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Word Pictures in the New Testament - Acts
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Chapter 4

4:1 The captain of the temple [ho stratēgos tou hierou]. Twenty-four bands of Levites guarded the temple, one guard at a time. They watched the gates. The commander of each band was called captain [stratēgos]. Josephus names this captain of the temple police next to the high priest (War. VI. 5, 3). The Sadducees [hoi Saddoukaioi]. Most of the priests were Sadducees now and all the chief priests since John Hyrcanus I deserted the Pharisees (Josephus, Ant. XVII. 10, 6; XVIII. 1, 4; XX. 9, 1). The Sadducees were slow to line up with the Pharisees against Jesus, but they now take the lead against Peter and John. Came upon them [epestēsan autois]. Second aorist active indicative (intransitive). Burst upon them suddenly or stood by them in a hostile attitude here (Lu 20:1; 24:4; Ac 6:12; 17:5; 22:20; 23:11).

4:2 Being sore troubled [diaponoumenoi]. Present passive participle of old verb [diaponeō] (perfective use of [dia] to be worked up, indignant. In the N.T. only here and 16:8. Because [dia to]. The articular infinitive with two accusatives, one the object (the people), the other (“they”) of general reference. In Jesus [en Iēsou]. In the case of Jesus, an actual instance of resurrection which the Sadducees denied (Mt 22:23). This same use of [en] appears in 1Co 4:6 (in us). The Sadducees were also aristocrats and political ecclesiastics who disliked popular disturbances. In particular, they resented the claim about Jesus whom they had helped crucify.

4:3 In ward [eis tērēsin]. Probably in one of the chambers of the temple. In safe keeping (from [tēreō], to guard). Old word, in the N.T. only here and Ac 5:18; 1Co 7:19. So in papyri. Now eventide [hespera ēdē]. Hence no trial could take place before the next day, a regulation violated in the case of Jesus.

4:4 Men [andrōn]. Strictly, men and not women, for [anthrōpos] is the term for both men and women. But in Lu 11:31 [andres] seems to include both men and women and that is possible here, though by no means certain, for see Mt 14:21 where the women and children are expressly excepted.

4:5 Rulers and elders and scribes [tous archontas kai tous presbuterous kai tous grammateis]. The three classes composing the Sanhedrin (rulers=chief priests who were Sadducees, the scribes usually Pharisees, the elders not in either class: 24 priests, 24 elders, 22 scribes). Were gathered together [sunachthēnai]. First aorist passive infinitive of [sunagō] with accusative of general reference and the subject of [egeneto].

4:6 Annas [Hannas]. One of the rulers or chief priests, ex-high priest (A.D. 7-14) and father-in-law of Caiaphas [Kaiaphas] who was actual high priest at that time, though the title clung to Annas as here (both so called in Lu 3:2), Caiaphas so by Roman law, Annas so in the opinion of the Jews. They with John and Alexander are the leaders among the Sadducees in pressing the case against Peter and John.

4:7 In the midst [en tōi mesōi]. The Sanhedrin sat in a semicircle. They inquired [epunthanonto]. Imperfect middle, began to inquire. Or in what name [ē en poiōi onomati]. As if by some magical formula such as exorcists practised (Ac 19:13) as if to catch them by (De 13:1). Have ye done this [epoiēsate touto humeis]. Note emphatic use of [humeis] (ye).

4:8 Filled with the Holy Spirit [plēstheis pneumatos hagiou]. For this occasion and so above all fear as in verse 31 and as in 2:4.

4:9 Concerning a good deed done to an impotent man [epi euergesiāi anthrōpou asthenous]. Objective genitive. Note [euergesia] (old word, in the N.T. only here and 1Ti 6:2), as a benefactor, not a malefactor. Skilful turn made by Peter. Is made whole [sesōstai]. Perfect passive indicative of [sōzō], stands whole.

4:10 Be it known [gnōston estō]. Imperative present active third singular of [eimi], to be, and the verbal adjective [gnōston]. Whom ye crucified [hon humeis estaurōsate]. Too good a chance to miss, and so Peter boldly charges the Sanhedrin with responsibility for the death of Jesus. Note [humeis] (ye) again. Whom God raised from the dead [hon ho theos ēgeiren ek nekrōn]. Note repetition of [hon] (whom). This is God’s answer to their act of crucifixion. In him doth this man stand [en toutōi houtos parestēken]. Rather (note play on [houtos], “In this one [hon, hon] this one stands (present perfect active indicative, intransitive).” In Jesus this man stands before you whole [hugiēs]. It was a centre shot.

4:11 Of you the builders [huph’ humōn tōn oikodomōn]. The experts, the architects, had rejected Jesus for their building (Ps 118:22) as Jesus himself had pointed out (Mt 21:42; Lu 21:17). This very Rejected Stone God had made the head of the corner (either the highest corner stone right under the roof or the corner stone under the building, Isa 28:16) as Jesus showed, as Peter here declares and repeats later (1Pe 2:6f.).

4:12 Salvation [hē sōtēria]. The Messianic salvation as in 5:31; 17:11 and as Jesus meant in Joh 4:22. It is amazing to see Peter speaking thus to the Sanhedrin and proclaiming the necessity of salvation [dei sōthēnai] in the name of Jesus Christ and in no other. If this was true then, it is true today. There is no second [heteron] name to go beside that of Jesus in India, China, Japan, or America.

4:13 The boldness [tēn parrēsian]. Telling it all [pan, rēsia]. See also verses 29, 31. Actually Peter had turned the table on the Sanhedrin and had arraigned them before the bar of God. Had perceived [katalabomenoi]. Second aorist middle participle of [katalambanō], common verb to grasp strongly [kata], literally or with the mind (especially middle voice), to comprehend. The rulers recalled Peter and John from having seen them often with Jesus, probably during the temple teaching, etc. They were unlearned [agrammatoi eisin]. Present indicative retained in indirect discourse. Unlettered men without technical training in the professional rabbinical schools of Hillel or Shammai. Jesus himself was so regarded (Joh 7:15, “not having learned letters”). And ignorant [kai idiōtai]. Old word, only here in the N.T. and 1Co 14:24; 2Co 11:6. It does not mean “ignorant,” but a layman, a man not in office (a private person), a common soldier and not an officer, a man not skilled in the schools, very much like [agrammatos]. It is from [idios] (one’s own) and our “idiosyncracy” is one with an excess of such a trait, while “idiot” (this very word) is one who has nothing but his idiosyncracy. Peter and John were men of ability and of courage, but they did not belong to the set of the rabbis. They marvelled [ethaumazon]. Imperfect (inchoative) active, began to wonder and kept it up. Took knowledge of them [epeginōskon autous]. Imperfect (inchoative) active again, they began to recognize them as men that they had seen with Jesus.

4:14 They could say nothing against it [ouden eichon anteipein]. Imperfect again, they kept on having nothing to say against it. The lame man was standing there before their eyes in proof of what Peter had said.

4:15 They conferred among themselves [suneballon pros allēlous]. Imperfect active again. With Peter and John and the lame man outside, they began to compare [sun, ballō] notes and take stock of their predicament.

4:16 What shall we do? [Ti poiēsōmen]. Deliberative aorist active subjunctive (ingressive and urgent aorist). Notable miracle [gnōston sēmeion]. Or sign. It was useless to deny it with the man there. We cannot deny it [ou dunametha arneisthai]. That is, it will do no good.

4:17 That it spread no further [hina mē epi pleion dianemēthēi]. First aorist passive subjunctive of [dianemō], to distribute with [hina mē], negative purpose. Let us threaten them [apeilēsōmetha autois]. Hortatory aorist middle subjunctive of [apeileō], old verb (note middle voice). In the N.T. only here and 1Pe 2:23. That they speak henceforth to no man in this name [mēketi lalein epi tōi onomati toutōi mēdeni anthrōpōn]. Indirect command with the infinitive and double negative [mēketi, mēdeni]. They will not say “Jesus,” but make a slur at “this name,” contemptuous use of [houtos], though they apparently do mention the name “Jesus” in verse 18.

4:18 Not to speak at all [katholou mē phtheggesthai]. Same construction as above, infinitive in indirect command with negative [] (and [mēde].

4:20 For we cannot but speak [ou dunametha gar hēmeis—mē lalein]. Both negatives hold here, “For we (note emphatic [hēmeis] are not able not to speak” (what we saw and heard). This is defiance of the civil and ecclesiastical authorities that was justified, for the temple authorities stepped in between the conscience and God. Peter and John were willing to pay the price of this defiance with their lives. This is the courage of martyrs through all the ages.

4:21 When they had further threatened them [prosapeilēsamenoi]. The “further” is in “pros” (in addition), Finding nothing how they might punish them [mēden heuriskontes to pōs kolasōntai autous]. Note the article “to” before [pōs] (how), “the how.” Aorist middle deliberative subjunctive [kolasōntai] in indirect question after [pōs] from [kolazō], to lop [kolos], lopped), to curb, to prune, to correct, to punish. Old verb, in the N.T. only here and 2Pe 2:9. Glorified God [edoxazon ton theon]. Imperfect active, kept on glorifying God while the Sanhedrin were threatening Peter and John. It was to laugh at the helplessness of the Sanhedrin.

4:22 Was wrought [gegonei]. Second past perfect active without augment from [ginomai].

4:23 To their own company [pros tous idious]. Their own people as in Joh 1:11; 13:1; Ac 24:23; 1Ti 5:8; Tit 3:14, not merely the apostles (all the disciples). In spite of Peter’s courageous defiance he and John told the brotherhood all that had been said by the Sanhedrin. They had real apprehension of the outcome.

4:24 With one accord [homothumadon]. A concert of voices as already seen by the word in 1:14; 2:46 and later in 5:12; 7:57; 15:25. O Lord [Despota]. Our word despot. Old word for relation of master to slaves or household servants (1Ti 6:1; 2Ti 2:21; Tit 2:9; 1Pe 2:18). Simeon thus addressed God (Lu 2:29). So in 2Pe 2:1; Jude 1:4; Re 6:10. See “slaves” in verse 29.

4:25 By the mouth of our father David [tou patros hēmōn dia pneumatos hagiou stomatos Daueid]. From Ps 2:1f. here ascribed to David. Baumgarten suggests that the whole company sang the second Psalm and then Peter applied it to this emergency. The Greek MSS. do not have [dia] (by) here before [stomatos], but only [dia] before [pneumatos hagiou] (the Holy Spirit). Hort calls this a “primitive error” perhaps due to an early scribe who omitted this second [dia] so close to the first [dia] (Robertson, Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the N.T., p. 238). A small list of such primitive errors is there given as suggested by Dr. Hort. Why [hina ti]. This Greek idiom calls for [genētai] (second aorist middle subjunctive), That what may happen. The Gentiles [ethnē]. So always in LXX, while [laoi] (peoples) can include Jews. Did rage [ephruaxan]. First aorist active indicative of [phruassō], late word, to neigh like a horse, to prance or stamp the ground, to put on lofty airs. Only here in the N.T. in this quotation from Ps 2:1. Imagine [emeletēsan]. First aorist active indicative of [meletaō]. Old verb from [meletē] (care), to practise, to caution, as orators and rhetoricians. Only here in the N.T. in this quotation.

4:26 Set themselves in array [parestēsan]. Literally, stood by. Against his Anointed [kata tou Christou autou]. Against his Messiah, his Christ.

4:27 Both Herod and Pontios Pilate [Hērōidēs te kai Pontius Peilatos]. Luke alone (Lu 23:12) tells of the reconciliation between Herod and Pilate at the trial of Jesus. So Peter and the rest interpret this prophecy as directly fulfilled in their conduct towards Jesus Christ. Whom thou didst anoint [hon echrisas]. As in verse 26 (cf. Lu 4:18; Isa 61:1). Inaugurated as King Messiah.

4:28 Foreordained [proōrisen]. First aorist active indicative of [proorizō], “They rise above sight and seem to see the Hand which ’shapes men’s ends, rough hew them how they will’” (Furneaux).

4:29 And now [kai ta nun]. “And as to (accusative of general reference) the now things (the present situation).” Only in the Acts in the N.T. (5:38; 17:30; 20:32; 27:22). Grant [dos]. Second aorist active imperative of [didōmi], urgency of the aorist, Do it now. To speak thy word with all boldness [meta parrēsias pasēs lalein ton logon sou]. Literally, “with all boldness to go on speaking (present active infinitive) thy word.” Peter and John had defied the Sanhedrin in verse 20, but all the same and all the more they pray for courage in deed to live up to their brave words. A wholesome lesson.

4:30 While thou stretchest forth thy hand [en tōi tēn cheira ekteinein se]. Luke’s favourite idiom, “In the stretching out (articular present active infinitive) the hand as to thee” (accusative of general reference), the second allusion to God’s “hand” in this prayer (verse 28). To heal [eis iasin]. For healing. See verse 22. And that signs and wonders may be done [kai sēmeia kai terata ginesthai]. Either to be taken as in the same construction as [ekteinein] with [en tōi] as Revised Version has it here or to be treated as subordinate purpose to [en tōi ekteinein] (as Knowling, Page, Wendt, Hackett). The latter most likely true. They ask for a visible sign or proof that God has heard this prayer for courage to be faithful even unto death.

4:31 The place was shaken [esaleuthē ho topos]. By an earthquake most likely as in 16:26, but none the less a token of God’s presence and power (Ps 114:7; Isa 2:19, 21; Heb 12:26f.). Were gathered together [ēsan sunēgmenoi]. Periphrastic past perfect passive of [sunagō]. They spake [elaloun]. Imperfect active indicative, began to speak, after being filled [eplēsthēsan], aorist passive indicative) with the Holy Spirit. Luke uses the very words of the prayer in verse 29 to describe their conduct.

4:32 Of one heart and soul [kardia kai psuchē mia]. It is not possible to make sharp distinction between heart and soul here (see Mr 12:30), only that there was harmony in thought and affection. But the English translation is curiously unlike the Greek original. “There was one heart and soul (nominative case, not genitive as the English has it) in the multitude [tou plēthous], subjective genitive) of those who believed.” Not one of them [oude heis]. More emphatic than [oudeis], “not even one.” Common [koina]. In the use of their property, not in the possession as Luke proceeds to explain. The word [koinos] is kin to [sun] (together with) = [xun] (Epic) and so [xunos=koinos]. See this word already in 2:44. The idea of unclean (Ac 10:15) is a later development from the original notion of common to all.

4:33 Gave their witness [apedidoun to marturion]. Imperfect active of [apodidōmi], old verb to give back, to pay back a debt (Lu 7:42), but a late omega form instead of the usual [apedidosan]. They kept on giving their witness with power after the answer to their prayer (verse 31). Of the resurrection [tēs anastaseōs]. It was on this issue that the Sadducees had arrested them (4:1-3).

4:34 That lacked [endeēs]. Literally, in need, old adjective, here only in the N.T. Were [hupērchon]. Imperfect active of [huparchō], to exist. Sold them and brought [pōlountes epheron]. Present active participle and imperfect active indicative. Selling they brought from time to time, as there was occasion by reason of need. Hence the wants were kept supplied. Laid them [etithoun]. Imperfect active again, repetition, of [tithēmi], late omega form for the usual [etithesan].

4:35 Distribution was made [diedideto]. Imperfect passive of [diadidōmi], late omega form for [diedidoto] (the stem vowel [o] displaced by [e]. Impersonal use of the verb here. According as any one had need [kathoti an tis chreian eichen]. Imperfect active of [echō] with [kathoti] and [an] with the notion of customary repetition in a comparative clause (Robertson, Grammar, p. 967).

4:36 Barnabas [Barnabas]. His name was Joseph (correct text, and not Jesus) and he is mentioned as one illustration of those in verse 34 who selling brought the money. The apostles gave him the nickname Barnabas by which later he was known because of this noble deed. This fact argues that all did not actually sell, but were ready to do so if needed. Possibly Joseph had a larger estate than some others also. The meaning of the nickname is given by Luke as “son of consolation or exhortation” [huios paraklēseōs]. Doubtless his gifts as a preacher lay along this same line. Rackham thinks that the apostles gave him this name when he was recognized as a prophet. In Ac 11:23 the very word [parekalei] (exhorted) is used of Barnabas up at Antioch. He is the type of preacher described by Paul in 1Co 14:3. Encouragement is the chief idea in [paraklēsis] though exhortation, comfort, consolation are used to render it (Ac 9:31; 13:15; 15:31). See also 16:9; 20:12. It is not necessary to think that the apostles coined the name Barnabas for Joseph which originally may have come from [Barnebous] (Deissmann, Bible Studies, pp. 308-10), son of Nebo, or even the Hebrew Bar Nebi (son of a prophet). But, whatever the origin, the popular use is given by Luke. He was even called apostle along with Paul (Ac 14:14) in the broad sense of that word.

4:37 Having a held [huparchontos autōi agrou]. Genitive absolute with present active participle of [huparchō] and dative of possession. Sold it and brought [pōlēsas ēnegken]. Aorist active participle of [pōleō] and second aorist active indicative of [pherō] because a single definite instance. So also with [ethēken] (laid), first aorist active.

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