applies here. name: Grk. onoma. See verse 7 above.
under: Grk. hupo, prep. See the note on "by" in the previous verse. Heaven: Grk. ouranos refers to the area above the earth that encompasses three areas: (1) the atmosphere, (2) interstellar space and (3) the transcendent dwelling-place of God (Ps 148:1-4; cf. 2Cor 12:2). In the LXX ouranos translates the Heb. hashamayim (lit. "the heavens") (DNTT 2:191). The phrase "under heaven" alludes to the fact that in Scripture ouranos is always "up" as a direction from the surface of the earth. The "third heaven" is in view here and "under Heaven" denotes the source and authority for granting salvation. In other words, God has not granted such a privilege to any other person, but has determined that salvation is exclusively through one person.
given: Grk. didōmi, perf. mid. part., to give, often with the focus on generosity. In the LXX didōmi generally renders Heb. natan, to give, used in one of three settings (1) by men one to another; (2) by men to God; and (3) by God to men (DNTT 2:41). among: Grk. en. men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 9 above. Some versions have "people" (CSB, ISV, LEB, NCV, NET, NIRV), a few have "mankind" (CJB, NIV, TLV), and the NRSV opts for the gender neutral "mortals." However, Peter would not have been thinking in such global terms. The use of "men" following "under heaven" depicts the order of authority God established in the world (cf. Gen 3:16; 1Pet 2:13).
by: Grk. en. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. it behooves: Grk. dei, pres., impersonal verb from deō ('lack, stand in need of') and thus conveys the idea of something that's necessary, something that must or needs to happen; must, necessary, behooves. us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. The grammatical construction puts the pronoun in the position of a direct object, not the subject of the clause as found in many versions. The pronoun means "us Jews." to be saved: Grk. sōzō, aor. pass. inf. See verse 9 above. Longenecker notes that the double use of the verb sōzō ("to be saved") to mean both "restoration to health" (verse 9) and "preservation from eternal death" allows Peter to move easily from the healing of the cripple to the salvation of mankind. However, Peter is not concerned here about mankind but his people Israel.
Stern reminds us that Peter is addressing Jews, not Gentiles, and speaking by inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God (verse 8), asserts that Yeshua is the only person by whom the Jewish people (both individually and collectively) "must" (there is no alternative) "be saved" (from eternal destruction and God's wrath for our sins). And if there is no other salvation for Jews, who already have wonderful promises from God, how much more is there no other salvation for Gentiles. The message of salvation will be taken to the Gentiles in chapter ten. Moreover, since he is speaking to the leaders of the Jewish nation, he may also be asserting that national salvation can come only through Yeshua (cf. Matt 23:37–39, Rom 11:23–29, 2Cor 1:20).
Peter's declaration effectively pronounces as blasphemous heresy the veneration of Yeshua's mother in the Catholic Church as a co-redemptrix and co-mediatrix. In addition, his "no other name" contradicts the current Two-Covenant Theology popular among some Catholics and Protestants that asserts Jews are in an eternal covenant with God and have no need of the atonement provided by Yeshua. The way of Yeshua is obviously exclusive and only religion based on Yeshua the Jewish Messiah and Son of God can be considered authentic. I state the principle this way because while there is a core of biblical truth in Christianity there is also much that violates biblical teaching. Nevertheless this exclusivity is qualified by three factors:
(1) There is no genetic guarantee of salvation (John 1:12-13; Rom 9:6), but the salvation through Yeshua is available to everyone (Rom 10:9–13).
(2) Yeshua and the apostles set no precondition for salvation except turning from sin to the one true God. In particular it does not require Gentiles to stop being Gentiles or Jews to stop being Jews.
(3) Salvation through Yeshua is God's one true path and it exists for the good of mankind. Opponents should be thankful that God provided a simple solution to the sin problem.
The tragedy is that most people in the world refuse to seek salvation from the God of Israel (Matt 7:13-14), and thus reject the way of Yeshua. The Satan-inspired false religions dominant in most countries stand against Yeshua's true religion and persecute its adherents to death. Even in Western countries in which constitutions guarantee freedom of religion, liberal politicians and courts invent ways to infringe the rights of people to practice Yeshua's religion according to their conscience. Conversely, Christianity has distorted the way of Yeshua with syncretism of worldly philosophies and replacement theology from the time of the church fathers. This situation illustrates the great divide between the way of Yeshua and the way of Satan, the god of this world.
Deliberation of the Council, 4:13-17
13 Now observing the boldness of Peter, and of John, and having comprehended that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were astonished; also, they recognized them that they had been with Yeshua.
Now: Grk. de, conj. observing: Grk. theōreō, pres. part., may mean (1) pay attention to; look at, observe, watch, behold; (2) conclude on the basis of personal experience; consider, infer, see; or (3) have awareness in depth; perceive, experience. The first meaning has primary application here. the boldness: Grk. parrēsia may mean (1) of plain and direct speech; plain speech or adverbially 'plainly, openly;' (2) freeness in speech, as opposed to being under constraint to watch one's words; boldness, candor, straightforwardness, unguardedness; or (3) openness to the public, here of seeking to be in the public eye for recognition. The second meaning applies here.
N.T. Wright observes,
"The authorities were no doubt used to rounding up troublemakers and teaching them a lesson. Normally such people, rabble-rousers of one sort or another, wouldn't have been able to string together more than a few sentences once they were put on the spot and received a direct challenge" (67).
Yet, on this occasion the Sanhedrin observed confident and articulate boldness. of Peter: See verse 8 above. The boldness of Peter is a direct result of being filled with the Holy Spirit. and: Grk. kai, conj. of John: Grk. Iōannēs. See verse 6 above. When Yeshua first called John, the son of Zebedee, to discipleship, he was engaged in mending fishing nets along with his brother Jacob (Matt 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-19). He quickly became a member of Yeshua's inner circle (Mark 5:37; 9:2; 13:3; 14:33; John 13:23; 21:20). For more on the background of John see my article Witnesses of the Good News. John was the one apostle who was well known to Annas and perhaps Caiaphas (John 18:15). Luke adds, "and of John" to assert that he also exhibited boldness, perhaps through serenity of countenance and murmurs of verbal support to Peter's speech.
and: Grk. kai. having comprehended: Grk. katalambanō, aor. part., to take over, (1) in a physical sense to grasp; seize, secure or (2) in a sense of mental grasping; perceive, comprehend. The second meaning applies here. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 10 above. The conjunction is used to complement the preceding verb. they were: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 3 above. uneducated: Grk. agrammatos, adj. The term occurs only here in the Besekh. Danker gives the definition as "unable to read or write, illiterate," which is clearly not the meaning in Jewish culture. Rather, as Thayer notes, the term means unversed in the learning of the rabbinic schools. men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 9 above.
and: Grk. kai. ordinary: Grk. idiōtēs, adj., one who lacks the sophistication or credentials of insiders. Danker treats the term as meaning a newcomer. Mounce defines the noun as one devoid of special learning or gifts, a plain person. HELPS says that the term indicates a person who conspicuously lacks education or status. BAG and Thayer define the term as a "layman," in contrast to an expert or specialist of any kind. Stern treats the term as synonymous with "people of the land" (verse 1 above) and therefore ignorant of Jewish law. After all, what can be expected of Galileans? These rulers were clearly afflicted with elitist snobbery.
they were astonished: Grk. thaumazō, impf., be extraordinarily impressed; to wonder, be amazed, astonished, impressed, surprised. also: Grk. te, conj. used to connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai; also, both. they recognized: Grk. epiginōskō, impf., 'to know about,' which may be used (1) of familiarity with something/ someone through observation , experience or receipt of information; (2) of awareness or recognition based on previous knowledge; (3) in an increasing measure, really know, know well; or (4) with focus on acquisition of knowledge, find out. The second usage fits here.
them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. that: Grk. hoti. they had been: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 3 above. with: Grk. sún, prep. used to denote association or connection, in this case both. Yeshua: See verse 2 above. For Annas the recognition could have been as recent as the interrogation he conducted of Yeshua when Peter and John were both present (John 18:15-16). Others of the Sanhedrin could have seen Peter and John with Yeshua on any number of occasions when he visited Jerusalem. In any event the Sanhedrin swerved into a high compliment. Would that people could recognize in all Christians that they had spent time with Yeshua. Sadly this is not always the case.
Relevant to this context is that literacy was high among Jews of the first century. Jewish learning typically occurred in stages: "five years for [the study of] Scripture, ten for mishnah [Jewish laws], thirteen for [becoming subject to] commandments, fifteen for talmud" [commentary on laws and Torah] (Avot 5:21). The last stage occurred under the tutelage of a rabbinic scholar. At that time two prominent Pharisaic schools dominated Jewish learning of talmud, that of Hillel the Elder (c. 110 B.C.—A.D. 10) and Shammai the Elder (50 B.C.—A.D. 30), both of whom had served as President of the Sanhedrin.
The comment of the rulers concerning Peter and John is not unlike their opinion concerning Yeshua, when they asked, "How does this man know letters [pl. of Grk. gramma], not having been educated?" (John 7:15 mine). Calling the apostles "uneducated" meant they had not studied in any Pharisaic school. To the Pharisees, the apostles in presenting themselves as teachers with authority violated one of their key precepts, later transcribed in the Mishnah, "Appoint for yourself a teacher" (Avot 1:6). Unlike the apostle Paul who studied under Gamaliel, the grandson of Hillel (Acts 22:3), these apostles had only studied under Yeshua.
14 And seeing the man having been healed standing with them, they had nothing to contradict.
And: Grk. te, conj. seeing: Grk. blepō, pres. part., may mean (1) possess the physical ability to see; (2) use one's eyes to take note of an object; (3) be looking in a certain direction; or (4) to have inward or mental sight. The second meaning has application here. the man: Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 9 above. having been healed: Grk. therapeuō, perf. pass. part., may mean (1) to offer helpful service, help out, serve; or (2) the specific service of restoring a person to health. The second meaning applies here. standing: Grk. histēmi, perf. part., lit. "having stood." See verse 7 above. with: Grk. sún, prep. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun.
they had: Grk. echō, impf., to have, hold or possess with a wide range of application: e.g., (1) hold in one's hands, wear, preserve, seize; (2) have as one's own or at hand, possess; (3) have with oneself or in one's company (BAG). The second meaning applies here. nothing: Grk. oudeis, adj. See verse 12 above. to contradict: Grk. antilegō, aor. inf., may mean (1) to speak in an adversarial manner; contradict, argue against, speak against; or (2) by extension take a position in opposition to; oppose, refuse. The first meaning applies here. The rulers could not deny that the lame man had been healed. Moreover, this was not a normal healing. Regenerative cures of a man over forty years of age (verse 22 below), simply did not happen. The failure of the rulers to rejoice and give praise to God for this mighty wonder revealed their hardness of heart.
15 But having ordered them to go outside the council meeting, they conferred with one another,
But: Grk. de, conj. having ordered: Grk. keleuō, aor. part., give an authoritative order; command, order. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. to go: Grk. aperchomai, aor. inf., to be in movement from a position with or without mention of a destination, to go away, depart or leave. outside: Grk. exō, adv. of place, outside, used of a position that beyond a limit or boundary. In the LXX exō renders Heb. chuts, the outside, often in reference to the out of doors in relation to a structure. the council meeting: Grk. sunedrion, a governing board. In Greek culture the term originally meant (1) the place where the council met, (2) then the body of councilors or (3) their actual meeting (DNTT 1:363). All three usages of the noun may be found in the apostolic narratives of Jewish judicial assemblies. The actual number present in any of these meetings is never mentioned.
The Greek word came into general usage in 57-55 B.C. in a decree by the Roman governor Gabinius when he divided the Land into 5 sunedria (Ant. XIV, 5:4). From the Roman usage the Jews transliterated it to the Hebrew sanhedrin. In the LXX sunedrion renders Heb. math (SH-4962), male, man, men (Ps 26:4 as a deliberative body), qahal (SH-6951), assembly, congregation (Prov 26:26); and sôd (SH-5475), council, counsel (Jer 15:17). The Greek term also occurs several times in Proverbs (11:13; 15:22; 20:19; 22:10; 24:7; 27:22; 31:23) without Heb. equivalent for those sitting in the gate for counsel or judgment. The usage of sunedrion in the LXX denotes small groups of elders who acted as counselors and judges.
Josephus applied the term to the high council in Jerusalem when it gained authority over the whole country. Herod, when a youth, had to appear before the sunedrion at Jerusalem to answer for his doings in Galilee (Ant. XIV, 9:3-5). From that usage the Jews took over the word and converted it to the Hebrew sanhedrin (DNTT 1:363). The Jewish court system at this time consisted of three types of courts: (1) Court of Three, which handled civil matters and a few criminal matters; (2) Court of Twenty-Three ("Small Sanhedrin"), which handled civil, criminal and religious matters; and (3) Court of Seventy-One ("Great Sanhedrin"), which handled all the matters of the lower courts plus some special issues. For an overview of the Jewish judicial system see my web article Jewish Jurisprudence.
The great majority of versions translate sunedrion here with the capitalized "Sanhedrin," or "the Council," implying the full membership of the Supreme Court. However, this interpretive translation is open to question, even though constituent members of the Sanhedrin is given in verse 5 above with the chief priests mentioned in verse 6. We should note that terms "Court of Seventy-One" "Great Sanhedrin," and "Beth din" ("house of judgment") used throughout the Tractate Sanhedrin for the Supreme Court are never used in the apostolic narratives. It's just as likely that Luke intends a committee concerned with management of the Temple.
Josephus uses the term sunedrion for an ad hoc group assembled for a special purpose or task (Ant., XX, 9:1, 6). Luke might also have meant a small sanhedrin (23 members). Two Courts of Twenty-Three convened in the Jerusalem Temple, one at the entrance to the Temple mount and one at the entrance to the Court of the Israelites (Sanh. 10:4; 88b). Luke's first description of the full Sanhedrin in probably in Acts 5:21 where he mentions the inclusion of the "assembly of elders of the sons of Israel." In any event, the apostles were removed from the room of the council meeting for privacy sake.
they conferred: Grk. sumballō, impf., the basic idea of 'cast in with' or 'cast together' and dependent on context may mean (1) engage, in combative fashion; (2) take up matters of mutual interest; (3) give thought to a medley of matters; or (4) fall in with. The second meaning applies here. with: Grk. pros, prep. See verse 1 above. The preposition, which lit. means "facing," is apropos given that the Council members were seated in a semicircle so they could have eye contact. one another: Grk. allēlōn, reciprocal pronoun; each other, one another.
Longenecker observes that the source of Luke's knowledge about the private deliberations of the Council on this occasion has often been debated. Did Luke learn what happened from Saul (Paul), who was an intimate with the Council (Acts 8:1; 9:1-2; 26:10)? Or, had Paul heard the gist of the discussion from his teacher Gamaliel and then told it to Luke? Or was the substance of the discussion inferred from what was said to Peter and John when they were brought back? Stern points out that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea, who were members of the Council, were secret followers of Yeshua. Luke in his researches (Luke 1:3) would have consulted them or other leaders who came to faith later.
16 saying, "What should we do to these men? For truly that a known sign has occurred through them is apparent to those staying in Jerusalem, and we are not able to deny it.
saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 8 above. What: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 9 above. should we do: Grk. poieō, aor. subj. See verse 7 above. to these: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. See verse 7 above. men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 9 above. For: Grk. gar, conj. truly: Grk. mén, a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 10 above. a known: Grk. gnōstos, adj. See verse 10 above. sign: Grk. sēmeion usually refers to an extraordinary phenomenon, a portent or a miracle (Mounce). In the LXX sēmeion is predominately a translation of the Heb. word oth (SH-226), "sign, pledge, token, standard or miracle" (DNTT 2:626). Most of the usages of "sign" in the Tanakh are related to miraculous wonders that only the Creator could perform, especially the many miracles for Israel's benefit.
has occurred: Grk. ginomai, perf. See verse 4 above. through: Grk. dia, prep. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. is apparent: Grk. phaneros, in a state or condition that makes observation possible; publicly known, in the open, known, recognizable, apparent. to those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. staying in: Grk. katoikeō, pres. part., to make a specific locale or area of residence, thus to dwell, reside or live in. Jerusalem: Grk. Ierousalēm. See 5 above. The verbal phrase "staying in Jerusalem" does not mean residing permanently in the city, since such would be a superfluous statement. The rulers were not simply saying the sign was well-known in Jerusalem, but to the temporary residents. These people were visitors from the Diaspora (cf. Acts 2:9-11).
Some visitors may have fled persecution in their home of origin and had emigrated. Some may have been business owners who carried on commerce between their home of origin and Judaea. Some may have come for the festival season and simply stayed. If Luke had meant permanent residents of Jerusalem he could have used the term Hierosolumitēs, residents of Jerusalem (Mark 1:5; John 7:25). Jewish hospitality during the time of the major festivals required that if a person had a room available he would give it to any pilgrim who asked to use it without charge. The practice was based on the principle that the residents did not really own the city, but it belonged to all the tribes (Yoma 12a; Meg. 26a).
and: Grk. kai, conj. we are not: Grk. ou, adv., negative particle. able: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid., to be capable of doing or achieving; be able. to deny it: Grk. arneomai, pres. mid. inf., to give a negative answer; say no, deny. The verb can mean (1) to contradict a statement or (2) to disown or repudiate. The first meaning is intended here. The rulers were not so concerned about the general population over which they exercised control. The pilgrims were a different story. If the pilgrims went home and spread news all over the Diaspora of such an extraordinary miracle at the Temple, it could give stature to the Galileans who performed the miracle and create an unmanageable situation.
17 But so that it may not spread on further among the people, we should threaten them to no longer speak on the basis of this name to anyone of men."
but: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. so that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed, in order that, so that, that. it may not: Grk. mē, a particle of qualified negation, not. It differs from the other standard negative particle, oú, in that oú is objective, dealing only with facts, while mē is subjective, involving will and thought (DM 265). spread: Grk. dianemō, aor. pass. subj., distribute, divide into portions, spread here and there. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. on the basis of: Grk. epi, prep. See verse 5 above. further: Grk. pleiōn, adj., a comparative form of polus ("great in number") with the effect of greater in quantity; more widely, further. among: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." the people: Grk. laos. See verse 1 above.
we should threaten: Grk. apeileō, aor. mid. subj., speak in a menacing manner, with implication of retribution; threaten, warn. The verb occurs only twice in the Besekh (also 1Pet 2:23). them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Jewish law held that a person must be aware of the consequences of his crime before being punished for it. This meant that in non-capital cases the common people, who might be ignorant of laws, had to be admonished before witnesses and could only be punished for an offense when they relapsed into a crime after due warning. to no longer: Grk. mēketi, adv., no longer, not from now on, any longer. speak: Grk. laleō, pres. inf. See verse 1 above. on the basis of: Grk. epi, prep. The preposition is used here metaphorically of that upon which any action, effect, or condition, rests as a basis or support; properly, upon the ground of (Thayer).
this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. name: Grk. onoma. See verse 7 above. The formula "on the basis of this name" conveys an appeal being made to Yeshua's authority and command (Thayer). Notice that the rulers won't say the name of Yeshua. to anyone: Grk. mēdeis, nobody, not even one, but after a negative particle "anyone." of men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 9 above. Longenecker comments that the council's response, revealed that (1) they would have denied the miracle if they could, (2) they were not willing to be convinced either by what had happened or by Peter's arguments, and (3) they felt the need of stopping the apostles' activity and teaching and therefore proposed to take the measures allowed them by Jewish law.
Ruling of the Council and Release, 4:18-22
18 And having summoned them, they directed them not to speak nor to teach at all on the basis of the name of Yeshua.
And: Grk. kai, conj. having summoned: Grk. kaleō, aor. part., may mean (1) express something aloud; say, call, summon; (2) solicit participation; call, invite; or (3) identify by name or give a term to, call. The first meaning applies here. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Peter and John. they directed: Grk. parangellō, aor., to give authoritative direction; order, instruct, direct. In the Besekh the verb is used of a wide variety of instructions, often practical or ethical. In the LXX parangellō renders Heb. shama (SH-8085), to hear, and meaning to cause to hear, assemble, proclaim, or summon (DNTT 1:340). It is used of the authoritative proclamations of leaders, generals and kings (Josh 6:7; Jdg 4:10; 1Sam 10:17; 15:4; 23:8; 1Kgs 15:22; 2Chr 36:22; 1Macc 5:58; 2Macc 13:10).
them: pl. of Grk. autos. The content of the directive that follows is not a verbatim transcript, but Luke's summation. not: Grk. mē, adv. to speak: Grk. phthengomai, pres. mid. inf., to express vocally; utter, declare, speak aloud. nor: Grk. mēde, conj., negative particle used in escalation of negation; not, nor. to teach: Grk. didaskō, pres. inf. See verse 2 above. at all: Grk. katholou, adv. used to express comprehensiveness; one the whole, in general, altogether, at all. The word occurs only here in the Besekh. on the basis of: Grk. epi, prep. See the previous verse. Most all versions translate the preposition as "in," even though this is not its lexicon meaning. A marginal note in the NASB agrees with the meaning of "on the basis of."
the name: Grk. onoma. See verse 7 above. of Yeshua: See verse 2 above. Luke clarified what the rulers meant by "upon this name" in the previous verse. The announced decision of the council both expressed their intention for a change in behavior, but also provided the legal basis for further action should the apostles disobey (cf. 5:28). The formula "upon the name of Yeshua," could have the functional meaning of "in the name of Yeshua," in the sense of the authority cited for apostolic actions. The rulers logic would be that "you can't teach on the authority of a man judged worthy of death." However, this position would be hypocritical since they knew that Yeshua was tried and convicted in an illegal manner.
19 But Peter and John, answering, said to them, "If it is just in the presence of God to heed you rather than God, you must judge;
But: Grk. de, conj. Peter: Grk. Petros. See verse 8 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. John: Grk. Iōannēs. See verse 13 above. answering: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass., make a response to a specific query or to answer someone, whether to a question, request, exhortation, command, etc. In the LXX apokrinomai renders Heb. anah (SH-6030), to answer or respond to something said, whether in conversation or a legal proceeding, used first in Genesis 18:27 in Abraham's dialog with ADONAI. part. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 8 above. The use of "answering" followed by "said" is typical Hebraic way of advancing the narrative of dialog (e.g., Gen 27:39; 40:18; Josh 24:16; Jdg 20:4; 1Sam 1:17). The verb "answering" emphasizes that a verbal response was made and "said" introduces the quotation.
to: Grk. pros, prep. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. If: Grk. ei, conj. See verse 9 above. Most Bible versions translate the conjunction as "whether" (except DARBY, DRA, NLV, and OJB). In English grammar "whether" is used to introduce the first of two or more alternatives, often viewed as equal or neutral, such as flipping a coin. However, standard lexicons say that ei is translated as "whether" only in indirect questions. In this case the alternatives are certainly not equal or value-neutral and the apostles are not asking a question. it is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 3 above. just: Grk. dikaios, adj., being in accord with God's covenantal standards expressed in Torah for acceptable behavior, upright or just. In the LXX dikaios renders Heb. tsaddiq (SH-6682), 'just or righteous' (BDB 843).
in the presence of: Grk. enōpion, prep. See verse 10 above. God: Grk. theos. See verse 10 above. Peter appropriately points out that God was a witness to this hearing and the rulers were to be accountable to Him. to heed: Grk. akouō, pres. inf., lit. "hear." See verse 4 above. you: pl. of Grk. autos. rather: Grk. mallon, adv., may be used (1) of increase or additive to some aspect of activity, situation, or condition; or (2)of a change in procedure or circumstance involving an alternative. The second meaning applies here with the focus on a substitute aspect (instead of). than: Grk. ē, may be used as a disjunctive conjunction; either, or; or (2) as a comparative conjunction, than. The second usage applies here. God: Grk. theos.
you must judge: Grk. krinō, aor. imp., may mean (1) make a selection, prefer; (2) subject to scrutiny and evaluation of behavior, judge, often in legal contexts, or (3) draw a conclusion. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX krinō is used mainly to translate three different Heb. words: din, rib and shaphat (DNTT 2:363). Din means not only to judge (in a legal sense, usually by tribal elders, e.g., Ruth 4:1-3), but also to punish, wrangle, vindicate and obtain justice for someone (Gen 15:14; 30:6; Deut 32:36). Rib means to quarrel, to litigate, to carry on a lawsuit (Gen 26:21; Jdg 8:1; 21:22). Shaphat, which occurs the most frequently and means to judge in a legal sense or to govern. The verb as used here alludes to the name given to the Sanhedrin as the Bet Din, "House of Judgment."
The apostles boldly direct the rulers to carefully weigh their decision. The alternatives as presented constitute what's called in logic "the horns of a dilemma." A "dilemma" is Greek for "two premises" and the "horns" is an allusion to an angry bull. Each alternative would have serious consequences. If the Council said the apostles must obey God, then they would be giving tacit approval to the message of the Messiah, the authority of the apostles and the demise of their own future function. This choice would disturb the Romans as popular sentiment for the Messiah could lead to civil revolt (cf. John 11:48). If the Council said the apostles must obey them instead of God, they would be inviting divine retribution for their presumption.
Since the Council is dominated by the Sadducees, who only accept the Torah as canonical Scripture, then their decision should be in accordance with the Torah in order to do justice. When the choice is between obeying God or obeying man, what should the person do? The Torah provides both case example and statutory instruction. The Hebrew midwives faced the choice of obeying Pharaoh and murdering babies or obeying God and preserving life (Ex 1:15-17). They chose the latter. In statute God directed Israel not to obey anyone who counseled disobeying His commandments (Deut 13:1-4).
20 for we are not able to not speak about what we have seen and heard."
for: Grk. gar, conj. we: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. are not: Grk. ou, adv. able: Grk. dunamai, pres. mid. See verse 16 above. to not: Grk. mē, adv. speak: Grk. laleō, pres. inf. See verse 1 above. The use of the double negative is a Hebraic way of expressing impossibility. about what: pl. of Grk. hos, relative pronoun. we have seen: Grk. horaō, aor., to perceive physically with the eye, or in a fig. sense to experience something or to have extraordinary mental or inward perception. and: Grk. kai, conj. heard: Grk. akouō, aor. See verse 4 above.
Longenecker observes that as with the prophets of old, God's word was in Peter's and John's hearts like a burning fire; and they could neither contain it nor be restrained from speaking it (cf. Jer 20:9). Peter and John had been eyewitnesses of Yeshua's earthly ministry, resurrection and ascension, and then the advent of the Holy Spirit in power. Moreover, their risen Lord had commanded them to proclaim his name to the people (cf. Matt 28:19; Acts 1:8). They had a commission that could only be changed by their Lord, not any earthly authority.
21 Now having added threats, they released them, finding no way how they might punish them, and because of the people, inasmuch as all were glorifying God for what had happened;
Now: Grk. de, conj. having added threats: Grk. prosapeileō, aor. mid. part., threaten further, utter additional threats. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. they released: Grk. apoluō, aor., may mean (1) to set free from a condition or obligation, to release or to free; or (2) to cause to depart from a place, to send off or dismiss. The first meaning applies here. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. finding: Grk. heuriskō, pres. part., to come upon by seeking; find, discover. no way: Grk. mēdeis. See verse 17 above. Here the negative term means "none, nothing, not at all, or in no way." how: Grk. pōs, adv. concerning manner, means, or way to do something.
they might punish: Grk. kolazō, aor. mid. subj., cause to be punished. In Greek culture the verb was used of physically punishing slaves to incapacitate them (HELPS). The implication is that the Council was seeking justification to have the apostles flogged. The Torah set the number of blows at forty (Deut 25:3), although Rabbinic authorities reduced the number to thirty-nine so as not to exceed the prescribed number. The regulations for conducting floggings is found in the Tractate Makkot. There were to be thirteen stokes on the chest and twenty-six on the back (Makk. 22b). them: pl. of Grk. autos. and because of: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 2 above. the people: Grk. laos. See verse 1 above. inasmuch as: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 10 above.
The Council really wanted to have the apostles beaten, but they were afraid of the reaction of the public. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 10 above. were glorifying: Grk. doxazō, impf., enhance esteem or reputation through word (of praise) or action to honor. In the LXX doxazō renders Heb. navah (SH–5115), to beautify, adorn with praises (Ex 15:2), but principally kabad (SH–3513), to be weighty, to be honored or praised (Lev 10:3; Ps 15:4). God: Grk. theos. See verse 10 above. for: Grk. epi, prep., "on the basis of." what: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. had happened: Grk. ginomai, perf. part. See verse 4 above. In the face of the public joy over the healing of the lame man, the Council could only give a warning, but their action did provide the legal precedent for more severe action in the future.
22 for the man was more than forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had taken place.
for: Grk. gar, conj. the man: Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 9 above. was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 3 above. more than: Grk. pleiōn, adj. See verse 17 above. forty: Grk. tessarakonta, the number forty. years: pl. of Grk. etos, a calendar year. This number represents half a lifetime (cf. Ps 90:10). on: Grk. epi, prep. whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. miracle: Grk. sēmeion. See verse 16 above. of healing: Grk. iasis, a cure or healing. HELPS notes that the feminine noun denotes the process of God's grace causing the healing, distinguished from the neuter noun (íama), which denotes the result of healing. In Scripture healing is generally for physical ailments (cf. Ps 103:13; Matt 4:23-24), but is also used of emotional healing (Ps 147:3; Prov 16:24), spiritual healing (Ps 41:4; Isa 53:5) and environmental healing (2Chr 7:14).
had taken place: Grk. ginomai, plperf. See verse 4 above. The pluperfect tense denotes action in the past that is complete. HELPS says that "forty years" sometimes has an added symbolic sense, i.e. "a full-testing period." That is, the full time (of a crisis, etc.) needed to successfully pass through to know God's approval. Another consideration is that the Mishnah depicted the stages of life by age, and forty was "for understanding" (Avot 5:21). The healing of the man after so many years of suffering would bring him greater understanding about God and the ways of God. This miracle became the catalyst for building the Messianic kingdom.
23 Now having been released, they came to their own and reported how much the chief priests and the elders had said to them.
Now: Grk. de, conj. having been released: Grk. apoluō, aor. pass. part. See verse 21 above. they came: Grk. erchomai, aor., 3p-pl., 'to come or arrive' with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place. to: Grk. pros, prep. their: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. own: pl. of Grk. idios, adj., belonging to oneself, one's own. Various versions add qualifying words such as "companions," "company," "friends," or "people." Luke does not specify who he means, but most likely the adjective denotes Peter's fellow apostles and perhaps a few notable leaders. The narrative that follows does not imply a meeting of any greater number.
and: Grk. kai, conj. reported: Grk. apangellō, aor., may mean (1) to report back in response to a directive ; or (2) to relate as the result of personal experience, observation or other source of information; relate, report, declare. The second meaning applies here. how much: Grk. hosos, correlative pronoun signifying maximum inclusion; how much, how great, how many. The pronoun implies the "full extent" or a complete disclosure. the chief priests: pl. Grk. archiereus. See verse 6 above. The plural noun would include retired high priests and active holders of the priestly offices of higher rank in the Temple, altogether some fifteen to twenty persons. The retired high priests were Annas, Ishmael ben Phiabi, Eleazar and Simon ben Kamithos (Lane 531f).
From Luke's narrative and Josephus (Ant. XX, 9:1) we know that the chief priests were generally Sadducees and ex–officio members of the Sanhedrin (Jeremias 179, 197, 230). The active chief priests held a variety of administrative posts and as a group wielded considerable power in the city. Jeremias made the following list of working chief priests based on rabbinical sources (160):
● The deputy high priest.
● The director of the weekly division of ordinary priests.
● The director of the daily shift.
● The seven temple overseers.
● The three or more temple treasurers.
A corresponding list of ranks is found in the War Scroll (1QM 2:1ff) of the DSS (TDSS 149). The DSS list has the high priest, his deputy, twelve chief priests, and the directors of the priests' weekly courses; twelve chief Levites, and the directors of the weekly Levitical courses.
and: Grk. kai. the elders: pl. of Grk. presbuteros. See verse 5 above. The order of "chief priests and elders" signifies precedence and status. The combination also implies unity of decision. had said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 8 above. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Peter no doubt reported also what he said, all of it exuding a note of realism as well as triumph.
Power in Prayer, 4:24-31
The recorded words of the following prayer were probably offered by Peter and represent a primer on prayer. It was Luke who recorded that one of Yeshua's disciples had asked him, "Lord, teach us to pray just as also Yochanan taught his disciples" (Luke 11:1 mine). Yeshua then gave them a prayer (Luke 11:2-4; Matt 6:9-13), which is not only a prayer Yeshua intended to be used but one that serves as a model of prayer. In its brief form it mimics the Amidah (aka Shemoneh Esrei), the most important Jewish prayer of the first century. Click here for a disciple's version of the Amidah.
The content of this prayer here demonstrates that Peter and the apostles learned much from Yeshua's manner of praying. Each verse contains an important element that characterizes effective prayer. Since Yeshua condemned those who offered long prayers for appearance's sake (Mark 12:40), Peter's prayer follows the model of the Lord's Prayer in its brevity.
24 Moreover the ones having heard, they lifted a voice together to God and said, "Master, You are the One having made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them,
Moreover: Grk. de, conj. the ones: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a pronoun to give emphasis to the participle following. having heard: Grk. akouō, aor. part. See verse 4 above. These are the close associates of Peter and John. they lifted: Grk. airō, aor., 3p-pl., may mean (1) to cause to move upward; raise up, lift; or (2) move by lifting or taking from one position to another; take away, remove, carry off. The first meaning applies here in the sense of communication directed in unity to heaven. a voice: Grk. phōnē can mean (1) an auditory impression, sound, noise; (2) the faculty of producing an auditory impression, voice; or (3) a system of communication, language. The second meaning applies here. The noun is singular but most versions translate it as plural. The voice was likely that of Peter under the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
together: Grk. homothumadon, adv., a spontaneous meeting of minds; of one mind, of one accord. The word occurs eleven times in the Besekh, all but one in Acts. The adverb implies having the same desire or the same passion and reflects a God-produced unity (HELPS). The adverb does not mean that every person present verbalized exactly the petition that follows, but rather the prayer represented their unity of Spirit. to God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 10 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 8 above. Master: Grk. despotēs, voc. case, lord, master or ruler and refers to one who possesses superiority and exercises absolute authority. The term originally applied to the master of a household and a master in contrast to a slave and then later to political authority. Here the title is used of God.
Despotēs occurs only ten times in the Besekh, four
of which refer to humans, but six are of God or Yeshua (Luke 2:29; 2Tim 2:21;
2Pet 2:1; Jude 1:4; Rev 6:10). Despotēs occurs about 60 times in the LXX
(DNTT 2:509), and translates three different Hebrew words:
The use of despotēs in reference to God, including the Apocrypha (Wis. 6:7; 8:3; Sir. 23:1; 31:24; 33:1), particularly emphasizes His omnipotence and sovereign control over all things. While Yeshua instructed his disciples to pray "Our Father" (Matt 6:9), Peter's use of "Master" is not so unusual given its occurrence in entreaties of the Lord in the Tanakh (Gen 15:2, 8; Josh 5:4; Job 5:8; Jer 1:6; 4:10; 15:11; Jon 4:3) and in the Besekh (Luke 2:29; Rev 6:10). Peter then follows with a tripartite adoration, giving further definition to the title of Master and establishing the basis for the petition that follows. The declaration of the great work of the Creator is found in three passages of the Tanakh (Ex 20:11; Neh 9:6; Ps 146:6), but the syntax of Peter's words is not an exact quotation.
You: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. The prayer of Ezra (Neh 9:6) is the only passage in which the adoration is preceded by the direct address of "you." are the One: Grk. ho. The definite article is only found in the declaration of Psalm 146:6, although it is in the accusative case there whereas it is in the nominative case here. Among Jews "The One" was a circumlocution for God (cf. Ps 3:3; 37:24; Isa 40:26; 45:7; 49:7; Amos 9:5-6; John 1:33; 6:46; 7:18; 11:27; 12:45; 15:21; Acts 10:42; Rom 5:17; 2Cor 4:6). having made: Grk. poieō, aor. part. See verse 7 above. In the three passages where the adoration is found the verb is a simple aorist rather than a participle. Peter asserts in unison with the rest of Scripture that God constructed the universe by speaking the raw materials into existence and them forming them as He chose (Gen 1:3, 6, 14; Ps 33:6, 9). Scripture denies the possibility of naturalistic evolution.
the heavens: Grk. ouranos. See verse 12 above. While the Greek noun is singular it translates a plural Hebrew word (hashamayim) in the passages quoted. The plural form is preferred because there are three heavens (Ps 148:1-4; 2Cor 12:2) and all three were created on day two of the creation week (Gen 1:6-8). and: Grk. kai. the earth: Grk. gē can mean soil (as in receiving seed), the ground, land as contrasted with the sea, and the earth in contrast to heaven. The LXX uses gē more than 2,000 times and translates the Heb. word erets (DNTT 1:517). In the Tanakh erets designates either (a) the earth in a cosmological sense, or (b) "the land" in the sense of a specific territorial area, primarily the Land of Israel (BDB 75). The term is used here of the planet, which was created on day three of creation week (Gen 1:9-10).
and: Grk. kai. the sea: Grk. thalassa (corresponding to Heb. yam) is used of both a sea, such as the Mediterranean, and inland bodies of water, i.e., lake. The English language "sea" normally refers to a body of salt water and "lake" to a body of fresh water, although local convention can override this rule. Thalassa (as its Hebrew counterpart) simply refers to a body of water deep enough and wide enough to require a boat to cross it. In the creation narrative a single sea was formed on the third day by the waters being gathered in one place (Gen 1:10). The present configuration of oceans, seas, lakes and rivers came about in the aftermath of the global deluge of Noah's time (cf. Job 12:14-15; 14:11-12; 22:15-16; 26:10; 38:8-11; Ps 29:3-10; 65:5-9).
and: Grk. kai, all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 10 above. that is: pl. of Grk. ho. in: Grk. en, prep. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Of the three passages Peter could have quoted, the declaration in Exodus 20:11 is preceded by the statement "in six days the LORD [Heb. YHVH] made." Scripture unequivocally affirms a young earth (also Ex 31:17). Peter's declaration is especially important in the origins debate. A number of Christian writers since the early nineteenth century have needlessly attempted to reconcile the creation account of Genesis 1 and evolution by amalgamating the two opposing points of view. The Theistic Evolution position treats the Genesis narrative as parabolic literature instead of historical fact. The Progressive Creation position assumes the days of creation correspond to the ages assigned to the so-called geologic column.
The Gap Theory position assumes a time break between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 during which angelic warfare caused destruction of God's original creation and the rest of Genesis 1 is the story of God reconstructing what Satan had destroyed. (The preceding links are to informational articles at ChristianAnswers.net.) The various compromise positions on origins have been ably discredited by creation scientists as being both inconsistent with Scripture and devastating to biblical theology (BBMS 115-125). For a concise comparison of the various beliefs about origins see the chart prepared by Dr. Henry Morris. In addition, see my web article The Days of Genesis 1. The teaching of Scripture refutes man's false philosophies concerning the origin and meaning of the world:
● Scripture refutes atheism, because the universe was created by God.
● Scripture refutes pantheism, for God is transcendent to that which He created.
● Scripture refutes polytheism, for the one and only God created all things.
● Scripture refutes humanism, because God, not man, is the ultimate reality.
● Scripture refutes evolutionism, because God created all things.
(taken from Dr. Henry Morris, The Genesis Record, Baker Book House, 1976, p. 38.)
Principles of Effective Prayer
● Pray from a right relationship with God (cf. 1Jn 3:22).
● Pray first, before taking action.
● Pray aloud.
● Pray with simplicity and brevity (Matt 6:7-8).
● Pray with a group. There is power in corporate prayer (Acts 1:14; 2:42; 12:5, 12).
● Pray in unity (Matt 18:19-20; John 17:20-22; 2Cor 2:11).
● Pray to the God of Israel, who is enthroned in Heaven.
● Acknowledge the power of God and His absolute authority over all.
● Acknowledge that the God of Israel is the Creator of all things, including us. Prayer proclaims the great things God has done.
25 the One having spoken through the Holy Spirit of the mouth of our father David, Your servant, that 'Why did the nations act arrogantly, and the peoples attend to futile things?
the One: Grk. ho, definite article but used here, as in the previous, as a circumlocution for God or the Father. Most versions render ho as "who." having spoken: Grk. legō, aor. part. See verse 8 above. through: Grk. dia, prep., used here to denote instrumentality. the Holy Spirit: See the note on verse 8 above. of the mouth: Grk. stoma, the bodily organ used for speaking, tasting, eating and drinking; mouth. The noun may allude to the fact that the text of Scripture was spoken before being written, or simply be idiomatic of attributing personal authorship. The opening clause may seem unique by stating in such direct fashion that the Father has spoken through the Spirit, but other passages allude to the same manner of divine communication (cf. Matt 10:20; John 14:26; 15:26; Gal 4:6).
In addition, there is the declaration of Solomon in the dedication of the temple, "Blessed be ADONAI, the God of Israel, who spoke with His mouth to my father David" (1Kgs 8:15 TLV; also 2Chr 6:4). In other words the Spirit is the "mouth" of God the Father. Then David became the mouthpiece of the Holy Spirit. of our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. Peter stresses commonality he shares with his fellow disciples. father: Grk. patēr, may mean (1) a male biological parent, (2) a forefather or ancestor, (3) one held in esteem for personal, social, or spiritual reasons; (4) one who displays parental characteristics; or (5) in an extend sense of God. The third meaning applies here, since there is no indication that Peter or members of the Sanhedrin descended from the tribe of Judah. In the LXX patēr renders ab ("av"), which generally occurs in the human sense, but also of God as father in relation to Israel (Ex 4:22) (DNTT 1:616f).
David: Grk. David, which transliterates the Heb. David ("dah-veed") perfectly. David is one of the most important figures in Israelite history. His name first appears in 1 Samuel 16:13 when God sent Samuel to anoint him as the next king. At that time David was only a shepherd. Yet, from that humble beginning he would eventually (after many difficulties) become the King of Israel at the age of 30 and reign 40 years (2Sam 5:4; 1Chr 3:4). David made a tremendous impact on the nation of Israel. In the military sphere he broke the power of all the pagan peoples in the land of Canaan and in the civil sphere he made Jerusalem his capital and solidified central authority.
His accomplishments in the religious sphere are especially noteworthy. He erected the Tabernacle on Mt. Zion, centralized religion in Jerusalem and established Levitical choirs. He wrote many psalms and 73 psalms are specifically ascribed to him. He was known as the "sweet psalmist of Israel" (2Sam 23:1). Especially important is that he compiled and organized psalms into what we now know as the Book of Psalms (2Chr 29:30). David was a true worshipper, a man imbued with the Holy Spirit (1Sam 13:14; 16:13; 2Sam 23:2). God chose David to be king because He "sought out for Himself a man after His own heart" (1Sam 13:14).
Then, God made a personal and everlasting covenant with him by which God promised that He would establish the throne of David forever, build a house for Himself and send forth a king from the loins of David to rule over his people Israel (2Sam 7:12-14; 23:5; Ps 89:3; Isa 55:3; Jer 23:5-6; 33:21). Jeremiah left a simple eulogy: "David did what was right in the sight of the LORD, and had not turned aside from anything that He commanded him all the days of his life, except in the case of Uriah the Hittite" (1Kgs 15:5). The last comment on David's life in the Tanakh is from Ezra who twice refers to David as a "man of God" (2Chr 8:14; Neh 12:24).
For Peter to say "our father David" is unusual since Jews typically regarded Abraham as their father. Peter could have meant "father" in the sense of a ruling ancestor, since most of the Jews resident in Jerusalem and the Land of Israel at this time were descendants of those of the Kingdom of Judah that returned from exile. During the time of the divided kingdoms the kings of Judah sat in the place of David (Jer 13:13; 22:4). The Kingdom of Judah originally consisted of the tribes of Benjamin, Simeon, Judah and Levi. Most of the northern kingdom did not return to the land. Josephus reported that "the ten tribes are beyond Euphrates till now, and are an immense multitude, and not to be estimated by numbers" (Ant., XI, 5:2). See my web article The Twelve Tribes of Israel.
Peter could also have meant "our father David" in a metaphoric sense. We should consider Isaiah's prophecy that the Messiah would be known as "Everlasting Father" (Isa 9:6). David, the Shepherd-King, was the preeminent type of the Messiah. In the prophets the name of David symbolized the future reign of the Messiah (cf. Isa 22:20-22; Jer 33:15-17, 21; Ezek 34:23-24; 37:24-25; Hos 3:5; Amos 9:11). David is also one who set the example for disciples to emulate of one who served God with his whole heart and lived according to God's commandments, yet was humble enough to confess sin. Yeshua was the "son of David" and in a spiritual sense disciples of Yeshua could be considered "sons of David."
Your: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. servant: Grk. pais, one in a dependent capacity and used of (1) a child; (2) a personal or household servant; and (3) a royal attendant. In the LXX pais occurs 500 times and is used to translate ten different Hebrew words (DNTT 1:283). Pais renders Heb. ben, son (Prov 4:1) and Heb. na'ar (SH-5288), youth (Prov 1:4), but most often Heb. ebed (SH-5650), servant, first in Genesis 9:25, and often as servants of the king (+340 times). It is in the translation of ebed that we find pais used in the special sense of the "servant of the LORD" (pais kuriou), first applied to Moses (Josh 1:6), but also David (Ps 18:Title; 36:Title). In Solomon's dedication of the Temple he referred to his father David as the servant of the LORD God (YHVH Elohim, 2Chr 6:16). Peter then quotes from Psalm 2.
Psalm 2 is a Messianic psalm due to it prominent usage by the apostles in reference to Yeshua. It is one the most frequently quoted psalms in the Besekh (Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22; Acts 13:33; Heb 1:5; 5:5; Rev 2:26-27; 12:5; 19:15). Psalm 2 is actually referred to by number (Acts 13:33), which indicates that the chapter divisions were present in the Book of Psalms prior to the first century. Although the Psalm has no superscription indicating the author, Peter ascribes authorship to David. Psalm 2 with its explicit reference to the Anointed (Messiah) of ADONAI had been interpreted by Jewish writers of the coming deliverer of David's line at least as early as the middle of the first century B.C. (Bruce 106). The Psalms of Solomon, which predates Yeshua, quotes directly from Psalm 2 (17:26). See my commentary on Psalm 2.
[Psalm 2:1] Why: Grk. hinatí, interrogative particle; why is that, for what reason, for what purpose. did the nations: pl. of Grk. ethnos, humans belonging to a people group. In the LXX ethnos generally renders Heb. goy (SH-1471; pl. goyim), nation, people, community (BDB 156) (DNTT 2:790). The term ethnos is first used in Genesis 10 to describe the list of seventy nations, then of descendants of Abraham (Gen 12:2) and then even more specifically of Israel (Ex 19:6; Deut 4:6; Ps 106:5; Isa 9:1). In the Besekh ethnos may refer generally to any people distinguished by language and culture (Matt 24:7; Acts 10:35; Rev 5:9), including Israel (Luke 23:2; Acts 24:2, 10; 28:19; 1Cor 10:18; Php 3:5). Many versions translate the plural noun as "Gentiles," but this term is too restrictive for the context of Psalm 2. The labels "Gentiles" and "Jews" tend to blur the distinctions within the two groups.
act arrogantly: Grk. phruassō, aor., signifying restlessness, disturbance, or agitation. BAG says that when the verb is used of men it means to be arrogant, haughty, or insolent. LSJ says that in Greek culture the verb is first used of spirited horses and thus means to "neigh, whinny and prance;" and then metaphorically of men, "to be wanton, haughty, or insolent." Danker and Mounce assign the meaning of "to rage" and most versions translate the verb with "rage," or in some cases with words that express anger. Surely, if the action of the nations was an expression of anger the LXX would have chosen one of the two words that mean to be angry (orgizō or thumoō).
The verb occurs phruassō only here in the Besekh, but it does occur in the Apocrypha (2Macc 7:34; 3Macc 2:2 and Philo (On Cherubim 66) where it is used of haughty and arrogant attitudes. The Hebrew text has ragash (SH-7283), to be in tumult or commotion, to be in an uproar. The Hebrew verb occurs only in this verse of the Tanakh. BDB translates the Hebrew verb as "throng tumultuously" (921). Rashi assumes the description is of the Philistines gathering against David (2Sam 5:17). Thus the NJPS renders the verb as "assemble." The point of the verb seems to scoff at the foolishness of the nations that think they can successfully oppose the sovereign God. GW and NOG have "act arrogantly," which I think is the best meaning for the context.
and: Grk. kai, conj. the peoples: pl. of Grk. laos. See verse 1 above. Usually in the LXX laos translates Heb. am, but in Psalm 2:1 the noun is leom (SH-3816), which can refer to a nation or people group. attend to: Grk. meletaō, aor. (from melō, to have a care, be concerned), give careful thought to something. HELPS says the verb properly means, to care for, attend to; hence be diligent, especially to ponder or study. The verb occurs only twice in the Besekh (also 1Tim 4:15), but lexicons say the verb means to conspire (BAG), devise (Mounce) or plot (Danker) in this verse. The Hebrew text has hagah (SH-1897), used of (1) inarticulate sounds, "moan or growl," and (2) of thoughts and words; "utter, speak, meditate or muse."
BDB says that in Psalm 2:1 the verb hagah means to imagine or devise (211). Thus Bible versions are divided between translating the verb as "imagine" and "devise (or 'plot')." The idea of "peoples" plotting seems out of place here. It is rulers that plot and scheme. So, the verb combined with the adjective that follows seems to depict the masses as being led astray or being deceived and thus they too act with arrogance against the sovereign God. futile things: pl. of Grk. kenos, adj., devoid of contents, without result, in vain, for nothing, fruitless. In the context of the Psalm the phrases "the nations act arrogantly" and "the peoples attend to futile things" constitute a synonymous parallelism.
Principles of Effective Prayer
● Praise the ministry of the Holy Spirit.
● Acknowledge spiritual forefathers.
● Incorporate Scripture, which adds power to prayer because Scripture expresses truth and the will of God.
● Acknowledge the reality of spiritual warfare and opposition in the culture against God.
26 'The kings of the earth stood together, and the rulers were gathered together against ADONAI and against His Messiah.'
[Psalm 2:2] David employs another synonymous parallelism. The kings: pl. of Grk. basileus, king or chief ruler. In the LXX basileus appears frequently to translate Heb. melek (SH-4428). In the Tanakh the title "king" was not associated with the size of territory governed (often a city), but the authority wielded. The executive and judicial functions (and sometimes legislative) of government were vested in one person. of the earth: Grk. gē. See verse 24 above. In its original setting the noun could be translated as "Land" in regard to the land of Canaan, which had been occupied by seven nations at the time of the conquest under Joshua. By the time of David, these people groups had not been fully eradicated.
stood together: Grk. paristēmi, aor., 3p-pl. (from para, 'beside' and histēmi, 'to stand') may mean (1) to place beside, as of positioning or presenting an object; or (2) be in a position beside, stand near/by. The second meaning applies here. The Hebrew text of the verse has yatsab (SH-3320), to set or station oneself, take one's stand, and here with the connotation of taking a stand to fight or standing in military array. Thus a number of versions have "took [or take] their stand" (CJB, CSB, NASB, NKJV, NRSV, OJB, TLV). NIV and NIRV has "rise up," and the KJV has a similar rendering of "stood up," but that is not what the verb means. The first clause of this verse depicts kings of different nations forming an alliance (i.e., stood beside one another) to oppose God.
and: Grk. kai, conj. the rulers: pl. of Grk. archōn. See verse 5 above. The Hebrew text has razan (SH-7336), a verb meaning to be weighty, judicious or commanding. The verb is in the form of a plural participle used as a substantive; rulers, potentates (BDB 931). were gathered: Grk. sunagō, aor. pass. See verse 5 above. The Hebrew text has yasad (SH-3245), to establish, found or fix. BDB says the verb in this context means to fix or seat themselves close together; sit in conclave (413). The KJV and NASB render the Hebrew verb as "take counsel." together: Grk. epi, prep., 'on, to' + pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun, 'them;' lit. "to themselves." against: Grk. kata, prep., the root meaning is "down," but with the noun following being in the genitive case, the resultant meaning is 'against' (DM 107).
ADONAI: Grk. kurios may mean either (1) one in control through possession, and therefore owner or master; or (2) one esteemed for authority or high status, thus lord or master. In the LXX kurios occurs over 9,000 times to translate Heb. words for God, and in the overwhelming majority of instances (over 6,000 times), it renders the sacred name YHVH (DNTT 2:511). The Hebrew text of Psalm 2:2 has YHVH (SH-3068). While not reflected in Bible translations YHVH is not a title or a word for a deity, but the personal name of the God of Israel (Ex 3:15; Deut 1:6; 2Chr 14:11; Isa 42:8). Thus, "LORD," found in Christian versions, does not actually translate YHVH.
and: Grk. kai. against: Grk. kata. His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Messiah: Grk. Christos for Heb. Mashiach, anointed one. See verse 10 above. The wording of "YHVH and His Messiah" may appear to contain a conundrum because Yeshua is YHVH (John 8:58) and yet in Psalm 2:2 they are distinguished. However, YHVH represents the invisible God and Yeshua as Messiah is the visible, incarnation of YHVH (Col 1:15). In the Tanakh we find Elohim, the triune God, speaking primarily in Genesis, first to create the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:3 +9 times) and occasionally thereafter to men (Gen 6:9; 9:1, 8, 12, 17; 46:2). The Spirit (Heb. Ruach) also occasionally speaks to someone (2Sam 23:2; 1Kgs 22:24; 2Chr 18:23; Ezek 2:2; 3:24; 11:5). YHVH, translated LORD, is the one who generally speaks for God (first in Gen 2:18), and then over 350 times in the Tanakh.
In the original setting of the psalm the mention of "nations" and "peoples" in the previous verse and the "kings" and "rulers" in this verse could easily refer to the Philistines, Amalekites, Moabites, Arameans, Ammonites and Edomites with whom David engaged in war and defeated (see the summary in 2Sam 8:1-14). The adversaries are depicted as gathering themselves in open rebellion against God and his Anointed One. That the psalm specifically speaks of two persons as being the object of hostilities can be seen from the rebel's slogan in verse 3, "Let us break their chains … and throw off their fetters" (Kaiser 97).
In an eschatological sense the psalm could anticipate either the conditions preceding the millennium (Rev 19:11-21) or at the end of the millennium (Rev 20:7-9). The phrase "kings of the earth" occurs several times in Revelation (1:5; 6:15; 17:2, 18; 18:3, 9; 19:19) to describe earthly rulers in opposition to God, the King of kings.
Stern comments that Jewish writings often call attention to a text by citing its beginning; therefore the reader should understand that the prayer of verses 24–30 is permeated by all of Psalm 2, not just its initial verses (235). The theme of Psalm 2 is that while men may oppose God, it is God who will have His way. This is why the Peter addressed God as "Master" (verse 24) and affirmed that he created the heavens and the earth and all living creatures. This gives Peter and his fellow disciples the necessary assurance that despite the Sanhedrin's warning (verse 17) and opposition, God will vindicate his Messiah and those who proclaim his message.
Principles of Effective Prayer
● Incorporate Scripture, which adds power to prayer because Scripture expresses truth and the will of God.
● Acknowledge the opposition of worldly rulers against the God of Israel and His Messiah.
27 For in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the nations and peoples of Israel, were gathered in this city against Your holy servant Yeshua whom You anointed
For: Grk. gar, conj. in: Grk. epi, prep., lit. "upon," but when it occurs after verbs of motion ("gathered," which actually begins the verse), it has the same meaning an en (Thayer). fact: Grk. alētheia, truth, may mean (1) truthfulness, dependability, uprightness in thought and deed, (2) truth as opposed to what is false, or (3) reality as opposed to mere appearance (BAG). The third meaning applies here. In the LXX alētheia regularly translates the Heb. emet (SH-571; BDB 54), firmness, faithfulness, or truth, first in Gen 24:27. both: Grk. te, conj. See verse 13 above. Herod: Grk. Hērōdēs, a personal name perhaps meaning "son of a hero." The Herod mentioned here is Antipas, son of Herod the Great and his wife, Malthace, a Samaritan.
While Mark refers to him as "king" (Mark 6:14), following a local custom, his official title was tetrarch, "ruler of a fourth," the term for a ruler of lower rank than a king. The title reflects the fact that after the death of Herod the Great the land was divided among his sons. Herod Antipas was given Galilee and Perea to rule (Luke 3:1; Ant. XVIII, 2:1; 7:1). Throughout the Tanakh the chief civil administrator of a city or region was called "king," but in Roman politics the title of king included a certain amount of independence that Caesar would no longer tolerate in a land known for its uprisings against Roman rule. Upon the succession of Antipas, Caesar Augustus denied him the royal title of "king." His pursuit of the title would eventually lead to his dismissal and exile to Gaul in AD 39 under Caligula.
Antipas was notorious for a variety of reasons. His selection of an ancient cemetery as the site for his capital, Tiberias, which made it impossible for Jews to live there (Ant. XVIII, 2:3). He also ordered Yochanan the Immerser to be imprisoned and then beheaded (Matt 14:3, 10). Herod was also in Jerusalem on the night Yeshua was arrested and so arranged to meet with him for interrogation, but Yeshua refused to speak (Luke 23:8-9). Antipas had no objection to the execution of Yeshua.
and: Grk. kai, conj. Pontius: Grk. Pontios, personal name. The first name occurs only three times in the Besekh (also Luke 3:1; and 1Tim 6:13). Pilate: Grk. Pilatos. Pontius Pilate was the fifth governor of Judaea from the time that Archelaus was deposed in A.D. 6. As a Roman province Judaea included the territories of Idumea, Judea and Samaria. Pilate ruled A.D. 26 to 36 and therefore the judge in the trial of Yeshua. Pilate is singled out, along with Herod, as having unique responsibility in bringing about Yeshua’s death. For more information on Pilate see my note on John 18:29.
with: Grk. sún, prep. the nations: pl. of Grk. ethnos. See verse 25 above. and: Grk. kai. peoples: pl. of Grk. laos. See verse 1 and 25 above. Rent-a-mob. of Israel: Grk. Israēl. See verse 10 above. The syntax of the Greek text presents both "nations" and "peoples" as "of Israel." This is not impossible considering the ancestry of Herod Antipas and there were many proselytes in the city who were just as zealous as the Pharisees (cf. Matt 23:15; Acts 6:9; Rom 2:1-3, 17; Rev 2:9; 3:9). The crowd that shouted in favor of the release of Barabbas and the crucifixion of Yeshua were likely a mixed group (Matt 27:17, 20-22; Mark 15:6-15).
were gathered: Grk. sunagō, aor. pass. See verse 5 above and the previous verse. in: Grk. en, prep. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. city: Grk. polis, a population center whose size or number of inhabitants could range broadly, a city or town. The city referred to is Jerusalem. against: Grk. epi, used here of hostile intent. Your: Grk. su, sing. pronoun of the second person. holy: Grk. hagios. See verse 8 above. Yeshua was both set apart to perform the Father's will and sinless in character. servant: Grk. pais. See verse 25 above. Yeshua: See verse 2 above. whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. You anointed: Grk. chriō, aor., to anoint, setting one apart for special service. Israelite kings were crowned and priests were ordained in a ceremony of anointing with olive oil, which invested them with the authority of their positions.
Yeshua was not physically anointed as part of his commissioning for ministry, although He was anointed with the Spirit in accordance with Isaiah 61:1 (Matt 3:16). However, he was anointed with nard in preparation for his death (Mark. 14:3-8; John 12:3), so in that sense he was physically anointed for his final and greatest ministry. Whatever the eschatological meaning of Psalm 2 might have, Peter sees in it an immediate application and views the opposition of the Sanhedrin of being of the same character as what David described.
Principles of Prayer
● Speak the truth about evil in the culture and the specific sources of opposition against Yeshua and his followers. (CAVEAT: Public prayer should never repeat unproven allegations reported in the media.)
28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predetermined to occur.
This verse continues the thought of the previous verse. to do: Grk. poieō, aor. inf. See verse 7 above. whatever: Grk. hosos, correlative pronoun. See verse 23 above. Your: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. hand: Grk. cheir. See verse 3 above. The word as an anthropomorphism of God to denote a powerful divine activity. and: Grk. kai, conj. Your: Grk. su. purpose: Grk. boulē may refer to (1) the process of thinking as prelude to decision; deliberation, motive; or (2) the product of deliberation, decision, resolve, used frequently of a divine plan or purpose. The second usage fits here. predetermined: Grk. proorizō, aor., to determine beforehand, to mark out with a boundary before (Rienecker). Proorizō is formed from pro, "before," and orizō, to establish a boundary or framework through deliberate decision for an event, activity or thing. to occur: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. inf. See verse 4 above.
God decided what He wanted to happen from the beginning (Isa 40:21; 41:26; 46:10; 48:5; Matt 13:35) and exercises sovereign control over history to assure its fulfillment (Ps 103:19; 139:16; Prov 20:24; Isa 14:24; 25:1; 48:3; Rom 8:28). The biblical concepts of foreknowledge and predestination have nothing to do with the Calvinist theology that posits the salvation or damnation of individuals by a unilateral decree. These verbs only have meaning in relation to Israel (Luke 1:68-79; Rom 8:30; Eph 1:4), God's plan for atonement and salvation (1Th 5:9; 2Th 2:13) and the character God expects His people to develop (Rom 8:29; Eph 1:4-5).
In this framework, salvation is from the Jews" (John 4:22), is to be given first to the Jews (Matt 10:5-6; 15:24; Rom 1:6) and will be consummated with the Jewish people in the Land of Israel (Matt 19:28; 24:29-31; Acts 1:6-7; Rom 9:27; 11:26; Eph 1:9-11; 2:12-13; Rev 7:4-8; 21:10-12). God's plan for Yeshua to died as a sin offering had been determined before the foundation of the world (1Cor 2:7-8; Rev 13:8). We see in Peter's Shavuot sermon (Acts 2:23), his sermon a week later (Acts 3:12-15, 18) and his prayer here the synthesis of the divine predetermined plan for the redemption of Israel and the malevolence of men to kill the one God sent to provide that redemption. Yet, the very injustice of the Sanhedrin and Pilate accomplished the will of God and fulfilled the divine plan.
Principles of Prayer
● Submit to the sovereignty of God (cf. Jas 4:13-15).
29 And now, Lord, look upon their threats, and grant to Your servants to continue speaking Your message with all boldness,
And: Grk. kai, conj. now: Grk. nun, adv., marker of time in the present; now or just now. Lord: Grk. kurios, voc. case. See verse 26 above. Peter probably means the direct address of "Lord" to be for Yeshua, even though prayers are normally addressed to the Father. look: Grk. epeidon, aor. imp., give attention to, concern oneself. Thayer has "look upon, regard." The imperative mood marks an entreaty, not a command. upon: Grk. epi, prep. their: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. threats: pl. of Grk. apeilē, a threatening, threat. and: Grk. kai. grant: Grk. didōmi, aor. imp. See verse 12 above. to Your: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person.
servants: pl. of Grk. doulos can mean either slave or servant, and in Greek and Roman culture viewed as owned property totally and unquestioningly at the behest of the owner. In the LXX doulos translates the Heb. ebed, which did include the meaning of doulos but with a much broader application. In the Tanakh ebed is especially used of household servants, those who worked for the King and those who served God, especially service in the temple (DNTT 3:593). The apostles and other disciples considered themselves servants of the Lord; e.g., Paul (Rom 1:1), Apollos (1Cor 3:5), Timothy (Php 1:1), Epaphras (Col 1:7), Tychicus (Col 4:7), Jacob (Jas 1:1), Peter (2Pet 1:1), Jude (Jude 1:1) and John (Rev 1:1).
to continue speaking: Grk. laleō, pres. inf. See verse 1 above. The present tense denotes continued conduct. Your: Grk. su. message: Grk. logos. See verse 4 above. This message is the good news of salvation for Israel. with: Grk. meta, prep. used to mark association or accompaniment; with, amid, among. all: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 10 above. boldness: Grk. parrēsia. See verse 13 above. Peter is not referring to the self-confidence of an extrovert, but the spiritual result of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
Principles of Prayer
● Pray for spiritual empowerment (cf. Eph 6:19-20).
● Pray explicitly.
◊ Ask what you really desire (Ps 37:4; 1Sam 1:10-11; John 14:13f).
◊ Ask according to Torah (Num 11:29; 1Jn 5:14f).
◊ Ask for what would please Yeshua (Matt 28:19).
30 while that You continue to stretch out Your hand for healing, and signs and wonders continue to take place through the name of Your holy servant Yeshua."
while: Grk. en, prep. that: Grk. ho, definite article but used here with the force of a relative pronoun. The combination of en ho intends the following actions to be concurrent with the action described in the previous verse. You: Grk. su, pronoun of the second person. continue to stretch out: Grk. ekteinō, pres. inf., cause an object to extend in space, most often used of hands. Your: Grk. su. hand: Grk. cheir. See verse 3 and 28 above. Peter alludes to the idiomatic phrase "outstretched arm," used in the Torah of God's deliverance (Ex 6:6; 4:34; 5:15; 7:19; 9:29; 26:8), which itself alluded to Moses stretching out his staff at God's direction to perform wonders (Ex 7:19; 8:5; 9:22; 10:12; 14:16, 26). for: Grk. eis, prep., lit. "into." healing: Grk. iasis. See verse 22 above. Most versions translate the noun as a verb, "to heal."
and: Grk. kai, conj. signs: pl. of Grk. sēmeion. See verse 16 above. and: Grk. kai. wonders: pl. of Grk. teras, a phenomenon with astounding effect; marvel, wonder, portent. In the Besekh the noun occurs only in the plural and always coupled with "signs." In the LXX teras renders Heb. mopheth (SH-4159), a wonder, sign or portent. The term is used of special displays of God's power, especially the miracles performed through Moses and Aaron in Egypt (Ex 4:21; 11:10). continue to take place: Grk. ginomai, pres. mid. inf. See verse 4 above. through: Grk. dia, prep. See verse 2 above. the name: Grk. onoma. See verse 7 above. of Your: Grk. su. holy: Grk. hagios. See verse 8 above. servant: Grk. pais. See verse 25 above. Yeshua: See verse 2 above.
Peter boldly asked that God would continue to work in a mighty way through the apostles as in the past. Based on God doing as Peter requested we know that Peter's motive was not selfish. He did not even ask that God use him. He simply asked that God continue to demonstrate His power and magnify the name of Yeshua. God would choose his own instruments to fulfill the request, and, of course, Peter was one of those instruments.
Principles of Prayer
● Pray for big things, seemingly impossible things (Matt 21:21-22; Eph 3:20).
● Pray for healings (Num 12:13; 2Chr 7:14; Jas 5:14-16; 3Jn 1:2).
● Claim the authority of the name of Yeshua for what he would approve (John 14:14; 16:23).
31 And they having prayed, the place in which they were assembled was shaken, and they were filled, all with the Holy Spirit, and began speaking the word of God with boldness.
And: Grk. kai, conj. they: 3p-pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. having prayed: Grk. deomai, aor. pass. part., masc. pl., direct a request with focus on appeal for assistance, the nature of which is nuanced by the context; ask, beseech, petition, pray, plead, request. In the LXX deomai translates four Hebrew words, first the particle na (SH-4994), used in prayers of entreaty, Gen 19:18; another particle of entreaty bi (SH-994) in Gen 43:20; then chalah (SH-2470), to appease or seek the favor of in order to placate God's anger, Ex 32:11; and finally chanan (SH-2603), to beseech, plead for mercy, 1Kgs 8:33. Luke affirms the corporate nature of the prayer. The content of Peter's prayer reflected the desires of every heart in the room.
the place: Grk. topos may mean (1) a spatial area as indicated in the context, (2) a position with obligation or responsibility, or (3) a circumstance that offers a chance to do something. The first meaning applies here. in: Grk. en, prep. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. See verse 10 above. they were assembled: Grk. sunagō, perf. pass. part., 3p-pl. See verse 5 above. was shaken: Grk. saleuō, aor. pass., (from salos, "disturbance"), cause to waver or totter, to shake. The verb could mean that God caused an minor earthquake which rattled the building (cf. Acts 16:26). and: Grk. kai. they were filled: Grk. pimplēmi, aor. pass. See verse 8 above. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. Some had been filled before (Acts 2:4). with the Holy Spirit: See verse 8 above. Paul instructed followers of Yeshua to keep on being filled with the Holy Spirit (Eph 5:18).
and: Grk. kai. began speaking: Grk. laleō, impf. See verse 1 above. The imperfect tense normally denotes continuous action in past time, but here is an example of the inceptive imperfect (DM 190), which signifies the beginning of the action. The action only occurred as a consequence of being filled with the Holy Spirit. Thus, some versions acknowledge this point of beginning the action (AMP, CSB, LEB, NASB, NET, TLV). the word: Grk. logos. See verse 4 above. of God: See verse 10 above. with: Grk. meta, prep. boldness: Grk. parrēsia. See verse 13 above. Being empowered with boldness was the sure sign of being filled with the Holy Spirit. There was no repetition of speaking in other languages as on Pentecost. Luke's summary reflects an immediate answer to Peter's prayer and a validation that he had prayed in the will of God.
Power in Sharing, 4:32-37
32 Now the multitude of those having trusted were of one heart and soul; and not one thing of which he possessed was he saying to be his own, but all things were to them in common.
Now: Grk. de, conj. the multitude: Grk. plēthos, a relatively large number of persons, multitude, crowd. of those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having trusted: Grk. pisteuō, aor. part. See verse 4 above. were: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 3 above. of one: Grk. heis, the numeral one, but used here figuratively of unity. heart: Grk. kardia, the pumplike organ of blood circulation, used fig. of selfhood or the combination of character, emotion, intelligence and the will. In the LXX kardia renders Heb. lebab (SH-3824), inner man, mind, heart, will (DNTT 2:181).
and: Grk. kai, conj. soul: Grk. psuchē, may mean (1) a quality without which a body is physically dead; life; (2) that which possesses vital being; person; or (3) that which is integral to being a person beyond mere physical function; life (inner) self, soul. In the LXX psuchē renders Heb. nephesh (SH-53-15), which represents the inner self and the seat of desires, passions, appetites, and emotion. and: Grk. kai. not: Grk. oude, conj. which introduces a statement that is negated factually and deductively; neither, nor, not even (HELPS). Here oude supports the affirmation that follows. one: Grk. heis. thing: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun; a certain one or thing.
of which: pl. of Grk. ho. he possessed: Grk. huparchō, pres. part., may mean (1) be present in a functional manner; or (2) function or be in a state as determined by circumstance. The first meaning applies here, used here of assets at one's disposal. was he: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. saying: Grk. legō, impf. See verse 8 above. to be: Grk. eimi, pres. inf. his own: Grk. idios, adj. See verse 23 above. but: Grk. alla, conj. all things: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. were: Grk. eimi, impf. to them: pl. of Grk. autos. in common: Grk. koinos may mean (1) shared collectively; in common, shared; or (2) belonging to what is everyday; ordinary. The first meaning applies here.
Generosity characterized the Messianic community. The sharing was not something legislated by the apostles, but a spontaneous giving from an attitude of stewardship toward God and love of the brethren. The disciples understood that all they had came from God and belonged to God. Thus, when the Spirit moved on the hearts of disciples to take heed of needs in the community they were quick to respond.
33 And with great power the apostles continued giving testimony of the resurrection of the Lord Yeshua; also great grace was upon them all.
And: Grk. kai, conj. with great: Grk. megas, adj., exceeding a standard and therefore impressive; great, large. power: Grk. dunamis. See verse 7 above. the apostles: pl. of Grk. apostolos was used in Greek and Roman culture for a delegate, ambassador, envoy, messenger, emissary or official representative. Apostolos occurs one time in the LXX where it translates shaluach, Qal pass. part. of the verb shalach (SH-7971), "sent," in 1Kings 14:6 of Ahijah the prophet. Josephus also uses apostolos one time of a group of Jewish ambassadors sent to Rome to complain about the appointment of Archelaus (Ant. XVII, 11:1). Apostolos appears in no other early Jewish literature. First century Judaism institutionalized the office of shaliach, who acted as an official messenger or a proxy for and with the full authority of the sender.
Jastrow defines the title as messenger, agent or deputy (1579). The Mishnah says, "the agent [Heb. shaliach] is as the one who sends him" (Ber. 5:5). The shaliach’s mission was "limited in scope and duration by definite commission and terminating on its completion" (DNTT 1:128). In the Besekh the term "apostle" is specifically applied to the original Twelve (Matt 10:2), then Mattathias (Acts 1:25-26), Paul (Acts 14:14), Barnabas (Acts 14:14), Jacob (the brother of Yeshua, Gal 1:19), and Andronicus and Junia (Rom 16:7). The apostles of Yeshua were so named because they had "seen the Lord," either during his earthly ministry or after his resurrection (John 20:25; Acts 9:27; 1Cor 9:1; 15:5-9; 1Jn 1:1).
Messianic Jewish versions avoid using the English "apostle," because of its association with Christianity. However, the men Yeshua appointed clearly chose this Greek word to identify themselves and elevated its meaning at the same time. An apostle of the King of Israel is no minor office, but an agent fully empowered to act on his behalf. All the apostles named in Acts were Jewish. The apostles had the authority to proclaim the good news, determine orthodox doctrine, impose requirements based on application of Torah ("bind and loose," Matt 16:19; 18:18), and shepherd the congregations they founded (cf. 1Cor 14:37).
continued giving: Grk. apodidōmi (from apo, "from" and didōmi, "give"), impf., with the basic idea of reciprocity the verb may mean (1) give back, return, or restore; or (2) give or render as due. The second meaning applies here. The apostles continued what they had been doing. testimony: Grk. marturion, that which serves to corroborate or attest, a testimony or witness. In the LXX marturion renders four Hebrew words: (1) Heb. edah (SH-5713), testimony or witness, first in Genesis 21:30 of Abraham's testimony of lambs given to Abimelech. (2) Heb. ed (SH-5707), witness, first in Genesis 31:44 of a stone pillar Jacob erected to witness to a covenant he made with Laban.
(3) Heb. eduth (SH-5715), testimony, first in Exodus 16:34; in reference to the jar of manna to be preserved in the ark of the covenant as a continual reminder of God's provision (cf. Ex 25:16). The ark also contained the two tablets of stone engraved by the finger of God and Aaron's rod that blossomed (Heb 9:4), and thus it could be called the "ark of testimony" (Ex 25:22). Marturion is also inserted without Hebrew equivalent in various passages to describe the ark, first in Exodus 25:10. (4) Heb. moed (SH-4150), appointed time, place, or meeting, used frequently in conjunction with Heb. ohel (Grk. skēnē, tent). The tent was called the "tent of testimony" (Num 9:15), since it contained the "ark of testimonies."
of the resurrection: Grk. anastasis may mean either (1) rise, which may be bringing to a higher position in a physical sense or a higher status in a relational sense; or (2) resurrection from the condition of being dead (BAG). Anastasis is the principal Greek word in the Besekh for resurrection, with references divided between the resurrection of Yeshua and the resurrection at the end of the age. In the LXX anastasis occurs only three times: (1) in Psalm 66:1, the psalm title, "a psalm of rising up," without Heb. equivalent; (2) in Lamentations 3:63, for Heb. qimah, rising up (derived from qum), where it contrasts with sitting; and (3) in Zephaniah 3:8 for Heb. qum, to arise, stand up, stand, BDB 877), which could be a Messianic prophecy of Yeshua's resurrection.
of the Lord: See verse 26 above. Yeshua: See verse 2 above. Luke affirms again as declared consistently in the Besekh that Yeshua was resurrected; he did not raise himself (Acts 2:32; 3:15, 26; 4:10; 5:30; 10:40; 13:30, 33, 37; 26:8; Rom 4:24-25; 7:4; 8:11; 10:9; 1Cor 6:14; 15:15; 2Cor 4:14; 5:15; Gal 1:1; Eph 1:20; Col 2:12; 1Th 1:10; 2Tim 2:8). The resurrection of Yeshua functions as a testimony in the same sense as the Hebrew words for testimony. The resurrection, as a divine miracle on the same order as the testimonies maintained in the ark of the covenant, was a dramatic witness of God enacting the New Covenant. Yeshua's resurrection offers the assurance of resurrection to his followers who have a "tent [of testimony] not made with hands" preserved in heaven (2Cor 5:21).
also: Grk. te, conj. great: Grk. megas. grace: Grk. charis, disposition marked by inclination to generosity, frequently unmotivated by the worth of the recipient; thus, grace, gracefulness, graciousness, favor, thanks or gratitude. In the LXX charis occurs about 190 times in the derivative form of charin of which only about 75 have a Hebrew equivalent, of which 61 are for Heb. hēn (SH-2580), favor, first in Genesis 6:8 in regards to Noah receiving the favor of God, and the others for Heb. racham (SH-7356), compassion, mercy, first in Genesis 43:14 (DNTT 2:116). was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 3 above. upon: Grk. epi, prep. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 10 above.
Blum regards the sharing of possessions to meet the needs of others as demonstrative of the kind of power Yeshua had in mind when he said, "all will know that you are my disciples, if you should have love among one another" John 13:35 mine). So, too, Stern interprets the mention of "great grace" as referring to being held in high regard by the non-believing Jews, as at 2:47. Yet, we should note that Luke does not repeat the description of 2:47. The great grace or favor more likely had its origin in God rather than the public. God's favor motivated the disciples to have favor for one another, manifested by generosity.
34 For there was not even anyone in need among them, for as many as were owners of fields or houses were selling, bringing the proceeds of the things being sold
For: Grk. gar, conj. there was: Grk. eimi, impf. See verse 3 above. not even: Grk. oude, adv. of negation. anyone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. in need: Grk. endeēs, adj., to be needy, destitute, poor. This word occurs only here in the Besekh. among: Grk. en, prep. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. for: Grk. gar. as many as: Grk. hosos, correlative pronoun denoting a temporal equation, here signifying maximum inclusion; as many as, all who. were: Grk. huparchō, impf. See verse 32 above. owners: pl. of Grk. ktētōr, a possessor, owner. This word occurs only here in the Besekh. of fields: pl. of Grk. chōrion (the diminutive of chōra, "a field"), a limited parcel, a part of a larger area; a confined piece of ground; a definite portion of space that is viewed as enclosed, or complete in itself (HELPS). or: Grk. ē, conj.
houses: pl. of Grk. oikia (from oikeō, engage in housing), may mean (1) a habitable structure; house, abode, private residence (Matt 2:11; John 11:31); (2) fig. of a group within a house; household or family (Matt 10:13; John 4:53); (3) fig. of goods, property or means (Matt 23:13). Lexicons and Bible versions assume the first meaning is intended here, but the third meaning should not be excluded. were selling: Grk. pōleō, pres. part., to sell, exchange or barter. The present tense is used here to indicate a past event with vividness. There is no suggestion that people were making themselves homeless, so the sale of houses probably does not refer to a primary residence. The description this verse depicts the wealthy in the congregation of Messiah reducing their abundance for the sake of the needy in the congregation.
bringing: Grk. pherō, impf., may mean (1) to move an entity from one position to another by physical transport or guidance; or (2) direct something that is of a cognitive nature. The first meaning applies here. the proceeds: pl. of Grk. timē, high level of respect for special merit or quality; honor, esteem, but used here in the commercial sense of money for which something is bought or sold; price. of the things: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. being sold: Grk. pipraskō (from pernēmi, to export for sale), pres. mid. part., to sell. As in the post-Pentecost generosity (see 2:44–45) the sharing continued. There is no suggestion that property was sold for profit, but rather the owners simply sought a fair market value, which is what a willing seller will pay a willing buyer. These sales marked a true sacrificial spirit.
35 and laying them at the feet of the apostles; and distributing to each as anyone might be having need.
and: Grk. kai, conj. laying: Grk. tithēmi, impf. See verse 3 above. them at: Grk. para, prep., with the root meaning of beside (DM 108), conveys association between persons, things, or circumstances, which may denote (1) a point of origin, from; or (2) a close association or proximity; at, near, with, beside, in the presence of. The second usage applies here. the feet: pl. of Grk. pous, the body part that is used for walking or running; the foot. of the apostles: pl. of Grk. apostolos. See verse 33 above. The "feet of the apostles" is idiomatic of submission to apostolic authority. The people had complete confidence in the stewardship of the apostles to manage the resources for the good of the community. The fact that there were twelve apostles does not mean they were all staying in the same location, although the funds may have been collected in one place.
and: Grk. de, conj. distributing: Grk. diadidōmi, impf., to divide among several, distribute. to each: Grk. hekastos, adj. in reference to an individual person or thing; each, every, every one. as: Grk. kathoti, adv., insofar as, according to. anyone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. might: Grk. an, a disjunctive particle that nuances a verb with contingency or generalization; would, ever, might, in that case, anyhow. The use of the particle indicates what could occur under certain conditions, and the context determines the limits of those conditions (HELPS). The particle is often not translated. be having: Grk. echō, impf. See verse 14 above. need: Grk. chreia, state or experience of necessity, need. The apostles likely imitated the practice of the synagogues which kept a charity box into which people make contributions.
Three men in the synagogue known as almoners or parnasin distributed alms to the poor. These men were also known as gabbay tzedakah, and it may be that the position of deacon (1Tim 3:8) originated from this function (Moseley 10). The criteria to determine who qualified to receive charity was likely well known and Luke saw no need to explain it.
36 Now Joseph, the one having been called Barnabas by the apostles, which is translated, "son of exhortation," a Levite, a Cypriot by birth,
Now: Grk. de, conj. Joseph: Grk. Iōsēph (pronounced "yoh-safe"), a transliteration of Heb. Yosef, which is explained in Genesis 30:24 as meaning "he adds, increases." the one: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. having been called: Grk. kaleō, aor. pass. part. See verse 18 above. Barnabas: Grk. Barnabas, a transliteration of Heb. Bar (רבּ)-Naba (נָבָא)(Thayer). Barnabas would have been well-known to Luke before this time since church fathers included Barnabas as one of the seventy Yeshua sent out in Luke 10:1. (See Hippolytus, 170-235, On the Seventy Apostles.) by: Grk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of separation, but here denoting agency. the apostles: pl. of Grk. apostolos. See verse 33 above.
The name Joseph appears in the Besekh for nine different men (including the surrogate father of Yeshua and his half-brother), so it is not surprising that this Joseph was given another name to distinguish him from the rest. which: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. is: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 3 above. translated: Grk. methermēneuō, pres. mid. part., to translate, or render a term from one language into another. The verb emphasizes that the book was written for a primarily Jewish audience, so Luke translates a familiar Jewish word for Gentiles who may not have understood it. The verb occurs not at all in the LXX, but does occur in the prologue (30) to Sirach and in Josephus (Ant. VIII, 5:3) (DNTT 1:580).
son: Grk. huios, a male offspring or descendant, whether by direct birth or by more remote ancestry. In the LXX huios renders Heb. ben ("son," "son of"), which is used in three distinctive ways: (1) to identify direct paternity (Gen 5). (2) to mean a more distant ancestor (Gen 32:32; Matt 1:1); or (3) to mean in a broader sense of having the characteristics of (Ps 89:22; Dan 3:25; cf. 2Th 2:3). The third meaning applies here. In reference to the name huios translates bar, which scholars generally identify as Aramaic.
Yet, in Jewish correspondence of the time there are examples of the Aramaic bar being used in Hebrew letters and, likewise, the Hebrew ben being used in Aramaic letters, and both of these occasionally appear in Greek (Hamp 19). However, scholars ignore the fact that bar was a Hebrew word for "son" (SH-1248), and occurs four times in the Tanakh (Ps 2:12; Prov 31:2 [3t]). While bar may have originated from Aramaic its early assimilation into Israelite culture made the word Hebrew, just as English has absorbed many words from other languages.
of exhortation: Grk. paraklēsis may mean (1) emboldening for facing or carrying out a responsibility or task, exhortation or encouragement; or (2) heartening in a time of trouble through word or demeanor; consolation or comfort. The first meaning applies here. The Greek term translates Heb. naba (SH-5030), spokesman, speaker, prophet (first in Gen 20:7), which Stern translates as "exhorter." From a Jewish point of view a prophet is one who counsels, comforts, exhorts and encourages (cf. 1Cor 14:3). Apparently Joseph was always encouraging and exhorting his fellow disciples, so the apostles gave him this nickname. Barnabas becomes an important figure in chapters 9–15, and Luke will identify him as a prophet (Acts 13:1).
a Levite: Grk. Leuitēs, a Levite, a descendant of Levi (Heb. Levi, "lay-vee," "joined"), the third son of Jacob and Leah (Gen 29:34) and original ancestor of Israel's priests. He is characterized in Scripture as passionate for justice who avenged the rape of his sister, Dinah, by annihilating the male population of an entire city (Gen 34:25-31). Later, Jacob spoke harshly of Levi rather than blessing him (Gen 49:5-7). After the exodus from the Egypt the tribe of Levi was consecrated to the service of God. The selection for service was because it was the only tribe that stood with Moses against the people who worshiped the golden calf (Ex 32:25-29; Deut 10:6-9). The tribe of Levi included at least three separate families: Gershon, Kohath and Merari (Ex 6:16).
Known simply as "Levites" these three families were in charge of taking the tabernacle down, transporting it, setting it up and conducting worship at the tent during the years of the wilderness journey (Num 1:47-54; 3:14-39). The family of Aaron, who descended from Kohath, was given the exclusive privilege of offering sacrifices in the tabernacle (Ex 28:1; Lev 8–10). Those who carried out the sacrificial system were known as "priests." The Levites assisted the priests in their responsibilities (Num 3:5-9; 16:9) by preparing grain offerings and the show bread, purifying all the holy vessels, singing praises to ADONAI at the daily offerings, assisting with burnt offerings on sabbaths and feast days, and being in charge of the Temple precinct and the chambers of the priests (1Chr 6:31-48; 23:1-13, 24-32; 25:1-6; 2Chr 29:12-19).
During David's reign, the Levites were integrated into the administration of the government, including the keeping of the gates, judges, craftsmen, musicians, and overseers of the royal treasury (1Chr 9:22-28; 23‒26). Later the Levites were involved with teaching the people the word of God (2Chr 17:7-9). This responsibility probably continued into the postexilic period of Ezra (Neh 8:9-12). In the time of Yeshua the Levites numbered about 10,000 (Jeremias 208), and like the priests were divided into 24 courses (Ant. VII, 14:7; Ta'anit 4:1; 27b). The Levites served as priestly assistants, doorkeepers, singers, musicians, cleaners, festival organizers and guards. Their life was one of humble service.
a Cypriot: Grk. kuprios, one belonging to the country of Cyprus. by birth: Grk. genos, native of a people group identified with a geographical location by virtue of birth. Cyprus is an island of the Mediterranean Sea and lies 44 miles off the southern coast of Turkey and 65 miles from the western shore of Syria. Cyprus is 138 miles long east to west and 60 miles wide from north to south; it is eclipsed in size only by Sicily and Sardinia. In the Tanakh identified as Kittim (Heb. Chittim, Isa 23:1; Jer 2:10). In 22 BC Cyprus became a senatorial province of Rome with a proconsul in charge at the capital city of Paphos (NIBD 271). There was a significant Jewish population on Cyprus (Acts 11:19) due to the widespread dispersion of Jews from Babylon (Tarn & Griffith 219). There were at least three synagogues established on the island during the Roman period (JVL).
37 having sold a field belonging to him, brought the money and laid it at the feet of the apostles.
having sold: Grk. pōleō, aor. part. See verse 34 above. a field: Grk. agros, a country area or open space used mainly for agriculture; field. Outside this mention in Acts the word agros occurs only in the Synoptic Narratives. belonging: Grk. huparchō, pres. part. See verse 32 above. to him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. brought: Grk. pherō, aor. See verse 34 above. the money: Grk. chrēma, that which is a resource for well-being, here referring to money. and: Grk. kai, conj. laid it: Grk. tithēmi, aor. See verse 3 above. at: Grk. pros, prep. the feet of the apostles: See verse 35 above for this idiomatic phrase.
The fact that Barnabas had a field that he had the right to sell is striking. Originally the tribe of Levi received no inheritance of the land when it was divided among the tribes, because God was their inheritance (Num 18:20; Deut 12:12). Instead they were placed in 48 Levitical cities, and six cities of refuge, throughout the land with contiguous pastures for their flocks (Num 35:1-8; Josh 13:14, 33). The Levites depended on the tithe of the rest of the nation to provide for their needs (Num 18:24-32). Also, families were encouraged to invite the Levites to join them in their eating of festival meals (Deut 12:12, 18; 16:11, 14).
Whether the field was in Cyprus, or in Judea, is not certain; nor how he came by it. He may have bought it (as Jeremiah did, Jer 32:9) or it was his wife's dowry. The Levites themselves had nothing by inheritance and the fields given to the Levites outside their cities were never to be sold (Lev 25:34). As Gill notes Levites could sell and redeem their own property (Arachin 7:5; 9:10). So that whether this land of Barnabas was in Judea, which seems most likely, it might be sold, and much more so, if in Cyprus. The act of selling the property signified his commitment as a Levite to depend wholly on the Lord for his needs.
Textual Note: The choice of including the anecdote about Barnabas in Chapter Four, rather than using it to begin Chapter Five is arbitrary. Chapter divisions were not in the original MSS but introduced by Stephen Langton in 1227. Verse divisions were inserted by Robert Estienne in the 1551 edition of his Greek text. While the anecdote appropriately introduces Barnabas as a prelude to his later ministry, the purpose of his story seems intended to contrast with the anecdote of Ananias and Sapphira that follows.
Ant.: Flavius Josephus (c. 37–100 A.D.), Antiquities of the Jews (Latin Antiquitates Judaicae). trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
BAG: Walter Bauer, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. trans. W.F. Arndt & F.W. Gingrich. The University of Chicago Press, 1957.
BDB: The New Brown, Driver, Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford University Press, 1907. Reprinted by Associated Publishers and Authors, Inc., 1981.
Bruce: F.F. Bruce, The Book of Acts. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1954.
Danker: Frederick William Danker, The Concise Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. The University of Chicago Press, 2009.
DM: H.E. Dana & Julius R. Mantey, A Manual Grammar of the Greek New Testament. The Macmillan Co., 1955.
DNTT: Colin Brown, ed., Dictionary of New Testament Theology, 3 Vols. Zondervan Pub. House, 1975.
Flusser: David Flusser, The Sage from Galilee: Rediscovering Jesus' Genius. 4th ed. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 2007.
Gilbert: Gary Gilbert, Annotations on "The Acts of the Apostles," Jewish Annotated New Testament, eds. Amy-Jill Levine and Marc Brettler. Oxford University Press, 2011.
Gill: John Gill (1697-1771), Exposition of the Entire Bible. Online.
GNT: The Greek New Testament, eds. Kurt Aland, Matthew Black, Bruce M. Metzger, & Allen Wiegren. American Bible Society, 1966. [NA25]
Hamp: Douglas Hamp, Discovering the Language of Jesus: Hebrew or Aramaic? CreateSpace, 2005.
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
Jastrow: Marcus Jastrow, Dictionary of Targumim, Talmud and Midrashic Literature. G.P. Putnam's Sons, 1903, 1926. Online.
Jeremias: Joichim Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Fortress Press, 1975.
JVL: Jewish Virtual Library. American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise, 2014.
Kaiser: Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. The Messiah in the Old Testament. Zondervan Pub. House, 1995.
Lane: William L. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1974. [New International Commentary on the New Testament]
Lightfoot: John Lightfoot (1602-1675), "Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations upon the Acts of the Apostles," (Vol. 4), A Commentary on the New Testament from the Talmud and Hebraica (1859 ed.), 4 Vols. Hendrickson Pub., 1989. Online.
Longenecker: Richard N. Longenecker, Acts. Expositor's Bible Commentary, Vol. 9. Software version 2.6. Zondervan Corp., 1989-1999.
LSJ: Henry George Liddell (1811-1898) and Robert Scott (1811-1887), A Greek-English Lexicon. rev. ed. Sir Henry Stuart Jones. Clarendon Press, 1940. Online.
Metzger: Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. 2nd ed. United Bible Societies, 1994.
Moseley: Ron Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Jesus and the Original Church. Lederer Books, 1996.
Mounce: William D. Mounce, Mounce Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. 2011. Online.
Neil: James Neil, Palestine Explored. James Nisbet & Co., 1882.
NIBD: Nelson's Illustrated Dictionary of the Bible. Herbert Lockyer, ed. Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1986.
NJPS: New Jewish Publication Society of America Version of the Tanakh (1985). Online.
Rashi: Rabbi Shlomo Yitzhaqi (1040-1105), Commentary on the Tanakh. Online.
Skarsaune: Oskar Skarsaune, In the Shadow of the Temple: Jewish Influences on Early Christianity. InterVarsity Press, 2002.
Stern: David Stern, Jewish New Testament Commentary, Jewish New Testament Publications, 1996.
Tarn & Griffith: Sir William Tarn & G.T. Griffith, Hellenistic Civilization. 3rd Edition. Edward Arnold Publishers, Ltd., 1952.
TDSS: The Dead Sea Scrolls: A New Translation. Rev. ed. Trans. Michael Wise, Martin Abegg Jr. and Edward Cook. HarperOne, 2005.
Thayer: Joseph Henry Thayer, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Harper Brothers, 1889.
Wars: Flavius Josephus (c. 37–100 A.D.), Wars of the Jews (Latin De Bello Judaico). trans. William Whiston (1737). Online.
Wright: N.T. Wright, Acts for Everyone, Part One: Chapters 1-12 (The New Testament for Everyone). Westminster John Knox Press, 2008.
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