Acts 5:17 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Acts 5:17, NIV: Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy.

Acts 5:17, ESV: But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy

Acts 5:17, KJV: Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation,

Acts 5:17, NASB: But the high priest stood up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy.

Acts 5:17, NLT: The high priest and his officials, who were Sadducees, were filled with jealousy.

Acts 5:17, CSB: Then the high priest rose up. He and all who were with him, who belonged to the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy.

What does Acts 5:17 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Despite direct orders from the high priests (Acts 4:17–18), the apostles are in the temple courtyard, teaching that Jesus rose from the dead. And despite Peter and John's arrest and release, more and more people are following Jesus (Acts 4:1–3, 21; 5:14).

The Greek term translated "jealous" here is zēlos, which implies a fierce, passionate emotion. It can mean a potent desire or love for something, or to want what someone else has. When God says He is "jealous" for us, it is because we rightfully belong to Him (Exodus 20:5). Paul also says this to the church members in Corinth when they follow false teachers (2 Corinthians 11:2). The priests may feel that their jealousy is righteous; they certainly feel these Jesus-followers are pulling the people away from their leadership and theology, as did Jesus (Matthew 27:18). But they don't have their mind on the big questions: Are the apostles leading people toward or away from God? Are the apostles or the priests leading the people closer to God? Does the priests' jealousy align with God's righteous jealousy? Is it possible these men are telling the truth?

Sadducees are members of a specific Jewish sect, in contrast with the Pharisees, Essenes, and Zealots. Most members of the priesthood and Sanhedrin are Sadducees. These men approve of Roman rule and don't follow the extra-scriptural teachings of the Pharisees. Unlike the Pharisees and the Jesus-followers, Sadducees don't believe in the resurrection of the dead (Mark 12:18). Not only is the apostles' teaching contrary to one of their most sacred beliefs, they are teaching that Jesus, their enemy whom they had killed, is alive. Right now, this works against the apostles. Later, Paul will use this distinction between the Sadducees and Pharisees to get out of a meeting before the Sanhedrin (Acts 23:6–10).