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Bible Commentaries
Acts 4

Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical CommentaryAlford's Greek Testament Commentary

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Verse 1

1. ] ἐπέστ . , see reff.

οἱ ἱερεῖς , the officiating priests , as soon as they were released from their duties.

The στρατηγὸς τ . ἱεροῦ was the captain of the Levitical guard of the temple, mentioned by Jos. B. J. vi. 5. 3, δραμόντες δὲ οἱ τοῦ ἱεροῦ φύλακες ἤγγειλαν τῷ στρατηγῷ . We hear in Jos. Antt. xx. 6. 2, of ὁ στρατηγὸς Ἄνανος : and in B. J. ii. 12. 6, he is said to be son of the high priest Ananias. In Malachi 3:4; Malachi 3:4 , we hear of the προστάτης τοῦ ἱεροῦ , who appears to have been the same officer. See Winer, Realw., art. Temple, end.

Σαδδουκ .] See note on Matthew 3:7 . Perhaps they on this occasion had moved the guard and the priests to notice the matter: for διαπον . seems only to refer to them . Cf. also ch. Acts 5:17 .

Verses 1-4


Verse 2

2. ] ἐν τ . Ἰησ , not, as E. V., ‘ through Jesus,’ but in the person (or example) of Jesus , alleging Him as an example of that which the Sadducees denied: preaching by implication, inasmuch as one resurrection would imply that of all, the resurrection of the dead. The ἐν in reff. carries this somewhat further, but the usage is philologically the same. ‘The resurrection through Jesus’ does not appear on the present occasion to have formed part of their preaching.

Verse 3

3. ] ἑσπέρα , perhaps, from their adjourning the case till the next day, the second evening, beginning with the twelfth hour: see Matthew 14:15 , and note.

Verse 4

4. ] ἐγενήθη This form is unknown in good Greek: but common in Hellenistic, see Colossians 4:11 ; 1 Thessalonians 2:14 ; Winer, § 15. It appears to have been originally a Doric form: and is commonly, though this cannot always be pressed (1 Thessalonians 1:5-6 ; 1 Thessalonians 2:5 , and notes there), used where a passive sense is admissible, and an agent understood: cf. e.g. Matthew 6:10 ; Matthew 8:13 ; Matthew 21:42 . Here the agent would be God: see ch. Acts 2:47 .

τῶν ἀνδρῶν ] It does not appear whether we are to take this strictly as masculine, or more loosely as if it were ἀνθρώπων : Meyer thinks the former: Olshausen, that as yet only men attached themselves to the church (but see ch. Act 1:14 ): De Wette objects to the stricter view, that Luke does not so reckon, ch. Acts 2:41 (see however Luke 9:14 , and cf. [38] Mt.): but leaves it undecided. The laxer use of ἀνδρῶν occurs Luke 11:31 , and James 1:20 . In ch. Acts 5:14 , men and women both are mentioned as being added to the Lord.

[38] When, in the Gospels, and in the Evangelic statement, 1 Corinthians 11:23-25 , the sign (║) occurs in a reference, it is signified that the word occurs in the parallel place in the other Gospels, which will always be found indicated at the head of the note on the paragraph. When the sign (║) is qualified , thus, ‘║ Mk.,’ or ‘║ Mt. Mk.,’ &c., it is signified that the word occurs in the parallel place in that Gospel or Gospels, but not in the other or others .

Wordsw. sees in the 5000 ἄνδρες a fulfilment of the prophecy contained in the miracle of feeding the 5000. But how will the circumstances tally, seeing that these were but new converts, babes in grace, not yet fed to the full as were those others? And again, it is not quite certain whether this number was that of new converts on this occasion, or of the whole Church: but most probably the latter.

Verse 5

5. ] αὐτῶν , of the Jews ; a construction frequently used where there can be little chance of mistaking to whom or what the pronoun refers, see John 8:44 , note; Romans 2:26 ; Winer, edn. 6, § 22. 3. 3 b. In this place, however, it has been mistaken: for Meyer refers αὐτῶν to the believers just mentioned, inasmuch as they were Jews: absurdly enough.

ἄρχ. κ. πρεσβ. κ. γρ .] The Sanhedrim : see Matthew 2:4 ; Matthew 26:59 ; ch. Acts 5:21 .

ἐν Ἱερουσαλήμ ] Why is this specified? The difficulty of accounting for it has led in some MSS. to ἐν being altered to εἰς , so as to imply that certain of them who dwelt out of town (Lightf. &c.) were summoned to Jerusalem , I believe it merely implies that the meeting was not held in the temple , but in the city .

Verses 5-12


Verse 6

6 .] On Annas and Caiaphas, both called high priests, Luke 3:2 , see note there. Of John and Alexander nothing is known. Lightfoot supposes John to be identical with the Jochanan ben Zacchai of the Talmud, who however (De W.) was not of the high -priestly, but only of the priestly race: and Pearson, Wolf, Krebs, and Mangey suppose Alexander to have been the brother of Philo Judæus, mentioned by Jos. Antt. xviii. 8. 1. But this is very improbable; for he was Alabarch of the Jews at Alexandria, Jos. ibid.

Verse 7

7. ] ἐν ποίᾳ δυνάμει not = ἐν π . ἐξουσίᾳ , ‘in what authority ,’ but in what (manner of) power ; of what kind was the enabling cause, the element in which, as its condition, the deed was wrought? ἐν ποίῳ ὀνόματι not ‘ in what name ,’ i.e. ‘ by whose authority ,’ but by (‘ in ,’ see above) what (manner of) name , spoken: see ch. Acts 3:6 ; Acts 3:16 ; Jos. Antt. viii. 2. 5.

τοῦτο , not the teaching (Olshaus., &c.), nor both the miracle and the teaching (Heinr.), but the miracle : and that only.

Verse 8

8. ] πλησθ . πν . ἁγ . , i.e. specially, for the occasion.

Verse 9

9. ] εἰ , if , with an implication of the fact being so: see ch. Acts 11:17 .

ἐν τίνι , not ‘by (in) whom ,’ this is not yet brought forward: but wherein , in what, as the conditional element. No person had been mentioned in the question, Acts 4:7 , nor does Peter afterwards say ἐν Ἰησοῦ χρ ., but ἐν τῷ ὀνόμ . Ἰ . χρ . On the other hand, ἐν τούτῳ , Acts 4:10 , may very well be masculine, as referring to Ἰησοῦς χρ . Himself, included in the previous words τῷ ὀν . Ἰ . χρ .: it may also be neuter, ‘in this Name:’ but the masc. is preferable, on account of οὗτος following so soon in Acts 4:11 .

Verse 10

10. ] ὃν ὅν : the copula is omitted to make the contrast more striking.

παρέστηκεν , stands , as in E. V. He was there present.

Verse 11

11 .] See Matthew 21:42 , note.

Verse 12

12 .] In Jos. Antt. iii. 1. 5, Moses, praying to God for Israel, says, ἐν αὐτῷ γὰρ εἶναι τὴν σωτηρίαν αὐτοῦ , καὶ οὐκ ἐν ἄλλῳ . σωτηρία is used here in the higher sense of salvation , not with reference to the healing of the lame man. See reff. The article implies, ‘the salvation for which we all look;’ our salvation : ἐστὶν ἡ σωτ . is paraphrased in the next clause by δεῖ σωθῆναι ἡμᾶς .

οὔτε γὰρ ] lit. for neither is there another name under heaven (which is) given (by God) among men (not ‘ to men ,’ Vulg., Beza, Kuinoel), whereby we must be saved : i.e., as E. V. Dr. Burton’s rendering, ‘For neither is the name which is given among men, whereby we are to be saved, any other than this,’ is ungrammatical.

Verse 13

13. ] καταλαβάμενοι , having had previous knowledge ; not as E. V., which would be the partic. pres.; see the past, ch. Acts 25:25 .

ἰδιῶται , the word of contrast to those professionally acquainted with any matter: here therefore, laics , men of no knowledge on such a subject as this.

ἐπεγίνωσ · κον , they recognized them ; (so Od. ω . 215, αὐτὰρ ἐγὼν πατρὸς πειρήσομαι ἡμετέροιο , αἴ κ ʼ ἐμ ʼ ἐπιγνοίη κ . φράσσεται ὀφθαλμοῖσιν : Plato, Euthyd. 301 E, ἆρα μοί ποτε αὕτη (ἡ σοφία) παραγενήσεται ὥστε μοι οἰκεία γενέσθαι; Ἐπιγνοίης ἂν αὐτήν , ὠ Σώκρατες , ἔφη , οἰκείαν γενομένην ;) their astonishment setting them to think, and reminding them that they had seen these men with Jesus: not for a pluperfect , here or any where else: nor is ἦσαν ; that they (once) were with Jesus .

Verses 13-18


Verse 14

14 .] This, according to De W., is the only place in Luke where τε couples two sentences. He therefore objects to the reading; and also as destroying the contrast; but clearly the former is no sound critical reason, nor is it correct: see ch. Act 1:15 al. fr.: and I cannot see that any contrast is intended: the two circumstances which the Sanhedrim found it difficult to gainsay were, the boldness of these illiterate men, conferred by their companionship with Jesus, and the presence of the healed man standing with them.

Verse 17

17. διανεμηθῇ ] be scattered or spread : lit., be distributed: so Plato, Minos, 317 D, τίς ἐπιστήμων διανεῖμαι ἐπὶ γῇ τὰ σπέρματα ; and afterwards, τίς δὲ τὴν τροφὴν ἐπὶ τὰ τῶν ἀνθρώπων σώματα διανεῖμαι ἄριστος ;

[ ἀπειλῇ ] ἀπειλ . ] for idiom, see reff.

The construction of ἀπειλέω with an infin., stated by Dr. Bloomf. to be ‘so rare that even the best lexx. scarcely adduce an example.’ is its ordinary construction: see Palm and Rost sub voce, and cf. II. α ʹ. 161; ν ʹ. 143; ο ʹ. 179, al. freq.: Od. λ ʹ. 313; Xen. Mem. iii. 5. 4; Hell. v. 4. 7; Eur. Med. 287. The use of the middle in the active sense is confined to later Greek.

Verse 18

18. ] ἐπί , so as to make that Name the subject (basis) of their discoursing.

Verses 19-22


Verse 21

21. ] προσαπειλ . , having threatened them in addition ; with threats superadded to the inhibition of Acts 4:18 .

μηδέν , no means : not μηδὲν αἴτιον , see John 14:30 . The difficulty with the Sanhedrim was, to find any means of punishing them which should not stir up the people; διὰ τὸν λαόν belongs to this clause, not to ἀπέλυσαν αὐτ .

Verse 22

22. ] πλ . τεσσ . for πλ . ἢ τεσσ ., as sometimes in classical Greek; so οὐκ ἔλασσον πέντε καὶ εἴκοσι , Thucyd. vi. 95. See Winer, edn. 6, § 37, 5. The constr. ἐφ ʼ ὃν γεγόνει (see as in reff.) is accounted for by the sense involved in it being the access , so to speak, of the event to the person mentioned. In the note on Revelation 4:2 , I have noticed that καθῆσθαι ἐπί is commonly used when the fact is announced for the first time , with an accus.: but afterwards when the same fact is again referred to, with a gen. or dat.

τὸ σημ . τῆς ἰάσ . the genitive of apposition; so τὸν ἀῤῥαβῶνα τοῦ πνεύματος , 2 Corinthians 5:5 ; σημεῖον περιτομῆς , Romans 4:11 , &c. The circumstance of his being more than forty years old both gave notoriety to his person as having long resorted there, and made the miracle more notable, his malady being more confirmed.

Verse 23

23. ] τοὺς ἰδίους , the other Apostles, and possibly some others assembled with them. There is nothing in Act 4:31 to mark that only the Apostles were present on this occasion.

24 ] ὁμοθ . ᾖραν φων . not, as Meyer supposes, literally all speaking together in a known formula of prayer, but led by some one , and all assenting; not τὰς φωνάς , but φωνήν : see note on ch. Acts 2:6 .

σὺ [ ὁ θεὸς ] ὁ ποι .: Thou art God (or, if ὁ θεός be omitted, He ) who hast made : not Thou O God who hast made : in this latter case, the first sentence would go on to the end of Acts 4:26 , and there abruptly end, without any prayer being expressed: whereas now it is an acknowledgment that it was the same God , who was now doing these things, that bad beforetime prophesied them of Christ.

Verses 23-31


Verse 25

25 .] The text of this verse (see var. readd.) is in a very confused state. I have kept to that of the oldest MSS., adopted also by Lachmann. Though harsh in construction, their words are not senseless , as De Wette styles them, στόματος Δαυεὶδ … being in apposition with πνεύματος ἁγίου . The rec. has been an emendation and simplification of the text, which bears, in this its original form, the solemn and stately character, in the accumulation of parallel clauses, of the rest of the prayer; cf. Acts 4:27 .

ἵνα τί κ . τ . λ . ] cited verbatim from the LXX.

The Messianic import of this Psalm has been acknowledged even by those who usually deny all such reference, e.g. De Wette. Meyer endeavours to refer it to some circumstances then present, but is not bold enough to enter into any vindication of his view.

φρυάσσω is only found in the middle in good Greek (see Kypke, Observ. ii. p. 30 f. Meyer). φρύαγμά ἐστι τὸ ἀλόγιστον κίνημα , Athanas. in Catena.

Verse 27

27 .] The γάρ implies an acknowledgment of the truth of God in the fulfilment of the prophecy: Thou art the God who hast , &c., for these events have happened accordingly.

ἐν τῇ πόλει ταύτῃ . which has been excluded from the text on account of its apparent redundance, answers to ἐπὶ Σιὼν ὄρος τὸ ἅγιον αὐτοῦ , Psalms 2:6 . See also Matthew 23:37 ; Luke 13:33 . The parts of this verse correspond accurately to those of the prophecy just quoted.

παῖδα , servant , as be fore, ch. Acts 3:26 . Jesus, the Servant of Jehovah, is the antitype and completion of David, and of all other servants of the Lord: what is said of them only partially and hyperbolically, is said literally and entirely of Him.

Verse 28

28 .] There is an ellipsis in the thought between ποιῆσαι and ὅσα : ποιῆσαι , ( ὡς μὲν ἐδόκει , τὴν ἰδίαν βουλήν , ὄντως δὲ ) ὅσα … As De Wette well remarks, συνήχθησαν ποιῆσαι ) is used subjectively , ‘they were collected, to do,’ and then the speaker changes his ground to an objective one in ὅσα (as they believed but really ) as many things as Thy hand, &c.

ποιῆσαι must not be rendered, with Kuinoel, ‘ita ut facerent.’ It does not express the result , but the intention , of their assembling. Still worse is it to take ποιῆσαι with ἔχρισας , ‘Whom Thou hast anointed, … to do,’ &c., as some have proposed: the parenthesis, as well as the whole train of thought, forbidding it.

ἡ χείρ σ . κ . ἡ βουλή ] not a ἓν διὰ δυοῖν (Kuinoel): χείρ indicates the Power , βουλή the Wisdom of God. The Wisdom decreed, the Hand performed: but the same word προώρισεν is used of both by what grammarians call zeugma as in γάλα ὑμᾶς ἐπότισα ‚ οὐ βρῶυα , 1 Corinthians 3:2 . See Winer, edn. 6, § 66. 2, e.

Verse 30

30. ] ἐν τῷ , see ref. ch. 3. and note there: In Thy stretching forth (while Thou stretchest forth) Thine hand for ( εἰς , of the purpose) healing, and that signs and wonders may come to pass by means of the Name of Thy Holy Servant Jesus.

Verse 31

31. ] As the first outpouring of the Spirit, so this special one in answer to prayer, was testified by an outward and visible sign: but not by the same sign, for that first baptism by the Holy Ghost, the great fulfilment of the promise, was not to be repeated. The rationalist Commentators have done good service by pointing out parallel cases, in profane writers, of supposed tokens of the divine presence. Virg. Æn. iii. 89. Ovid, Met. xv. 672. Schöttgen, Hor. Hebr. in loc., produces similar notices from the Rabbinical writings.

It was on every ground probable that the token of the especial presence of God would be some phænomenon which would be recognized by those present as such . Besides which, the idea was not derived from profane sources, but from the Scriptures: see Psalms 29:8 ; Isaiah 2:19 ; Isaiah 2:21 ; Isaiah 13:13 ; Ezekiel 38:19 (especially); Joel 3:16 ; Haggai 2:6-7 .

ἐπλήσθησαν , with a fresh and renewed outpouring.

τοῦ ἁγ . πν . is personal : they were all filled with the Holy Spirit : the meaning being the same with πν . ἁγ ., the influence of the Holy Spirit , but the form of expression varied. See ch. Acts 1:8 ; Acts 2:33 ; Acts 2:38 ; Acts 9:31 ; Acts 10:45 .

Verse 32

32. τῶν πιστευσάντων ] Much the same meaning as τῶν πιστευόντων , but with reference to their having become converts , and specially to those mentioned in Acts 4:4 , though the description is general. ‘Ubi regnum habet fides, animos ita conciliat ut omnes idem velint et nolint. Hinc enim discordiæ, quod non regimur eodem Christi Spiritu.’ Calvin. On the community of goods, see note at ch. Acts 2:45 . We have the view there taken strikingly confirmed here by the expressions used. No one called (reckoned) any thing of his goods (which were still τὰ ὑπάρχοντα αὐτῷ , not alienated) ( to be) his own . ( ἔλεγεν , dicebat : hoc ipso præsupponitur proprietatem possessionis non plane fuisse deletam. Bengel.)

Verses 32-37

32 37 .] THE STATE OF THE CHURCH AT THIS TIME. This passage forms the conclusion of this division of the history and the transition to ch. 5.

Verse 33

33 .] The Apostles were the specially appointed witnesses of the Resurrection, ch. Acts 1:22 ; and this their testimony they gave with power , i.e. with a special gift of the Holy Spirit to enforce and illustrate, to persuade and dispute on, those facts of which their own experience (see Act 4:20 ) informed them. That the Spirit did not inspire them with unbroken uniformity in matters of fact , our present Gospels, the remnants to us of this very testimony, sufficiently witness. Nor was this necessary: each man reported what he had heard and seen; and it was in the manner of delivering this report that the great power of the Spirit was shewn. See, on the whole subject, Prolegg. Vol. I. i. § iii. 5 ff.

χάρις , better grace , i.e. from God, than favour , i.e. from the people, which would hardly be so absolutely designated.

Verse 34

34. ] γάρ gives a proof of God’s grace working in them, in that they imparted their goods to the poor: see especially 2 Corinthians 8:7 .

πιπρασκομένων , the things which were being sold : the process of selling, as regarded the whole church, yet going on, though completed in individual cases; in the places cited by Wetst. from Demosth. and Appian the pres. retains its proper force, as here. In Appian, B. Civ. v. p. 1088, the expression is, τιμὰς τῶν ἔτι πιπρασκομένων .

Verse 35

35. ] παρὰ τοὺς πόδας , not a Hebraism for the whole person but literal . So Cicero pro Flacco, c. 28, ‘Ante pedes Prætoris in foro expensum estauri pondo centum.’ (Rosenm.) Wetstein gives several other examples. The Apostles, like the Prætor, probably sat upon a raised seat, on the step of which, at their feet, the money was laid, in token of reverence.

Verse 36

36 .] Barnabas, בַּר נְבוּאָה , is υἱὸς προφητείας and the interpretation has been generally made good by taking παράκλησις as included in προφητεία , and as in the sense of exhortation: see ch. Acts 11:23 .

Λευεΐτης ] The Levites might possess land at all times within the precincts of the Levitical cities: such was the case, e.g., in Jeremiah 32:7 . At the division of the kingdoms, the priests and Levites all resorted to Rehoboam in Judah (and Benjamin), 2 Chronicles 11:13 ; from that time probably, but certainly after the captivity, when the Mosaic division of the land was no longer accurately observed, the possession of land by Levites seems to have been allowed. The whole subject is involved in some uncertainty: cf. Leviticus 25:32 ff.; Numbers 35:1-8 ; Deuteronomy 12:12 ; Deuteronomy 18:8 , al.

Κύπριος ] For the state of Cyprus at this time, see notes on ch. Acts 11:19 ; Acts 13:4-7 .

Verse 37

37. χρῆμα ] Very unusual in this sense. See Herod. 3:38, ἐπὶ πόσῳ ἂν χρήματι βουλοίατο τοὺς πατέρας ἀποθνήσκοντας ἀποσιτέεσθαι , and other examples in Wetstein.

Bibliographical Information
Alford, Henry. "Commentary on Acts 4". Alford's Greek Testament Critical Exegetical Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/hac/acts-4.html. 1863-1878.
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