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Bible Commentaries

Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament
Acts 4

 

 

Other Authors
Introduction

CHAPTER 4

Acts 4:2. τὴν ἐν νεκρῶν] D, min. and some VSS. and Fathers have τῶν νεκρῶν. Recommended by Griesb., adopted by Bornem. An alteration in accordance with the current ἀνάστασις τῶν νεκρῶν.

Acts 4:5. εἰς] A B D E, min. Chrys. have ἐν, which Griesb. has recommended, and Lachm. Tisch. Born. adopted. A correction, as the reference of εἰς was not obvious, and it was taken for ἐν; hence also εἰς ʼιερουσ. (regarded as quite superfluous) is entirely omitted in the Syr.

Acts 4:6. Lachm. has simple nominatives, καὶ ἄνναςἀλέξανδρος, in accordance no doubt with A B D א; but erroneously, for the very reason that this reading was evidently connected with the reading συνήχθησαν, Acts 4:5, still preserved in D Born. has consistently followed the whole form of the text in D as to Acts 4:5-6 (also the name ἰωνάθας instead of ʼιωάννης).

Acts 4:7. ἐν τῷ μέσῳ with the article is to be defended after Elz., with Lachm., on preponderating evidence (A B א).

Acts 4:8. τοῦ ʼισραήλ] is wanting in A B א, Vulg. Copt. Sahid. Aeth. Cyr. Fulg., and deleted by Lachm. But, as it was quite obvious of itself, it was more readily passed over than added.

Acts 4:11. οἰκοδόμων] so, correctly, Lachm. and Tisch., according to important authorities. The usual οἰκοδομούντων is from Matthew 21:42; comp. LXX. Psalms 118:22.

Acts 4:12. οὔτε] A B א, min. Did. Theodoret. Bas. have οὐδέ, which is recommended by Griesb. and adopted by Lachm. and Tisch. And rightly, as in Luke 20:36; Luke 12:26. Born., following D, has merely οὐ.

Acts 4:16. ποιήσομεν] A E א, min. have ποιήσωμεν. Recommended by Griesb. and adopted by Lachm. But the deliberative subjunctive appeared more in keeping with the sense. Comp. on Acts 2:37.

Acts 4:17. ἀπειλησώμεθα] D, min. have ἀπειλησόμεθα. So Born. But the future was introduced in order that it might correspond to the question τί ποιήσομεν. The preceding ἀπειλῇ is wanting in A B D א, min. most VSS. and some Fathers; deleted by Lachm. and Born. It might very easily be omitted by an oversight of the transcriber.

Acts 4:18. After παρήγγ., Elz. Scholz, Born, have αὐτοῖς. A common, but here weakly attested insertion.

Acts 4:24. θεός] is wanting in A B א, Copt. Vulg. Ath. Did. Ambr. Hilar. Aug. Deleted by Lachm. and Tisch. But as it might be dispensed with so far as the sense was concerned, how easily might a transcriber pass over from the first to the second ! On the other hand, there is no reason why it should have been inserted.

Acts 4:25. διὰ στόματ. δ. παιδός σου εἰπών] There are very many variations,(154) among which τοῦ πατρὸς ἡ΄ῶν διὰ πνεύ΄ατος ἁγίου στό΄ατος δ. παιδός σου εἰπών has the greatest attestation (A B E א, min.), and is adopted by Lachm., who, however, considers πνεύ΄ατος as spurious (Praef. p. VII.). An aggregation of various amplifying glosses; see Fritzsche, de conform. Lachm. p. 55.

Acts 4:27. ἐν τῇ πόλει ταύτῃ] is wanting in Elz., but has decisive attestation. Rejected by Mill and Whitby as a gloss, but already received by Bengel. The omission may be explained from the circumstance, that in the passage of the Psalm no locality is indicated.

Acts 4:36. ʼιωσῆς] Lachm. Tisch. Born. read ἰωσήφ, according to A B D E א, min. Chrys. Epiph. and several VSS. A mechanical alteration, in conformity with Acts 1:23.

ὑπό] Lachm. and Tisch. read ἀπό, according to A B E א, min. Theophyl. Rightly; ὑπό appeared to be necessary.


Verse 1-2

Acts 4:1-2. ʼεπέστησαν] stood there beside them. The sudden appearance is implied in the context ( λαλούντ. δὲ αὐτ., and see Acts 4:3). See on Luke 2:9; Luke 20:1.

οἱ ἱερεῖς] The article signifies those priests who were then serving as a guard at the temple.

στρατηγὸς τοῦ ἱεροῦ] the leader on duty of the Levitical temple-guard (of the ἱερεῖς), and himself a priest; different from the προστάτης τοῦ ἱεροῦ, 2 Maccabees 3:4 (see Grimm in loc.); comp. Joseph. Bell. Jud. ii. 12. 6; Antt. xx. 6. 2. See also on Luke 22:4.

As the concourse of people occurred in the temple-court, it was the business of the temple-guard officially to interfere. Therefore the opinion of Lightfoot, Erasmus Schmid, and Hammond, that the στρατηγὸς τοῦ ἱερ. is here the commander of the Roman garrison of the castle of Antonia, is to be rejected.

καὶ οἱ σαδδουκαῖοι] see on Matthew 3:7. The Sadducees present in the temple-court had heard the speech of Peter, chap, 3, at least to Acts 4:15 (see Acts 4:2), had then most probably instigated the interference of the guard, and hence appear now taking part in the arrest of the apostles.

διαπονούμενοινεκρῶν] refers to οἱ σαδδουκ. For these denied the resurrection of the dead, Matthew 22:23. “Sadducaei negant dicuntque: deficit nubes atque abit; sic descendens in sepulcrum non redit,” Tanchum, f. iii. 1. διαπονούμ. here and in Acts 16:18 may be explained either according to classical usage: who were active in their exertions, exerted their energies (my former interpretation), or according to the LXX. Sirach 10:9; Aq. Genesis 6:6; 1 Samuel 20:30 (Hesychius, διαπονηθείς· λυπηθείς): who were grieved, afflicted (the usual view, following the Vulgate and Luther). The latter meaning is most natural in the connection, is sufficiently justified in later usage(155) by those passages, and therefore is to be preferred. Sorrow and pain come upon them, because Peter and John taught the people, and in doing so announced, etc. That was offensive to their principles, and so annoyed them.

ἐν τῷ ʼιησοῦ] in the person of Jesus, i.e. in the case of His personal example. For in the resurrection of Jesus the ἀνάστασις ἐκ νεκρ. in general—although the latter is not expressly brought forward by Peter—was already inferential maintained, since the possibility of it and even an actual instance were therein exhibited (1 Corinthians 15:12).

We may add that, as the apostles made the testifying of the Risen One the foundation of their preaching, the emergence of the Sadducees is historically so natural and readily conceivable (comp. Acts 5:17), that Baur’s opinion, as to an à priori combination having without historical ground attributed this rôle to them, can only appear frivolous and uncritical, however zealously Zeller has sought to amplify and establish it. See in opposition to it, Lechler, Apost. Zeit. p. 326 ff.


Verse 3

Acts 4:3. εἰς τήρησιν] into custody, i.e. into prison. Comp. Thuc. vii. 86. 1; Acts 5:18.

ἑσπέρα] as they had gone to the temple at the ninth hour, and so at the beginning of the first evening (Acts 3:1), the second evening, which commenced at the twelfth hour, had probably already begun. See on Matthew 14:15.


Verse 4

Acts 4:4. As a contrast to this treatment of the apostles ( δέ), Luke notices the great increase of the church, which was effected by the address of the apostle. The number of believers had before this been above three thousand (Acts 2:41; Acts 2:47); by the present increase the number of men (the women, therefore, being not even included—on account of the already so considerable multitude of believers) came to be about five thousand. The supposition of Olshausen, “that at first, perhaps, only men had joined the church,” is arbitrary, and contrary to Acts 1:14. At variance with the text, and in opposition to Acts 5:14, de Wette makes women to be included.


Verse 5

Acts 4:5. ἐγένετοσυναχθῆναι] But it came to pass that, etc. Comp. Acts 9:3; Luke 3:21; Luke 16:22. So also in classical writers (Hes. Theog. 639; Xen. Cyr. vi. 3. 11). See Sturz, Lex. Xen. I. p. 587.

αὐτῶν] refers not to the believers, but, as is presumed to be obvious of itself, to the Jews, whose people, priests, etc., were named above, Acts 4:1, and to whom those who had become believers belonged. Comp. Winer, p. 138 [E. T. 183].

τοὺς ἄρχοντ. κ. πρεσβ. κ. γραμμ.] the Sanhedrists and elders and scribes. A full meeting of the Sanhedrim was arranged, at which in particular the members belonging to the classes of representatives of the people and scribes were not absent. Comp. on Matthew 2:4.

εἰς ἱερουσαλήμ] not as if they had their official residence elsewhere (as Zeller suggests in the interest of proving the narrative unhistorical); but certainly many were at this most beautiful period of summer (soon after Pentecost) at their country residences. So, correctly, Beza (“arcessitis videlicet qui urbe aberant, ut sollennis esset hic conventus,”—but only by way of suggestion), Bengel, Winer, and others. Most of the older commentators, and Kuinoel, erroneously assume that εἰς stands for ἐν, in which case, moreover, a quite superfluous remark would be the result.

καί] also (in order to mention these specially).

ἄνναν τὸν ἀρχιερ.] As at this time not Annas, but his son-in-law Caiaphas, was the ruling high priest, an erroneous statement must be acknowledged here, as in Luke 3:2, which may be explained from the continuing great influence of Annas. See the particulars, as well as the unsatisfactory shifts which have been resorted to, on Luke 3:2. Comp. Zeller, p. 127. Baumgarten still, p. 88 (comp. also Lange, Apostol. Zeitalt. I. p. 96, and II. p. 55), contents himself with justifying the expression from the age and influence of Annas,—a view which could not occur to any reader, and least of all to Theophilus, after Luke 3:2.

Nothing further is known of John and Alexander, who, in consequence of their connection with Caiaphas and with the following καὶ ὅσοι κ. τ. λ., are to be regarded as members of the hierarchy related to Annas. Conjectures concerning the former (that he is identical with the Jochanan Ben Zaccai celebrated in the Talmud) may be seen in Lightfoot in loc.; and concerning the latter (that he was the brother of Philo), in Mangey, Praef. ad Phil.; and Pearson, Lect. p. 51; Krebs, Obss. p. 176; Sepp, Gesch. d. Ap. p. 5, ed. 2.

ἐκ γένους ἀρχιερατ.] of the high-priestly family. Besides Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, all the other relatives of the high priest were brought into the assembly,—a proceeding indicative of the special importance which was ascribed to the pronouncing judgment on the dangerous prisoners.


Verse 7

Acts 4:7. The apostles were placed in the midst ( ἐν τῷ μέσῳ, comp. Matthew 14:6; John 8:3), so that they might be seen by all; and, for the purpose of ascertaining the state of matters which had occasioned the popular tumult of yesterday, the question is first of all submitted to them for their own explanation: By what kind of power(156) (which was at your command), or by what kind of name (which ye have pronounced), have ye done this (the cure which, they were aware, was the occasion of the discussion)? Erroneously, Morus, Rosenmüller, and Olshausen have referred τοῦτο to the public teaching. For the judicial examination had to begin at the actual commencement of the whole occurrence; and so Peter correctly understood this τοῦτο, as Acts 4:9-10 prove.

ἐν ποίῳ ὀνό΄ατι] The Sanhedrim certainly knew that the apostles had performed the cure ἐν ὀνό΄ατι ʼι. χριστοῦ (Acts 3:6), and they intended to found on the confession of this point partly the impeachment of heresy and blasphemy—as the Jewish exorcists were accustomed to use names of an entirely different kind in their formulae, namely, those of the holy patriarchs, or of the wise Solomon, or of God Himself (see Van Dalen, de divinat. Idol. V. T. p. 520)—and partly the charge of effort at rebellion, which might easily be based on the acknowledgment of the crucified insurgent as the Messiah.

ὑμεῖς] you people! with depreciating emphasis at the close.


Verses 8-10

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 . 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 θεὸς ἤγειρεν ἐκ νεκρ.] a rhetorical asyndeton, strongly bringing out the contrast without μὲνδέ. 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.


Verse 11

Acts 4:11. οὗτος] referred to Jesus, the more remote subject, which, however, was most vividly present to the conception of the speaker. Winer, p. 148 [E. T. 195].

λίθος κ. τ. λ.] a reminiscence of the well-known saying in Psalms 118:22, in immediate, bold application to the Sanhedrists ( ὑφʼ ὑμῶν), the builders of the theocracy, that have rejected Jesus, who yet by His resurrection and glorification has become the cornerstone, the bearer and upholder of the theocracy, i.e. that which constitutes its entire nature, subsistence, and working. Moreover, see on Matthew 21:42, and comp. 1 Peter 2:4 ff.; also on 1 Corinthians 3:11; Ephesians 2:20.


Verse 12

Acts 4:12. To the foregoing figurative assurance, that Jesus is the Messiah, Peter now annexes the solemn declaration that no other is so, and that without figure.

And there is not in another the salvation, i.e. κατʼ ἐξοχήν the Messianic deliverance (Acts 2:21). Comp. Acts 5:31, Acts 15:11. This mode of taking σωτηρία is imperatively demanded, both by the absolute position of the word with the force of the article, and by the connection with the preceding, wherein Jesus was designated as Messiah, as well as by the completely parallel second member of the verse. Therefore Michaelis, Bolten, and Hildebrand err in holding that it is to be understood of the cure of a man so infirm. Nor is the idea of deliverance from diseases generally to be at all blended with that of the Messianic salvation (in opposition to Kypke, Moldenhauer, Heinrichs), as Peter had already, at Acts 4:11, quite departed from the theme of the infirm man’s cure, and passed over to the assertion of the Messianic character of Jesus quite generally, without retaining any special reference to bodily deliverance.

ἐν ἄλλῳ οὐδενί] no other is the ground, on which salvation is causally dependent. Soph. Aj. 515: ἐν σοὶ πᾶσʼ ἔγωγε σώζομαι. Eur. Alc. 279: ἐν σοὶ ἐσμὲν καὶ ζῆν καὶ μή. Herod. viii. 118: ἐν ὑμῖν ἔοικεν ἐμοὶ εἶναι σωτηρίη.

γάρ] annexes a more precise explanation, which is meant to serve as a proof of the preceding. For also there is no other name under the heaven given among men, in which we must obtain salvation.

οὐδὲ γάρ (see the critical remarks): for also not. The reading οὔτε γάρ would not signify namque non (so Hermann, Opusc. III. p. 158), but would indicate that a further clause corresponding to the τέ was meant to follow it up (Klotz, ad Devar. p. 716; Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. i. 2. 31; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. II. p. 444 f.), which, however, does not suit here, where the address is brought to a weighty close. The use generally doubtful, at least with prose writers, of οὐκοὔτε instead of οὔτεοὔτε (Baeumlein, Partik. p. 222), is here excluded by γάρ, which makes the notion of neither—nor inapplicable.

ἕτερον] a name different from that name. On the other hand previously: ἐν ἄλλῳ οὐδ., in no one but in Him. Comp. on Galatians 1:7.

τὸ δεδομ. ἐν ἀνθρ] which is granted by God—given for good—among men, in human society. The view adopted by Wolf and Kuinoel, that ἐν ἀνθρ. stands for the simple dative, is erroneous. Winer, p. 204 [E. T. 273].

ἀνθρώποις] in this generic reference did not require the article. See Ast, Lex. Plat. I. p. 177 f.; Kühner, ad Xen. Mem. i. 4. 14; Stallb. ad Plat. Crit. p. 51 A Prot. p. 355 A. ὑπὸ τ. οὐραν., which might in itself be dispensed with, has solemn emphasis. Comp. Acts 2:5.

ἐν ] as formerly ἐν ἄλλῳ. The name is to be conceived as the contents of the believing confession. Fides implicita (in opposition to the Catholics) cannot here be meant; Acts 3:19; Acts 3:26.

δεῖ] namely, according to God’s unalterable destination.


Verses 13-15

Acts 4:13-15. θεωροῦντες] “Inest notio contemplandi cum attentione aut admiratione.” Tittmann, Synon. N. T. p. 121.

καὶ καταλαβόμενοι] and when they had perceived (Acts 10:34; Ephesians 3:18; Plat. Phaedr. p. 250 D Polyb. viii. 4. 6; Dion. Hal. ii. 66), when they had become aware. They perceived this during the address of Peter, which was destitute of all rabbinical learning and showed to them one γραμμάτων ἄπειρον (Plat. Apol. p. 26 D). ἀγράμματοι (Xen. Mem. iv. 2. 20; Plat. Crit. p. 109 D) denotes here the want of rabbinic culture. ἰδιῶται is the same: laymen, who are strangers to theological learning. See Hartmann in the Stud. u. Krit. 1834, I. p. 119 ff. The double designation is intended to express the idea very fully; ἄνθρωποι has in it, moreover, something disparaging: unlearned men. Comp. Lys. acc. Nicom. 28, and Bremi in loc. On ἰδιώτης, which, according to the contrast implied in the connection, may denote either a private man, or a plebeian, or an unlearned person, or a common soldier, or one inexperienced in gymnastic exercises, one not a poet, not a physician, and other forms of contrast to a definite professional knowledge, see Valcken. in loc; Hemsterhuis, ad Lucian. Necyom. p. 484; Ruhnken, ad Long. p. 410. Here the element of contrast is contained in ἀγράμματοι: hence the general meaning plebeians (Kuinoel and Olshausen, comp. Baumgarten) is to be rejected. They were μωροὶ τοῦ κόσμου, 1 Corinthians 1:27. Comp. John 7:15.

ἐπεγίνωσκόν τε αὐτοὺς, ὅτι κ. τ. λ.] and recognised them (namely) that they were (at an earlier period) with Jesus. Their astonishment sharpened now their recollection; and therefore Baur and Zeller have taken objection to this remark without sufficient psychological reason. ἐπεγίνωσκ. is incorrectly taken (even by Kuinoel) as the pluperfect. See Winer, p. 253 [E. T. 337]. The two imperfects, ἐθαύμαζ. and ἐπεγίνωσκ., are, as relative tenses, here entirely in place.

τὸν δὲ ἄυθρωπ.] emphatically put first.

συνέβαλον] they conferred among themselves. Comp. Acts 17:18; Plut. Mor. p. 222 C.


Verse 16

Acts 4:16. The positive thought of the question is: We shall be able to do nothing to these men. What follows contains the reason: for that a notable miracle (a definite proof of divine co-operation) has happened through them, is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we are not in a position to deny it.

To the μέν corresponds ἀλλʼ, Acts 4:17; to the γνωστόν is opposed the mere δοξαστόν, Plat. Pol. v. p. 479 D, vi. p. 510 A.


Verse 17-18

Acts 4:17-18. In order, however, that it be not further brought out among the people, i.e. spread by communication hither and thither among the people, even beyond Jerusalem. The subject is τὸ σημεῖον, not διδαχή; but the former is conceived of and dreaded as promoting the latter. ἐπὶ πλεῖον, magis, i.e. here ulterius. See Acts 20:9, Acts 24:4; 2 Timothy 2:16; 2 Timothy 3:9; Plat. Phaedr. p. 261 B Gorg. p. 453 A and Stallb. in loc.; Phaed. p. 93 B Xen. de vect. 4. 3. Comp. ἐπὶ μᾶλλον, Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 48.

Observe that the confession of Acts 4:16, made in the bosom of the council, in confidential deliberation, and without the presence of a third party, is therefore by no means “inconceivable” (in opposition to Zeller). The discussion in the council itself may have been brought about in various ways, if not even by secret friends of Jesus in the Sanhedrim (Neander, Lange).

ἀπειλῇ ἀπειλησ.] emphatically threaten. Comp. Luke 22:15; Lobeck, Paral. p. 523 ff.; Winer, p. 434 [E. T. 584].

λαλεῖν] is quite general, to speak; for it corresponds to the two ideas, φθέγγεσθαι(157) and διδάσκειν, Acts 4:18.

ἐπὶ τῷ ὀνό΄. τούτῳ] so that the name uttered is the basis on which the λαλεῖν rests. Comp. on Luke 24:47. They do not now name the name contemptuously, but do so only in stating the decision, Acts 4:18.

The article before the infinitive brings into stronger prominence the object; Bernhardy, p. 356; Winer, p. 303 [E. T. 406]. Concerning μή in such a case, see Baeumlein, Partik. p. 296 f.


Verses 19-22

Acts 4:19-22. ἐνώπ. τ. θεοῦ] coram Deo, God as Judge being conceived as present: “multa mundus pro justis habet, quae coram Deo non sunt justa,” Bengel. We may add, that the maxim here expressed (founded on Matthew 22:21) takes for granted two things as certain; on the one hand, that something is really commanded by God; and, on the other hand, that a demand of the rulers does really cancel the command of God, and is consequently immoral; in which case the rulers actually and wilfully abandon their status as organs of divine ordination, and even take up a position antagonistic to God. Only on the assumption of this twofold certainty could that principle lead Christianity, without the reproach of revolution, to victory over the world in opposition to the will of the Jewish and heathen rulers.(158) For analogous expressions from the Greek (Plat. Apol. p. 29 D Arrian. Epict. i. 20) and Latin writers and Rabbins, see Wetstein. The μᾶλλον is: rather (potius, Vulgate) than, i.e. instead of listening to God, rather to listen to you.(159) See Baeuml. Partik. p. 136. The meaning of ἀκούειν is similar to πειθαρχεῖν, Acts 4:29.

γάρ] Acts 4:20 specifies the reason, the motive for the summons: κρίνατε in Acts 4:19. For to us it is morally (in the consciousness of the divine will) impossible not to speak (Winer, p. 464 [E. T. 624]), i.e. we must speak what we saw and heard—namely, the deeds and words of Jesus, of which we were eye-witnesses and ear-witnesses.

ἡμεῖς] we on our part.

προσαπειλησάμενοι] after they had still more threatened them, namely, than already in the prohibition of Acts 4:18, in which, after Acts 4:17, the threatening was obviously implied. Comp. Sirach 13:3, ed. Compl. Dem. 544. 26; Zosim. i. 70.

μηδὲν εὑρίσκοντες τὸ πῶς κ. τ. λ.] because they found nothing, namely how they were to punish them. The article before whole sentences to which the attention is to be specially directed. Comp. Kühner, II. p. 138; Mark 9:23; Luke 1:62; Acts 22:30.

πῶς is not, with Kuinoel and others, to be explained qua specie, quo praetextu; the Sanhedrim, in fact, did not know how to invent any kind of punishment, which might be ventured upon without stirring up the people. Therefore διὰ τὸν λαόν, on account of the people, i.e. in consideration of them, is not to be referred, as usually, to ἀπέλυσαν αὐτούς, but to ΄ηδὲν εὑρίσκοντες κ. τ. λ.

ἐτῶν γὰρ κ. τ. λ.] So much the greater must the miracle of healing have appeared to the unprejudiced people, and so much the more striking and worthy of praise the working of God in it. πλειόνων τεσσαράκ. Comp. Matthew 22:23; Plat. Apol. p. 17 D, and Stallb. in loc.; Lobeck, ad Phryn. p. 410 f.


Verse 23-24

Acts 4:23-24. πρὸς τοὺς ἰδίους] to those belonging to them, i.e. to their fellow-apostles. This explanation (Syr. Beza) is verified partly by Acts 4:31, where it is said of all, that they proclaimed the doctrine of God; partly by Acts 4:32, where the multitude of believers are contrasted with these. Hence neither are we to understand, with Kuinoel, Baumgarten, and others, the Christian church in general, nor, with Olshausen, the church in the house of the apostles, or an assembly as in Acts 12:12 (van Hengel, Gave d. talen, p. 68).

ὁμοθυμαδὸν ἦραν] Thus all with one accord spoke aloud the following prayer; and not possibly Peter alone. The attempts to explain this away (Kuinoel, comp. Bengel: that the rest accompanied the speaker with a subdued voice; de Wette: that they spoke after him mentally; Olshausen: either that one prayed in the name of all, or that in these words is presented the collective feeling of all) are at variance with the clear text.(160) It is therefore to be assumed (comp. also Hildebrand) that in Acts 4:24-30 there is already a stated prayer of the apostolic church at Jerusalem, which under the fresh impression of the last events of the life of Jesus, and under the mighty influence of the Spirit received by them, had shaped and moulded itself naturally and as if involuntarily, according to the exigency which engrossed their hearts; and which at this time, because its contents presented to the pious feeling of the suppliants a most appropriate application to what had just happened, the assembled apostles joined in with united inspiration, and uttered aloud. With this view the contents of the prayer quite accord, as it expresses the memories of that time (Acts 4:25 ff.) and the exigencies (vv 29, 30) of the threatened church in general with energetic precision, but yet takes no special notice of what had just happened to Peter and John.

The address continues to the end of Acts 4:26. Others (Vulgate, Beza, Castalio, Calvin, de Wette, and many) supply εἶ after σύ, or before εἰπών (Bengel), but less in keeping with the inspired fervour of the prayer. The designation of God by δέσποτα and ποιήσας κ. τ. λ., serves as a background to the triumphant thought of the necessary unsuccessfulness of human opposition. Comp. Nehemiah 9:6; Revelation 14:7, al.


Verse 25-26

Acts 4:25-26. Psalms 2:1-2, exactly according to the LXX. The Psalm itself, according to its historical meaning, treats of the king, most probably of Solomon, mounting the throne; but this theocratic king is a type of the ideal of the Israelitish kingdom, i.e. of the Messiah, present to the prophetic eye. The Psalm is not by David (see Ewald and Hupfeld); but those who are praying follow the general assumption that the Psalms, of which no other is mentioned as author, proceed from him.

From the standpoint of the antitypical fulfilment in Christ they understood (see Acts 4:27) the words of the Psalm thus: Wherefore raged (against Jesus) Gentiles (the Romans), and tribes (of Israel) imagined a vain thing (in which they could not succeed, namely, the destruction of Jesus)? There arose (against Him) the kings of the earth, and the rulers (the former represented by Herod, and the latter by Pilate) assembled themselves (namely with the ἔθνεσιν and λαοῖς, see Acts 4:27) against Jehovah (who had sent Jesus) and against His anointed.

φρυάσσω] primarily, to snort; then, generally, ferocio; used in ancient Greek only in the middle. See Wesseling, ad Diod. iv. 74.


Verse 27-28

Acts 4:27-28. For in truth there assembled, etc. This γάρ confirms the contents of the divine utterance quoted from that by which it had been historically fulfilled.

ἐπʼ ἀληθείας] according to truth (Bernhardy, p. 248), really. Comp. Acts 10:34; Luke 4:25; Dem. 538; Polyb. i. 84. 6.

ἐπὶ τὸν ἅγιον παῖδά σου ἰησ. ὃν ἔχρισ.] against Thy holy servant, etc. Explanation of the above κατὰ τοῦ χριστοῦ αὐτοῦ. The (ideal) anointing of Jesus, i.e. His consecration on the part of God to be the Messianic king, took place, according to Luke, at His baptism (Acts 10:38; Luke 3:21-22), by means of the Spirit, which came upon Him, while the voice of God declared Him the Messiah. The consecration of Christ is otherwise conceived of in John ( ὃν πατὴρ ἡγίασε; see on John 10:36).

ἡρώδης] Luke 23:11.

σὺν ἔθνεσι κ. λαοῖς ἰσρ.] with Gentiles and Israel’s peoples. The plural λαοῖς does not stand for the singular, but is put on account of Acts 4:25, and is to be referred either, with Calvin and others, to the different nationalities (comp. Acts 2:5) from which the Jews—in great measure from foreign countries—were assembled at the Passover against Jesus; or, with Grotius and others, to the twelve tribes, which latter opinion is to be preferred, in accordance with such passages as Genesis 28:3; Genesis 35:5; Genesis 48:4. The priesthood not specially named is included in the λαοῖς ἰσρ.

ποιῆσαι] contains the design of the συνήχθησαν. This design of their coming together was “to kill Jesus;” but the matter is viewed according to the decree of God overruling it: “to do what God has predetermined.”

χείρ σου] symbolizes in the lofty strain of the discourse the disposing power of God. Comp. Acts 4:30; Acts 7:50; Acts 13:11; 1 Peter 5:6; Herod, viii. 140. 2; Herm. ad Viger. p. 732. A zeugma is contained in προώρισε, inasmuch as the notion of the verb does not stand in logical relation to the literal meaning of χείρ σου—with which some such word as προητοίμασε would have been in accord—but only to the attribute of God thereby symbolized.

The death of the Lord was not the accidental work of hostile caprice, but (comp. Acts 2:23, Acts 3:18) the necessary result of the divine predetermination (Luke 22:22), to which divine δεῖ (Luke 24:26) the personally free action of man had to serve as an instrument. οὐκ αὐτοὶ ἴσχυσαν, ἀλλὰ σὺ εἶ τὸ πᾶν ἐπιτρέψας καὶ εἰς πέρας ἀγαγὼν, εὐμήχανος καὶ σοφός· συνῆλθον μὲν γὰρ ἐκεῖνοι ὡς ἐχθροὶ …, ἐποίουν δὲ σὺ ἐβούλου, Oecumenius. Beza aptly says: ποιῆσαι refers not to the consilia et voluntates Herodis, etc., but to the eventus consiliorum. Comp. Flacius, Clav. I. p. 818.


Verse 29-30

Acts 4:29-30. καὶ τανὺν] and now, as concerns the present state of things. In the N. T. only in the Book of Acts (Acts 5:38, Acts 17:30, Acts 20:32, Acts 27:22); often in classical authors.

ἔφιδε (is to be so written with Tisch. and Lachm., comp. on Philippians 2:23) ἐπὶ τ. ἀπειλ. αὐτ.: direct thine attention to their threatenings, that they pass not into reality. On ἐφορᾶν in the sense of governing care, see Schaef. App. ad Dem. V. p. 31. Comp. Isaiah 37:17. αὐτῶν, according to the original meaning of the prayer (see on Acts 4:24), refers to the ἡρώδηςἰσραήλ. named in Acts 4:27, from whom the followers of Jesus, after His ascension, feared continued persecution. But the apostles then praying, when they uttered the prayer in reference to what had just occurred, gave to it in their conception of it a reference to the threatenings uttered against Peter and John in the Sanhedrim.

τοῖς δούλοις σου] i.e. us apostles. They are the servants of God, who execute His will in the publication of the gospel. But the παῖς θεοῦ κατʼ ἐξοχήν is Christ. Comp. on Acts 3:13. For examples of δός in prayers, see Elsner, p. 381; Ellendt, Lex. Soph. I. p. 427.

μετὰ παῤῥησ. πάσ.] with all possible freedom. See Theile, ad Jac. p. 7; and on Philippians 1:20.

ἐν τῷ τὴν χεῖρά σου ἐκτείν. κ. τ. λ.] i.e. whilst Thou (for the confirmation of their free-spoken preaching; comp. Acts 14:3; Mark 16:20) causest Thy power to be active for ( εἰς, of the aim) healing, and that signs and wonders be done through the name (through its utterance), etc.

καὶ σ. κ. τ. γίνεσθαι] is infinitive of the aim, and so parallel to εἰς ἴασιν, attaching the general to the particular; not, however, dependent on εἰς, but standing by itself. To supply ἐν τῷ again after καί (Beza, Bengel) would unnecessarily disturb the simple concatenation of the discourse, and therefore also the clause is not to be connected with δός.


Verse 31

Acts 4:31. ἐσαλεύθη τόπος] This is not to be conceived of as an accidental earthquake, but as an extraordinary shaking of the place directly effected by God, a σημεῖον(161)—analogous to what happened at Pentecost—of the filling with the πνεῦ΄α, which immediately ensued. This filling once more with the Spirit (comp. Acts 4:8) was the actual granting of the prayer δός λόγον σου, Acts 4:29; for the immediate consequence was: ἐλάλουν τ. λόγ. τ. θεοῦ ΄ετὰ παῤῥσίας, namely in Jerusalem, before the Jews, so that the threatenings against Peter and John (Acts 4:19; Acts 4:21) thus came to nothing. Luke, however, has not meant nor designated the free-spoken preaching as a glossolalia (van Hengel).

As extra-Biblical analogies to the extraordinary ἐσαλ. τόπος, comp. Virg. Aen. iii. 90 ff.; Ovid. Met. xv. 672. Other examples may be found in Doughtaeus, Anal. II. p. 71, and from the Rabbins in Schoettgen, p. 421.


Verse 32

Acts 4:32. Connections: Thus beneficial in its effect was the whole occurrence for the apostles (Acts 4:31); bur ( δέ) as regards the whole body of those that had become believers, etc. (Acts 4:32). As, namely, after the former great increase of the church (Acts 2:41), a characteristic description of the christian church-life is given (Acts 2:44 ff.); so here also, after a new great increase (Acts 4:4), and, moreover, so significant a victory over the Sanhedrim (Acts 4:5-31) had taken place, there is added a similar description, which of itself points back to the earlier one (in opposition to Schleiermacher), and indicates the pleasing state of things as unchanged in the church now so much enlarged.

τοῦ δὲ πλήθους] of the multitude, i.e. the mass of believers. These are designated as πιστεύσαντες, having become believers, in reference to Acts 4:4; but in such a way that it is not merely those πολλοί, Acts 4:4, that are meant, but they and at the same time all others, who had till now become believers. This is required by τὸ πλῆθος, which denotes the Christian people generally, as contrasted with the apostles. Comp. Acts 6:2. The believers’ heart and soul were one,—an expression betokening the complete harmony of the inner life as well in the thinking, willing, and feeling, whose centre is the heart (comp. Delitzsch, Psychol. p. 250), as in the activity of the affecttions and impulses, in which they were σύμψυχοι (Philippians 2:2) and ἰσόψυχοι (Philippians 2:20). Comp. 1 Chronicles 12:38; Philippians 1:27. See examples in Elsner, p. 317; Kypke, II. p. 31.

καὶ οὐδέ εἷς and not even a single one among so many. Comp. on John 1:3.

αὐτῷ] belongs to ὑπαρχ. Comp. Luke 8:3; Tobit 4:8; Plat. Alc. I. p. 104 A.

As to the community of goods, see on Acts 2:44.


Verse 33

Acts 4:33. And with this unity of love in the bosom of the church, how effective was the testimony of the apostles, and the divine grace, which was imparted to all the members of the church!

τῆς ἀναστ. τ. κυρ. ἰησοῦ] This was continually the foundation of the whole apostolic preaching; comp. on Acts 1:22. They bore their witness to the resurrection of Christ, as a thing to which they were in duty bound. Hence the compound verb ἀπεδίδουν, which (see Wyttenbach, Bibl. crit. III. 2, p. 56 ff.) καθάπερ ἐγχειρισθέντας αὐτούς τι δείκνυσι καὶ ὡς περὶ ὀφλήματος λέγει αὐτό, Oecumenius. Comp. 4 Maccabees 6:32; Dem. 234. 5. Observe, moreover, that here, where from Acts 4:32 onwards the internal condition of the church is described, the apostolic preaching within the church is denoted.

The χάρις μεγάλη is usually understood (according to Acts 2:47) of the favour of the people. Incorrectly, as οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐνδεής κ. τ. λ., Acts 4:34, would contain no logical assignation of a reason for this. It is the divine grace, which showed itself in them in a remarkable degree (1 Corinthians 15:10). So, correctly, Beza, Wetstein, de Wette, Baumgarten, Hackett.

ἦν ἐπὶ πάντ. αὐτ.] upon them all: of the direction in which the presence of grace was active. Comp. Luke 2:40.


Verse 34-35

Acts 4:34-35. γάρ] adduces a special ground of knowledge, something from which the χάρις μεγάλη was apparent. For there was found no one needy among them, because, namely, all possessors, etc.

πωλοῦντες κ. τ. λ.] The present participle is put, because the entire description represents the process as continuing: being wont to sell, they brought the amount of the price of what was sold, etc. Hence also πιπρασκομ. is not incorrectly (de Wette) put instead of the aorist participle. See, on the contrary, Kühner, II. § 675. 5. The aorist participle is in its place at Acts 4:37.

παρὰ τοὺς πόδας] The apostles are, as teachers, represented sitting (comp. Luke 2:46); the money is brought and respectfully (comp. Chrysostom: πολλή τιμή) placed at their feet as they sit.(162)

καθότι ἄν κ. τ. λ.] See on Acts 2:45.


Verse 36-37

Acts 4:36-37. δέ] autem, introduces, in contradistinction to what has been summarily stated in Acts 4:34-35, the concrete individual case of an honourably known man, who acted thus with his landed property. The idea in the δέ is: All acted thus, and in keeping with it was the conduct of Joses.

ἀπό (see the critical remarks)]: as at Acts 2:22.

υἱὸς παρακλήσ.] בַּר נְבוּאָה, son of prophetic address, i.e. an inspired instigator, exhorter. Barnabas was a prophet (Acts 13:1), and it is probable that (at a later period) he received this surname on the occasion of some specially energetic and awakening address which he delivered; hence Luke did not interpret the name generally by υἱὸς προφητείας, but, because the προφητεία had been displayed precisely in the characteristic form of παράκλησις (comp. 1 Corinthians 14:3), by υἱὸς παρακλ. At Acts 11:23 also, παράκλησις appears as a characteristic of Barnabas. We may add, that the more precise description of him in this passage points forward to his labours afterwards to be related.

λευΐτης] Jeremiah 32:7 proves that Levites might possess lands in Palestine. See Ewald, Alterth. p. 406. Hence the field is not to be considered as beyond the bounds of the land (Bengel).

ὑπάρχ. αὐτ. ἀγροῦ] Genitive absolute.

τὸ χρῆμα] in the singular: the sum of money, the money proceeds, the amount received. Herod, iii. 38; Poll. 9. 87; Wesseling, ad Diod. Sic. v. p. 436.

 


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Bibliography Information
Meyer, Heinrich. "Commentary on Acts 4:4". Heinrich Meyer's Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hmc/acts-4.html. 1832.

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Sunday, August 25th, 2019
the Week of Proper 16 / Ordinary 21
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