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Bible Commentaries

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New Testament
Acts 4



Other Authors
Verse 1

The captain of the temple (ο στρατηγος του ιερουho stratēgos tou hierou). Twenty-four bands of Levites guarded the temple, one guard at a time. They watched the gates. The commander of each band was called captain (στρατηγοςstratēgos). Josephus names this captain of the temple police next to the high priest (War. VI. 5, 3).

The Sadducees (οι Σαδδουκαιοιhoi Saddoukaioi). Most of the priests were Sadducees now and all the chief priests since John Hyrcanus I deserted the Pharisees (Josephus, Ant. XVII. 10, 6; XVIII. 1, 4; XX. 9, 1). The Sadducees were slow to line up with the Pharisees against Jesus, but they now take the lead against Peter and John.

Came upon them (επεστησαν αυτοιςepestēsan autois). Second aorist active indicative (intransitive). Burst upon them suddenly or stood by them in a hostile attitude here (Luke 20:1; Luke 24:4; Acts 6:12; Acts 17:5; Acts 22:20; Acts 23:11).

Verse 2

Being sore troubled (διαπονουμενοιdiaponoumenoi). Present passive participle of old verb διαπονεωdiaponeō (perfective use of διαdia) to be worked up, indignant. In the N.T. only here and Acts 16:8.

Because (δια τοdia to). The articular infinitive with two accusatives, one the object (the people), the other (“they”) of general reference.

In Jesus (εν Ιησουen Iēsou). In the case of Jesus, an actual instance of resurrection which the Sadducees denied (Matthew 22:23). This same use of ενen appears in 1 Corinthians 4:6 (in us). The Sadducees were also aristocrats and political ecclesiastics who disliked popular disturbances. In particular, they resented the claim about Jesus whom they had helped crucify.

Verse 3

In ward (εις τηρησινeis tērēsin). Probably in one of the chambers of the temple. In safe keeping (from τηρεωtēreō to guard). Old word, in the N.T. only here and Acts 5:18; 1 Corinthians 7:19. So in papyri.

Now eventide (εσπερα ηδηhespera ēdē). Hence no trial could take place before the next day, a regulation violated in the case of Jesus.

Verse 4

Men (ανδρωνandrōn). Strictly, men and not women, for αντρωποςanthrōpos is the term for both men and women. But in Luke 11:31 ανδρεςandres seems to include both men and women and that is possible here, though by no means certain, for see note on Matthew 14:21 where the women and children are expressly excepted.

Verse 5

Rulers and elders and scribes (τους αρχοντας και τους πρεσβυτερους και τους γραμματειςtous archontas kai tous presbuterous kai tous grammateis). The three classes composing the Sanhedrin (rulers=chief priests who were Sadducees, the scribes usually Pharisees, the elders not in either class: 24 priests, 24 elders, 22 scribes).

Were gathered together (συναχτηναιsunachthēnai). First aorist passive infinitive of συναγωsunagō with accusative of general reference and the subject of εγενετοegeneto f0).

Verse 6

Annas (ανναςHannas). One of the rulers or chief priests, ex-high priest (a.d. 7-14) and father-in-law of

Caiaphas (ΚαιαπαςKaiaphas) who was actual high priest at that time, though the title clung to Annas as here (both so called in Luke 3:2), Caiaphas so by Roman law, Annas so in the opinion of the Jews. They with John and Alexander are the leaders among the Sadducees in pressing the case against Peter and John.

Verse 7

In the midst (εν τωι μεσωιen tōi mesōi). The Sanhedrin sat in a semicircle.

They inquired (επυντανοντοepunthanonto). Imperfect middle, began to inquire.

Or in what name (η εν ποιωι ονοματιē en poiōi onomati). As if by some magical formula such as exorcists practised (Acts 19:13) as if to catch them by (Deuteronomy 13:1).

Have ye done this (εποιησατε τουτο υμειςepoiēsate touto humeis). Note emphatic use of υμειςhumeis (ye).

Verse 8

Filled with the Holy Spirit (πληστεις πνευματος αγιουplēstheis pneumatos hagiou). For this occasion and so above all fear as in Acts 4:31 and as in Acts 2:4.

Verse 9

Concerning a good deed done to an impotent man (επι ευεργεσιαι αντρωπου αστενουςepi euergesiāi anthrōpou asthenous). Objective genitive. Note ευεργεσιαeuergesia (old word, in the N.T. only here and 1 Timothy 6:2), as a benefactor, not a malefactor. Skilful turn made by Peter.

Is made whole (σεσωσταιsesōstai). Perfect passive indicative of σωζωsōzō stands whole.

Verse 10

Be it known (γνωστον εστωgnōston estō). Imperative present active third singular of ειμιeimi to be, and the verbal adjective γνωστονgnōston

Whom ye crucified (ον υμεις εσταυρωσατεhon humeis estaurōsate). Too good a chance to miss, and so Peter boldly charges the Sanhedrin with responsibility for the death of Jesus. Note υμειςhumeis (ye) again.

Whom God raised from the dead (ον ο τεος ηγειρεν εκ νεκρωνhon ho theos ēgeiren ek nekrōn). Note repetition of ονhon (whom). This is God‘s answer to their act of crucifixion.

In him doth this man stand (εν τουτωι ουτος παρεστηκενen toutōi houtos parestēken). Rather (note play on ουτοςhoutos), “In this one (ον ονhonυγιηςhon) this one stands (present perfect active indicative, intransitive).” In Jesus this man stands before you whole (hugiēs). It was a centre shot.

Verse 11

Of you the builders (υπ υμων των οικοδομωνhuph' humōn tōn oikodomōn). The experts, the architects, had rejected Jesus for their building (Psalm 118:22) as Jesus himself had pointed out (Matthew 21:42; Luke 21:17). This very Rejected Stone God had made the head of the corner (either the highest corner stone right under the roof or the corner stone under the building, Isaiah 28:16) as Jesus showed, as Peter here declares and repeats later (1 Peter 2:6.).

Verse 12

Salvation (η σωτηριαhē sōtēria). The Messianic salvation as in Acts 5:31; Acts 17:11 and as Jesus meant in John 4:22. It is amazing to see Peter speaking thus to the Sanhedrin and proclaiming the necessity of salvation (δει σωτηναιdei sōthēnai) in the name of Jesus Christ and in no other. If this was true then, it is true today. There is no second (ετερονheteron) name to go beside that of Jesus in India, China, Japan, or America.

Verse 13

The boldness (την παρρησιανtēn parrēsian). Telling it all (παν ρησιαpanκαταλαβομενοιrēsia). See also Acts 4:29, Acts 4:31. Actually Peter had turned the table on the Sanhedrin and had arraigned them before the bar of God.

Had perceived (καταλαμβανωkatalabomenoi). Second aorist middle participle of καταkatalambanō common verb to grasp strongly (αγραμματοι εισινkata), literally or with the mind (especially middle voice), to comprehend. The rulers recalled Peter and John from having seen them often with Jesus, probably during the temple teaching, etc.

They were unlearned (και ιδιωταιagrammatoi eisin). Present indicative retained in indirect discourse. Unlettered men without technical training in the professional rabbinical schools of Hillel or Shammai. Jesus himself was so regarded (John 7:15, “not having learned letters”).

And ignorant (αγραμματοςkai idiōtai). Old word, only here in the N.T. and 1 Corinthians 14:24; 2 Corinthians 11:6. It does not mean “ignorant,” but a layman, a man not in office (a private person), a common soldier and not an officer, a man not skilled in the schools, very much like ιδιοςagrammatos It is from εταυμαζονidios (one‘s own) and our “idiosyncracy” is one with an excess of such a trait, while “idiot” (this very word) is one who has nothing but his idiosyncracy. Peter and John were men of ability and of courage, but they did not belong to the set of the rabbis.

They marvelled (επεγινωσκον αυτουςethaumazon). Imperfect (inchoative) active, began to wonder and kept it up.

Took knowledge of them (epeginōskon autous). Imperfect (inchoative) active again, they began to recognize them as men that they had seen with Jesus.

Verse 14

They could say nothing against it (ουδεν ειχον αντειπεινouden eichon anteipein). Imperfect again, they kept on having nothing to say against it. The lame man was standing there before their eyes in proof of what Peter had said.

Verse 15

They conferred among themselves (συνεβαλλον προς αλληλουςsuneballon pros allēlous). Imperfect active again. With Peter and John and the lame man outside, they began to compare (συν βαλλωsunballō) notes and take stock of their predicament.

Verse 16

What shall we do? (Τι ποιησωμενTi poiēsōmen). Deliberative aorist active subjunctive (ingressive and urgent aorist).

Notable miracle (γνωστον σημειονgnōston sēmeion). Or sign. It was useless to deny it with the man there.

We cannot deny it (ου δυναμετα αρνεισταιou dunametha arneisthai). That is, it will do no good.

Verse 17

That it spread no further (ινα μη επι πλειον διανεμητηιhina mē epi pleion dianemēthēi). First aorist passive subjunctive of διανεμωdianemō to distribute with ινα μηhina mē negative purpose.

Let us threaten them (απειλησωμετα αυτοιςapeilēsōmetha autois). Hortatory aorist middle subjunctive of απειλεωapeileō old verb (note middle voice). In the N.T. only here and 1 Peter 2:23.

That they speak henceforth to no man in this name (μηκετι λαλειν επι τωι ονοματι τουτωι μηδενι αντρωπωνmēketi lalein epi tōi onomati toutōi mēdeni anthrōpōn). Indirect command with the infinitive and double negative (μηκετι μηδενιmēketiουτοςmēdeni). They will not say “Jesus,” but make a slur at “this name,” contemptuous use of houtos though they apparently do mention the name “Jesus” in Acts 4:18.

Verse 18

Not to speak at all (κατολου μη πτεγγεσταιkatholou mē phtheggesthai). Same construction as above, infinitive in indirect command with negative μηmē (and μηδεmēde).

Verse 20

For we cannot but speak (ου δυναμετα γαρ ημεισμη λαλεινou dunametha gar hēmeiṡ̇mē lalein). Both negatives hold here, “For we (note emphatic ημειςhēmeis) are not able not to speak” (what we saw and heard). This is defiance of the civil and ecclesiastical authorities that was justified, for the temple authorities stepped in between the conscience and God. Peter and John were willing to pay the price of this defiance with their lives. This is the courage of martyrs through all the ages.

Verse 21

When they had further threatened them (προσαπειλησαμενοιprosapeilēsamenoi). The “further” is in “pros” (in addition),

Finding nothing how they might punish them (μηδεν ευρισκοντες το πως κολασωνται αυτουςmēden heuriskontes to pōs kolasōntai autous). Note the article “to” before πωςpōs (how), “the how.” Aorist middle deliberative subjunctive κολασωνταιkolasōntai in indirect question after πωςpōs from κολαζωkolazō to lop (κολοςkolos lopped), to curb, to prune, to correct, to punish. Old verb, in the N.T. only here and 2 Peter 2:9.

Glorified God (εδοχαζον τον τεονedoxazon ton theon). Imperfect active, kept on glorifying God while the Sanhedrin were threatening Peter and John. It was to laugh at the helplessness of the Sanhedrin.

Verse 22

Was wrought (γεγονειgegonei). Second past perfect active without augment from γινομαιginomai f0).

Verse 23

To their own company (προς τους ιδιουςpros tous idious). Their own people as in John 1:11; John 13:1; Acts 24:23; 1 Timothy 5:8; Titus 3:14, not merely the apostles (all the disciples). In spite of Peter‘s courageous defiance he and John told the brotherhood all that had been said by the Sanhedrin. They had real apprehension of the outcome.

Verse 24

With one accord (ομοτυμαδονhomothumadon). A concert of voices as already seen by the word in Acts 1:14; Acts 2:46 and later in Acts 5:12; Acts 7:57; Acts 15:25.

O Lord (ΔεσποταDespota). Our word despot. Old word for relation of master to slaves or household servants (1 Timothy 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:21; Titus 2:9; 1 Peter 2:18). Simeon thus addressed God (Luke 2:29). So in 2 Peter 2:1; Judges 1:4; Revelation 6:10. See “slaves” in Acts 4:29.

Verse 25

By the mouth of our father David (του πατρος ημων δια πνευματος αγιου στοματος Δαυειδtou patros hēmōn dia pneumatos hagiou stomatos Daueid). From Psalm 2:1. here ascribed to David. Baumgarten suggests that the whole company sang the second Psalm and then Peter applied it to this emergency. The Greek MSS. do not have διαdia (by) here before στοματοςstomatos but only διαdia before πνευματος αγιουpneumatos hagiou (the Holy Spirit). Hort calls this a “primitive error” perhaps due to an early scribe who omitted this second διαdia so close to the first διαdia (Robertson, Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the N.T., p. 238). A small list of such primitive errors is there given as suggested by Dr. Hort.

Why (ινα τιhina tōi). This Greek idiom calls for γενηταιgenētai (second aorist middle subjunctive),

That what may happen.

The Gentiles (ετνηethnē). So always in lxx, while λαοιlaoi (peoples) can include Jews.

Did rage (επρυαχανephruaxan). First aorist active indicative of πρυασσωphruassō late word, to neigh like a horse, to prance or stamp the ground, to put on lofty airs. Only here in the N.T. in this quotation from Psalm 2:1.

Imagine (εμελετησανemeletēsan). First aorist active indicative of μελεταωmeletaō Old verb from μελετηmeletē (care), to practise, to caution, as orators and rhetoricians. Only here in the N.T. in this quotation.

Verse 26

Set themselves in array (παρεστησανparestēsan). Literally, stood by.

Against his Anointed (κατα του Χριστου αυτουkata tou Christou autou). Against his Messiah, his Christ.

Verse 27

Both Herod and Pontios Pilate (ηρωιδης τε και Ποντιυς ΠειλατοςHērōidēs te kai Pontius Peilatos). Luke alone (Luke 23:12) tells of the reconciliation between Herod and Pilate at the trial of Jesus. So Peter and the rest interpret this prophecy as directly fulfilled in their conduct towards Jesus Christ.

Whom thou didst anoint (ον εχρισαςhon echrisas). As in Acts 4:26 (cf. Luke 4:18; Isaiah 61:1). Inaugurated as King Messiah.

Verse 28

Foreordained (προωρισενproōrisen). First aorist active indicative of προοριζωproorizō “They rise above sight and seem to see the Hand which ‹shapes men‘s ends, rough hew them how they will‘” (Furneaux).

Verse 29

And now (και τα νυνkai ta nun). “And as to (accusative of general reference) the now things (the present situation).” Only in the Acts in the N.T. (Acts 5:38; Acts 17:30; Acts 20:32; Acts 27:22).

Grant (δοςdos). Second aorist active imperative of διδωμιdidōmi urgency of the aorist, Do it now.

To speak thy word with all boldness (μετα παρρησιας πασης λαλειν τον λογον σουmeta parrēsias pasēs lalein ton logon sou). Literally, “with all boldness to go on speaking (present active infinitive) thy word.” Peter and John had defied the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:20, but all the same and all the more they pray for courage in deed to live up to their brave words. A wholesome lesson.

Verse 30

While thou stretchest forth thy hand (εν τωι την χειρα εκτεινειν σεen tōi tēn cheira ekteinein se). Luke‘s favourite idiom, “In the stretching out (articular present active infinitive) the hand as to thee” (accusative of general reference), the second allusion to God‘s “hand” in this prayer (Acts 4:28).

To heal (εις ιασινeis iasin). For healing. See Acts 4:22.

And that signs and wonders may be done (και σημεια και τερατα γινεσταιkai sēmeia kai terata ginesthai). Either to be taken as in the same construction as εκτεινεινekteinein with εν τωιen tōi as Revised Version has it here or to be treated as subordinate purpose to εν τωι εκτεινεινen tōi ekteinein (as Knowling, Page, Wendt, Hackett). The latter most likely true. They ask for a visible sign or proof that God has heard this prayer for courage to be faithful even unto death.

Verse 31

The place was shaken (εσαλευτη ο τοποςesaleuthē ho topos). By an earthquake most likely as in Acts 16:26, but none the less a token of God‘s presence and power (Psalm 114:7; Isaiah 2:19, Isaiah 2:21; Hebrews 12:26.).

Were gathered together (ησαν συνηγμενοιēsan sunēgmenoi). Periphrastic past perfect passive of συναγωsunagō

They spake (ελαλουνelaloun). Imperfect active indicative, began to speak, after being filled (επληστησανeplēsthēsan aorist passive indicative) with the Holy Spirit. Luke uses the very words of the prayer in Acts 4:29 to describe their conduct.

Verse 32

Of one heart and soul (καρδια και πσυχη μιαkardia kai psuchē mia). It is not possible to make sharp distinction between heart and soul here (see Mark 12:30), only that there was harmony in thought and affection. But the English translation is curiously unlike the Greek original. “There was one heart and soul (nominative case, not genitive as the English has it) in the multitude (του πλητουςtou plēthous subjective genitive) of those who believed.”

Not one of them (ουδε ειςoude heis). More emphatic than ουδειςoudeis “not even one.”

Common (κοιναKoinéa). In the use of their property, not in the possession as Luke proceeds to explain. The word κοινοςKoinéos is kin to συνsun (together with)=χυνxun (Epic) and so χυνοσκοινοςxunoŝKoinéos See this word already in Acts 2:44. The idea of unclean (Acts 10:15) is a later development from the original notion of common to all.

Verse 33

Gave their witness (απεδιδουν το μαρτυριονapedidoun to marturion). Imperfect active of αποδιδωμιapodidōmi old verb to give back, to pay back a debt (Luke 7:42), but a late omega form instead of the usual απεδιδοσανapedidosan They kept on giving their witness with power after the answer to their prayer (Acts 4:31).

Of the resurrection (της αναστασεωςtēs anastaseōs). It was on this issue that the Sadducees had arrested them (Acts 4:1-3).

Verse 34

That lacked (ενδεηςendeēs). Literally, in need, old adjective, here only in the N.T.

Were (υπηρχονhupērchon). Imperfect active of υπαρχωhuparchō to exist.

Sold them and brought (πωλουντες επερονpōlountes epheron). Present active participle and imperfect active indicative. Selling they brought from time to time, as there was occasion by reason of need. Hence the wants were kept supplied.

Laid them (ετιτουνetithoun). Imperfect active again, repetition, of τιτημιtithēmi late omega form for the usual ετιτεσανetithesan f0).

Verse 35

Distribution was made (διεδιδετοdiedideto). Imperfect passive of διαδιδωμιdiadidōmi late omega form for διεδιδοτοdiedidoto (the stem vowel οo displaced by εe). Impersonal use of the verb here.

According as any one had need (κατοτι αν τις χρειαν ειχενkathoti an tis chreian eichen). Imperfect active of εχωechō with κατοτιkathoti and ανan with the notion of customary repetition in a comparative clause (Robertson, Grammar, p. 967).

Verse 36

Barnabas (αρναβαςBarnabas). His name was Joseph (correct text, and not Jesus) and he is mentioned as one illustration of those in Acts 4:34 who selling brought the money. The apostles gave him the nickname Barnabas by which later he was known because of this noble deed. This fact argues that all did not actually sell, but were ready to do so if needed. Possibly Joseph had a larger estate than some others also. The meaning of the nickname is given by Luke as “son of consolation or exhortation” (υιος παρακλησεωςhuios paraklēseōs). Doubtless his gifts as a preacher lay along this same line. Rackham thinks that the apostles gave him this name when he was recognized as a prophet. In Acts 11:23 the very word παρεκαλειparekalei (exhorted) is used of Barnabas up at Antioch. He is the type of preacher described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:3. Encouragement is the chief idea in παρακλησιςparaklēsis though exhortation, comfort, consolation are used to render it (Acts 9:31; Acts 13:15; Acts 15:31). See also Acts 16:9; Acts 20:12. It is not necessary to think that the apostles coined the name Barnabas for Joseph which originally may have come from αρνεβουςBarnebous (Deissmann, Bible Studies, pp. 308-10), son of Nebo, or even the Hebrew Bar Nebi (son of a prophet). But, whatever the origin, the popular use is given by Luke. He was even called apostle along with Paul (Acts 14:14) in the broad sense of that word.

Verse 37

Having a held (υπαρχοντος αυτωι αγρουhuparchontos autōi agrou). Genitive absolute with present active participle of υπαρχωhuparchō and dative of possession.

Sold it and brought (πωλησας ηνεγκενpōlēsas ēnegken). Aorist active participle of πωλεωpōleō and second aorist active indicative of περωpherō because a single definite instance. So also with ετηκενethēken (laid), first aorist active.


Copyright Statement
The Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament. Copyright Broadman Press 1932,33, Renewal 1960. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman Press (Southern Baptist Sunday School Board)

Bibliography Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Acts 4:4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.

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