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Jamieson, Fausset & Brown :: Commentary on Acts 4

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The Acts of the Apostles

Commentary by DAVID BROWN

CHAPTER 4

Act 4:1-13. PETER AND JOHN BEFORE THE SAMHEDRIM.

      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" ( Act 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 JF & B for Mt 2:4).

      6. Annas. . . and Caiaphas--(See on JF & B for 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 ( Act 4:16 ).

      8. Then, filled with the Holy Ghost, said--(See Mar 13:11 Luk 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 JF & B for Ac 3:13, &c.).
      even by him doth this man stand before you whole--for from Act 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 Psa 118:22, already made by our Lord Himself before some of the same "builders" ( Mat 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.

      Act 4:23-37. PETER AND JOHN DISMISSED FROM THE SAMHEDRIM, REPORT THE PROCEEDINGS TO THE ASSEMBLED DISCIPLES--THEY ENGAGE IN PRAYER--THE 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 JF & B for 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 JF & B for 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 Psa 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 ( Act 17:6; compare Act 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" ( Act 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 ( Deu 18:8 ).
      Cyprus--a well-known island in the Mediterranean.

CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.

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