Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,
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.
Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide.
Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.
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.
And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes,
5. their rulers, &c.—This was a regular meeting of the Sanhedrim (see on Mt 2:4).
And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.
6. Annas … and Caiaphas—(See on Lu 3:2).
John and Alexander—of whom nothing is known.
And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?
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).
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,
8. Then, filled with the Holy Ghost, said—(See Mr 13:11; Lu 21:15).
If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;
Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
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.
This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
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."
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
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!
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
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!
And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.
But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,
Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.
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?
But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.
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.
And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
18-22. Whether it be right … to hearken to you more than … God, judge ye.
But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.
For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
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.
So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.
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.
For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.
And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.
Ac 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.
And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:
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.
Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?
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.
The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.
For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,
For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.
28. thy hand and thy counsel determined … to be done—that is, "Thy counsel" determined to be done by "Thy hand."
And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,
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.
By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.
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.
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.
And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
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.
Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
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.
And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,
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.
Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.