Acts of Apostles 5:1-42
emboldened you: Lit., “filled your heart.” In this context, the Greek expression conveys the meaning “to dare to do something; to embolden.” It may reflect a Hebrew idiom with the same meaning. For example, at Es 7:5, the Hebrew phrase “has filled his heart to” is rendered “has dared to,” and at Ec 8:11, this idiom is rendered “the heart . . . becomes emboldened to do bad.”
the spirit of Jehovah: The expression “the spirit of Jehovah” (or, “Jehovah’s spirit”) occurs several times in the Hebrew Scriptures. (Some examples are found at Jg 3:10; 6:34; 11:29; 13:25; 14:6; 15:14; 1Sa 10:6; 16:13; 2Sa 23:2; 1Ki 18:12; 2Ki 2:16; 2Ch 20:14; Isa 11:2; 40:13; 63:14; Eze 11:5; Mic 2:7; 3:8.) The expression “Jehovah’s spirit” is found at Lu 4:18 as part of a quote from Isa 61:1. There and in other Hebrew Scripture occurrences, the original Hebrew text uses the Tetragrammaton together with the word for “spirit.” The reasons why the New World Translation uses the expression “the spirit of Jehovah” in the main text, although available Greek manuscripts of Ac 5:9 read “the spirit of Lord,” are explained in App. C1 and C3 introduction; Ac 5:9.
congregation: This is the first occurrence of the Greek term ek·kle·siʹa. It comes from two Greek words, ek, meaning “out,” and ka·leʹo, meaning “to call.” It refers to a group of people summoned or called together for a particular purpose or activity. (See Glossary.) In this context, Jesus foretells the formation of the Christian congregation, made up of anointed Christians, who as “living stones” are being “built up into a spiritual house.” (1Pe 2:4, 5) This Greek term is frequently used in the Septuagint as an equivalent of the Hebrew term rendered “congregation,” which often refers to the entire nation of God’s people. (De 23:3; 31:30) At Ac 7:38, the Israelites who were called out of Egypt are referred to as a “congregation.” Similarly, Christians who are “called . . . out of darkness” and “chosen . . . out of the world” make up “the congregation of God.”—1Pe 2:9; Joh 15:19; 1Co 1:2.
the congregation in the wilderness: Here the Israelites who were called out of Egypt are referred to as a “congregation.” In the Hebrew Scriptures, the Hebrew word qa·halʹ, usually rendered “congregation” in the New World Translation, is from a root word meaning “to call together; to congregate.” (Nu 20:8; De 4:10) The word is frequently used to describe the Israelites as an organized body, in such expressions as “congregation of Israel” (Le 16:17; Jos 8:35; 1Ki 8:14), “congregation of the true God” (Ne 13:1), “congregation of Jehovah” (De 23:2, 3; Mic 2:5), and “Jehovah’s congregation” (Nu 20:4; 1Ch 28:8). In the Septuagint, the Hebrew word qa·halʹ is often rendered by the Greek word ek·kle·siʹa (as at Ps 22:22 [21:23, LXX]), which is the expression used in the Christian Greek Scriptures for “congregation.”—See study notes on Mt 16:18; Ac 5:11.
congregation: This is the first occurrence of the Greek word ek·kle·siʹa in the book of Acts. The term comes from two Greek words, ek, meaning “out,” and ka·leʹo, meaning “to call.” It refers to a group of people called together for a particular purpose or activity, so the term well describes the newly established Christian congregation. (See Glossary.) The word ek·kle·siʹa is used at Mt 16:18 (see study note), where Jesus foretells the formation of the Christian congregation made up of anointed Christians. They are living stones who are “being built up into a spiritual house.” (1Pe 2:4, 5) In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the term applies not only to the composite group of anointed Christians but also to all Christians living in a geographic area or to Christians making up a local congregation. In the context of Ac 5:11, the term refers to the Christian congregation in Jerusalem.—See study note on Ac 7:38.
wonders: Or “portents.” In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the Greek word teʹras is consistently used in combination with se·meiʹon (“sign”), both terms being used in the plural form. (Mt 24:24; Joh 4:48; Ac 7:36; 14:3; 15:12; 2Co 12:12) Basically, teʹras refers to anything that causes awe or wonderment. When the term clearly refers to something portending what will happen in the future, the alternate rendering “portent” is used in a study note.
wonders: Or “portents.”—See study note on Ac 2:19.
Jehovah’s angel: Starting at Ge 16:7, this phrase is often found in the Hebrew Scriptures as a combination of the Hebrew word for “angel” and the Tetragrammaton. When it occurs at Zec 3:5, 6 in an early copy of the Septuagint, the Greek word agʹge·los (angel; messenger) is followed by the divine name written in Hebrew characters. This fragment, found in a cave in Nahal Hever, Israel, in the Judean Desert, is dated between 50 B.C.E. and 50 C.E. The reasons why the New World Translation uses the expression “Jehovah’s angel” in the main text, although available Greek manuscripts of Ac 5:19 read “Lord’s angel,” are explained in App. C1 and C3 introduction; Ac 5:19.
assembly of elders: Or “council (body) of elders.” The Greek word pre·sby·teʹri·on used here is related to the term pre·sbyʹte·ros (lit., “older man”), which in the Bible primarily refers to those who hold a position of authority and responsibility in a community or a nation. Although the term sometimes refers to physical age (as at Lu 15:25 and Ac 2:17), it is not limited to those who are elderly. The expression “assembly of elders” here evidently refers to the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high court in Jerusalem, which was made up of the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders. These three groups are often mentioned together.—Mt 16:21; 27:41; Mr 8:31; 11:27; 14:43, 53; 15:1; Lu 9:22; 20:1; see Glossary, “Elder; Older man,” and study note on their Sanhedrin hall in this verse.
the entire assembly of elders: Or “the entire council (body) of elders.” The Greek word ge·rou·siʹa used here is related to the term geʹron (lit., “old man”), which is found at Joh 3:4. Both terms are used only once in the Christian Greek Scriptures. Some consider the expression “assembly of elders” to be synonymous with the Sanhedrin, the Jewish high court in Jerusalem, which was made up of chief priests, scribes, and elders. (See study note on Lu 22:66.) However, in this context, the two expressions, “the Sanhedrin” and the “assembly of elders,” should apparently be viewed as two entities that were not mutually exclusive. Some members of the “assembly of elders” might officially have been members of the Sanhedrin, while others might have played an advisory role to the Sanhedrin.
the sons of Israel: Or “the people of Israel; the Israelites.”—See Glossary, “Israel.”
the captain of the temple: Also mentioned at Ac 5:24, 26. By the first century C.E., this official position was held by a priest who was second in authority to the high priest. The temple captain was in charge of the priests serving at the temple. He also maintained order in and around the temple by means of what may be called a temple police force made up of Levites. Subordinate captains oversaw the Levites who opened the temple gates in the morning and closed them at night. These guards protected the temple treasury, generally kept the crowds in order, and ensured that no one entered restricted areas. There were 24 divisions of Levites. Each division served a week at a time in rotation, twice a year, and likely had a captain who answered to the captain of the temple. The temple captains were men of influence. They are mentioned along with the chief priests who conspired to have Jesus put to death. On the night Jesus was betrayed, they came with their forces to arrest him.—Lu 22:4 (see study note), 52.
the captain of the temple: See study note on Ac 4:1.
a stake: Or “a tree.” The Greek word xyʹlon (lit., “wood”) is here used as a synonym for the Greek word stau·rosʹ (rendered “torture stake”) and describes the instrument of execution to which Jesus was nailed. In the Christian Greek Scriptures, Luke, Paul, and Peter used the word xyʹlon in this sense five times altogether. (Ac 5:30; 10:39; 13:29; Ga 3:13; 1Pe 2:24) In the Septuagint, xyʹlon is used at De 21:22, 23 to translate the corresponding Hebrew word ʽets (meaning “tree; wood; piece of wood”) in the sentence “and you have hung him on a stake.” When Paul quotes this scripture at Ga 3:13, xyʹlon is used in the sentence: “Accursed is every man hung upon a stake.” This Greek word is also used in the Septuagint at Ezr 6:11 (1 Esdras 6:31, LXX) to translate the Aramaic word ʼaʽ, corresponding to the Hebrew term ʽets. There it is said regarding violators of a Persian king’s decree: “A timber will be pulled out of his house and he will be lifted up and fastened to it.” The fact that Bible writers used xyʹlon as a synonym for stau·rosʹ provides added evidence that Jesus was executed on an upright stake without a crossbeam, for that is what xyʹlon in this special sense means.
Chief Agent: The Greek term used here (ar·khe·gosʹ) basically means “chief leader; one who goes first.” It is used four times in the Bible, each time referring to Jesus. (Ac 3:15; 5:31; Heb 2:10; 12:2) This Greek word may also apply to one who leads the way, such as a pathfinder or a pioneer, and prepares it for others to follow. By becoming the Mediator between God and mankind and introducing the way for gaining eternal life, Jesus could rightly be called the Chief Agent of life, or a Pioneer of Life. The expression rendered “Chief Agent” indicates that the one going first does so in an official or administrative capacity as a leader or a prince. (A related word is used at Ac 7:27, 35 regarding Moses as a “ruler” in Israel.) As the term is used here, it includes the idea of being the means that God uses to accomplish his purpose. Jesus became “a corresponding ransom” in exchange for many. (1Ti 2:5, 6; Mt 20:28; Ac 4:12) After Jesus was resurrected, he could as High Priest and Judge administer the value of his ransom. The sacrifice allows humans who exercise faith in it to be free from sin and death. Jesus is, therefore, the one through whom the resurrection of the dead takes place. (Joh 5:28, 29; 6:39, 40) That is how he opens up the way to everlasting life. (Joh 11:25; 14:6; Heb 5:9; 10:19, 20) Although some Bible translators render this expression “Author” or “Originator” of life, the Bible clearly shows that Jesus does not fit that description. Rather, he received his life and his authority from God and is used by God.—Ps 36:9; Joh 6:57; Ac 17:26-28; Col 1:15; Re 3:14.
Chief Agent: The Greek term used here (ar·khe·gosʹ) basically means “chief leader; one who goes first.” It is used four times in the Bible, all referring to Jesus. (Ac 3:15; 5:31; Heb 2:10; 12:2) Here it is used along with the title “Savior.”—See study note on Ac 3:15.
they were infuriated: Or “they felt cut.” The Greek expression occurs only here and at Ac 7:54. It literally means “to be sawn through” but is used figuratively in both occurrences to describe a strong emotional response.
Gamaliel: A Law teacher mentioned twice in Acts, here and at Ac 22:3. He is thought to be Gamaliel the Elder, as he is known in non-Biblical sources. Gamaliel was the grandson, or possibly the son, of Hillel the Elder, who is credited with developing a more liberal school of thought among the Pharisees. Gamaliel was so highly esteemed among the people that he is said to be the first to be called by the honorific title “Rabban.” Therefore, he greatly influenced the Jewish society of his time by training many sons of Pharisees, such as Saul of Tarsus. (Ac 22:3; 23:6; 26:4, 5; Ga 1:13, 14) He often interpreted the Law and traditions in a way that appears to have been comparatively broad-minded. For example, he is said to have enacted laws protecting wives against unprincipled husbands and defending widows against unprincipled children. He is also said to have argued that poor non-Jews should have the same gleaning rights as poor Jews. This tolerant attitude is evident in the way Gamaliel treated Peter and the other apostles. (Ac 5:35-39) Rabbinic records show, however, that Gamaliel placed greater emphasis on rabbinic tradition than on the Holy Scriptures. Therefore, on the whole, his teachings were similar to those of most of his rabbinic forefathers and the religious leaders of his day.—Mt 15:3-9; 2Ti 3:16, 17; see Glossary, “Pharisees”; “Sanhedrin.”
flogged: Or “beat.” This beating probably refers to the Jewish punishment of “40 strokes less one.”—2Co 11:24; De 25:2, 3.
the good news: First occurrence of the Greek word eu·ag·geʹli·on, rendered “gospel” in some English Bibles. A related Greek expression eu·ag·ge·li·stesʹ, rendered “evangelizer,” means “a proclaimer of good news.”—Ac 21:8; Eph 4:11, ftn.; 2Ti 4:5, ftn.
this good news: The Greek word eu·ag·geʹli·on is derived from the words eu, meaning “good; well” and agʹge·los, “one who brings news; one who proclaims (announces).” (See Glossary.) It is rendered “gospel” in some English Bibles. The related expression rendered “evangelizer” (Greek, eu·ag·ge·li·stesʹ) means “a proclaimer of good news.”—Ac 21:8; Eph 4:11, ftn.; 2Ti 4:5, ftn.
from house to house: This expression translates the Greek phrase katʼ oiʹkon, literally, “according to house.” Several lexicons and commentators state that the Greek preposition ka·taʹ can be understood in a distributive sense. For example, one lexicon says that the phrase refers to “places viewed serially, distributive use . . . from house to house.” (A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, Third Edition) Another reference says that the preposition ka·taʹ is “distributive (Acts 2:46; 5:42: . . . house to house/in the [individual] houses.” (Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament, edited by Horst Balz and Gerhard Schneider) Bible scholar R.C.H. Lenski made the following comment: “Never for a moment did the apostles cease their blessed work. ‘Every day’ they continued, and this openly ‘in the Temple’ where the Sanhedrin and the Temple police could see and hear them, and, of course, also κατ’ οἴκον, which is distributive, ‘from house to house,’ and not merely adverbial, ‘at home.’” (The Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles, 1961) These sources support the sense that the disciples’ preaching was distributed from one house to another. A similar use of ka·taʹ occurs at Lu 8:1, where Jesus is said to have preached “from city to city and from village to village.” This method of reaching people by going directly to their homes brought outstanding results.—Ac 6:7; compare Ac 4:16, 17; 5:28.
declaring the good news: The Greek verb eu·ag·ge·liʹzo·mai, used here, is related to the noun eu·ag·geʹli·on, “good news.” In the Christian Greek Scriptures, an important aspect of the good news is closely linked with God’s Kingdom, the theme of Jesus’ preaching and teaching work, and with the salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. In the book of Acts, the Greek verb eu·ag·ge·liʹzo·mai occurs numerous times, emphasizing the preaching work.—Ac 8:4, 12, 25, 35, 40; 10:36; 11:20; 13:32; 14:7, 15, 21; 15:35; 16:10; 17:18; see study notes on Mt 4:23; 24:14.
The parchment manuscript shown here contains Ac 5:3-21. This leaf, known as Uncial 0189, was once part of a codex containing the book of Acts. The front side (on the left) shows Ac 5:3-12, and the reverse side (on the right) shows Ac 5:12-21. Some scholars date this manuscript to the end of the second century C.E. or the beginning of the third, although others have dated it to the third or fourth century C.E. Though there are older papyrus fragments, this is one of the oldest known parchment manuscripts of the Christian Greek Scriptures. It is housed at the Staatliche Museen in Berlin, Germany.
This 3-D animation shows one possibility of what Solomon’s Colonnade may have looked like. Located on the east side of the outer courtyard of the first-century temple in Jerusalem, Solomon’s Colonnade was a spacious, covered passageway. The Bible mentions this location three times by name. John states that on one occasion when Jesus walked through this colonnade, a group of Jews surrounded him, demanding that he tell them if he was the Christ. (Joh 10:22-24) Later, an amazed crowd gathered at Solomon’s Colonnade to hear Peter explain how he had cured a man who was crippled from birth. (Ac 3:1-7, 11) And early Christians met publicly in Solomon’s Colonnade.—Ac 5:12, 13; see Glossary, “Solomon’s Colonnade.”
In the days following Pentecost 33 C.E., Jesus’ disciples continued bringing the good news right to the homes of the people. Though the disciples were ordered to “stop speaking,” the inspired record says that “every day in the temple and from house to house they continued without letup teaching and declaring the good news about the Christ, Jesus.” (Ac 5:40-42) About 56 C.E., the apostle Paul told the elders of Ephesus: “I did not hold back from . . . teaching you publicly and from house to house.” (Ac 20:20) Paul was speaking of his efforts to preach to these men when they were yet unbelievers and needed to know “about repentance toward God and faith in our Lord Jesus.” (Ac 20:21) When he found spiritually inclined people, he doubtless returned to their homes to teach them further and, as these became believers, to strengthen them in the faith.—See study notes on Ac 5:42; 20:20.