SUMMARY.--The Deceit and Death of Ananias. Of Sapphira. The Increase of the Church. The Signs and Wonders. The Rage of the High Priest and the Sadducees. The Imprisonment of the Apostles. The Prison Doors Opened. Teaching in the Temple. Again Arrested and Threatened. Their Bold Answer. The Resolve of the Sanhedrim to Slay Them. The Wise Counsel of Gamaliel. The Apostles Beaten and Let Go.
18. Put them in the common prison. In the city jail, among malefactors. "The 'common prison,' corresponding to our jail, consists of a single room in the governor's cellar, with a floor of earth, and one small window, where all manner of people, from the murderer to the insolent debtor, are promiscuously crowded together. The only furniture consists of a bench, always occupied by the strongest; the rest lie on the floor, or stand. We have visited prisons of this kind where we could only stand a few moments upon the threshold on account of the foul air. The keepers remain outside of the door ( Acts 5:23 ), but the prisoners are not bound.--Van Lenneps.
19. The angel of the Lord . . . opened. The language would apply, if the doors were opened by any providential agency, but the messenger was probably a celestial one.
20. Go, stand and speak in the temple. They were to return at once to their interrupted work. It would give a powerful impulse for the imprisoned preachers to be at their place and work the next morning. This life. The eternal life denied by the Sadducees.
21. Called the council. The Sanhedrim, for the trial of the apostles, supposing them still in prison. All the senate. Many think that a body of elders and other influential leaders were called to assist in the deliberations.
23. The prison truly found we shut. All was as usual and the guards before the doors, but the prisoners gone.
25. Then came one and told them. The mystery was explained by the word that, as usual, the apostles were preaching in the temple.
26. Brought them without violence. The favor of the people for the apostles was so shown that they feared a tumult.
27, 28. The high priest asked them. As president. He charges (1) that they had disregarded the authority of the Sanhedrim; (2) they had filled Jerusalem with their doctrine; (3) they would work up the people to indignation against the rulers for condemning Christ.
29-32. Peter's defence asserts (1) that God must be obeyed rather than earthly rulers; (2) God raised up Jesus whom they hanged on the cross; (3) exalted him to his right hand; (4) to be a Prince and Savior, to grant Israel the opportunity to repent, and to obtain forgiveness; (5) that they were witnesses of these facts, and so was the Holy Spirit. Given to them that obey Him. The Holy Spirit is given only to those who have submitted to the Lord ( Acts 2:28 and John 7:38 John 7:38 John 7:39 ). It dwells only in the obedient heart.
33. Cut to the heart. Convulsed with rage, not sorrow. Took counsel to slay them. Concerning the expediency of putting them to death.
34. A Pharisee, named Gamaliel. Observe that it is a Pharisee that opposes violence. Gamaliel was the most distinguished Jewish rabbi of this time. His fame is preserved in the Talmud. He was a grandson of Hillel, a still more famous teacher. Paul was his pupil ( Acts 22:3 ).
35-39. Ye men of Israel, take heed. Gamaliel's temperate and wise speech advises (1) deliberation; (2) if they were impostors their movement would come to nought like that of other impostors, if let alone; (3) but if of God, it could not be overthrown. Theudas. Some leader, only mentioned here, probably raising a commotion in the disturbances that followed the death of Herod the Great. Judas of Galilee. A zealot who had opposed the payment of tribute not many years before, in A. D. 8, and was overthrown and slain. He is named by Josephus.
40. To him they agreed. He carried the Sanhedrim with him. Called the apostles, and beaten them. While rejecting the punishment of death, they decided to scourge them for disobedience. Scourging was often inflicted even by the rulers of the synagogues. The scourging was on the bare back, and bloody and cruel.
41. Rejoicing. This was their first experience of physical torture for Christ, but not the last, and it gave them joy to suffer for one who had suffered for them. One of the features of the early church was the welcome given to shame, suffering and martyrdom endured for Christ's sake.
42. Daily in the temple. Undeterred by suffering and threats, they still preached the cross in the most public place in Jerusalem, as well as from house to house.