Acts 5
Acts 5:12–21 in Uncial 0189, written about AD 200.
BookActs of the Apostles
CategoryChurch history
Christian Bible partNew Testament
Order in the Christian part5

Acts 5 is the fifth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles in the New Testament of the Christian Bible. It records the growth and obstacles in the early church.[1]


Acts 5:2–9; 6:1-6 on the verso side of Papyrus 8 (4th century).
Acts 5:2–9; 6:1-6 on the verso side of Papyrus 8 (4th century).

The original text was written in Koine Greek and is divided into 42 verses.

Textual witnesses

Some early manuscripts containing the text of this chapter are:

Ananias and Sapphira (5:1–11)

The narrative underlines the authority of Peter, who could see through the deception by Ananias and Sapphira (verses 3–5, 8–9) and highlights the spiritual authority of the "church" (Greek: ekklesia, first used in Acts in verse 11) in form of 'signs' of God (inducing 'great fear' in verses 5 and 11, as well as healing miracles in the next section).[3] The sin of the couple was not simply the dishonesty on monetary value of the land sale, but rather the conspiracy to deceive the community (Greek: koinonia), which is a 'symptom of a more serious failure to be "of one mind" within the community' (cf. Ephesians 4:25; Colossians 3:9), that is, lying to the community equals to 'lying to God' (verse 4) and 'tempting the Holy Spirit' (verse 9; cf. Philippians 2:1-2 and 2 Corinthians 13:14).[3]

Signs and wonders (5:12–16)

This section summarizes the 'ongoing healing ministry of the apostles' which increases the reputation of the believers of Christ among 'the people' (verse 13), because the bringing out of the sick for healing in public is a manifestation of 'belief (verse 15) which recalls the popularity of Jesus' healing ministry (cf. Luke 4:40-1, 6:18-19). The healing power coming out of Peter is so wonderful that it does not need even to touch him (verse 15: cf. Luke 7:1–10; 8:43).[3]

Arrest and escape (5:17–26)

In the previous chapter, the apostles received a 'blanket prohibition on teaching in the name of Jesus', which their disdainfully rejected (Acts 4:19), then before long, the authority arrested and placed the whole apostolic group in jail (verse 18). The apostles were soon miraculously released by an 'angel of the Lord', who instructed them to continue preaching in the temple (verses 19–21).[3]

The trial (5:27–32)

This trial is 'essentially a reprise' of the previous one (Acts 4), with the charge of 'direct disobedience of an explicit instruction' (verse 28). Peter spoke of behalf of the apostles that they have to obey God, and not 'bound by any human court' (verse 29), followed by a summary of previous sermon points: Jesus has been killed by the authority who 'hanged him on a tree' (verse 30; referring to Deuteronomy 21:22–23; cf. Acts 10:39; also in Paul's epistle, Galatians 3:13), but raised and exalted by God to a position on his 'right hand', as a 'precondition for the outpouring of [spiritual] gifts' of 'repentance and forgiveness of sins now offered to Israel' (verses 31–32).[3]

Verse 29

But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: "We ought to obey God rather than men."[4]

The advice of Gamaliel (5:33–39)

Further information: Gamaliel's principle

Rabban Gamaliel the Elder was one of the great Pharisaic teachers of the first century (flourished c. 25–50 CE) and is later said to have been the teacher of Paul (Acts 22:3). As a member of the Sanhedrin he began to question the wisdom of pursuing the case, which would be the main theme of the whole account: 'to recognize where God is at work'.[3] The examples he cited — Theudas and Judas of Galilee — are both mentioned in the same order by a first-century historian, Josephus (Ant. 20.97–98, 102);[6] but assigned to different time periods, with Judas linked to the time of the Roman census of Judea (cf. Luke 2:1-2) and Theudas dated by Josephus to procuratorship of Fadus (44–46 CE), which would happen after the account in this chapter.[7] The dating aspect is debated with arguments in favor of Luke or of Josephus, or the possibility of different Theudas and Judas.[8]

Verse 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.[9]

As Luke had mentioned (Acts 4:1; Acts 5:7) that there was an influential party of Sadducees in the Sanhedrin, it is specifically noted here that Gamaliel was a Pharisee, who was well-respected to provide balancing opinions to the counsels of the Sadducean members, especially regarding the Resurrection (cf. Acts 23:6–8). Gamaliel is known in the Talmud as "Rabban Gamaliel the Elder" (to distinguish him from his grandson of the same name, "Gamaliel the Younger"), the grandson of Hillel the Elder, the head of the school of Hillel, at some time president of the Sanhedrin, one of the most famous Jewish doctors (the title Rabban is given to only six others), and one whose greatness would be as a shield to his students (Acts 22:3).[10]

Summary and transition (5:40–42)

Following Gamaliel's advice, the Sanhedrin treated the apostles with caution, but nonetheless sentenced them to flogging (verse 40). The punishment was received by apostles with 'joy' (verse 41) as they considered it 'worthy to be dishonored for the Name' as martyrs.[8] The section concludes with an assurance that 'the gospel message is assiduously proclaimed, not only in the temple but from house to house'.[8]

Verse 42

And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.[11]

See also


  1. ^ Halley, Henry H. Halley's Bible Handbook: an abbreviated Bible commentary. 23rd edition. Zondervan Publishing House. 1962.
  2. ^ Aland, Kurt; Aland, Barbara (1995). The Text of the New Testament: An Introduction to the Critical Editions and to the Theory and Practice of Modern Textual Criticism. Erroll F. Rhodes (trans.). Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company. p. 96. ISBN 978-0-8028-4098-1.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Alexander 2007, p. 1035.
  4. ^ Acts 5:29 NKJV
  5. ^ a b Ellicott, C. J. (Ed.) (1905). Ellicott's Bible Commentary for English Readers. Acts 5. London : Cassell and Company, Limited, [1905-1906] Online version: (OCoLC) 929526708. Accessed 28 April 2019.
  6. ^ Alexander 2007, pp. 1035–1036.
  7. ^ The date of the trial must be before the death of Herod in 44 CE (Acts 12:20–23). Alexander 2007, p. 1036.
  8. ^ a b c Alexander 2007, p. 1036.
  9. ^ Acts 5:34 NKJV
  10. ^ a b Exell, Joseph S.; Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice (Editors). On "Acts 5". In: The Pulpit Commentary. 23 volumes. First publication: 1890. Electronic Database. Copyright © 2001, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2010 by Biblesoft, Inc. Accessed 24 April 2019.
  11. ^ Acts 5:42 NKJV
  12. ^ Moule, H. C. G., Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. Acts 5. Accessed 28 April 2019