And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)And to him they agreed.—The Sadducees, after their manner, would probably have preferred a more violent course, but the Pharisees were strong in the Sanhedrin, and the via media recommended by Gamaliel was, under such circumstances, likely to command a majority, and was, therefore, apparently accepted without a division.
And beaten them.—Here we trace the action of Caiaphas and the priests. They were not content without some punishment being inflicted, and the party of Gamaliel apparently acquiesced in this as a compromise in the hope of averting more violent measures. And this is accordingly to be noted as the first actual experience of persecution falling on the whole company of the Twelve, and not on Peter and John only. They were probably convicted of the minor offence of causing a disturbance in the Temple, though dismissed, as with a verdict of “not” proven, “on the graver charge of heresy. The punishment in such a case would probably be the “forty stripes save one,” of Deuteronomy 25:3 and 2Corinthians 11:24.Acts 5:40. And to him they agreed — Acknowledging his advice to be safe and wise. They, therefore, dropped the design of putting the apostles to death; yet they could not forbear giving vent to their rage, (so outrageous was it,) in a most unjust and cruel manner, and as evidently contrary to the conviction of their judgments and consciences, as it was to Gamaliel’s counsel, which was to let them alone. For when they had called them in, they beat them — That is, stripped and scourged them as malefactors. Thus they thought to make them ashamed of preaching, and the people of hearing them; as Pilate scourged our Saviour to expose him to shame, when he declared he found no fault in him. And, added to this, they renewed their prohibition of speaking any more in the name of Jesus. This they did in order that, if they could find no other fault with their preaching, they might, at least, have this reason for reproaching it, that it was against law; and not only without the permission, but against the express order of their superiors.
And beaten them - The usual amount of "lashes" which were inflicted on offenders was 39, 2 Corinthians 11:24. "Beating," or "whipping," was a common mode of punishing minor offences among the Jews. It was expressly foretold by the Saviour that the apostles would be subjected to this, Matthew 10:17. The reason why they did not adopt the advice of Gamaliel altogether doubtless was, that if they did, they feared that their "authority" would be despised by the people. They had commanded them not to preach; they had threatened them Acts 4:18; Acts 5:28; they had imprisoned them Acts 5:18; and now, if they suffered them to go without even the "appearance" of punishment, their authority, they feared, would be despised by the nation, and it would be supposed that the apostles had triumphed over the Sanhedrin. It is probable, also, that they were so indignant, that they could not suffer them to go without the gratification of subjecting them to the public odium of a "whipping." People, if they cannot accomplish their full purposes of malignity against the gospel, will take up with even some petty annoyance and malignity rather than let it alone.To him they agreed; they yielded to his reason and argument, being persuaded and convinced by it.
Beaten them; this was what our Saviour had foretold them, Matthew 10:17; and thus the husbandmen took the householder’s servants and beat them, Matthew 21:35. They had power yet left them by the Romans to punish offenders in their synagogues, but not capitally nor publicly. In this they left the good advice of Gamaliel, who had warned them not to fight against God.
and when they had called the apostles; into the council again, having sent their servants for them, or ordered them to be brought in:
and beaten them; or scourged and whipped them with forty stripes save one, whereby was fulfilled what Christ had foretold, Matthew 10:17
they commanded they should not speak in the name of Jesus; as they had strictly commanded them before, Acts 4:18. Perhaps both in this, as well as in bearing the apostles, they did not closely attend to Gamaliel's counsel, who advised them to keep their hands off of them, and not hinder them, but let them alone in what they were about: but this might be thought by them not to their reputation, nor sufficiently asserting their authority, to dismiss them, without saying or doing anything to them:
and let them go; from the council to their own company: they released them, and loosed them from their bonds; they set them at liberty, and let them go where they would; and so far they followed Gamaliel's advice.And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Acts 5:40. ἐπείσθησαν δὲ αὐτῷ: whatever scruples Gamaliel may have had in pressing matters against the Apostles, or even if the teaching of Christ, as some have conjectured, with much of which he might have sympathised as a follower of Hillel, had influenced his mind, or if, like Joseph of Arimathea, he too had not consented to the counsel and will of his fellow-Sanhedrists, there is no reason to suppose (see above) that he ever advanced beyond the compromise here suggested. It may be that Neander was right in his judgment that Gamaliel was too wise a man to render a fanatical movement more violent still by opposing it. Others however see in his words a mere laisser-aller view of matters, or a timid caution which betokened a mere waiter upon Providence. But at the same time there are occasions when Gamaliel’s advice may not be out of place, see Bengel on Acts 5:38, and Farrar, St. Paul, i., 110 ff.—δείραντες, Deuteronomy 25:3, 2 Corinthians 11:24 : the punishment was for minor offences, and it was now inflicted upon the Apostles because they had trangressed the command enjoined upon them previously, Acts 4:18. The Pharisees, probably by their superior number in the Sanhedrim (Jos., Ant., xiii., 10, 6), were able to secure the following of Gamaliel’s advice, and to prevent extreme measures against the Apostles, but they were not prepared to disregard the previous injunction of the Council which bade the Apostles refrain from uttering a word in the name of Jesus. But the Apostles themselves must have seen in the punishment a striking fulfilment of their Lord’s words, as in the closing hours of His earthly life He foretold their future sufferings for His Name. The penalty which must have been a very painful one, although the command not to exceed forty stripes often led to its mitigation, was often inflicted by the synagogues, and not only by the great Sanhedrim, for all kinds of offences as against heretics and others. These Acts 5:40-42, with the exception of the words ἐπείσθησαν δὲ αὐτῷ, were referred by Jüngst to the redactor on the ground that they do not fit in well after Gamaliel’s speech, and that the Apostles would have been at once released, but the Apostles were punished for a transgression of the command previously laid upon them in Acts 4:18. According to Jüngst, who here follows Spitta, the original conclusion of the narrative is to be found in inserting after Acts 5:39, chap. Acts 6:7! Here we are told is a notice, which is quite out of place where it now stands, that a great number of the priests were obedient to the faith: this was the result of the speech of Gamaliel, and his warning not to be found “fighting against God”; a speech delivered in the Sanhedrim in the midst of the priests!40. and when they had called the apostles] i.e. back again to the judgment-hall.
and beaten them] As the guilty parties in the controversy (see Deuteronomy 25:1-3).Acts 5:40. Ἐπείσθησαν) They agreed or assented, viz. so far as that they did not kill the apostles: for the members of the council did not adopt a better tone of mind.—δείραντες, having beaten them) This had not as yet been done by the Jews, who were afterwards about to inflict severer punishments. Even the world proceeds by successive steps, either as their hatred increases, or else under the show of equity [or leniency].Verse 40. - Called unto them (προσκαλεσάμενοι) for simply called, A.V.; they beat them and charged them for and beaten them, they commanded, A.V.; not to speak for that they should not speak, A.V.
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