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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament

Acts 5

Verse 1

Sold (επωλησεν). Aorist active indicative again, for a single case.

Verse 2

Kept back (ενοσφισατο). First aorist middle indicative of νοσφιζω, old verb from νοσφ, afar, apart, and so to set apart, to separate for oneself, but only here, verse Acts 5:3; Titus 2:10 in the N.T.

His wife also being privy to it (συνειδυιης κα της γυναικος). Genitive absolute with second perfect participle of συνοιδα, to know together with one, "his wife also knowing it together with him."

Brought a certain part (ενεγκας μερος τ). Aorist active participle of φερω, for a definite act. The praise of Joseph was too much for Ananias, but he was not willing to turn over all. He wanted praise for giving all and yet he took care of himself by keeping some. Thus he started the Ananias Club that gave a new meaning to his lovely name (God is gracious).

Verse 3

Filled (επληρωσεν). The very verb used of the filling by the Holy Spirit (Acts 4:31). Satan the adversary is the father of lies (John 8:44). He had entered into Judas (Luke 22:3; John 13:27) and now he has filled the heart of Ananias with a lie.

To lie to the Holy Spirit (ψευσασθα σε το πνευμα το αγιον). Infinitive (aorist middle) of purpose with accusative of general reference (σε) and the accusative of the person (object) as often in Greek writers, though here only in the N.T. with this verb. Usual dative of the person in verse Acts 5:4 (ανθρωποις, men, τω θεω, God). The Holy Spirit had been given them to guide them into truth (John 15:13).

Verse 4

Whiles it remained (μενον). Present active participle of mend, unsold, Peter means.

After it was sold (πραθεν). First aorist passive of πιπρασκω, to sell.

How is that thou hast conceived (Τ οτ εθου). Quid est quod. See Luke 2:49. See also Acts 5:9. Second aorist middle indicative second person singular of τιθημ. The devil filled his heart (verse Acts 5:3), but all the same Ananias did it too and is wholly responsible.

Verse 5

Hearing (ακουων). Present active participle of ακουω, while hearing.

Fell down (πεσων). Second aorist active participle of πιπτω, fell all of a sudden while listening.

Gave up the ghost (εξεψυξεν). First aorist active indicative of εκψυχω, late verb in LXX and Hippocrates, to breathe out, to expire. In the N.T. only here, verse Acts 5:10; Acts 12:23. It is needless to blame Peter for the death of Ananias. He had brought the end upon himself. It was the judgment of God. Physically the nervous shock could have caused the collapse.

Verse 6

The young men (ο νεωτερο). Literally the younger men (contrast with ο πρεσβυτερο, the elder men). Same as νεανισκο in verse Acts 5:10 and so no order in the young church. Perhaps these young men were acting as ushers or actual pallbearers.

Wrapped him round (συνεστειλαν). First aorist active indicative of συστελλω, old verb, to draw together, or contract (1 Corinthians 7:29), to roll together, to wrap with bandages, to enshroud as here. Nowhere else in the N.T. Frequent in medical writers. They may have used their own mantles. The time for burial was short in Jerusalem for sanitary reasons and to avoid ceremonial defilement.

Verse 7

And it was about the space of three hours after (εγενετο δε ως ωρων τριων διαστημα). Literally "Now there came an interval (διαστημα, distance, space between) of about (ως) three hours."

When (κα). This use of κα after εγενετο is characteristic of Luke's style in the Gospel.

Not knowing (μη ειδυια). Feminine singular of second perfect active participle of οιδα. Μη usual negative of the participle in the Koine.

Verse 8

For so much (τοσουτου). Genitive of price. Perhaps Peter pointed to the pile of money at the feet of the apostles (verse Acts 5:2). The use of ε in direct questions appears in Luke (Luke 13:23; Luke 22:49) as in the LXX like the Hebrew im and in Acts 1:6; Acts 19:2, etc.

Verse 9

Ye have agreed together (συνεφωνηθη υμιν). First aorist passive indicative of συμφωνεω (to voice together, symphony), impersonal with dative; It was agreed together by you (or for you). "Your souls were allured together respecting this deceit" (Vincent).

To tempt the Spirit of the Lord (πειρασα το πνευμα κυριου). Like "Thou shalt not tempt the Lord thy God." It was close to the unpardonable sin which was attributing the manifest work of the Holy Spirit to Beelzebub.

The feet (ο ποδες). Graphic picture by Peter as he heard the steps of the young men at the door.

Verse 10

Immediately (παραχρημα). Hence her death was regarded as supernatural like that of Ananias.

By her husband (προς τον ανδρα αυτης). Face to face to her husband.

Verse 11

Upon the whole church (εφ' ολην την εκκλησιαν). Here εκκλησια for the first time in Acts of the believers in Jerusalem. Twice already in the Gospels, once of the whole body of believers or the Kingdom (Matthew 16:18), the other of the local body (Matthew 18:17). In Acts 7:38 it is used of the whole congregation of Israel while in Acts 19:32 it is used of a public assembly in Ephesus. But already in Acts 8:3 it is applied to the church which Saul was persecuting in their homes when not assembled. So here the etymological meaning of "assembly" disappears for "the church" were now the scattered saints hiding in their separate homes. The whole body of believers in Jerusalem and all who heard of the fate of Ananias and Sapphira (beautiful, her name means) were in awe and dread. It was already a dangerous thing to be a follower of Christ unless one was willing to walk straight.

Verse 12

Were wrought (εγινετο). Imperfect middle, wrought from time to time.

With one accord (ομοθυμαδον). As already in Acts 1:14; Acts 2:46; Acts 4:24 and later Acts 7:57; Acts 8:6; Acts 12:20; Acts 15:25; Acts 18:21; Acts 19:29, old adverb and only in Acts in the N.T. Here "all" is added. In Solomon's Porch again as in Acts 3:11 which see.

Verse 13

Durst (ετολμα). Imperfect active of τολμαω, old verb, not to fear or shun through fear, boldly to take a stand. The fate of Ananias and Sapphira continued to hold many in check.

Join (κολλασθα). Present middle infinitive of κολλαω, old verb to cleave to like glue as in Luke 15:15 which see. Seven times in Acts (Acts 9:26; Acts 10:28; Acts 17:34). The outsiders (the rest) preferred, many of them, to remain outside for the present, especially the rulers.

Howbeit the people (αλλ'--ο λαος). Probably individuals among the people, the populace as distinct from the rulers and hostile outsiders.

Verse 14

Were the more added (μαλλον προσετιθεντο). Rather (μαλλον) instead of decrease as one might expect. Imperfect passive indicative of προστιθημ common μ verb, kept on being added.

Both of men and women (ανδρων τε κα γυναικων). The distinction between ανδρες and γυναικες and to be considered in connection with ανδρες in Acts 4:4 which see.

Verse 15

Insomuch that (ωστε). With the present infinitive εκφερειν and τιθενα, regular Greek idiom for result.

Into the streets (εις τας πλατειας). Supply οδους (ways), into the broad ways.

On beds and couches (επ κλιναριων κα κραβαττων). Little beds (κλιναρια diminutive of κλινη) and camp beds or pallets (see on Mark 2:4; Mark 2:9; Mark 2:11).

As Peter came by (ερχομενου Πετρου). Genitive absolute with present middle participle.

At the least his shadow might overshadow (καν η σκια επισκιασε). Future active indicative with ινα (common with οπως in ancient Greek) and καν (crasis for κα εαν=even if), even if only the shadow. The word for shadow (σκια, like our "sky") is repeated in the verb and preserved in our "overshadow." There was, of course, no virtue or power in Peter's shadow. That was faith with superstition, of course, just as similar cases in the Gospels occur (Matthew 9:20; Mark 6:56; John 9:5) and the use of Paul's handkerchief (Acts 19:12). God honours even superstitious faith if it is real faith in him. Few people are wholly devoid of superstition.

Verse 16

Came together (συνηρχετο). Imperfect middle, kept on coming.

Round about (περιξ). Old adverb, strengthened form of περ, only here in the N.T.

Vexed (οχλουμενους). Present passive participle of οχλεω, to excite a mob (οχλος) against one, to trouble, annoy. Old word, only here in the N.T., though ενοχλεω in Luke 6:18.

Were healed every one (εθεραπευοντο απαντες). Imperfect passive, were healed one at a time, repetition.

Verse 17

Which is the sect of the Sadducees (η ουσα αιρεσις των Σαδδουκαιων). Literally, "the existing sect of the Sadducees" or "the sect which is of the Sadducees," η being the article, not the relative. Hαιρεσις means a choosing, from αιρεομα, to take for oneself, to choose, then an opinion chosen or tenet (possibly 2 Peter 2:1), then parties or factions (Galatians 5:20; 1 Corinthians 11:19; possibly 2 Peter 2:1). It is applied here to the Sadducees; to the Pharisees in Acts 15:5; Acts 26:5; to the Christians in Acts 24:5-14; Acts 28:22. Already Luke has stated that the Sadducees started the persecution of Peter and John (Acts 4:1). Now it is extended to "the apostles" as a whole since Christianity has spread more rapidly in Jerusalem than before it began.

Verse 18

With jealousy (ζηλου). Genitive case. Old word from zeo, to boil, our zeal. In itself it means only warmth, ardour, zeal, but for a bad cause or from a bad motive, jealousy, envy, rivalry results (Acts 13:45). Common in the epistles.

In public ward (εν τηρησε δημοσια). As in Acts 4:3 only with δημοσια (public) added, in the public prison, perhaps not the "common" prison, but any prison is bad enough. In verse Acts 5:19 it is called "the prison" (της φυλακης), the guardhouse.

Verse 20

And stand (κα σταθεντες). First aorist passive participle (intransitive, ingressive aorist), take a stand. Bold and pictorial command.

All the words of this life (παντα τα ρηματα της ζωης ταυτης). Not just a Hebraism for "all these words of life." Probably "this life" which the Sadducees deny and of which the angel is now speaking, this eternal life. (John 6:63; John 6:68; 1 Corinthians 15:19).

Verse 21

About daybreak (υπο τον ορθρον). From ορνυμ, to stir up, to arouse, so the dawn (Luke 24:1; John 8:2). Old word, but in the N.T. only these three passages. "Under the dawn" or "about dawn." Sub lucem. The temple doors would be open for early worshippers and traffickers (John 2:14).

Taught (εδιδασκον). Imperfect active, began to teach.

The council (το συνεδριον). The Sanhedrin.

The senate (την γερουσιαν). From γερων, an old man, just as the Latin senatus is from senex, old. Like the γεροντες in Homer and the Elder Statesmen in Japan. Apparently the senate of the people were also part of the Sanhedrin and the use of "and" (κα) is explanatory and adds this item in particular. Page thinks that this group of elders were not members of the Sanhedrin at all.

To the prison house (εις το δεσμωτηριον), another word for prison (τηρησις δημοσια in verse Acts 5:18, η φυλακη in verse Acts 5:19). See also verses Acts 5:22; Acts 5:23; Acts 5:25. This from δεσμος, bond, and τηρεω, to keep, place where bound men are kept.

Verse 22

The officers (ο υπηρετα). Under-rowers, literally (Matthew 5:25). The servants or officers who executed the orders of the Sanhedrin.

Shut (κεκλεισμενον). Perfect passive participle of κλειω. Shut tight.

Standing at the doors (εστωτας επ των θυρων). Graphic picture of the sentinels at the prison doors.

Verse 24

They were much perplexed (διηπορουν). Imperfect active of διαπορεω old verb by Luke only in the N.T. See already on Acts 2:12. They continued puzzled.

Whereunto this would grow (τ αν γενοιτο τουτο). More exactly,

As to what this would become . Second aorist middle optative of γινομα with αν, the conclusion of a condition of the fourth class (undetermined with less likelihood of determination), the unexpressed condition being "if the thing should be allowed to go on." The indirect question simply retains the optative with αν (Robertson, Grammar, pp. 1021, 1044). If they had only known how this grain of mustard seed would grow into the greatest tree on earth and how dwarfed the tree of Judaism would be beside it!

Verse 26

Brought (ηγεν). Imperfect active of αγω, was bringing (leading), slowly no doubt, and solemnly.

But without violence (ου μετα βιας). Literally, not with violence.

For they feared (εφοβουντο γαρ). Imperfect middle, still feared, kept on fearing.

Lest they be stoned (μη λιθασθωσιν). Negative purpose with μη (like ινα μη), probably with "not with violence," though possible with "they feared." They handled the apostles gently for fear of being stoned themselves by the people. First aorist passive subjunctive of λιθαζω (from λιθος, stone), old verb to pelt with stones (Acts 14:19; John 10:31-33).

Verse 27

They set them (εστησαν). First aorist active indicative (transitive) of ιστημ.

Verse 28

We straitly charged (Παραγγελια παρηγγειλαμεν). Like the Hebrew idiom (common in the LXX), though found in Greek, with charging (instrumental case) we charged (cf. same idiom in Luke 22:15). Somewhat like the cognate accusative. The command referred to occurs in Acts 4:17; Acts 4:18 and the refusal of Peter and John in Acts 4:20.

To bring upon us (επαγαγειν εφ' ημας). Note repetition of επ. Second aorist active infinitive of επαγω, old verb, but in the N.T. only here and 2 Peter 2:1; 2 Peter 2:5. The Sanhedrin gladly took the blood of Christ on their heads and their children to Pilate (Matthew 27:25). Paul tried to save the Jews (Acts 18:6; Acts 22:20). "This man " (του ανθρωπου τουτου). Contemptuous slur and refusal to call the name of Jesus as in the Talmud later.

Verse 29

We must (δε). Moral necessity left them no choice. They stood precisely where Peter and John were when before the Sanhedrin before (Acts 4:20).

Obey (πειθαρχειν). Old verb from πειθομα and αρχη, to obey a ruler. Only by Luke and Paul in the N.T.

Verse 30

Ye slew (διεχειρισασθε). First aorist middle indicative of διαχειριζομα, old verb from δια and χειρ (hand), to take in hand, manage, to lay hands on, manhandle, kill. In the N.T. only here and Acts 26:21.

Hanging him upon a tree (κρεμασαντες επ ξυλου). First aorist active participle of κρεμαννυμ (κρεμαννυω seen already in Matthew 18:6 and Luke 23:39). Peter refers to Deuteronomy 21:23 as Paul does in Galatians 3:13, the curse pronounced on every one who "hangs upon a tree."

Verse 31

Exalt (υψωσεν) In contrast to their murder of Christ as in Acts 2:23. Peter repeats his charges with increased boldness.

With his right hand (τη δεξια αυτου). So instrumental case, or at his right hand (locative case), or even "to his right hand" (dative case) as in Acts 2:33.

Prince and Saviour (αρχηγον κα σωτηρα). See on Acts 3:15. Clearly "Prince" here.

To give (του δουνα). Genitive of articular infinitive (second aorist active of διδωμ) of purpose.

Verse 32

We are witnesses (ημεις εσμεν μαρτυρες). As in Acts 2:32.

Things (ρηματων). Literally, sayings, but like the Hebrew dabhar for "word" it is here used for "things."

And so is the Holy Ghost (κα το πνευμα το αγιον). The word for "is" (εστιν) is not in the Greek, but this is plainly the meaning. Peter claims the witness of the Holy Spirit to the raising of Jesus Christ, God's Son, by the Father.

Verse 33

Were cut to the heart (διεπριοντο). Imperfect passive of διαπριω old verb (δια, πριω), to saw in two (δια), to cut in two (to the heart). Here it is rage that cuts into their hearts, not conviction of sin as in Acts 2:37. Only here and Acts 7:54 (after Stephen's speech) in the N.T. (cf. Simeon's prophecy in Luke 2:35).

Were minded (εβουλοντο). Imperfect middle of βουλομα. They were plotting and planning to kill (ανελειν, as in Acts 2:23; Luke 23:33 which see) then and there. The point in Acts 4:7 was whether the apostles deserved stoning for curing the cripple by demoniacal power, but here it was disobedience to the command of the Sanhedrin which was not a capital offence. "They were on the point of committing a grave judicial blunder" (Furneaux).

Verse 34

Gamaliel (Γαμαλιηλ). The grandson of Hillel, teacher of Paul (Acts 22:3), later president of the Sanhedrin, and the first of the seven rabbis termed "Rabban." It is held by some that he was one of the doctors who heard the Boy Jesus in the temple (Luke 2:47) and that he was a secret disciple like Joseph of Arimathea and Nicodemus, but there is no evidence of either position. Besides, he appears here as a loyal Pharisee and "a doctor of the law" (νομοδιδασκαλος). This word appears already in Luke 5:17 of the Pharisaic doctors bent on criticizing Jesus, which see. Paul uses it of Judaizing Christians (1 Timothy 1:7). Like other great rabbis he had a great saying: "Procure thyself a teacher, avoid being in doubt; and do not accustom thyself to give tithes by guess." He was a man of judicial temper and not prone to go off at a tangent, though his brilliant young pupil Saul went to the limit about Stephen without any restraint on the part of Gamaliel so far as the record goes. Gamaliel champions the cause of the apostles as a Pharisee to score a point against the Sadducees. He acts as a theological opportunist, not as a disciple of Christ. He felt that a temporizing policy was best. There are difficulties in this speech of Gamaliel and it is not clear how Luke obtained the data for the address. It is, of course, possible that Saul was present and made notes of it for Luke afterwards.

Had in honour of all the people (τιμιος παντ τω λαω). Ethical dative. Τιμιος from τιμη, old word meaning precious, dear.

The men (τους ανθρωπους). Correct text as in verse Acts 5:35, not "the apostles" as Textus Receptus.

Verse 35

Take heed (προσεχετε εαυτοις). Hold your mind (νουν, unexpressed) for or on yourselves (dative case), the usual idiom.

Verse 36

Theudas (Θευδας). Luke represents Gamaliel here about A.D. 35 as speaking of a man who led a revolt before that of Judas the Galilean in connection with the enrolment under Quirinius (Cyrenius) in A.D. 6. But Josephus (Ant. XX. 5, 1) tells of a Theudas who led a similar insurrection in the reign of Claudius about A.D. 44 or 45. Josephus (Ant. XVIII. 1, 6; XX. 5, 2; War ii. 8, 1 and 17, 8) also describes Judas the Galilean or Gaulonite and places him about A.D. 6. It is not certain that Josephus and Luke (Gamaliel) refer to the same Theudas as the name is an abbreviation of Theodosus, a common name. "Josephus gives an account of four men named Simon who followed each other within forty years, and of three named Judas within ten years, who were all instigators of rebellion" (Hackett). If the same Theudas is meant, then either Josephus or Luke (Gamaliel) has the wrong historical order. In that case one will credit Luke or Josephus according to his estimate of the two as reliable historians.

To be somebody (εινα τινα). Indirect assertion with the infinitive and the accusative of general reference (εαυτον) and τινα, predicate accusative. Τινα could be "anybody" or "somebody" according to context, clearly "somebody" of importance here.

Joined themselves (προσεκλιθη). Correct text and not προσεκολληθη (Textus Receptus). First aorist passive indicative of προσκλινω, old verb to lean towards, to incline towards. Here only in the N.T.

Was slain (ανηιρεθη). First aorist passive of αναιρεω (cf. verse Acts 5:33).

Obeyed (επειθοντο). Imperfect middle, kept on obeying.

Were dispersed (διελυθησαν). First aorist passive indicative (effective aorist) of διαλυω, old verb to dissolve, to go to pieces. Here only in the N.T.

Verse 37

Of the enrolment (της απογραφης). Described by Josephus (Ant. XV. 1, 1). The same word used by Luke of the first enrolment started by Augustus B.C. 8 to 6 (Luke 2:2). See the discussion on Luke 2:2. This is the second enrolment in the fourteen year cycle carried on for centuries as shown by numerous dated papyri. Ramsay (The Bearing of Recent Discovery on the Trustworthiness of the N.T.) has produced proof from inscriptions that Quirinius was twice in Syria as Luke reports (Robertson, Luke the Historian in the Light of Research).

Drew away (απεστησε). Causative sense of the first aorist active indicative of αφιστημ, made people (λαον, no need of "some of the") to revolt (apostatize) with him.

He also (κακεινος, crasis for κα εκεινος). That one, also.

Were scattered abroad (διεσκορπισθησαν). First aorist (effective) passive indicative of διασκορπιζω, old verb to disperse. Used of sheep (Mark 14:27), of property (Luke 15:13). Aorist here after imperfect (επειθοντο) as in verse Acts 5:36.

Verse 38

Refrain from (αποστητε απο). Second aorist (ingressive) active imperative of αφιστημ of verse Acts 5:37. Do ye stand off from these men. "Hands off" was the policy of Gamaliel.

For if--be (οτ εαν--η). Hοτ gives the reason for the advice. Gamaliel presents two alternatives in terms of two conditional clauses. The first one is stated as a condition of the third class, εαν with the present subjunctive η, undetermined with prospect of determination. Assuming that it is from men, "it will be overthrown" (καταλυθησετα, first future passive of καταλυω, to loosen down like a falling house) as was true of the following of Theudas and Judas the Galilean.

Verse 39

But if it is of God (ε δε εκ θεου εστιν). The second alternative is a condition of the first class, determined as fulfilled, ε with the present indicative. By the use of this idiom Gamaliel does put the case more strongly in favor of the apostles than against them. This condition assumes that the thing is so without affirming it to be true. On the basis of this alternative Gamaliel warns the Sanhedrin that they cannot "overthrow" (καταλυσα) these men for they in that case must "overthrow" God,

lest haply ye be found (μη ποτε--υρεθητε, negative purpose with first aorist passive subjunctive)

even to be fighting against God (κα θεομαχο, late adjective from θεος and μαχομα, in LXX and here only in the N.T.).

Verse 40

To him they agreed (επεισθησαν αυτω). First aorist passive indicative of πειθω, to persuade, the passive to be persuaded by, to listen to, to obey. Gamaliel's shrewd advice scored as against the Sadducaic contention (verse Acts 5:17).

Not to speak (μη λαλειν). The Sanhedrin repeated the prohibition of Acts 4:18 which the apostles had steadily refused to obey. The Sanhedrin stood by their guns, but refused to shoot. It was a "draw" with Gamaliel as tactical victor over the Sadducees. Clearly now the disciples were set free because only the Sadducees had become enraged while the Pharisees held aloof.

Verse 41

They therefore (ο μεν ουν). No answering δε.

They were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the Name (κατηξιωθησαν υπερ του ονοματος ατιμασθηνα). First aorist passive indicative of καταξιοω, old verb to count worthy. Three times in N.T. (Luke 20:35; Acts 5:41; 2 Thessalonians 1:5). First aorist passive infinitive of ατιμαζω, old verb to make one dishonoured (ατιμος). Forms here an oxymoron (οξυς, sharp, μορος, foolish) pointedly foolish saying "which is witty or impressive through sheer contradiction or paradox as laborious idleness, sublime indifference" (Vincent). The apostles felt honoured by dishonour. Note the same use of "the Name" as in James 2:7; 3 John 1:7. With the Jews this absolute use of "the Name" meant Jehovah. The Christians now apply it to Jesus.

Verse 42

Every day (πασαν ημεραν). Accusative of extent of time, all through every day.

In the temple and at home (εν τω ιερω κα κατ' οικον). This was a distinct triumph to go back to the temple where they had been arrested (verse Acts 5:25) and at home or from house to house, as it probably means (cf. Acts 2:46). It was a great day for the disciples in Jerusalem.

They ceased not (ουκ επαυοντο). Imperfect middle. They kept it up.

Jesus as the Christ (τον Χριστον Ιησουν). Jesus is the direct object of the participles διδασκοντες (teaching) and ευαγγελιζομενο (preaching or evangelizing) while "the Christ" (τον Χριστον) is the predicate accusative. These words give the substance of the early apostolic preaching as these opening chapters of Acts show, that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah of promise. Gamaliel had opened the prison doors for them and they took full advantage of the opportunity that now was theirs.

Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright © Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)
Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Acts 5". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/acts-5.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.