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Peter and John before the Council

 4

While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, 2much annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead. 3So they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4But many of those who heard the word believed; and they numbered about five thousand.

5 The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, 6with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, 10let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. 11This Jesus is

‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders;

it has become the cornerstone.’

12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus. 14When they saw the man who had been cured standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15So they ordered them to leave the council while they discussed the matter with one another. 16They said, “What will we do with them? For it is obvious to all who live in Jerusalem that a notable sign has been done through them; we cannot deny it. 17But to keep it from spreading further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18So they called them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; 20for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.” 21After threatening them again, they let them go, finding no way to punish them because of the people, for all of them praised God for what had happened. 22For the man on whom this sign of healing had been performed was more than forty years old.

The Believers Pray for Boldness

23 After they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24When they heard it, they raised their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and everything in them, 25it is you who said by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant:

‘Why did the Gentiles rage,

and the peoples imagine vain things?

26

The kings of the earth took their stand,

and the rulers have gathered together

against the Lord and against his Messiah.’

27 For in this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, 28to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, 30while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.

The Believers Share Their Possessions

32 Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. 33With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. 35They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”). 37He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.


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Ac 4:1-13. Peter and John before the Sanhedrin.

1-12. the captain—of the Levitical guard.

of the temple—annoyed at the disturbance created around it.

and the Sadducees—who "say that there is no resurrection" (Ac 23:8), irritated at the apostles "preaching through (rather, 'in') Jesus the resurrection from the dead"; for the resurrection of Christ, if a fact, effectually overthrew the Sadducean doctrine.

4. the number of the men—or males, exclusive of women; though the word sometimes includes both.

about five thousand—and this in Jerusalem, where the means of detecting the imposture or crushing the fanaticism, if such it had been, were within everyone's reach, and where there was every inducement to sift it to the bottom.

5. their rulers, &c.—This was a regular meeting of the Sanhedrim (see on Mt 2:4).

6. Annas … and Caiaphas—(See on Lu 3:2).

John and Alexander—of whom nothing is known.

7. By what power or … name have ye done this—thus admitting the reality of the miracle, which afterwards they confess themselves unable to deny (Ac 4:16).

8. Then, filled with the Holy Ghost, said—(See Mr 13:11; Lu 21:15).

10. Be it known unto you … and to all the people of Israel—as if emitting a formal judicial testimony to the entire nation through its rulers now convened.

by the name of Jesus, &c.—(See on Ac 3:13, &c.).

even by him doth this man stand before you whole—for from Ac 4:14 it appears that the healed man was at that moment before their eyes.

11. This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, &c.—This application of Ps 118:22, already made by our Lord Himself before some of the same "builders" (Mt 21:42), is here repeated with peculiar propriety after the deed of rejection had been consummated, and the rejected One had, by His exaltation to the right hand of the Majesty on high, become "the head of the corner."

12. Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved—How sublimely does the apostle, in these closing words, shut up these rulers of Israel to Jesus for salvation, and in what universal and emphatic terms does he hold up his Lord as the one Hope of men!

13-17. perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men—that is, uninstructed in the learning of the Jewish schools, and of the common sort; men in private life, untrained to teaching.

took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus—recognized them as having been in His company; remembering possibly, that they had seen them with Him [Meyer, Bloomfield, Alford]; but, more probably, perceiving in their whole bearing what identified them with Jesus: that is, "We thought we had got rid of Him; but lo! He reappears in these men, and all that troubled us in the Nazarene Himself has yet to be put down in these His disciples." What a testimony to these primitive witnesses! Would that the same could be said of their successors!

16. a notable miracle … done by them is manifest to all … in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it—And why should ye wish to deny it, O ye rulers, but that ye hate the light, and will not come to the light lest your deeds should be reproved?

17. But that it spread no further … let us straitly—strictly.

threaten … that they speak henceforth to no man in this name—Impotent device! Little knew they the fire that was burning in the bones of those heroic disciples.

18-22. Whether it be right … to hearken to you more than … God, judge ye.

20. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard—There is here a wonderful union of sober, respectful appeal to the better reason of their judges, and calm, deep determination to abide the consequences of a constrained testimony, which betokens a power above their own resting upon them, according to promise.

21. finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people—not at a loss for a pretext, but at a loss how to do it so as not to rouse the opposition of the people.

Ac 4:23-37. Peter and John Dismissed from the Sanhedrin, Report the Proceedings to the Assembled DisciplesThey Engage in PrayerThe Astonishing Answer and Results.

23-30. being let go, they went to their own company—Observe the two opposite classes, representing the two interests which were about to come into deadly conflict.

24. they lifted up their voice—the assembled disciples, on hearing Peter's report.

with one accord—the breasts of all present echoing every word of this sublime prayer.

Lord—(See on Lu 2:29). Applied to God, the term expresses absolute authority.

God which hast made heaven and earth—against whom, therefore, all creatures are powerless.

25. by the mouth of … David—to whom the Jews ascribed the second Psalm, though anonymous; and internal evidence confirms it. David's spirit sees with astonishment "the heathen, the people, the kings and princes of the earth," in deadly combination against the sway of Jehovah and His Anointed (his Messiah, or Christ), and asks "why" it is. This fierce confederacy our praying disciples see in full operation, in the "gathering together of Herod and Pilate, the Gentiles (the Roman authority), and the people of Israel, against God's holy Child ('Servant') Jesus." (See on Ac 3:13). The best ancient copies read, after "were gathered together," "in this city," which probably answers to "upon my holy hill of Zion," in the Ps 2:6.

28. thy hand and thy counsel determined … to be done—that is, "Thy counsel" determined to be done by "Thy hand."

29. now, Lord, behold their threatenings—Recognizing in the threatenings of the Sanhedrim a declaration of war by the combined powers of the world against their infant cause, they seek not enthusiastically to hide from themselves its critical position, but calmly ask the Lord of heaven and earth to "look upon their threatenings."

that with all boldness they may speak thy word—Rising above self, they ask only fearless courage to testify for their Master, and divine attestation to their testimony by miracles of healing, &c., in His name.

31-37. place was shaken—glorious token of the commotion which the Gospel was to make (Ac 17:6; compare Ac 16:26), and the overthrow of all opposing powers in which this was to issue.

they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and spake, &c.—The Spirit rested upon the entire community, first, in the very way they had asked, so that they "spake the word with boldness" (Ac 4:29, 31); next, in melting down all selfishness, and absorbing even the feeling of individuality in an intense and glowing realization of Christian unity. The community of goods was but an outward expression of this, and natural in such circumstances.

33. with great power—effect on men's minds.

great grace was upon them all—The grace of God copiously rested on the whole community.

35. laid … at the apostles' feet—sitting, it may be, above the rest. But the expression may be merely derived from that practice, and here meant figuratively.

36. Joses, &c.—This is specified merely as an eminent example of that spirit of generous sacrifice which pervaded all.

son of consolation—no doubt so surnamed from the character of his ministry.

a Levite—who, though as a tribe having no inheritance, might and did acquire property as individuals (De 18:8).

Cyprus—a well-known island in the Mediterranean.

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