Acts 5:6
And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
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(6) And the young men arose.—Literally, the younger men, implying the existence of a distinct body as contrasted with the “elders” of the Church. So in Luke 20:26 we find the same word answering in the parallel clause to “him that serveth,” and opposed to “elders,” where the latter word seems used in a half official sense rather than of age only. We find here, accordingly, rather than in Acts 6, the germ of the later diaconate as a body of men set apart for the subordinate services of the community. The special work here done by them was afterwards assigned to the Fossarii, the sextons, or grave-diggers of the Church.

Wound him up.—The word in this sense is found here only in the New Testament. It implies the hurried wrapping in a winding-sheet. It was followed by the immediate interment outside the walls of the city. Custom, resting partly on the necessities of climate, partly on the idea of ceremonial defilement, as caused by contact with a corpse (Numbers 19:11-16), required burial to follow quickly on death, unless there was a more or less elaborate embalmment. In the act itself we note something like a compassionate respect. There is a reverence for humanity, as such, perhaps for the body that had once been the temple of the Spirit (1Corinthians 6:19), that will not permit men to do as the heathen did, and to inflict dishonour on the lifeless corpse. The narrative implies that the new society had already a burial-place to which they had free right of access. Was it in the Potter’s Field that had been bought to bury strangers in? (Matthew 27:7.) Did the body of Ananias rest in the same cemetery with that of Judas? (See Note on Matthew 27:8.)

5:1-11 The sin of Ananias and Sapphira was, that they were ambitious of being thought eminent disciples, when they were not true disciples. Hypocrites may deny themselves, may forego their worldly advantage in one instance, with a prospect of finding their account in something else. They were covetous of the wealth of the world, and distrustful of God and his providence. They thought they might serve both God and mammon. They thought to deceive the apostles. The Spirit of God in Peter discerned the principle of unbelief reigning in the heart of Ananias. But whatever Satan might suggest, he could not have filled the heart of Ananias with this wickedness had he not been consenting. The falsehood was an attempt to deceive the Spirit of truth, who so manifestly spoke and acted by the apostles. The crime of Ananias was not his retaining part of the price of the land; he might have kept it all, had he pleased; but his endeavouring to impose upon the apostles with an awful lie, from a desire to make a vain show, joined with covetousness. But if we think to put a cheat upon God, we shall put a fatal cheat upon our own souls. How sad to see those relations who should quicken one another to that which is good, hardening one another in that which is evil! And this punishment was in reality mercy to vast numbers. It would cause strict self-examination, prayer, and dread of hypocrisy, covetousness, and vain-glory, and it should still do so. It would prevent the increase of false professors. Let us learn hence how hateful falsehood is to the God of truth, and not only shun a direct lie, but all advantages from the use of doubtful expressions, and double meaning in our speech.And the young men - The youth of the congregation; very probably young men who were in attendance as "servants," or those whose business it was to attend on the congregation, and perform various offices when Christians celebrated their worship (Mosheim). The word used here sometimes denotes a "servant." It is used also, Acts 5:10, to denote "soldiers," as they were commonly enlisted of the vigorous and young. The fact that they took up Ananias voluntarily implies that they were accustomed to perform offices of servitude to the congregation.

Wound him up - It was the usual custom with the Jews to wind the body in many folds of linen before it was buried; commonly also with spices, to preserve it from putrefaction. See the notes on John 11:44. It may be asked "why" he was so soon buried; and especially why he was hurried away without giving information to his wife. In reply to this, it may be remarked:

1. That it does not appear from the narrative that it was "known" that Sapphira was privy to the transaction, or was near at hand, or even that he had a wife. Ananias came "himself" and offered the money, and the judgment fell at once on him.

2. It was customary among the ancient Persians to bury the body almost immediately after death (Jahn); and it seems probable that the Jews, when the body was not embalmed, imitated the custom. It would also appear that this was an ancient custom among the Jews. See Genesis 23:19; Genesis 25:9; Genesis 35:29; Genesis 48:7; 1 Kings 13:30. Different nations differ in their customs in burying the dead; and there is no impropriety in committing a body soon after death to the tomb.

3. There might have been some danger of an excitement and tumult in regard to this scene if the corpse had not soon been removed; and as no valuable purpose could be answered by delaying the burial, the body was decently committed to the dust.

6. the young men—some of the younger and more active members of the church, not as office-bearers, nor coming forward now for the first time, but who probably had already volunteered their services in making subordinate arrangements. In every thriving Christian community such volunteers may be expected, and will be found eminently useful. The young men; such as were present at that time, and fittest for that employ.

Wound him up; according as they were wont to do to such as they intended to prepare the sepulture. Read what was done to the body of our Saviour, Mark 15:46. And the young men arose,.... The younger brethren of the church, who were robust, and strong, and fit for the following service: these rose up from their seats at once, not willing that such an awful spectacle should lie long before them:

and wound him up; in linen clothes, as was the manner of the Jews:

and carried him out: of the house where they were, and out of the city; for the burying places of the Jews were without the city:

and buried him; which was all done in a very short time, as appears by what follows.

And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
Acts 5:6. ἀναστάντες, see on Acts 2:14.—οἱ νεώτεροι: the fact that they are called simply νεανίσκοι in Acts 5:10 seems decisive against the view that reference is made to any definite order in the Church. Nor is it certain that we can see in the fulfilment of such duties by the νεώτεροι the beginnings of the diaconate, although on the natural distinction between πρεσβύτεροι and νεώτεροι it may well have been that official duties in the Church were afterwards based, cf. 1 Timothy 5:1, Titus 2:1-6, 1 Peter 5:5, Clem. Rom., i. 3; iii. 3; xxi. 6; Polycarp, Epist., v., 3 (cf. Luke 22:26). In comparatively early days it belonged to the duties of the deacons to provide for the burial of the strangers and the poor, but it seems hardly probable that οἱ νεώτεροι were appointed as a separate body to bury the dead, before any attempt had been made to relieve the Apostles of the more pressing duty of distributing the public funds, Acts 6:1. On the other hand it is possible that the company of public “buriers” whom the prophet saw in vision, Ezekiel 39:12-16, may have become quite customary in N.T. days. R.V. margin renders simply “the younger men”.—συνέστειλαν, “wrapped him round,” R.V., probably in their own mantles (for no formal laying-out in robes can be supposed by the context), for which περιστέλλω would be the usual word, cf. Eur., Troad., 378 (see Grimm, Blass, Weiss). But Meyer on the other hand is against the parallel, and argues, following Grotius, that the word should be rendered “placed him together,” i.e., laid out or composed his limbs, so that he might be carried out more conveniently (so too Overbeck, Holtzmann, Zöckler). Vulgate, amoverunt, followed by Luther, Erasmus, Beza, cannot be said to be supported by any parallel use of the word (Par.2 also same verb as Vulg.). The word is frequently used by medical writers in various senses, one of which, to bandage, to compress by bandaging, is that which seems to afford a possible parallel to its use here, Hobart, Medical Language, etc., pp. 37, 38. The use of the word by Josephus, Ant., xviii., 3; xix., 4, is not sufficient to justify us in taking it here to express all the preparations for burial.—ἐξενέγκαντες: outside the walls of the city, the usual place for graves—only prophets and kings had their graves in the city—Hamburger, Real-Encyclopädie des Judentums, i., 4, 475, “Grab”; Edersheim, Jewish Social Life, p. 169, cf. the use of ἐκφέρω and ἐκκομίζω in classical Greek, Latin, efferre.—ἔθαψαν: partly for sanitary reasons, partly to avoid defilement; the interval between death and burial was very brief, especially in Jerusalem (Numbers 19:11, Deuteronomy 21:23; Hamburger, u. s., i., 2, 161, “Beerdigung,” with reference to this passage, Edersheim, u. s., p. 168; for the existing custom in Jerusalem of speedy burial, see Hackett, in loco, and Schneller, Kennst du das Land? (eighth edition), p. 188).6. And the young men arose] (Lit. the younger.) Some have suggested that these were persons connected with the Church whose business it was to take charge of funerals. But it seems unlikely that, at a time when assistance had not been provided to relieve the Apostles from “serving tables” and distributing the funds to those who needed (Acts 6:1-4), there should already have been an organization for this less pressing necessity. The Greek word used here is not the same as in Acts 5:10, and this variation seems to shew that “the young men” were not in any official position, but were only the most able physically to perform such an office as is here described. On the way in which the Jews looked on attention to funeral rites see note on Acts 8:2.

wound him up] wrapped the dead body about with the robe which he was wearing at the time.

and carried him out, and buried him] We know from what took place after the Crucifixion that graves were made ready beforehand, and in the caves where the dead were deposited, as we can see from the account of the raising of Lazarus, there (John 11:43) needed little preparation, and they were closed by the simple means of a stone placed at the cave’s mouth. So that it would not need much time to complete the whole work of burial. In hot climates burial must needs follow quickly after death. Cp. the brief time which Jehu allowed to pass after Jezebel’s death (2 Kings 9:34) before he gave orders for her burial.Acts 5:6. Οἱ νεώτεροι, the young men) Peter directed these to do this office.—συνέστειλαν) wound him up for burial.—ἔθαψαν, buried) at once. For there was no need of delay.Verse 6. - And wrapped him round for wound him up, A.V.; they carried for carried, A.V. The young men (new/teroi: called in ver. 10 νεανίσκοι,). There does not seem to be sufficient ground for supposing, with Meyer, that a definite class of Church servants is here meant. The young men of the Church would, as a matter of course, perform such services as that here spoken of, when directed by the πρεσβύτεροι, the elders, in age or office. Wound him up (συνέστειλαν)

Better, as Rev., wrapped him round. The verb means to draw together, or draw in; hence used for shortening sail, reducing expenses, lowering or humbling a person. In 1 Corinthians 7:29, it occurs in the phrase, "the time is short (συνεσταλμένος, Rev., properly, shortened);" i.e., drawn together, contracted. In the sense of wrapping up it is found in Aristophanes, of wrapping cloaks or garments about one; also of tucking up the garments about the loins, as a preparation for service. In the sense of shrouding for burial, it occurs in Euripides ("Troades," 382): "They were not shrouded (συνεπεστάλησαν) by the hands of a wife." In medical language, of bandaging a limb; of the contraction of tumors, and of organs of the body, etc. Some, however, as Meyer, refer the word here to the pressing together of the dead man's limbs.

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