Book of Acts Chapter 5 - Christogenea Internet Radio 06-14-2013

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Book of Acts Chapter 5 - Christogenea Internet Radio 06-14-2013

In our presentation of the last chapter of Acts, chapter 4, along with some appropriate passages from the historical works of Flavius Josephus, it was demonstrated that twelve members of a certain family, all of them of the sect of the Sadducees, had held the high priesthood for most of the time – perhaps as much as three-quarters of it, from about 6 AD up to the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD. This was the family of Annas and his son-in-law, Caiaphas, who were the high priests known from the accounts of the Gospel. An argument was also presented, contrasting two statements in Acts chapter 4, that these men were most probably Edomites rather than Israelites. Those two statements are found at verses 6 and 23. In verse 6 speaking of those opposed to the apostles and listing their leaders the account adds that they were joined by “... as many as were of the race of the high priest”. Later in the chapter, in verse 23, in contrast to those who persecuted the apostles we read that upon the release of the apostles “...they went to their own countrymen and reported as much as the high priests and the elders said to them. ” It was established that in other writings of Scripture the apostles considered all Israelites to be of their own race, yet in Acts chapter 4 we see that such was not true of the high priests, whom the apostles considered to be of a distinct race. Therefore it seems that the high priests of the time, while they were certainly Sadducees, were also very probably Edomites.

At the end of Acts chapter 4, we are given a brief description of a growing post-Pentecost apostolic Christian community, which had already been described in Acts chapter 2, and which we discussed in detail while presenting that chapter. Here we shall re-read that description at the end of Acts 4, since it relates directly to the first events which are described in Acts chapter 5: 32 And the multitude of those believing were of one heart and soul, and no one reckoned any of his belongings to be his own, but everything was common to them. 33 And with great power the ambassadors delivered the testimony of the resurrection of Prince Yahshua, and great favor was with them all. 34 Indeed neither was there any deficiency among them, for as many as were owners of farms or houses, selling them brought the proceeds of the things sold 35 and set it by the foot of the ambassadors, and they distributed to each just as any had need. 36 Then Ioseph, who was called Barnabas by the ambassadors, which is interpreted “son of consolation”, a Levite, a Kupriot by birth, 37 selling a farm belonging to him brought the money and set it before the feet of the ambassadors.”

V 1 And a certain man named Hananias, with Sapphira his wife, sold a property 2 and set apart some of the proceeds, and his wife being an accomplice, and having brought the one portion set it by the feet of the ambassadors. 3 Then Petros said “Hananias! Why has the Adversary filled your heart, for you to lie to the Holy Spirit and to set apart some of the proceeds from the land?

The Codex Bezae (D) and the Majority Text have “for you to set apart”; the text follows the 4th century papyrus P8, and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A) and Vaticanus (B). However earlier in the verse, rather than filled, the Codex Sinaiticus (א) has a word which may be rendered as incapacitated.

Translating verse 3, I chose to render that word, satan, with a capital A here, the Adversary, primarily because it appears with the Definite Article as a Substantive, ὁ σατανᾶς, and therefore it refers to a particular entity. However that does not necessarily mean that a demon or some angelic being had directly caused Hananias to do this thing. Neither does it necessarily mean that one of Yahweh's capital 'A' living Adversaries here on earth, of which there certainly are many, had persuaded Hananias to do such a thing. But rather, under the power of the Wicked One, "the whole world lieth in wickedness" (1 John 5:18, 19), and as we see in James, “whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”

In Luke chapter 4 we read this: "5 And bringing Him up he showed Him all of the kingdoms of the inhabited earth in a moment of time, 6 then the False Accuser said to Him: “I will give to You the authority over all this, and their honor, because to me it was delivered and to whomever I wish I could give it.” The eternal enemies of God are the princes of this world. In the time of Christ, the most recent reason for this situation is due to that apostasy of ancient Israel from Yahweh their God, and because of that the enemies of God have remained the princes of this world, and they have nothing to do with Christ (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11).

This world having been perverted by the enemies of God, then seeking after the things of this world, one's heart is filled by the Adversary, who entices men away from God with the riches and comforts of this world. From Luke chapter 20: “24 'Show Me a denarion. Whose image and inscription does it have?' And they said: 'Caesar’s!' 25 So He said to them: 'Accordingly you render the things of Caesar to Caesar, and the things of Yahweh to Yahweh.'

4 Did it not remain yours to have kept and was it in your own power to have sold?

While we are not told of any of the details whereby Hananias and his wife had agreed to join this Christian community, we do see it described in Acts chapter 4 at verse 34 that those who joined the community had sold whatever property they had and turned the proceeds of the sales over to the use of the community. Therefore, Peter must have asked this question because Hananias was expected to have done this same thing as a matter of agreement, having chosen for himself to join the community. Joining this community voluntarily, Hananias was expected to have dealt with it sincerely and honestly.

Why then did you set this deed in your heart? You did not lie to men but to Yahweh.”

The Codex Bezae has “Why then did you set it to do this evil in your heart?” So in spite of Peter's earlier question, “Why has the Adversary filled your heart?”, we see that Hananias himself is responsible for the decision to do wrongly, and therefore our interpretation is justified.

5 And hearing these words Hananias falling expired, and great fear came upon all those hearing. 6 Then arising the young men wrapped him and carrying him out they buried him.

While Acts chapter 4 is illustrative of how that first apostolic Christian community had functioned, and that should be a model to Christians because it is indeed a model of the coming Kingdom of Heaven, there were many early Christians who did not live in such communities. Yet Hananias joined this community not by compulsion, but voluntarily, and therefore he should have dedicated himself to his commitment.

From Luke chapter 9: “57 And upon their going on the road someone said to Him 'I will follow You anywhere if You should depart.' 58 And Yahshua said to him 'The foxes have dens and the birds of heaven nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay the head.' 59 Then to another He said: 'Follow Me.' But he said 'Prince, allow my going first to bury my father.' 60 And He said to him 'Let the dead bury the dead by themselves, but you departing proclaim the Kingdom of Yahweh.' 61 Then another also said “I will follow You, Prince! But first allow me to make arrangements for the things in my house.” 62 So Yahshua said to him 'No one laying a hand upon the plow then looking to the things behind is ready for the Kingdom of Yahweh.'

Hananias with his wife set apart some of the money he gained from the sale of this property, rather than sincerely surrendering themselves and their futures to that community to which they were committing themselves. They were “looking to the things behind”, and they were concerned with the cares of this world. These concerns tested their faith, and it failed. Yet by proceeding anyway, they were testing God, and they were punished for it. If, their faith failing, they had stayed away, they may have been better off since committing themselves halfway they were being lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold. The words of Christ from Revelation 3:16: “So because you are lukewarm and neither hot nor cold, I am going to vomit you out of My mouth!”

Failing to keep a vow which they had made voluntarily, Hananias and his wife were punished according to the law found at Deuteronomy 23: “21 When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee. 22 But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee. 23 That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the LORD thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth.”

When Christians pick up a Christian cause, they must determine to provide for that cause accordingly, as well as Yahweh their God provides for them. It is evident throughout later Scripture that not all Christian communities may have expected the immediate and complete dedication which the apostolic community had required. However Hananias and his wife, witnesses to the marvels which were occurring through the apostles at that time, if they were sincere in heart they would have happily complied with the expectations of the apostolic community which they were joining, in anticipation of the greater heavenly rewards in which all Christians should have faith. The apostolic community was certainly ready to provide for the needs of Hananias and his wife, however they distrusted it and therefore they kept a reserve of money for themselves, which was a sign that they lacked complete faith in the apostles of Christ. If the body of Christ, which are the Christian communities, is to survive in this world, then Christians must dedicate themselves to their communities, and not only to their own future well-being, which they must have faith that Yahweh God will provide for them.

Matthew 10: ““28 And do not fear from those killing the body, but are not able to kill the soul. But rather fear He who is able also to slay soul and body in Gehenna! 29 Are not two sparrows sold for an assarion? And one of these does not fall upon the earth without consent of your Father. 30 But of you even the hairs of the head are all counted. 31 Therefore do not fear, you are worthy more than many sparrows.”

7 And an interval of about three hours transpired and his wife entered in, not knowing that which happened. 8 Then Petros responded to her: “Tell me, if you received so much for the land?” And she said “Yes, so much.”

In this last verse Peter's question may have been rendered colloquially, “Tell me, did you receive this amount for the land?”, with Peter evidently referring to the incomplete amount that Hananias and his wife had surrendered. Sapphira's answer may have been rendered “Yes, that amount”.

9 And Petros to her “Why then was it agreed between you to test the Spirit of the Prince?

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Yahshua, who is Lord, and who is also Yahweh Himself manifest in the flesh. From the King James Version, Mark 12: “29 And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord”.

Behold, the steps of those who have buried your husband are by the door, and they shall carry you off!” 10 And immediately she fell before his feet and expired. Then entering in the young men found her corpse and carrying her out they buried her with her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole assembly and upon all those hearing these things.

Notice that there are no police, no coroners, no prosecutors, no inquisition, what a wonderful society they had back then! Crimes were punished upon the testimony of witnesses alone, and if there were no witnesses, there could have been no crime, or at least no crime which was punished. Today Peter would be investigated endlessly, and the young men would have been subjected to months of questioning, suggestions, threats and coercion, oftentimes until one of them agreed to lie for the benefit of the bonuses which the government promises to its successful professional persecutors.

12 And through the hands of the ambassadors came many signs and wonders among the people, and they were all of one accord on the porch of Solomon.

The Codex Bezae (D) has “in the temple on the porch of Solomon.” We discussed this porch where we saw it mentioned at Acts 3:11, and mentioned that it was also named in the gospel at John 10:23. This porch, or cloister as Whiston translated the word, must have been quite large, for it seems from the Gospel accounts that it was able to hold thousands of people. Here is a portion of the description of the temple from Josephus' Antiquities, Book 15, lines 392-393: “392 Now the temple was built of stones that were white and strong, and each of their length was twenty-five cubits, their height was eight, and their breadth about twelve; 393 and the whole structure, as also the structure of the royal cloister, was on each side much lower, but the middle was much higher, till they were visible to those who dwelt in the country for a great many miles, but chiefly to such as lived opposite them, and those who approached to them.” So indeed these structures were quite large, and this porch most certainly did accommodate thousands of people.

13 And not one of those others dared to join with them, but the people exalted them.

The phrase “of those others” explicitly distinguishes a certain group; as opposed to the phrases “their own countrymen” at Acts 4:23, and “but the people” here in this same passage. The phrase is literally “of those remaining”, for which see Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament at λοιπός, (3062-64) where he says “with a certain distinction and contrast, the rest, whoare not of the specified class or number”, and although he omits mention of this particular instance in any of his examples, “those others” are clearly not of “the people” mentioned in this verse, but are rather distinct. Being Sadducees, and as we are informed at Acts 4:6, of the “race of the high priest” they are not of Israel and they are therefore “those remaining”, as the word may also have been rendered to indicate those remaining apart from Christ. This language clearly shows that “those others” could not possibly be a part with these Christians! That they would not dare to join with them shows that they could not be Christians even if they had wanted to.

14 And still more they added to those believing in the Prince, a multitude both of men and of women, 15 consequently even to bring out those with sicknesses into the streets and to set them upon cots and couches, that upon the coming of Petros even the shadow would overshadow some of them.

The Codex Bezae (D) inserts at the end of this verse: “ releasing them from any sickness that each of them had.”

We see likewise in the ministry of Paul, as recorded in Acts 19: “11 And Yahweh brought about extraordinary feats of power through the hands of Paul, 12 so that even for handkerchiefs or sashes to be brought from his flesh to those who were sick and to be relieved from their diseases, and the wicked spirits made to depart.” [As an aside, certain critics often criticize Paul for the account at Acts 19:11-12, but always fail to criticize Peter for this account given here at Acts 5:14-15!]

Mark 6:56, speaking of Christ: “56 And wherever He entered into a village or into a city or into the farms, in the marketplaces they set down those who are sick and they exhorted Him in order that if they could even touch the border of His garment, and as many as touched Him were saved.”

John 14:12, Christ speaking to His apostles: ““12 Truly, truly I say to you, he believing in Me the works which I do he also shall do, and he shall do greater than these, because I go to the Father. 13 And whatever you shall ask in My Name this I shall do, that the Father would be magnified in the Son. 14 If you should ask Me anything in My name I shall do it.”

However the subsequent words of Christ recorded in that chapter serve to qualify His statement further, from John 14:15-18: “15 If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. 16 And I shall ask the Father and He will give to you another advocate, that it would be with you forever, 17 the Spirit of Truth, which Society is not able to receive, because it does not see nor does it know it. You know it, because it abides with you and it is in you. 18 I shall not leave you fatherless: I come to you.”

The “Spirit of the Prince” of Acts 5:9, or “of the Lord” as the King James Version has it, is therefore one and the same as the Spirit of Yahshua Christ, where we see it recorded here in John chapter 14 that He talks of that Spirit and tells His companions that “I come to you.” And John 14:18 again elucidates for us that Christ is also the Father, although the King James Version takes a Greek word meaning fatherless, or parentless - the very word from which we derive the English word orphan – and renders it rather strangely, as comfortless. While in some contexts in classical writings the word was apparently used to mean bereaved, fatherless or parentless are its primary meanings.

16 Then also came together a multitude from the cities around Jerusalem bearing the sick and those being troubled by unclean spirits, all of whom they healed.

The Codex Bezae and the Majority Text have “from the surrounding cities into Jerusalem”. The text of the Christogenea New Testament follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B), and the fragment of Acts 5 from the codex known as 0189, which is believed to date from either the 2nd or 3rd centuries.

17 Then stood up the high priest and all those with him, being of the sect of the Sadducees, filled with jealousy, 18 and laid the hands[the Majority Text has their hands] upon the ambassadors and put them in public custody.

This should serve as absolute proof of our contention that these high priests were of the sect of the Sadducees, which Josephus also helps to elucidate, and which we discussed at great length in our presentation of Acts chapter 4.

The Greek word ζῆλος (2205), here is jealousy. It may have been rendered as envy. While the word may be translated (or transliterated) as zeal in some contexts, and where the King James Version has it as indignation here, the most likely meaning intended is jealousy, on account of the number of followers the apostles had, and how they were being exalted by those followers (see verse 13). While the Sadducees may have had zeal for their own beliefs which were so far different, yet there is no record of the Sadducees physically attacking and arresting any of the other sects, such as the Pharisees or Essenes, for such a reason.

The Codex Bezae inserts at the end of verse 18 the words: “and each went to his own place”. The phrase “in public custody” may have been rendered “in custody in the public prison”, where prison is inferred, or simply “in the public prison”. The word translated custody is τήρησις (5084), “a watching, keeping, guarding” or “a means of keeping, a place of custody”. The language at verses 19 through 23 where we see words translated as cell (φυλακή, 5438) and jailhouse (δεσμωτήριον, 1201) shows that the high priests both had and used their own jail facility within the temple complex, as we had discussed here in Acts chapter 4 at the first arrest of Peter and John, and as we shall also see later in the accounts concerning Paul of Tarsus.

19 But a messenger [or angel]of the Prince by night opening the doors of the cell and leading them out said: 20 “You go, and standing you speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.”

John 6: “67 Therefore Yahshua said to the twelve: 'Do you not also wish to go away?' 68 Simon Petros replied to Him: 'Prince, to what shall we depart? You have the words of life, 69 and we believe and know that You are the Holy One of Yahweh!'” (See also Philippians 2:16 )

21 And listening they went before dawn into the temple and taught. But arriving the high priest and those with him convened the council and all of the elders of the sons of Israel and they sent to the jailhouse to bring them. 22 But the attendants arriving did not find them in the cell, so returning they reported it 23 saying that “We found the jailhouse barred in all security, and those standing watch by the doors, but opening them we found no one inside!”

The implication is that the angel was a supernatural, and not an earthly angel, since the watch should have prevented any escape by human hands. Other such miraculous escapes from prison are recorded in Acts chapters 12 and 16, of both Peter and Paul. If we are in prison, we can rest assured that Yahweh wants us in prison, whether for our trial or our edification, or both. When we are released, that also is the will of Yahweh, regardless of how the release itself is achieved. The prophets Jeremiah and Daniel were also in prison, and as the words of Christ in Matthew chapter 25 should teach us, we should not despise our brethren in prison, where He says “I was in prison, and ye came unto me”. However we should indeed ostracize our brethren who are unrepentant sinners. We must also notice, as it is fully manifest, that many of those deeds most hated by Yahweh our God are not even punished by the world, nor are they even considered to be crimes.

24 And as the officer of the temple and the high priests heard these words, they were perplexed concerning them, what could this have been.

The Majority Text has “the priest and officer”. I do not know how the King James Version has here, and rather redundantly so they use the word “chief” in one instance in place of “high”, the phrase “the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests”, which I would suspect to be an obscure reading of some very late manuscript. The text of the Christogenea New Testament follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B) and Bezae (D).

25 But someone arriving announced to them that “Behold, the men whom you put into the cell are standing in the temple and teaching the people!” 26 Then going out the officer with the attendants brought them, not with force [the Codex Bezae wants not, which seems to be an error in transcription], for they feared the people lest they should be stoned.

The Codex Alexandrinus and the Majority Text have “that they would not be stoned.” The text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Vaticanus (B) and Bezae (D). Of course, it was the Sadducees who feared being stoned by those people who were exalting the apostles.

So it is absolutely evident that the High Priests at the time of the crucifixion were Sadducees, and that those earliest persecutors of Christians were Sadducees, those who deny that there is any other world or life than this one, those who deny the existence of the spirit, angels, resurrection, or any sort of an afterlife. The Sadducees also deny the hand of God in the world, as we have seen from the pages of Josephus when we presented Acts chapter 4. In that same place we saw that the Sadducees considered morality to be relative to the individual. While they did not go so far as to deny God Himself or His existence, they certainly came as close to that as possible by denying His role in the world. Therefore they denied God so far as it was safe for them to do so at the time. These are clearly of the same ilk as those who in our own time are labeled as liberals, or progressives, or humanists: the abject materialists and deniers of God in the world today! In contrast, the only truly repugnant ideas of the Pharisees was their legalism, their reliance upon the conduct of rituals, and their following of strict interpretations of the law for their claims to righteousness when indeed they were also often hypocritical. Even most Identity Christians put the primary blame for the crucifixion on the Pharisees, and it was these godless Sadducees who all along were the primary persecutors of Christ and His apostles.

27 And bringing them they stood them among the council. And the high priest questioned them 28 saying “Did we instruct you with instructions not to teach by this name? And behold, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you desire the blood of this man to be brought upon us!”

The NA27, following the Codex Bezae and the Majority Text, begin the question here with the rhetorical negative “Did we not instruct you...?” The text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A) and Vaticanus (B).

The Sadducees were afraid that if the name of Yahshua became famous then the magnitude of their sin would be manifest, and the people would avenge Him. However as it is recorded in Matthew chapter 27, all of those people in Jerusalem who were present when Christ stood before Pilate, which includes these Sadducees who were their leaders and chief instigators, had already accepted the price for His blood upon themselves, where we read: “24 And Pilatos, seeing that nothing helps, but rather a tumult arises, taking water washed the hands before the crowd, saying 'I am innocent from the blood of this man! You see to it!' 25 And responding all the people said: 'His blood is upon us, and upon our children!'”

Furthermore, if the Sadducees had understood the prophecy of Daniel concerning the coming of the Messiah and His death, or “cutting off” on behalf of the people, they may have also understood that the destruction of Jerusalem was inevitable. For that same passage in Daniel chapter 9 states: “24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy. 25 Know therefore and understand, that from the going forth of the commandment to restore and to build Jerusalem unto the Messiah the Prince shall be seven weeks, and threescore and two weeks: the street shall be built again, and the wall, even in troublous times. 26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince [meaning that Messiah the prince of verse 25] that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined. 27 And he shall confirm the covenant with many for one week: and in the midst of the week he shall cause the sacrifice and the oblation to cease, and for the overspreading of abominations he shall make it desolate, even until the consummation, and that determined shall be poured upon the desolate.”

Later, Paul indeed understood these words, and approximately 15 years before they were fulfilled he told the Romans to whom he addressed his epistle: “And the God of peace shall bruise Satan under your feet shortly”, as the King James Version has it in Romans 16:20.

29 But replying Petros and the ambassadors said “It is necessary to be obedient to Yahweh rather than to men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Yahshua, whom you had taken in hand, hanging upon a timber. 31 Him, Founder and Savior, Yahweh elevated to His right hand for which to give repentance and a remission of errors to Israel.

The Codex Bezae has “elevated to His honor”, the Greek words for hand and honor being very close in form. Notice that the repentance and remission of sins are for Israel, and the scope of that redemption which is in Christ has not been imagined by these early Christians to be beyond what is stated here. The universalism of the latter church organizations is not properly found in Scripture.

This attitude which Peter displays is the attitude that Christians should always have with government: professing the certainty that God must come first! While we are all under the subjection of the governments of man, which Paul explained in Romans chapter 13, and which Peter also advises in his epistles at 1 Peter 2:13-17, we must nevertheless obey Yahweh first. If that means that we are persecuted by an unjust government, so be it. There is no guarantee that Christians would not be persecuted, and contrarily, we are told that we certainly would be persecuted!

Luke 6: “22 Blessed are you when men hate you and when they separate from you and they reproach and they cast out your name as evil because of the Son of Man: 23 Rejoice in that day and leap, for behold, your reward is great in heaven! For in accordance with these same things did their fathers do to the prophets.

1 Peter 4: “15 For not any among you must suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler in the matters of others, 16 but if as a Christian, you must not be ashamed, but you must honor Yahweh by this name, 17 because the time of judgment is to begin for the house of Yahweh. But if first for us, what is the end for those who are disobedient to the good message of Yahweh?

32 And we are witnesses of these words and the Holy Spirit which Yahweh has given to those who are obedient to Him.”

The Codex Vaticanus has “we are witnesses by Him”; The Majority Text has “we are His witnesses”; the text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א) and Bezae (D), and Alexandrinus (A) which has a different word order.

Psalm 95: “1 O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. 2 Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. 3 For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. 4 In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. 5 The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. 6 O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker. 7 For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, 8 Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: 9 When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. 10 Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: 11 Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.”

The children of Israel were long aforetime destined by Yahweh to be obedient to Him. Therefore, as it is recorded in John chapter 10, Christ professed: “27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” Therefore when Christ said “My Sheep hear My voice”, that too was a matter of prophecy, and concerned only Israel, where the 95th Psalm professes that “we are the people of his pasture” and “the sheep of his hand”.

33 And those listening were cut through, and determined to kill them. 34 But there arose one in the council, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people.

Gamaliel is mentioned again at Acts 22:3, where Paul professed to be one of his students.

He commanded the men to be put outside for awhile,

The Codex Bezae and the Majority Text have apostles rather than men. The text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A) and Vaticanus (B). The words rendered “to be put outside for awhile” are literally “to do awhile outside”.

35 then he said to them: “Men, Israelites, take heed for yourselves what you are about to do to these men. 36 For before these days stood up Theudas, saying for himself to be somebody, to whom was attached a number of about four hundred men, who was slain and all as many as were persuaded by him dissolved and came to nothing.

Theudas and his fate are mentioned by Josephus at Antiquities 20:97-98 (20.5.1): “97 Now, it came to pass, while Fadus was procurator of Judea, that a certain magician, whose name was Theudas, persuaded a great part of the people to take their effects with them, and follow him to the river Jordan; for he told them he was a prophet, and that he would, by his own command, divide the river, and afford them an easy passage over it; 98 and many were deluded by his words. However, Fadus did not permit them to make any advantage of his wild attempt, but sent a troop of horsemen out against them; who, falling upon them unexpectedly, slew many of them, and took many of them alive. They also took Theudas alive, and cut off his head, and carried it to Jerusalem.”

37 After that arose Iouda the Galilaian in the days of the registration and people revolted behind him, and he was destroyed and all as many as were persuaded by him were scattered.

The Codices Ephraemi Syri (C) and Bezae (D) have many people, the Majority Text has considerable people. The text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A) and Vaticanus (B). Laster in the verse, the 3rd century papyrus P45 and the Codex Bezae want “all”.

This Iouda (or Judas) the Galilaian is mentioned by Josephus at Antiquities Book 17 (17:271-272), in connection with the same registration which is mentioned in Luke, which Josephus calls after a different Greek word, a word which means valuation, at Antiquities Book 18 (18:1-10) and in Wars Book 2 (2:117-118). That this is the same registration from around the time of the birth of Christ we can be certain, because both Josephus and Luke connect it to that same Quirinius who was governor of Syria, as Luke says in chapter 2 of his Gospel: “2 This first registration happened while Kurenios was governor of Syria.” Josephus accredited this Judas the Galilaian with beginning a “fourth sect” of Judaean philosophy, after the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes, in Antiquities Book 18 (18:23): “23 But of the fourth sect of Judaean philosophy, Judas the Galilean was the author. These men agree in all other things with the Pharisaic notions; but they have an inviolable attachment to liberty; and say that God is to be their only Ruler and Lord. They also do not value dying any kinds of death, nor indeed do they heed the deaths of their relatives and friends, nor can any such fear make them call any man lord.” The nature of this sect described by Josephus, so much alike the nature of the sectarian documents found among the Dead Sea Scrolls, leads me to believe that this sect may be the authors of those scrolls.

Among other things, Josephus said of Judas the Galilaian, in Wars, Book 2:118, speaking of the time of the governorship of Quirinius and the reign of Herod Archelaus, who was the son and successor of the first Herod, that “118 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 their leaders.” Therefore, basically, Judas the Galilaian was a tax protestor who founded his own religious sect. [That sounds familiar!] He and two of his sons were soon killed. His sons were crucified by the Romans. A third son, a leader of a band of robbers, was at a later time killed at Masada.

38 And now I say these things to you: distance yourselves from these men and release them,because if this counsel or this work should be of men, it shall be broken up, 39 but if it is from God, you shall not be able to break them up, lest then you are found fighting God.” And they were persuaded by him.

The Codex Vaticanus (B) wants the phrase these things.

The Codex Bezae (D) and the Majority Text have allow them, where the text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B) and Ephraemi Syri (C). After this phrase the Codex Bezae (D) inserts: “do not stain your hands”.

The Codex Ephraemi Syri (C) and the Majority Text havebreak it up, where the text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B) and Bezae (D). After this phrase the Codex Bezae (D) inserts: “neither you nor kings nor tyrants, therefore keep yourselves away from these men”.

40 And calling forth the ambassadors, flaying them they instructed [or commanded] them not to speak by the Name of Yahshua and released them. 41 So then they went rejoicing from the presence of the council because they had been deemed worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the Name.

The Majority Text has “the name of Yahshua.” The text follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B), and Ephraemi Syri (C), and the Codex Bezae (D) which has a different word order.

42 And every day in the temple and at each house they ceased not teaching and announcing the good message of Christ Yahshua.

The advice of Gamaliel here was very wise, and perfect for the situation. He basically challenged the council to let these men go, because Yahweh is in control of the fates of men, and if they were indeed heretics, Yahweh would punish them. This is exactly the same attitude later displayed by Paul, where at Romans 8:31 he asks “What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us?”

2 Chronicles 13: “12 And, behold, God himself is with us for our captain, and his priests with sounding trumpets to cry alarm against you. O children of Israel, fight ye not against the LORD God of your fathers; for ye shall not prosper.”

In certain supposedly Christian circles, Paul is criticized for having been educated “at the feet of Gamaliel”, which is this same man. However here Gamaliel demonstrates that he is a much more faithful man than many of those supposed to be Christians!

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