Acts 4:31
And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(31) The place was shaken. . . .—The impression on the senses was so far a renewal of the wonder of the Day of Pentecost, but in this instance without the sign of the tongues of fire, which were the symbols of a gift imparted once for all, and, perhaps also, without the special marvel of the utterance of the tongues. The disciples felt the power of the Spirit, the evidence of sense confirming that of inward, spiritual consciousness, and it came in the form for which they had made a special supplication, the power to speak with boldness the word which they were commissioned to speak.

4:23-31 Christ's followers do best in company, provided it is their own company. It encourages God's servants, both in doing work, and suffering work, that they serve the God who made all things, and therefore has the disposal of all events; and the Scriptures must be fulfilled. Jesus was anointed to be a Saviour, therefore it was determined he should be a sacrifice, to make atonement for sin. But sin is not the less evil for God's bringing good out of it. In threatening times, our care should not be so much that troubles may be prevented, as that we may go on with cheerfulness and courage in our work and duty. They do not pray, Lord let us go away from our work, now that it is become dangerous, but, Lord, give us thy grace to go on stedfastly in our work, and not to fear the face of man. Those who desire Divine aid and encouragement, may depend upon having them, and they ought to go forth, and go on, in the strength of the Lord God. God gave a sign of acceptance of their prayers. The place was shaken, that their faith might be established and unshaken. God gave them greater degrees of his Spirit; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, more than ever; by which they were not only encouraged, but enabled to speak the word of God with boldness. When they find the Lord God help them by his Spirit, they know they shall not be confounded, Isa 1.7.And when they had prayed - The event which followed was regarded by them as an evidence that God heard their prayer.

The place was shaken - The word which is translated "was shaken" commonly denotes "violent agitation," as the raging of the sea, the convulsion of an earthquake, or trees shaken by the wind, Matthew 11:7; Acts 16:26; Hebrews 12:26. The language here is suited to express the idea of an earthquake. Whether the motion was confined to the house where they were is not said. They probably regarded this as an answer to their prayer, or as an evidence that God would be with them:

(1) Because it was sudden and violent, and was not produced by any natural causes;

(2) Because it occurred immediately, while they were seeking divine direction;

(3) Because it was an exhibition of great power, and was an evidence that God could protect them; and,

(4) Because a convulsion so great, sudden, and mighty was suited at that time to awe them with a proof of the presence and power of God. A similar instance of an answer to prayer by an earthquake is recorded in Acts 16:25-26. Compare Acts 2:1-2. It may be added, that among the Jews an earthquake was very properly regarded as a striking and impressive proof of the presence of Yahweh, Isaiah 29:6; Psalm 68:8, "The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God; even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel." See also the sublime description in Habakkuk 3, particularly Acts 4:6-11. Compare Matthew 27:54. Among the pagan, an earthquake was regarded as proof of the presence and favor of the Deity. (See Virgil, Aeneid, 3:89.)

They were all filled ... - See the notes on Acts 2:4. Their being filled with the Holy Spirit here rather denotes their being inspired with confidence or boldness than being endowed with new powers, as in Acts 2:4.

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.

The place was shaken; miraculously moved up and down, as on the waves of the sea, to evidence God’s presence with them, and acceptance of them and their prayers in an extraordinary manner.

They were all filled with the Holy Ghost; according to their conditions, whether apostles (for whom these prayers were especially made) or private believers.

They spake the word of God with boldness: this was the grace they asked, Acts 4:29. God gave it them, and with it all other graces necessary for them. In their difficulties and wants, the greatest and holiest in the church of God must go to God to be supplied, and prayer is the most successful means. And when they had prayed,.... Either while they were praying, or as soon as they had done; for sometimes, as here, prayer is immediately heard, and an answer is returned, whilst the saints are speaking, or as soon as prayer is ended:

the place was shaken where they were assembled together; which, whether it was a private house, or the temple, is not certain: the latter seems more probable, because their number was so great, that no private house could hold them; and since this was the place where they used to assemble; this was now shaken with a rushing mighty wind, as on the day of Pentecost, and was a symbol of the divine presence, and a token that their prayers were heard, and an emblem of the shaking of the world by the ministry of the apostles:

and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost; with the gifts of the Holy Ghost, even with extraordinary ones, such as speaking with divers tongues, as before on the day of Pentecost; see Acts 2:4 and this was the case not only of the apostles, but of the other ministers of the word, and it may be of the whole church:

and they spoke the word of God with all boldness; that is, the apostles, and preachers of the Gospel, spoke it with great freedom, and without fear, not only privately, in their community, but publicly, in the temple: this was what was particularly prayed for, and in which they had a remarkable answer.

{11} And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

(11) God witnesses to his Church by a visible sign that it is he that will establish it, by shaking the powers both of heaven and of earth.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 4:31. Ἐσαλεύθη ὁ τόπος] This is not to be conceived of as an accidental earthquake, but as an extraordinary shaking of the place directly effected by God, a σημεῖον[161]—analogous to what happened at Pentecost—of the filling with the ΠΝΕῦΜΑ, which immediately ensued. This filling once more with the Spirit (comp. Acts 4:8) was the actual granting of the prayer ΔΌςΛΌΓΟΝ ΣΟΥ, Acts 4:29; for the immediate consequence was: ἘΛΆΛΟΥΝ Τ. ΛΌΓ. Τ. ΘΕΟῦ ΜΕΤᾺ ΠΑῤῬΣΊΑς, namely in Jerusalem, before the Jews, so that the threatenings against Peter and John (Acts 4:19; Acts 4:21) thus came to nothing. Luke, however, has not meant nor designated the free-spoken preaching as a glossolalia (van Hengel).

As extra-Biblical analogies to the extraordinary ἐσαλ. ὁ τόπος, comp. Virg. Aen. iii. 90 ff.; Ovid. Met. xv. 672. Other examples may be found in Doughtaeus, Anal. II. p. 71, and from the Rabbins in Schoettgen, p. 421.

[161] Viewed by Zeller, no doubt, as an invention of pious legend, although nothing similar occurs in the gospel history, to afford a connecting link for such a legend.Acts 4:31. δεηθέντων, cf. Acts 16:26, where a similar answer is given to the prayer of Paul and Silas: the verb is characteristic of St. Luke and St. Paul, and is only used by these two writers with the exception of one passage, Matthew 9:38; in St. Luke’s Gospel it is found eight times, and in Acts seven times, and often of requests addressed to God as here, cf. Acts 10:2, Acts 8:24, Luke 10:2; Luke 21:36; Luke 22:32, 1 Thessalonians 3:10. See on αἰτέω, Grimm-Thayer (Synonyms). This frequent reference to prayer is characteristic of St. Luke both in his Gospel and the Acts, cf. Acts 1:14; Acts 2:42; Acts 4:31; Acts 6:4; Acts 10:2; Acts 13:3; Acts 14:23; Acts 16:13; Acts 16:25; Acts 28:8; Friedrich, Das Lucasevangelium, pp. 59, 60.—ἐσαλεύθη, Acts 16:26; Luke (Luke 6:38; Luke 6:48, Acts 7:24) Acts 21:26; Hebrews 12:26-27; in the O.T. we have similar manifestations of the divine Presence, cf. Psalm 114:7, Amos 9:5, where the same word is used; cf. also Isaiah 6:4, Haggai 2:6, Joel 3:16, Ezekiel 38:19. For instance of an earthquake regarded as a token of the presence of a deity, see Wetstein, in loco; Virgil, Æneid, iii., 90; Ovid, Met., xv., 672, and so amongst the Rabbis, Schöttgen, Hor. Heb., in loco. In the Acts it is plainly regarded as no chance occurrence, and with regard to the rationalistic hypothesis that it was merely a natural event, accidentally coinciding with the conclusion of the prayer, Zeller admits that there is every probability against the truth of any such hypothesis; rather may we see in it with St. Chrysostom a direct answer to the appeal to the God in whose hands were the heaven and the earth (cf. Iren., Adv. Haer., iii., 12, 5). “The place was shaken, and that made them all the more unshaken” (Chrysostom, Theophylact, Oecumenius).—συνηγμένοι, “were gathered,” so in Acts 4:27; the aorist in the former verse referring to an act, but here the perfect to a state, but impossible to distinguish in translation, Burton, N. T. Moods and Tenses, p. 45. That the shaking is regarded as miraculous is admitted by Weiss, who sees in it the reviser’s hand introducing a miraculous result of the prayer of the Church, in place of the natural result of strengthened faith and popular favour.—καὶ ἐπλήσθησαν, Acts 4:8. So here the Holy Ghost inspired them all with courage: He came comfortari, to strengthen; they had prayed that they might speak the word μετὰ παρρ. and their prayer was heard and fulfilled to the letter (Acts 4:31) as Luke describes “with simple skill”.—ἐλάλουν: mark the force of the imperfect. ἐπλησθ. (aorist), the prayer was immediately answered by their being filled with the Holy Ghost, and they proceeded to speak, the imperfect also implying that they continued to speak (Rendall); there is no need to see any reference to the speaking with tongues. Feine sees in the narrative a divine answer to the Apostles’ prayer, so that filled with the Holy Ghost they spoke with boldness. And he adds, that such divine power must have been actually working in the Apostles, otherwise the growth of the Church in spite of its opposition is inexplicable—a remark which might well be considered by the deniers of a miraculous Christianity. It is in reality the same argument so forcibly put by St. Chrysostom: “If you deny miracles, you make it all the more marvellous that they should obtain such moral victories—these illiterate men!” Jüngst refers the whole verse to a redactor, recording that there was no one present with reference to whom the παρρησία could be employed. But the distinction between the aorist ἐπλήσ. and the imperfect ἐλάλουν shows that not only the immediate but the continuous action of the disciples is denoted.31. the place was shaken] That they might feel at once that the God of all nature, to whom they had appealed (Acts 4:24), was among them. In their immediate need an immediate answer is vouchsafed, and a token with it that their prayer was heard. Cp. Acts 16:26 of the shaking of the prison at Philippi after the prayers of Paul and Silas.

spake the word of God] i.e. wherever they found occasion and opportunity, neglecting the threats of the council, and endowed with the boldness for which they had prayed.Acts 4:31. Ἐσαλεύθη, was shaken) A proof afforded that all things are about to be shaken (put in commotion) by the Gospel: ch. Acts 16:26 (the earthquake at Philippi preceding the conversion of the gaoler).—ἐπλήσθησαν, they were filled) afresh.—μετὰ παῤῥησίας, with boldness of speech) Boldness of speech was immediately conferred on them, as in Acts 4:29 they had prayed; and this they put forth into exercise on the very earliest opportunity among themselves, and in addressing others.Verse 31. - Wherein they were gathered for when they were assembled, A.V. When they had prayed. When they had finished the preceding prayer. The place was shaken, perhaps by a mighty wind, as in Acts 2:2. The word σαλεύεσθαι is properly used of ships or of the sea agitated and tossed by the wind; so Matthew 11:7, "A reed shaken by the wind." But it is also applied to the rocking caused by an earthquake (Acts 16:26), which maybe the kind of shaking here meant. In this fresh outpouring or the Spirit, whereby they were enabled to speak the word of God with boldness, they had a direct and immediate answer to their prayer (see Isaiah 65:24).
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