Acts 2:5
And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
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(5) There were dwelling at Jerusalem.—The phrase is one of frequent occurrence in St. Luke’s writings (Luke 13:4; Acts 1:19; Acts 4:16). As a word, it implied a more settled residence than the “sojourning” of Luke 24:18 (see Note), Hebrews 11:9, but was probably sufficiently wide in its range to include the worshippers who had come up to keep the feast.

Devout men.—For the meaning of the word see Note on Luke 2:25. The primary meaning was one of cautious reverence, the temper that handles sacred things devoutly. As such, it was probably used to include proselytes as well as Jews by birth. The words that are added, “from every nation under heaven,” reduce the probability to a certainty. It appears again in Acts 8:2.

Acts 2:5-13. And there were dwelling — Or sojourning; in Jerusalem, Jews — Now gathered from all parts, by the peculiar providence of God; devout — Greek, ευλαβεις, pious men, from every nation under heaven — Should this be taken for an hyperbole, we have other instances in Scripture of the like way of speaking; as where we read of cities walled up to heaven, Deuteronomy 1:28; and of the dread of the Jews falling upon every nation under the whole heaven, Deuteronomy 2:25. But, not to insist upon it, that the Jews were then so numerous as to have spread through all countries, so that, as we read in Josephus, (Bell., Acts 2:16,) “there was not a people upon earth who had not Jews inhabiting among them;” the expression here can signify no more than that there were some at Jerusalem, at that time, from all the several nations among whom the Jews were dispersed. Now when this was noised abroad — When this strange report came to be circulated, as it presently was; the multitude came together — From all parts of Jerusalem; and were confounded — Were utterly astonished; because that every man — Of this large and various assembly; heard one or other of them — As they addressed themselves by turns to people of a different language; speak in his own language — The language he had known from a child. And they marvelled — At this wonderful event; saying one to another — As they conversed upon it; Behold — How unaccountable is this! are not all these which speak, Galileans? — By birth and country? and how hear we every man — While they direct their speech to so many different people, who are here come together out of so many nations, speaking to each of us in our own tongue? Parthians, &c. — The reader, who is acquainted with ancient history, needs little or no information respecting the nations here mentioned. We may observe, however, that by the Elamites, the Persians are meant, and, by the dwellers in Mesopotamia, Bishop Cumberland thinks the remainder of the Jews are intended, who had been carried captive into Assyria, first by Tiglath-Pileser, (2 Kings 15:29,) and afterward by Shalmaneser, and placed in the cities of the Medes, 2 Kings 17:6. And in Judea — The dialect of which greatly differed from that of Galilee: Asia — The country strictly so called, Asia Minor: strangers of Rome — Greek, οιεπημουντες Ρωμαιοι, Roman sojourners, persons born at Rome, but now living at Jerusalem. These seem to have come to Jerusalem after those who are above mentioned. All of them were partly Jews by birth, and partly proselytes. Cretes — The inhabitants of one island seem to be mentioned for those of all. We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God — Meaning, probably, those which related to the incarnation, life, doctrine, and especially to the miracles, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ; together with the effusion of his Spirit, as a fulfilment of his promises, and the glorious dispensations of gospel grace: or, the surprising testimonies God had given to the divine mission of Jesus, and to his being the true Messiah, the Son of God. It seems, while the apostles and other disciples were discoursing on these marvellous events, they spoke to different classes of people there assembled in such a great variety of languages, and with so much readiness and propriety, as were perfectly astonishing and unexampled, even among the most learned of mankind. And they were all amazed and in doubt — That is, the pious, or well disposed were; saying one to another, What meaneth this? — What can possibly be intended by this unaccountable appearance; but others mocking — The unbelievers begin with mocking, thence proceed to cavilling, Acts 4:7; to threats, Acts 2:17; to imprisoning, Acts 5:18; to blows, Acts 2:40; to slaughter, Acts 7:58. These mockers appear to have been some of the natives of Judea, and inhabitants of Jerusalem, (who understood only the dialect of the country,) by the apostles immediately directing their discourse to them in the next verse. These men are full of new wine — Greek, γλευκους, sweet wine, as the word properly signifies. There was no new wine, or must, so early in the year as pentecost; as Beza and many others have observed. Thus natural men are wont to ascribe supernatural things to mere natural causes; and many times as impudently and unskilfully as in the present case. We are informed by Plutarch, that the ancients had ways of preserving their wine sweet a great while, and such wines are known to be very intoxicating.

2:5-13 The difference in languages which arose at Babel, has much hindered the spread of knowledge and religion. The instruments whom the Lord first employed in spreading the Christian religion, could have made no progress without this gift, which proved that their authority was from God.There were dwelling at Jerusalem - The word rendered "dwelling" - κατοικοῦντες katoikountes - properly means to have a fixed and permanent habitation, in distinction from another word - παροικοῦντες paroikeountes - which means to have a temporary and transient residence in a place. But it is not always confined to this signification; and it is not improbable that many wealthy foreign Jews had a permanent residence in Jerusalem for the convenience of being near the temple. This was the more probable, as about that time the Messiah was expected to appear, Matthew 2.

Jews - Jews by birth; of Jewish descent and religion.

Devout men - ἀνδρες ἐυλαβεῖς andres eulabēis. Literally, men of cautious and circumspect lives, or who lived in a prudent manner. The term is then applied to men who were cautious about offending God; who were careful to observe his commandments. It is hence a general expression to denote pious or religious men, Acts 8:2, "And devout men carried Stephen to his burial"; Luke 2:25," And the same man (Simeon) was just, and devout." The word "devout" means "yielding a solemn and reverential attention to God in religious exercises, particularly in prayer, pious, sincere, solemn" (Webster), and very well expresses the force of the original.

Out of every nation under heaven - A general expression meaning from all parts of the earth. The countries from which they came are more particularly specified in Acts 2:9-11. The Jews at that time were scattered into almost all nations, and in all places had synagogues. See the John 7:35 note; James 1:1 note; 1 Peter 1:1 note. Still they would naturally desire to be present as often as possible at the great feasts of the nation in Jerusalem. Many would seek a residence there for the convenience of being present at the religious solemnities. Many who came up to the Feast of the Passover would remain to the Feast of the Pentecost. The consequence of this would be, that on such occasions the city would be full of strangers. We are told that when Titus besieged Jerusalem, an event which occurred at about the time of the Feast of the Passover, there were no less than three million people in the city.

Josephus also mentions an instance in which great multitudes of Jews from other nations were present at the feast of Pentecost (Jewish Wars, book 2, chapter 3, section 1). What is here stated as occurring at that time is true of the inhabitants of Jerusalem - four or five thousand in number who reside there now. A large portion of them are from abroad. Prof. Hackett (Illustrations of Scripture, p. 228, 229) says of them, "Few of them, comparatively, are natives of the country. The majority of them are aged persons, who repair to the holy city to spend the remainder of their days and secure the privilege of being buried in the Valley of the Kedron, which, as their traditions assert, is to be the scene of the last judgment. At the Jews' Wailing Place one day I met a venerable man, bowed with age, apparently beyond 80, who told me that, in obedience to his sense of duty, he had forsaken his children and home in England, and had come, unattended by any friend, to die and make his grave at Jerusalem. Others of them are those who come here to fulfill a vow, or acquire the merit of a pilgrimage, and then return to the countries where they reside. Among them may be found representatives from almost every land, though the Spanish, Polish, and German Jews compose the greater number.

Like their brethren in other parts of Palestine, except a few in some commercial places, they are wretchedly poor, and live chiefly on alms contributed by their countrymen in Europe and America. They devote most of their time to holy employments, as they are called; they frequent the synagogues, roam over the country to visit places memorable in their ancient history, and read assiduously the Old Testament and the writings of their rabbis. Those of them who make any pretensions to learning understand the Hebrew and rabbinic, and speak as their vernacular tongue the language of the country where they formerly lived, or whence their fathers emigrated."

5-11. there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men out of every nation—not, it would seem, permanently settled there (see Ac 2:9), though the language seems to imply more than a temporary visit to keep this one feast. Not only constant inhabitants, but such as had on occasion their lodgings there; partly out of a constant respect, which both Jews and proselytes had for that place, (for the temple and their worship sake; it being also a place for learning and education, as appears by the colleges and synagogues mentioned, Acts 6:9), but especially now the concourse from all parts must needs have been very great, it being one of those times in which all the males were to appear before God: to which might be added, the great expectation they had of the Messiah made them to omit no occasion of inquiring concerning him, the prophecies concerning the time of his coming being fulfilled, and they could not be ignorant of the many and great things concerning the true Messiah.

Out of every nation under heaven; whither the Jews had been dispersed in the two or three greater or other lesser dispersions. Thus in part was fulfilled what was prophesied, Isaiah 43:5.

And there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews,.... The Ethiopic version adds, "proselytes"; but they were not all such, as appears from the following account of them; many, and it seems the most of them were of Jewish extract and descent, and others were proselytes to the Jewish religion: these were not natives of Jerusalem, but such as were born in other countries, Acts 2:8 but were come to Jerusalem, either to learn the Hebrew language, which was necessary to their reading and understanding the books of Moses, and the prophets written in it; or for an increase of spiritual knowledge and piety; or, as is generally thought, to keep the feast of Pentecost; or rather, as Dr. Lightfoot thinks, they were come hither in great numbers from all parts, in expectation of the Messiah and his kingdom; the time being up, according to Daniel's weeks, and other prophecies, that he should appear: and these were

devout men; men of religion and piety, of faith and holiness; and as the Syriac version renders it, "who feared God"; for in these worst of times, among this wicked generation of men, there were some who had the fear of God before their eyes, and on their hearts; and these were collected from different quarters, to be witnesses of this amazing dispensation: for they came

out of every nation under heaven; that is, wherever the Jews were dispersed; being the descendants of those that were carried captive at different times, and into different places; as by Salmanezer, Nebuchadnezzar, Ptolomy Lagus, Antiochus, and in other lesser dispersions.

And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
Acts 2:5 gives, as introductory to what follows, preliminary information how it happened that Jews of so very diversified nationality were witnesses of the occurrence, and heard their mother-languages spoken by the inspired. Stolz, Paulus, and Heinrichs are entirely in error in supposing that Acts 2:5 refers to the λαλεῖν ἑτέρ. γλ., and that the sense is: “Neque id secus quam par erat, nam ex pluribus nationibus diverse loquentibus intererant isti coetui homines,” etc. The context, in fact, distinguishes the ʼΙουδαῖοι and the Γαλιλαῖοι (so designated not as a sect, but according to their nationality), clearly in such a way that the former are members of the nation generally, and the latter are specially and exclusively Galileans. See also van Hengel, p. 9.

ἦσανκατοικοῦντες] they were dwelling, is not to be taken of mere temporary residence (Kuinoel, Olshausen, and others), but of the domicile (Luke 13:4; Acts 7:48; Acts 9:22, al.; Plat. Legg. ii. p. 666 E, xii: p. 969 C) which they had taken up in the central city of the theocracy, and that from conscientious religious feelings as Israelites (hence εὐλαβεῖς, comp. on Luke 2:25). Comp. Chrys.: τὸ κατοικεῖν εὐλαβείας ἦν σημεῖον· πῶς; ἀπὸ τοσούτων γὰρ ἐθνῶν ὄντες καὶ πατρίδας ἀφέντεςᾤκουν ἐκεῖ.

τῶν ὑπὸ τὸν οὐραν.] sc. ἐθνῶν, of the nations to be found under heaven (Bernhardy).

ὑπὸ τὸν οὐρανόν is classical, ὑπὸ τὸν ἥλιον. Comp. Plat. Ep. p. 326 C, Tim. p. 23 C. The whole expression has something solemn about it, and is, as a popular hyperbole, to be left in all its generality. Comp. Deuteronomy 2:25; Colossians 1:23.

Acts 2:5. κατοικοῦντες, probably used not merely of temporary dwellers for the Feast, but of the devout Jews of the Diaspora, who for the purpose of being near the Temple had taken up their residence in Jerusalem, perhaps for the study of the Law, perhaps to live and to die within the city walls (see St. Chrysostom’s comment on the word). They were not proselytes as is indicated by Ἰουδαῖοι, but probably devout men like Symeon, Luke 2:25, who is described by the same word εὐλαβής, waiting for the consolation of Israel. The expression, as Zöckler points out, is not quite synonymous with that in Acts 2:14 (or with Luke 13:4), and he explains it as above. There is certainly no need to consider the word, with Spitta and Hilgenfeld, as an epithet added by a later editor, or to omit Ἰουδαῖοι, as Blass strongly urges (while Hilgenfeld desires to retain this word). The word may fairly be regarded as contrasted with Γαλιλαῖοι (Acts 2:7). The same view of it as applied here to foreign Jews who had their stated residence in Jerusalem is maintained by Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. ii., p. 291 (note) E.T.—κατοικεῖν is used generally of taking up a permanent abode as in contrast to παροικεῖν used of temporary sojourn, and on the frequent use of the word in St. Luke, Friedrich, ubi supra, p. 39. But here it is followed most probably by εἰς not ἐν, constructio prægnans, cf. Wendt and Weiss as against W.H[117] (T.R. ἐν and so Blass in [118]). Weiss, Apostelgeschichte, p. 36, regards this frequent use of εἰς as characteristic of the style of Acts, cf. Acts 9:21, Acts 14:25, and considers it quite inconceivable that ἐν would be changed into εἰς, although the reverse is likely enough to have happened (Wendt).—εὐλαβεῖς, see Acts 8:2.—ἀπὸ παντὸς ἔθνους: “from every nation,” so R.V.; “out of,” A.V., but this would represent ἐκ rather than ἀπό, and would imply that they belonged to these different nations, not that they were born Jews residing among them and coming from them (Humphry, Commentary on R.V.).—τῶν ὑπὸ τὸν οὐρανόν, sc. ἐθνῶν. The phrase is used frequently in LXX, cf. Deuteronomy 2:25, and in classical literature by Plato and Dem. If κατοικοῦντες includes the Jews who had come up to the Feast as well as those who had settled in Jerusalem from other countries, this expression is strikingly illustrated by the words of Philo, De Monarchia, ii. 1, p. 223. The Pentecost would be more largely attended even than the Passover, as it was a more favourable season for travelling than the early spring (see Wetstein, in loco), and cf. Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. ii., pp. 291, 307, E.T.

[117] Westcott and Hort’s The New Testament in Greek: Critical Text and Notes.

[118] R(omana), in Blass, a first rough copy of St. Luke.

5. there were dwelling at Jerusalem, &c.] Probably, in addition to the visitors, many religious Jews from foreign parts were permanent residents in Jerusalem, for it was to the Jew a thing much to be desired, that he might die and be buried near the Holy City. It is said (T. B. Kethuboth, III a), “Everyone that is buried in the land of Israel is in as good case as if he were buried under the altar,” and there are many other like expressions in the immediate context of this quotation. That among the crowd were some residents seems the more likely, because when they recognized the new tongues, some asked as though they were acquainted with the speakers, “Are not these men Galilæans?”

devout men] The adjective is used of the aged Simeon (Luke 2:25), and of the men who carried Stephen to his burial (Acts 8:2).

out of every nation under heaven] Hyperbole, as we use from every part of the world. So (Josephus, B. Jud. ii. 16. 4) Herod Agrippa says, “There is not a nation in the world which does not contain some of us” (Jews). Cp. Acts 2:10, note on Libya.

Acts 2:5. Κατοικοῦντες, dwelling) These had not come merely to Pentecost [but were regular residents], although the word, dwelling, is limited in Acts 2:9-10.[9] [They had come to Jerusalem to dwell there, for this reason, as it seems, because the time for the advent of the Messiah was completed; for which reason they were desirous to be present on the spot.—V. g.]—Ἰουδαῖοι, Jews) For no one of those present was of the Gentiles, but all were Jews of various nations.—τῶν) Understand lands. Luke 17:24, note.

[9] For they were originally Jews of the dispersion, Parthians, etc.—E. and T.

Verse 5. - Now for and, A.V. ; from for out of, A.V. Dwelling; either Jews come up for the feast, or perhaps rather domiciled at Jerusalem from motives of piety. Acts 2:5Dwelling (κατοικοῦντες)

Denoting an abiding; but here it must be taken in a wide sense, since among these are mentioned those whose permanent residence was in Mesopotamia, etc. See Acts 2:9.


See on Luke 2:25.

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