Acts 4:17
But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.
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(17) Let us straitly threaten them.—The Greek gives literally, let us threaten them with threats. The phrase gives the Hebrew idiom for expressing intensity by reduplication, as in “blessing I will bless thee” (Genesis 22:17), “dying thou shalt die” (Genesis 2:17, marg.), and, as far as it goes, indicates that St. Luke translated from a report of the speech which Caiaphas had delivered in Aramaic. It is a perfectly possible alternative that the High Priest, speaking in Greek, reproduced, as the LXX, often does, the old Hebrew formula.

4:15-22 All the care of the rulers is, that the doctrine of Christ spread not among the people, yet they cannot say it is false or dangerous, or of any ill tendency; and they are ashamed to own the true reason; that it testifies against their hypocrisy, wickedness, and tyranny. Those who know how to put a just value upon Christ's promises, know how to put just contempt upon the world's threatenings. The apostles look with concern on perishing souls, and know they cannot escape eternal ruin but by Jesus Christ, therefore they are faithful in warning, and showing the right way. None will enjoy peace of mind, nor act uprightly, till they have learned to guide their conduct by the fixed standard of truth, and not by the shifting opinions and fancies of men. Especially beware of a vain attempt to serve two masters, God and the world; the end will be, you can serve neither fully.What shall we do to these men? - The object which they had in view was evidently to prevent their preaching. The miracle was performed, and it was believed by the people to have been made. This they could not expect to be able successfully to deny. Their only object, therefore, was to prevent the apostles from making the use which they saw they would to convince the people that Jesus was the Messiah. The question was, in what way they should prevent this; whether by putting them to death, by imprisoning them, or by scourging them; or whether by simply exerting theft authority and forbidding them. From the former they were deterred, doubtless, by fear of the multitude; and they therefore adopted the latter, and seemed to suppose that the mere exertion of their authority would be sufficient to deter them from this in future.

The council - Greek: The "Sanhedrin." This body was composed of 71 or 72 persons, and was entrusted with the principal affairs of the nation. It was a body of vast influence and power, and hence they supposed that their command might be sufficient to restrain ignorant Galileans from speaking. Before this same body, and probably the same men, our Saviour was arraigned, and by them condemned before he was delivered to the Roman governor, Matthew 26:59, etc. And before this same body, and in the presence of the same men, Peter had just before denied his Lord, Matthew 26:70, etc. The fact that the disciples had fled on a former occasion, and that Peter had denied his Saviour, may hate operated to induce them to believe that they would be terrified by their threats, and deterred from preaching publicly in the name of Jesus.

A notable miracle - A known, undeniable miracle.

That it spread - That the knowledge of it may not spread among them any further.

Let us straitly threaten them - Greek: "Let us threaten them with a threat." This is a "Hebraism" expressing intensity, certainty, etc. The threat was a command Acts 4:18 not to teach, implying their displeasure if they did do it. This threat, however, was not effectual. On the next occasion, which occurred soon after Acts 5:40, they added beating to their threats in order to deter them from preaching in the name of Jesus.

17. But that it spread no further … let us straitly—strictly.

threaten … that they speak henceforth to no man in this name—Impotent device! Little knew they the fire that was burning in the bones of those heroic disciples.

Straitly threaten them; the pleonasm here used implies a very sore and heavy threatening, as of the most grievous punishment upon the most heinous fact.

That they speak henceforth to no man in this name; either,

1. By preaching; or:

2. By praying in it; or:

3. By doing miracles again by it.

But that it spread no further among the people,.... Meaning not in Jerusalem; for the fame of this miracle was spread among all the inhabitants of that city; but in other parts of the nation:

let us straitly threaten them; or "in threatening threaten them"; that is, severely threaten them with imprisonment, or with the scourging of forty stripes save one, or with death itself.

That they speak henceforth to no man in this name; which through indignation and contempt they do not mention, but mean the name of Jesus: and their sense is, that the apostles, from this time forward, should not teach, or preach the doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, or any other doctrine of the Gospel, in the name of Jesus, to any man, Jew or Gentile; or perform any miracle in his name, or call upon his name, and make use of it, for the healing of any person, or doing any miraculous work. The Ethiopic version is a very odd one, and quite contrary to the sense of the sanhedrim, "that they should not speak any more but in the name of the man Jesus".

But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.
Acts 4:17-18. In order, however, that it be not further brought out among the people, i.e. spread by communication hither and thither among the people, even beyond Jerusalem. The subject is τὸ σημεῖον, not διδαχή; but the former is conceived of and dreaded as promoting the latter. ἐπὶ πλεῖον, magis, i.e. here ulterius. See Acts 20:9, Acts 24:4; 2 Timothy 2:16; 2 Timothy 3:9; Plat. Phaedr. p. 261 B; Gorg. p. 453 A; and Stallb. in loc.; Phaed. p. 93 B; Xen. de vect. 4. 3. Comp. ἐπὶ μᾶλλον, Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 48.

Observe that the confession of Acts 4:16, made in the bosom of the council, in confidential deliberation, and without the presence of a third party, is therefore by no means “inconceivable” (in opposition to Zeller). The discussion in the council itself may have been brought about in various ways, if not even by secret friends of Jesus in the Sanhedrim (Neander, Lange).

ἀπειλῇ ἀπειλησ.] emphatically threaten. Comp. Luke 22:15; Lobeck, Paral. p. 523 ff.; Winer, p. 434 [E. T. 584].

λαλεῖν] is quite general, to speak; for it corresponds to the two ideas, φθέγγεσθαι[157] and διδάσκειν, Acts 4:18.

ἘΠῚ Τῷ ὈΝΌΜ. ΤΟΎΤῼ] so that the name uttered is the basis on which the ΛΑΛΕῖΝ rests. Comp. on Luke 24:47. They do not now name the name contemptuously, but do so only in stating the decision, Acts 4:18.

The article before the infinitive brings into stronger prominence the object; Bernhardy, p. 356; Winer, p. 303 [E. T. 406]. Concerning μή in such a case, see Baeumlein, Partik. p. 296 f.

[157] On μὴ φθέγγεσθαι, not to become audible, Erasmus correctly remarks: “Plus est quam ne loquerentur; q. d. ne hiscerent aut ullam vocem ederent.” Comp. Castalio. See on φθέγγεσθαι, Dorvill. ad Charit. p. 409.

Acts 4:17. ἐπὶ πλεῖον may be taken as = latius (2 Timothy 2:16; 2 Timothy 3:9) or = diutius (Acts 20:9; Acts 24:4), but the context favours the former. The phrase is quite classical, and it occurs several times in LXX, cf. Wis 8:12; 3Ma 5:18.—διανεμηθῇ: only here in N.T. but frequently used in classical writers in active and middle—to divide into portions, to distribute, to divide among themselves—here = lest it should spread abroad (or better perhaps in ([158])) It has been taken by some as if it had a parallel in ὡς γάγγραινα νομὴν ἕξει, 2 Timothy 2:17, and expressed that the report of the Apostles’ teaching and power might spread and feed like a cancer (see Bengel, Blass, Zöckler, Rendall), but although νέμω in the middle voice (and possibly ἐπινέμω) could be so used, it is very doubtful how far διανέμω could be so applied. At the same time we may note that διανέμω is a word frequently used in medical writers, Hobart, Medical Language of St. Luke, pp. 196, 197, and that it, with the two other great medical words of similar import, διασπείρειν and ἀναδιδόναι, is peculiar to St. Luke. In the LXX διανέμω is only found once, Deuteronomy 29:26 (25), in its classical sense as a translation of the Hebrew חָלַק.—ἀπειλῇ ἀπειλησώμεθα: if we retain the reading in T.R., the phrase is a common Hebraism, cf. Acts 5:28, Acts 23:14, Acts 2:17; Acts 2:30, Luke 22:15, cf. John 6:29, Jam 5:7, and from the LXX, Matthew 13:14; Matthew 15:4. The form of the Hebrew formula giving the notion of intenseness is rendered in A.V. by “straitly,” as by the revisers (who omit ἀπειλῇ here) in Acts 5:28. Similar expressions are common in the LXX, and also in the Apocrypha, cf. Sir 48:11, Jdt 6:4, and occasionally a similar formula is found in Greek authors, see especially Simcox, Language of the N. T., p. 83, and Blass, Grammatik des N. G., pp. 116, 117.—ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνόματι: on the name, i.e., resting on, or with reference to, this name, as the basis of their teaching, Winer-Moulton, xlviii. c., cf. Acts 5:28, and Luke 24:47; Luke 9:48; Luke 21:8. The phrase has thus a force of its own, although it is apparently interchangeable with ἐν, Acts 4:10 (Simcox, see also Blass, in loco); Rendall takes it = “about the name of Jesus,” ἐπί being used as often with verbs of speech.—τούτῳ: “quem nominare nolunt, Acts 5:28, vid. tamen 18,” Blass; (on the hatred of the Jews against the name of Jesus and their periphrastic titles for him, e.g., otho ha’ish, “that man,” “so and so,” see “Jesus Christ in the Talmud,” H. Laible, pp. 32, 33 (Streane)).

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

17. But that it spread] i.e. the fame of the miracle and the consequent belief in the Divinity of Jesus.

let us straitly threaten them] The best MSS. omit the word here rendered straitly. The literal translation of the Received Text is “let us threaten them with a threat,” a Hebrew mode of expression often imitated in the N. T., but apparently not found here in the earliest copies.

in this name] The preposition here is ἐπὶ, not ἐν, as in Acts 4:7. The force of it is the same which it has in John 12:16, “they remembered that these things were written of him.” The Apostles were forbidden to preach about the name, i.e. the authority and Divinity, of Jesus.

Acts 4:17. Διανεμηθῇ) They regard the whole as a gangrene or canker. For so it is described in 2 Timothy 2:17, “Their word will eat or have pasture (νομὴν ἓξει) as doth a canker or gangrene” (γάγγραινα).—ἀπειλῇ, with threatening) Your efforts are vain, ye rulers. These men have a resource to flee to: Acts 4:29.—τούτῳ, this) They do not deign to mention the name Jesus: ch. Acts 5:28.

Verse 17. - Threaten for straitly threaten, A.V. and T.R. The subject of that it spread seems to be "a notable miracle." They could not deny that it had taken place, but they could prevent the knowledge of it spreading, by forbidding the apostles to speak of the Name of Jesus in which it had been wrought. Acts 4:17It spread (διανεμηθῇ)

Only here in New Testament. Lit., be distributed. In 2 Timothy 2:17, "their word will eat as a canker," is, literally, will have distribution or spreading (νομὴν ἕξει). Bengel, however, goes too far when he represents the members of the council as speaking in the figure of a canker. "They regard the whole as a canker."

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