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Acts 5:17-42

Context
Further Trouble for the Apostles

5:17 Now the high priest rose up, and all those with him (that is, the religious party of the Sadducees 1 ), 2  and they were filled with jealousy. 3  5:18 They 4  laid hands on 5  the apostles and put them in a public jail. 5:19 But during the night an angel of the Lord 6  opened 7  the doors of the prison, 8  led them out, 9  and said, 5:20 “Go and stand in the temple courts 10  and proclaim 11  to the people all the words of this life.” 5:21 When they heard this, they entered the temple courts 12  at daybreak and began teaching. 13 

Now when the high priest and those who were with him arrived, they summoned the Sanhedrin 14  – that is, the whole high council 15  of the Israelites 16  – and sent to the jail to have the apostles 17  brought before them. 18  5:22 But the officers 19  who came for them 20  did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, 21  5:23 “We found the jail locked securely and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them, 22  we found no one inside.” 5:24 Now when the commander 23  of the temple guard 24  and the chief priests heard this report, 25  they were greatly puzzled concerning it, 26  wondering what this could 27  be. 5:25 But someone came and reported to them, “Look! The men you put in prison are standing in the temple courts 28  and teaching 29  the people!” 5:26 Then the commander 30  of the temple guard 31  went with the officers 32  and brought the apostles 33  without the use of force 34  (for they were afraid of being stoned by the people). 35 

5:27 When they had brought them, they stood them before the council, 36  and the high priest questioned 37  them, 5:28 saying, “We gave 38  you strict orders 39  not to teach in this name. 40  Look, 41  you have filled Jerusalem 42  with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood 43  on us!” 5:29 But Peter and the apostles replied, 44  “We must obey 45  God rather than people. 46  5:30 The God of our forefathers 47  raised up Jesus, whom you seized and killed by hanging him on a tree. 48  5:31 God exalted him 49  to his right hand as Leader 50  and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 51  5:32 And we are witnesses of these events, 52  and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey 53  him.”

5:33 Now when they heard this, they became furious 54  and wanted to execute them. 55  5:34 But a Pharisee 56  whose name was Gamaliel, 57  a teacher of the law who was respected by all the people, stood up 58  in the council 59  and ordered the men to be put outside for a short time. 5:35 Then he said to the council, 60  “Men of Israel, 61  pay close attention to 62  what you are about to do to these men. 5:36 For some time ago 63  Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men joined him. He 64  was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and nothing came of it. 65  5:37 After him Judas the Galilean arose in the days of the census, 66  and incited people to follow him in revolt. 67  He too was killed, and all who followed him were scattered. 5:38 So in this case I say to you, stay away from these men and leave them alone, because if this plan or this undertaking originates with people, 68  it will come to nothing, 69  5:39 but if 70  it is from God, you will not be able to stop them, or you may even be found 71  fighting against God.” He convinced them, 72  5:40 and they summoned the apostles and had them beaten. 73  Then 74  they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. 5:41 So they left the council rejoicing because they had been considered worthy 75  to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. 76  5:42 And every day both in the temple courts 77  and from house to house, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the good news 78  that Jesus was the Christ. 79 

1 sn See the note on Sadducees in 4:1.

2 sn This is a parenthetical note by the author.

3 sn Filled with jealousy. In Acts, the term “jealousy” (ζήλος, zhlos) occurs only here and in Acts 13:45. It is a key term in Judaism for religiously motivated rage (1 Macc 2:24; 1QH 14:13-15; m. Sanhedrin 9:5). It was a zeal motivated by a desire to maintain the purity of the faith.

4 tn Grk “jealousy, and they.” In the Greek text this is a continuation of the previous sentence, but a new sentence has been started here in the translation for stylistic reasons.

5 tn Or “they arrested.”

6 tn Or “the angel of the Lord.” Linguistically, “angel of the Lord” is the same in both testaments (and thus, he is either “an angel of the Lord” or “the angel of the Lord” in both testaments). For arguments and implications, see ExSyn 252; M. J. Davidson, “Angels,” DJG, 9; W. G. MacDonald argues for “an angel” in both testaments: “Christology and ‘The Angel of the Lord’,” Current Issues in Biblical and Patristic Interpretation, 324-35.

7 tn Grk “opening the doors of the prison.” The participle ἀνοίξας (anoixa") has been translated as a finite verb due to the requirements of contemporary English style.

8 tn Greek φυλακῆς (fulakh"), a different word from the one in v. 18 (τήρησις, thrhsi", “jail”).

9 tn Or “brought them out.” Grk “and leading them out, said.” The participle ἐξαγαγών (exagagwn) has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

sn Led them out. The action by God served to vindicate the apostles. It showed that whatever court the Jewish leaders represented, they did not represent God.

10 tn Grk “the temple.” This is actually a reference to the courts surrounding the temple proper, and has been translated accordingly.

11 tn Or “speak.”

12 tn Grk “the temple.” See the note on the same phrase in the preceding verse.

13 tn The imperfect verb ἐδίδασκον (edidaskon) has been translated as an ingressive imperfect.

14 tn Or “the council” (the highest legal, legislative, and judicial body among the Jews).

15 tn A hendiadys (two different terms referring to a single thing) is likely here (a reference to a single legislative body rather than two separate ones) because the term γερουσίαν (gerousian) is used in both 1 Macc 12:6 and Josephus, Ant. 13.5.8 (13.166) to refer to the Sanhedrin.

16 tn Grk “sons of Israel.”

17 tn Grk “have them”; the referent (the apostles) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

18 tn The words “before them” are not in the Greek text but are implied.

19 tn The Greek term ὑπηρέτης (Juphreth") generally means “servant,” but in the NT is used for many different types of servants, like attendants to a king, the officers of the Sanhedrin (as here), assistants to magistrates, and (especially in the Gospel of John) Jewish guards in the Jerusalem temple (see L&N 35.20).

20 tn The words “for them” are not in the Greek text but are implied.

21 tn Grk “reported, saying.” The participle λέγοντες (legontes) is redundant in English and has not been translated.

22 tn The word “them” is not in the Greek text, but is implied. Direct objects in Greek were often omitted when clear from the context, but must be supplied for the modern English reader.

23 tn Or “captain.”

24 tn Grk “the official of the temple,” a title for the commander of the Jewish soldiers guarding the temple (thus the translation, “the commander of the temple guard”). See L&N 37.91.

25 tn Grk “heard these words.”

26 tn Grk “concerning them,” agreeing with the plural antecedent “these words.” Since the phrase “these words” was translated as the singular “this report,” the singular “concerning it” is used here.

27 tn The optative verb here expresses confused uncertainty.

28 tn Grk “the temple.” This is actually a reference to the courts surrounding the temple proper, and has been translated accordingly.

29 sn Obeying God (see v. 29), the apostles were teaching again (4:18-20; 5:20). They did so despite the risk.

30 tn Or “captain.”

31 tn Grk “the official [of the temple],” a title for the commander of the Jewish soldiers guarding the temple (thus the translation, “the commander of the temple guard”). See L&N 37.91.

32 tn The Greek term ὑπηρέτης (Juphreth") generally means “servant,” but in the NT is used for many different types of servants. See the note on the word “officers” in v. 22.

33 tn Grk “brought them”; the referent (the apostles) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

34 tn Or “without violence.” It is clear, as well, that the apostles did not resist arrest.

35 tn Grk “for they feared lest they be stoned by the people.” The translation uses a less awkward English equivalent. This is an explanatory note by the author.

36 tn Or “the Sanhedrin” (the highest legal, legislative, and judicial body among the Jews).

37 tn Or “interrogated,” “asked.”

38 tc ‡ The majority of mss, including a few important witnesses (א2 D E [Ψ] 1739 Ï sy sa), have the negative particle οὐ (ou) here, effectively turning the high priest’s words into a question: “Did we not give you strict orders not to teach in this name?” But the earliest and most important mss, along with some others (Ì74 א* A B 1175 lat bo), lack the particle, making this a strong statement rather than a question. Scribes may have been tempted to omit the particle to strengthen the contrast between official Judaism and the new faith, but the fact that v. 27 introduces the quotation with ἐπηρώτησεν (ephrwthsen, “he questioned”) may well have prompted scribes to add οὐ to convert the rebuke into a question. Further, that excellent witnesses affirm the shorter reading is sufficient ground for accepting it as most probably authentic. NA27 includes the particle in brackets, indicating some doubt as to its authenticity.

39 tn Grk “We commanded you with a commandment” (a Semitic idiom that is emphatic).

40 sn The name (i.e., person) of Jesus is the constant issue of debate.

41 tn Grk “And behold.” Because of the length of the Greek sentence and the tendency of contemporary English style to use shorter sentences, καί (kai) has not been translated here.

42 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

43 sn To bring this man’s blood on us is an idiom meaning “you intend to make us guilty of this man’s death.”

44 tn Grk “apostles answered and said.”

45 sn Obey. See 4:19. This response has Jewish roots (Dan 3:16-18; 2 Macc 7:2; Josephus, Ant. 17.6.3 [17.159].

46 tn Here ἀνθρώποις (anqrwpoi") has been translated as a generic noun (“people”).

47 tn Or “ancestors”; Grk “fathers.”

48 tn Or “by crucifying him” (“hang on a tree” is by the time of the first century an idiom for crucifixion). The allusion is to the judgment against Jesus as a rebellious figure, appealing to the language of Deut 21:23. The Jewish leadership has badly “misjudged” Jesus.

49 tn Grk “This one God exalted” (emphatic).

50 tn Or “Founder” (of a movement).

51 tn Or “to give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.”

52 tn Or “things.” They are preaching these things even to the hostile leadership.

53 sn Those who obey. The implication, of course, is that the leadership is disobeying God.

54 sn The only other use of this verb for anger (furious) is Acts 7:54 after Stephen’s speech.

55 sn Wanted to execute them. The charge would surely be capital insubordination (Exod 22:28).

56 sn A Pharisee was a member of one of the most important and influential religious and political parties of Judaism in the time of Jesus. There were more Pharisees than Sadducees (according to Josephus, Ant. 17.2.4 [17.42] there were more than 6,000 Pharisees at about this time). Pharisees differed with Sadducees on certain doctrines and patterns of behavior. The Pharisees were strict and zealous adherents to the laws of the OT and to numerous additional traditions such as angels and bodily resurrection.

57 sn Gamaliel was a famous Jewish scholar and teacher mentioned here in v. 34 and in Acts 22:3. He had a grandson of the same name and is referred to as “Gamaliel the Elder” to avoid confusion. He is quoted a number of times in the Mishnah, was given the highest possible title for Jewish teachers, Rabba (cf. John 20:16), and was highly regarded in later rabbinic tradition.

58 tn Grk “standing up in the council, ordered.” The participle ἀναστάς (anasta") has been translated as a finite verb due to requirements of contemporary English style.

59 tn Or “the Sanhedrin” (the highest legal, legislative, and judicial body among the Jews).

60 tn Grk “said to them”; the referent (the council) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

61 tn Or “Israelite men,” although this is less natural English. The Greek term here is ἀνήρ (anhr), which only exceptionally is used in a generic sense of both males and females. In this context, it is highly unlikely that this is a generic usage, since Gamaliel was addressing the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high council, which would have been exclusively male.

62 tn Or “men, be careful.”

63 tn Grk “For before these days.”

64 tn Grk “who.” The relative pronoun was replaced by the pronoun “he,” and a new sentence was begun in the translation at this point.

65 tn Grk “and they came to nothing.” Gamaliel’s argument is that these two insurrectionists were taken care of by natural events.

66 tn Or “registration.”

67 tn The verb ἀφίστημι (afisthmi) as a transitive means “cause to revolt” as used in Josephus, Ant. 8.7.5 (8.198), 20.5.2 (20.102); see BDAG 157 s.v. 1.

68 tn Here ἀνθρώπων (anqrwpwn) has been translated as a generic noun (“people”).

69 tn Or “it will be put to an end.”

70 tn This is expressed in a first class condition, in contrast to the condition in v. 38b, which is third class. As such, v. 39 is rhetorically presented as the more likely option.

71 tn According to L&N 39.32, the verb εὑρεθῆτε (Jeureqhte, an aorist passive subjunctive) may also be translated “find yourselves” – “lest you find yourselves fighting against God.” The Jewish leader Gamaliel is shown contemplating the other possible alternative about what is occurring.

72 tn Grk “They were convinced by him.” This passive construction was converted to an active one (“He convinced them”) in keeping with contemporary English style. The phrase “He convinced them” is traditionally placed in Acts 5:40 by most English translations; the standard Greek critical text (represented by NA27 and UBS4) places it at the end of v. 39.

73 sn Had them beaten. The punishment was the “forty lashes minus one,” see also Acts 22:19; 2 Cor 11:24; Mark 13:9. The apostles had disobeyed the religious authorities and took their punishment for their “disobedience” (Deut 25:2-3; m. Makkot 3:10-14). In Acts 4:18 they were warned. Now they are beaten. The hostility is rising as the narrative unfolds.

74 tn The word “Then” is supplied as the beginning of a new sentence in the translation. The construction in Greek has so many clauses (most of them made up of participles) that a continuous English sentence would be very awkward.

75 sn That is, considered worthy by God. They “gloried in their shame” of honoring Jesus with their testimony (Luke 6:22-23; 2 Macc 6:30).

76 sn The name refers to the name of Jesus (cf. 3 John 7).

77 tn Grk “temple.” This is actually a reference to the courts surrounding the temple proper and has been translated accordingly.

78 tn Grk “teaching and evangelizing.” They were still obeying God, not men (see 4:18-20; 5:29).

79 tn Or “Messiah”; both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew and Aramaic) mean “one who has been anointed.”

sn See the note on Christ in 2:31.



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