Acts 5:37

37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered.

Read Acts 5:37 Using Other Translations

After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.
After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered.
After him, at the time of the census, there was Judas of Galilee. He got people to follow him, but he was killed, too, and all his followers were scattered.

What does Acts 5:37 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Acts 5:37

After this man rose up, Judas of Galilee
Of whom Josephus thus says F11:

``there was a man of Galilee, by name Judas, who led his countrymen into rebellion, declaring it an evil, should they suffer tribute to be paid to the Romans, and introduce mortal rulers after God.''

And not unlike this is what another Jewish writer says F12 of Judas the Galilean, and his party:

``these were the cause of the Jews rebelling against the Romans, for they said, it was not fit that any should rule over men but God alone; and that no one should be called Lord, but the blessed God.''

And this insurrection was "in the days of the taxing"; which was made when Cyrenius was governor of Syria; and the reason of it was, because he and his party would not pay that tax, for the reasons suggested in the above citations: and this is what Josephus refers to, when he says F13,

``Cyrenius came to Syria, sent from Caesar as judge of the nation, and appraiser of their estates; upon which Judas, the Gaulonite, (the same with Judas of Galilee,) rebelled, and Saddochus with him; saying, that this appraisment brought nothing else but servitude upon them; and therefore exhorted the nation to vindicate their liberty.''

And his exhortations and arguments prevailed with the people: wherefore it follows here,

and drew away much people after him;
perhaps a much larger number than Theudas did, since they are not expressly mentioned how many they were:

he also perished;
being killed in the insurrection, or taken and put to death by the Romans. So Origen says F14, that he was punished, and his doctrine was destroyed, and remained only among a few contemptible persons:

and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed;
were forced to fly, some one way, and some another, and could make nothing of it: and as this instance was after the other before mentioned; and was so early as under the government of Cyrenius, and at the time of the taxing under him; it shows that Theudas could not be the Theudas of Josephus, unless the words should be rendered as see choose to do, "besides this man rose up Judas" And others observe, that "after him", is the same as "before him"; and which, however, at first hearing, may seem very absurd, yet is justified by instances, as being a very proper way of speaking, seeing, when an account proceeds from the last as nearest, the first must be last, and the last first. Some, in order to reconcile this passage, think, that there is a transposition in the words of Luke, and that they should be read thus, "for before those days rose up Judas of Galilee" and then, "after this man rose up Theudas" so making Judas of Galilee more ancient than Theudas, as he must be, if he is the same Theudas Josephus speaks of: but still it is a difficulty how he could be the same, when that fact of his, the above historian speaks of, was seven, or eight, or ten, and, as some say, twelve years after this speech of Gamaliel's. To remove this, it is proposed, that what is said concerning Theudas is to be put into a parenthesis, and to be considered not as the words of Gamaliel saying them in the sanhedrim, but as the words of Luke the historian, who wrote after this fact was done; and because of the agreement of it with that of Judas, mentioned by Gamaliel, he inserts it; here, and joins it with it F15. And yet, after all, it looks as if it was another Theudas that is here spoken of, who was before Judas; and that he that Josephus speaks of, might be, as Dr. Lightfoot conjectures, one of his posterity, who was of, the same name, and trod in his steps, and. was guilty of sedition as his ancestor was, and as the sons of Judas were, mentioned by the same historian in the same place.


FOOTNOTES:

F11 De Bello Jud. l. 2. c. 8. sect. 1.
F12 Juchasin, fol. 139. 1.
F13 Antiqu. l. 18. c. 1. sect. 1. Vid. l. 20. c. 4. sect. 2.
F14 L. 1. contr. Cels. p. 44.
F15 Vid. Vales. Not. in Euseb. Eccl. Hist. l. 2. c. 11. & Capelli Spicileg. in loc.
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