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ACTS
The continued Life of Jesus through the Apostles

CHAPTER FIVE

"Liars Liquidated"
Key Verse = Acts 5:29

  1. Ananias and Sapphira lie to the Holy Spirit 4. Apostles on trial again
  2. Continuing Power in the Church 5. Gamaliel's advice
  3. Apostles freed from prison by an Angel    


ANANIAS  AND  SAPPHIRA  LIE  TO  THE  HOLY  SPIRIT

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Acts 5:1
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

But a certain man named Ananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a possession.

But a certain man called Ananias, together with his wife named Shapphira, sold his field.


But a certain man
In the previous chapter the historian had given an account of the eminent liberality and sincerity of the mass of early Christians,  in being willing to give up their property to provide for the poor,  and had mentioned the case of Barnabas as worthy of special attention.  In this chapter he proceeds to mention a case,  quite as striking,  of insincerity,  and hypocrisy,  and of the just judgment of God on those who were guilty of it.  The case is a remarkable instance of the nature of  "hypocrisy,"  and goes to illustrate the art and cunning of the enemy of souls in attempting to corrupt the church,  and to pervert the religion of the gospel. Hypocrisy consists in an attempt to  "imitate"  the people of God,  or to assume the  "appearance"  of religion,  in whatever form it may be manifested.  In this case religion had been manifested by great self-denial and benevolence.  The hypocrisy of Ananias consisted in  "attempting"  to imitate this in appearance,  and to impose in this way on the early Christians and on God.
 
Ananias Hebrew Hannaniah "Jehovah has graciously given"
Sapphira Aramaic Shappira "Beautiful"

Sold a possession
The word used here,   kteema (NT: 2933),  does not indicate whether this was  "land"  or some other property.  In Acts 5:3,  however,  we learn that it was  "land"  that was sold;  and the word here translated  "possession"  is translated in the Syriac,  Arabic,  and the Latin Vulgate as "land."

The pretence for which this was sold was doubtless to have the appearance of religion.  That it was  "sold"  could be easily known by the Christian society,  but it might not be so easily known for  "how much"  it was sold.  Hence,  the attempt to impose on the apostles.  It is clear that they were not under obligation to sell their property.  But,  "having"  sold it for the purposes of religion,  it became their duty,  if they professed to devote the avails of it to God,  to do it entirely,  and without any reservation.

From the Amplified Bible
(5:1)  But a certain man named Ananias with his wife Sapphira sold a piece of property,

Acts 5:2
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(2)  And he kept back part of the proceeds, his wife also being aware of it, and brought a certain part and laid it at the apostles' feet.

And he took some of the money and hid it, and his wife also knew of it, and he brought some of the money and placed it at the disposal of the apostles.


He kept back part
The word used here means properly  "to separate, to part:"  and then it means to  "separate surreptitiously or clandestinely for our own use"  a part of public property,  as taxes, etc.
It is used but three times in the New Testament,  Acts 5:3,  and in Titus 2:10,  where it is rendered  "pilfering."  Here it means that they  "secretly"  kept back a part, while  "professedly"  devoting all to God.

The story of Ananias and Sapphira is to the book of Acts what the story of Achan is to the book of Joshua.
In both narratives an act of deceit interrupts the victorious progress of the people of God.  It may be that the author of Acts himself wished to point this comparison –
when he says that Ananias “kept back” part of the price,  he used the same Greek word as is used in the LXX of Joshua 7:1 where it is said that the children of Israel (in the person of Achan) committed a trespass by retaining for private use property that had been devoted to God.

His wife also being aware of it
His wife  "knowing it,"  and evidently concurring in it.

Laid it at the apostles' feet
This was evidently an act professedly of devoting all to God.  Compare Acts 4:37; also Acts 5:8-9.  That this was his  "profession,"  or  "pretence,"  is further implied in the fact that Peter charges him with having  "lied"  unto God,  Acts 5:3-4.

Hypocrisy - The 3rd Attempt of Satan to Destroy the Church

Ananias and Sapphira wanted
to gain the reputation for being more spiritual than they actually were.
When the others brought their donations (4:34-37),  these two
were jealous and wanted the same recognition.
Their sin was hypocrisy,
trying to appear more spiritual than they really were.
(from Wiersbe's Expository Outlines on the New Testament. Copyright © 1992 by Chariot Victor Publishing, an imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved.)

From the Amplified Bible
(2)  and brought only part of the money, claiming it was the full price. (His wife had agreed to this deception.)

Acts 5:3 & 4
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(3)  But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?

And Simon Peter said to him, Ananias, why has Satan so filled your heart that you should lie to the Holy Spirit and hide part of the money of the price of the field?

(4)  While it remained, was it not your own? And after it was sold, was it not in your own control? Why have you conceived this thing in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God."

Was it not your own before you sold it? And after it was sold, had you not the sole authority over its money? What made you think to do this thing? You have not only lied to men but to God.


But Peter said
Peter could have known this only by "revelation."  It was the manifest design of Ananias to deceive;  nor was there any way of detecting him but by its being revealed to him by the Spirit of God.  As it was an instance of enormous wickedness,  and as it was very important to detect and punish the crime,  it was made known to Peter directly by God.

Why has Satan
The sin of Ananias and Sapphira was energized by Satan.  If Satan cannot defeat the church by attacks from the outside,  he will get on the inside and go to work
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

As this was an act of  "falsehood,"  or an attempt to deceive,  it is with great propriety traced to the influence of Satan.  The sin of Ananias consisted in his  "yielding"  to the temptation.  Nowhere in the Bible are people supposed to be free from guilt from the mere fact that they have been  "tempted"  to commit it.  God requires them to resist temptation.

Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote,  "Sin has many tools,  but a lie is the handle which fits them all."  Satan is a liar and a murderer (John 8:44).

Their sin was motivated by pride,  and pride is a sin that God especially hates and judges (Proverbs 8:13)
Proverbs 8:13
The fear of the LORD is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.
No doubt the church was praising God for the generous offering that Barnabas had brought when Satan whispered to the couple,  "You can also bask in this kind of glory! You can make others think that you are as spiritual as Barnabas!"  Instead of resisting Satan's approaches,  they yielded to him and planned their strategy.
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

Conceived ... in your heart
This implies careful and planned deception, not a sudden act.
James 1:13-15
When tempted, no one should say,  "God is tempting me."  For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone;  but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.  Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.     (NIV)

The program of sharing wealth in the early church was a purely voluntary one and not compulsory.  While the land remained in Ananias' possession,  it was his alone to dispose of as he chose;  and even after he had sold it,  the money was his to do with as he pleased.  Ananias' sin did not consist in his keeping back the money,  but in his pretending a complete consecration to God while deliberately keeping back part of the money.  This was the sin of an insincere consecration,  for it meant lying to God.
(from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1962 by Moody Press. All rights reserved.)

From the Amplified Bible
(3)  But Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart that you should lie to and attempt to deceive the Holy Spirit, and should [in violation of your promise] withdraw secretly and appropriate to your own use part of the price from the sale of the land?
(4)  As long as it remained unsold, was it not still your own? And [even] after it was sold, was not [the money] at your disposal and under your control? Why then, is it that you have proposed and purposed in your heart to do this thing? [How could you have the heart to do such a deed?] You have not [simply] lied to men [playing false and showing yourself utterly deceitful] but to God.

Acts 5:5 & 6
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(5)  Then Ananias, hearing these words, fell down and breathed his last. So great fear came upon all those who heard these things.

And when Ananias heard these words, he fell down and died; and great fear came upon all of those who heard these things.

(6)  And the young men arose and wrapped him up, carried him out, and buried him.

The younger men among them arose and moved his body aside. Then they took him out and buried him.


Ananias, hearing these words
Seeing that his guilt was known,  and being charged with the enormous crime of attempting to deceive God.  He had not expected to be thus exposed;  and it is clear that the exposure and the charge came upon him unexpectedly and terribly,  like a bolt of thunder.

Breathed his last
Exepsuxen  (NT:1634)   Used by Luke only.  A rare word,  occurring in the Septuagint,  and in medical writers.
(from Vincent's Word Studies in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

What is described in this chapter is not a case of church discipline.  Rather it is an example of God's personal judgment.
Hebrews 10:30
"Vengeance is Mine, I will repay," says the Lord. And again, "The LORD will judge His people."
Had Ananias and Sapphira judged their own sin, God would not have judged them.
1 Corinthians 11:31
For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.
But they agreed to lie, and God had to deal with them.
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

Great fear
The result was a wave of godly fear that swept over the church and over all those who heard the story. We have moved
from "great power" and "great grace" (Acts 4:33)
to "great fear,"
and all of these ought to be present in the church.
Hebrews 12:28-29
Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.  For our God is a consuming fire.     (NKJV)
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

Wrapped him up
sunesteilan  - First aorist active indicative of sustelloo  (NT:4958),  "to draw together," or "to contract,"  "to roll together, to wrap with bandages, to enshroud" as here.  Nowhere else in the New Testament.  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.
(from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament. Copyright © 1985 by Broadman Press.)

From the Amplified Bible
(5)  Upon hearing these words, Ananias fell down and died. And great dread and terror took possession of all who heard of it.
(6)  And the young men arose and wrapped up [the body] and carried it out and buried it.

Acts 5:7-9
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(7)  Now it was about three hours later when his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.

Three hours later his wife also came in, not knowing what had happened.

(8)  And Peter answered her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for so much?"
She said, "Yes, for so much."

Simon Peter said to her, Tell me if you sold the field for this price? She said, Yes, for this price.

(9)  Then Peter said to her, "How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out."

Then Simon Peter said to her, Because you have been partners to tempt the Spirit of the Lord, behold the feet of the men who have buried your husband are at the door, and they shall carry you out also.


If it be asked here  "why"  Ananias and Sapphira were punished in this severe and awful manner,  an answer may be found in the following considerations:
(1) This was an atrocious crime - a deep and dreadful act of iniquity.  It was committed knowingly, and without excuse.
(2) God has often, in a most solemn manner, shown his abhorrence of hypocrisy and insincerity.
See Matt 23 throughout for the most sublime and awful denunciation of hypocrisy anywhere to be found.

In view of this narrative, we may remark:
(1) That God searches the heart, and knows the purposes of the soul.
(2) God judges the "motives" of people.  It is not so much the "external" act,  as it is the views and feelings by which it is prompted that determines the character of the act.
(3) God will bring forth sin which man may not be able to detect, or which may elude human justice. The day is coming when the secrets of all hearts shall be revealed, and God will reward every man according as his works shall be.
(4) Fraud and hypocrisy will be detected.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Luke 12:1
He began to say to His disciples first of all,  "Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy."

1 Timothy 4:1-2
Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron.

Job 8:13
And the hope of the hypocrite shall perish.

From the Amplified Bible
(7)  Now after an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not having learned of what had happened.
(8)  And Peter said to her, Tell me, did you sell the land for so much? Yes, she said, for so much.
(9)  Then Peter said to her, How could you two have agreed and conspired together to try to deceive the Spirit of the Lord? Listen! The feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out [also].

Acts 5:10 & 11
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(10)  Then immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. And the young men came in and found her dead, and carrying her out, buried her by her husband.

And in that very hour she fell down at their feet and died, and the young men came in and found her dead, and they picked her up and carried her away and buried her by the side of her husband.

(11)  So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.

And great fear came upon all the congregation and upon all who heard what had happened.


This judgment answered the end for which it was inflicted;  a deeply religious fear occupied every mind,  and hypocrisy and deception were banished from this holy assembly.

Church
ekklesia (NT:1577) a calling out, i.e. (concretely) a popular meeting, especially a religious congregation
It means,  called out
In Greek society In Greek society it refers to the calling out of Greek citizens from their homes to the public assembly for civic purposes.
In the LXX The word is taken over by the Greek OT and used of Israel as the people of God.
In the NT Its use in the NT therefore indicates that the Church is the new people of God.
The word is never used of a building.  It designates both the
church at large  (Acts 5:11; 9:31; 20:28)
local congregations of believers  (Acts 11:26; 13:1)
(from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1962 by Moody Press. All rights reserved.)

"Ekklesia" was used 3 times by Jesus:
Matthew 16:18 "on this rock I will build my church"
Matthew 18:17 "If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church"
Matthew 18:17 "if he refuses to listen even to the church"

It has been properly observed that we have in this place a native specimen of a New Testament church:
1. Called by the Gospel
2. Grafted into Christ by baptism
3. Animated by love
4. United by all kinds of fellowship
5. Disciplined by the exemplary punishment of hypocrites
(From Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright (c) 1996 by Biblesoft)

From the Amplified Bible
(10)  And instantly she fell down at his feet and died; and the young men entering found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.
(11)  And the whole church and all others who heard of these things were appalled [great awe and strange terror and dread seized them].



CONTINUING  POWER  IN  THE  CHURCH

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Acts 5:12
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(12)  And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon's Porch.

Many miracles and signs were wrought among the people by the apostles, and they were all gathered together in the portico of Solomon,


And through the hands
By the apostles. This verse should be read in connection with the 15th, to which it belongs.

Signs and wonders
Used together 30 times throughout the scriptures.  See notes on Exodus 7:3 Isaiah 8:18 John 4:48Acts 2:43,  and  Hebrews 2:4.

With one accord
With one "mind," or intention  (Acts 1:14).

Solomon's porch
It was at Solomon's porch in Acts 3:11, while on their way into the temple at the hour of prayer, that the Lord healed the lame man at the hands of Peter and John. They were doubtless there for the purpose of worship.  It does not mean that they were there constantly,  but at the regular periods of worship.
Probably they had two designs in this
1. To join in the public worship of God in the usual manner with the people,  for they did not design to leave the temple service.
2. That they might have opportunity to preach to the people assembled there.
In the presence of the great multitudes who came up to worship,  they had an opportunity of making known the doctrines of Jesus,  and of confirming them by miracles,  the reality of which could not be denied,  and which could not be resisted,  as proofs that Jesus was the Messiah.

From the Amplified Bible
(12)  Now by the hands of the apostles (special messengers) numerous and startling signs and wonders were being performed among the people. And by common consent they all met together [at the temple] in the covered porch (walk) called Solomon's.

Acts 5:13
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(13)  Yet none of the rest dared join them, but the people esteemed them highly.

And none of the unbelievers dared to interfere with them, but the people held them in respect.


None of the rest
Different interpretations have been given of this expression.
Lightfoot supposes that by "the rest" are meant the remainder of the 120 disciples of whom Ananias had been one; and that they feared to put themselves on equality with the apostles. But this interpretation seems to be far-fetched.
Kuinoel supposes that by "the rest" are meant those who had not already joined with the apostles, whether Christians or Jews, and those they were deterred by the fate of Ananias.
Pricaeus, Morus, Rosenmueller, Schleusner, and others, suppose that by "the rest" are meant the "rich" men, or the people of authority and influence among the Jews, of whom Ananias was one, and that they were deterred from it by the fate of Ananias. This is by far the most probable opinion, because:
(1) There is an evident contrast between them and the people; "the rest," that is, the others of the rich and great, feared to join with them; but "the people," the common people, magnified them.
(2) The fate of Ananias was suited to have this effect on the rich and great.
(3) Similar instances had occurred before, that the great, though they believed on Jesus, were afraid to come forth publicly and profess him before people. See John 12:42-43.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

In some languages this first clause in verse 13 may be translated as "nobody who was not a believer dared to pretend to be a believer when he was not."
(from the UBS Handbook Series. Copyright (c) 1961-1997, by United Bible Societies)

We know from verse 14 that it does not mean there were no more new converts to the faith.

But the people
The mass of the people; the body of the nation.  The populace as distinct from the rulers and hostile outsiders.

From the Amplified Bible
(13)  And none of those who were not of their number dared to join and associate with them, but the people held them in high regard and praised and made much of them.

Acts 5:14
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(14)  And believers were increasingly added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women,

And the number of those who believed in the Lord was greatly increased by multitudes both of men and women.


Believers
pisteuo (NT:4100) to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing)

There are three main aspects to the word "pisteuo" which describe believers:
To Believe The believing ones They believe that Jesus is Who and What He said He is.
To Obey The obedient ones They obey implicitly and unquestioningly what Jesus says to do.
To Trust The trusting ones They trust Jesus completely

This is the name by which Christians were first designated,  because one of the main things that distinguished them was that they  "believed"  that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah..

Increasingly added
The effect of all these things was to increase the number of converts.  Their persecutions,  their preaching,  and the judgment of God,  "all"  tended to impress the minds of the people,  and to lead them to the Lord Jesus Christ. Though the judgment of God had the effect of deterring hypocrites from entering the church - though it produced awe and caution,  yet still the number of true converts was increased.

Both men and women
Multitudes were added to the Lord,  and for the first time,  Luke mentions the salvation of women.  Both in his Gospel and in Acts,  Luke has a great deal to say about women and their relationship to Christ and the church.  There are at least a dozen references in Acts to women,  as Luke shows the key role women played in the apostolic church.  This is a remarkable thing when you consider the general position of women in the culture of that day (see Galatians 3:26-28).
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

From the Amplified Bible
(14)  More and more there were being added to the Lord those who believed [those who acknowledged Jesus as their Savior and devoted themselves to Him joined and gathered with them], crowds both of men and of women,

Acts 5:15 & 16
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(15)  so that they brought the sick out into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at least the shadow of Peter passing by might fall on some of them.

They even brought out the sick into the streets and laid them on quilts so that when Simon Peter should happen to pass by, his shadow might fall upon them.

(16)  Also a multitude gathered from the surrounding cities to Jerusalem, bringing sick people and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.

Many came to them from other cities around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and mentally afflicted, and they were all healed.


This is the continuation of verse 12.

Beds
klinoon  (NT: 2825)  This word denotes usually the "soft" and "valuable" beds on which the rich commonly lay.  And it means that the rich,  as well as the poor,  were laid in the path of Peter and the other apostles.

Couches
krabatoon  (NT: 2895)  The coarse and hard couches on which the poor used to lie.

Peter’s shadow
As in the border of the clothes of Jesus, there was no healing virtue in Peter's shadow itself.
The Woman In all 3 accounts by Matthew (9:22), Mark (5:34) and Luke (8:48), it is recorded that Jesus said it was her faith that healed her - not the clothes He wore.
The Friends In all 3 accounts by Matthew (9:2), Mark (2:5) and Luke (5:22), it is recorded that Jesus responded to their faith.
If the healing power had been in the clothes that Jesus wore, then everyone who ever brushed up against him as they walked would have been healed.  But that was not the case.  It was the hand of faith reaching out to Jesus that brought healing.
If the healing power had been in the shadow of Peter, then everyone his shadow fell on as he walked past would have been healed.  But that was not the case.  It was the hand of faith reaching out to Jesus that brought healing.

Many times there is a physical action that exhibits the inner faith. The physical action is what people see.
Someone may have seen the woman touch the hem of His garment and saw her receive healing.
But it was her faith that Jesus saw.
People may have seen the men let their friend down through the roof and saw him receive healing.
But it was their faith that Jesus saw.
People may have seen the people healed as the shadow of Peter passed over them.
But it was their faith that Jesus saw.

In Acts 19:12 it says:
God did extraordinary miracles through Paul, so that even handkerchiefs and aprons that had touched him were taken to the sick, and their illnesses were cured and the evil spirits left them.    (NIV)
Paul knew that it was not the cloth he sent that had the power to heal, but it was their faith in Jesus.
We know this because Paul himself said in Hebrews 12:2:  "Let us fix our eyes on Jesus,  the author and perfecter of our faith"   (NIV)

Unclean spirits
Unclean - akathartos  (NT:169) -  impure (ceremonially, morally [lewd] or specially, [demonic]
Possessed with devils;  called "unclean"  because they prompted to sin and impurity of life. See Luke 4:33.

They were all healed
The miracles and fame of the apostles appear to have become equal to that of Christ and so John 14:12 was fulfilled for the first time.  The facts of the gospel were fully known and God was Himself confirming the truth with signs following (Mark 16:17-20; Hebrews 2:4).
(Dake's Annotated Reverence Bible, Finis Jennings Dake, Dake Publishing, Lawrenceville, GA)

From the Amplified Bible
(15)  So that they [even] kept carrying out the sick into the streets and placing them on couches and sleeping pads, [in the hope] that as Peter passed by, at least his shadow might fall on some of them.
(16)  And the people gathered also from the towns and hamlets around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those troubled with foul spirits, and they were all cured.



THE  APOSTLES  FREED  FROM  PRISON  BY  AN  ANGEL

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Acts 5:17 & 18
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(17)  Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation,

Then the high priest was filled with jealousy and all of those who were with him, for they were adherents to the teachings of the Sadducees,

(18)  and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison.

So they laid hands on the apostles and arrested them and bound them in prison.


The high priest
Annas.  Although Caiaphas was instituted by Rome as high priest,  Luke has already established in Acts 4:6 that his designation of High Priest referred to Annas.

Those who were with him
That is,  all they that coincided with him in doctrine or opinion;  or,  in other words,  that portion of the Sanhedrin that was composed of  Sadducees.  There was a strong party of Sadducees in the Sanhedrin;  and perhaps at this time it was so strong a majority as to be able to control its decisions.

Sect
From hairesis  (NT:139)  a choice, i.e. (specially) a party
The word itself has no evil meaning.  It simply refers to a doctrinal view or belief at variance with the recognized and accepted tenets of a system,  church,  or party.  The word heretic is used once in Scripture (Titus 3:10),  and means one who holds a heresy;  a dissenter,  nonconformist.  It only takes on an evil meaning when sound doctrine is rejected and fallacy is accepted and taught in preference to truth.
The word signifies a sect or party,  whether good or bad,  distinguished from all other sects and parties.
(Dake's Annotated Reverence Bible, Finis Jennings Dake, Dake Publishing, Lawrenceville, GA)

The word which is used here is  "heresy",  which signifies a choice,  and so is taken for a right form of learning,  or faction,  or study and course of life,  which the Latins call a sect:  at first this word was used indifferently,  but at length it came to be used only in reference to evil,  whereupon came the name of  "heretic"  which is taken for one that goes astray from sound and wholesome doctrine in such a way that he thinks lightly of the judgment of God and his Church,  and continues in his opinion,  and breaks the peace of the Church.
(from Geneva Notes, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2003 Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Common prison
The public prison;  or the prison for the keeping of common and notorious offenders.

From the Amplified Bible
(17)  But the high priest rose up and all who were his supporters, that is, the party of the Sadducees, and being filled with jealousy and indignation and rage,
(18)  They seized and arrested the apostles (special messengers) and put them in the public jail.

Acts 5:19 & 20
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(19)  But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said,

But during the night, the angel of the Lord opened the door of the prison and brought them forth and said to them,

(20)  "Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life."

Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all these words of life.


But
Only 3 little letters (in the Greek, de - only 2 little letters) - but what a powerful word in this context.
The rulers had the apostles put in prison
BUT
An angel of the Lord ... brought them out.

How many times in our lives are we in dire need - BUT - the Lord supplies our need
How many times in our lives are we in danger - BUT - the Lord covers us with His protection

An angel of the Lord
This does not denote any particular angel,  but simply AN angel.  The "article"  (the)  is not used in the original.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

"Angel of the Lord"  is a phrase which appears frequently in the Septuagint,  and many times refers to a manifestation of the Lord himself. In the book of Acts,  however,  it refers to an Angel whom the Lord has sent.
(from the UBS Handbook Series. Copyright (c) 1961-1997, by United Bible Societies)

The Sadducees not only believed there was no resurrection, but they believed there was NO SPIRIT WORLD AT ALL.
God sent an ANGEL to open the doors!

This was done for at least 7 reasons:
1. To encourage the apostles
2. To prove they were under God’s care
3. To show Jewish rulers they were fighting against God
4. To show Jews that they were persecuting true followers of God
5. To show Jews they were hindering the Gospel of salvation to all men
6. To give Jews another loving reproof
7. To give Jews another chance to repent
(Dake's Annotated Reverence Bible, Finis Jennings Dake, Dake Publishing, Lawrenceville, GA)

The angel told them to:
Go Go in confidence - do not fear the guards
Stand Stand up boldly - do not try to stay out of sight for fear
In the Temple A public and conspicuous place - do not hide for fear
Speak Speak out loud - do not keep silence from fear
To the people To all those assembled at the temple - not just those who agree with you
All the words All the words - not just words that will be accepted
Of this life That Jesus is the Risen Messiah - not just what the rulers allow

From the Amplified Bible
(19)  But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and, leading them out, said,
(20)  Go, take your stand in the temple courts and declare to the people the whole doctrine concerning this Life (the eternal life which Christ revealed).

Acts 5:21
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(21)  And when they heard that, they entered the temple early in the morning and taught. But the high priest and those with him came and called the council together, with all the elders of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.

Accordingly they went out early in the morning and entered into the temple and taught the people. But the high priest and those who were with him called their associates and the elders of Israel, and sent to the prison to bring the apostles.


Early in the morning
Greek: at the break of day.  They usually went to the temple at the hour of prayer,  but now they were there as soon as the temple gates were opened and people began to come in.

Called the council together
The Sanhedrin or the Great Council of the nation. This was clearly for the purpose of opening formal proceedings against the apostles for disregarding their commandments.

Elders
Probably these were not a part of the Sanhedrin,  but were people of age and experience,  who in Acts 4:8; 25:15, are called  "elders of the Jews,"  and who were present for the sake of counsel Canal advice in a case of emergency.

From the Amplified Bible
(21)  And when they heard this, they accordingly went into the temple about daybreak and began to teach. Now the high priest and his supporters who were with him arrived and called together the council (Sanhedrin), even all the senate of the sons of Israel, and they sent to the prison to have [the apostles] brought.



THE  APOSTLES  ON  TRIAL  AGAIN

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Acts 5:22-24
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(22)  But when the officers came and did not find them in the prison, they returned and reported,

And when those who were sent by them went and did not find them in the prison, they returned.

(23)  saying, "Indeed we found the prison shut securely, and the guards standing outside before the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside!"

Saying, We found the prison carefully locked and also the guards standing at the doors; and we opened them but found no man there.

(24)  Now when the high priest, the captain of the temple, and the chief priests heard these things, they wondered what the outcome would be.

When the high priest and the leaders of the temple heard these words, they were astonished at them and they were reasoning how it could happen.


Officers
Either officers of the Jewish Council or Levites of the temple guard under the officer in charge of the temple guards
(from the UBS Handbook Series. Copyright (c) 1961-1997, by United Bible Societies)

Shut securely

It had not been broken open;  and there was therefore clear proof that they had been delivered by the interposition of God.  Nor could they have been released by the guard,  for they were keeping watch,  as if unconscious that anything had happened and the officers had the only means of entering the prison.

We found no one inside
This miracle,  it will be observed,  was precisely the converse of that recorded in Acts 16:26,
Acts 16:26 though all the prison doors were thrown open, none of the prisoners sought to escape
Here while all the doors were fast shut, the imprisoned apostles were found at large without.
(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

The captain of the temple
The same as in Acts 4:1

Excerpts from The Bible Exposition Commentary
The Apostles did not resist arrest or organize a public protest.  They quietly went along with the temple guard and actually spent a few hours in the public jail.  But during the night,  an angel set them free and told them to return to their witnessing in the temple.  (The Sadducees,  of course,  did not believe in angels. See Acts 23:8  "For Sadducees say that there is no resurrection — and no angel or spirit").  In the Book of Acts,  you will find several instances of angelic ministries as God cared for His people  (Acts 8:26; 10:3,712:7-11,2327:23).   The angels are servants who minister to us as we serve the Lord (Hebrews 1:14).
As in Peter's deliverance (Acts 12:7-11),  neither the guards nor the leaders knew that the prisoners had been liberated.   And just imagine the astonishment of the members of the Sanhedrin when they heard the report!  Here they were trying to stop the miracles,  but their actions only multiplied the miracles!
What a contrast between the Apostles and the members of the council.
The Council was educated, ordained,  and approved,  and yet they had no ministry of power.
The Apostles  ordinary laymen,  yet God's power was at work in their lives.
The Council was trying desperately to protect themselves and their dead traditions.
The Apostles  were risking their lives to share the living Word of God.
The Council was defending the old.
The Apostles  were enjoying the new.
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

From the Amplified Bible
(22)  But when the attendants arrived there, they failed to find them in the jail; so they came back and reported,
(23)  We found the prison quite safely locked up and the guards were on duty outside the doors, but when we opened [it], we found no one on the inside.
(24)  Now when the military leader of the temple area and the chief priests heard these facts, they were much perplexed and thoroughly at a loss about them, wondering into what this might grow.

Acts 5:25 & 26
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(25)  So one came and told them, saying, "Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!"

When a man came and informed them, Behold! The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.

(26)  Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence, for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned.

Then the leaders went with the soldiers to bring them, not by force, for they were afraid that the people might stone them.


Came and told them
The Sanhedrim sat in a chamber at the south side of the temple,  while Solomon's porch,  where Peter appears to have 'spoken unto the people all the words of this life,'  was in another direction.
(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

They did not need to look far, or search long for the apostles.  The apostles were not in hiding. 
The apostles were right here in the temple!
And not only were they in the temple, but they were openly teaching the people!

Without violence
Not by force.  There were 2 reasons for this:
1. The Apostles The apostles did not resist
2. The Guard The Guard was afraid

The command of the Sanhedrin was sufficient to secure their presence,  as they did not intend to refuse to answer for any alleged violation of the laws.  Besides,  their going before the council would give them another noble opportunity to bear witness to the truth of the gospel.
Acts 25:11 When charged with a violation of the laws of the land,  we should not refuse to answer.
Acts 25:10-11
Paul answered:  "I am now standing before Caesar's court, where I ought to be tried. I have not done any wrong to the Jews, as you yourself know very well.  If, however, I am guilty of doing anything deserving death, I do not refuse to die. But if the charges brought against me by these Jews are not true, no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar!"     (NIV)
Romans 13:1-7 We are to yield obedience to all the just  (vs 29)  laws of the land and to evince respect for all that is in authority.
Romans 13:1
Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established.     (NIV)
1 Peter 3:15-17 We must always be ready to give an explanation of our faith in Jesus Christ.
1 Peter 3:15-16
But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord.  Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.  But do this with gentleness and respect,  keeping a clear conscience,  so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.     (NIV)

They feared the people
Feared - efoboúnto from phobeo  (NT:5399) - In both senses of reverence and dread.
The same word is used in 1 Peter 2:17 where we are told to "fear" God.  THEIR FEAR WAS MISPLACED!.
They feared the people
Acts 5:26 efoboúnto from phobeo  (NT:5399) Tense = imperfect middle
"still feared, kept on fearing"  the people
They should have feared God
1 Peter 2:17 fobeísthe from phobeo  (NT:5399) Tense = present middle imperative
"be fearing, keep on fearing"  God

Matthew 10:28
And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.     (NKJV)

From the Amplified Bible
(25)  But some man came and reported to them, saying, Listen! The men whom you put in jail are standing [right here] in the temple and teaching the people!
(26)  Then the military leader went with the attendants and brought [the prisoners], but without violence, for they dreaded the people lest they be stoned by them.

Acts 5:27 & 28
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(27)  And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them,

And when they had brought them, they made them stand before the whole council, and the high priest proceeded,

(28)  saying, "Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man's blood on us!"

Saying, Did we not strictly command you not to teach any man in this name? And behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and you intend to bring the blood of this  man upon us.


Strictly command
Did we not command you with a "threat?".

This name - This man
That is,  of JESUS as the Christ or Messiah.  His saving name,  and the doctrines connected with it,  were the only theme and substance of their discourses.  They avoided even speaking His name!

Filled Jerusalem
Forty doctrines that filled Jerusalem:
1. Crucifixion of Jesus (Acts 2:23,363:13-15,204:105:30)
2. Physical resurrection of Jesus (Acts 2:24,27-32; 3:15,26; 4:2,10,33; 5:30)
3. Exaltation of Jesus (Acts 2:33-353:13,20-215:31)
4. Repentance and remission of sins through faith in Jesus (Acts 2:383:19,264:125:31)
5. Jesus the only Prince and Savior (Acts 3:15,164:10,125:31)
6. Water baptism for all (Acts 2:38,41)
7. Spirit baptism for all (Acts 2:16-21,33,38-395:32)
8. Prophetic utterances by sons and daughters (Acts 2:16-21)
9. Signs of the second coming (Acts 2:16-21)
10. The Day of the Lord (Acts 2:20)
11. Salvation for all through faith in Jesus (Acts 2:21,383:19)
12. Jesus approved by God (Acts 2:2210:38)
13. Foreknowledge of God (Acts 2:234:28)
14. Soul goes to hell (Acts 2:27-31)
15. Body goes to the grave (Acts 2:25-31)
16. Incorruption of Christ's body (Acts 2:27,31)
17. Jesus David's Son in flesh (Acts 2:30)
18. Jesus God's only Son (Acts 3:13,26)
19. Jesus God's Holy One (Acts 3:14)
20. Jesus God's Just One (Acts 3:14)
21. Christ the Prince (author) of life (Acts 3:155:31)
22. Christ to reestablish David's throne and kingdom (Acts 2:30)
23. Christ to put down God's enemies (Acts 2:35)
24. Jesus made both Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36)
25. The Lord's Supper (Acts 2:42)
26. Christian's power of attorney (Acts 2:38-393:6,164:10)
27. Humble ministry (Acts 3:124:10,29-32)
28. Physical healing through faith in the name of Jesus (Acts 3:6,164:10-12)
29. Sufferings of Jesus necessary to redeem (Acts 3:18-254:285:30-32)
30. Conversion through repentance necessary to be saved (Acts 3:19-214:125:31)
31. Times of refreshing (Acts 3:19)
32. Second coming of Jesus (Acts 3:20-21; cp. Acts 1:11)
33. Complete restoration of all things as before the fall (Acts 3:21)
34. Jesus a prophet all men must hear or be lost (Acts 3:22-234:12)
35. Jesus and His sufferings the main theme of the prophets (Acts 3:18-25)
36. Israel offered salvation first (Acts 3:26)
37. Satan a real person (Acts 5:3)
38. Holy Spirit is God (Acts 5:3-4)
39. Ministry of angels (Acts 5:198:26)
40. Holy Spirit the executive of God among men (Acts 1:82:33-395:3-4,32)

And not only did they fill Jerusalem with their doctrine - but it was all based on their own Scriptures.

Bring this man's blood on us
To bring "one's blood" upon another is a phrase signifying to hold or to prove him guilty of murdering the innocent. The expression here charges them with -
Desiring to prove that they had put Jesus to death when he was innocent
Convincing "the people" of this
Enraging the people against the Sanhedrin
Proving that they were guilty
Proving they were exposed to the Divine vengeance for having put the Messiah to death
Compare Acts 2:23, 36; 3:15; 7:52.

In other words they said:  “By the way you are preaching and accusing us of the murder of Jesus you are inciting the people to kill us.”

From the Amplified Bible
(27)  So they brought them and set them before the council (Sanhedrin). And the high priest examined them by questioning,
(28)  Saying, We definitely commanded and strictly charged you not to teach in or about this Name; yet here you have flooded Jerusalem with your doctrine and you intend to bring this Man's blood upon us.

Acts 5:29
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(29)  But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: "We ought to obey God rather than men.

Then Simon Peter with the rest of the apostles answered, saying to them, We must obey God rather than men.


Peter and the other apostles
Implying that Peter was the chief spokesman with the other apostles lending agreement.

Obey God rather than men
In Acts 4:19 they put the question to the Sanhedrin.
Here, they give the answer to the Sanhedrin.

From the Amplified Bible
(29)  Then Peter and the apostles replied, We must obey God rather than men.

Acts 5:30-32
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(30)  The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree.

The God of our fathers has raised up Jesus whom you murdered when you nailed him on the cross.

(31)  Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.

This very one God has appointed a Prince and a Savior, and has lifted him up by his right hand so that he may grant repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.

(32)  And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him."

And we are the witnesses of these words; so is also the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who believe in him.


Hanging on a tree
That is, on the "cross," Gal 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24; Acts 10:39.
Galatians 3:13
Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree")     (NKJV)
Deuteronomy 21:23
"...anyone who is hung on a tree is under God's curse."     (NIV)
1 Peter 2:24
He personally bore our sins in His [own] body on the tree     (AMP)
Acts 10:39
...they put Him out of the way (murdered Him) by hanging Him on a tree     (AMP)

His right hand
That Jesus Christ is at God's right hand is a key theme in the Scriptures.  The right hand is,  of course,  the place of honor,  power,  and authority.  Psalms 110:1 is the basic prophecy, but there are numerous references:
Psalms 110:1
The LORD (God) says to my Lord (the Messiah), Sit at My right hand, until I make Your adversaries Your footstool.     (AMP)
Quoted in:
Matthew 22:44
'The LORD said to my Lord, "Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool"'     (NKJV)
Acts 2:34-35
"The LORD said to my Lord, 'Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool.'"     (NKJV)
Hebrews 1:13
"Sit at My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool"     (NKJV)
Matthew 26:64
you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One     (NIV)
Mark 14:62
"you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power     (NKJV)
Mark 16:19
He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God.      (NKJV)
Acts 2:33
...being exalted to the right hand of God      (NKJV)
Romans 8:34
Christ ...who is even at the right hand of God     (NKJV)
Ephesians 1:20
...seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places     (NKJV)
Colossians 3:1
...where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God.     (NKJV)
Hebrews 1:3
When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.     (RSV)
Hebrews 10:12
Whereas this One [Christ], after He had offered a single sacrifice for our sins [that shall avail] for all time, sat down at the right hand of God     (AMP)
Hebrews 12:2
Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.     (NIV)
1 Peter 3:21-22
...through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God.     (NKJV)
And soon, Stephen would see Jesus standing at God's right hand (Acts 7:55).

To Israel
This word properly denotes the "Jews";   but his office was not to be confined to the Jews.  Other passages show that it would be also extended to the  "Gentiles."
Romans 1:16
I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.     (NIV)
Romans 2:9
There will be trouble and distress for every human being who does evil: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.     (NIV)
Romans 2:10
Gut glory, honor and peace for everyone who does good: first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.     (NIV)


Notice the parallel between the two sermons and two defenses of the first five chapters of Acts:
Acts 2:14-40
1st Sermon
To the people on the
Day of Pentecost
Acts 3:12-26
2nd Sermon
To the people when the lame man was healed
Acts 4:8-12
1st Defense
Before the Sanhedrin
Acts 5:29-32
2nd Defense
Before the Sanhedrin
Quotes Joel (16) Refers to the Prophets
(18, 21, 24)
   
You know He was of
God (22)
You denied Him (14)    
You killed Him (23) You killed Him (15) You crucified Him (10) You killed Him (30)
God raised Him (24) God raised Him (26) God raised Him (10) God raised Him (30)
Quotes David (18-21, 24) Quotes Moses (22) Quotes David (11)  
Promise through David
(34, 35)
Promise through Abraham (25)    
We are all witnesses (32) We are witnesses (15)   We are His witnesses  (32)
God made Him Lord & Christ (36) God glorified Him (13) He became head of the corner (11) God exalted Him to be Prince & Savior (31)
Repent & be forgiven (38) Repent & be forgiven
(19, 26)
Salvation only from Him (12) Repentance & forgiveness (31)
He (Jesus) hath shed forth What you see & hear (33) The faith which is by Him (Jesus) hath given This perfect soundness In the presence of you All (16) By the name of Jesus
Christ this man is whole (10)
 

From the Amplified Bible
(30)  The God of our forefathers raised up Jesus, Whom you killed by hanging Him on a tree (cross). [Deuteronomy 21:22,23.]
(31)  God exalted Him to His right hand to be Prince and Leader and Savior and Deliverer and Preserver, in order to grant repentance to Israel and to bestow forgiveness and release from sins.
(32)  And we are witnesses of these things, and the Holy Spirit is also, Whom God has bestowed on those who obey Him.

Acts 5:33
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(33)  When they heard this, they were furious and plotted to kill them.

When they heard these words, they were enraged and thought to murder the apostles.


Furious
diaprio (NT:1282) to saw asunder, i.e. (figuratively) to exasperate

The KJV reads: "cut to the heart."
It is not the same word as in Acts 2:37 where the people were “pricked” in their heart,  or to agitate violently.
There they were stung to the heart with remorse and repentance.
Here it is the opposite effect.
They were filled with spite, malice, and revenge against those who witnessed their murderous conduct.

Some reasons for their fury:
(1) The apostles were freed from prison in an obviously supernatural manner.
(2) The apostles disregarded their command not to teach the resurrection of Jesus.
(3) The apostles proved that Jesus was the Messiah.
(4) The apostles charged them with the murder of Jesus, their Messiah.
Because they established the doctrine of the resurrection of Jesus, and this publicly, it tended to overthrow the sect of the Sadducees, thus eroding the influence and power they held over the people.

From the Amplified Bible
33 Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and infuriated and wanted to kill the disciples.



GAMALIEL'S  ADVICE

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Acts 5:34
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(34)  Then one in the council stood up, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in respect by all the people, and commanded them to put the apostles outside for a little while.

Then one of the Pharisees whose name was Gamaliel, a teacher of the law and honored by all the people, rose up and ordered them to take the apostles outside for a little while;


A Pharisee
The Pharisees were in the minority,  but they commanded much more popular respect than the Sadducees did,  so much so that the Sadducean members of the Sanhedrin found it impolitic to oppose the Pharisees’ demands,  particularly when the defendants enjoyed the people’s good will.

Gamaliel
“…here referred to as one of the council or Sanhedrin,  a Pharisee,  a teacher of the law,  and of high repute among the people,  is said by the Talmud to have been the grandson of Hillel,  the founder of the then leading Rabbinical school.  They say further that he was second and last who ‘obtained the name of Rabban, a title of the highest eminency and note of any among their doctors.’  Apparently he is the only one unmoved,  and therefore apprehends the peril of murdering the apostles.” (Bible Readers’ Commentary)

One of the most celebrated and honored Jewish rabbis:
1. He was grandson of Hillel.
2. He became president of the Sanhedrin at the death of his father Rabbi Simeon, son of Hillel.
3. He is the 35th receiver of the traditions and of the law given at Sinai.
4. He is better known as the teacher of Paul  (Acts 22:3).
5. He died 18 years before Jerusalem was destroyed by Rome (approximately 20 years after this incident).
6. His son Simeon died in the ruins of the city in 70 A.D.
7. He was a strict Jew, but apparently liberal in his views.

Commanded them
As president of the Sanhedrin, he had this authority.

From the Amplified Bible
(34)  But a certain Pharisee in the council (Sanhedrin) named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, highly esteemed by all the people, standing up, ordered that the apostles be taken outside for a little while.

Acts 5:35-37
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(35)  And he said to them: "Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what you intend to do regarding these men.

Then he said to them, Men of Israel, take heed to yourselves, and find out what is the best for you to do about these men.

(36)  For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody. A number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was slain, and all who obeyed him were scattered and came to nothing.

For before these days, rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be a great man; and about four hundred men followed him; but he was slain; and those who followed him were scattered and nothing came of them.

(37)  After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census, and drew away many people after him. He also perished, and all who obeyed him were dispersed.

After him rose up Judah, the Galilean, in the days when people were registering for the head tax, and he misled many people into following him. He died; and all those who followed him were dispersed.


Theudas
It is not certain who this man was…the one mentioned by Josephus (Ant. XX. V, I) was at least 10 years later,  and under the reign of Fadus.  According to the Companion Bible,  the name is not uncommon in the Talmud.

Wycliffe notes:
He cited recent historical events to remind them that there had been other movements among the Jews that amounted to nothing, and that therefore they should have no fear of this new group who proclaimed Jesus to be Messiah. Josephus says that there were many such movements in those days of unrest. Gamaliel recalled one Theudas, who claimed to be a person of great importance and who persuaded some four hundred Jews to follow him. This movement was crushed and Theudas slain. We know nothing else about this man.
About A.D. 45, a magician by the same name led a large number of Jews to the Jordan River, promising that he could separate the waters so that they could walk across the river on dry ground. The Roman governor, Crispus Fadus, sent horsemen and crushed the movement. This false messiah, however, was a different person from the one mentioned by Gamaliel.
(from The Wycliffe Bible Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1962 by Moody Press. All rights reserved.)

Judas of Galilee
Josephus has given an account of this man (Antiq., xvii. 10, section 5),  and calls him a  "Galilean."  He afterward calls him a "Gaulonite,"  and says he was of the city of  "Gamala" (Antiq., 18:1:1).  He says that the revolt took place under "Cyrenius,"  a Roman senator,  who came into  "Syria to be judge of that nation,  and to take account of their substance."  "Moreover,"  says he,  "Cyrenius came himself into Judea, which was now added to the province of Syria, to take an account of their substance, and to dispose of Archelaus' money." "Yet Judas, taking with him Saddouk, a Pharisee, became zealous to draw them to a revolt, who both said that this taxation was no better than an introduction to slavery, and exhorted the nation to assert their liberty, etc." "This" revolt, he says, was the commencement of the series of revolts and calamities that terminated in the destruction of the city, temple, and nation.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Excerpts from Josephus concerning Judas
Wars, II, VIII, 1
And now Archelaus's part of Judea was reduced into a province, and Coponius, one of the equestrian order among the Romans, was sent as a procurator, having the power of [life and] death put into his hands by Caesar. Under his administration it was that a certain Galilean, whose name was Judas, prevailed with his countrymen to revolt, and said they were cowards if they would endure to pay a tax to the Romans and would after God submit to mortal men as their lords. This man was a teacher of a peculiar sect of his own, and was not at all like the rest of those their leaders.
Antiquities XVIII, I, 1
Now Cyrenius, a Roman senator, and one who had gone through other magistracies, and had passed through them till he had been consul, and one who, on other accounts, was of great dignity, came at this time into Syria, with a few others, being sent by Caesar to he a judge of that nation, and to take an account of their substance ... Yet was there one Judas, a Gaulonite, of a city whose name was Gamala, who, taking with him Sadduc, a Pharisee, became zealous to draw them to a revolt, who both said that this taxation was no better than an introduction to slavery, and exhorted the nation to assert their liberty; as if they could procure them happiness and security for what they possessed, and an assured enjoyment of a still greater good, which was that of the honor and glory they would thereby acquire for magnanimity. They also said that God would not otherwise be assisting to them, than upon their joining with one another in such councils as might be successful, and for their own advantage; and this especially, if they would set about great exploits, and not grow weary in executing the same; so men received what they said with pleasure, and this bold attempt proceeded to a great height. All sorts of misfortunes also sprang from these men, and the nation was infected with this doctrine to an incredible degree; one violent war came upon us after another, and we lost our friends which used to alleviate our pains; there were also very great robberies and murder of our principal men.
(from Josephus: Wars of the Jews, PC Study Bible formatted electronic database Copyright © 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

From the Amplified Bible
(35)  Then he addressed them [the council, saying]: Men of Israel, take care in regard to what you propose to do concerning these men.
(36)  For before our time there arose Theudas, asserting himself to be a person of importance, with whom a number of men allied themselves, about 400; but he was killed and all who had listened to and adhered to him were scattered and brought to nothing.
(37)  And after this one rose up Judas the Galilean, [who led an uprising] during the time of the census, and drew away a popular following after him; he also perished and all his adherents were scattered.

Acts 5:38 & 39
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(38)  And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing;

So now I tell you, Keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this thought and this work is of men, it will fail and pass away..

(39) but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it — lest you even be found to fight against God."

But if it be of God, you cannot suppress it, lest perchance you find yourself standing in opposition to God.


Gamaliel's opinion
(1) That they should not persecute the apostles
It is uncertain whether he spoke this
out of policy,
for fear of offending the people,
or for fear of offending the Romans
The weapons of their warfare were not carnal;  and therefore why should any outward force be used against them?  The apostles did not attempt any thing by outward force.
Or,  whether he was under any present convictions,  at least of the probability of the truth of the Christian doctrine,  and thought it deserved better treatment,  at least a fair trial.
Or,  whether it was only the language of a mild quiet spirit,  that was against persecution for conscience' sake.
Or,  whether God put this word into his mouth beyond his own intention,  for the deliverance of the apostles at this time.
(2) That they should refer this matter to Providence
Was it from heaven or of men? was a question proper to be asked concerning the apostles' doctrine and baptism, which followed Christ,  as John Baptist's went before him.
(from Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible: New Modern Edition, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1991 by Hendrickson Publishers, Inc.)

Lest you...fight against God
This is exactly what the apostles had been showing them that they were doing.
Could it be that Gamaliel was beginning to wonder if this new message was true?

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" katalusai these men for they in that case must "overthrow" God.
(from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament. Copyright © 1985 by Broadman Press.)

But the biggest weakness of his advice was his motive:

he encouraged neutrality when the council was facing a life-and-death issue that demanded decision.

"Wait and see!"  is actually not neutrality;  it is a definite decision.  Gamaliel was voting "No!"  but he was preaching "maybe someday."
(from The Bible Exposition Commentary. Copyright © 1989 by Chariot Victor Publishing, and imprint of Cook Communication Ministries. All rights reserved. Used by permission.)

1 Kings 18:21
And Elijah came to all the people, and said, "How long will you falter between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow Him; but if Baal, follow him." But the people answered him not a word.

Jesus said:  "He who is not with Me is against Me"   (Matthew 12:30; Luke 11:23)

From the Amplified Bible
(38)  Now in the present case let me say to you, stand off (withdraw) from these men and let them alone. For if this doctrine or purpose or undertaking or movement is of human origin, it will fail (be overthrown and come to nothing);
(39)  But if it is of God, you will not be able to stop or overthrow or destroy them; you might even be found fighting against God!

Acts 5:40
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(40)  And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

And they listened to him, and they called the apostles and scourged them, and commanded them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.


They agreed with him
Greek: epeístheesan - "to persuade."  They were "persuaded" by him;  or they trusted to him.  They agreed only so far as their design of putting them to death was concerned.  They temporarily abandoned that design.  But they did not comply with his advice to let them entirely alone.

Beating - The 4th Attempt of Satan to Destroy the Church

It was expressly foretold by the Savior that the apostles would be subjected to this, Matt 10:17.
Matthew 10:17
But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues.     (NKJV)

The usual amount of  "lashes"  which were inflicted on offenders was 39  (2 Cor 11:24 "24 From the Jews five times I received forty stripes minus one.")

To except one stripe from the forty was a very ancient canon among the Jews,  as we learn from Josephus, Antiq. lib. 4 ch. 8 sec. 21,  who mentions the same thing: pleegas mias leipousees tessarakonta,  forty stripes, excepting one.
The Mishna gives this as a rule, MISHNA, Maccoth, fol. 22, 10:
"How often shall he,  the culprit,  be smitten?"
Answer  "forty stripes, lacking one";  i.e. with the number which is nighest to forty."
Frequently a man was scourged according to his ability to bear the punishment;  and it is a canon in the Mishna,  "That he who cannot bear forty stripes should receive only eighteen,  and yet be considered as having suffered the whole punishment."
They also thought it right to stop under forty,  lest the person who counted should make a mistake,  and the criminal get more than forty stripes,  which would be injustice,  as the law required only forty.
The manner in which this punishment was inflicted is described in the Mishna, fol. 22, 2:
"The two hands of the criminal are bound to a post,  and then the servant of the synagogue either pulls or tears off his clothes until he leaves his breast and shoulders bare.  A stone or block is placed behind him on which the servant stands;  he holds in his hands a scourge made of leather,  divided into four tails.  He who scourges lays one third on the criminal's breast,  another third on his right shoulder,  and another on his left.  The man who receives the punishment is neither sitting nor standing,  but all the while stooping;  and the man smites with all his strength,  with one hand."  The severity of this punishment depends on the nature of the scourge,  and the strength of the executioner.
(from Adam Clarke's Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1996, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

The reason why they did not adopt the advice of Gamaliel altogether doubtless was,  that if they did,  they feared that their "authority" would be despised by the people.
Acts 4:18 They had commanded them not to preach about Jesus
Acts 5:21 They had threatened them
Acts 5:18 They had imprisoned them
Now,  if they suffered them to go without even the "appearance" of punishment,  their authority,  they feared,  would be despised by the nation,  and it would be supposed that the apostles had triumphed over the Sanhedrin.  It is probable,  also,  that they were so indignant,  that they could not suffer them to go without the gratification of subjecting them to the public odium of a "whipping."

From the Amplified Bible
(40)  So, convinced by him, they took his advice; and summoning the apostles, they flogged them and sternly forbade them to speak in or about the name of Jesus, and allowed them to go.

Acts 5:41 & 42
From the NKJV From the  Peshitta

(41)  So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.

The apostles went out from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they had been worthy to suffer abuse for the sake of his name.

(42)  And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

And they did not cease to teach daily in the temple and at home and to preach concerning our Lord Jesus Christ.


Rejoicing
chairo (NT:5463) to be "cheerful"

The TEV has it:  "As the apostles left the Council, they were happy"

They rejoiced that they were thought worthy by God to be dishonored by man.
(from Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown Commentary, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Counted worthy
kataxioo (NT:2661) to deem entirely deserving

The apostles felt honored by dishonor.
(from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament. Copyright © 1985 by Broadman Press.)


Suffer shame
atimazo (NT:818) to render infamous, despise, dishonor, treat shamefully

To be  "dishonored"  or  "disgraced."

One main design of persecution was to select a kind of punishment so  "disgraceful"  as to deter others from professing religion.  Disgrace even yet may attend it.  It may subject one to the ridicule of friends - of even a father,  mother,  or brother.  Christians hear their opinions abused; their names vilified; their Bible travestied; the name of their God profaned, and of their Redeemer blasphemed. Their feelings are often wantonly and rudely torn by the cutting sarcasm or the bitter sneer.
(from Barnes' Notes, Electronic Database Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. All rights reserved.)

Books and songs revile them; their specialties are made the occasion of indecent merriment on the stage and in novels; and in this way they are still subjected to shame for the name of Jesus. Every one who becomes a Christian should remember that this is a part of his inheritance, and should not esteem it dishonorable to be treated as his Master was before him, John 15:18-20; Matt 10:25.
Matthew 10:24-25
A student is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.  It is enough for the student to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master.     (NIV)
John 15:18-21
If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.  If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you.  Remember the words I spoke to you: 'No servant is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also. If they obeyed my teaching, they will obey yours also.  They will treat you this way because of my name.     (NIV)

Matthew 5:11-12
Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.   Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.     (NKJV)

Luke 6:23
Happy are you when people hate you, reject you, insult you, and say that you are evil, all because of the Son of Man!  Be glad when that happens and dance for joy, because a great reward is kept for you in heaven. For their ancestors did the very same things to the prophets.   (TEV)

Colossians 1:24
And now I am happy about my sufferings for you, for by means of my physical sufferings I am helping to complete what still remains of Christ's sufferings on behalf of his body, the church.   (TEV)

1 Peter 4:12-16
My dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful test you are suffering, as though something unusual were happening to you.  Rather be glad that you are sharing Christ's sufferings, so that you may be full of joy when his glory is revealed.  Happy are you if you are insulted because you are Christ's followers; this means that the glorious Spirit, the Spirit of God, is resting on you.  If any of you suffers, it must not be because he is a murderer or a thief or a criminal or a meddler in other people's affairs.  However, if you suffer because you are a Christian, don't be ashamed of it, but thank God that you bear Christ's name.    (TEV)

For His name
For attachment to him.
Note the same use of   "the Name"  as in James 2:7;  3 John 7.  With the Jews this absolute use of  "the Name"  meant Jehovah (Yahweh).  The Christians now apply it to Jesus.
(from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament. Copyright © 1985 by Broadman Press.)

Robertson notes:
Every day
pasan heemeran.
The accusative of extent of time,  all through every day.
In the temple and at home
en too hieroo kai kat' oikon.
This was a distinct triumph to go back to the temple where they had been arrested and at home or from house to house.  It was a great day for the disciples in Jerusalem.
They ceased not
ouk epauonto.  Imperfect middle.
"They kept it up."
Jesus as the Christ
ton Christon Ieesoun.
Jesus is the direct object of the participles didaskontes (teaching) and euangelizomenoi (preaching or evangelizing) while
"the Christ" ton Christon 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.
(from Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament, Electronic Database. Copyright © 1997, 2003 by Biblesoft, Inc. Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament. Copyright © 1985 by Broadman Press.)


From the Amplified Bible
(41)  So they went out from the presence of the council (Sanhedrin), rejoicing that they were being counted worthy [dignified by the indignity] to suffer shame and be exposed to disgrace for [the sake of] His name.
(42)  Yet [in spite of the threats] they never ceased for a single day, both in the temple area and at home, to teach and to proclaim the good news (Gospel) of Jesus [as] the Christ (the Messiah).



(End of Chapter Five)

 

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