Blaine Robison, M.A.
Published 19 November 2017; Revised 5 May 2018
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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. Quotations marked with the initials "BR" indicate the translation of the commentary author.
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 DSS Bible and DSS Docs. 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. Online.
● 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.
● MT: The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Tanakh for Rabbinic Judaism. Work on developing a uniform Hebrew Bible began in the 2nd century under Rabbi Akiva, but completed by Jewish scholars known as the Masoretes between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D. The oldest extant manuscripts date from around the 9th century. Online.
● Targums: The targums are early Aramaic translations of the Hebrew text with commentary: Targum Jerusalem (1st c. AD), Targum Neofiti (1st c. AD), Targum Onkelos (c. 35–120 AD) and Targum Jonathan (2nd c. AD). See an index of targum texts here.
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 and pronunciation of Greek words. 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).
Ananias and Sapphira, 5:1-11
Signs and Wonders, 5:12-16
Imprisonment and Miraculous Release, 5:17-26
Hearing before the Council, 5:27-33
Advice of Gamaliel, 5:34-39
Verdict and Continued Ministry, 5:40-42
Ananias and Sapphira, 5:1-11
1 Now a certain man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a property,
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. The conjunction forms a bridge from the narrative of 4:32-37 concerning sharing for the sake of the needy and in particular the generosity of Barnabas, which serves as a marked contrast to the following account. a certain: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun; a certain one or thing. man: 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).
named: 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. Ananias: Grk. Ananias for Heb. Chananyah. All that is known of this Ananias is in this chapter. with: Grk. sún, prep. used to denote association or connection, in this case the latter. his: 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. wife: Grk. gunē, an adult female person, without respect to age, marital or social status except as defined in the context. In the LXX gunē renders the Heb. ishshah ("woman, wife").
Sapphira: Grk. Sapphirē. This is the only woman named "Sapphira" in the Bible. All that is known of her is in this chapter. sold: Grk. pōleō, aor., to sell, exchange or barter. a property: Grk. ktēma, something that is acquired for personal ownership; property or possession. The term may refer here to a piece of real estate. Like other members of the congregation Ananias and Sapphira had been blessed with possessions and decided to sell a particular parcel of land.
2 and kept back from the price, also the wife having knowledge, and having brought a certain portion, he laid it at the feet of the apostles.
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.
kept back: Grk. nosphizō, aor. mid., may mean (1) hold or keep back; or (2) pilfer. The first meaning applies here. from: Grk. apo, prep. used generally as a marker of separation, but here denoting direction. the price: 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. also: Grk. kai. the wife: Grk. gunē. See the previous verse. having knowledge: Grk. suneidon, perf. part., (2nd aor. of sunoraō, having a full insightful grasp). Mounce defines the verb as "to share in the knowledge of a thing; to be privy to." The perfect tense carries a present meaning.
and: Grk. kai. having brought: Grk. pherō, aor. part., 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. a certain: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun; a certain one or thing. portion: Grk. meros, a piece or segment of a whole. he laid it: Grk. tithēmi, aor., to arrange for association with a site; place, put, set out, serve, lay down. 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 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 with the full authority of the sender. As 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).
The phrase "laid it at the feet of the apostles" occurs only in Acts (also 4:35, 37). The physical act was intended to show submission to apostolic authority and confidence in the stewardship of the apostles to manage the resources for the good of the community. Ananias imitated the actions of disciples in Chapter Four, notably Barnabas. However, in this case full submission was feigned. Gill suggests that for Ananias the physical act was intended to make a show of charity.
3 But Peter said, "Ananias, for what reason did Satan fill your heart for you to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back from the price of the land?
But: Grk. de, conj. 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. 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.
Ananias: See verse 1 above. for what: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun indicating interest in establishing something definite; who, which, what, why. reason: 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. The Greek construct dia tís would lit. be "because of why," but almost all versions reduce the construct to "why." did Satan: Grk. Satanas, adversary, here of the chief enemy of God and all who belong to God. Satanas may be a name, but functions more as a descriptive title of his function as heavenly prosecutor. In both the Besekh and the LXX satanas transliterates the Heb. satan (pronounced "sah-tahn"), which means accuser or adversary (BDB 966).
Satan appears a number of times in the Tanakh (Num 22:22, 32; 1Sam 29:4; 1Chr 21:1; Job 2:1; Zech 3:1). He is a created being and not equal to God in power or knowledge. The taunt against the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14:11-15 and the lament for the king of Tyre in Ezekiel 28:11-19 depict the original perfection and downfall of the leading cherub. Exactly when this evil character was created or became evil is not disclosed in Scripture. The heavenly beings were most likely created on the second day (cf. Job 38:4-7). In contrast to the common depiction of angels the cherubim (Heb. kerubim, Ex 25:20) and seraphim (Heb. saraphim, Isa 6:2) are the only heavenly beings described as having wings. All the other heavenly messengers, translated as "angels," appeared as ordinary men.
Of importance is that the Adversary is not an ordinary angel, but a cherub (Ezek 28:16), and is sometimes contrasted with angels (Zech 3:1; John 13:27; 2Cor 11:14; Rev 12:9). In the Tanakh the Adversary is most frequently mentioned in the story of Job in which the prince of cherubs is an adversary of man. There is no question that the serpent in Genesis 3 who tempts the first couple is this person (Rev 12:9). Why the good and loving God permits the existence of this liar and murderer (John 8:44) is also not explained. In the Besekh satanas is never used to describe a human. In the apostolic narratives Satan is depicted as an opponent of Yeshua and the good news (Mark 4:15), as a tempter (Mark 1:13) and as the head of a demonic empire (Mark 3:23-26). In contrast with the "God of peace" Satan’s character and life goals are summed up in John 10:10, "The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy."
fill: Grk. plēroō, aor., may mean (1) cause to abound in content to a maximum, fill; or (2) to bring to fruition or completion, complete, fulfill, fill up, carry out. The first meaning has application here. your: Grk. su, sing. pronoun of the second person. 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). for you: Grk. su. to lie: Grk. pseudomai, aor. mid. inf., state what is false, to willfully misrepresent the facts. The source of the lie of Ananias is attributed to Satan, who himself is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44).
to 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). and: Grk. kai, conj. to keep back: Grk. nosphizō, aor. mid. inf. See the previous verse. from: Grk. apo, prep. the price: Grk. timē. See the previous verse. of the land: 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).
Peter does not blame Satan for the deceit of Ananias. The temptation came from Satan, but Peter emphasizes that Ananias made a choice. "Lying to the Holy Spirit" represents rejection of conviction from the Holy Spirit of the wicked plan. The lie Ananias spoke to the Spirit was probably something like, "I'm free to do what I want with my property and it's none of the apostles' business the price I received. All that matters is what I give to charity. There is nothing wrong with me keeping part for myself." Ananias had not only lied to the Spirit, but also to the apostles. His error lay in claiming that the donation was the full sum of the sale price. If he had been honest on that point there would not likely have been adverse consequences.
Peter does not muse about why God permitted Satan such liberty, but he might have remembered his own failing as a result of Satan's temptation (Luke 22:31, 55-62). Peter's comment implies that Ananias was among the multitude who had received the Holy Spirit (2:32-42; 4:32), which makes his guilt much greater than Peter when he denied Yeshua.
4 While remaining, was it not remaining to you? And having been sold, was it not within your authority? Why is it that you put this matter in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God."
While remaining: Grk. menō, impf., to be in a situation for a length of time, to remain or stay. In the LXX menō translates 15 different Hebrew words, the most common being amad ('stand, remain') and qum (stand, arise). The verb stresses constancy (DNTT 3:224). was it not: Grk. ouchi, interrogative particle indicating an emphatic negation. The particle actually begins the verse to introduce the question. remaining: Grk. menō, pres. part. to you: Grk. su, sing. pronoun of the second person. Some versions give the sense of the question as pointing out that while the property was unsold it belonged to Ananias.
And: Grk. kai, conj. having been sold: Grk. pipraskō (from pernēmi, to export for sale), aor. pass. part., to transfer goods to or render services for another in exchange for money; sell. was it not: Grk. huparchō, impf., 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. within: Grk. en, prep. generally used to mark position, lit. "in" or "within." your: Grk. sos, the emphatic form of the 2nd person personal pronoun (su), meaning "your very own" (HELPS). authority: Grk. exousia, the right to speak or act in a situation without looking or waiting for approval; authority, right, jurisdiction. BAG, Mounce and Thayer identify a second meaning as ability to do something, capability, might, power, which proceeds from having authority.
Why: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See the previous verse. is it 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 translatable through modern use of punctuation marks; or (4) indicating causality with an inferential aspect; for, because, inasmuch as. The third usage applies here. you put: Grk. tithēmi, aor. mid. See verse 3 above. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun signifying a person or thing set forth in narrative that precedes or follows it; this. matter: Grk. pragma, something that involves or presumes action by a responsible party, deed, matter or thing.
In the LXX pragma occurs 125 times (DNTT 3:1155) and is used to render Heb. dabar (SH-1697), which has a similar range of meaning, first in Genesis 19:22. in: Grk. en, prep. your: Grk. su. heart: Grk. kardia. See the previous verse. You have not: Grk. ou, adv., a particle used in an unqualified denial or negation. lied: Grk. pseudomai, aor. mid. See the previous verse. to men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos, human being or man, here used of adult males, probably implying the apostles. 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).
but: Grk. alla, conj., adversative particle used adverbially to convey a different viewpoint for consideration; but, on the other hand. to 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.
Peter's questions may be more rhetorical than fact-checking, as they place the full responsibility for the choice squarely on Ananias. Peter's follow-up declaration emphasizes that premeditation was involved in the decision to lie to the Holy Spirit and to embezzle God, which increased the guilt of Ananias.
5 Now hearing these words, Ananias, having fallen, breathed his last. And great fear came upon all the ones hearing it.
Now: Grk. de, conj. hearing: Grk. akouō, pres. 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 second 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). these: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. words: pl. of 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; BDB 182), which has a similar range of meaning, whether of men or God, first in Genesis 29:13 (DNTT 3:1087).
Ananias: See verse 1 above. having fallen: Grk. piptō, aor. part., to drop from a relatively high position to a lower position. breathed his last: Grk. ekpsuchō, aor., to expire, to breathe out one's life (Thayer). Mounce adds "give up one's spirit." Danker has simply "died" which is followed by many versions. There are several verbs that mean to "die" and this verb occurs only three times in the Besekh (also Acts 5:10 and 12:23). This verb emphasizes the suddenness of death. And: Grk. kai, conj. great: Grk. megas, adj., exceeding a standard and therefore impressive; abundant, great, large, in the widest sense. fear: Grk. phobos may mean (1) the feeling of need to escape from or avoid a threat; fear; (2) feeling of respect; reverence, awe; or (3) the process of causing in someone a feeling of need to escape from a situation; intimidation. The second meaning applies here.
came: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid., 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. upon: Grk. epi, prep., used primarily as a marker of position with the root meaning of "upon," and here emphasizes motion or direction; on, upon, over. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj., comprehensive in scope, but without statistical emphasis; all, every. the ones: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. hearing it: Grk. akouō, pres. part. The verb likely refers to hearing the rush of air leaving the body of Ananias.
Luke's report emphasizes that the life of a person is in his breath, a gift of God (Gen 2:7; Job 7:16; 27:3; Ps 39:5). Everyone is one breath away from death and after that comes judgment (Heb 9:27). The others in the room hearing Peter's words are not identified, but they may have been fellow apostles and other congregational members involved in oversight of the charity ministry. The description of the "fear of God" coming upon people anticipates the declaration of verse 11. It's not likely anyone expected Ananias to die. The normal course would be a pronouncement of discipline after a confession from Ananias (cf. Matt 18:15-17). This narrative may present a conundrum for persons whose primary view of God is a God of love. "God doesn't do bad things to people."
A naturalistic interpretation of this report is that Ananias may have had a weak heart and the revelation of his wrongdoing brought on shock that led to heart failure. After all, there is no statement of God taking the life of Ananias. However, the rest of the narrative indicates that Peter and the congregation viewed the death of Ananias as a divine judgment. The question remains, why did God not allow time for confession and repentance? Could it be that God knew the spiritual condition of Ananias, that he had been thoroughly compromised by Satan, much as Judas Iscariot? There is also the added possibility of lying to the Spirit (verse 3 above) being a form of blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, for which forgiveness is not available (Mark 3:29; Luke 12:10).
While Scripture presents God as a person of love, He is also equally depicted as the God of justice and judgment. The holy God cannot abide sin. The sin of Ananias was a capital crime against God and the Body of Messiah, and so it must be punished. Stern comments that "Sometimes the punishment for sin is delayed, but in this instance the immediacy of the judgment showed everyone that God is real and means business." Paul reminds us that "It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Heb 10:31 NASB).
6 And having arisen, the young men wrapped him. And having carried him out, they buried him.
And: Grk. de, conj. having arisen: Grk. anistēmi, aor. part., to rise, stand up or get up and in its ordinary use refers to the physical motion of transition from a sitting or recumbent position or simply standing. the younger men: pl. of Grk. neos, adj., new. Being used of persons here the masc. adj. has the meaning of "young men." The plural number indicates at least two, but possibly four as in the account of those who carried the paralytic to Yeshua (Mark 2:3). wrapped: Grk. sustellō, aor., gather up so as to be compact; wrap up. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun.
And: Grk. kai, conj. having carried him out: Grk. ekpherō, aor. part., cause to move or emerge from a position; bring or carry out. they buried him: Grk. thaptō, aor., to bury. In Greek culture the word referred to "honoring with funeral rites," whatever the manner of disposal of the dead, whether placing the remains under ground, in an above ground tomb or burning on a pyre. In the LXX thaptō refers principally to burial in a tomb. Placing corpses in caves or rock-sepulchers was universal Jewish practice during all time periods (Gen 23:19, 25:9, 35:8, 49:29; Deut 34:6; Josh 24:30; Jdg 8:32; 1Sam 25:1, and elsewhere) (DNTT 1:263-264).
In Jewish culture in which embalming was not a usual practice burial of a corpse normally took place the same day as death, but not later than the next day. The burning of the bodies of Saul and his sons was exceptional (1Sam 31:12). The burning of the body so that even the bones were consumed was considered a disgrace (Amos 2:1), and was inflicted as a punishment (Josh 7:25). Tacitus, the Roman historian noted that "They [the Jews] bury rather than burn their dead." (The Histories, Book V, 5). Unusual in this story is the lack of any mention of anointing the body for burial, the location of burial or informing the wife before burial.
7 Now it came to pass about three hours later, and his wife entered, not knowing what had happened.
Now: Grk. de, conj. it came to pass: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 5 above. about: Grk. hōs, adv. that connects narrative components and before numerals denotes an estimate; 'about,' 'close to,' or nearly.' three: Grk. treis, the cardinal number three. hours: pl. of Grk. hōra, may mean (1) a short space of time, the twelfth part of a day; hour; (2) fig. for a period of time in the day; "the hour was already late;" or (3) fig. for a point of time as occasion for action or for an event; time. The first usage applies here. later: Grk. diastēma, an interval of time, space or distance; afterwards, interval, later. The word occurs only here in the Besekh. and: Grk. kai, conj. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. wife: Grk. gunē. See verse 1 above.
entered: Grk. eiserchomai, aor., to go or enter into a geographical area, manufactured structure or other place defined in the context. not: Grk. mē, adv., a particle of qualified negation, subjective in nature, involving will and thought; not. knowing: Grk. eidō, perf. part. of oida, may mean (1) to see with physical eyes; or (2) to perceive or comprehend something. The verb is used for experiential knowledge. In the LXX oida occurs frequently to render Heb. yada (SH-3045), to know, (e.g., Gen 3:5; 4:1), which in most occasions refers to a personal knowledge, primarily by experience but also by learning (DNTT 2:395). what: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. had happened: Grk. ginomai, perf. part. Sapphira was unaware of her husband's death and burial.
8 And Peter replied to her, "Tell me if you sold the land for so much?" And she said, "Yes, for so much."
And: Grk. de, conj. Peter replied: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass., to answer or reply to someone, whether to a question, request, exhortation, command, etc. (BAG). In the LXX apokrinomai renders Heb. anah, to answer or respond to something said in conversation; to respond to an occasion and speak in view of circumstances or to testify or respond as a witness in a legal proceeding (BDB 772). Sapphira may have asked Peter whether he had seen her husband. to: Grk. pros, prep., lit. "near or facing" (DM 110), here denoting direction; to, towards, and depicts a face-to-face meeting. her: Grk. autē, fem. of autos, personal pronoun. Tell: Grk. legō, aor. mid. See verse 3 above. The verb is used here interrogatively. me: Grk. egō, pronoun of the first person.
if: Grk. ei, conj., a contingency marker used to introduce a circumstance assumed to be valid for the sake of argument. you sold: Grk. apodidōmi, aor. mid., 2p-pl. (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 in the sense of selling something for a price. the land: Grk. chōrion. See verse 2 above. for so much: Grk. tosoutos (from tosos, 'so much,' and houtos, 'this'), properly, so much in this (that) case (HELPS). And: Grk. de, conj. she said: Grk. legō, aor. Yes: Grk. nai, particle of assertion or confirmation; yes, certainly, even so. for so much: Grk. tosoutos. Peter sought to confirm the wife's knowledge of the sale arrangements and the amount sold versus the amount donated.
9 Then Peter said to her, "Why is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those having buried your husband are at the door, and you also they will carry out."
Then: Grk. de, conj. Peter said to: Grk. pros, prep. her: Grk. autē, fem. of autos, personal pronoun. Why: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. is it that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 4 above. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. have agreed together: Grk. sumphōneō, aor. pass., originally a harmony of voices. In the cognitive sphere the verb indicates a meeting of minds, to harmonize in the sense of agreement ; harmonize with, agree together. Ananias and Sapphira made a joint decision. to test: Grk. peirazō, aor. inf., may mean (1) make an effort to do something in the face of uncertainty about the outcome; try, attempt; or (2) make a trial of the quality or state of someone's character or claims as an inducement for producing some kind of action, whether positive or negative; tempt, test. The second meaning applies here.
the Spirit: Grk. Pneuma. See verse 3 above. of the Lord: 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, the great majority to translate Heb. words for God, principally the name YHVH (DNTT 2:511). Kurios is the principal title by which disciples and others addressed Yeshua during his earthly ministry. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Yeshua (Acts 16:7; 2Cor 3:17; Php 1:19), because He is sent from Yeshua in order to glorify Yeshua (John 15:26). While the mention of "Lord" intends Yeshua, Peter perhaps has YHVH in mind (cf. Luke 4:18). In any case, the point of the charge is that the couple not only lied to the Holy Spirit, but also to Yeshua their Savior.
Behold: Grk. idou, aor. imp., an interjection (from eidon, "to see"), that arouses the attention of hearers or readers. The Greek verb, like its corresponding Heb. word hinneh (SH-2009, e.g., Gen 1:29), calls to closer consideration of something, to introduce something new or to emphasize the importance of something; (you) see, look, behold (BAG). Peter directed Sapphira to change her line of sight. the feet: pl. of Grk. pous. See verse 2 above. In Hebrew thought parts of the body are often mentioned as representative of the whole person. of those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. having buried: Grk. thaptō, aor. part. See verse 6 above. your: Grk. autē. husband: Grk. anēr. See verse 1 above.
are at: Grk. epi, prep. the door: Grk. thura, a device for opening and closing an entranceway; door, gate. and: Grk. kai, conj. you: Grk. su, sing. pronoun of the second person. also they will carry out: Grk. ekpherō, fut., 3p-pl. See verse 6 above. Peter apparently judged the death of Ananias as divine judgment and since Sapphira was a co-conspirator, she deserved the same punishment.
10 And immediately she fell at his feet and breathed her last, moreover, the young men having entered found her dead, and having carried her out they buried her beside her husband.
And: Grk. de, conj. immediately: Grk. parachrēma, instantly, immediately. she fell: Grk. piptō, aor. See verse 5 above. at: Grk. pros, prep. his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. feet: pl. of Grk. pous. See verse 2 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. breathed her last: Grk. ekpsuchō, aor. See verse 5 above. moreover: Grk. de. the young men: pl. of Grk. neaniskos, a young man or youth. having entered: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. part. See verse 7 above. found: Grk. heuriskō, aor., to come upon by seeking; find, discover. her: Grk. autē, personal pronoun. dead: Grk. nekros, without life in the physical sense; dead. and: Grk. kai, conj. having carried her out: Grk. ekpherō, aor. part. See verse 6 above. they buried: Grk. thaptō, aor. See verse 6 above. her beside: Grk. pros. her: Grk. autē. husband: Grk. anēr. See verse 1 above. The burial place is not explained, but perhaps it was a family tomb.
11 And great fear came upon the whole congregation, and upon all those hearing these things.
And: Grk. kai, conj. great: Grk. megas, adj. See verse 5 above. fear: Grk. phobos. See verse 5 above. came: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 5 above. upon: Grk. epi, prep. the whole: Grk. holos, adj., signifier of a person or thing understood as a complete unit and not necessarily every individual part; all, whole, entire. congregation: Grk. ekklēsia, means assembly, gathering, meeting, or congregation. This is the first use of the term in Acts. In Christian Bibles ekklēsia is translated as "church." In Greek culture ekklēsia referred to a political body or a public meeting of citizens (Acts 19:32, 39, 41), but it primarily occurs in the Besekh for a religious body. In the LXX ekklēsia renders the Heb. qahal (DNTT 1:292-295), which means assembly, convocation, or congregation (BDB 874).
In the Tanakh qahal denotes the people of God in a corporate sense, often in the context of being gathered for worship or instruction (Deut 4:10; 31:30; Ps 35:18). The "whole congregation" refers to the 8000+ followers of Yeshua who made up the congregation in Jerusalem. and: Grk. kai. upon: Grk. epi. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 5 above. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. hearing: Grk. akouō, pres. part. See verse 5 above. these things: neut. pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun, these. The last clause alludes to persons not belonging to the congregation of Messiah. Even non-believers were strongly impacted by the reports of the deaths of a leading couple in the community.
Additional Note on Ekklēsia
The English translation of "church" was first introduced in the Wycliffe Bible (1395, "chirche"). The Tyndale Bible (1525), the Miles Coverdale Bible (1535) and the Bishop's Bible (1568) rendered ekklēsia as "congregation," but the Geneva Bible (1587) returned to the word "church" and from that time this has been the word used in Christian English Bibles. As the instructions of King James to the translators of the 1611 KJV show, the reason for using "church" was to maintain the ecclesiastical language of Christianity. The English word "church" comes from the Old English cirice, circe "church, public place of worship; Christians collectively," which itself devolved from the Greek kyriakē (oikia), kyriakon doma "Lord's (house). Greek kyriakon (adj.) "of the Lord" was used of houses of Christian worship since c. 300 A.D. (Online Etymology Dictionary).
"Church" is not an accurate translation of ekklēsia, but the decision to use it created a permanent wedge between Christianity and its Jewish roots. The Christian reader of the apostolic writings should be cautious about reading modern church organization, whether Roman Catholic, Eastern Orthodox or the 57 varieties of Protestantism, into first century settings. In the apostolic writings ekklēsia is never treated as an institution, a building, a specific polity or even a specific size of group as the English word "church" can mean. Everywhere in the apostolic writings ekklēsia refers to either the entire Body of the Messiah, the sum total of the Jewish and Gentile believers in a particular city, or the disciples meeting together in someone's home. Most importantly, the term emphasizes a spiritual bond based on common trust in the God of Israel and his Messiah (Stern 54).
Messianic Jewish versions avoid the use of "church," and prefer the term "community." In the apostolic writings the doctrine of the ekklēsia is more about a living body whose members serve one another. Interestingly Jacob, the half-brother of Yeshua, uses sunagōgē or synagogue in his letter to describe the gathering of disciples (Jas 2:2; cf. Acts 22:19; 26:11). In fact, congregations in the apostolic era mirrored the synagogue in organization. Since the strict definition of "community" does refer to a group who share a government (such as a village, town or city), I prefer to translate ekklēsia with "congregation," since its definition incorporates both organic and organizational characteristics and is more neutral in tone than "church."
In the apostolic writings the doctrine of the ekklēsia is more about a living body whose members serve one another. The assembly of the faithful should be known by its passion rather than its programs. As an organism each city congregation and sub-groups consist of disciples committed to living by the teachings of their Master and Messiah. Through the body of believers the ministry of Yeshua is extended far beyond the bounds of the holy land and his mortal life on earth.
Signs and Wonders, 5:12-16
12 Now by the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in the portico of Solomon.
Now: Grk. de, conj. by: Grk. dia, prep., used here to denote instrumentality. the hands: pl. of cheir, the anatomical limb of the hand. of the apostles: pl. of Grk. apostolos. See verse 2 above. The "hands of the apostles" is another Hebraism, as the "feet of the apostles" in verse 2. The expression denotes actions accomplished directly by the apostles and not by surrogates. many: pl. of Grk. polus, adj., extensive in scope, here indicating a high degree in amount. The adjective alludes to the actions of all twelve apostles. signs: pl. of Grk. sēmeion, may mean (1) a sign (signal); (2) a token or pledge; (3) a proof, evidence; (4) a wonder, remarkable event, extraordinary phenomenon; (5) a portent; or (6) a work of wonder or miracle (Mounce). Yeshua's adversaries often demanded a "sign" that would attest his authority (Matt 12:38; et. al.). In the Book of John Yeshua performed seven signs that revealed his identity as Son of God (John 6:14; 20:30f).
In the LXX sēmeion translates Heb. word oth (SH-226) and like it means (a) sign, mark, token; (b) miraculous sign or miracle (DNTT 2:626). Signs are sometimes promised by prophets as pledges of certain predicted events or as pledges or attestations of divine presence and intervention in the affairs of men. Oth has its root in the verb avah, which means to sign, mark or describe with a mark (BDB 16). The term "sign" in Scripture has a variety of important uses in the Tanakh. The first usage is in Genesis 1:14 in which the stars would serve as signs that speak for God or even as portents of events on earth (cf. Ps 19:1f; Jer 10:2). "Sign" also referred to a visible manifestation of God’s grace and favor, as the rainbow, circumcision and the Sabbath are covenantal signs (Gen 9:12f, 17; 17:11; Ex 31:13, 17; Ezek 20:12).
Most of the usages of "sign" in the Tanakh are related to miraculous wonders that only the Creator could perform, such as the plagues on Egypt and the Red Sea crossing (Ex 4:17; 7:3; Deut 11:3; 26:8), the many miracles for Israel's benefit during the years of wilderness wandering (Deut 4:34; 7:19) and the shadow’s advance on the palace steps (2Kgs 20:9). Sometimes the miraculous sign was a token that would serve as a warning or reminder, such as Aaron’s rod (Num 17:25) and the stones in the Jordan (Josh 4:6). These meanings frequently overlap and the use of the word "sign" may point backward to a historical event or even forward to the fulfillment of a promise (TWOT 1:39f).
The creation scientist, Dr. Henry Morris, offers the helpful distinction between creation miracles, which he calls Grade A miracles, that require setting aside the laws of science, and providential miracles, or Grade B, that intervene in and manipulate existing natural processes (BBMS 81f). By definition only God can perform creation miracles. Dr. Morris classifies most of the healing miracles of Yeshua as Grade B, because the normal process of healing was greatly accelerated. Only a small number of his healing miracles could be considered Grade A, such as the resurrection of Lazarus (John 11:43f). Luke asserts that the twelve apostles performed Grade A miracles, fulfilling the word of Yeshua that his disciples would perform greater works (John 14:12).
and: Grk. kai, conj. 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). There is no implication that the apostles performed signs and wonders by their own innate ability, but rather the Spirit working through them. were happening: Grk. ginomai, impf. mid. See verse 5 above. among: Grk. en, prep. Longenecker observes that Luke now mentions three groups of people and their response to the Sanhedrin's warning (4:17-18) and the fear engendered by the divine judgment on Ananias and Sapphira.
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. Laos often corresponds to the Heb. am-ha'arets, "people of the land," who are often contrasted with the ruling class and religious elite. The term is used here of the broad membership of the congregation of Yeshua. and: Grk. kai. they were: Grk. eimi, impf., 3p-pl., a function word used in a wide variety of grammatical constructions, primarily to declare a state of existence ("to be"), whether in the past ('was, were'), present ('are, is') or future ('will be'), often to unite a subject and predicate. all: pl. of hapas, adj., a totality of something; all, the whole, everything, all things.
with one accord: Grk. homothumadon, adv., one and the same, common, a meeting of minds. The congregation manifested the unity for which Yeshua prayed in his high priestly prayer (John 17:11, 21-23). in: Grk. en. the portico: Grk. stoa, an ambulatory consisting of a roof supported by columns placed at regular intervals, portico. Some versions have "porch," which is misleading since a porch is strictly an exterior structure forming a covered approach to the entrance of a building. of Solomon: Grk. Solomōn, proper name, a transliteration of Heb. Shelômôh ("His peace"), the tenth son of David and the second son of Bathsheba (2Sam 12:24). He succeeded David to the throne and reigned forty years about 1000 B.C.
Solomon is remembered most for his wisdom, his extensive building program, his immense wealth generated through trade, and especially for multiplying horses and wives contrary to Torah (Deut 17:16-17). Solomon was credited with composing 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs (1Kgs 4:32). Three books in the Tanakh are attributed to him: Proverbs, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes, as well as Psalm 72 and 127. His wisdom was even sought out by the Queen of Sheba (1Kgs 10:1). The grand temple constructed in Jerusalem was based on plans by his father David (1Kgs 6:38; 1Chr 28:11-18), who told Solomon that the plans came from ADONAI (1Chr 28:19).
The construction of the temple is detailed in 1Kings 5—8. David had wanted to build a temple for ADONAI but God revealed that his son would be the one to have that honor (2Sam 7:13; 1Kgs 8:17-20; Acts 7:46-47). Josephus alludes to the portico ("cloister," Ant. XV, 11:3; XX, 9:7; Wars V, 5:1), originally a colonnaded wall that provided a border for the temple complex. At the time Herod rebuilt the temple only the eastern wall of that border still stood. Herod had it incorporated into the redesign of the temple. The portico of Solomon was located on the eastern side of the Court of the Gentiles and should not to be confused with the Royal Stoa, which was on the southern side of the Temple complex.
The portico of Solomon had double columns, whereas the Royal Stoa had four rows of columns (ISBE). Apparently the portico of Solomon was the place where the scribes normally held their schools (Morris 518). The portico of Solomon was the location of Peter's second sermon (3:11-26). It appears that many members of the congregation of Yeshua gathered there, perhaps after the regular prayer service, for apostolic instruction and ministry.
13 Moreover none of the rest dared to join them; but, the people were admiring them.
Moreover: Grk. de, conj. none: Grk. oudeis, adj., used here as a noun 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. of the rest: Grk. loipos, adj., remaining of what's left, other, rest of. dared: Grk. tolmaō, impf., act with apparent abandonment or audacity, dare. The verb functions in an idiomatic manner to describe what Jews call chutzpah. to join: Grk. kollaō, pres. mid. inf., adhere to, stick to, attach to, join closely with, or keep company with. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The "rest" refers to the unbelieving Jews and their reluctance to associate too closely with the followers of Yeshua (Longenecker).
but: Grk. alla, conj. the people: Grk. laos. See the previous verse. were admiring: Grk. megalunō, impf., cause to gain recognition, magnify, glorify, esteem, extol. them: pl. of Grk. autos. The second mention of "people" refers to members of the public outside the congregation who were sympathetic toward apostolic ministry and openly praised their "signs and wonders."
14 And more of those trusting were added to the Lord, multitudes, both of men and women,
And: Grk. de, conj. more: 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 first meaning applies here. of those trusting: Grk. pisteuō, pres. part., masc. pl., (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 were from the people admiring the apostles in the previous verse and thus became "trusting ones" in Messiah Yeshua. were added: Grk. prostithēmi, impf. pass., to put to or to add to, i.e., to join to or gather with. The verb indicates a mathematical conclusion. to the Lord: Grk. kurios. See verse 9 above. The implication of "added to the Lord" is that the souls were added to the Messianic kingdom along with the numbers previously mentioned (2:41; 4:4), so that together they formed one community. multitudes: pl. of Grk. plēthos, a relatively large number of persons, multitude, crowd.
both: Grk. te, conj. used to connect an idea closely to another in a manner that is tighter than with kai; also, and, both. of men: pl. of Grk. anēr. See verse 1 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. women: pl. of Grk. gunē. See verse 1 above. "Wives" might also be intended. From Luke's point of view it's important to point out that many women were becoming disciples of their own volition. That is, the women were not choosing to accept Yeshua because of the choice of their husbands or fathers (cf. John 1:13). Luke has a habit of noting the contribution of women to the ministry and advance of the kingdom.
15 so as even to carry the sick into the streets and to lay them on stretchers and mats, in order that at the coming of Peter at least his shadow might fall on some of them.
so as: Grk. hōste, conj. which connects cause to necessary effect and emphasizes the result. The actions described in this verse are the result of the trusting described in the previous verse. even: Grk. kai, conj. to carry: Grk. ekpherō, pres. inf. See verse 6 above. the: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article used to emphasize the following noun. sick: pl. of Grk. asthenēs, may mean (1) weak in body; sick, sickly; or (2) lacking capacity for something, weak. The first meaning applies here. into: 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. the streets: pl. of Grk. plateia (from platus, "broad area"), main thoroughfare, street. In the LXX plateia is used to translate the Heb. rechob, (SH-7339; BDB 932), broad open place, plaza or square (e.g., Gen 19:2; Jdg 19:15; 2Sam 21:12).
The term plateia often refers to a broad place or plaza in the city, usually near city gates (TWOT 2:841). The implication is that sick were taken to multiple places in Jerusalem just in case there was an opportunity. and: Grk. kai, conj. to lay them: Grk. tithēmi, pres. inf. See verse 3 above. on: Grk. epi, prep. stretchers: pl. of Grk. klinidion (diminutive of klinē, bed), pallet, stretcher (BAG). The term occurs only three times in the Besekh (also Luke 5:19, 24). The term is not found in any earlier Jewish literature, but it may have been a term with which Luke was familiar in his medical practice. It is found in Josephus (Ant. XVII, 6:3). and: Grk. kai. mats: pl. of Grk. krabattos, a humble pad for sleeping or resting, frequently used by the infirm. The term was originally a Macedonian word for a small bed or pallet used by the poor (HELPS). Use of the term illustrates the breadth of Luke's education.
in order that: Grk. hina, conj. used to add an idea that completes an intention expressed, in order that, so that, that. at the coming: Grk. erchomai, pres. mid. part., 'to come or arrive' with focus on a position from which action or movement takes place. of Peter: See verse 3 above. Gill notes that even though all the apostles performed "signs and wonders," only Peter is mentioned because he was most known, he being the chief apostle. at least: Grk. kan, conj., a contingency particle setting the stage for consideration of additional possibility; and if, also if, even if, at least. his shadow: Grk. skia, shade, shadow, or fig. of foreshadowing (Mounce). The noun is meant lit. of a reduction of light in an area as a result of blocking rays of the sun. might fall on: Grk. episkiazō, aor. subj., to darken or overshadow; envelope, surround, fall on. some: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun, any one, some one, a certain one or thing. of them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun.
Bruce and Longenecker liken the acts of desperate people who sought healing to the occasion when a woman was healed of a blood disorder just by touching in faith the edge of Yeshua's cloak (Mark 5:25-29), so Luke relates extraordinary situations where even Peter's shadow was used by God to effect a cure (cf. Acts 19:11-12). However, in the incident of healing the woman Yeshua declared that power had gone out of him (Mark 5:30), not his garment. We should note Luke does not say that people were cured by the shadow of Peter falling on them, the report of the next verse notwithstanding. The report of this verse seems to highlight more the "belief" of the people in magical cures than Peter's shadow having any actual power. Peter would be quick to say, if asked, that only the power of Yeshua accomplished healing (Acts 4:10). Shadows do not heal.
16 Moreover, the multitude also of cities around Jerusalem were coming together, bringing the sick, also those tormented by unclean spirits, who all were being healed.
Moreover: Grk. de, conj. the multitude: Grk. plēthos. See verse 14 above. also: Grk. kai, conj. of cities: pl. of Grk. polis, a population center whose size or number of inhabitants could range broadly, a city or town. around: Grk. perix, adv., all around, neighboring. 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. 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).
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). Affection for Jerusalem is also expressed in Psalm 137:5-6. 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). 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 age to come Jerusalem will be the center of the Messiah's government (Zech 14:16; Rev 20:9).
were coming together: Grk. sunerchomai, impf. mid., to come together as a collection of persons. bringing: Grk. pherō, pres. part. See verse 2 above. the sick: Grk. asthenēs. See the previous verse. also: Grk. kai. those tormented: Grk. ochleō, pres. pass. part., harass, torment, worry, or vex. by: Grk. hupo, prep. that 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. unclean: Grk. akathartos, adj., unclean or impure, used generally in a religious sense of isolating one from contact with deity. spirits: pl. of Grk. pneuma. See verse 3 above. Here pneuma is used in reference to a spirit being. The reference to an unclean spirit first occurs in Zech 13:2 and then 22 times in the Besekh.
The term "unclean" does not pertain to physical hygiene (although it wouldn't be excluded), but rather alludes to the Torah standard of clean and unclean. Involvement in paganism or the occult makes one unclean because the source is unclean (Lev 19:31). However, the spirit or demon is unclean because of being part of the Satanic organization opposed to God. An unclean spirit contrasts with Holy Spirit in a number of ways. For every characteristic of the Holy Spirit (whether of nature or ministry) an unclean spirit is the radical opposite. What should be considered is that the many mentions of demons and demon-possessed people in the apostolic narratives indicate a Satanic invasion coincidental with the revelation of Messiah.
The demonic activity was unprecedented in Israelite history, and while some may have dabbled in the occult the evidence indicates that the victims were random targets. Scholars are tempted to attribute these accounts of demons to ancient superstition and it is true that ancient people attributed some misfortune and suffering to unseen spirits. After all, they had the story of Job and a few other accounts in the Tanakh of spirit activity (Jdg 9:23; 1Sam 16:14-16, 23; 18:10; 19:9; 1Kgs 22:21-24). However, the apostles clearly present all the stories of demon-afflicted people as true life accounts. Yeshua and the apostles did not cast out superstitions, but actual demons.
who: pl. of Grk. hostis, relative pronoun used here to give specific reference to the preceding verb. all: pl. of Grk. hapas, adj. See verse 12 above. were being healed: Grk. therapeuō, impf. pass., 3p-pl., 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. Luke reports large numbers of people whose bodies and spirits were made whole by the power of God. Satan, whose control over people was being defeated, would not allow the victories to continue without a counter-attack.
Imprisonment and Miraculous Release, 5:17-26
17 But having arisen, the high priest and all the ones with him, being the sect of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy.
But: Grk. de, conj. having arisen: Grk. anistēmi, aor. part. See verse 6 above. The verb alludes to the fact of having been seated, perhaps in a meeting, so the getting up denotes pursuing a purpose. the high priest: Grk. archiereus (from archē, "chief, pre-eminent one" and hiereus, "a priest"), a high or chief priest, i.e., a leader among priests. 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 acted as mediator between Israel and God (Ex 28:29). Luke does not specify whom he means. In the previous chapter the title "high priest" is used of Annas, who held the title ex officio, but Caiaphas was the ruling high priest at this time. The ruling high priest was president of the Sanhedrin.
and: Grk. kai, conj. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 5 above. the ones: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article, but used here as a relative pronoun. with: Grk. sún, prep. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. being: Grk. eimi, pres. part. See verse 12 above. the sect: Grk. hairesis, choice of association based on shared principles or beliefs, ordinarily of a subgroup with views or beliefs that deviate in certain respects from those of the larger membership; party, faction. The term is used of both the Sadducees (here) and the Pharisees (Acts 15:5; 26:5), as well as the Yeshua movement, nicknamed "The Way" (24:14; 28:22). Lastly, the term is used of divisive factions within congregations (1Cor 11:19; Gal 5:20) and of groups that promote doctrines that contradict Scripture (2Pet 2:1).
of 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 (Matt 3:7) 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 ordinary priests the Temple aristocracy was clearly identified with the Sadducees (44, 104). Luke implies that Caiaphas was a Sadducee. We may also assume this to be the case since Josephus says of Ananus, the successor of Caiaphas, "he was also of the sect of the Sadducees" (Ant. XX, 9:1).
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. The Sadducees and Pharisees had very different belief systems. Contrary to the Pharisees, the Sadducees rejected tradition and accepted only the written Torah as authority. The Sadducees denied not only the resurrection of the body (Matt 22:23), but also the immortality of the soul and future rewards and retribution (Wars, II, 8:14), as well as the existence of angels and spirits (Acts 23:8). 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.
were filled: Grk. pimplēmi, aor., to cause to be in a condition that allows for no further addition, to be filled. with jealousy: Grk. zēlos, a passionate interest or intense interest in something or someone, which can be manifested positively (John 2:17; 2Cor 7:7) or negatively (as here); zeal, fervor, jealousy. In the LXX zēlos renders the Heb. qinah, ardor, zeal or jealousy, from the color produced in the face by deep emotion (BDB 888). The Sadducees might have had power, but they didn't have popularity. They recognized that with the exponential growth of the Yeshua movement and the continual manifestations of signs and wonders, the potential of the apostles upsetting the social order was great.
18 and they laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail.
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. See verse 12 above. on: Grk. epi, prep. the apostles: pl. of Grk. apostolos. See verse 2 above. The plural noun probably alludes to Peter and John, but it's not impossible that more of the apostles were included. The grammar implies that members of the Sanhedrin did the deed, but it's likely they had assistance from the Temple police. and: Grk. kai. put: Grk. tithēmi, aor. mid. See verse 3 above. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. in: Grk. en, prep.
a public: Grk. dēmosios, belonging to the people or state; public. The word demosion as a substantive, in fact, in the form of the Hebrew demos, passed into the language of the rabbis as the term for a "common jail" (Longenecker). jail: Grk. tērēsis, the act of keeping under guard; custody, detention. Bible versions are divided between translating the term as "jail" or "prison." 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. In modern English "jail" would be a better choice than "prison" for this purpose.
19 But during the night an angel of the Lord, opened the gates of the jail and having lead them out, also said,
But: Grk. de, conj. during: Grk. dia, prep., lit. "through." See verse 3 above. the night: Grk. nux, night as a chronological period, sunset to sunrise. Considering verse 21 below, the visitation may have occurred just before sunrise. an angel: Grk. angelos means one sent, a messenger, whether human or heavenly (BAG). In the LXX angelos renders Heb. malak, which means messenger, representative, courier or angel (DNTT 1:101f). The decision to translate malak or angelos as angel or messenger (of a human) relies primarily on the context. The term in this context is clearly intended to mean a heavenly messenger. There are over a dozen appearances of an angel to humans mentioned in the Tanakh and even more in the Besekh. Angels figure prominently in Scripture as ministering spirits (Mark 1:13; Heb 1:14). They are far different from popular assumptions about angels.
Angels are not glorified humans that earn status in heaven by doing good works on earth. In Scripture angels have masculine descriptions (Jdg 13:6; Dan 9:21; Mark 16:5; Luke 24:4), contrary to art and media, which sometimes depicts them as female. In addition, only a special group of heavenly beings are mentioned in Scripture as having wings (Ex 37:9; Isa 6:2; Ezek 10:5; Rev 4:8), and these beings may not be angels at all. There is no reason not to accept Luke's report as genuine. of the LORD: Grk. kurios. See verse 9 above. The descriptive phrase "of the Lord" confirms the rescuer to be an angel. The "angel of the LORD" (angelos kuriou) is the LXX term for the Hebrew malak YHVH, which denotes God Himself in His dealings with men (cf. Gen 16:7, 9-11; 22:15; Ex 3:2; Num 22:22-27; Jdg 2:1; et. al.).
Some of these incidents were likely pre-incarnate visitations of Yeshua, the Son. In this case the angel was sent personally by Yeshua. Given the importance of the mission this angel could be one of the seven angels of the Presence, such as Michael or Gabriel. opened: Grk. anoigō, aor., to open, used of doors and objects. the gates: pl. of Grk. thura. See verse 9 above. of the jail: Grk. phulakē, a place for detaining a law-breaker, not a place for carrying out a specified period of detention. The change in terms from the previous verse is meant to emphasize the temporary nature of the confinement. and: Grk. kai, conj. having lead them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. out: Grk. exagō, aor. part., to lead or take out. also: Grk. te, conj. See verse 14 above. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above.
20 "Go, and having stood, speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life."
Go: Grk. poreuomai, pres. mid. imp., may mean (1) to move from one area to another, to go or to make one's way or (2) in an ethical sense, to conduct oneself, live, walk. The first meaning applies here. In the LXX poreuomai renders mainly Heb. halak (SH-1980), to go, come, walk, first occurring in Genesis 3:14 (DNTT 3:946). The verb often has the literal sense of going, journeying or traveling (e.g., Gen 12:4). and: Grk. kai, conj. having stood: Grk. histēmi, aor. pass. part., may mean (1) cause to be in a place or position; (2) to be in an upright position, used of bodily posture; (3) to set or place in a balance; (4) fig. to stand ready, to be of a steadfast mind. The second meaning applies here.
speak: Grk. laleō, pres. imp., 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. in: Grk. en, prep. the temple: Grk. hieron, sanctuary, temple (subst. neut. of the adj. hieros, 'sacred, holy'). When used of the temple in Jerusalem hieron applies to the entire temple complex with all its courts in contrast to naos, which refers to the sanctuary proper where priests offered sacrifices. For a description of the construction and characteristics of the temple see my comment on Mark 11:11. to the people: Grk. laos. See verse 12 above. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. See verse 5 above.
the words: pl. of Grk. rhēma, a communication consisting of words, often with the implication of importance or special significance. In secular Greek literature rhēma referred to a statement, discourse or explanation. In the LXX rhēma occurs predominately in the Pentateuch and prophetic writings for the Heb. dabar, which means "word" or "thing." Thus, rhēma, standing for dabar, can mean both (a) a word or utterance as well as (b) a matter, event, or case in the sense of the result of things said or done (DNTT 3:1119f). of this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. life: Grk. zōē, the state of being alive in contrast with being dead. The Besekh not only uses zōē in its normal meaning of physical existence on planet earth in the presence age, but over forty times for life that continues into the next age and eternity.
In the LXX zōē renders Heb. chay (SH-2416, alive, living) with both literal and figurative uses. Gill comments that the phrase "this life" is "not of this present frail, mortal, and sinful life;" but of eternal life by Messiah (John 3:15-16), which is begun to be enjoyed now, and will be perfectly enjoyed hereafter. The message of the angel likely recalled to Peter the time when he said to Yeshua "you have words of eternal life" (John 6:68). Yeshua had promised his apostles at the last supper "the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you" (John 14:26). So the "words of this life" are the words of Yeshua.
21 Then having heard, they entered into the temple about the dawn and began to teach. Now the high priest and those with him called together the temple council, and all the assembly of elders of the sons of Israel, and sent to the jail to bring them.
Then: Grk. de, conj. having heard: Grk. akouō, aor. part. See verse 5 above. The verb carries the implication of heeding what the angel said. they entered: Grk. eiserchomai, aor. See verse 7 above. into: Grk. eis, prep. the temple: Grk. hieron. See the previous verse. about: Grk. hupo, prep., lit. "under," but used here in reference to time. The preposition is used with this meaning only here in the Besekh. the dawn: Grk. orthros, dawn, daybreak or early morning. The practical meaning of "about the dawn" is "under the rays of the sun." The angel would not have sent the apostles to the temple when members of the public were not present. In the first hour of the day preparations began for the morning lamb and incense offerings in the Court of the Priests and the Holy Place with the goal of offering the sacrifice in the third hour of the morning (about 9:00-10:00).
The morning prayer service which people attended in the outer court occurred coincidental with the sacrifice in the third hour (cf. Luke 1:9-10). For more information on the conduct of the morning service at the Temple see Alfred Edersheim, The Temple: Its Ministry and Services, 1994; Chapter Eight. We should also assume that the apostles did not interrupt the Temple ritual. They were observant Jews. and: Grk. kai, conj. began teaching: Grk. didaskō, impf., to teach or instruct. The verb is an inceptive imperfect (Rienecker), thus emphasizing the point at which the action began. In the LXX didaskō occurs about 100 times and is used primarily to render nine different Hebrew verbs, which mean variously to learn, teach, cause to know, point out, direct, or instruct (DNTT 3:760). This teaching concerned the Messiah as in Peter's previous sermons.
Now: Grk. de, conj. the high priest: Grk. archiereus. See verse 17 above. Caiaphas is probably intended. and: Grk. kai. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. with: Grk. sun, prep. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. In verse 17 above these persons were of the Sadducee party. called together: Grk. sugkaleō, aor., to call together, to assemble. The action described apparently occurred coincidental with the teaching of the apostles. the temple council: Grk. sunedrion, a governing board or council, an Israelite governance structure. In Greek culture sunedrion originally meant the place where a governing council met, then the body of councilors or their actual meeting (LSJ). All three meanings of sunedrion occur in the Besekh.
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 in Proverbs 11:13; 15:22; 20:19; 22:10; 24:7; 27:22 and 31:23 without Heb. equivalent for those sitting in the gate for counsel or judgment. The usage of sunedrion in the LXX does not denote the Great Sanhedrin of seventy-one members that governed in Jerusalem, but rather small sanhedrins or 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, while attractive, is not accurate. We should note that the 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. So, we can't say categorically that the apostles used sunedrion to denote the Great Sanhedrin. Generally the apostolic narratives use sunedrion for courts of indefinite size (Matt 5:22; 10:17; Mark 13:9), a group of Pharisees (John 11:47), and the ad hoc group that conducted the illegal trial of Yeshua (Matt 26:59; Mark 14:55; 15:1; Luke 22:66). Josephus uses the term sunedrion for such an ad hoc group assembled for a special purpose or task (Ant., XX, 9:1, 6).
indeed: Grk. kai. Many versions either don't translate the conjunction or render it with words such as "indeed," "even," or "that is." The conjunction has an intensive effect, indicating that this was an unusual circumstance. See verse 2 above. all: Grk. pas, adj. The use of the adjective indicates 100% attendance of the following group. the assembly of elders: Grk. gerousia with the definite article, council of elders. The noun occurs only here in the Besekh. Luke is not using gerousia as a synonym of sunedrion. Some versions render the noun as "senate" (ESV, KJV, NASB, RSV). In the LXX gerousia renders the plural of Heb. zaqen (SH-2205), elders, first of Israel (Ex 3:16; 4:29; 12:21; Lev 9:1; Deut 27:1; Josh 23:2), and then of Midian (Num 22:4), of Moab (Num 22:7). The term is also used of a council of elders of a city (Deut 19:12; 21:3-4).
In Apocryphal literature gerousia is used of the "senate of the Jews" in Jerusalem (Jdth 4:8; 1Macc 12:6; 2Macc 1:10; 4:44; 11:27 RSV), as well as Philo (Flaccus 74, 76, 80) and Josephus (Ant. XIII, 5:8). of the sons: pl. of 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).
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 "sons of Israel" carries the meaning of the chosen people of God that descended from the great patriarch. The exact phrase "council of elders of the sons of Israel" (gerousian tōn huiōn Israēl) appears in the LXX of Exodus 3:16 and 4:29 of the tribal leaders of Israel whom Moses was instructed by God to inform of the revelation he received in Midian. Elsewhere in the LXX the reference is gerousian Israēl, elders of Israel (Ex 12:21; Lev 9:1, 3).
The lay elders, identified as presbuteroi in Acts 4:5, consisted of wealthy men, the heads of patrician families, 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. In this context I believe the council of elders is to be distinguished from the high priest and his fellow Sadducees who governed the Temple. Together the two groups formed the Sanhedrin's membership of seventy-one. and: Grk. kai. sent: Grk. apostellō, aor., 3p-pl., to cause to move from one position to another, but often to send as an authoritative personal representative. In the LXX apostellō translated Heb. shalach ("to stretch out or to send"), often in contexts of commissioning and empowering a messenger (DNTT 1:128).
to the jail: Grk. desmōtērion, prison or jail. to bring: Grk. agō, aor. pass. inf., to cause movement by taking the lead; lead, bring, carry, take. them: pl. of Grk. autos. The leaders dispatched one or more messengers, perhaps members of the Temple police to bring the apostles to the meeting of the seventy-one.
22 But the officers having come did not find them in the jail; and having returned they reported back,
But: Grk. de, conj. the servants: pl. of Grk. hupēretēs ("hoop-ay-ret'-ace"), one who renders service, a term applied to various official and assigned capacities; servant, helper, assistant (BAG). Many versions translate the term as "officers" or "officials." HELPS notes that hupēretēs (derived from hupō, "under" and ēressō, "to row"), in Greek culture meant a crewman on a boat, an "under-rower" who mans the oars on a lower deck; thus fig. of a subordinate executing official orders. In the Besekh the term is used variously of a synagogue attendant (Luke 4:20), a prison officer (Matt 5:25), officers empowered to arrest (John 7:32, 45-46), a ministry assistant (Acts 13:5), and one ministering on behalf of Yeshua (Luke 1:2; Acts 26:16; 1Cor 4:1). In the LXX hupēretēs renders Heb. ebed (SH-5650), servant, slave, first in Proverbs 14:35 of a king's servant. In this verse the men were subordinates of the chief priests.
having come: Grk. paraginomai, aor. part., to make one's way so as to be present; come, arrive, be present. did not: Grk. ou, adv., particle of negation. find: Grk. heuriskō, aor. See verse 10 above. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. in: Grk. en, prep. the jail: Grk. phulakē. See verse 19 above. and: Grk. de, conj. having returned: Grk. anastrephō, aor. part. (derived from ana, among, between, and strephō, to turn), to retrace one's movement to a point; go back, return. The verb refers to the meeting place of the full Sanhedrin. they reported back: Grk. apangellō, aor. 3p-pl., 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 first meaning applies here. The content of the report follows in the next verse.
23 saying that, "We found the jail shut with all security and the guards standing at the doors; but having opened them, we found no one inside."
saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 3 above. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 4 above. The conjunction is not translated in most versions, but it is used here to introduce the following quotation. We found: Grk. heuriskō, aor., 1p-pl. See verse 10 above. the jail: Grk. desmōtērion. See verse 21 above. shut: Grk. kleiō, perf. pass. part., closed to prevent entry; locked, shut. with: Grk. en, prep. all: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 5 above. security: Grk. asphaleia, state of not being subject to falling or being tripped or overthrown; certainty, security. and: Grk. kai, conj. the guards: pl. of Grk. phulax, guard, keeper, sentinel. standing: Grk. histēmi, perf. part. See verse 20 above. The description means the guards were not asleep. at: Grk. epi, prep. the doors: pl. of Grk. thura. See verse 9 above.
but: Grk. de, conj. having opened them: Grk. anoigō, aor. part. See verse 19 above. we found: Grk. heuriskō, aor., 1p-pl. no one: Grk. oudeis, adj. See verse 13 above. inside: Grk. esō, adv., located within a space; within, inside. The occupants had disappeared unseen by the guards.
24 Now when the deputy high priest of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them, why this anyhow might have happened.
Now: Grk. de, conj. when: Grk. hōs, adv., used here with a temporal sense; when, after. the deputy high priest: Grk. stratēgos (derived from stratos, host, body of men; and agō, to lead); leader, general or chief officer. In Greek and Roman culture the term was used of military commanders of armies and navies with a rank equivalent of the modern General; as well as military and civil governors and provincial magistrates (LSJ). 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. 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.
of the temple: Grk. hieron. See verse 20 above. Some versions treat the title stratēgos tou hierou as a reference only to his security role and translate hieron as "temple guard" (CEB, NET, NIRV, NIV, NLT). However, if Luke had meant "temple guard" surely he would have used the word for "guard" (Grk. phulax), which appears in the previous verse. 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.
and: Grk. kai, conj. the chief priests: pl. of Grk. archiereus. See verse 17 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 active chief priests held a variety of administrative posts and as a group wielded considerable power in the city. The retired high priests were Annas, Ishmael ben Phiabi, Eleazar and Simon ben Kamithos (Lane 531f). From Luke's narrative (Acts 4:1; verse 17 above) and Josephus (Ant. XX, 9:1) we know that the chief priests were generally Sadducees and together as a group formed the legal and administrative authority in the Temple. Many of the serving chief priests were ex–officio members of the Sanhedrin (Jeremias 179, 197, 230). Jeremias made the following list of working chief priests based on rabbinical sources (160):
● The high priest.
● 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.
heard: Grk. akouō, aor. these: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. words: pl. of Grk. logos. See verse 5 above. they were perplexed: Grk. diaporeō, impf., to experience difficulty in dealing with information, thus to be perplexed or at a loss. about: Grk. peri, prep. with an orientational aspect relating to being near or having to do with something; in behalf of, about, concerning. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. why: Grk. tís, interrogative pronoun. See verse 3 above. The pronoun serves to introduce the question that arose in the minds of the Temple authorities. this: Grk. houtos. anyhow: Grk. an, disjunctive particle that nuances a verb with contingency or generalization; would, ever, might, in that case, anyhow. HELPS says the particle indicates what could occur under certain conditions, and the context determines the limits of those conditions. The particle is often not translated.
might have happened: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. opt. See verse 5 above. The optative mood denotes strong contingency or possibility without any definite anticipation of realization, but sees what is conceivable. Many versions treat the verb as future tense (NASB, NIV, NKJV), projecting the question forward (e.g., "wondering what this would come to," RSV). However, since the aorist tense generally refers to a completed action, I think GW has the best interpretation, "they were puzzled about what could have happened." The same sense is also found in other versions (ISV, NEB, NOG, NTE, VOICE and TEV). In other words, the chief priests knew that miracles did not happen without a purpose, but at present they could not comprehend the divine intention.
25 But someone having come reported to them that, "Behold, the men whom you put in the jail are in the temple, standing and teaching the people!"
But: Grk. de, conj. someone: Grk. tis, masc. sing., indefinite pronoun. having come: Grk. paraginomai, aor. part. See verse 22 above. reported: Grk. apangellō, aor. See verse 22 above. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., the temple authorities. The person giving the report could have been an ordinary priest, but he acted as an "anonymous source." Luke did not learn his identity and it's not important. that: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 4 above. The conjunction is not translated in most versions, but it is used here to introduce the following quotation. Behold: Grk. idou, aor. imp. See verse 9 above. the men: pl. of Grk. anēr. See verse 1 above. whom: pl. of Grk. hos, relative pronoun. you put: Grk. tithēmi, aor. mid., 2p-pl. See verse 3 above. in: Grk. en, prep. the jail: Grk. phulakē. See verse 19 above.
are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 12 above. in: Grk. en, prep. the temple: Grk. hieron. See verse 20 above. standing: Grk. histēmi, perf. part. See verse 20 above. The verb could be translated as "having taken a stand" to reflect the uncompromising commitment of the apostles to fulfill their commission from the Lord. The location within the boundaries of the temple is not given, so the apostles could have been in either the Court of the Nations or the Court of the Israelites. and: Grk. kai, conj. teaching: Grk. didaskō, pres. part. See verse 21 above. the people: Grk. laos. See verse 12 above. The singular form of the noun probably refers to men gathered at the temple for prayer services.
26 Then having gone the deputy high priest with the servants brought them, not with force, for they feared the people, lest they might be stoned.
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. having gone: Grk. aperchomai, aor. part., to be in movement from a position with or without mention of a destination; to go away, depart or leave. The implied destination is the temple. the deputy high priest: Grk. stratēgos. See verse 24 above. with: Grk. sún, prep. See verse 1 above. The preposition means "together with," that is, being accompanied by. the servants: masc. pl. of Grk. hupēretēs. See verse 22 above. Many versions have "officers," implying members of the Temple security force. However, those men would have been at the temple and not at the location where the Sanhedrin met. More likely is that these servants were administrative assistants or scribes who worked directly for the deputy high priest.
brought: Grk. agō, impf. See verse 21 above. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., the apostles who surrendered peaceably. not: Grk. ou, adv., particle of strong negation. with: Grk. meta, prep., may be used as (1) a marker of association or accompaniment; 'amid,' among,' 'with,' or 'in company with'; or (2) a sequential or positional marker; after, behind. The first usage applies here. force: Grk. bia, force, strength, violence. The phrase "not with force" confirms that the deputy high priest did not take armed men to retrieve the apostles. for: Grk. gar, conj., conj., is generally accepted as a contraction of ge ("yet") and ara ("then"), and in a broad sense means "certainly it follows that."
they feared: Grk. phobeō, impf. mid., to fear. The verb has two basic meanings that are opposite: (1) to be in a state of apprehension, with emotions ranging from anxiety to terror; and (2) to have special respect or reverence for, i.e., deep respect. The first meaning applies here. the people: Grk. laos, masc. sing. See verse 12 above. lest: Grk. mē, adv. they might be stoned: Grk. lithazō, aor. pass. subj., to inflict harm or punishment by stoning. The Temple authorities knew well the popularity of the apostles with the people, and while the apostles might "turn the other cheek" they could not count on the masses doing so.
Hearing before the Council, 5:27-33
27 Then, having brought them, they stood them within the council, and the high priest put a question to them,
Then: Grk. de, conj. having brought: Grk. agō, aor. part. See verse 21 above. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., the apostles. they stood them: Grk. histēmi, aor., 3p-pl. See verse 20 above. within: Grk. en, prep., used in reference to physical location. the council: Grk. sunedrion. See verse 21 above. The term refers to the Temple ruling authorities who were part of the Sanhedrin. We may assume the presence of the entire Sanhedrin (cf. verse 21 above and verse 35 below). The meeting place of the Sanhedrin in the city is not given, but it was not within the Temple precincts (cf. "in Jerusalem," Acts 4:5).
When gathered the group was seated in three rows arranged in a semi-circle (Sanhedrin 4:2). The chief priests likely occupied the first row as the places of honor (cf. Matt 23:6). The defendant was made to stand in the midst of the semicircle in order to be intimidated (Sanh. 4:3). Stern says that at the time of Herod Agrippa (who reigned as King of Judea 41-44 A.D.) all but three of the seventy members of the Sanhedrin were Sadducees (236). He does not cite a source for this claim, which seems to fly in the face of apostolic claims of a strong contingent of Pharisees on the Sanhedrin (Matt 23:2; John 1:24; 3:1; 11:47; Acts 23:6-7). However, the Sadducees did dominate the Temple ruling council.
and: Grk. kai, conj. the high priest: Grk. archiereus. See verse 17 above. The deputy high priest had performed his role of bringing the apostles, but he wasn't in charge of the meeting. put a question: Grk. eperōtaō, aor., may mean (1) put a question to, ask; or (2) make a request, ask for. The first meaning applies here. to them: pl. of Grk. autos; i.e., the apostles.
28 saying, "Did we not direct you by injunction not to teach on this name, and, behold, you have filled Jerusalem of your teaching, and you intend to bring the blood of this man upon us?"
saying: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 3 above. Did we not: Grk. mē, adv. The negative particle begins the quoted material and in this position is used interrogatively when an affirmative answer is expected. The earliest MSS omit the negative particle, but the great majority of MSS have it. The translation committee deemed the absence of ou in the early MSS as due to the copyists' desire to transform the high priest's question into a rebuke, but later MSS corrected the mistake (Metzger 289). After all the previous declares that the high pries put a question to the apostles and what follows is the text of that question.
direct: Grk. parangellō, aor., 1p-pl., 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). you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. by injunction: Grk. parangellia, pronouncement designed to provide guidance; command, injunction, instruction, order. I chose "injunction" because the referenced order required the apostles to refrain from an action. Many versions translate the phrase parangellia parangelamen humeis as "gave you strict orders," which seems to me to fog the distinction between the verb and the noun.
not to teach: Grk. didaskō, pres. inf. See verse 21 above. on: Grk. epi, prep. this: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. name: Grk. onoma. See verse 1 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. The question is designed to confirm a statement of fact and force the apostles to acknowledge they had been given a lawful order, which they chose to disobey. behold: Grk. idou, aor. imp. See verse 9 above. The interjection is second person singular, so it is no doubt directed to Peter, meaning "look at what you've done." you have filled: Grk. pleroō, perf., may mean (1) cause to abound in content to a maximum, fill; or (2) to bring to fruition or completion, complete, fulfill, fill up, carry out. The second meaning has application here. Jerusalem: Grk. Ierousalēm. See verse 16 above. The phrase "filled Jerusalem" is not so much an exaggeration considering the high attendance of the people at the Temple and the "networking" that would ensue from the learning received there.
of your: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. teaching: Grk. didachē derived from the verb didaskō ("teach"), means the act of teaching with content implied. Some versions have "doctrine" but this translation is not appropriate to the Jewish context. The term "teaching" does not refer simply to education in various areas of knowledge as might be obtained in a school. In the Besekh the term is often associated with a particular source, such as Yeshua (Matt 7:28; John 7:16f), the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt 16:12), the apostles (here; Rom 16:17) or heretical sects (Heb 13:9; Rev 2:14-15, 24). According to Klaus Wegenast the Hebrew equivalent of didachē would in fact be talmud ("study," which is derived from lamad), as found in Avot 6:2, "you find no free man but he that occupies himself with the study of Torah" (DNTT 3:769).
Biblical instruction is grounded on the principle that God’s Word was given in order to teach man to walk in His ways (Ex 4:15; Deut 33:10; Ps 25:12). Scripture is the source of teaching (2Tim 3:16) and Spirit-inspired teaching deepens a believer's knowledge of God's truth. The way to know God's will is through interpreting and applying His words and commandments recorded in Scripture. The didachē of the apostles imitated and repeated what they had heard from Yeshua (cf. Acts 4:13), and thus was the exposition and application of Scripture, especially Messianic prophecies.
and: Grk. kai. you intend: Grk. boulomai, pres. mid., may mean (1) have in one's mind; wish, want, desire; or (2) reach a decision upon deliberation; intend, decide, plan, will. The second meaning applies here. The third part of the question of the high priest morphs into a leading question in order to impugn the motives of the apostles. to bring: Grk. epagō, aor. inf., bring on or upon, with the focus on something bad. the blood: Grk. haima, the essential fluid in human or animal circulatory system; blood. The term is also fig. of bloodshed and death, which is the meaning here. of this: Grk. houtos. man: Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 4 above. upon: Grk. epi, prep. us: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. Bruce comments that "this man" reflects an early example of the curious reluctance to pronounce the name of Yeshua, which has become commonplace in non-Messianic Jewish orthodoxy.
29 But Peter and the apostles, having replied, said, "It is necessary to obey God rather than men.
But: Grk. de, conj. Peter: Grk. Petros. See verse 3 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. the apostles: pl. of Grk. apostolos. See verse 2 above. Luke does not name the other apostles present, but there were at least two. Peter's name being given first is probably meant to denote that he acted as spokesman for the apostles. having replied: Grk. apokrinomai, aor. pass. part. See verse 8 above. Stern comments that Peter knows he must be brief (as at 4:8–12), for the Sanhedrin will not patiently endure a sermon. Peter essentially ignores the high priest's question and boldly asserts his defense. said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. The verb "replied" emphasizes that a verbal response was made and "said" introduces the quotation.
It is necessary: 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. The great majority of Bible versions translate the verb as "we must," but it is third person singular, not first person plural. Also significant is that Peter does not either introduce or follow the verb with the first person plural "we/us" as occurs in other passages (cf. John 9:4; Acts 4:12; 14:22; 27:26; 2Cor 5:10). A few versions translate the verb lit. as "it is necessary" (DLNT, LEB, LITV, MRINT, MSG, OJB). In contrast to his response to the Council in 4:19-20, Peter tries to state his declaration in a neutral form rather than being confrontational in order to introduce a general principle, which as Jews the Sanhedrin should accept. The legacy of the Sadducees may be traced to the Maccabees who stood for the God of Israel in opposition to the antisemitic Syrians.
to obey: Grk. peitharcheō, pres. inf., comply with a directive; obey. The present tense would emphasize an ongoing activity. God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 4 above. rather: Grk. mallon, adv. See verse 14 above. The adverb is used here to mark a preference. than: Grk. ē, conj. used comparatively; than. men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 4 above. Since the high priest used "man" in reference to Yeshua, so Peter uses the noun in reference to those who oppose Yeshua. Stern comments that the apostolic declaration constitutes a solid basis for civil disobedience in a wicked state, but no rationalization at all for illegal behavior grounded in selfishness. (234)
30 The God of our fathers resurrected Yeshua, whom you killed, having hanged him on a tree.
The God: Grk. theos, with the definite article, the God of Israel. See verse 4 above. of our: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person. fathers: pl. of Grk. patēr, normally used of a male biological parent or ancestor, as well as frequently in reference to God. 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). The use of "fathers" emphasizes the direct line of descent of Yeshua from Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The phrase "God of our fathers" may be a quotation from Deuteronomy 26:7 in which Moses declared, "Then we cried out to ADONAI, 'God of our fathers,' and ADONAI listened to our voice and saw our affliction, our toil and our oppression" (TLV). The allusion to the statement of Moses could mean "The God of our fathers saw the oppression of His Son." The reference to the fathers might also include David as Peter mentioned in his prayer in the previous chapter (4:25).
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).
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?.
Peter makes the point, which is uniformly and consistently declared in the Besekh, that God resurrected Yeshua from the dead (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; 1Pet 1:21). Yeshua did not resurrect himself. Conversely, any claim that the resurrection of Yeshua was a fabrication (Matt 27:62-65) or a delusion is implicitly denied.
whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. killed: Grk. diacheirizō, aor., to lay violent hands on; slay, kill. The verb occurs only twice in the Besekh (also Acts 26:21). The verb implies direct personal involvement. While members of the Sanhedrin did not personally kill Yeshua, they did "lay hands on him" to convey him to Pilate for execution. having hanged: Grk. kremannumi, aor. part., to hang, hang up or suspend. The verb occurs seven times in the Besekh, four of which pertain to execution (here; Luke 23:39; Acts 10:39; Gal 3:13). him on: Grk. epi, prep. a tree: Grk. xulon, a product of a fibrous plant, tree, thus, anything made of wood; a piece of wood, a club, a staff; a beam from which anyone is suspended, such as a gibbet or the cross-bar of a crucifixion stake. Xulon occurs 20 times in the Besekh, five of which refer to the implement of Yeshua's execution (here; Acts 10:39; 13:29; Gal 3:13; 1Pet 2:24).
In the LXX xulon translates Heb. ets (SH-6086), tree, first in Genesis 1:11. The Hebrew word ets is also used to mean a gallows or gibbet on which someone is hung (Gen 40:19, 23; Deut 21:22; Josh 8:29; 10:26; Esth 2:23; 7:9-10) and the LXX renders ets with xulon in those passages. Death was by strangulation. Many versions translate xulon here with "cross," but more have "tree." The CJB and MW have "stake." Stern explains his choice of "stake" by saying that Yeshua was not hanged on a (botanical) tree, but on a stauros ("cross" in Christian versions). He believes that Peter used xulon instead of stauros as an allusion to Deuteronomy 21:22–23,
"If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God" (NASB).
Peter obviously did not mean a botanical tree, for which there is another Greek word (dendron) or a gibbet. So, Stern concludes, translating the noun as "tree" could be misleading and "stake" is a better choice. Actually, Stern uniformly uses "stake" or "execution-stake" in place of "cross" in his Complete Jewish Bible. He explained his translation decision by saying that for centuries Jews were put to death under the sign of the cross by persons claiming to be followers of the Jewish Messiah. Therefore the cross symbolizes persecution of Jews. He says, "As a Messianic Jew, still feeling the pain on behalf of my people, I do not have it in me to represent my New Testament faith by a cross" (41).
Stern's rationale for "stake" is understandable from a Jewish point of view. In fact, the use of the cross by Gentiles as jewelry seems to trivialize the great sacrifice God made on our behalf. The Jewish comedian Lenny Bruce once invited his audience to imagine Gentiles wearing electric chair models around their necks. Nevertheless, we should not allow the later antisemitism of Christianity to dictate how we translate biblical words. Moreover, for the apostles the crucifixion of Yeshua on a Roman cross came to represent the power of God for salvation (1Cor 1:18) and reconciliation between God and man (Eph 2:16). The cross of Messiah accomplished atonement (Col 2:14; 1Pet 2:24).
Still, it is curious that Peter does not use the noun stauros in the present defense sermon or in any of the passages where he speaks of Yeshua's execution (Acts 2:23; 3:15; 10:39; 1Pet 2:24). Noteworthy is that stauros does not appear in the LXX at all. Moreover, using xulon/ets ("tree") is appropriate in the context of accusing the Sanhedrin of culpability in Yeshua's execution as he did in his Pentecost sermon (2:22–23), because hanging was one of the four approved methods of capital punishment among the Jews (Sanh. 7:1). The historical facts are foundational to the good news of salvation. There must be an acknowledgement of wrongdoing in order to receive God's mercy. In this case the Temple ruling authorities had committed a great crime for which they deserved to be hanged.
31 This One God exalted to His right hand as Prince and Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
This: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. One: Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a demonstrative pronoun. Peter may have used "this One" to hint at the divinity of Yeshua since 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). God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 4 above. exalted: Grk. hupsoō, aor., may mean (1) cause to move from a position to one that is higher, lift upward; or (2) cause to be higher in status, elevate, exalt. The second meaning applies here. In the LXX hupsoō occurs 150 times and stands for four different Hebrew words. In the great majority of instances hupsoō renders Heb. rum (SH-7311), to be high, exalted, to rise (DNTT 2:201).
The Hebrew verb is used of something being physically raised, but primarily of someone being given a higher status or of someone exalting God through praise and worship. Yeshua used the verb on three occasions to prophesy his future. First, he spoke of being lifted up as Moses lifted up the serpent (John 3:14), and second he said to the Judean leaders "when you lift up the Son of Man" (John 8:28). Those statements prophesied the manner of his execution by crucifixion. However, the lifting up, like the serpent in the wilderness, would have a redemptive and healing effect. Second, he spoke of being "lifted up from [lit. "out of"] the earth" (John 12:32), which pointed to his ascension to and exaltation in heaven.
to His: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. right hand: Grk. dexios, right as a direction or location, used of a bodily member or a location within a structure or in relation to a structure. In the LXX dexios renders Heb. yamin (SH-3225), "right hand." With the Jews (as well as other nations) sitting at the right hand of the ruler was reckoned a great mark of honor and affection (cf. 1Kgs 2:19) (Gill on Matt 20:21). Thus, the mother of Jacob ("James") and John petitioned Yeshua on their behalf for the chief positions on either side of Yeshua in the age to come (Matt 20:20-21; Mark 10:35-37).
In addition, the "right hand" often signifies saving strength to deliver (Ps 20:6; 44:3; 60:5; 98:1; 108:6; 109:31; 118:15-16; 138:7). The "right hand" of God is the appropriate place for Yeshua because the right hand of God "spread out the heavens" (Isa 48:13). This is the earliest mention of Yeshua taking a position to the right hand of God (cf. Mark 16:19) and based purely on the prophecy of David. Peter saw Yeshua ascend to heaven, but not his position in heaven as Stephen will later experience (Acts 7:55). The seating of Yeshua in heaven is an important apostolic assertion (Acts 2:33; Rom 8:34; Eph 1:20; Col 3:1; Heb 1:3; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1Pet 3:22).
as Prince: Grk. archēgos may mean (1) one in a preeminent position; leader, prince, ruler; (2) one who begins something, as first in a series and thus supplies the impetus; or (3) an originator or founder (BAG). The first meaning applies here. Thayer defines as "chief leader or prince." Bible versions are divided between "Prince" and "Leader," although a few have "Ruler." The noun occurs only four times in the Besekh, all in reference to Yeshua (also Acts 3:15; Heb 2:10; 12:2). "Prince" seems the best choice since Peter's use of archēgos conveys that Yeshua exercises royal power over Israel.
In the LXX archēgos occurs 23 times and renders different Heb. words that denote leadership positions and the exercise of power, primarily rôsh (SH-7218), head, chief, generally of government or military leaders, but also the head of a family (Ex 6:14; Num 10:4, 13:3; 14:4; 25:4; Deut 33:21; 1Chr 7:40; 8:28; Neh 7:70-71) (DNTT 1:165). Archēgos is also used to translate (1) Heb. nasi (SH-5387), one lifted up, a chief prince (Num 13:2; 16:2); (2) Heb. qatsin (SH-7101), a chief, ruler (Isa 3:6-7); and (3) Heb. sar (SH-8269), chief, ruler, captain, prince (Neh 2:9; 7:70; Isa 30:4). Both Delitzsch and the OJB use the Hebrew word sar for "prince."
and: Grk. kai, conj. Savior: Grk. sōtēr, one who liberates from real or threatening harm or loss, savior, deliverer, or benefactor. In the LXX sōtēr renders the Heb. yeshu'ah ("one who brings deliverance") and the participle moshia a derivative of the verb yasha ("to save") (DNTT 3:217), which is another form of the word hoshia and is related to Yeshua’s own name (Matt 1:21). Sōtēr appears to be a technical term for the judge-deliverers in the time of the tribal confederacy (Jdg 3:9, 15), but the overwhelming usage of sōtēr in the Tanakh is applied to the God of Israel. God, as Savior, delivers from things outward, such as enemies (Ex 14:30; 1Sam 4:3; 2Sam 3:18), and things inward, such as sin (Ezek 36:29). God delivers people who are contrite and humble (Ps 34:19).
In the Besekh sōtēr occurs 24 times and always refers to a divine deliverer. The title is used 8 times of the God of Israel (Luke 1:47; 1Tim 1:1; 2:3; 4:10; Titus 1:3; 2:10; 3:4; Jude 1:25), and the rest of Yeshua (Luke 2:11; John 4:42; Acts 5:31; 13:23; Eph 5:23; Php 3:20; 2Tim 1:10; Titus 1:4; 2:13; 3:6; 2Pet 1:1, 11; 2:20; 3:2, 18; 1Jn 4:14). Thus in the Besekh sōtēr builds on the foundation already established in the Tanakh. For Peter ascribing these two titles to Yeshua have special significance to the two gifts of grace mentioned here. In the context of the Messianic kingdom the use of "Prince" implies that men need a royal pardon. Second, men need a "Savior" who has the power to deliver from death, the curse of sin.
to grant: Grk. didōmi, aor. inf. See verse 8 above. repentance: Grk. metanoia, a serious change of mind and heart about a previous point of view or course of behavior. In the LXX metanoia occurs only one time and without Hebrew equivalent in Proverbs 14:15, "The guileless believe every word, but the astute one comes to repentance" (ABP). Thayer points out that the noun occurs in Josephus to represent especially the change of mind of those who have begun to abhor their errors and misdeeds, and have determined to enter upon a better course of life, so that it embraces both a recognition of sin and sorrow for it and hearty amendment, the tokens and effects of which are good deeds (Ant. XIII, 11:3). Metanoia also occurs in Sirach 44:16 where it says "Enoch pleased the Lord, and was taken up; he was an example of repentance to all generations."
The Hebrew concept of repentance means to turn away from evil in the sense of renouncing and disowning sin, and to turn toward the good or becoming obedient to God's will expressed in the commandments (TWOT 2:909). True repentance requires honest self-evaluation, which should lead the honest person to identify any number of faults for which confession is necessary. Of interest is this exhortation from a later Sage of the first century:
"Rabbi Eliezer [c.40-c. 120 AD] said, 'Repent one day before you die.' His disciples asked him, '[How can we do that?] Who knows on what day he will die?' He answered them, 'All the more reason to repent today, because you might be dead tomorrow!'" (Shabbat 153a)
Peter would later write, "The Lord is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance." (2Pet 3:9 NASB).
to Israel: Grk. Israēl. See verse 21 above. The focus of God's plan of redemption was first Israel, as Yeshua declared (Matt 10:5; 15:24; Rom 1:16). Of course, "Israel" includes the Sanhedrin, so they may receive redemption in spite of their past actions. and: Grk. kai. forgiveness: Grk. aphesis, a 'letting go,' a term frequently used of canceled penal liabilities or indebtedness. Thus by extension aphesis means forgiveness (of) or release (from). In the LXX aphesis occurs about 50 times, 22 of which occur in Leviticus 25 and 27 for Heb. yobel (SH-3104), designation of the 50th year on Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement). In the fiftieth year all lands were to be restored to the original owners, and men were to return to their families and clans. The latter provision included giving Hebrew slaves their freedom.
Next aphesis occurs five times in Deuteronomy 15:1-9 for Heb. shemittah (SH-8059), a letting drop, a remitting, used in reference to the cancellation of loans in the year of jubilee. The law established the principle that since God shows mercy to His people on Yom Kippur by releasing them from the judgment of sin, they were expected to show the same mercy on others at the same time. The requirements of the Jubilee year are a graphic illustration of the freedom that comes from forgiveness. Only once does aphesis appear without Hebrew equivalent and that referring to the release of the scapegoat into the wilderness to complete the atonement on Yom Kippur for the people (LXX Lev 16:26). The scapegoat figuratively carried all the transgressions of the people away from them, an acted out parable of cleansing (Lev 16:30).
of sins: pl. of Grk. hamartia, pl. of Grk. hamartia may refer to (1) a behavioral action, a misdeed that creates liability, every departure from the way of righteousness; (2) the result of sinning or the condition of being sinful; or (3) an invasive evil power. Hamartia is the dominant word for sin in the Besekh. In Greek culture hamartia meant to miss the mark, to fail, be mistaken. A mistake is the result of ignorance. Hamartia could mean anything from stupidity to law-breaking, anything that does not conform to the dominant community ethic (DNTT 3:577). This breadth of application has unfortunately influenced Christian theology among those who espouse the "sinning every day in thought, word and deed" viewpoint.
In the LXX hamartia translates a range of Hebrew words for guilt and sin, particularly Heb. chata (SH-2398), miss, go wrong, lapse, sin (Gen 20:6; 39:9) and avon (SH-5771), iniquity, guilt, punishment for iniquity (Gen 15:16). Throughout Scripture sin as a behavior is a violation of God's written commandments (Rom 3:20; 5:13; 7:7). The degree of intentionality is not a factor in defining sinful behavior, only whether the express requirements or prohibitions of Torah commandments have been violated. Indeed, the Torah recognizes that a transgression could be unintentional (Heb. shegagah, SH-7684), sin of error or inadvertence (Lev 4:1-3, 27-28; 5:18; Num 15:22-29). Nevertheless, atonement was still required. In Scripture hamartia does not include the imperfections that separate humanity from divinity, "falling short of the glory" (Rom 3:23). In the immediate context Peter may imply the particular sins that were committed in the illegal trial and execution of Yeshua.
32 And we are witnesses of these events; and the Holy Spirit, whom God gave to those obeying Him."
And: Grk. kai, conj. we: Grk. hēmeis, pl. pronoun of the first person; i.e., the apostles. are: Grk. eimi, pres. See verse 12 above. witnesses: pl. of Grk. martus, one who attests the fact or truth of something, often used in a legal context of who testifies before a legal proceeding regarding first hand knowledge (cf. Matt 18:16; Acts 7:5). The nature of the witness is of course what they have seen and heard and touched (1Jn 1:1). To be a martus is being willing to speak for God and explain one's own personal knowledge and experience (cf. 1Pet 3:15). Eventually the term came to be associated with those who forfeited their lives for God, i.e. martyrs. This is the third time Peter has declared "we are witnesses" (Acts 2:32; 3:15).
of these: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. events: pl. of Grk. rhēma, lit. "words." See verse 20 above. The great majority of Bible versions have "things," but since rhēma alludes to the historical narrative of verses 30-31, then "events" seems a better choice than "things." Three versions have "events" (MRINT, NET, TLV). and: Grk. kai. the Holy Spirit: See verse 3 above. whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. God: See verse 4 above. gave: Grk. didōmi, aor. See verse 8 above. to those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. obeying: Grk. peitharcheō, pres. part., comply with a directive; obey. Him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e., Yeshua. The apostles received the Holy Spirit by obeying Yeshua to remain in Jerusalem. The leaders, too, can receive the Holy Spirit if they obey God.
33 But those having heard were infuriated and were intending to kill them.
But: Grk. de, conj. those: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. having heard: Grk. akouō, aor. part. See verse 5 above. were infuriated: Grk. diapriō, impf., originally meant to be sawn asunder and then came to mean be cut to the quick (with indignation), be infuriated. and were intending: Grk. boulomai, impf. mid. See verse 28 above. to kill: Grk. anaireō, aor. inf., remove by causing death; take away the life of, make an end of, murder, kill. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun. The high priest and chief priests who presided over the "kangaroo court" that judged Yeshua worthy of death easily become incensed at Peter speaking the truth. Their malevolent intention reflects the truth of Yeshua's assertion that they were children of the devil (John 8:44). However, one of the number kept his emotions in check.
Advice of Gamaliel, 5:34-39
34 Then a certain one in the council meeting, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a Torah teacher, honored by all the people, having stood directed them to put the men outside for a short time.
Then: Grk. de, conj. a certain one: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. The pronoun alludes to a member, not a special office. in: Grk. en, prep. the council meeting: Grk. sunedrion. See verse 21 above. a Pharisee: Grk. Pharisaios, a rough transliteration of Heb. P'rushim, meaning "separatists." The title was born of the fact that they devoted themselves to study and observance of the Torah. The Pharisees traced their roots to the Hasidim ("pious ones") organized in the time of Ezra, but are known as an organized group from the 2nd c. BC (Jeremias 247). The first mention of the group is in the books of Maccabees where they are described as "a company of Hasideans, mighty warriors of Israel, every one who offered himself willingly for the law (Torah)" (1Macc 2:42; cf. 1Macc 7:13; 2Macc 14:6).
The Pharisees resisted syncretism and regarded Greek ideas as abominations. The Torah, by Pharisee definition, included both the writings of Moses and the traditions of the Sages, commonly referred to as the Oral Law. In addition to their pietism, the Pharisees held the biblical teachings of the Messiah, life after death, resurrection of the dead, immortality, and angels, all of which distinguished them from the Sadducees (Acts 23:8). Josephus estimated that there were at least six thousand Pharisees in the Land (Ant. XVII, 2:4). There were several Pharisaic communities in Jerusalem at this time (Jeremias 252). Jeremias says that the Pharisaic party in the Sanhedrin was composed entirely of scribes (236).
The Pharisees exerted considerable influence in Jewish culture. While the Sadducees controlled the Temple, the synagogue was the center of power for the Pharisees. Mansoor points out that with the Pharisee belief in an omnipresent God worship was not dependent on sacrifices alone and could take place in the synagogue as well as the Temple. They thus fostered the synagogue as a place of worship, study, and prayer, and raised it to a central and important place in the life of the Jewish people, rivaling the Temple.
Nevertheless the Pharisees were influential in the Temple and the Sadducean priests performed the Divine worship, prayers, sacrifices, and various festival customs according to the direction of the Pharisees due to their popularity with the people (Ant. XIII, 10:6; XVIII, 1:3-4). (For more information on the distinctions between major Jewish parties in the first century see Josephus, Ant., XVIII, 1:1-6; Wars, II, 8:1-14. A lengthy treatment of the Pharisee party, their theology and practices, can be found in Ron Moseley, Yeshua: A Guide to the Real Yeshua and the Original Church; Lederer Books, 1996.)
named: Grk. onoma. See verse 1 above. Gamaliel: Grk. Gamaliēl, a transliteration of Heb. Gamli'él, son of Simeon ben Hillel, and grandson of the great Jewish teacher Hillel the Elder (Shab. 15a). Stern says his name means "God is also for me." His name appears only twice in the Besekh, also Acts 22:3 where Paul testifies that Gamaliel had been his teacher. In Jewish writings he is called "the Elder" because he was the first of six Jewish leaders named Gamaliel, of whom his grandson Gamaliel II was best known. Gamaliel the Elder was the leader of his school of disciples, Beit-Hillel (cf. Matt 19:3). He was in close touch with Diaspora Jews, for three of his letters to various communities outside Israel are preserved in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 11b). The Mishnah declared the importance of Gamaliel the Elder by saying: "When he died the glory of the Torah ceased, and purity and piety perished" (Sotah 9:6).
He died about A.D. 52. The Mishnah declared the importance of Gamaliel the Elder by saying: "When he died the glory of the Torah ceased, and purity and piety perished" (Sotah 9:6). He died about A.D. 52. Later ecclesiastical tradition declared that Gamaliel embraced the Christian faith. The Clementine literature (4th cent.) suggested that he maintained secrecy about his conversion and continued to be a member of the Sanhedrin for the purpose of covertly assisting his fellow Christians (Recognitions of Clement 1:65). Photius (9th cent.) wrote that Gamaliel had been baptized by Peter and John (Photius, Codice 171; cited by Gloag 1:191). The Eastern Orthodox Church venerates Gamaliel as a saint. Modern scholars give little credence to this tradition.
a Torah teacher: Grk. nomodidaskalos, (derived from nomos, "law, Torah" and didaskalos, "teacher," thus, "teacher of Law" or more accurately "Torah-teacher." The term occurs only three times in the Besekh (also Luke 5:17 and 1Tim 1:7). The noun does not occur at all in ancient secular Greek, or in earlier or contemporary Jewish literature. Luke may have coined the term. In the Talmud, Gamaliel has the title Rabban ("our master"), which reflects the lofty respect he earned. He is included as one of the "fathers" in the Tractate Avot ("Fathers"), which records his saying, "Appoint a teacher for yourself and avoid doubt, and make not a habit of tithing by guesswork" (Avot 1:16).
Gamaliel issued many Rabbinic rulings that demonstrated liberality in applying the written Torah (Stern). Examples of his rulings are decrees allowing greater movement to certain groups on Shabbat (Rosh Hashanah 1:4-5), forbidding a husband to annul divorce proceedings without his wife's knowledge (Gittin 4:1-3), and permitting a widow to remarry after only one witness (rather than two) testifies to her husband's death (Yebamot 15:5). He is also shown to be a legal-religious authority by two anecdotes (Pesachim 88b) in which "the king and the queen" went to him for religious advice. Scholars are divided over whether the king was Agrippa I (ruled 41–44 AD) or Agrippa II (50–100 AD), since the Talmud does not fix a date. The former is more likely given the date for the death of Gamaliel.
honored: Grk. timios, adj. by all: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 5 above. the people: Grk. laos. See verse 12 above. His lenient rulings on interpretation of Torah made him popular with the people. having stood: Grk. anistēmi, aor. part. See verse 6 above. The verb alludes to the fact that the members of the Sanhedrin conducted their business while seated. directed: Grk. keleuō, aor., give an authoritative order; command, order, direct. them to put: Grk. poieō, aor. inf., 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.
the men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 4 above. Many versions translate the noun with "apostles." 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. Gamaliel did not want the apostles privy to his advice, but it did become known. for a short time: Grk. brachus, adj., short, brief, little, used here of time. Gamaliel did not anticipate a lengthy discussion.
35 And he said to them, "Men, Israelites, take heed to yourselves what you are about to do to these men.
And: Grk. te, conj. See verse 14 above. he said: Grk. legō, aor. See verse 3 above. to them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun; i.e. the rest of the council members. Men: pl. of Grk. anēr, voc. See verse 1 above. A number of versions mistranslate the noun either with "Fellow" (CEB, ISV, MSG, NRSV, TEV, VOICE) or "People" (CEV, EXB, NLV). Considering the different use of a word for "men" in reference to the apostles, the direct address of anēr is meant to show honor and respect with the connotation of importance or authority. Anēr also sets the members apart since women could not serve in national leadership or judicial roles, and their testimony before the Sanhedrin was severely restricted (Rosh Hashana 1:7; Sanhedrin 3:1; Shebuoth 4:1).
Israelites: pl. of Grk. Israēlitēs, voc., a descendant of Israel the patriarch and member of the people of Israel. The great majority of versions mistranslate the noun as "Israel" and give the direct address as "Men of Israel." However, both nouns are in the form of direct address, and if "Men of Israel," was intended we should expect to read Israēl in the genitive case, not Israēlitēs in the vocative form. A few versions translate the nouns lit. as "Men, Israelites" (DLNT, LEB, LITV, YLT). Calling them "Israelites" gives emphasis to the covenant identity that both Pharisees and Sadducees share in Jacob, as well as emphasizing their authority over all descendants of Jacob wherever they might reside.
take heed: Grk. prosechō, pres. imp., be on the alert, which may be used of (1) putting up one's guard; beware, take heed; or (2) of giving attention to personal obligation; take care, pay attention to. The first usage applies here. The imperative mood depicts an entreaty. to yourselves: pl. of Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun of the third person to denote that the agent and the person acted on are the same. what: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun. you are about: Grk. mellō, pres., a future oriented verb with a pending aspect, being in the offing, be about to, be going to. to do: Grk. prassō, pres. inf., to engage in activity with focus on productivity; do, perform, engage in, carry out. Sometimes the verb prassō is associated with works that might be either good or bad (Rom 9:11; 2Cor 5:10), but most often this verb is associated with evil conduct (e.g., Luke 23:41; John 3:20; Acts 15:29; 16:28; 19:19, 36; 25:11, 25; 26:9, 31; Rom 1:32; 2:1-3; 7:15, 19; 13:4).
to: Grk. epi, prep., used here to denote direction. However, the preposition could be translated "against," to indicate a hostile aim (Phillips NT). Some versions have "with," but this is not the meaning of the preposition. these: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 4 above. This term emphasizes the commonness of the apostles in contrast to the importance of the "men" of the council. Gamaliel urges the council to carefully consider what they what they are about to do. He knew well the hostile attitude of the Sadducee members of the council toward the apostles, which was a continuation of their hatred for Yeshua. They had no previous success in discouraging the apostles from proclaiming Yeshua as the Messiah.
36 For before these days Theudas arose, declaring himself to be someone, to whom were joined a number of men, about four hundred, who was killed, and all, as many as were persuaded by him were dispersed and it came to nothing.
For: Grk. gar, conj. See verse 26 above. before: Grk. pro, prep. indicating precedence, either (1) spatially, 'ahead, before,' (2) temporally, 'earlier than, before' or (3) in rank, before or above. The second usage applies here. these: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. days: pl. of Grk. hēmera may refer to (1) the daylight hours from sunrise to sunset, (2) the civil or legal day that included the night, (3) an appointed day for a special purpose or (4) a longer or imprecise period, such as a timeframe for accomplishing something or a time of life or activity (BAG). The fourth meaning applies here, no doubt in reference to the time following the death of Herod the Great in 1 BC and during the seditions that arose against his son Archelaus.
Theudas: Grk. Theudas ("gift of God"), a proper name. The CJB has "Todah," whereas Delitzsch and MW have "Todas" as a Hebrew name. This is not the Theudas mentioned by Josephus and who appeared during the procuratorship of Fadus, about AD 45 or 46 (Ant. XX, 5:1). arose: Grk. anistēmi, aor. See verse 6 above. The verb is used fig. of making an appearance or coming into public recognition. The opening clause "before these days" would require a date prior to the census of Quirinius (Luke 2:2). declaring: Grk. legō, pres. part. See verse 3 above. himself: Grk. heautou, reflexive pronoun. to be: Grk. eimi, pres. inf. See verse 12 above.
someone: Grk. tis, indefinite pronoun; i.e., "someone to be followed." Gamaliel is careful not to identify Theudas as a self-proclaimed Messiah. to whom: Grk. hos, relative pronoun. were joined: Grk. prosklinō, take sides with or follow as an adherent; join. The verb occurs only here in the Besekh. a number: Grk. arithmos, a 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 men: Grk. anēr. See verse 1 above. about: Grk. hōs, adv. See verse 7 above. four hundred: Grk. tetrakosioi, from tetra, "four" and hekaton, "a hundred," thus, four hundred.
who: Grk. hos. was killed: Grk. anaireō, aor. pass. See verse 33 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. as many as: Grk. hosos, correlative pronoun signifying maximum inclusion; as many as, all who. were persuaded: Grk. peithō, impf. pass., to bring about a convinced state in regard to something; persuade, convince, submit to, conform to. by him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. were dispersed: Grk. dialuō, aor. pass., cause separation; disperse, scatter. and: Grk. kai. it came: Grk. ginomai, aor. mid. See verse 5 above. to: Grk. eis, prep. nothing: Grk. oudeis, adj. See verse 13 above.
Josephus describes the turbulent times during the days of Archelaus when he says,
"there were ten thousand other disorders in Judea, which were like tumults, because a great number put themselves into a warlike posture, either out of hopes of gain to themselves, or out of enmity to the Jews" [i.e., the Judean leaders] (Ant. XVII, 10:4).
"And now Judea was full of robberies; and as the several companies of the seditious lighted upon any one to head them, he was created a king immediately, in order to do mischief to the public. They were in some small measure indeed, and in small matters, hurtful to the Romans; but the murders they committed upon their own people lasted a long while." (Ant. XVII, 10:8).
Josephus mentions only three leaders by name who led uprisings against the Romans and Herodian rule: Judas the son of that Ezekias; Simon, a former slave of Herod the Great, and Athronges, a shepherd turned rebel leader (Ant. XVII, 10:5-7). Gill notes that the Talmud speaks of two men named Theudas, one a physician who commented on Egyptian farming practice (Sanh. 33a; 93a;), and the other a prominent Jew in Rome who declared that a whole goat could be eaten for Passover where he lived instead of Jerusalem, for which the Sages condemned him (Ber. 19a; Pes. 53a-b). Neither of these two men fit the Theudas mentioned by Gamaliel.
Some commentators impugn the reliability of Luke's historical timeline, since according to Josephus the revolt led Theudas occurred decades after the revolt of Judas the Galilean. Actually Luke simply reports what Gamaliel said. Longenecker comments,
"Nineteenth-century criticism usually explained this as a result of Luke's confused dependence on Josephus, arguing that Luke had misunderstood Josephus's later reminiscence in Antiquities XX, 102 (v. 2) of Judas's revolt with the earlier actual revolt and had forgotten some sixty years or more after the event (if indeed he had ever known) that Gamaliel's speech preceded Theudas' rebellion by a decade or so. Many contemporary scholars continue to highlight this problem as being disastrous for any confidence in Luke's historical and chronological accuracy."
Apparently the critics and commentators forget that Josephus published his literary works much later in the first century (Wars of the Jews, c. 75; and Antiquities of the Jews, c. 94). Luke could not have relied on the accounts of Josephus, since Luke-Acts was completed by AD 62. The Theudas mentioned by Luke is obviously not the one in Josephus, but he could be one of the three insurrectionists named in Antiquities XVII. Josephus even points out that there were many more leaders of tumults against the Romans during the days of Archelaus than he was willing to treat. The important fact remains that Gamaliel mentioned one villain who was still remembered in Judea for his evil behavior and Luke faithfully provides the noteworthy actions of the Sanhedrin meeting.
37 After this man, Judas the Galilean arose in the days of the census and drew away people after him; and he perished, and all, as many as were persuaded by him, were scattered.
After: Grk. meta, prep. See verse 26 above. The preposition serves here as a sequential marker. this man: Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. Some versions render the pronoun as "this man" alluding to Theudas in the previous verse. Other versions render the pronoun as a temporal reference simply as "this," or "later." However, the masculine form instead of the neuter form decides the matter in favor of referring to Theudas. Judas: Grk. Ioudas, a transliteration of Heb. Y'hudah ("Judah") meaning "praise YHVH." The name Judas was common among Jews, being made popular by the Jewish hero Judas Maccabeus who led the nation in their fight for independence from Syria in 166 BC. The Besekh mentions seven men named Judas. Stern notes that according to Josephus (Wars VII, 8:1) Judas was the grandfather of Eleazar, a Sicarii assassin and defender of Masada (A.D. 73).
the Galilean: Grk. Galilaios, inhabitant of Galilee, Galilean. "Galilee" (Heb. Galil, lit. "circle" or "region") was the northern part of Israel above the hill country of Ephraim and of Judah and encompassed the areas originally given to the tribes of Naphtali, Asher, Issachar, Zebulun, and Dan. At this time Galilee was a Roman province measuring about 40 miles north to south and about 30 miles east to west. Galilee was bounded by the Province of Syria on the west and north, the River Jordan and Sea of Galilee on the east and the Province of Judea on the south. Josephus mentions Judas in three places (Ant. XVIII, 1:1; XX, 5:2; Wars II, 8:1) and says that he was from Gamala in Gaulanitis, a region east of the Jordan. Judas may have been born in Gamala and later moved to Galilee where he recruited his followers.
arose: Grk. anistēmi, aor. See verse 6 above. in: Grk. en, prep. the days: pl. of Grk. hēmera. See the previous verse. of the census: Grk. apographē , lit. "list" or "inventory," of the statistical reports and declarations of citizens for the purpose of completing the tax lists and family registers (BAG). Various Roman historical documents attest considerable census activity instigated by Caesar Augustus. Suetonius (AD 71-135) in Lives of the Twelve Caesars has several references to the census activity of Augustus (The Life of Augustus 27:5; 37:1; 40:2; The Life of Tiberius 21:1). In fact, according to Suetonius Augustus revived the office of censor, that had been inactive for forty-one years prior to his accession. Tacitus (AD 56-117), the Roman historian, also records the census activity of Augustus, and the taxes collected (Annals of Imperial Rome, Book I).
As Luke reports the census-making began when Caesar Augustus determined to "register all the inhabited earth" (Luke 2:1), which happened in 3 BC. (See my commentary on Luke 2 for the nativity narrative.) A census involved two phases. The first phase was the enrollment by families and the second phase was the pledging or mortgaging of property for the sake of paying taxes (called apotimēsis). This census mentioned here is generally dated as occurring in AD 6 when Quirinius was governor of Syria and so is a separate event distinguished from the "first census" reported in Luke 2:2. Josephus reports that the apotimēsis phase was concluded in thirty-seventh year from Caesar's victory over Antony at the Battle of Actium or AD 7 (Ant. XVIII, 2:1).
and: Grk. kai, conj. drew away: Grk. aphistēmi, aor. people: Grk. laos. See verse 12 above. after: Grk. opisō, adverb of place or time; back, behind, after, backwards. Thayer says the word may be derived from epomai, "to follow" and in the LXX renders Heb. achar (SH-310), the hind or following part, first in Genesis 19:6; (at the) back, behind, after; The term is used here to denote joining oneself to one as an attendant and follower. him: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. Judas "inaugurated a religious and nationalist revolt, contending that God alone was Israel's true King, and that it was therefore high treason against God to pay tribute to Caesar" (Bruce).
and he: Grk. kakeinos (from kai, "and," and ekeinos, "that one"), demonstrative pronoun. perished: Grk. apollumi, aor. mid., may mean (1) cause severe damage; destroy, kill, ruin; or (2) experience disconnection or separation; lose, perish, die. The second meaning applies here. and: Grk. kai. all: pl. of Grk. pas, adj. as many as: Grk. hosos, correlative pronoun. See the previous verse. were persuaded: Grk. peithō, impf. pass. See the previous verse. by him: Grk. autos. were scattered: Grk. diaskorpizō, aor. pass., scatter, disperse.
Commentators (as Bruce, Gilbert, Longenecker and Stern) say that the rebellion of Judas occurred in AD 6, although Josephus does not actually fix a year (Ant. XVIII, 1:1; Wars II, 8:1). He says that "Judas caused the people to revolt, when Quirinius came to take an account of the estates of the Jews" (Ant. XX, 5:2). So it was the actual collection of taxes by the Romans that was the flash point for revolt. Judas was the cause of considerable misery, as Josephus reports:
"this bold attempt proceeded to a great height. All sorts of misfortunes also sprang from these men, and the nation was infected with this doctrine to an incredible degree; one violent war came upon us after another, and we lost our friends which used to alleviate our pains; there were also very great robberies and murder of our principal men. This was done in pretense indeed for the public welfare, but in reality for the hopes of gain to themselves; whence arose seditions, and from them murders of men, which sometimes fell on those of their own people." (Ant. XVIII, 1:1)
While Judas and his followers perished from Roman retaliation, the movement lived on in the party of the Zealots (Ant. XVIII, 1:6).
38 And now I say to you, withdraw from the men of these and release them, because if this plan or work should be of men, it will be destroyed;
And: Grk. kai, conj. now: Grk. nun, adv. of time in the present, 'now' or more emphatically 'right now.' I say: Grk. legō, pres. See verse 3 above. to you: Grk. humeis, pl. pronoun of the second person. withdraw: Grk. aphistēmi, aor. imp. See the previous verse. The second meaning given there applies in this verse. Gamaliel counsels the Sadducees to pull back from a course of action doomed to fail. from: Grk. apo, prep. the men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos. See verse 4 above. of these: pl. of Grk. houtos, demonstrative pronoun. This literal translation of the Greek grammar emphasizes not only the apostles standing in front of the Sanhedrin but all men like them.
and: Grk. kai. release: Grk. aphiēmi, aor. imp., to release or let go with a range of meaning: (1) release from one's presence; (2) release from an obligation, cancel, forgive; (3) let remain behind; (4) leave standing or lying; and (5) permissive sense of let, let go, allow or tolerate. The first meaning applies here. Most versions translate the verb as "keep away," "stay away" or "leave alone," which misses the point of the verb in my view. Gamaliel is not fearful of contagion, but of an unlawful detention that will only aggravate the public. A few versions captures the sense with "let them go" (CEB, NABRE, NIRV, NIV, NJB, NLT). them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun.
because: Grk. hoti, conj. See verse 4 above. The conjunction indicating causality with an inferential aspect. if: Grk ean, conj. that serves as a conditional particle and produces an aspect of tentativeness by introducing a possible circumstance that determines the realization of some other circumstance. this: Grk. houtos. plan: Grk. boulē, counsel or decision. In the LXX boulē renders Heb. etsah (SH-6098), advice or counsel (Deut 32:28; Jdg 20:7). The noun is used often in reference to the counsel of men, but just as often of God as descriptive of His sovereign counsel and plans (Ezra 10:3; Ps 33:11; 73:24; 106:13; 107:11; Isa 4:2; 5:19; 11:2; 14:26; 19:17; Jer 32:19; 49:20; 50:45). In the Besekh the boulē is used of a resolved plan, particularly of the immutable aspect of God's plan (HELPS). The plan always includes the Lord's purpose in them determined before creation (Ps 139:16; John 1:3).
or: Grk. ē, conj. work: Grk ergon generally means a tangible deed, action or accomplishment that may be observed, whether of men or God. should be: Grk. eimi, pres. subj. The subjunctive mood indicates the hypothetical and potential. of men: pl. of Grk. anthrōpos. In other words, drawn from human imagination and desires. it will be destroyed: Grk. kataluō, fut. pass., 3p-sing., may mean (1) throw down with several variations of lit. and fig. meanings, e.g.,(a) tear down, throw down, destroy or demolish; used of structures (Matt 24:2; LXX Ezra 5:12); (b) death of the body (2Cor 5:1); (c) tearing down the work of God (Rom 14:20); (d) do away with, abolish, or annul, as a legal principle (Matt 5:17); (e) ruin or bring to an end (Gal 2:18; LXX 4Macc 4:24); (f) fail, here in reference to "plan;" (g) put down or stop (Acts 5:39). The verb also has the meaning to find lodging or rest (Luke 9:12; LXX Gen 19:2) (BAG).
Some versions translate the verb as "will be overthrown" (e.g., HCSB, MW, NASB, NLT, OJB), but more versions have "will fail" as BAG suggests (CEV, CSB, ESV, GW, NOG, NCV, NIV, NRSV, RSV). CJB has "it will collapse" and TLV has "it will come to an end." Two versions have "be destroyed" (AMP, DARBY) and two have "end in/come to ruin" (CEB, NTE). Most translations ignore the passive voice of the verb, which means the subject receives the action. In other words, the verb does not mean the man-made work will "fall by its own weight" (so Wright), but outside opposition will be brought to bear on the work. The choice of kataluō seems to be used with the destruction of the rebellions led by Theudas and Judas in mind.
The translation of "will fail" in the active voice seems too mild for such an outcome. The verb perhaps implies divine retribution if indeed the apostles proclaim a false messiah. Previous rebellions against God's appointed leader were brought to violent ends, such as Korah (Num 16:25-32) and Absalom (2Sam 18:9-17). Noteworthy is that the verb is used of the attempt of Antiochus Epiphanes to bring observance of Torah to an end, but he failed because faithful Jews pushed back against his decrees (4Macc 4:24f). Not considered by Gamaliel is a movement inspired by Satan, such as the many false religions, some of which have lasted for centuries.
39 but if it is from God, you will not be able to stop them; lest you may even be found fighting against God." And, they were persuaded by him.
but: Grk. de, conj. if: Grk. ei, conj. See verse 8 above. it is: Grk. eimi, pres., 3p-sing. See verse 12 above. from: Grk. ek, prep. with the root meaning of "out of, from within" (DM 102), used here to indicate point of origin. Many versions have "of," which seems to change Gamaliel's meaning. The preposition does not imply something allowed, but something caused. God: Grk. theos, the God of Israel. See verse 4 above. you will not: Grk. ou, adv., particle of strong negation. be able: Grk. dunamai, fut. mid., to be capable of doing or achieving, to have power. to stop: Grk. kataluō, aor. inf. See the previous verse. them: pl. of Grk. autos, personal pronoun, masc. 3p-pl. A few versions render the plural pronoun incorrectly as "it" (CEV, JUB, KJV, MSG, NKJV, WEB).
lest: Grk. mēpote, conj., a marker cautiously expressing possibility and indicating a circumstance or attitude designed to counteract a consequence ordinarily considered undesirable; so that, lest. you may even: Grk. kai, conj. be found: Grk. heuriskō, aor. pass. subj. See verse 10 above. fighting against God: Grk. theomachos, adj. The word is found only here in the Besekh. Gamaliel states a proven axiom of biblical history. God brings to pass what He desires and no one can prevent it (e.g., 2Chr 20:6; Job 9:12; Isa 14:27; 43:13; 46:10). Many commentators treat the declaration of Gamaliel as asserting that success is the measure of truth and thus serves as a prophecy of the success of the Yeshua movement. Stern cautions that mere survival of a group of people does not prove it is from God.
Nevertheless, Gamaliel was right concerning the futility of fighting against God as Yeshua will later remind Paul (Acts 9:5; 26:14). However, the advice is really an example of toleration, that men are not to be punished for their religious opinions (Groag 1:198). The counsel of Gamaliel could hint that he may have had his doubts that the work of the apostles was strictly their own creation. Stern comments that the moderation of Gamaliel
"may have been due to a generous spirit, a desire to protect the Pharisees from Sadducean hostility, or a genuine sensitivity to God's Spirit at work, even though he himself was not a believer." (238)
And: Grk. de, conj. they were persuaded: Grk. peithō, aor. pass. See verse 36 above. by him: Grk. autos, 3p-sing. The logic of Gamaliel was inescapable and the Council members apparently agreed, but the Sadducees were not going to release the apostles without some consequences.
Textual Note: The TR and the WH-text have the last clause beginning verse 40, which is followed by the KJV, most early English versions (except Mace 1729) and a number of modern versions. The modern NA/UBS Greek text has the clause ending verse 39, which is supported by the Vulgate, the Peshitta and other early MSS.
Verdict and Continued Ministry, 5:40-42
40 And having summoned the apostles, having beaten them, they ordered them not to speak on the basis of the name of Yeshua, and released them.
And: Grk. kai, conj. having summoned: Grk. proskaleō, aor. mid. part., to call, invite or summon to one's self or one's presence. the apostles: pl. of Grk. apostolos. See verse 2 above. having beaten them: Grk. derō, aor. part., mistreat or punish in a violent manner; hit, strike. The verb does not accurately convey the degree of physical violence. The same verb is used of someone being beaten with many blows (Luke 12:47-48) and of Yeshua being slapped by the high priest's servant (John 18:23). Jewish law (Makkot 1:1) prescribed flogging for a zomem, an 'intriguer' or 'schemer,' a technical term for a type of false witness, and the prescribed punishment is by the law of retaliation (Deut 19:16-18). The Torah set the number of blows at forty (Deut 25:3).
The Greek syntax implies that the beating followed the summoning and apparently took place in front of the council. Yeshua had prophesied that the apostles would be "flogged [Grk. mastigoō] in the synagogues" (Matt 10:17), so this meeting may have taken place at the synagogue of the high priest. The chief priests had wanted to have the apostles physically beaten at their prior meeting (Acts 4:21), so apparently someone gave the order, perhaps the Deputy High Priest. This was probably not the severe flogging prescribed in Makkot as that involved tying the offender to a post and pulling his clothing off the upper body to administer the flogging (Makkot 22b). Also, the high priest probably would not want blood on the floor of the room. In any event, the punishment was illegal in the absence of a formal trial and conviction of breaking a specific law.
they ordered: Grk. parangellō, aor., 3p-pl. See verse 28 above. them not: Grk. mē, adv. to speak: Grk. laleō, pres. inf. See verse 20 above. on the basis of: Grk. epi, prep. See verse 5 above. With the dative case of the noun following the preposition is used here to denote the basis or reason for the action (Thayer). the name: Grk. onoma. See verse 1 above. of Yeshua: See verse 30 above. and: Grk. kai. released them: 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. The physical beating had satisfied the legal requirements of jurisprudence, and so further incarceration was not warranted. The Sanhedrin still expected the apostles to cease their proclamation of Yeshua as the Messiah.
41 So they indeed departed from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to be disgraced on behalf of his name.
So: Grk. oun, an inferential conj., which is used here to indicate a conclusion connected with data immediately preceding, 'so, therefore, consequently, then. they: pl. of Grk. ho, definite article but used here as a relative pronoun. indeed: Grk. mén, a particle of affirmation; indeed, verily, truly. departed: Grk. poreuomai, impf. mid. See verse 20 above. from: Grk. apo, prep. the presence: Grk. prosōpon is used to mean (1) the face, by which someone is identified; (2) the countenance or visage projected by someone; and (3) a personal presence or the act of appearing before someone. The third meaning is intended here. of the Council: Grk. sunedrion. See verse 21 above.
rejoicing: Grk. chairō, pres. part., has two usages: (1) to be in a state marked by good feeling about an event or circumstance; be happy, glad, delighted, rejoice; and (2) an expression of greeting that is normally tantamount to assuring the other of one's good will, a kind of introductory social ointment; greetings, hail. The first usage is intended here. that: Grk. hoti, conj. they had been considered worthy: Grk. kataxioō, aor. pass., 3p-pl., consider worthy. to be disgraced: Grk. atimazō, aor. pass. inf., deprive of honor or respect; dishonor, disgrace, shame. on behalf of: Grk. huper, prep., lit. "over, above," used to express a stance of concern or interest relating to someone or something, here emphasizing a supportive aspect; for, in behalf of, in the interest of.
his: Grk. autos, personal pronoun. name: Grk. onoma. See verse 1 above. The phrase "his name" refers to Yeshua, as a contrast to the prohibition of the previous verse. Yeshua had told his apostles that they would suffer mistreatment for their loyalty to him, but they did not consider opposition as a burden. The apostles would have agreed with Paul's later statement that "For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison" (2Cor 4:17 NASB).
42 And every day, in the temple and at home, they did not cease teaching and proclaiming the good news of Yeshua the Messiah.
And: Grk. te, conj. See verse 14 above. every: Grk. pas, adj. See verse 5 above. day: Grk. hēmera. See verse 36 above. in: Grk. en, prep. the temple: Grk. hieron. See verse 20 above. and: Grk. kai, conj. at: Grk. kata, prep., the root meaning of which is "down," with the accusative case of the noun following, denotes "place" or "position" (DM 107). home: Grk. oikos, a structure for habitation; house, home and by extension the household of that dwelling. The term implies a fixed residence. The construction "in the temple," the place of public worship, contrasts with "at home," the place of private fellowship. The preposition kata illustrates the difference in elevations between the two locations, thus movement from a higher to a lower plane, with special reference to the end-point (Thayer). They went from the "holy place" to the "ordinary place."
they did not: Grk. ou, adv. cease: Grk. pauō, impf. mid., engage in cessation of an activity or state; stop, cease. teaching: Grk. didaskō, pres. part. See verse 20 above. and: Grk. kai. proclaiming the good news: Grk. euangelizō, pres. mid. part., to bring or announce good news. The verb is used to mean (1) pass on information that spells good tidings to the recipient, and (2) spread good tidings of God's beneficial concern. In the LXX euangelizō stands for Heb. basar, to publish or bear tidings, whether good or bad (DNTT 2:108-109). of Yeshua: See verse 30 above. 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.
The primary identification of Messiah is the King of the Jews, the Son of David. Biblical prophecies speak of his rule over Israel from David's throne in Jerusalem. Jews eagerly anticipated the coming of the Messiah to deliver them from their enemies and establish His kingdom on the earth (Luke 1:69-75). Thus, "Messiah" has special meaning as the hope of Israel, whereas the word "Christ" has an alien and even negative meaning to Jews (Stern 1-2). For more information on the title of Messiah, see my article Who is Yeshua?
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.
BBMS: Henry Morris, Biblical Basis for Modern Science. Baker Book House, 1984.
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.
Gloag: Paton James Gloag (1823-1906), A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on The Acts of the Apostles, T&T Clark, 1870. Online.
HELPS: Gleason L. Archer and Gary Hill, eds., The Discovery Bible New Testament: HELPS Word Studies. Moody Press, 1987, 2011. (Online at BibleHub.com)
ISBE: James Orr, ed., International Standard Bible Encyclopedia. William. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 1939. Website HTML, 2011. Online.
Jeremias: Joichim Jeremias, Jerusalem in the Time of Jesus. Fortress Press, 1975.
Lane: William L. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1974. [New International Commentary on the New Testament]
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.
Mansoor: Menahem Mansoor, "Pharisees," Encyclopaedia Judaica. 2nd ed. Vol. 16. Macmillan Reference USA, 2007. pp. 30-32. Accessed 20 May 2015. Online.
Metzger: Bruce Metzger, A Textual Commentary on the Greek New Testament. 2nd ed. United Bible Societies, 1994.
Morris: Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John. William B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1971. (New International Commentary on the New Testament)
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.
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.
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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