What does Acts 5:17 mean?
ESV: But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy
NIV: Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy.
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.
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.
NLT: The high priest and his officials, who were Sadducees, were filled with jealousy.
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,
NKJV: Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation,
Verse Commentary:
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).
Verse Context:
Acts 5:17–26 occurs after the chief priests arrested Peter and John for preaching and healing in Jesus' name, and ordered them not to do so again (Acts 4:1–22). Now, all the apostles are healing and preaching in Jesus' name (Acts 5:12–16), and so the priests arrest them all. At this point, the Sanhedrin is still afraid of the people (Acts 5:26); after all, the apostles are so powerful the people believe even Peter's shadow can heal the sick (Acts 5:15). Soon, the council will get bolder. A mob will kill Stephen (Acts 7:54–60), and then a Pharisee named Saul will help the council drive almost all the Jesus-followers out of Jerusalem (Acts 8:1–3).
Chapter Summary:
The apostles continue to make hard decisions in the name of Jesus, both inside and outside the church. When Ananias and Sapphira lie to God, the Holy Spirit inspires Peter to pronounce God's judgment on them, protecting the church from the love of the world. Despite the Sanhedrin's watchful eye—and direct orders (Acts 4:17–18)—the apostles continue to preach and heal openly. The guards arrest the apostles, but the Sanhedrin settles for beating them instead of capital punishment. The apostles consider it an honor to suffer on behalf of their Savior.
Chapter Context:
In Acts 5, persecution from unbelievers begins to accelerate. The Sanhedrin has become aware the apostles teach that Jesus rose from the dead (Acts 4). Now, they start to push back in earnest, arresting and beating the apostles. Soon, a mob will kill Stephen, a deacon (Acts 7:54–60), and the Sanhedrin will empower Saul to run down and arrest any Jesus-follower he can find (Acts 8:1–3). The apostles will stay in Jerusalem. Other Jesus-followers will carry His offer of forgiveness and reconciliation with God into the Roman Empire and beyond. The apostles' faithfulness and submission to the Holy Spirit is why we have the gospel message today.
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
Accessed 6/16/2024 1:28:22 AM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.