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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible
Acts 4



Other Authors
Verses 1-12

Acts 4:1-13. Peter and John before the Sanhedrim.

the captain — of the Levitical guard.

of the temple — annoyed at the disturbance created around it.

and the Sadducees — who “say that there is no resurrection” (Acts 23:8), irritated at the apostles “preaching through (rather, ‹in‘) Jesus the resurrection from the dead”; for the resurrection of Christ, if a fact, effectually overthrew the Sadducean doctrine.

Verse 4

the number of the men — or males, exclusive of women; though the word sometimes includes both.

about five thousand — and this in Jerusalem, where the means of detecting the imposture or crushing the fanaticism, if such it had been, were within everyone‘s reach, and where there was every inducement to sift it to the bottom.

Verse 5

their rulers, etc. — This was a regular meeting of the Sanhedrim (see on Matthew 2:4).

Verse 6
and Caiaphas — (See on Luke 3:2).

John and Alexander — of whom nothing is known.

Verse 7
name have ye done this — thus admitting the reality of the miracle, which afterwards they confess themselves unable to deny (Acts 4:16).

Verse 8

Then, filled with the Holy Ghost, said — (See Mark 13:11; Luke 21:15).

Verse 10
and to all the people of Israel — as if emitting a formal judicial testimony to the entire nation through its rulers now convened.

by the name of Jesus, etc. — (See on Acts 3:13, etc.).

even by him doth this man stand before you whole — for from Acts 4:14 it appears that the healed man was at that moment before their eyes.

Verse 11

This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, etc. — This application of Psalm 118:22, already made by our Lord Himself before some of the same “builders” (Matthew 21:42), is here repeated with peculiar propriety after the deed of rejection had been consummated, and the rejected One had, by His exaltation to the right hand of the Majesty on high, become “the head of the corner.”

Verse 12

Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved — How sublimely does the apostle, in these closing words, shut up these rulers of Israel to Jesus for salvation, and in what universal and emphatic terms does he hold up his Lord as the one Hope of men!

Verses 13-17

perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men — that is, uninstructed in the learning of the Jewish schools, and of the common sort; men in private life, untrained to teaching.

took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus — recognized them as having been in His company; remembering possibly, that they had seen them with Him [Meyer, Bloomfield, Alford]; but, more probably, perceiving in their whole bearing what identified them with Jesus: that is, “We thought we had got rid of Him; but lo! He reappears in these men, and all that troubled us in the Nazarene Himself has yet to be put down in these His disciples.” What a testimony to these primitive witnesses! Would that the same could be said of their successors!

Verse 16

a notable miracle … done by them is manifest to all … in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it — And why should ye wish to deny it, O ye rulers, but that ye hate the light, and will not come to the light lest your deeds should be reproved?

Verse 17

But that it spread no further … let us straitly — strictly.

threaten … that they speak henceforth to no man in this name — Impotent device! Little knew they the fire that was burning in the bones of those heroic disciples.

Verses 18-22

Whether it be right … to hearken to you more than … God, judge ye.

Verse 20

For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard — There is here a wonderful union of sober, respectful appeal to the better reason of their judges, and calm, deep determination to abide the consequences of a constrained testimony, which betokens a power above their own resting upon them, according to promise.

Verse 21

finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people — not at a loss for a pretext, but at a loss how to do it so as not to rouse the opposition of the people.

Verses 23-30

Acts 4:23-37. Peter and John dismissed from the Sanhedrim, report the proceedings to the assembled disciples - They engage in prayer - The astonishing answer and results.

being let go, they went to their own company — Observe the two opposite classes, representing the two interests which were about to come into deadly conflict.

Verse 24

they lifted up their voice — the assembled disciples, on hearing Peter‘s report.

with one accord — the breasts of all present echoing every word of this sublime prayer.

Lord — (See on Luke 2:29). Applied to God, the term expresses absolute authority.

God which hast made heaven and earth — against whom, therefore, all creatures are powerless.

Verse 25
David — to whom the Jews ascribed the second Psalm, though anonymous; and internal evidence confirms it. David‘s spirit sees with astonishment “the heathen, the people, the kings and princes of the earth,” in deadly combination against the sway of Jehovah and His Anointed (his Messiah, or Christ), and asks “why” it is. This fierce confederacy our praying disciples see in full operation, in the “gathering together of Herod and Pilate, the Gentiles (the Roman authority), and the people of Israel, against God‘s holy Child (‹Servant‘) Jesus.” (See on Acts 3:13). The best ancient copies read, after “were gathered together,” “in this city,” which probably answers to “upon my holy hill of Zion,” in the Psalm 2:6.

Verse 28

thy hand and thy counsel determined … to be done — that is, “Thy counsel” determined to be done by “Thy hand.”

Verse 29

now, Lord, behold their threatenings — Recognizing in the threatenings of the Sanhedrim a declaration of war by the combined powers of the world against their infant cause, they seek not enthusiastically to hide from themselves its critical position, but calmly ask the Lord of heaven and earth to “look upon their threatenings.”

that with all boldness they may speak thy word — Rising above self, they ask only fearless courage to testify for their Master, and divine attestation to their testimony by miracles of healing, etc., in His name.

Verses 31-37

place was shaken — glorious token of the commotion which the Gospel was to make (Acts 17:6; compare Acts 16:26), and the overthrow of all opposing powers in which this was to issue.

they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and spake, etc. — The Spirit rested upon the entire community, first, in the very way they had asked, so that they “spake the word with boldness” (Acts 4:29, Acts 4:31); next, in melting down all selfishness, and absorbing even the feeling of individuality in an intense and glowing realization of Christian unity. The community of goods was but an outward expression of this, and natural in such circumstances.

Verse 33

with great power — effect on men‘s minds.

great grace was upon them all — The grace of God copiously rested on the whole community.

Verse 35

laid … at the apostles‘ feet — sitting, it may be, above the rest. But the expression may be merely derived from that practice, and here meant figuratively.

Verse 36

Joses, etc. — This is specified merely as an eminent example of that spirit of generous sacrifice which pervaded all.

son of consolation — no doubt so surnamed from the character of his ministry.

a Levite — who, though as a tribe having no inheritance, might and did acquire property as individuals (Deuteronomy 18:8).

Cyprus — a well-known island in the Mediterranean.


Copyright Statement
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Acts 4:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". 1871-8.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, October 22nd, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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