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Bible Commentaries

Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
Acts 4

 

 

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Verse 1

Acts 4:1. λαλούντων, whilst they were speaking) The matter was divinely so ordered as that they first spake out all that was necessary in the temple; afterwards in the council (Sanhedrim), to which they would not have been allowed to go had they not been brought there.— ἐπέστησαν, came upon them) “The cross,” says Jonas, “always accompanies the true Gospel.”— οἱ ἱερεῖς, the priests) who were troubled (alarmed) as to their priesthood being in danger.— στρατηγὸς τοῦ ἱεροῦ, the captain, or prefect of the temple) who was troubled (alarmed) as to the public welfare (republicâ, the state), as being the chief prefect, under whom were the prefects of the watches in the temple: Luke 22:4.— οἱ σαδδουκαῖοι, the Sadducees) who were troubled as to their doctrine.


Verse 2

Acts 4:2. διὰ τὸ διδάσκειν αὐτοὺς, on account of their teaching) This the Priests were annoyed at, on account of their authority: the Prefect of the temple, through fear of attempts at revolution.— καταγγέλλειν, their announcing) This the Sadducees were annoyed at, as they denied the resurrection: and their error was being utterly refuted by the one sole and incontrovertible example of Jesus Christ especially.


Verse 3

Acts 4:3. εἰς τήρησιν, in confinement, custody) So Peter and John were sharpened (exercised) in faith.— αὔριον, the morrow, the next day) The morrow is here put for the next day, by Mimesis (i.e. using the words which were probably used by the persons committing the apostles to prison: Append.). [On that night what great things we may suppose occurred (passed) in the souls of those great apostles!—V. g.]— ἑσπέρα, evening) of that day, the morning of which is in ch. Acts 3:1.


Verse 4

Acts 4:4. τῶν ἀνδρῶν, the men) The number, therefore, with the women and children, was much greater. In this multitude, amounting to about five thousand, there seem to be included those who are mentioned in ch. Acts 2:41, “about three thousand souls.” Subsequently, after other accessions, ch. Acts 5:14, Acts 6:1; Acts 6:7, they became several myriads: ch. Acts 21:20, “Thou seest how many myriads [not thousands, as Engl. Vers.] of Jews there are who believe.”


Verse 5

Acts 4:5. αὐτῶν, of them) viz. the Jews.— τοὺς ἄρχοντας καὶ πρεσβυτέρους καὶ γραμματεῖς, rulers and elders and scribes) who were conspicuous in authority, counsel, and doctrine.— εἰς ἰερουσαλὴμ, to Jerusalem) from the neighbourhood: unless εἰς be put for ἐν.(34)

ἐν is the reading of ABDE Vulg. Theb. Rec. Text has no very old authority for εἰς.—E. and T.


Verse 6

Acts 4:6. τὸν ἀρχιερέα, the High Priest, the chief of the priests) This is to be understood of Caiaphas also.— ἀλέξανδρον, Alexander) This name was frequent among the Jews from Alexander the Great.


Verse 7

Acts 4:7. ἐπυνθάνοντο) they began asking, in many words, as if it were a matter unknown or obscure. To it corresponds γνωστὸν, Be it known, Acts 4:10.— δυνάμει, ὀνόματι, by what power or name) Something had been reported to them of the words of Peter, ch. Acts 3:6; Acts 3:12; Acts 3:16 [as they use the very same words, name and power]. And this very expression (viz. ‘name’) is admirably repeated by Peter, Acts 4:10; Acts 4:12.— ἐποιήσατε, have ye done) They speak ambiguously: they do not say, have ye healed?


Verse 8

Acts 4:8. πλησθεὶς, being filled) at that very moment. The power which was dwelling in him put itself forth. So ch. Acts 13:9. As the existing time (exigency) in each instance demands, so GOD moves His instruments. But πλήρης, full, when used, expresses habitual fulness: Acts 6:3; Acts 6:5, “Stephen—full ( πλήρη) of faith and of the Holy Ghost.”— ἄρχοντες, rulers) In the beginning he gives honour to them. But he addresses in a different manner, when they persevere in assailing Christianity, Acts 4:19; and again in ch. Acts 5:29. Comp. Acts 7:2, at the beginning, with Acts 4:51.


Verse 9

Acts 4:9. εἰ, if) i.e. since. He means the ἀνάκρισις, examination, now going forward.— ἀνακρινόμεθα, we be examined) By judicial process.— εὐεργεσίᾳ, a good deed) whereas ordinarily it is persons who have done an evil deed, that must submit to examination. The article is not added; but there follows, in Acts 4:12, σωτηρία, the salvation, where the article forms an Epitasis [emphatic addition to the previous enunciation, viz. to the εὐεργεσίᾳ without the article]. Christ was σωτὴρ καὶ εὐεργέτης, a most beneficent Saviour. See Chrysost. de Sacerd. p. 208.— ἐν τίνι, by what) The rulers had asked, by what power (virtue), and by what name. This Peter takes up, changing the adjective [substituting τίνι for ποίᾳ, ποίῳ], in order to make his reply the more definite: and immediately also replies concerning the authority and name, Acts 4:10.— οὗτος, this man) who is here present, Acts 4:10; Acts 4:14.— σέσωσται, is made whole) To this word is to be referred σωτηρία, σωθῆναι, the salvation, be saved, Acts 4:12, from the notation (signification) of the name Jesus, Acts 4:10. [The health of the body is as it were a type and mirror of the health of the soul.—V. g.]


Verse 10

Acts 4:10. γνωστὸν, known) This Peter, as a great herald (preacher), spoke with his voice raised. He expresses the whole in a brief compass.— ὑμῖν, unto you) rulers.


Verse 11

Acts 4:11. οὗτος, this) He brings a more severe charge against the rulers, than in ch. Acts 3:17 against the people.— λίθος, the stone) The article refers the hearers back to prophecy. See Matthew 21:42, note.— ὑφʼ ὑμῶν, by you) This is added with boldness of speech.— εἰς κεφαλὴν γωνίας, the head of the corner) This is explained in the following verse. The very rejection on the part of the builders proves the stone [to be the one chosen of God].


Verse 12

Acts 4:12. ἐν ἄλλῳ οὐδενὶ, in none other) i.e. it is wholly in Him alone that salvation is. Hereby the question, Acts 4:9, by what means, is clearly set at rest (is a fixed point).— σωτηρία, the salvation) which was promised, and long wished for, whereby we escape every misery: the salvation (health) of body and soul: with which comp. Acts 4:9. There is great force in the article.— γὰρ, for) It is necessary that there should be divinely given and proclaimed a name, wherein there is salvation. It belongs not to us to mark out, or devise, a name whereby to obtain salvation: it belongs not to Rome to canonise the departed.— ἓτερον, other such [‘alterum,’ second]) This has the force of Epitasis (augmentation of the force of what precedes, by addition), in relation to the ἄλλῳ [‘alio’] preceding. Ammonius observes: “ ἕτερος is used in the case of two; ἄλλος, in the case of more than two.(35) Comp. 1 Corinthians 12:8-9, ἄλλῳ δὲἑτέρῳ δὲ; 2 Corinthians 11:4; Galatians 1:6-7, notes.— τὸ τὸν οὐρανὸν, under heaven) i.e. in all the earth: ch. Acts 2:5. The dwellers on the earth had need of salvation; and it behoved the Saviour to establish (plant) salvation on the earth. Matthew 9:6, “The Son of man hath power on earth to forgive.”— τὸ δεδομένον, given) Which has been given, viz. from heaven.— ἐν ἀνθρώποις, among men) There is one Mediator: there is no second one in the whole human race. 1 Timothy 2:5.— ἡμᾶς, us) viz. all men.


Verse 13

Acts 4:13. θεωροῦντες) beholding.— παῤῥησίαν, the freedom of speech) The noun παῤῥησία, and the verb παῤῥησιάζομαι, both very frequently used in this book of Acts, inasmuch as being appropriate to its subject, express the characteristic of true religion. It was by this boldness of speech that they overcame both city and world (urbem et orbem).— καταλαβόμενοι, having perceived) now, or even before.— ἄνθρωποι, men) This is a more humble designation than ἄνδρες.— ἀγράμματοι, unlearned) who could scarcely read or write, having hardly made further progress even in sacred learning.— ἰδιῶται, untutored men) Private persons, viz. fishermen; and therefore not endued with those accomplishments on which political and eloquent men depend. The ἀγράμματος is unaccomplished; the ἰδιώτης, still more so. See the remarks which we have made concerning this word, on Chrysost. de Sacerd., § 413. “It is by men of this kind, despised in the eyes of the world, that God has ALWAYS caused His word to be preached.”—Justus Jonas.— ἐπεγίνωσκόν τε, and they knew or recognised) now at last: for a little before they had paid less attention to them.


Verse 14

Acts 4:14. σὺν αὐτοῖς, with them) viz. with Peter and John.— ἕστωτα, standing) with firm ankle.— οὐδὲν εἶχον, they had nothing) although they were wishing it: Acts 4:21. They themselves say, we cannot: Acts 4:16.


Verse 16

Acts 4:16. τί ποιήσομεν, what shall we do?) The answer is ready to those who ask this question; Believe.— τοῖς) The Ablative.— φανερὸν, manifest) viz. is. And on this depends ὅτι γνωστὸν, κ. τ. λ.


Verse 17

Acts 4:17. διανεμηθῇ) They regard the whole as a gangrene or canker. For so it is described in 2 Timothy 2:17, “Their word will eat or have pasture ( νομὴν ἓξει) as doth a canker or gangrene” ( γάγγραινα).— ἀπειλῇ, with threatening) Your efforts are vain, ye rulers. These men have a resource to flee to: Acts 4:29.— τούτῳ, this) They do not deign to mention the name Jesus: ch. Acts 5:28.


Verse 18

Acts 4:18. φθέγγεσθαι, to speak) in familiar discourse.— διδάσκειν, to teach) in their public speeches (sermons).


Verse 19

Acts 4:19. ἀποκριθέντες, having answered) openly and in plain terms. They employ no artifice, with a view to being let go.— ἐνώπιον τοῦ θεοῦ, in the sight of God) The world accounts many things as right, which in the sight of God are not right: and vice versâ.— ἀκούειν) to hearken to, for to obey. He who does not comply, even hears with reluctance.— μᾶλλον, rather) On the part of the courageous saints the authority of those rulers (high priests) alone is respected, who establish or command nothing that is contrary to GOD.— κρίνατε, judge ye) The figure Communicatio [leaving the judgment of a matter to the hearers, or even to the very adversaries themselves]. The world cannot readily maintain their own laws against the cause of GOD with so great perverseness, as that natural equity should be utterly stifled.


Verse 20

Acts 4:20. ἡμεῖς, we) They already do that which the rulers had hardly yet prohibited (had scarcely left off prohibiting), and they maintain their right.— οὐ δυνάμεθα μὴ λαλεῖν, we cannot but speak) Amos 3:8, “The Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?” [Real fulness of heart hath (carries with it) incredible force.—V. g.]


Verse 21

Acts 4:21. προσαπειλησάμενοι) having further threatened them.— πάντες, all men) Often the people is sounder than those who rule.


Verse 22

Acts 4:22. πλειόνων, more than forty years) The infirmity of the man who was born lame had been inveterate.— ἐφʼ ὃν) on whom.


Verse 23

Acts 4:23. ἀπήγγειλαν, they reported) Although the rulers were opposed to their doing so, yet it was no sin on the part of the apostles.— οἱ ἀρχιερεῖς καὶ οἱ πρεσβύτεροι, the chief priests and elders) The Sadducees are not named, who partly are contained under them, ch. Acts 5:17, partly were not assessors in the council.


Verse 24

Acts 4:24. ὁμοθύμαδον ᾖραν φωνὴν, with one accord they lifted up their voice) Peter even here seems to have led the way in this address to God: but the others also employed their voice. [The devotion of their minds was so much the more kindled thereby.—V. g.]— δέσποτα) Lord of the family of believers.— σὺ, Thou) An enunciation, the subject of which is, Thou, O GOD, who hast made all things; then, understanding art, the predicate follows, [Thou art He] who hast spoken.— ποιήσας, who hast made) This is a lofty exordium, employed in prayers of more than ordinary solemnity. Jeremiah 32:17, “Ah! Lord God, behold, Thou hast made the heaven and the earth by Thy great power and stretched-out arm, and there is nothing too hard for Thee.” Nehemiah 9:6. Therefore the will of GOD is done in the heaven, earth, and sea; and the will of men on the earth ought not to be set up against it, or be put before it: it is in vain that petty men make their attempts. The Creator even by miracles refutes them.


Verse 25

Acts 4:25. ἱνατίαὐτοῦ) Psalms 2:1-2. So altogether the LXX.— ἐφρύαξαν) This word is strictly said of horses, to snort fiercely.— κενὰ) This is equivalent to an adverb. So the LXX., παρακαλεῖτε κενά, “Comfort ye me in vain,” Job 21:34. This word in the second hemistich, is parallel to the interrogation in the former hemistich.


Verse 26

Acts 4:26. οἱ βασιλεῖς τῆς γῆς, the kings of the earth) All the kingdoms of the world have at some time or other assailed the Gospel.— οἱ ἄρχοντες, the rulers) Pilate was the representative of these; as Herod was of “the kings.” The prophecy and the event accurately correspond. Subsequently we read of Herod, not Pilate, having afflicted also the apostles.


Verse 27

Acts 4:27. συνήχθησαν, were gathered together) This is repeated from Acts 4:26.— ἐπʼ ἀληθείας, of a truth) as the fact itself demonstrates.— παῖδά σου, Thy Servant or Minister [not child, as Engl. Vers.]) of whom David was a type: for the latter is called by the same designation, Acts 4:25, “Thy servant ( παιδός σου) David.”— ὃν ἔχρισας, whom Thou hast anointed) He is the Lord’s Anointed (= Christ) King, Acts 4:26. Psalms 2:2; Psalms 2:6, “Yet have I set (Hebr. anointed) my King upon My holy hill of Zion.”— ἡρώδης, Herod) He, when he had Jesus in his power, nevertheless did not let Him go, but sent Him back to Pilate; thereby consenting to those things which the latter was about to do: Luke 23:7, etc., Acts 13:31, The Pharisees said,—“Herod will kill Thee.”— λαοῖς, the peoples) The plural, repeated from the Psalm; used poetically. One or two MSS. have λαός, but λαοῖς has reference to the 25th verse, λαοὶ, plural.(36) Comp. 1 Kings 22:28, ἀκούσατε λαοὶ πάντες. And the present prayer of the disciples answers to the second Psalm, as a comparison shows:

the kings,

Herod:

the rulers,

Pontius Pilate:

the heathen,

the heathen (= the Gentiles):

the peoples,

the peoples of Israel.

The Psalm is treating of the Kingdom of Christ: wherefore Herod and Pilate are mentioned among His enemies, rather than Caiaphas the High Priest, who is included in Acts 4:29.


Verse 28

Acts 4:28. ποιῆσαι, to do) They could not do more, though they wished it. Construe this with, were gathered together, not with, Thou hast anointed: for the subject of the verb to do are the enemies gathered together, concerning whom the prediction had been given. Comp. ch. Acts 2:23, “Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God:” Acts 3:18.— ὅσα, whatsoever things) not fewer things, but not more.— χείρ σου καὶ βουλή σου, Thy hand and Thy counsel) The order of the words is worthy of observation. The hand of God is felt sooner than His counsel. His power and His wisdom are meant.— προώρισε) determined before.


Verse 29

Acts 4:29. ἀπειλὰς, threatenings) The plural: Acts 4:17; Acts 4:21.— παῤῥησίας, boldness of speech) whatsoever they may threaten.— λαλεῖν, to speak) They do not ask that they may be allowed to give over speaking, much less that others may be sent (in their stead); for they were sure of their own call to the office.


Verse 30

Acts 4:30. ἐν τῷ, in or by) in stretching forth, that is, whilst Thou dost stretch forth. Miracles accompany the word, and give a stimulus to its efficiency: ch. Acts 14:3, “The Lord—gave testimony unto the word of His grace, and granted signs and wonders to be done.” Mark 16:20.— ἐκτείνειν σε, Thy stretching forth) Often in the Old Testament the arm of the Lord is spoken of as stretched forth.— εἰς ἴασιν, to healing) Acts 4:22.— γίνεσθαι) Repeat ἐν τῷ, whilst signs, etc., are being done. For I cannot admit the construction εἰς γίνεσθαι, as there is no article intervening (i.e. before γίνεσθαι): therefore εἰς ἴασιν is to be construed with ἐκτείνειν. The comma ought to be, not before εἰς, but after ἴασιν: whilst thou art stretching forth—and whilst signs are being done. Thus all is clear.— ὀνόματος, the name) Acts 4:17.


Verse 31

Acts 4:31. ἐσαλεύθη, was shaken) A proof afforded that all things are about to be shaken (put in commotion) by the Gospel: ch. Acts 16:26 (the earthquake at Philippi preceding the conversion of the gaoler).— ἐπλήσθησαν, they were filled) afresh.— μετὰ παῤῥησίας, with boldness of speech) Boldness of speech was immediately conferred on them, as in Acts 4:29 they had prayed; and this they put forth into exercise on the very earliest opportunity among themselves, and in addressing others.


Verse 32

Acts 4:32. καρδία καὶ ψυχὴ μία, one heart and soul) in all matters of belief and of practice (credendis et agendis). A remarkable character given of them.— οὐδὲ εἷς) Not even one, in so great a multitude. The highest degree of concord.— ἔλεγεν, was saying) By this very expression it is taken for granted, that ownership of property was not altogether abolished.— κοινὰ, common) This was required by the Divine direction; as also by the number of believers, which was indeed great, but not so great as it was afterwards; as also by the change of the Jewish state which was impending. The magistrates did not at that time interfere to prevent the Church and individual Christians from disposing of their resources according as they themselves pleased: Acts 4:34-35; Acts 6:1-2; Acts 11:30; Acts 24:17; 1 Corinthians 16:1.


Verse 33

Acts 4:33. ἀπεδίδουν, the apostles gave or rendered(37)) Being assured of the truth themselves, they tried to assure others of it.— οἱ ἀπόστολοι, the apostles) The giving testimony was peculiarly their province; for they had seen the facts. To them also was given an extraordinary measure of the Spirit: ch. Acts 5:12.— χάρις, grace) The grace of GOD and the favour of the people.


Verse 34

Acts 4:34. οὐδὲ γὰρ ἐνδεής τις, for neither was there any in need) So it ought to be in our days, even without goods being; in common,—a state of things which is suited only to the highest perfection (flower) of faith and love.— πωλοῦντες, selling) They laid out their wealth to good account, before that the Romans devastated the city. As the Israelites made gain from the Egyptians, so did the Christians from the Jews.(38)


Verse 35

Acts 4:35. καὶ ἐτίθουν, and laid them down) as soldiers lowering or laying down their arms. They hereby were intimating that the apostles, under the guidance of Divine wisdom, should have all the control over their effects.—[ καθότι, according as) Not according as each had given up more or less.—V. g.]


Verse 36

Acts 4:36. ἐπικληθεὶς, who was surnamed) A new specimen of the apostles’ high dignity, to give surnames to believers.— υἱὸς παρακλήσεως, the Son of consolation) A Gospel surname. De Dieu on this passage, and Hiller, Onom. p. 300, explain the etymology.(39)λευΐτης, a Levite) Instead of Levitical ordinances, those of Christianity flourish. The priests also follow, ch. Acts 6:7, “A great company of the priests was obedient to the faith.”— κύπριος τῷ γένει) So ποντικὸς τῷ γένει, ἀλεξανδρεὺς τῷ γένει, ch. Acts 18:2; Acts 18:24.


Verse 37

Acts 4:37. ὑπάρχοντος αὐτῷ ἀγροῦ, having land) This must have been outside of the land of Israel, in which the Levites had no portion.

 


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Bibliography Information
Bengel, Johann Albrecht. "Commentary on Acts 4:4". Johann Albrecht Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jab/acts-4.html. 1897.

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Saturday, August 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19
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