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Acts 5:34-40

Context
5:34 But a Pharisee 1  whose name was Gamaliel, 2  a teacher of the law who was respected by all the people, stood up 3  in the council 4  and ordered the men to be put outside for a short time. 5:35 Then he said to the council, 5  “Men of Israel, 6  pay close attention to 7  what you are about to do to these men. 5:36 For some time ago 8  Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men joined him. He 9  was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and nothing came of it. 10  5:37 After him Judas the Galilean arose in the days of the census, 11  and incited people to follow him in revolt. 12  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, 13  it will come to nothing, 14  5:39 but if 15  it is from God, you will not be able to stop them, or you may even be found 16  fighting against God.” He convinced them, 17  5:40 and they summoned the apostles and had them beaten. 18  Then 19  they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them.

1 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.

2 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.

3 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.

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

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

6 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.

7 tn Or “men, be careful.”

8 tn Grk “For before these days.”

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

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

11 tn Or “registration.”

12 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.

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

14 tn Or “it will be put to an end.”

15 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.

16 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.

17 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.

18 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.

19 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.



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