Acts 5:36
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
"For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing.

King James Bible
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.

Darby Bible Translation
for before these days Theudas rose up, alleging himself to be somebody, to whom a number of men, about four hundred, were joined; who was slain, and all, as many as obeyed him, were dispersed and came to nothing.

World English Bible
For before these days Theudas rose up, making himself out 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 dispersed, and came to nothing.

Young's Literal Translation
for before these days rose up Theudas, saying, that himself was some one, to whom a number of men did join themselves, as it were four hundred, who was slain, and all, as many as were obeying him, were scattered, and came to nought.

Acts 5:36 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

For before those days - The "advice" of Gamaliel was to permit these men to go on. The "arguments" by which he enforced his advice were:

(1) That there were cases or precedents in point Acts 5:36-37; and,

(2) That if it should turn out to be truly of God, it would be a solemn affair to be involved in the consequences of opposing him. How long before "these days" this transaction occurred, cannot now be determined, as it is not certain to what case Gamaliel refers.

Rose up - That is, commenced or excited an insurrection.

Theudas - This was a name quite common among the Jews. Of this man nothing more is known than is here recorded. Josephus (Antiq., book 20, chapter 5) mentions one "Theudas," in the time of "Fadus," the procurator of Judea, in the reign of the Emperor Claudius (45 or 46 a.d.), who persuaded a great part of the people to take their effects with them and follow him to the river Jordan. He told them he was a prophet, and that he would divide the river and lead them over. Fadus, however, came suddenly upon them, and slew many of them. Theudas was taken alive and conveyed to Jerusalem, and there beheaded. But this occurred at least ten or fifteen years after this discourse of Gamaliel. Many efforts have been made to reconcile Luke and Josephus, on the supposition that they refer to the same man. Lightfoot supposed that Josephus had made an error in chronology. But there is no reason to suppose that there is reference to the same event; and the fact that Josephus has not recorded the insurrection referred to by Gamaliel does not militate at all against the account in the Acts . For:

(1) Luke, for anything that appears to the contrary, is quite as credible an historian as Josephus.

(2) the name "Theudas" was a common name among the Jews; and there is no improbability that there were "two" leaders of an insurrection of this name. If it "is" improbable, the improbability would affect Josephus' credit as much as that of Luke.

(3) it is altogether improbable that "Gamaliel" should refer to a case which was not well authenticated, and that Luke should record a speech of this kind unless it was delivered, when it would be so easy to detect the error.

(4) Josephus has recorded many instances of insurrection and revolt. He has represented the country as in an unsettled state, and by no means professes to give an account of "all" that occurred. Thus, he says (Antiq., xvii. 10, section 4) that there were "at this time ten thousand other disorders in Judea"; and (section 8) that "Judea was full of robberies." When this "Theudas" lived cannot be ascertained; but as Gamaliel mentions him before Judas of Galilee, it is probable that he lived not far from the time that our Saviour was born; at a time when many false prophets appeared, claiming to be the Messiah.

Boasting himself to be somebody - Claiming to be an eminent prophet probably, or the Messiah.

Obeyed him - The word used here is the one commonly used to denote "belief." As many as believed on him, or gave credit to his pretensions.

Acts 5:36 Parallel Commentaries

Library
Whom to Obey, --Annas or Angel?
'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, 18. And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. 19. But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, 20. Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. 21. And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts

On Zeal
"It is good to be always zealously affected in a good thing." Gal. 4:18. 1. There are few subjects in the whole compass of religion, that are of greater importance than this. For without zeal it is impossible, either to make any considerable progress in religion ourselves, or to do any considerable service to our neighbour, whether in temporal or spiritual things. And yet nothing has done more disservice to religion, or more mischief to mankind, than a sort of zeal which has for several ages prevailed,
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions

Whether Human Law Binds a Man in Conscience?
Objection 1: It would seem that human law does not bind man in conscience. For an inferior power has no jurisdiction in a court of higher power. But the power of man, which frames human law, is beneath the Divine power. Therefore human law cannot impose its precept in a Divine court, such as is the court of conscience. Objection 2: Further, the judgment of conscience depends chiefly on the commandments of God. But sometimes God's commandments are made void by human laws, according to Mat. 15:6: "You
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether the Devil is Directly the Cause of Man's Sinning?
Objection 1: It would seem that the devil is directly the cause of man's sinning. For sin consists directly in an act of the appetite. Now Augustine says (De Trin. iv, 12) that "the devil inspires his friends with evil desires"; and Bede, commenting on Acts 5:3, says that the devil "draws the mind to evil desires"; and Isidore says (De Summo Bono ii, 41; iii, 5) that the devil "fills men's hearts with secret lusts." Therefore the devil is directly the cause of sin. Objection 2: Further, Jerome says
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Cross References
Matthew 24:5
"For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will mislead many.

Acts 5:35
And he said to them, "Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men.

Acts 8:9
Now there was a man named Simon, who formerly was practicing magic in the city and astonishing the people of Samaria, claiming to be someone great;

Acts 21:38
"Then you are not the Egyptian who some time ago stirred up a revolt and led the four thousand men of the Assassins out into the wilderness?"

Galatians 2:6
But from those who were of high reputation (what they were makes no difference to me; God shows no partiality)-- well, those who were of reputation contributed nothing to me.

Galatians 6:3
For if anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself.

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