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Verse 17. But beware of men. That is, be on your guard against men who are like wolves, Mt 10:16. Do not run unnecessarily into danger. Use suitable prudence and caution, and do not unnecessarily endanger your lives.

Councils. The word here used commonly signifies the great council of the nation, the Sanhedrim. See Barnes "Mt 5:22".

Here it seems to refer to any judicial tribunal, of which there were some in every village.

They will scourge you in their synagogues. Scourging, or whipping, is often mentioned in the New Testament as a part of punishment. The law of Moses directed that the number of stripes should not exceed forty, but might be any number less, at the discretion of the judge, De 25:2,3. The person who was sentenced to scourging was formerly laid upon the ground, and the blows inflicted on his back in the presence of the judge. Afterwards, the criminal was tied to a low post, Scourging is still practised in the East; but the blows are commonly inflicted on the soles of the feet. It is called the bastinddo.

The instrument formerly used was a rod. Afterwards they employed thongs or lashes attached to the rod. To make the blows severe and more painful, they sometimes fastened sharp points of iron, or pieces of lead, in the thongs. These were called scorpions, 1 Ki 12:11. The law was express that the number of stripes should not exceed forty. The Jews, to secure the greater accuracy in counting, used a scourge with three lashes, which inflicted three stripes at once. With this the criminal was struck thirteen times, making the number of blows thirty-nine. Paul was five times scourged in this way. See 2 Co 11:24.

The Romans did not feel themselves bound by the law of the Jews in regard to the number of stripes, but inflicted them at pleasure. Thus our Saviour was scourged till he was so weak as not to be able to bear his cross. This was often done in the synagogue. See Mt 23:34; Ac 22:19; 26:11.


{h} "beware of men" Php 3:2 {i} "they will deliver you up" Mt 24:9; Mr 13:9 {k} "scourge you" Ac 5:40; 2 Co 11:24

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