Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said to them, You rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost.—The tense implies an immediate sudden inspiration, giving the wisdom and courage and words which were needed at the time. The promises of Matthew 10:19-20, Luke 21:14-15, were abundantly fulfilled. The coincidence of names in the juxtaposition of the representatives of the new and the older Israel is striking. On each side there was a John; on each a Cephas, or Caiaphas, the two names possibly coming from the same root, or, at any rate, closely alike in sound. A few weeks back Peter had quailed before the soldiers and servants in the high priest’s palace. Now he stands before the Sanhedrin and speaks, in the language of respect, it is true, but also in that of unflinching boldness. We may, perhaps, trace a greater deference in the language of the Galilean fisherman, “Ye rulers of the people,” than in the “Men and brethren” of St. Paul (Acts 23:1; Acts 23:6), who was more familiar with the members of the court, and stood in less awe of them.Acts 4:8-12. Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost — That moment, according to the promise of his now glorified Master, (Matthew 10:20; Mark 13:11,) which was upon this occasion remarkably verified; said unto them — With the utmost freedom; Ye rulers of the people, &c. — He gives them the honour due to their office. If we this day be examined — And called to an account as criminals, about the good deed — Greek, ευεργεσια, the good work, or benefit, done to the impotent man, and you want us to declare by what means he is delivered from his calamitous state, and made whole — Σεσωσται, is cured or saved: be it known unto you — Probably the herald of God proclaimed this with a loud voice: that by the name of Jesus, whom ye lately crucified — With all the marks of detestation and contempt, as a criminal worthy of the most infamous death, but whom God raised from the dead — These rulers and elders knew in their own consciences that it was so. And, though they had hired the soldiers to tell a most senseless and incredible tale to the contrary, (Matthew 28:12-15,) yet it is observable, they did not, so far as we can know, dare to plead it before Peter and John. Even by him — By his power and goodness; doth this man — Cripple though he was from his mother’s womb, as you well know; stand here before you whole — Perfectly sound and well. This is the stone set at naught of you builders — That is, of you, who by your office should have been, and who professed to be, builders of God’s church, which, through the power of God, is become the head of the corner — To which the whole building owes its strength, its union, and its beauty. See notes on Psalm 118:22. Neither is there salvation — Temporal or spiritual; in any other: for there is no other name, &c., whereby we must be saved — The apostle, in this passage, uses a beautiful gradation from the temporal deliverance which had been wrought for the poor cripple, by the power of Christ, to that of a nobler and more important kind, which is wrought by Christ for impotent and sinful souls. He therein follows the admirable custom of his great Lord and Master, who continually took occasion from earthly to speak of heavenly things.Acts 2:4.
Ye rulers ... - Peter addressed the Sanhedrin with perfect respect. He did not call in question their authority to propose this question. He seemed to regard this as a favorable opportunity to declare the truth and state the evidence of the Christian religion. In this he acted on the principle of the injunction which he himself afterward gave 1 Peter 3:15, "Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear." Innocence is willing to be questioned; and a believer in the truth will rejoice in any opportunity to state the evidence of what is believed. It is remarkable, also, that this was before the Great Council of the nation - the body that was clothed with the highest authority. Peter could not have forgotten that before this very council, and these very men, his Master had been arraigned and condemned; nor could he have forgotten that in the very room where this same council was convened to try his Lord, he had himself shrunk from an honest avowal of attachment to him, and shamefully and profanely denied him.
That he was now able to stand boldly before this same tribunal evinced a remarkable change in his feelings, and was a most clear and impressive proof of the genuineness of his repentance when he went out and wept bitterly. Compare Luke 22:54-62. And we may remark here, that one of the most clear evidences of the sincerity of repentance is when it leads to a result like this. So deeply was the heart of Peter affected by his sin Luke 22:62, and so genuine was his sorrow, that he doubtless remembered his crime on this occasion, and the memory of it inspired him with boldness. It may be further remarked, that one evidence of the genuineness of repentance is a desire to repair the evil which is done by crime. Peter had done dishonor to his Master and his cause in the presence of the great council of the nation. Nothing, on such an occasion, would be more likely to do injury to the cause than for one of the disciples of the Saviour to deny him - one of his followers to be guilty of profaneness and falsehood. But here was an opportunity, in some degree, at least, to repair the evil. Before the same council, in the same city, and in the presence. of the same people, it is not an unnatural supposition that Peter rejoiced that he might have opportunity to bear his testimony to the divine mission of the Saviour whom he had before denied. By using the customary language of respect applied to the Great Council, Peter also has shown us that it is proper to evince respect for office and for those in power. Religion requires us to render this homage, and to treat men in office with deference, Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:7; 1 Peter 2:13-17.Filled with the Holy Ghost; guiding and strengthening of him in what he did speak, by which so mightily Peter differed from himself, that though formerly he was afraid of a servant, and denied our Saviour, now he is not afraid before the rulers to confess him.
Rulers of the people, and elders of Israel: see Acts 4:5. These were especially the great council, in imitation of the seventy, which Moses appointed by God’s command to help him in the burden of his government, Numbers 11:16,24. Matthew 10:18. The case was much altered with Peter, he who but a little while ago was frightened by a servant maid, now stands before the Jewish sanhedrim, with undaunted courage and resolution:
and said unto them, ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel; he addresses them in a very handsome manner, and gives them their proper titles as magistrates; which ought to be done by men and Christians; honour should be given, to whom honour is due: the Vulgate Latin, Syriac, and Ethiopic versions, and some copies, add "hear", which seems very necessary; he called for audience, or desired to be heard a few words, in the defence of himself and fellow apostle, and in answer to their questions.Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Acts 4:8-10. Πλησθεὶς πνεύμ. ἁγίου] quite specially, namely, for the present defence. Comp. Acts 8:9. “Ut praesens quodque tempus poscit, sic Deus organa sua movet,” Bengel. See Luke 12:11 f.
εἰ] in the sense of ἐπεί (Bornem. ad Xen. Symp. 4. 3, p. 101; Reissig, Conject. in Aristoph. I. p. 113; Dissen, ad Dem. de cor. p. 195), is here chosen not without rhetorical art. For Peter at once places the nature of the deed, which was denoted by τοῦτο, in its true light, in which it certainly did not appear to be a suitable subject of judicial inquiry, which presupposes a misdeed. If we (ἡμεῖς has the emphasis of surprise) are this day examined in respect of a good deed done to an infirm man (as to the means, namely), whereby he has been delivered.
In ἐπʼ εὐεργεσίᾳ is contained an equally delicate and pointed indication of the unrighteousness of the inquisitorial proceeding.
We are decidedly led to interpret ἐν τίνι as neuter (whereby, comp. Matthew 5:13), by the question of the Sanhedrim, Acts 4:7, in which no person is named; as well as by the answer of Peter: ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι Ἰ. Χ. κ.τ.λ., Acts 4:10, which is to be explained by the uttering the name of Jesus Christ, but not to be taken as equivalent to ἐν ʼΙησοῦ Χριστῷ. Hence the explanation, per quem, cujus ope (Kuinoel, Heinrichs), is to be rejected; but the emphatic ἐν τούτῳ (Acts 4:10) is nevertheless to be taken, with Erasmus, as masculine, so that after the twice-repeated ὅν κ.τ.λ. there comes in instead of the ὄνομα ʼΙ. Χ., as the solemnity of the discourse increases (“verba ut libera, ita plena gravitatis,” Grotius), the concrete Person (on this one it depends, that, etc.), of whom thereupon with οὗτος, Acts 4:11, further statements are made.
ὃν ὁ Θεὸς ἤγειρεν ἐκ νεκρ.] a rhetorical asyndeton, strongly bringing out the contrast without μὲν … δέ. See Dissen, Exc. II. ad Pind. p. 275.
οὗτος παρέστηκεν κ.τ.λ.] Thus the man himself who had been cured was called into the Sanhedrim to be confronted with the apostles, and was present; in which case those assembled certainly could not at all reckon beforehand that the sight of the man, along with the παῤῥησία of the apostles (Acts 4:13), would subsequently, Acts 4:14, frustrate their whole design. This quiet power of the man’s immediate presence operated instantaneously; therefore the question, how they could have summoned the man whose very presence must have refuted their accusation (Zeller, comp. Baur), contains an argumentum ex eventu which forms no proper ground for doubting the historical character of the narrative.Acts 4:8. πλησθεὶς πνεύ. ἁγ.: the whole phrase is characteristic of St. Luke, who employs it in the Gospel three times and in Acts five (Friedrich, Lekebusch, Zeller). Acts has sometimes been called the Gospel of the Holy Spirit, and the number of times St. Luke uses the title “Holy Spirit” justifies the name, see above also p. 63. All three expressions, πνεῦμα ἅγιον, τὸ ἅγιον πνεῦμα, and τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἅγιον are found in the Gospel and Acts, though much more frequently in the latter, the first expression (in the text) occurring quite double the number of times in Acts as compared with the Gospel, cf. in the LXX, Psalms 50 (51):11, Isaiah 63:10-11, Wis 1:5; Wis 9:17; and with 1 Corinthians 2:10; 1 Corinthians 2:12, cf. Wis 9:17, and Isaiah 63:10-11. On the omission of the article see Simcox, Language of N. T. Greek, p. 49. πλησθεὶς—the verb πίμπλημι common both in Gospel and in Acts, only found twice elsewhere in N.T., as against thirteen times in Gospel and nine times in Acts (Friedrich, Lekebusch). The word was also very frequent in LXX, cf. Sir 48:12, A. The phrase πλησθῆναι πνεύμ. ἁγ. is peculiar to St. Luke, in Gospel three times, Luke 1:15; Luke 1:41; Luke 1:67, and Acts 2:4; Acts 4:31; Acts 9:17; Acts 13:9, cf. Luke 12:12; Luke 21:14; see also Matthew 10:20, Mark 13:11. St. Peter’s courage in thus openly proclaiming the Crucified for the first time before the rulers of his people might well be significantly emphasised, as in Acts 4:13. St. Chrysostom comments (Hom., x.) on the Christian wisdom of St. Peter on this occasion, how full of confidence he is, and yet how he utters not a word of insult, but speaks with all respect.8. Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost] The Spirit of God upon him had changed him “into another man.” Cf. 1 Samuel 10:6.
said unto them, Ye rulers of the people] For this was the highest judicial tribunal which the Jews had.
and elders of Israel] The best authorities omit of Israel. The council was composed of the chief priests, i.e. the heads of each of the twenty-four classes into which the priests were divided, the scribes, men who were skilled in all the Jewish law, and the elders, grave and learned men chosen to complete the number, which is stated to have been in all seventy-one.Acts 4:8. Πλησθεὶς, being filled) at that very moment. The power which was dwelling in him put itself forth. So ch. Acts 13:9. As the existing time (exigency) in each instance demands, so GOD moves His instruments. But πλήρης, full, when used, expresses habitual fulness: Acts 6:3; Acts 6:5, “Stephen—full (πλήρη) of faith and of the Holy Ghost.”—ἄρχοντες, rulers) In the beginning he gives honour to them. But he addresses in a different manner, when they persevere in assailing Christianity, Acts 4:19; and again in ch. Acts 5:29. Comp. Acts 7:2, at the beginning, with Acts 4:51.Verse 8. - Elders for elders of Israel, A.V. and T.R. Filled with the Holy Ghost; in direct fulfillment of the promise (Mark 13:11; Luke 12:12; Luke 21:14, 15; comp. Acts 7:55). St. Peter addresses them with all respect (see Matthew 23:2).
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