But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession,
Verse 1. - Ananias (Ἀνανίας) In Nehemiah 3:23 the Hebrew name ענַנְיָה (God covers or protects) is thus rendered in the LXX. But the name occurs nowhere else. The very common name הֲנַנְיָה Hananiah (God is gracious), is also rendered in the LXX. Ananias (Ἀνανίας), and is doubtless the name meant here and in Acts 9:10; Acts 23:2, etc. Sapphira does not occur elsewhere. It is either derived from the Aramean שַׁפָירָה, beautiful, or from the Hebrew סַפִיר, a sapphire. A possession (see Acts 2:45). The kind of possession is not specified by the word itself, which applies to houses, fields, jewels, and wealth generally; but the nature of the property is shown by the word χωρίον, applied to it in vers. 3 and 8, which means especially" a parcel of ground" (John 4:5), "a field" (Acts 1:18, 19).
And kept back part of the price, his wife also being privy to it, and brought a certain part, and laid it at the apostles' feet.
But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?
Verse 3. - Thy for thine, A.V. Peter said. It was given to Peter on this occasion, by the Holy Ghost, to read the secrets of Ananias's heart, just as it was given to Elisha to detect Gehazi's lie (2 Kings 5:25, 26); and the swift punishment inflicted in both cases by the word of the man of God - leprosy in one case, and sudden death in the other - is another point of strong resemblance. To lie to the Holy Ghost. It is only one instance among many of the pure spiritual atmosphere in which the Church then moved, that a lie to the apostle was a lie to the Holy Ghost under whose guidance and by whose power the apostle acted. Ananias's fraud was an ignoring of the whole spiritual character of the apostles' ministry, and was accordingly visited with an immediate punishment. The death of Ananias and Sapphira was a terrible fulfillment of the promise, "Whosesoever sins ye retain, they are retained" (John 20:23).
Whiles it remained, was it not thine own? and after it was sold, was it not in thine own power? why hast thou conceived this thing in thine heart? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.
Verse 4. - Did it not remain for was it not, A.V.; thy for thine own, A.V.; how is it that thou hast for why hast thou, A.V.; thy heart for thine heart, A.V. Did it not remain, etc.? The exact meaning is - Did it not remain to thee? i.e. unsold it was thine, and when sold the price of it was thine. There was no compulsion as regards giving it away. The act was one of deliberate hypocrisy - an attempt to deceive God himself.
And Ananias hearing these words fell down, and gave up the ghost: and great fear came on all them that heard these things.
Verse 5. - Upon all that heard it for on all them that heard these things, A.V. and T.R. Gave up the ghost (ἐξέψυξε). The same word as in ver. 10 and Acts 12:23, but found nowhere else in the New Testament. Great fear, etc. We have here an example of punishment which is remedial, not to the person punished, but to others, by displaying the just judgment of God as a warning against sin.
And the young men arose, wound him up, and carried him out, and buried him.
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.
And it was about the space of three hours after, when his wife, not knowing what was done, came in.
Verse 7. - And it was about, etc.; better rendered, with Meyer, and it cams to pass, after an interval of three hours, that his wife, etc. It is a Hebrew idiom (scrap. Luke 5:12).
And Peter answered unto her, Tell me whether ye sold the land for so much? And she said, Yea, for so much.
Verse 8. - And Peter answered, etc., Point's question gave her the opportunity of confessing the fraud had she been penitent. The land (see note to ver. 1).
Then Peter said unto her, How is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord? behold, the feet of them which have buried thy husband are at the door, and shall carry thee out.
Verse 9. - But for then, A.V.; they shall carry for carry, A.V. To tempt the Spirit, etc.; i.e. thus daringly to put the Holy Ghost on trial, whether or no he is able to discern the thoughts of your evil hearts (comp. Luke 4:12). The feet of them, etc. The burial, including the distance to and fro, had taken three hours, and they were just returning to the Christian assembly when Sapphira was confirming her guilt as an accomplice in her husband's lie.
Then fell she down straightway at his feet, and yielded up the ghost: and the young men came in, and found her dead, and, carrying her forth, buried her by her husband.
Verse 10. - And she fell down immediately for then fell she down straightway, A.V.; gave up for yielded up, A.V.; they carried her out and buried her for carrying her forth buried her. She fell down immediately. The Spirit who killeth and maketh alive thus vindicated his discernment and his power, and testified to the truth of his prophet St. Peter, by whose mouth he had just foretold the death of Sapphira. Gave up the ghost (ver. 5, note). Buried her by her husband. What a strange example of conjugal unity! One in their Jewish religion, one in their conversion to the faith of Christ, one in their hypocrisy, one in their terrible death, one in their common grove! one in the undying record of their guilt in the Book which is read by every nation under heaven!
And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.
Verse 11. - The whole Church for all the Church, A.V.; all that heard for as many as heard, A.V. The awful death of the two liars to God not only struck a salutary fear into the minds of the whole Church, but filled with awe all outside the Church who heard of it; and doubtless gave a temporary check to the persecutions, while it disposed many to hearken to the apostles' preaching.
And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch.
Verse 12. - By the hands of the apostles, etc. Two things are here remarkable. The one that Christianity at its beginnings was mightily helped and advanced by miracles done in the Name of Jesus Christ. The other that the authority of the apostles as the rulers of the Church was greatly strengthened by these miracles being wrought exclusively by their hands. We cannot understand either the external relations of the Church to the world, or the internal relations of the people to their spiritual rulers, unless we duly take count of these two things. With one accord (see Acts 4:24, note). In Solomon's porch (see Acts 3:11, note). It is quite true to nature that Solomon's porch, having been the scene of the miracle, became the place of frequent concourse. There is a difference of opinion among commentators as to whether the all refers to the whole Christian laity as in Acts 2:1, or to the apostles only. Alford thinks the latter, Meyer the former. The opinion that the whole body of Christians is meant seems most probable, both from the use of the words in Acts 2. I and from the phrase ὁμοθυμαδὸν (especially in connection with ἅπαμτες), which seems more applicable to a mixed multitude than to twelve colleagues like the apostles. You could hardly say that all the queen's ministers met in a Cabinet Council with one accord. There is no need for the parenthesis as in the A.V.
And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them.
Verse 13. - But for and, A.V.; howbeit for but, A.V. The rest seems most naturally to mean those who were not included in the ἅπαντες, viz. the Jews as distinguished from the disciples. The effect 'of the miracles was that the Jews looked with awe and reverence upon the Apostolic Church, and none durst join them from mere curiosity or with any idle purpose. But, on the contrary, the people magnified them, treated them with the utmost respect, and spoke of them with all honor. Join himself (κολλᾶσθαι). The word occurs in the New Testament ten times, of which seven are in St. Luke's Gospel or in the Acts. The other three are in St. Paul's Epistles (see for the use of it in the sense it has here, Luke 15:15; Acts 8:29; Acts 9:26; Acts 10:28; Acts 17:34).
And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)
Verse 14. - Added to the Lord; as in Acts 11:24, not as in margin. Multitudes; πλήθη, found in the plural nowhere else in the New Testament.
Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
Verse 15. - Even carried out for brought forth, A.V. and T.R.; that, as Peter came by, at the least his shadow for that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by, A.V.; some one for some, A.V. Insomuch; not to be referred back to the first part of ver. 12, as indicated by the parenthesis in the A.V., but to the whole description of the Church's glorification in vers. 12-14.
There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.
Verse 16. - And there also came together the multitude from for there came also a multitude out of, A.V.; about Jerusalem for about unto Jerusalem, A.V.; folk for folks, A.V.; that were for which were, A.V. And there also came together, etc. One great result of these numerous miracles would be to manifest that the Lord Jesus was still with his Church as truly as when he was upon the earth (Matthew 28:20), and this manifestation remains for the comfort of his people, even now that such miracles have ceased. With regard to what is said in ver. 15 of the shadow of Peter being thought to have had a healing power, it may have been true that it had, as Christ could heal by a shadow as well as by a word or touch, but we cannot say for certain that it was so; anyhow, it was a marvelous season of refreshing to the Church, preparing her for the coming trial.
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,
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.
And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.
Verse 18. - Laid hands (as Acts 4:3, A.V. and R.V.) for laid their hands, A.V. and T.R.; in public ward for in the common prison, A.V. Laid hands, etc. Laid their hands is equally right, even when αὑτῶν is omitted, as the translation of τὰς χεῖρας. There is no difference in the sense in the two renderings, or in the two passages, though in Acts 4:3 the phrase is ἐπέβαλον αὐτοῖς τὰς χεῖρας, and here ἐπέβαλον τὰς χεῖρας αὐτῶν ἐπὶ τοὺς ἀποστόλους. In public ward. The A.V. is more idiomatic and expresses exactly what is meant by the phrase τηρήσει δημοσίᾳ. Meyer quotes the phrases τὸ δημόσιον in Thucydides, and οἰκία δημόσια in Xenophon for the common piton (see Acts 4:3).
But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said,
Verse 19. - An angel for the angel, A.V.; out for forth, A.V. An angel, etc. The phrase is a translation of the Old Testament phrase מַלְאַך יְהוָה. But in Hebrew it is impossible to insert the definite article before יְהוָה, and therefore the phrase is properly rendered, "the angel of the Lord." In the passage before us and other similar passages, Κύριος seems to stand for יְוָה, and therefore the rendering of the A.V. would seem to be right, in spite of what is said by eminent grammarians to the contrary. Compare, too, the phrases ὁδὸν εἰρήνηνς (Luke 1:19); ῤῆμα Θεοῦ (Luke 3:2); φωνὴ βοῶντος (Luke 3:4); and see especially Luke 2:9, where, ἄγγελος Κυρίου ("the angel of the Lord,) and δόξα Κυρίου ("the glory of the Lord") stand in parallel clauses. The R.V. inconsistently renders the first "an angel," and the second" the glory." In like manner φωνὴ Κυρίου (Acts 7:31) is "the voice of the Lord;" and in Psalm 29. (28, Septuagint) 3, 4, 5, 7, 8, 9, the LXX. have uniformly φωνὴ Κυρίου for קול יְהוָה (see Acts 8:26, note). Out (comp. Acts 12:7, etc.).
Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.
Verse 20. - Go ye for go, A.V. In the temple; not in the house, but in the courts. The words of this Life; i.e. this life which is in Christ, whom ye preach, through his resurrection from the dead (comp. John 6:68, "Thou hast the words of eternal life;" see too the whole chapter and 1 John 1:1-3).
And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.
Verse 21. - This for that, A.V.; about day. break for early in the morning, A.V.; prison-house for prison, A.V. About daybreak. In the hot climate of Jerusalem people are about very early in the meriting (comp. Matthew 26:57, 75). But the high priest, etc. The narrative would run more clearly if the passage were translated more literally, Now when the high priest and they that were with him were come (to the council-chamber the next day) they called together, etc. The narrative is taken up from vers. 17, 18. Having (ver. 18) put the apostles in prison, they met the next morning to decide how to punish them. The council (τὸ συνέδριον); i.e. in the Hebraeo-Greek, the Sanhedrim, the great council of the nation, consisting of seventy-two members, usually presided over by the high priest. It is frequently mentioned in the New Testament (Matthew 5:22; Matthew 26:59; Mark 14:55, etc.; and Acts 22:30; Acts 23:1, etc.; above Acts 4:15). On the present occasion, besides the members of the Sanhedrim, there were gathered together all the senate (γερουσία) of the children of Israel, an expression which occurs only here, but which seems to comprise all the elders of the Jews, even though they were not members of the Sanhedrim. But some (Schleusner, Heinrich, etc.) understand it as merely another phrase for the Sanhedrim, added for explanation and amplification. The council, of course, were ignorant of the escape of the prisoners. The prison-house (δεσμωτήριον); "prison" (A.V.) represents φυλακή in the next verse.
But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told,
Verse 22. - The officers that came for when the officers came and, A.V. and T.R.; and they returned for they returned, A.V.
Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within.
Verse 23. - Prison-house for prison, A.V., as in ver. 21; we found shut in all safety for truly found we shut with all safety, A.V. at the doors for without before the doors, A.V. and T.R. But the within at the end of the verse seems to require the without of the T.R.
Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow.
Verse 24. - The captain of the temple for the high priest and the captain, etc., A.V. and T.R.; words for things, A.V.; were much perplexed concerning them for doubted of them, A.V. The captain of the temple, etc. Meyer, followed by Alford, retains the T.R., in which the word for the high priest is ὁ ἱερεὺς. It is true that this word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament for "the high priest." But in the Old Testament כֹהֵן is very frequently used to designate the high priest, as Exodus 29:30; Exodus 35:19; Numbers 3:32; 2 Chronicles 22:11; 2 Kings 22:10; 1 Kings 1:8, etc.; and in such places is represented by ἱερεὺς in the LXX. So that St. Luke may very probably have used it here where the context made the meaning clear, and where he intended to use the word ἀρχιερεῖς for "the chief priests." For the captain, see above (Acts 4:1, note). He was especially interested as being, probably, the officer who had arrested the apostles the day before. Were much perplexed concerning. The verb (διαπορέω), which only occurs in the New Testament here and Acts 2:12, 10:17, Luke 9:7, and (in the middle voice) Luke 24:4, means properly "to be in doubt which road to take," hence generally to be in doubt, perplexity. Them may apply either to the words, the strange things just reported to them, or to the apostles about whom the things were reported. It seems most natural to refer it to the words. They were in doubt and perplexity as to what it would all grow to.
Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people.
Verse 25. - And there came one for then came one, A.V.; behold for saying, Behold, A.V. and T.R.; the prison for prison, A.V.; in the temple standing for standing in the temple, A.V. Standing implying the calm, fearless attitude of the men. There is an apparent reference in the mind of the writer to the words of the angel in ver. 20, "Go ye, and stand and speak."
Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned.
Verse 26. - But without for without, A.V.; lest they should be, omitting ἵνα, for lest they should have been, with ἵνα, A.V. and T.R. Lest they should be, etc. The best way of construing the words, whether ἵνα is re-rained or not, is to make the clause "lest they should be stoned" depend upon "not with violence;" putting "for they feared the people" into a parenthesis; thus explaining why they thought it dangerous to use violence.
And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them,
Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.
Verse 28. - We straitly charged for did not we straitly command? A.V. and T.R.; not to for that ye should not, A.V.; teaching for doctrine, A.V. We straitly charged, etc.; ἐπερωτάω seems to require a question to follow. Your teaching (for the command, see Acts 4:18). Intend to bring, etc. Here the secret of the persecution comes out, The guilty conscience winced at every word which spake of Jesus Christ as living. The high priest, too, would not so much as name the name of Jesus. It was "this name," "this man;" as in the Talmud, Jesus is most frequently spoken of as Teloni, i.e. "such a one," in Spanish and Portuguese Fulano, or still more contemptuously as "that man" (Farrar, 'Life of St. Paul,' vol. 1. p. 108). This terror of blood-guiltiness is a striking comment on the saying recorded in Matthew 27:25.
Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
Verse 29. - But for then, A.V.; the apostles for the other apostles, A.V.; must for ought to, A.V. Peter is the spokesman, the sentiment is that of the united apostolate. Must obey God, etc. The rule is a golden one for all men, all circumstances, and all time (comp. Acts 4:19). Peter does not deny having received the prohibition, but pleads the superior force of the command of God, as set forth in the following verses.
The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree.
Verse 30. - Hanging him for and hanged, A.V. The God of our fathers, etc. Observe how carefully Peter preserves his own brotherhood with the Jews whom he was addressing, and the continuity of the New Testament with the Old Testament as being the sequel of the acts of the same God of Israel. Raised up; viz. from the dead; ἤγειρε, not ἀνίστη, as Acts 3:22, 26. Some, however (Calvin, Bengel, etc.), take ἤγειρε, as here used, to mean "raised up" in the wider sense of ἀναστῆσαι, as in the T.R. of Acts 13:23, where, however, the R.T. has ἤγαγε. Slew; viz. with your own hands, as διεχειρίσασθε means. It only occurs besides in Acts 26:27.
Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
Verse 31. - Did God exalt for hath God exalted, A.V.; remission for forgiveness, A.V. With his right hand; i.e. by his mighty power, as the instrument of Christ's exaltation. A Prince (Acts 3:15, note). Repentance first, "a new heart and a new spirit" (Ezekiel 36:26), and forgiveness next (comp. Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19, etc.).
And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.
Verse 32. - Witnesses for his witnesses, A.V. and T.R.; so is the Holy Ghost for so is also the Holy Ghost, A.V. and T.R. We are witnesses. The direct reference is to the command recorded in Acts 1:8, which they felt imperatively bound to obey. So is the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost bare witness to the gospel preached by the apostles by the powers which he gave them to heal and work miracles, and by the conversion of many who heard the word: "the gospel preached with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven" (1 Peter 1:12). Mark the solemnity and authority which Peter claimed for the gospel by thus asserting that the Holy Ghost was the witness with the apostles to the truth of their testimony concerning Jesus Christ.
When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.
Verse 33. - But they, when they heard this, for when they heard that, they, A.V.; were minded for took counsel, A.V. and T.R. (ἐβούλοντο for ἐβουλεύοντο, as also Acts 15:39). The word for were cut to the heart (διέπριοντο) is found only here and in Acts 7:54, where the full phrase is given. It means literally, in the active voice, "to saw asunder," and is so used by the LXX. in 1 Chronicles 20:2. In Hebrews 11:37 it is the simple verb πρίω which is used; πρίω and several of its compounds are surgical terms.
Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;
Verse 34. - But there for there, A.V.; in honor of for in reputation among, A.V.; the men for the apostles, A.V. and T.R.; while for space, A.V. A Pharisee named Gamaliel. St. Luke had mentioned (Acts 4:1 and Acts 5:17) that there was an influential party of Sadducees in the Sanhedrim. He, therefore, now specially notes that Gamaliel was a Pharisee. There can be no doubt that this alone would rather dispose him to resist the violent counsels of the Sadducean members, and the more so as the doctrine of the Resurrection was in question (see Acts 23:6-8). Moreover, Gamaliel was noted for his moderation. That Gamaliel here named is the same as that of Acts 22:3, at whose feet St. Paul was brought up at Jerusalem, and who is known in the Talmud as Rabban Gamaliel the elder (to distinguish him from his grandson of the same name, the younger), the grandson of Hillel, the head of the school of Hillel, and at some time president of the Sanhedrim, one of the most famous of the Jewish doctors (as the title Rabban, borne by only six others, shows), seems certain, though it cannot absolutely be proved. The description of him as a doctor of the law, had in honor of all the people; the allusion to him as a great teacher, learned in the perfect manner of the Law of the fathers, and one whose greatness would be as a shield to his pupils, in Acts 22:3; the exact chronological agreement; the weight he possessed in the Sanhedrim, in spite of the Sadducean tendencies of the high priest and his followers; and the agreement between his character as written in the Talmud and as shown in his speech and in the counsel given in it, seem to place his identity beyond all reasonable doubt. There does not seem to be any foundation for the legend in the Clementine Recognitions, that he was in secret a Christian. If the prayer used in the synagogues, "Let there be no hope to them that apostatize from the true religion; and let heretics, how many soever they he, all perish as in a moment," be really his composition, as the Jews say, he certainly had no inclination to Christianity ('Prid. Conn.,' 1:361).
And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.
Verse 35. - He said for said, A.V.; as touching these men transposed from the order of the A.V.; are about to do for intend to do, A.V.
For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought.
Verse 36. - Giving himself out for boasting himself, A.V.; dispersed for scattered, A.V.; came for brought, A.V. Rose up Theudas. A very serious chronological difficulty arises hero. The only Theudas known to history is the one about whom Josephus writes ('Ant. Jud.,' 20:5), quoted in full by Eusebius ('Ecclesiastes Hist.,'2:11) as having pretended to be a prophet, having lured a number of people to follow him to the banks of the Jordan, by the assurance that he would part the waters of the river, and as having been pursued by order of Cuspius Fadus, the Procurator of Judaea, when numbers of his followers were slain and taken prisoners, and Theudas himself had his head cut off. But Fadus was procurator in the reign of Claudius Caesar, immediately after the death of King Agrippa, ten or twelve years after the time when Gamaliel was speaking, and about thirty years after the time at which Gamaliel places Theudas. Assuming St. Luke to be as accurate and correct here as he has been proved to be in other instances where his historical accuracy has been impugned, three ways present themselves of explaining the discrepancy. 1. Josephus may have misplaced the adventure of Theudas by some accidental error. Considering the vast number of Jewish insurrections from the death of Herod the Great to the destruction of Jerusalem, such a mistake is not very improbable. 2. There may have been two adventurers of the name of Theudas, one in the reign of Augustus Caesar, and the other in the reign of Claudius; and so both the historians may be right, and the apparent discrepancy may have no real existence (see Wordsworth, in loc.). 3. The person named Theudas by Gamaliel may be the same whom Josephus speaks of ('Bell. Jud.,' it. 4:2) by the common name of Simon, as gathering a band of robbers around him, and making himself king at Herod's death ('Sonntag,' cited by Meyer, etc.). But he was killed by Gratus, and the insurrection suppressed. A variety in this last mode has also been suggested (Kitto's 'Cyclopaedia'), viz. to understand Theudas to be an Aramaic form of Theodotus, and the equivalent Hebrew form of Theodotus to be מַתִתְיָה, Matthias, and so the person meant by Theudas to be a certain Matthias who with one Judas made an insurrection, when Herod the Great was dying, by tearing down the golden eagle which Herod had put over the great gate of the temple, and who was burnt alive with his companions, after defending his deed in a speech of great boldness and constancy ('Ant. Jud' 17:6). A consideration of these methods of explaining the apparent contradiction between the two historians shows that no certainty can without further light be arrived at. But it may be observed that it is quite impossible to suppose that any one so well informed and so accurate as St. Luke is could imagine that an event that he must have remembered perfectly, if it happened under the procuratorship of Fadus, had happened before the disturbances caused by Judas of Galilee, at least thirty years before. But it is most certain that Josephus's account of Theudas agrees better with Gamaliel's notice than that of either of the other persons suggested, irrespective of the identity of name. The first way of explaining the difficulty above proposed has, therefore, most probability in it. But some further corroboration of this explanation may be found in some of the details of Theudas's proceedings given by Josephus. He tells us that Theudes persuaded a great number of people to "collect all their possessions" and follow him to the banks of the Jordan, where he promised, like a second Elijah, to part the waters for them to pass over; that they did so, but that Fadus sent a troop of horse after them, who slew numbers of them, and amongst them their leader. Now, if this happened when the business of the census was beginning to be agitated, after the deposition of Archelaus (A.D. 6 or 7), all is plain. Theudas declaimed as a prophet against submitting to the census of their goods ordered by Augustus. The people were of the same mind. Theudas persuaded them that, if they brought all their goods to the banks of the Jordan, he would divide the stream and enable them to carry them over to the other side out of reach of the tax-gatherer. And so they made the attempt. But this was an act of rebellion against the Roman power, and a method of defeating the purpose of the census, which must be crushed at once. And so the people were pursued and slaughtered. But apart from the census of their goods, one sees no motive either for the attempt to carry away their property, or for the slaughter of an unarmed multitude by the Roman cavalry. So that the internal evidence is in favor of St. Luke's collocation of the incident, at the same time that his authority as a contemporary historian is much higher than that of Josephus. Still, one desiderates some more satisfactory proof of the error of Josephus, and some account of how he fell into it.
After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.
Verse 37 - Enrolment for taxing, A.V.; some of the for much, A.V.; as many for even as many, A.V.; scattered abroad for dispersed, A.V. Judas of Galilee, otherwise called the Gaulonite, as a native of Gamala, in Gaulonitis. He was probably called a Galilaean because Galilee was the seat of his insurrection (Josephus, 'Ant.,' 18, 1:1 and 6; also 'Bell. Jud.,' 2. 8:1; 17:8). He was the great leader of the Jews in opposing the census ordered by Augustus, after the deposition of Archelaus, and carried out by Cyrenius, or rather P. Sulpicius Quirinus, the Propraetor of Syria, with the assistance of Cumanus, the subordinate Governor of Judaea. Judas, with Zadoc his coadjutor, was the founder of a fourth Jewish sect, nearly allied to the Pharisees, and his sedition was founded on his philosophic tenets. Josephus speaks of him as the author of all the seditions, tumults, slaughters, sieges, devastations, plunder, famines, ending with the burning of the temple, which afflicted his unhappy country. He gives no account of his death. But his two sons, James and Simon, were crucified by Tiberius Alexander, the successor of Cuspius Fadus. Another son, Menahem, having collected and armed a large band of robbers and other insurgents, after a partially successful attack on the Roman camp at Jerusalem, was miserably slain. The enrolment (ἡ ἀπογραφή, as Luke 2:1). The purpose of Augustus, which had been delayed some years from causes not accurately known, perhaps in deference to some remonstrance from Herod the Great, was now carried into effect. Quirinus was sent, apparently the second time, as Proprsetor of Syria, to which Judaea was now attached, with Cumanus under him as Procurator of Judaea, to make a valuation of all their property. The Jews had been first persuaded by the high priest Joazar, i.e. apparently in the end of Herod's reign, or the beginning of Archelaus's, to submit to what they greatly disliked, but were now roused to insurrection by Judas of Galilee ('Ant.,' 18, 1:1). He also perished. Nothing is known of his death beyond this notice of it. Scattered abroad. Not crushed, for the insurrection broke out again and again, having the character of a religious war given to it by Judas of Galilee.
And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:
Verse 38. - Be overthrown for come to nought, A.V.
But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.
Verse 39. - Is for be, A.V.; will not be able to for cannot, A.V.; them for it, A.V. and T.R.; to be fighting for to fight, A.V.
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.
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.
And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
Verse 41. - They therefore for and they, A.V.; dishonor for the Name, for shame for his Name, A.V. and T.R. (see 1 Peter 4:12-16; John 15:21).
And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
Verse 42. - Every day for daily, A.V.; at home for in every hour, A.V. (see Acts 2:46 note); to preach Jesus as the Christ for preach Jesus Christ, A.V. and T.R. The meaning is that they daily preached Jesus Christ both in the temple and in the house or houses where the disciples were wont to meet (see Acts 2:46, note). The spirit and conduct of the apostles here recorded is a precious example to their successors. To glory in the cross, to count shame endured for Christ's sake the highest honor, and to be unwearied and undaunted in teaching and preaching Jesus Christ through good report and through evil report, is the true character and work of every bishop of souls.