Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation,…
1. It was the result of marvelous success. We must expect such opposition when God gives us power among the people. The proud and formal have no liking for that which can be set in contrast with their own inefficiency.
2. It proceeded from the sect of the Sadducees, i.e. the heretical school. The league between the high priest and the scoffers was a sad sign of religious degeneracy. So it is. When religion decays it becomes the food of unbelief. The latitudinarians hate spiritual earnestness.
3. It was weak and timid, evidently because there was a reproaching conscience and a growing apprehension in the background. The apostles were put into the public ward or prison, but probably not very jealously guarded.
4. The empty form of justice and wisdom was maintained - the council was summoned, that the weight of ecclesiastical authority might be used to crush the feeble apostles, that the people might be awed by the fear of great dignitaries. They often are, but the Spirit of God can overcome such fear.
5. Divine wisdom is more than human craft. The public trial or examination of the apostles was a public proclamation of the weakness of their enemies and the heavenly sanction given to their cause. The angelic deliverance of the prisoners became a notorious fact through all Jerusalem. The effect on the council, on the captain of the temple, on the populace, must have been immense. Evidently there was great excitement. "They feared the people, lest they should be stoned."
6. The two weak apostles in the presence of the council, boldly challenging the contradiction of facts and appealing from man to God - a striking manifestation of spiritual power. "We are witnesses, so is the Holy Ghost."
7. The division in the council between the furious fanatical party and the temperate Gamaliel party, reminding us of the division in the nation itself; some dead to the voice of God, others ready to follow it though not recognizing it. The influence of Gamaliel a sign of hope; there was a remnant still according to the election of grace, and it promised a future restoration of Israel.
8. The whole occurrence a great help to the Church, to feel its power, to deepen its devotion, to rejoice in hope of victory, to trust in the gracious providence of God. - R.
Parallel VersesKJV: Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation,