Acts 4:1
And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,
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(1) The priests, and the captain of the temple.—For the first time in this book, we come across the chief agents in the condemnation passed on our Lord by the Sanhedrin. A few weeks or months had gone by, and they were congratulating themselves on having followed the advice of Caiaphas (John 11:48). They knew that the body of Jesus had disappeared from the sepulchre, and they industriously circulated the report that the disciples had stolen it (Matthew 28:13-15). They must have heard something of the Day of Pentecost—though there is no evidence of their having been present as spectators or listeners—and of the growth of the new society. Now the two chief members of the company of those disciples were teaching publicly in the very portico of the Temple. What were they to do? The “captain of the Temple” (see Note on Luke 22:4) was the head of the band of Levite sentinels whose function it was to keep guard over the sacred precincts. He, as an inspector, made his round by night, visited all the gates, and roused the slumberers. His presence implied that the quiet order of the Temple was supposed to be endangered. In 2 Maccabees 3:4, however, we have a “captain,” or “governor of the Temple” of the tribe of Benjamin.

The Sadducees.—The higher members of the priesthood, Annas and Caiaphas, were themselves of this sect (Acts 5:17). They had already been foremost in urging the condemnation of Christ in the meetings of the Sanhedrin. The shame of having been put to silence by Him (Matthew 22:34) added vindictiveness to the counsels of a calculating policy. Now they found His disciples preaching the truth which they denied, and proclaiming it as attested by the resurrection of Jesus. Throughout the Acts the Sadducees are foremost as persecutors. The Pharisees temporise, like Gamaliel, or profess themselves believers. (Comp. Acts 5:34; Acts 15:5; Acts 23:7.)



Acts 4:1 - Acts 4:14

Hitherto the Jewish authorities had let the disciples alone, either because their attention had not been drawn even by Pentecost and the consequent growth of the Church, or because they thought that to ignore the new sect was the best way to end it. But when its leaders took to vehement preaching in Solomon’s porch, and crowds eagerly listened, it was time to strike in.

Our passage describes the first collision of hostile authority with Christian faith, and shows, as in a glass, the constant result of that collision in all ages.

The motives actuating the assailants are significantly analysed, and may be distributed among the three classes enumerated. The priests and the captain of the Temple would be annoyed by the very fact that Peter and John taught the people: the former, because they were jealous of their official prerogative: the latter, because he was responsible for public order, and a riot in the Temple court would have been a scandal. The Saddueees were indignant at the substance of the teaching, which affirmed the resurrection of the dead, which they denied, and alleged it as having occurred ‘in Jesus.’

The position of Sadducees and Pharisees is inverted in Acts as compared with the Gospels. While Christ lived, the Pharisees were the soul of the opposition to Him, and His most solemn warnings fell on them; after the Resurrection, the Sadducees head the opposition, and among the Pharisees are some, like Gamaliel and afterwards Paul, who incline to the new faith. It was the Resurrection that made the difference, and the difference is an incidental testimony to the fact that Christ’s Resurrection was proclaimed from the first. To ask whether Jesus had risen, and to examine the evidence, were the last things of which the combined assailants thought. This public activity of the Apostles threatened their influence or their pet beliefs, and so, like persecutors in all ages, they shut their eyes to the important question, ‘Is this preaching true or false?’ and took the easier course of laying hands on the preachers.

So the night fell on Peter and John in prison, the first of the thousands who have suffered bonds and imprisonment for Christ, and have therein found liberty. What lofty faith, and what subordination of the fate of the messengers to the progress of the message, are expressed in that abrupt introduction, in Acts 4:4, of the statistics of the increase of the Church from that day’s work! It mattered little that it ended with the two Apostles in custody, since it ended too with five thousand rejoicing in Christ.

The arrest seems to have been due to a sudden thought on the part of the priests, captain, and Sadducees, without commands from the Sanhedrin or the high priest. But when these inferior authorities had got hold of their prisoners, they probably did not quite know what to do with them, and so moved the proper persons to summon the Sanhedrin. In all haste, then, a session was called for next morning. ‘Rulers, elders, and scribes’ made up the constituent members of the court, and the same two ‘high priests’ who had tried Jesus are there, attended by a strong contingent of dependants, who could be trusted to vote as they were bidden. Annas was an emeritus high priest, whose age and relationship to Caiaphas, the actual holder of the post and Annas’s son-in-law, gave him an influential position. He retained the title, though he had ceased to hold the office, as a cleric without a charge is usually called ‘Reverend.’

It was substantially the same court which had condemned Jesus, and probably now sat in the same hall as then. So that Peter and John would remember the last time when they had together been in that room, and Who had stood in the criminal’s place where they now were set.

The court seems to have been somewhat at a loss how to proceed. The Apostles had been arrested for their words, but they are questioned about the miracle. It was no crime to teach in the Temple, but a crime might be twisted out of working a miracle in the name of any but Jehovah. To do that would come near blasphemy or worshipping strange gods. The Sanhedrin knew what the answer to their question would be, and probably they intended, as soon as the anticipated answer was given, to ‘rend their clothes,’ and say, as they had done once before, ‘What need we further witnesses? They have spoken blasphemy.’ But things did not go as was expected. The crafty question was put. It does not attempt to throw doubt on the reality of the miracle, but there is a world of arrogant contempt in it, both in speaking of the cure as ‘this,’ and in the scornful emphasis with which, in the Greek, ‘ye’ stands last in the sentence, and implies, ‘ye poor, ignorant fishermen.’

The last time that Peter had been in the judgment-hall his courage had oozed out of him at the prick of a maid-servant’s sharp tongue, but now he fronts all the ecclesiastical authorities without a tremor. Whence came the transformation of the cowardly denier into the heroic confessor, who turns the tables on his judges and accuses them? The narrative answers. He was ‘filled with the Holy Ghost.’ That abiding possession of the Spirit, begun on Pentecost, did not prevent special inspiration for special needs, and the Greek indicates that there was granted such a temporary influx in this critical hour.

One cannot but note the calmness of the Apostle, so unlike his old tumultuous self. He begins with acknowledging the lawful authority of the court, and goes on, with just a tinge of sarcasm, to put the vague ‘this’ of the question in its true light. It was ‘a good deed done to an impotent man,’ for which John and he stood there. Singular sort of crime that! Was there not a presumption that the power which had wrought so ‘good’ a deed was good? ‘Do men gather grapes of thorns?’ Many a time since then Christianity has been treated as criminal, because of its beneficence to bodies and souls.

But Peter rises to the full height of the occasion, when he answers the Sanhedrin’s question with the pealing forth of his Lord’s name. He repeats in substance his former contrast of Israel’s treatment of Jesus and God’s; but, in speaking to the rulers, his tone is more severe than it was to the people. The latter had been charged, at Pentecost and in the Temple, with crucifying Jesus; the former are here charged with crucifying the Christ. It was their business to have tested his claims, and to have welcomed the Messiah. The guilt was shared by both, but the heavier part lay on the shoulders of the Sanhedrin.

Mark, too, the bold proclamation of the Resurrection, the stone of offence to the Sadducees. How easy it would have been for them to silence the Apostle, if they could have pointed to the undisturbed and occupied grave! That would have finished the new sect at once. Is there any reason why it was not done but the one reason that it could not be done?

Thus far Peter has been answering the interrogation legally put, and has done as was anticipated. Now was the time for Annas and the rest to strike in; but they could not carry out their programme, for the fiery stream of Peter’s words does not stop when they expected, and instead of a timid answer followed by silence, they get an almost defiant proclamation of the Name, followed by a charge against them, which turns the accused into the accuser, and puts them at the bar. Peter learned to apply the passage in the Psalm {Acts 4:11} to the rulers, from his Master’s use of it {Matthew 21:42}; and there is no quaver in his voice nor fear in his heart when, in the face of all these learned Rabbis and high and mighty dignitaries, he brands them as foolish builders, blind to the worth of the Stone ‘chosen of God, and precious,’ and tells them that the course of divine Providence will run counter to their rejection of Jesus, and make him the very ‘Head of the corner,’-the crown, as well as the foundation, of God’s building.

But not even this bold indictment ends the stream of his speech. The proclamation of the power of the Name was fitly followed by pressing home the guilt and madness of rejecting Jesus, and that again by the glad tidings of salvation for all, even the rejecters. Is not the sequence in Peter’s defence substantially that which all Christian preaching should exhibit? First, strong, plain proclamation of the truth; then pungent pressing home of the sin of turning away from Jesus; and then earnest setting forth of the salvation in His name,- a salvation wide as the world, and deep as our misery and need, but narrow, inasmuch as it is ‘in none other.’ The Apostle will not end with charging his hearers with guilt, but with offering them salvation. He will end with lifting up ‘the Name’ high above all other, and setting it in solitary clearness before, not these rulers only, but the whole world. The salvation which it had wrought on the lame man was but a parable and picture of the salvation from all ills of body and spirit, which was stored in that Name, and in it alone.

The rulers’ contempt had been expressed by their emphatic ending of their question with that ‘ye.’ Peter expresses his brotherhood and longing for the good of his judges by ending his impassioned, or, rather, inspired address with a loving, pleading ‘we.’ He puts himself on the same level with them as needing salvation, and would fain have them on the same level with himself and John as receiving it. That is the right way to preach.

Little need be said as to the effect of this address. Whether it went any deeper in any susceptible souls or not, it upset the schemes of the leaders. Something in the manner and matter of it awed them into wonder, and paralysed them for the time. Here was the first instance of the fulfilment of that promise, which has been fulfilled again and again since, of ‘a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist.’ ‘Unlearned,’ as ignorant of Rabbinical traditions, and ‘ignorant,’ or, rather, ‘private,’ as holding no official position, these two wielded a power over hearts and consciences which not even official indifference and arrogance could shake off. Thank God, that day’s experience is repeated still, and any of us may have the same Spirit to clothe us with the same armour of light!

The Sanhedrin knew well enough that the Apostles had been with Jesus, and the statement that ‘they took knowledge of them’ cannot mean that that fact dawned on the rulers for the first time. Rather it means that their wonder at the ‘boldness’ of the two drove home the fact of their association with Him to their minds. That association explained the marvel; for the Sanhedrin remembered how He had stood, meek but unawed, at the same bar. They said to themselves, ‘We know where these men get this brave freedom of speech,-from that Nazarene.’ Happy shall we be if our demeanour recalls to spectators the ways of our Lord!

How came the lame man there? He had not been arrested with the Apostles. Had he voluntarily and bravely joined them? We do not know, but evidently he was not there as accused, and probably had come as a witness of the reality of the miracle. Notice the emphatic ‘standing,’ as in Acts 4:10,-a thing that he had never done all his life. No wonder that the Sanhedrin were puzzled, and settled down to the ‘lame and impotent conclusion’ which follows. So, in the first round of the world-long battle between the persecutors and the persecuted, the victory is all on the side of the latter. So it has been ever since, though often the victors have died in the conflict. ‘The Church is an anvil which has worn out many hammers,’ and the story of the first collision is, in essentials, the story of all.

Acts 4:1-3. And as they — Namely, Peter and John; spake unto the people — The multitude, who had assembled in the temple, upon occasion of the miraculous cure of the lame man, as related in the preceding chapter; the priests, &c., came upon them — So wisely did God order, that they should first bear a full testimony to the truth in the temple, and then in the great council: to which they could have had no access, had they not been brought before it as criminals. Being grieved — That the name of Jesus was preached to the people: especially they were offended at the doctrine of his resurrection; for, as they had put him to death, his rising again proved him to be the Just One, and so brought his blood upon their heads. The priests were grieved, also, lest their office and temple services should decline, and Christianity take root through the preaching of the apostles, and their power of working miracles. The captain of the temple was concerned to prevent all sedition and disorder; and the Sadducees were displeased at the overturning of all their doctrines, particularly with regard to the resurrection of the dead, as exemplified and demonstrated in the person of Jesus; and therefore, that they might prevent their preaching any more, they laid hands on them — Under pretence that they were seditious persons, who were labouring to incense the populace against the conduct of their governors; and put them in hold — Committed them into custody, that when the sanhedrim met at the usual hour the next day, they might consult what it was proper to do with them: for it was now even-tide — And therefore not a fit season to have them examined. As Peter and John went up to the temple at three in the afternoon, the expression, it was now even-tide, makes it probable that some considerable time was spent in preaching to the people, and, consequently, that what we have in the former chapter is only an abstract, or specimen of the discourses they delivered on this occasion, which probably is generally the case as to the speeches recorded by the sacred historians, as well as others.

4:1-4 The apostles preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. It includes all the happiness of the future state; this they preached through Jesus Christ, to be had through him only. Miserable is their case, to whom the glory of Christ's kingdom is a grief; for since the glory of that kingdom is everlasting, their grief will be everlasting also. The harmless and useful servants of Christ, like the apostles, have often been troubled for their work of faith and labour of love, when wicked men have escaped. And to this day instances are not wanting, in which reading the Scriptures, social prayer, and religious conversation meet with frowns and checks. But if we obey the precepts of Christ, he will support us.The priests - It is probable that these priests were a part of the Sanhedrin, or Great Council of the nation. It is evident that they claimed some authority for preventing the preaching of the apostles.

The captain of the temple - See the Matthew 26:47; Luke 22:4 note. This was the commander of the guard stationed chiefly in the tower Antonia, especially during the great feasts; and it was his duty to preserve order and prevent any tumult. He came at this time to prevent a tumult or suppress a riot, as it was sup posed that the teaching of the apostles and the crowd collected by the healing of the lame man would lead to a tumult.

And the Sadducees - See the notes on Matthew 3:7. One of the doctrines which the Sadducees maintained was, that there was no resurrection of the dead. Hence, they were particularly opposed to the apostles for preaching it, because they gave so clear proof that Jesus had risen, and were thus spreading the doctrine of the resurrection among the people.

Came upon them - This expression implies that they came in a sudden and violent manner. See Luke 20:1.


Ac 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" (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.Acts 4:1-4 The rulers of the Jews, offended with the teaching of

Peter and John, imprison them.

Acts 4:5-12 Being brought before the council, Peter boldly

avouches the late cure to have been wrought in the name

of Jesus, and that men can be saved by no other name.

Acts 4:13-22 The council, struck with the boldness of the two

apostles, after conferring together, dismiss them with

a threatening charge to speak more in the name of Jesus.

Acts 4:23-30 The church betakes itself to prayer.

Acts 4:31 The presence of the Holy Ghost is signified by the house

shaking, and the apostles thereby emboldened to speak

the word.

Acts 4:32-37 The unity and charity of the church, who have their

possessions in common.

The captain of the temple; the commander over those soldiers who were appointed to guard the temple, and provide that no disorder might happen, by reason of the multitudes that came to worship there; and most probably was a Roman, and not of the Jewish nation, much less the chief of any of the courses of the priests, to whom this term cannot agree.

The Sadducees; these were most inveterate against the gospel, whose main article is the resurrection, which they denied: and thus each man, Jews and Gentiles, agree against Christ, as was foretold, Psalm 2:1,2.

And as they spake unto the people,.... For though only mention is made of Peter's preaching in the preceding chapter, yet doubtless John preached as well as he; either in turn, or to a part of the people at some distance: and this shows their diligence, faithfulness, and integrity, in the ministration of the word; and it is recorded to their honour, that whilst they were about their master's business, and discharging the duty of their office,

the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them; by agreement, with great violence, and at unawares: the "priests" might be those who kept the watch in the temple; for

"in three places the priests kept watch, in the house of the sanctuary; in the house of Abtines, in the house of Nitsots, and in the house of Moked, and the Levites in one and twenty places (p).''

And it now being eventide, they might be about to take their stands; "and the captain of the temple" might be he, whom they call, , "the man of the mountain of the house"; who was a ruler, or governor, and a president over all the wards (q); he is sometimes called , "the head of the ward" (r); and of him it is said (s),

"the man of the mountain of the house goes his round through every ward, with burning torches before him; and every ward that does not stand (is not on his feet), the man of the mountain of the house, says to him, peace be to thee; and if he observes that he is asleep, he strikes him with his staff, and he has power to burn his garments.''

The Vulgate Latin and the Oriental versions read in the plural number, as in See Gill on Luke 22:4, Luke 22:52. The Sadducees were a sect among the Jews, that denied the resurrection of the dead; of their rise, name, and tenets; see Gill on Matthew 3:7.

(p) Misn. Middot, c. 1. sect. 1.((q) Bartenora & Yom Tob in ib. sect. 2.((r) Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 6. fol. 186. 3.((s) Misn. Middot, c. 1. sect. 2.

And {1} as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the {a} captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,

(1) There are none more commonly diligent or bold enemies of the Church than those who profess themselves to be the chief builders of it, but the more they rage, the more steadfastly the faithful servants of God continue.

(a) The Jews had certain troops for the guard and safety of the temple and holy things (see Mt 26:47). These garrisons had a captain, such as Eleazarus Ananias, the high Priest's son in the time of the war that was in Judea, being a very impudent and proud young man; Josephus, lib. 2, of the taking of Judea.

Acts 4:1-2. ʼΕπέστησαν] stood there beside them. The sudden appearance is implied in the context (λαλούντ. δὲ αὐτ., and see Acts 4:3). See on Luke 2:9; Luke 20:1.

οἱ ἱερεῖς] The article signifies those priests who were then serving as a guard at the temple.

ὁ στρατηγὸς τοῦ ἱεροῦ] the leader on duty of the Levitical temple-guard (of the ἱερεῖς), and himself a priest; different from the προστάτης τοῦ ἱεροῦ, 2Ma 3:4 (see Grimm in loc.); comp. Joseph. Bell. Jud. ii. 12. 6; Antt. xx. 6. 2. See also on Luke 22:4.

As the concourse of people occurred in the temple-court, it was the business of the temple-guard officially to interfere. Therefore the opinion of Lightfoot, Erasmus Schmid, and Hammond, that the στρατηγὸς τοῦ ἱερ. is here the commander of the Roman garrison of the castle of Antonia, is to be rejected.

καὶ οἱ Σαδδουκαῖοι] see on Matthew 3:7. The Sadducees present in the temple-court had heard the speech of Peter, chap, 3, at least to Acts 4:15 (see Acts 4:2), had then most probably instigated the interference of the guard, and hence appear now taking part in the arrest of the apostles.

διαπονούμενοινεκρῶν] refers to οἱ Σαδδουκ. For these denied the resurrection of the dead, Matthew 22:23. “Sadducaei negant dicuntque: deficit nubes atque abit; sic descendens in sepulcrum non redit,” Tanchum, f. iii. 1. διαπονούμ. here and in Acts 16:18 may be explained either according to classical usage: who were active in their exertions, exerted their energies (my former interpretation), or according to the LXX. Sir 10:9; Aq. Genesis 6:6; 1 Samuel 20:30 (Hesychius, διαπονηθείς· λυπηθείς): who were grieved, afflicted (the usual view, following the Vulgate and Luther). The latter meaning is most natural in the connection, is sufficiently justified in later usage[155] by those passages, and therefore is to be preferred. Sorrow and pain come upon them, because Peter and John taught the people, and in doing so announced, etc. That was offensive to their principles, and so annoyed them.

ἐν τῷ ʼΙησοῦ] in the person of Jesus, i.e. in the case of His personal example. For in the resurrection of Jesus the ἀνάστασις ἐκ νεκρ. in general—although the latter is not expressly brought forward by Peter—was already inferential maintained, since the possibility of it and even an actual instance were therein exhibited (1 Corinthians 15:12).

We may add that, as the apostles made the testifying of the Risen One the foundation of their preaching, the emergence of the Sadducees is historically so natural and readily conceivable (comp. Acts 5:17), that Baur’s opinion, as to an à priori combination having without historical ground attributed this rôle to them, can only appear frivolous and uncritical, however zealously Zeller has sought to amplify and establish it. See in opposition to it, Lechler, Apost. Zeit. p. 326 ff.

[155] The classical writers use the simple verb πονεῖσθαι in this sense, whether the pain felt may be bodily or mental. See Krüger on Thuc. ii. 51. 4; Lobeck, ad Aj. p. 396; Duncan, Lex. Hom. ed. Rost, p. 969. Accordingly, in the above passages διαπονεισθαι is the strengthened πονεῖσθαι in this sense.

Acts 4:1. λαλούντων δὲ αὐτῶν: the speech was interrupted, as the present participle indicates, and we cannot treat it as if we had received it in full. It is no doubt possible to infer from αὐτῶν that St. John also addressed the people.—ἐπέστησαν αὐτοῖς: commonly used with the notion of coming upon one suddenly, so of the coming of an angel, Acts 12:7, Acts 23:11, Luke 2:9; Luke 24:4, sometimes too as implying a hostile purpose, cf. Acts 6:12, Acts 17:5, and St. Luke (Acts 10:40), Acts 20:1. For its use in the LXX cf. Wis 6:5; Wis 6:8; Wis 19:1.—οἱ ἱερεῖς: “the priests,” so A. and R.V., but the latter, margin, “the chief priests,” see critical note. ἀρχιερεῖς would comprise probably the members of the privileged high-priestly families in which the high-priesthood was vested (Schürer, Jewish People, div. ii., vol. i., pp. 203–206, E.T.), Jos., B. J., vi., 2, 2. That the members of these families occupied a distinguished position we know (cf. Acts 4:6), and there is nothing improbable in the supposition that the description ἀρχιερεῖς would include them as well as the ex-high-priests, and the one actually in office; this seems justified from the words of Josephus in the passage referred to above (Derenbourg, Histoire de la Palestine, p. 231).—ὁ στρατηγὸς τοῦ ἱεροῦ: the captain of the Temple (known chiefly in Jewish writings as “the man of the Temple Mount”). He had the chief superintendence of the Levites and priests who were on guard in and around the Temple, and under him were στρατηγοί, who were also captains of the Temple police, although subordinate to the στρατηγός as their head. The στρατ. τοῦ ἱεροῦ was not only a priest, but second in dignity to the high-priest himself (Schürer, u. s., pp. 258, 259, 267, and Edersheim, u. s., and History of the Jewish Nation, p. 139), Acts 5:24; Acts 5:26, Jos., Ant., xx., 6, 2, B. J., vi, 5, 3. For the use of the term in the LXX, see Schürer, u. s., p. 258. In 2Ma 3:4 the “governor of the Temple” is identified by some with the officer here and in Acts 5:24, but see Rawlinson’s note in loco in Speaker’s Commentary.—καὶ οἱ Σαδδουκαῖοι: at this time, as Josephus informs us, however strange it may appear, the high-priestly families belonged to the Sadducean party. Not that the Sadducees are to be identified entirely with the party of the priests, since the Pharisees were by no means hostile to the priests as such, nor the priests to the Pharisees. But the Sadducees were the aristocrats, and to the aristocratic priests, who occupied influential civil positions, the Pharisees were bitterly opposed. Jos., Ant., xvii., 10, 6, xviii., 1, 4, xx., 9, 1. Schürer, u. s., div. ii., vol. ii., pp. 29–43, and div. ii., vol. i., p. 178 ff. The words οἱ Σαδδ. and ἡ οὖσα αἴρεσις τῶν Σ., Acts 4:17, are referred by Hilgenfeld to his “author to Theophilus,” as also the reference to the preaching of the Resurrection as the cause of the sore trouble to the Sadducees; but the mention of the Sadducees at least shows (as Weizsäcker and Holtzmann admit) that the author of Acts had correct information of the state of parties in Jerusalem: “The Sadducees were at the helm, and the office of the high-priest was in Sadducean hands, and the Sadducees predominated in the high-priestly families” (Weizsäcker, Apostolic Age, i., 61, E.T.).

Acts 4:1-12. First arrest of the Apostles. Their hearing and Defence

1. And as they spake unto the people] The movements of the Apostles had by this time become an object of concern to the authorities in Jerusalem. See their complaint (Acts 5:28). There is no note of time at the beginning of chap. 3 to indicate what period had elapsed since Pentecost before the lame man was healed. But news soon spread in the city as we can learn from the events related in the previous chapter.

the priests] Those whose duty it was at the time to take charge of the Temple services, and who probably had taken offence at the multitudes assembled in the Temple court. The division of the priests was into twenty-four courses, each of which was to serve in the Temple for a week, see 1 Chronicles 24:1-19; 2 Chronicles 23:8. It was during such service in the order of his course, that the promise of the birth of John the Baptist was made to Zechariah the priest (Luke 1:5-8). Some authorities read high priests.

and the captain of the temple] There is mentioned in the O. T. an officer whose title is “the ruler of the house of God” (1 Chronicles 9:11; 2 Chronicles 31:13; Nehemiah 11:11). He was not a military officer, but had charge of the guard of priests and Levites who watched the Temple at night. There are two titles given to such an officer in the later writings of the Jews, (1) the Memunneh (Mishna Tamid i.), a kind of prefect of the Temple guard, and (2) a higher officer called “the captain of the mountain of the [Lord’s] house.” (Mishna Middoth ii.) Rabbenu Shimshon describes this second officer as “the Commander who was set over every watch of those that watched in the less sacred portion of the Temple.” He was apparently a civil as well as religious official, for we find (Acts 5:26) that he goes with “the officers” to make the second arrest of the Apostles.

and the Sadducees] This was the name of one of the most influential sects among the Jews in our Lord’s time. Their name has been variously explained. The Jewish authorities state that the name, which they write Tsedukim, is derived from Tsadok (Zadok) the proper name, and that thus they are “the followers of Zadok.” The Zadok from whom they derive the title is said to have been a disciple of Antigonus of Socho. This Antigonus is the second in order of the Jewish Fathers whose sayings are recorded in the Pirke Aboth, and the commentators thereon mention two of his pupils, Zadok and Baithos, to the latter of whom, and to his followers, they attribute the teaching that “there was nothing for them in the world to come.” But it is perhaps more probable, from their constant connection with the priests, that the name of the Sadducees was derived from the more famous Zadok who became high priest in the reign of King Solomon (1 Kings 2:35). We read of the distinction of his descendants as “the sons of Zadok” and “the priests the Levites of the seed of Zadok” even as late as the description of Ezekiel’s Temple (Ezekiel 40:46; Ezekiel 44:15). The probability of this priestly descent of the sect of the Sadducees is strengthened by the way in which they are mentioned Acts 5:17, “Then rose up the high priest and all they that were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees).” The derivation which makes their name the plural of the Hebrew adjective Tsaddik = righteous, has not much authority to support it.

The teaching of the Sadducees is partly described Acts 23:8. They “say that there is no resurrection neither angel nor spirit.” In addition to this they attached no authority to the Oral Law, while the Pharisees maintained that the greater portion thereof had been transmitted to them from Moses. The Sadducees also taught the doctrine of the freedom of the will of men. The statement that they rejected all the Old Testament Scriptures except the Pentateuch has no confirmation in Josephus and has arisen from a confusion of the Sadducees with the Samaritans. Josephus (Antiq. xviii. 1. 4) says “their doctrine is accepted only by a few, but yet by those of the greatest dignity,” a statement fully borne out by the influential position in which we find them when the history of the Acts opens. They play no very prominent part in the Gospel history, because the teaching of Christ while on earth was directed more specially against the formalism and outward show of religion that prevailed among the Pharisees. It is only when the doctrine of the resurrection begins to be preached that the hostility of the Sadducees makes itself apparent.

came upon them] to arrest them. The same word is used as of the action of the chief captain (Acts 23:27), “Then came I (upon them) with an army and rescued him.” See note there.

Acts 4:1. Λαλούντων, whilst they were speaking) The matter was divinely so ordered as that they first spake out all that was necessary in the temple; afterwards in the council (Sanhedrim), to which they would not have been allowed to go had they not been brought there.—ἐπέστησαν, came upon them) “The cross,” says Jonas, “always accompanies the true Gospel.”—οἱ ἱερεῖς, the priests) who were troubled (alarmed) as to their priesthood being in danger.—ὁ στρατηγὸς τοῦ ἱεροῦ, the captain, or prefect of the temple) who was troubled (alarmed) as to the public welfare (republicâ, the state), as being the chief prefect, under whom were the prefects of the watches in the temple: Luke 22:4.—οἱ Σαδδουκαῖοι, the Sadducees) who were troubled as to their doctrine.

Verse 1. - The captain of the temple. Only here and Acts 5:24, and Luke 22:4, 52 in the plural some have thought that the commander of the Roman garrison of the castle of Antonia is here meant. But as the scene is laid in the court of the temple, this is very improbable. Josephus ('Ant. Jud.,' 20, 6:2) speaks of an officer apparently of the temple, who was called ὁ στρατηγός, and was certainly a Jew by his name Ananus, and being, as Josephus relates farther ('Bell Jud.,' 2, 12:6), the son of the high priest Ananias. He also mentions the captain of the temple ('Bell. Jud.,' 6, 5:3) at the time of the destruction of the temple. There can be little doubt, therefore, that the captain of the temple here spoken of was a priest who had under him the Levitical guard, and whose duty it was to keep order in the temple courts in these turbulent times, lie appears from Acts 5:25, 26, Luke 22:4, 52, and the passages in Josephus, to have been an officer of high rank. Acts 4:1Captain of the temple

It was the duty of the Levites to keep guard at the gates of the temple, in order to prevent the unclean from entering. To them the duties of the temple-police were entrusted, under the command of an official known in the New Testament as "the captain of the temple," but in Jewish writings chiefly as "the man of the temple mount." Josephus speaks of him as a person of such consequence as to be sent, along with the high-priest, prisoner to Rome.

Came upon (ἐπέστησαν)

Or stood by them, suddenly. Compare Luke 24:4; Acts 22:20; Acts 23:11. Of dreams or visions, to appear to.

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