An Ironic Twist:
But when the Temple guards went to the jail, the men were gone. So they returned to the council and reported, “The jail was securely locked, with the guards standing outside, but when we opened the gates, no one was there!” When the captain of the Temple guard and the leading priests heard this, they were perplexed, wondering where it would all end. Then someone arrived with startling news: “The men you put in jail are standing in the Temple, teaching the people!” The captain went with his Temple guards and arrested the apostles, but without violence, for they were afraid the people would stone them.Acts 5:22-26
Luke’s audience (us) already know what has happened. The people in the temple court already know the Apostles are there in the temple teaching them. It is only the Temple guards and the leading priests who are perplexed here. The Temple guard go to the jail and find it in the state we already know. So they go back to the Council with their report.
- The jail was secure
- The guards were still at their post outside the jail
- The Apostles were not inside the jail where they were left.
Does this remind you of something you have read recently?
It is reminiscent of the state of the empty tomb isn’t it? The same report was brought to the leaders concerning the state of the tomb of Jesus. I wonder if these leaders thought, “Oh no, its happening again. We have been in this position before.” Sealed tomb or locked jail and no body or prisoners contained within. In each case, those ones who are responsible for the security of the site are still on guard outside and there’s nothing out of the ordinary to report. The very reason they were posted outside the tomb or the jail was to ensureJesus body was not stolen and false claims spread abroad or to ensure the twelve apostles did not escape and continue their “teaching”. Neither purpose was accomplished.
The Captain of the Guard and the leading priests were perplexed [διαπορέω – di-aporeō] meaning to be thoroughly non-plussed, (be in) doubt, to be (much) perplexed, to have no way out, to be at a loss. The verb is a compound where the prefix ‘di’ intensifies the meaning of the main verb [aporeo]. These men (the Captain of the Guard and the High Priests supreme council) are at a loss to explain what has happened. It just doesn’t make sense. They have no answers or explanations for what has happened. But the leading question must be, exactly what are they perplexed about?
Notice the words “wondering where it would end”. This is a curious construction. It could be read three ways. It could have a past focus related to what happened at the jail the night before, linked to how the Apostles escaped. It could have a present focus for that particular (punctiliar) moment for which action the leaders ought to take. Or it could have a future focus as to how this is all going to work out; what is going to happen now?
The translations or versions handle it as follows:
- (GNB) they wondered what had happened to the apostles.
- (GW) they were puzzled about what could have happened.
- (ISV) they were utterly at a loss as to what would have happened to them.
- (CEV) but they did not know what to think about it.
- (ERV) They were confused and wondered what it all meant.
- (LEB) they were greatly perplexed concerning them, as to what this might be.
- (LITV) were in doubt concerning them, what this might be.
- (MKJV) they were bewildered about them, what this might be.
- (MSG) puzzled. “What’s going on here anyway?”
- (AMP) perplexed and thoroughly at a loss about them, wondering into what this might grow.
- (ASV) they were much perplexed concerning them whereunto this would grow.
- (BBE) greatly troubled about what might be the end of this business.
- (EMTV) they were greatly perplexed about them, as to what this might come to be.
- (ESV) they were greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to.
- (JUB) they were perplexed regarding what this would come to.
- (KJV) they doubted of them whereunto this would grow.
- (NASB )they were greatly perplexed about them as to what would come of this.
- (NLT) they were perplexed, wondering where it would all end.
- (RV) they were much perplexed concerning them whereunto this would grow.
- (TLV) they were perplexed about them, wondering where this would lead.
- (WEBA) they were very perplexed about them and what might become of this.
- (YLT) they were doubting concerning them to what this would come;
Take time to ponder on this matter and work out what you think it’s a reference to. It appears as though the statement could reflect a query which is past, present or future. Take time to think through your response and consider what the statement relates to?
- Is it Past – What happened the night before?
- Present – What do we make of it or do about it?
- Future – What is going to happen after this?
The ball is in your court for the moment.
Sometimes we should forget about understanding and just appreciate the irony.Anon
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.Jim Rohn
Real enlightment and true discovery comes when we ask the right questions.Ian Vail
It’s the questions we can’t answer that teach us the most. . .Ian Vail
If you give a man an answer, all he gains is a little fact. But give him a question and he’ll look for his own answers.Anon
When he finds the answers, they’ll be precious to him.Patrick Rothfuss