Acts 4:3

It appears that by this time the movements of the apostles were beginning to be an object of serious concern to the religious authorities in Jerusalem. Probably the Sadducee party, which succeeded in securing our Lord's death, was still predominant in the great council; this is indicated by the prominence given to the "Resurrection by the enemies of the disciples. In addition to the general annoyance at the public preaching of the apostles, the officials of the temple were grieved at the crowding of the people round the new teachers in the temple courts. So in the name of order, but really in the spirit of jealousy, they were arrested, late in the evening, and put in safe keeping until the next day. Jewish rules did not allow judgment to be given at night. Imprisonment was only a precautionary measure; the Jews did not punish by imprisonment. Where mention is made of it, as used for punishment, in the Scripture records, the authorities who inflicted it were not Jewish. The point to which we now direct attention is, that a confession of moral impotence is made in all physical attempts to stop and crush teachers. Intellectual and moral error can only be fairly met by the teaching of the corrective truth. Only when men fail to conquer by reasoning, can they wish to take up material weapons of any kind. When reason fails then men imprison, and beat, and torture, and kill. And physical forces never can succeed in crushing moral ones. It has been true for every age, and is as true as ever today, that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." Physical restraints are only proper in relation to wrongs that disturb the social order. They are wholly out of place in connection with matters of opinion.

I. THESE PRISONERS WERE ONLY TEACHERS. They only talked to the people. They only appealed to mind and judgment. They only announced some new truths. They only invited the people's belief. Part of the offence against them arose from the known fact that they were unlearned and ignorant men; not specially trained rabbis, and so not regarded as fit to preach. An instance of the class-prejudice which sadly prevails still. Illustrate from the story of great missionaries. They have only been teachers, yet how often, in different countries, they have excited prejudice and suffered persecution! The same is still, in measure, true of all great thought-leaders; all men who are "before their time" must expect to be misunderstood and persecuted.

II. THESE PRISONERS TAUGHT NOTHING AFFECTING SOCIAL ORDER. They did not encourage vice or lawlessness. They did not interfere with family life, local government, social customs, or politics. Like their Master, they dealt with broad and general principles, expecting these, when implanted, to gain their own growth and expressions. Even their little excitement in the temple courts, and temporary interference with the temple order, was a matter of no moment. There was no occasion for the temple police to interfere with them.

III. THESE PRISONERS TAUGHT NOTHING AFFECTING CEREMONIAL RITES. There were, indeed, personal examples of diligent and devout Mosaism; strict in all matters of ceremonial duty. They never uttered a word that could be regarded as disrespectful to the temple or the Jewish system. They never tried to break one single person away from his ceremonial duties. Their teachings were within Judaism, and the most jealous conservators of the old system had no good reason for fearing their influence. This, however, applies to true Mosaism, and not to the burdensome ritual added by the rabbis, against which both our Lord and his disciples vigorously pleaded. But on this particular occasion the apostles had not even attacked the rabbinical system.

IV. THE TEACHINGS OF THESE PRISONERS ACTUALLY TENDED TO PRESERVE SOCIAL ORDER AND MAKE BETTER CITIZENS. Such is everywhere the natural results of the preaching of Christ and the teaching of Christianity. Loyalty to Christ helps to secure loyalty to the earthly ruler, and the virtues Christianity cultivates find their expression in the social and national spheres. Then why were these men arrested? Because the men in power were jealous of the influence they were gaining, and feared they would lose their own authority and influence on the people. Self-seeking is at the root of all religious persecution. And because the men who opposed them could not meet and answer them in argument, they had to fall back upon the unworthy weapons of threatening and force (see vers. 16, 17). Impress that no physical bonds have ever yet been forged that could bind in the truth. - R.T.

And they laid hands upon them... Howbeit many of them which heard the Word believed.
1. Peter had boasted, "I am ready to go with Thee to prison." He was not ready then, and hence the folly of his boast. He was ready now, and so did not boast, but doubtless reflected on his Master's words, "Thou shalt follow Me afterwards."

2. The time-honoured method of the opponents of truth was here practised, "No case; abuse defendant's attorney." You can't refute the preacher; lock him up. The only answer that pagan Rome had for Christians was prison and death; the only answer that papal Rome has is the same.

3. But the policy does not answer. The preachers as cheerfully accept the prison as the pulpit when their Master bids them, and may take as theirs the crest — an ox with the plough on one side and the altar on the other, with the legend, "Ready for either." Ready for work or for sacrifice, Nor does the policy answer in another sense. You may silence the teacher, but you cannot silence the truth. In the case before us "many believed."

I. IN SPITE OF the apostles' imprisonment. God's work goes on whether His agents are bound or free, living or dead. It is independent of its best and worthiest supporters. Peter and John are in prison, but the fact that many believed shows that even the chief among the apostles are not indispensable. How foolish, then, the unbelieving anxiety expressed in the question about this or that distinguished minister, "Who can take his place?" Plenty, if God wills; if not the Holy Ghost will take his place.

1. The preacher is imprisoned or dead, but the Word which does the work is not. Fragments of the Bible left behind by the missionaries in Madagascar did more for Christianity than their vocal teaching.

2. The preacher is imprisoned or dead, but his teaching and example are not. They remain in the memory to influence the life. The stone sinks in the water, but the ripples on the lake extend till they reach either shore.

II. BECAUSE OF the apostles' imprisonment. Their endurance of persecution for the truth was a guarantee of their sincerity, and an exhibition of the power of the gospel on themselves. It is an easy thing to preach when Christianity is popular, but when unpopular, and when men notwithstanding are prepared to endure bonds or death rather than be silent about it — this shows that they believe in and enjoy the mighty power they preach. So in the milder forms of affliction. How many powerful sermons are silently preached from sick beds!

(J. W. Burn.)

A certain amount of persecution rouses a man's defiance, stirs his blood for magnificent battle, and makes him fifty times more a man than he would have been without the persecution. So it was with the great reformer when he said, "I will not be put down; I will be heard." And so it was with Millard, the preacher, in the time of Louis XI. When Louis XI. sent word to him that unless he stopped preaching in that style he would throw him into the river, he replied, "Tell the king that I will reach heaven sooner by water than he will reach it by fast horses."

(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)

Sad, that so good news should find so bad entertainment! but happy for some, that as it was raised for so good a Word (Matthew 13:21), so occasioned by so good a deed done to an impotent man. Such may ever our sufferings be, that if a black shadow must needs follow us, it may be only because we walk in the light; and that if it prove our lot to hear and fare ill, it may be for doing well (1 Peter 3:17; 1 Peter 4:16; John 10:32).

(A. Tuckney, D. D.)

I. THE ARREST was brought about —

1. While the service was being held (ver. 1). The devil has a keen aversion to the proclaiming of the gospel, and will stop it if he can.

2. By ecclesiastical officials. In proportion as Christ is exalted, the Jewish idea of an official priesthood must lose its hold upon the minds of men.

3. By men who felt deeply — "grieved." The preaching of the gospel causes heaven to rejoice, and it brings joy to those who receive it, but these men were grieved because of it. How thoroughly even religious men may be out of touch with sympathies that emanate from God! What a pity there should be so much deep feeling wrongly directed! There has been quite a Niagara of human emotion, which, during the Christian ages, has spent itself in win in dashing against the impregnable rock of Christian verities.

II. The detention. Tim apostles had started out to visit the temple at the hour of the evening sacrifice, but as that evening closed they themselves offered a sacrifice with which the Lord would be well pleased. The bars and bolts of the strong door might keep them in, but they could not keep Jesus out. Even on earth suffering saints have Often found what Thomas Cooper calls "the paradise of martyrs."


1. Christ was honoured.

2. There was a word for the rulers.

3. There was a word for everybody.


1. The rulers were impressed.

2. The apostles were threatened.

3. The apostles were released.

4. God was glorified. To Peter and John this would be an all-sufficient recompense.

(H. Thorne.)

Alexander, Annas, Barnabas, Caiaphas, David, Herod, John, Joseph, Joses, Peter, Pilate
Cyprus, Jerusalem, Nazareth, Solomon's Colonnade
Already, Apostles, Arrested, Custody, Evening, Eventide, Hands, Hold, Jail, John, Laid, Lodged, Morning, Morrow, Peter, Prison, Till, Ward
1. The rulers of the Jews, offended with Peter's sermon,
3. imprison him and John.
5. After, upon examination
8. Peter boldly avouching the lame man to be healed by the name of Jesus,
11. and that only by the same Jesus we must be eternally saved,
13. they threaten him and John to preach no more in that name,
23. whereupon the church flees to prayer.
31. And God, by moving the place where they were assembled, testifies that he heard their prayer;
34. confirming the church with the gift of the Holy Spirit, and with mutual love and charity.

Dictionary of Bible Themes
Acts 4:3

     5348   injustice, nature and source
     5460   prison
     5565   suffering, of believers
     8739   evil, examples of

Acts 4:1-3

     7540   Judaism
     8800   prejudice

Acts 4:1-4

     7757   preaching, effects

Acts 4:1-20

     2427   gospel, transmission

Chester Cathedral, 1871. Acts iv. 13, 18-20. "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. . . . And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 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
Charles Kingsley—All Saints' Day and Other Sermons

February 16 Morning
Thy name is as ointment poured forth.--SONG 1:3. Christ . . . hath loved us, and hath given himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.--Unto you therefore which believe he is precious.--God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow.--In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. If ye love me, keep my commandments.--The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy
Anonymous—Daily Light on the Daily Path

With and Like Christ
'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.' --ACTS iv. 13. Two young Galilean fishermen, before the same formidable tribunal which a few weeks before had condemned their Master, might well have quailed. And evidently 'Annas, the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest,' were very much astonished
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts

Impossible Silence
'We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.' --ACTS iv. 20. The context tells us that the Jewish Council were surprised, as they well might be, at the boldness of Peter and John, and traced it to their having been with Jesus. But do you remember that they were by no means bold when they were with Jesus, and that the bravery came after what, in ordinary circumstances, would have destroyed any of it in a man? A leader's execution is not a usual recipe for heartening his followers,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts

The Wheat and the Tares
'And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.' --ACTS iv. 32. 'And great fear came upon all the church, and upon as many as heard these things.'--ACTS v. 11. Once more Luke pauses and gives a general survey of the Church's condition. It comes in appropriately at the end of the account of the triumph over the first assault of civil authority, which assault
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts

The First Blast of Tempest
'And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, 2. Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now even-tide. 4. Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand. 5. And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes,
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts

Obedient Disobedience
'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. 20. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. 21. 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. 22. For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed. 23. And being let go they
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts

The Servant and the Slaves
'Thy servant David...'; 'Thy Holy Servant Jesus...'; 'Thy servants...'--ACTS iv. 26, 27, 29. I do not often take fragments of Scripture for texts; but though these are fragments, their juxtaposition results in by no means fragmentary thoughts. There is obvious intention in the recurrence of the expression so frequently in so few verses, and to the elucidation of that intention my remarks will be directed. The words are parts of the Church's prayer on the occasion of its first collision with the civil
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts

Scriptural Christianity
"Whosoever heareth the sound of the trumpet, and taketh not warning; if the sword come, and take him away, his blood shall be upon his own head." Ezek. 33:4. "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost." Acts 4:31. 1. The same expression occurs in the second chapter, where we read, "When the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all" (the Apostles, with the women, and the mother of Jesus, and his brethren) "with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions

Christ's People --Imitators of Him
First, then, this morning, I will tell you what a Christian should be; secondly, I will tell you when he should be so; thirdly, why he should be so; and then fourthly how he can be so. I. As God may help us then, first of all, we will speak of WHAT A BELIEVER SHOULD BE. A Christian should be a striking likeness of Jesus Christ. You have read lives of Christ, beautifully and eloquently written, and you have admired the talent of the persons who could write so well; but the best life of Christ is his
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 1: 1855

The Way of Salvation
What a great word that word "salvation" is! It includes the cleansing of our conscience from all past guilt, the delivery of our soul from all those propensities to evil which now so strongly predominate in us; it takes in, in fact, the undoing of all that Adam did. Salvation is the total restoration of man from his fallen estate; and yet it is something more than that, for God's salvation fixes our standing more secure than it was before we fell. It finds us broken in pieces by the sin of our first
Charles Haddon Spurgeon—Spurgeon's Sermons Volume 4: 1858

A Manifestation of God in Answer to Prayer
A MANIFESTATION OF GOD IN ANSWER TO PRAYER ". . . 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." -- Acts 4:31. This remarkable manifestation of God reveals the effectiveness of prevailing prayer. It vividly discloses the fact that prayer can accomplish much. It is apparent that neither the apostles, nor the assembled company of devout believers were astonished at the marvelous
T. M. Anderson—Prayer Availeth Much

Against the Modern Free-Thinkers.
Sir, THERE arrived in this neighbourhood, two days ago, one of your gay gentlemen of the town, who being attended at his entry with a servant of his own, besides a countryman he had taken up for a guide, excited the curiosity of the village to learn whence and what he might be. The countryman (to whom they applied as most easy of access) knew little more than that the gentleman came from London to travel and see fashions, and was, as he heard say, a Free-thinker; what religion that might be he could
Joseph Addison—The Evidences of the Christian Religion, with Additional Discourses

The Church of God.
More than one hundred times the words church and churches are used in the New Testament. It is always translated from ekklesia. Most translators agree that a more correct translation of this Greek word would have been congregation. "The church of God" would then have read, "Congregation of God." "The church of the first-born" would have read, "The congregation of the first-born." The church that was at Antioch would have read, "The congregation that was at Antioch," etc. What Is The Church Or
Charles Ebert Orr—The Gospel Day

Paul at Sea. Acts xxvii. 22-25.
"There's no hope," said the captain, "the ship cannot live in such a storm." "There's no hope," said the military officer, "we shall never see Rome." "There's no hope," said the prisoners, "we shall die at sea instead of on the scaffold." One prisoner, however, had hope, and in the long run made all his companions to hope. Paul cried out, "BE OF GOOD CHEER, FOR THERE STOOD BY ME THIS NIGHT THE ANGEL OF GOD, WHOSE I AM, AND WHOM I SERVE, SAYING, FEAR NOT, PAUL, THOU MUST BE BROUGHT BEFORE CAESAR,
Thomas Champness—Broken Bread

"And all that Believed were Together. " Acts 4:44.
"And all that believed were together." Acts 4:44. 1 Restore, O Father! to our times restore The peace which filled thine infant church of yore; Ere lust of power had sown the seeds of strife, And quenched the new-born charities of life. 2 O never more may differing judgments part From kindly sympathy a brother's heart; But linked in one, believing thousands kneel, And share with each the sacred joy they feel. 3 From soul to soul, quick as the sunbeam's ray, Let concord spread one universal
J.G. Adams—Hymns for Christian Devotion

Ananias and Sapphira
BY REV. GEORGE MILLIGAN, M.A., D.D. One of the most striking features of the early Christian Church was what we have come to know as Christian Communism, or as the historian describes it in Acts iv, 32: "And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and soul: and not one of them said that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common." It is a bright and a pleasing picture that is thus presented. Nor is it difficult to understand how such a spirit
George Milligan—Men of the Bible; Some Lesser-Known

Whether Explicit Belief in the Mystery of the Incarnation of Christ is Necessary for the Salvation of Everybody
Whether Explicit Belief in the Mystery of the Incarnation of Christ is Necessary for the Salvation of Everybody We proceed to the seventh article thus: 1. It seems that explicit belief in the mystery of the incarnation of Christ is not necessary for the salvation of everybody. A man is not required to have explicit belief in matters of which angels are ignorant, since the faith is made explicit by divine revelation, which reaches men through the medium of angels, as was said in the preceding article.
Aquinas—Nature and Grace

St. Cyprian.
PART I (AD 200-253) About the same time with Origen lived St Cyprian, bishop of Carthage. He was born about the year 200, and had been long famous as a professor of heathen learning, when he was converted at the age of forty-five. He then gave up his calling as a teacher, and, like the first Christians at Jerusalem (Acts iv. 34f), he sold a fine house and gardens, which he had near the town, and gave the price, with a large part of his other money, to the poor. He became one of the clergy of Carthage,
J. C. Roberston—Sketches of Church History, from AD 33 to the Reformation

Whether There is but one Divine Law?
Objection 1: It would seem that there is but one Divine law. Because, where there is one king in one kingdom there is but one law. Now the whole of mankind is compared to God as to one king, according to Ps. 46:8: "God is the King of all the earth." Therefore there is but one Divine law. Objection 2: Further, every law is directed to the end which the lawgiver intends for those for whom he makes the law. But God intends one and the same thing for all men; since according to 1 Tim. 2:4: "He will have
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether it is Necessary for the Salvation of All, that they Should Believe Explicitly in the Mystery of Christ?
Objection 1: It would seem that it is not necessary for the salvation of all that they should believe explicitly in the mystery of Christ. For man is not bound to believe explicitly what the angels are ignorant about: since the unfolding of faith is the result of Divine revelation, which reaches man by means of the angels, as stated above [2287](A[6]; [2288]FP, Q[111], A[1]). Now even the angels were in ignorance of the mystery of the Incarnation: hence, according to the commentary of Dionysius (Coel.
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether all are Bound to Receive Baptism?
Objection 1: It seems that not all are bound to receive Baptism. For Christ did not narrow man's road to salvation. But before Christ's coming men could be saved without Baptism: therefore also after Christ's coming. Objection 2: Further, Baptism seems to have been instituted principally as a remedy for original sin. Now, since a man who is baptized is without original sin, it seems that he cannot transmit it to his children. Therefore it seems that the children of those who have been baptized, should
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether Christ Worked Miracles Fittingly on Men?
Objection 1: It would seem that Christ worked miracles unfittingly on men. For in man the soul is of more import than the body. Now Christ worked many miracles on bodies, but we do not read of His working any miracles on souls: for neither did He convert any unbelievers to the faith mightily, but by persuading and convincing them with outward miracles, nor is it related of Him that He made wise men out of fools. Therefore it seems that He worked miracles on men in an unfitting manner. Objection 2:
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether Christ Suffered in a Suitable Place?
Objection 1: It would seem that Christ did not suffer in a suitable place. For Christ suffered according to His human nature, which was conceived in Nazareth and born in Bethlehem. Consequently it seems that He ought not to have suffered in Jerusalem, but in Nazareth or Bethlehem. Objection 2: Further, the reality ought to correspond with the figure. But Christ's Passion was prefigured by the sacrifices of the Old Law, and these were offered up in the Temple. Therefore it seems that Christ ought
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

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