Acts 5:17
Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(17) Then the high priest rose up. . . . Probably, as before, Annas or Caiaphas.

Which is the sect of the Sadducees.—The fact, of which this is the only distinct record, is of immense importance as throwing light on the course of action taken by the upper class of priests, both during our Lord’s ministry and in the history of this book. From the time of the teaching of John 5:25-29, they must have felt that His doctrine was diametrically opposed to theirs. They made one attempt to turn that doctrine, on which, and almost on which alone, He and the Pharisees were in accord, into ridicule, and were baffled (Matthew 22:23-33). The raising of Lazarus mingled a dogmatic antagonism with the counsels of political expediency (John 11:49-50). The prominence of the Resurrection of Jesus in the teaching of the Apostles now made the Sadducean high priests their most determined opponents. The Pharisees, on the other hand, less exposed now than they had been before to the condemnation passed by our Lord on their unreality and perverted casuistry, were drawing off from those with whom they had for a time coalesced, into a position at first of declared neutrality; then of secret sympathy; then, in many cases, of professed adherence (Acts 15:5).

Filled with indignation.—The word is that elsewhere rendered “zeal,” or “envy.” Both meanings of the word were probably applicable here. There was “zeal” against the doctrine, “envy” of the popularity of the Apostles.

Acts

WHOM TO OBEY,-ANNAS OR ANGEL?

Acts 5:17 - Acts 5:32
.

The Jewish ecclesiastics had been beaten in the first round of the fight, and their attempt to put out the fire had only stirred the blaze. Popular sympathy is fickle, and if the crowd does not shout with the persecutors, it will make heroes and idols of the persecuted. So the Apostles had gained favour by the attempt to silence them, and that led to the second round, part of which is described in this passage.

The first point to note is the mean motives which influenced the high-priest and his adherents. As before, the Sadducees were at the bottom of the assault; for talk about a resurrection was gall and wormwood to them. But Luke alleges a much more contemptible emotion than zeal for supposed truth as the motive for action. The word rendered in the Authorised Version ‘indignation,’ is indeed literally ‘zeal,’ but it here means, as the Revised Version has it, nothing nobler than ‘jealousy.’ ‘Who are those ignorant Galileans that they should encroach on the office of us dignified teachers? and what fools the populace must be to listen to them! Our prestige is threatened. If we don’t bestir ourselves, our authority will be gone.’ A lofty spirit in which to deal with grave movements of opinion, and likely to lead its possessors to discern truth!

The Sanhedrin, no doubt, talked solemnly about the progress of error, and the duty of firmly putting it down, and, like Jehu, said, ‘Come, and see our zeal for the Lord’; but it was zeal for greetings in the marketplace, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and the other advantages of their position. So it has often been since. The instruments which zeal for truth uses are argument, Scripture, and persuasion. That zeal which betakes itself to threats and force is, at the best, much mingled with the wrath and jealousy of man.

The arrest of the Apostles and their committal to prison was simply for detention, not punishment. The rulers cast their net wider this time, and secured all the Apostles, and, having them safe under lock and key, they went home triumphant, and expecting to deal a decisive blow to-morrow. Then comes one of the great ‘buts’ of Scripture. Annas and Caiaphas thought that they had scored a success, but an angel upset their calculations. To try to explain the miracle away is hopeless. It is wiser to try to understand it.

The very fact that it did not lead to the Apostles’ deliverance, but that the trial and scourging followed next day, just as if it had not happened, which has been alleged as a proof of its uselessness, and inferentially of its falsehood, puts us on the right track. It was not meant for their deliverance, but for their heartening, and for the bracing of all generations of Christians, by showing, at the first conflict with the civil power, that the Lord was with His Church. His strengthening power is operative when no miracle is wrought. If His servants are not delivered, it is not that He lacks angels, but that it is better for them and the Church that they should lie in prison or die at the stake.

The miracle was a transient revelation of a perpetual truth, and has shed light on many a dark dungeon where God’s servants have lain rotting. It breathed heroic constancy into the Twelve. How striking and noble was their prompt obedience to the command to resume the perilous work of preaching! As soon as the dawn began to glimmer over Olivet, and the priests were preparing for the morning sacrifice, there were these irrepressible disturbers, whom the officials thought they had shut up safely last night, lifting up their voices again as if nothing had happened. What a picture of dauntless persistence, and what a lesson for us! The moment the pressure is off, we should spring back to our work of witnessing for Christ.

The bewilderment of the Council comes in strong contrast with the unhesitating action of the Apostles. There is a half ludicrous side to it, which Luke does not try to hide. There was the pompous assembling of all the great men at early morning, and their dignified waiting till their underlings brought in the culprits. No doubt, Annas put on his severest air of majesty, and all were prepared to look their sternest for the confusion of the prisoners. The prison, the Temple, and the judgment hall, were all near each other. So there was not long to wait. But, behold! the officers come back alone, and their report shakes the assembly out of its dignity. One sees the astonished underlings coming up to the prison, and finding all in order, the sentries patrolling, the doors fast {so the angel had shut them as well as opened them}, and then entering ready to drag out the prisoners, and-finding all silent. Such elaborate guard kept over an empty cage!

It was not the officers’ business to offer explanations, and it does not seem that any were asked. One would have thought that the sentries would have been questioned. Herod went the natural way to work, when he had Peter’s guards examined and put to death. But Annas and his fellows do not seem to have cared to inquire how the escape had been made. Possibly they suspected a miracle, or perhaps feared that inquiry might reveal sympathisers with the prisoners among their own officials. At any rate, they were bewildered, and lost their heads, wondering what was to come next, and how this thing was to end.

The further news that these obstinate fanatics were at their old work in the Temple again, must have greatly added to the rulers’ perplexity, and they must have waited the return of the officers sent off for the second time to fetch the prisoners, with somewhat less dignity than before. The officers felt the pulse of the crowd, and did not venture on force, from wholesome fear for their own skins. An excited mob in the Temple court was not to be trifled with, so persuasion was adopted. The brave Twelve went willingly, for the Sanhedrin had no terrors for them, and by going they secured another opportunity of ringing out their Lord’s salvation. Wherever a Christian can witness for Christ, he should be ready to go.

The high-priest discreetly said nothing about the escape. Possibly he had no suspicion of a miracle, but, even if he had, Acts 4:16 shows that that would not have led to any modification of his hostility. Persecutors, clothed with a little brief authority, are strangely blind to the plainest indications of the truth spoken by their victims. Annas did not know what a question about the escape might bring out, so he took the safer course of charging the Twelve with disobedience to the Sanhedrin’s prohibition. How characteristic of all his kind that is! Never mind whether what the martyr says is true or not. He has broken our law, and defied our authority; that is enough. Are we to be chopping logic, and arguing with every ignorant upstart who chooses to vent his heresies? Gag him,-that is easier and more dignified.

A world of self-consequence peeps out in that ‘we straitly charged you,’ and a world of contempt peeps out in the avoidance of naming Jesus. ‘This name’ and ‘this man’ is the nearest that the proud priest will come to soiling his lips by mentioning Him. He bears unconscious testimony to the Apostles’ diligence, and to the popular inclination to them, by charging them with having filled the city with what he contemptuously calls ‘your teaching,’ as if it had no other source than their own ignorant notions.

Then the deepest reason for the Sanhedrin’s bitterness leaks out in the charge of inciting the mob to take vengeance on them for the death of Jesus. It was true that the Apostles had charged that guilt home on them, but not on them only, but on the whole nation, so that no incitement to revenge lay in the charge. It was true that they had brought ‘this man’s blood’ on the rulers, but only to draw them to repentance, not to hound at them their sharers in the guilt. Had Annas forgot ‘His blood be on us, and on our children’? But, when an evil deed is complete, the doers try to shuffle off the responsibility which they were ready to take in the excitement of hurrying to do it. Annas did not trouble himself about divine vengeance; it was the populace whom he feared.

So, in its attempt to browbeat the accused, in its empty airs of authority, in its utter indifference to the truth involved, in its contempt for the preachers and their message, in its brazen denial of responsibility, its dread of the mob, and its disregard of the far-off divine judgment, his bullying speech is a type of how persecutors, from Roman governors down, have hectored their victims.

And Peter’s brave answer is, thank God! the type of what thousands of trembling women and meek men have answered. His tone is severer now than on his former appearance. Now he has no courteous recognition of the court’s authority. Now he brushes aside all Annas’s attempts to impose on him the sanctity of its decrees, and flatly denies that the Council has any more right to command than any other ‘men.’ They claimed to be depositaries of God’s judgments. This revolutionary fisherman sees nothing in them but ‘men,’ whose commands point one way, while God’s point the other. The angel bade them ‘speak’; the Council had bid them be dumb. To state the opposition was to determine their duty. Formerly Peter had said ‘judge ye’ which command it is right to obey. Now, he wraps his refusal in no folds of courtesy, but thrusts the naked ‘We must obey God’ in the Council’s face. That was a great moment in the history of the world and the Church. How much lay in it, as in a seed,-Luther’s ‘Here I stand, I can do none other. God help me! Amen’; Plymouth Rock, and many a glorious and blood-stained page in the records of martyrdom.

Peter goes on to vindicate his assumption that in disobeying Annas they are obeying God, by reiterating the facts which since Pentecost he had pressed on the national conscience. Israel had slain, and God had exalted, Jesus to His right hand. That was God’s verdict on Israel’s action. But it was also the ground of hope for Israel; for the exaltatior of Jesus was that He might be ‘Prince [or Leader] and Saviour,’ and from His exalted hand were shed the gifts of ‘repentance and remission of sins,’ even of the great sin of slaying Him. These things being so, how could the Apostles be silent? Had not God bid them speak, by their very knowledge of these? They were Christ’s witnesses, constituted as such by their personal acquaintance with Him and their having seen Him raised and ascending, and appointed to be such by His own lips, and inspired for their witnessing by the Holy Spirit shed on them at Pentecost. Peter all but reproduces the never-to-be-forgotten words heard by them all in the upper room, ‘He shall bear witness of Me: and ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with Me from the beginning.’ Silence would be treason. So it is still. What were Annas and his bluster to men whom Christ had bidden to speak, and to whom He had given the Spirit of the Father to speak in them?Acts 5:17-18. Then the high-priest rose up — Never did any good work go on with any hope of success, but it met with opposition; for they that are bent to do evil cannot be reconciled to them who make it their business to do good. Satan, the destroyer of mankind, ever was, and ever will be, an adversary to those who are men’s benefactors. And it would have been strange, if the apostles had been suffered to go on thus teaching and healing, and had received no check. In these and the following verses we have the malice of hell and the grace of Heaven struggling about them; the one to make them cease from this good work, the other to animate them in it. The high-priest, Annas or Caiaphas, was the ringleader in the opposition made to them: he rose up — As it were, with awakened and renewed fury; and all they that were with him — His friends and associates; for they saw their wealth and dignity, their power and tyranny, that is, their all at stake, and inevitably lost, if the spiritual and heavenly doctrine of Christ should gain ground and prevail among the people. Which is the sect of the Sadducees — A goodly company for the priest! The Sadducees were most forward to join with the high-priest in this persecution, having a particular enmity to the gospel of Christ, because it attested and confirmed the doctrine of the invisible and eternal world, the immortality of the soul, the resurrection of the body, and the future state, which they denied. And were filled with indignation — Greek, ζηλου, with zeal, rather; namely, bitter, persecuting zeal against the cause of Christ: for it is not strange, if men of no religion be bigoted in their opinions against true and pure religion. When they heard and saw how the people flocked to the apostles, and how reputable they were become, they were exasperated to the last degree, and rose up in a passion, as men who could no longer bear such proceedings, and were resolved to oppose them, being vexed at the apostles for preaching the doctrine of Christ, and curing the sick; at the people for hearing them, and bringing the sick to be cured; and at themselves and their own party for suffering this matter to go so far, and not suppressing it at its first rise. Thus are the enemies of Christ and his gospel a torment to themselves! And laid their hands on the apostles — Being determined to bring them to another trial before the sanhedrim; and put them in the common prison — Where the vilest malefactors were lodged.5:17-25 There is no prison so dark, so strong, but God can visit his people in it, and, if he pleases, fetch them out. Recoveries from sickness, releases out of trouble, are granted, not that we may enjoy the comforts of life, but that God may be honoured with the services of our life. It is not for the preachers of Christ's gospel to retire into corners, as long as they can have any opportunity of preaching in the great congregation. They must preach to the lowest, whose souls are as precious to Christ as the souls of the greatest. Speak to all, for all are concerned. Speak as those who resolve to stand to it, to live and die by it. Speak all the words of this heavenly, divine life, in comparison with which the present earthly life does not deserve the name. These words of life, which the Holy Ghost puts into your mouth. The words of the gospel are the words of life; words whereby we may be saved. How wretched are those who are vexed at the success of the gospel! They cannot but see that the word and power of the Lord are against them; and they tremble for the consequences, yet they will go on.Then the high priest - Probably "Caiaphas." Compare John 11:49. It seems from this place that he belonged to the sect of the Sadducees. It is certain that he had signalized himself by opposition to the Lord Jesus and to his cause constantly.

Rose up - This expression is sometimes "redundant," and at others it means simply to "begin" to do a thing, or to resolve to do it. Compare Luke 15:18.

And all they that were with him - That is, all they that coincided with him in doctrine or opinion; or, in other words, that portion of the Sanhedrin that was composed of "Sadducees." There was a strong party of Sadducees in the Sanhedrin; and perhaps at this time it was so strong a majority as to be able to control its decisions. Compare Acts 23:6.

Which is the sect - The word translated "sect" here is that from which we have derived our word "heresy." It means simply "sect" or "party," and is not used in a bad sense as implying reproach, or even error. The idea which "we" attach to it of error, and of denying fundamental doctrines in religion, is one that does not occur in the New Testament.

Sadducees - See the notes on Matthew 3:7. The main doctrine of this sect was the denial of the resurrection of the dead. The reason why "they" were particularly opposed to the apostles rather than the Pharisees was that the apostles dwelt much on the "resurrection of the Lord Jesus," which, if true, completely overthrew their doctrine. All the converts, therefore, that were made to Christianity, tended to diminish their numbers and influence, and also to establish the belief of the "Pharisees" in the doctrine of the resurrection. So long, therefore, as the effect of the labors of the apostles was to establish one of the main doctrines of the "Pharisees," and to confute the "Sadducees," so long we may suppose that the "Pharisees" would either favor them or be silent; and so long the "Sadducees" would be opposed to them, and enraged against them. One sect will often see with composure the progress of another that it really hates, if it will humble a rival. Even opposition to the gospel will sometimes be silent provided the spread of religion will tend to humble and mortify those against whom we may be opposed.

Were filled with indignation - Greek: "zeal." The word denotes any kind of "fervor" or "warmth," and may be applied to any warm or violent affection of the mind, either "envy, wrath, zeal," or "love," Acts 13:45; John 2:17; Romans 10:2; 2 Corinthians 7:7; 2 Corinthians 11:2. Here it probably "includes envy" and "wrath." They were "envious" at the success of the apostles - at the number of converts that were made to a doctrine that they hated, and they were envious that the "Pharisees" were deriving such an accession of strength to their doctrine of the resurrection; and they were "indignant" that the apostles regarded so little their authority, and disobeyed the solemn injunction of the Sanhedrin. Compare Acts 4:18-21.

17-23. sect of the Sadducees—See on [1953]Ac 4:1 for the reason why this is specified. Then the high priest rose up; moved at the report of these things, went out of the council to observe what was done.

And all they that were with him; there were both Pharisees and Sadducees in their sanhedrim or great council, as appears Acts 23:6; but the high priest and a great part were at this time Sadducees.

Indignation, or zeal, which is the best when kindled (as the fire on the altar) from heaven, regularly acting for God’s truth and word; and the worst when inflamed by carnal affections, and set upon wrong objects for self-ends. The pique these Sadducees had against the apostles and their doctrine, was, because they taught the resurrection, which the Sadducees denied. Then the high priest rose up,.... Annas, or rather Caiaphas; See Gill on Acts 4:6 he having heard what miracles were wrought by the apostles, and what additions were made to them, rose up from his seat and went out of the sanhedrim, in great haste, and in much wrath and passion:

and all they that were with him; in council, that were of his kindred or his party, as John and Alexander, and others, Acts 4:6

which is the sect of the Sadducees; who denied the resurrection of the dead; which doctrine the apostles preached; and this made the high priest and his party very uneasy; whence it seems that the then high priest was a Sadducee, and also the sanhedrim at that time, and which was sometimes the case. Great care indeed was taken of an high priest, that he should not be a Sadducee; on the eve of the day of atonement they always swore the high priest, lest he should be a Sadducee, that he would make no innovation in what was ordered him; and particularly that he would not put the incense upon the fire without, and then carry it in a censor into the most holy place, as the Sadducees understood (k), Leviticus 16:3. But notwithstanding all their care, sometimes they had a Sadducee for an high priest; we read of one John, an high priest, who ministered in that office fourscore years, and at last became a Sadducee (l). And sometimes a sanhedrim consisted only of Sadducees: hence we read of "a sanhedrim of Sadducees" (m); and such an one was this; and therefore it is not to be wondered at what follows,

and they were filled with indignation; or "zeal", for Sadducism; and which was a blind zeal, and not according to knowledge: or "with envy" at the apostles for the miracles done by them, and because of the success that attended them; fearing lest, should they go on at this rate, their religion and authority would come to nothing. Sadducism now seemed greatly to prevail among men in power; and the Jews say (n),

"the son of David will not come until the whole government is turned to the opinion of the Sadducees.''

(k) Misna Yoma, c. 1. sect. 5. Maimon. & Bartenora in ib. (l) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 29. 1. Juchasin, fol. 16. 2.((m) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 52. 2.((n) Ib. fol. 97. 1.

{3} Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the {h} sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation,

(3) The more that the Church increases, the more the rage os Satan increases, and therefore they proceed from threats to imprisonment.

(h) The word which is used here is heresy, which signifies a choice, and so is taken for a right form of learning, or faction, or study and course of life, which the Latins call a sect: at first this word was used indifferently, but at length it came to be used only in reference to evil, whereupon came the name of heretic which is taken for one that goes astray from sound and wholesome doctrine in such a way that he thinks lightly of the judgment of God and his Church, and continues in his opinion, and breaks the peace of the Church.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 5:17-18. Ἀναστάς] The high priest stood up; he raised himself: a graphic trait serving to illustrate his present interference. Comp. Acts 6:9, Acts 23:9; Luke 15:18, al. “Non sibi quiescendum ratus est,” Bengel. The ἀρχιερεύς, is according to Acts 4:6, Annas, not Caiaphas, although the latter was so really.

καὶ πάντες οἱ σὺν αὐτῷ, ἡ οὖσα αἵρεσις τῶν Σαδδουκ.] and all his associates (his whole adherents, Acts 5:21; Xen. Anab. iii. 2.11, al.), which were the sect of the Sadducees. This sect had allied itself with Annas, because the preaching of Christ as the Risen One was a grievous offence to them. See Acts 4:1-2. The participle ἡ οὖσα (not οἱ ὄντες is put) adjusts itself to the substantive belonging to the predicate, as is often the case in the classical writers. See Kühner, § 429; Stallb. ad Plat. Rep. p. 333 E, 392 D. Luke does not affirm that the high priest himself was a Sadducee, as Olshausen, Ewald, and others assert. This remark also applies in opposition to Zeller, who adduces it as an objection to the historical character of the narrator, that Luke makes Annas a Sadducee. In the Gospels also there is no trace of the Sadducaeism of Annas. According to Josephus, Antt. xx. 9. 1, he had a son who belonged to that sect.

ἐν τηρήσει δημοσ.] τήρησ. as in Acts 4:3. The public prison is called in Thuc. 5:18. 6 also merely τὸ δημόσιον; and in Xen. Hist. vii. 36, οἰκία δημόσια.Acts 5:17. ἀναστὰς, see on Acts 1:15, cf. Acts 6:9 : it may denote a hostile intention (but need not force this), Mark 3:26, Luke 10:35, Matthew 12:41, in LXX, Job 16:8; see Overbeck, Blass, Weiss; ὁ ἀρχ., i.e., Annas not Caiaphas, Acts 4:6.—πάντες οἱ σὺν αὐτῷ: the context seems to imply that more are included than referred to in Acts 4:6.—ἡ οὖσα αἴρεσις (= οἵ εἰσιν αἵρεσις), a rare employment of the relative in the N.T., but found in Luke and Paul, most of all in the latter; cf. Acts 16:12, 1 Corinthians 3:17, Galatians 3:16, Ephesians 3:13, Acts 6:2, Php 1:28, etc. (cf. Revelation 4:5; Revelation 5:9); Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 192 (1896).—αἵρεσις: (1) a choosing, choice, so in classical writers, cf. also LXX, Leviticus 22:18; Leviticus 22:21, 1Ma 8:30; (2) that which is chosen, a chosen method of thought and action; (3) later, a philosophic principle; those who have chosen certain principles, a school, a sect, so six times in Acts. It is used thrice elsewhere in N.T., 1 Corinthians 11:29, Galatians 5:20, 2 Peter 2:1 in the plural, of factions or parties within the Church; in its later ecclesiastical use, applied to doctrines, “heresies,” which tended to cause separation from the Church. The word need not therefore be used in a bad sense, although it is so used of the Nazarenes, cf. Acts 24:5; Acts 24:14, Acts 28:22, whilst on the other hand St. Paul uses it of the Pharisees, Acts 26:5 (cf. Acts 15:5), in no depreciatory sense (cf. its use by Josephus of the Sadducees, Ant., xx., 9, 1). Lumby gives a disparaging use of the word in Apocr. Act. Phil. in Hellad., 10, see his note. It is not expressly said by St. Luke that Annas was a Sadducee, although he seems to imply it. But this is not in itself inconceivable (see Acts 4:1) in spite of the strictures of Zeller and Overbeck; Josephus distinctly says, u. s., that the son of Annas who bore his father’s name was of the sect of the Sadducees, and if he mentions this as something peculiar, and as showing why the younger Annas was so bold and insolent (Zeller, cf. Nösgen’s note, in loco), yet there is no difficulty in supposing that the elder Annas was at least associated with the Sadducees if only for political reasons.—ζήλου: jealousy, R.V., so rightly A.V in Acts 13:45; Wycliffe “envy,” cf. Romans 13:13, 1 Corinthians 3:3, 2 Corinthians 11:2, Galatians 5:20, Jam 3:14; Jam 3:16, Clem. Rom., Cor[177], iii. 4 and iv–vi (cf. Numbers 25:10-11, 1Ma 8:16, οὔκ ἐστι φθόνος οὐδὲ ζῆλος ἐν αὐτοῖς, and 2:54, 58, Psalms of Solomon 2:27), and in some places of the jealousy which God has, as in 2 Corinthians 11:2, Numbers 25:10-11, and cf. Psalms of Solomon Acts 2:27, Acts 4:2, 1Ma 2:54. But φθόνος is capable only of an evil signification. By Aristotle ζῆλος is used in its nobler sense (Rhet., ii., 11), as opposed to τὸ φθονεῖν, but it seems to be used by other writers as = φθόνος or coupled with it. The meaning is defined by the context. Trench, N. T. Synonyms, i., 99. Here the envy and jealousy of the Sanhedrim was provoked by the popular favour shown to the disciples, and hence to their doctrine of the resurrection.

[177] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.17–32. Arrest of the Twelve. Their miraculous deliverance and their Defence before the Sanhedrin

17. Then the high priest rose up] The conjunction at the beginning of the sentence should be But. While the multitudes thronged to be healed, the effect on the authorities was to provoke them to opposition.

rose up] The Greek word is used in this chapter of the insurrections of Theudas and Judas (Acts 5:36-37) and in the next chapter (Acts 6:9) of the disputants with Stephen. It is often found without the sense of opposition which it has here and in those verses.

and all they that were with him] A phrase more comprehensive than that used in Acts 4:6, “as many as were of the kindred of the high priest.” The opposition has had time to gather its forces and now represents not only the family of Annas, but the heads of the party of the Sadducees.

which is the sect] The word is that which St Paul uses in his defence (Acts 24:14) before Felix, “after the way which they call heresy.” But he employs it without any sense of blame (Acts 26:5) about the Pharisees, and it is used of them also Acts 15:5. With a bad sense it is applied to the Nazarenes (Acts 24:5), and similarly Acts 28:22.

of the Sadducees] From Acts 5:21 it will be seen that the statement of Josephus concerning the influence of this sect is fully borne out (Antiq. xiii. 11. 6), for they had the rich on their side. We have no certain evidence in Scripture that Annas was a Sadducee, but Josephus (Antiq. xx. 9. 1) tells us that his son Ananus [or Annas] was of this sect.

and were filled with indignation] The word used to express their feeling might better be rendered jealousy. What the historian is describing is an outbreak of party-feeling. The whole influence of the Sadducean party is called forth by their antagonism to the doctrine of the resurrection and their envy of the growth of the new movement.Acts 5:17. Ἀναστὰς, having risen up) He thought that he ought not to remain quiet.—τῶν Σαδδουκαίων, of the Sadducees) Many gathered themselves together to these, so as that they might the more assail the resurrection of Jesus Christ.—ζήλου, with indignation or angry zeal) The impotence of this feeling is made apparent by their whole proceeding.Verse 17. - But for then, A.V.; they were filled for were filled, A.V.; jealousy for indignation, A.V. The high priest rose up. It was high time for him and his friends the Sadducees to be up and doing, if they wished to stop the spreading of the faith of Jesus Christ and the Resurrection. Which is the sect of the Sadducees (Acts 4:1, 2, note). It does not appear that Annas himself was a Sadducee, but his son was, and hence it is highly probable that the Sadducees should have attached themselves to Annas, and made a tool of him for suppressing the doctrine of the Resurrection. The sect; αἵρεσις (see Acts 15:5; Acts 24:5, 14; Acts 26:4; Acts 28:22). The word was applied first by Jews to Christians, and then by Christians to sects (1 Corinthians 11:19; Galatians 5:20; 2 Peter 2:1). Jealousy scarcely so well expresses the idea of ζῆλος here as indignation does. In the First Epistle of Clement, ζῆλος is applied to the anger of Cain, of Joseph's brethren, of the Israelites against Moses, of the persecution of St. Peter and St. Paul (iv., 5.). It is only occasionally that it means that kind of anger which we call jealousy. The high priest and his party were indignant at the defiance of their authority, and at the success of the doctrine which they had made it a special object to put down.
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Acts 5:16
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