Acts 4:19, 20
But Peter and John answered and said to them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, judge you.
Here we have -
I. A TRUTH WHICH IS PALPABLE TO ALL - that when the Divine and the human are in conflict, the human must yield to the Divine. "Whether it be right... judge ye." The judgment required was one that any man could pronounce; the question may be answered by the humblest understanding.
1. Ordinarily, the commandments of God and of man are in unison; it is, as a rule, our duty to God to obey the human parent, teacher, magistrate, minister.
2. But occasionally, we are compelled to believe that God bids us act in a way directly at variance with the commands of man. The apostles now found themselves in this position. Since then martyrs, confessors, those who have been persecuted for Christ's sake, in every age and land, have found themselves thus placed. And these have included not only the men whose names history has preserved and whose praise poetry has sung, but many thousands who have struggled and endured in quiet homes and narrow spheres, whose heroism no tongue has told, no pen recorded.
3. Then the human authority is nothing to the Divine. We must obey God rather than man; we must give our first allegiance, our most dutiful submission, to the Eternal Father, to the Divine Teacher, to the King of kings, to the Head of the Church himself.
II. A TRUTH WHICH IS APPRECIABLE ONLY BY THE REST - that we are under a holy compulsion to testify the truth we know: "We cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." All can understand that men will speak the truth they know when, by so doing, they will gain anything which satisfies their lower nature - pecuniary reward, or personal prominence, or the gratification of receiving the interested attention of others. But it is not every one who can understand that men feel themselves under a holy compulsion to declare what God has revealed to them in order to relieve a full and burdened heart. This is a case in which "only the good discern the good." But those who are in sympathy with God and with heavenly wisdom will understand that human hearts may be so impressed with the excellency, the beauty, the fruitfulness, the divinity of truth, that they are positively oppressed while they remain silent, until they have "spoken the things they have seen and heard." The word is in the heart as "a burning fire shut up in the bones," etc. (Jeremiah 20:9; Job 32:18, 20; Psalm 39:3; 1 Corinthians 9:16). The fact that not only the apostles of our Lord, but thousands of souls since then, have felt thus constrained concerning Christian truth, suggests:
1. That it is a truth of transcendent worth which it is foolish and wrong to trifle with.
2. That we have not risen to the full height of appreciation of it if we do not feel irresistibly impelled to make it known to others. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.
WEB: But Peter and John answered them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, judge for yourselves,