Acts 4:4
Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.
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(4) The number of the men was about five thousand.—Better, became, or was made up to, about five thousand. It seems probable, though not certain, that St. Luke meant this as a statement of the aggregate number of disciples, not of those who were converted on that day. As in the narrative of the feeding of the five thousand (Matthew 14:21), women and children were not included. The number was probably ascertained, as on that occasion, by grouping those who came to baptism and to the breaking of bread by hundreds and by fifties (Mark 6:40). The connection in which the number is given makes it probable that it represents those who, under the influence of the impression made by the healing of the cripple and by St. Peter’s speech, attended the meetings of the Church that evening. The coincidence of the numbers in the two narratives could scarcely fail to lead the disciples to connect the one with the other, and to feel, as they broke the bread and blessed it, that they were also giving men the true bread from heaven.

Acts 4:4. Howbeit, many of them which heard the word believed — For though the preachers were persecuted, the word prevailed. Thus the suffering days of the church have often been her growing days. And the number of the men, besides women and children, was about five thousand — “The assembly that owned Christianity was increased to above five thousand, and that success grieved the malignants.” — Baxter. Dr. Benson supposes that five thousand were converted on this occasion, besides the three thousand mentioned before, Acts 2:41. Had it been said, as there, that so many were added to the church, it would have determined the sense to be as he and some others understand it; but the use of the word

εγενηθη, became, favours the interpretation, that the whole number, including those who had been converted before, now became about five thousand. It is hardly to be thought (unless it were expressly asserted) that another day should be so much more remarkable for its number of converts than that on which the Spirit descended. However, supposing only two thousand were now converted, it is a glorious proof of the truth of Christianity, and no example can be given of the philosophers, or any other teachers, succeeding so gloriously in making converts to such holy and self-denying doctrines.

4:1-4 The apostles preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. It includes all the happiness of the future state; this they preached through Jesus Christ, to be had through him only. Miserable is their case, to whom the glory of Christ's kingdom is a grief; for since the glory of that kingdom is everlasting, their grief will be everlasting also. The harmless and useful servants of Christ, like the apostles, have often been troubled for their work of faith and labour of love, when wicked men have escaped. And to this day instances are not wanting, in which reading the Scriptures, social prayer, and religious conversation meet with frowns and checks. But if we obey the precepts of Christ, he will support us.Howbeit - But; notwithstanding.

Many of them ... - This was one of the instances, which has since been so often repeated, in which persecution is seen to have a tendency to extend and establish the faith which it was designed to destroy. It finally came to be a proverb that "the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church"; and there is no lesson which men have been so slow to learn as that to oppose and persecute men is the very way to confirm them in their opinions and to spread their doctrines. It was supposed here that the disciples were few; that they were without power, wealth, and influence; and that it was easy to crush them at once. But God made their persecution the means of extending, in a signal manner, the truths of the gospel and the triumphs of his word. And so in all ages it has been, and so it ever will be.

And the number ... - It seems probable that in this number of 5,000 there were included the 120 persons who are mentioned in Acts 1:15, and the 3,000 people who were converted on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:41. It does not appear probable that 5,000 would have been assembled and converted in Solomon's porch Acts 3:11 on occasion of the cure of the lame man. Luke doubtless means to say that, up to this time, the number of persons who had joined themselves to the apostles was about 5,000. On this supposition, the work of religion must have made a very rapid advance. How long this was after the day of Pentecost is not mentioned, but it is clear that it was at no very distant period; and the accession of near two thousand to the number of believers was a very striking proof of the power and presence of the Holy Spirit.

Of the men - Of the "persons." The word "men" is often used without reference to sex, Luke 11:31; Romans 4:8; Romans 11:4.

4. the number of the men—or males, exclusive of women; though the word sometimes includes both.

about five thousand—and this in Jerusalem, where the means of detecting the imposture or crushing the fanaticism, if such it had been, were within everyone's reach, and where there was every inducement to sift it to the bottom.

Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God, Romans 10:17. It being the ordinary means which God hath appointed; the apostles themselves make use of it towards the conviction of this people. The number of the hearers is not intended to be set here, or in any other place; but either these

five thousand were such as were converted at this sermon, or rather the number converted by St. Peter’s former sermon, Acts 2:14-40, were at this sermon made thus many; howsoever, the increase which God gave was very great.

Howbeit, many of them which heard the word,.... The doctrine of the Gospel, preached by Peter and John:

believed; the report of it, and in Christ, as risen from the dead, which was the sum and substance of it: and this they did, notwithstanding the opposition made by the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducces, and the violence they used to the apostles; for though they kept their persons in hold, they could not stop the free course of the word, which ran and was glorified:

and the number of the men was about five thousand; or "was five thousand", as the Alexandrian copy, the Vulgate Latin, and Ethiopic versions read; that is the number, not of the hearers, but "of them that believed", was so many; and so read the Arabic and Ethiopic versions: there were so many persons converted at this time; for this number does not include the three thousand that were converted under the first sermon, but regards those who now became true believers, and were added to the church; so that there were now eight thousand persons added to it; a great increase indeed! now had Christ the dew of his youth, and now were these fishermen fishers of men indeed: that our Lord's feeding five thousand men with five barley loaves and two fishes, should have any regard to the conversion of these five thousand men, is but a conceit.

Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the {b} number of the men was about five thousand.

(b) While they thought to diminish the number, they actually increased it.

Acts 4:4. As a contrast to this treatment of the apostles (δέ), Luke notices the great increase of the church, which was effected by the address of the apostle. The number of believers had before this been above three thousand (Acts 2:41; Acts 2:47); by the present increase the number of men (the women, therefore, being not even included—on account of the already so considerable multitude of believers) came to be about five thousand. The supposition of Olshausen, “that at first, perhaps, only men had joined the church,” is arbitrary, and contrary to Acts 1:14. At variance with the text, and in opposition to Acts 5:14, de Wette makes women to be included.

Acts 4:4. ἐγενήθη: “came to be” R.V., only here in St. Luke, except in the quotation in Acts 1:20 (see also Acts 7:13, ., and Blass in [148]—hellenistic, frequently in LXX; in N.T. cf. 1 Thessalonians 2:14, Colossians 4:11; also Jos., Ant., x., 10, 2, Winer-Schmiedel, p. 108, note).—ἀνδρῶν. This word here appears to be used of men only (so Wetstein, Blass), cf. Matthew 14:21, Mark 6:40, for although we cannot argue with Weiss from Acts 5:14, that women in great numbers did not join the Church until a later period (cf. also Acts 2:41, where women may well have been included), yet it seems that St. Luke, by his use of one word, ἀνδρῶν, here refers to the additional number of men. St. Luke does not say that five thousand of St. Peter’s hearers were converted, in addition to those already converted at Pentecost (although Dr. Hort, following Chrys., Aug[149], Jer[150], takes this view, Judaistic Christianity, p. 47), or that five thousand were added, but his words certainly mark the growing expansion of the Church in spite of threatening danger, as this is also evident on the view that five thousand represent the total number of believers. The instances above from the Gospels are generally quoted to confirm the view here taken, but Wendt, in loco, curiously quotes the same passages in proof that ἀνδρῶν here includes women. The numbers are regarded by him as by Weizsäcker as artificial, but see above on Acts 1:15.

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

[149] Augustine.

[150] Jerome, Hieronymus.

4. Howbeit] Better, But, i.e. not being deterred by the arrest of the Apostles.

many of them which heard the word believed] on Jesus; for Peter had set Him before them as that Prophet concerning whom Moses had spoken.

and the number of the men was] [better, came to] about five thousand] That is, the society had been increased by nearly two thousand converts since the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:41).

Acts 4:4. Τῶν ἀνδρῶν, the men) The number, therefore, with the women and children, was much greater. In this multitude, amounting to about five thousand, there seem to be included those who are mentioned in ch. Acts 2:41, “about three thousand souls.” Subsequently, after other accessions, ch. Acts 5:14, Acts 6:1; Acts 6:7, they became several myriads: ch. Acts 21:20, “Thou seest how many myriads [not thousands, as Engl. Vers.] of Jews there are who believe.”

Verse 4. - But for howbeit, A.V.; that for which, A.V.; came to be for was, A.V. The number of the men; strictly, of the males (ἀνδρῶν) (Acts 5:14), but probably used here more loosely of men and women. It is not clear whether the five thousand is exclusive of or includes the three thousand converts at the Feast of Pentecost; but the grammar rather favors, the former, as there is nothing in the word ἀνδρῶν, itself to signify "disciples," or "believers," and therefore it is more naturally referred to those of whom it had just been predicated that, having heard the Word, they believed it. Acts 4:4The number was about five thousand

Translate ἐγενήθη as Rev., came to be; indicating the addition to the original number of the many that believed.

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