Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.
Acts 4:5-12 Addressing the Sanhedrin And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes, as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, "By what power or by what name have you done this?"
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.'* Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
Acts 4:13-22 The Name of Jesus Forbidden
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, "What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name."
So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.
Acts 4:23-31 Prayer for Boldness
And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: "Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the mouth of Your servant David* have said:
'Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the Lord and against His Christ.' "For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus." And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
Acts 4:32-37 Sharing in All Things
Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. And Joses,* who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet. NKJV
In the third chapter, Peter and John encountered a lame man, lame from birth and known by many as he was sitting at the gate called Beautiful. Having a been blessed with being used by the Lord with having the gift of healing, the lame man is now healed and all are amazed in the courtyard in the temple complex where Peter and John had originally gone to pray at the hour of evening prayer. Speaking under the direction of the Holy Spirit, Peter first explained how the man was healed and asked them why they marveled at what just took place. Jesus, he said is the reason the man now walks. He reminded them again that they were responsible for Jesus being crucified. This is the second time the Jews had heard this. The first time, it brought about repentance, a belief in Jesus Christ as Messiah for some 3000 souls who are now saved. This time Peter expands on the crucifixion message further to tell the people that Moses first told their ancestors about the Messiah and then every prophet after him from Samuel and those who came after him did the same. After making another appeal for repentance and salvation, this time 5000 men are saved after hearing this message. Then finally as the priest, the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came to arrest them, Peter told the people that they were children of the covenant God made with Abraham and through their generations and Jesus was sent by God to save them.
Peter and John Persecuted (First Time) (Covering verses 1-12)
Arrested by the Priest, Captain, and the Sadducees (vs. 1-4)
While Peter and John were teaching in the courtyard of the temple, they were quickly arrested by the priests, captain of the temple and the Sadducees. It’s interesting that 2 "uncommon" groups came to arrest them. Because it was evening, by law, they could not hold any court proceedings until the next day, so they held them over night in jail. Why did it take 3 groups who only had in common their disdain for Jesus? Who were they?
These priests in particular were a part of the Sanhedrin, who were also known as The "Great Council" of the nation. These priests (Pharisees and Sadducees) had both religious influence and since the crucifixion of Jesus, they were for the most part unopposed by any other “religious factions”. In addition, they served as a buffer for the Roman Empire to keep the Hebrew people in line even though they hated the Romans. It is clearly evident that they had issues with the Apostles preaching salvation in Jesus to the people mainly because they were responsible for his crucifixion and the last thing they ever wanted to be confronted with was the fact that Jesus was really alive and they were named the assailants who brokered his death. We have to remember at the crucifixion of Jesus, they had gone to Pilate the Roman procurator and had the tomb sealed to prevent, as they told him the possibility of the then disciples "stealing" his body and making a false claim of a risen savior. Then when it is was a public announcement that Jesus was risen, they paid off the guards who guarded the sealed tomb and made them leave town and claimed they would cover for them. So for about 50 days, they thought that they had nothing to be concerned about and it would be "business as usual".
But then, Pentecost came and their lives got disrupted once again because of Jesus. It was a shock and an embarrassment to them because since that Pentecost celebration Jesus name was publicly preached, and the end result was people have turned from the Pharisees and turn to Jesus Christ. And if this wasn't embarrassing enough 3,000 people were converted from Judaism to what ultimately would be called “Christianity”.
Now this 4th chapter presents a second time of public embarrassment and shock. Now the word has gotten to them that a lame man was now healed the entrance of Solomon’s Courtyard. The miraculous event further threatened their influence because now 5,000 became converts to Jesus Christ by the preaching of the Gospel. In both preached messages by the Apostle Peter it was revealed the Jews as a nation had rejected Jesus; that Jesus is the Messiah and the Sanhedrin and the unbelievers were held responsible for his crucifixion taking place rather than Pilate. They were all grieved, especially the Sadducees because Peter and John taught the people that Jesus was alive and was resurrected from the dead. Being under heavy conviction, they took it upon themselves to prevent the Apostles from preaching Him this at all cost.
The Other 2 Groups
The Captain of the Temple Guard The captain was the commander of the guard stationed chiefly in the tower Antonia, especially during the great feasts; and it was his duty to preserve order and prevent any trouble in the province He came at this time to prevent a mob scene or suppress a riot. The belief here was the frenzy caused by the Apostles teaching combined with the miracle that happened with the lame man would escalate into a riot and it was his responsibility to make sure the peace was kept.
The Sadducees. This religious group came because Peter in teaching about the resurrection of Jesus Christ refuted one of the basic doctrinal beliefs of these Sadducees. Sadducees had maintained that there was no resurrection of the dead. Their whole religious belief system was now in danger by the preaching of the resurrection of Christ; for they didn’t believe in the immortality of the soul, or life in any future world. They made a deal with the priest based on “common cause" with the priests and Pharisees to suppress the evidence of Christ's resurrection, and silence the apostles. The common ground was the belief if the preaching of this gospel message continues, and people keep believing that message, they will lose their pseudo-prestige among the people and sooner or later, Rome will take away their way of life.
They were motivated to arrest and silence them for 3 Reasons:
They were all grieved doctrinally: They became indignant and angry because what Peter and John did and taught was completely interfering with their temple authority and everything they taught refuted their doctrinal beliefs. They couldn’t stand what they heard or dispute the miracle they saw.
They taught counter to what the priest taught as doctrinal truth; by a. being Galilean and unlearned (ignorant by the priest’s formal academic standard) b. having no connection to the priestly office and c. had no authorization from the priesthood to teach in the temple.
They preached Jesus as the Messiah and the only means that anyone could be saved and the only means that anyone could receive miraculous healing and deliverance from the calamities of life. The 5,000 people that were saved after hearing the gospel after a lame man had been completely healed is clear evidence what the Apostles taught and did was under the power of the Holy Spirit.
Peter addresses the Sanhedrin (verses 5-12)
Because of the lateness of the evening, the council held them overnight until daybreak. The Next Day, they stood Peter, John, and the healed man in the center of the council meeting. The Sanhedrin was also called the Great council of the nation because as stated earlier, they had influence religiously and politically.
Council: By what power or by what name have you done this? (vs. 7)
(They sought to intimidate them because they were the teaching and governing authority of the temple and of the nation) They assumed that Peter and John were false teachers and they disregarded the miracle that happened even though they didn’t dispute did occur.
Peter (under the anointing of the Holy Ghost): The name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth who you crucified and who God raised from the dead. Because of the name of Jesus, this man now stands. (vs. 8-12 condensed)
Notice Peter’s demeanor:
Peter addressed the Sanhedrin with perfect respect. He did not call in question their authority to propose this question.
Peter saw this as a great opportunity to declare the truth and state the evidence of the Christian religion. As he stood before this great council, he acted on the primary principle of readiness of the minister, teacher, witness of God based on what he later wrote in 1 Peter 3:15: "Be ready always to give an answer to every man that ask you a reason of the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear”
Here is the great irony of this situation:
Certainly it’s for sure Peter did not forget that before this very council, and these very men, nearly 60 days ago, Jesus had been tried and condemned; nor did he forget that in the very room where this same council was convened, Peter denied Jesus 3 times when asked if he knew Jesus. But look at him now having been given a second chance, If the Lord ever give you a second chance to speak up for him in a given situation….seize the moment and represent Jesus well.
The first time, Peter left out and cried bitterly realizing he denied Christ, but this time, he stands boldly standing up for Jesus as clear evidence he had fully repented and was fully forgiven by Jesus. Now empowered with the Holy Spirit, Peter speaks with boldness and without fear! Notice Peter re-emphasizes to the Great council that they were responsible for the crucifixion of Jesus Christ.
The Sanhedrin’s Response (vs. 13-22)
Observing the boldness of Peter and John, perceiving they were unlearned and ignorant men, they acknowledged that they had been with JESUS. They looked at the man who had been healed. As much as they wished, they could not dispute who he was and the fact that he was healed. (vs. 13-14) Their 1st action: They sent Peter, John, and the healed man outside of the council hall and had an emergency council meeting. (vs. 15-17)
What are we to do to these men? Evidence: A miracle has indeed been done by them. We can’t deny it, and many in Jerusalem either know about it or have seen this man now standing and jumping who used to beg at the Beautiful gate in front of the courtyard entrance.
Here’s what we will do: to keep this from spreading further among the people, let’s threaten them that they speak from this point further to no man in this name (Jesus)
Their 2nd action: They called Peter and John back in the council hall and commanded them not to speak “at all” nor teach “at all” in the name Jesus.
Peter and John’s Response:
"Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard." (vs. 19-20)
The Sanhedrin’s 3rd Response:
They threatened them further, but could not find any legal way to punish them. They also concluded that they didn’t want to cause a riot if they dealt with Peter and John with open hostility. Fearing the people, since the people gave God the glory for the word and the miracle they let them go. Note: the man who was healed was 40 years old. The reason the age of the man is mentioned is to show the certainty and greatness of the miracle.
If the man had been lame only a few years, or if he had been a child or a very young man, this case may not have been so remarkable. But after a continuance of 40 years in this condition, all hope of healing him had probably vanished from the his mind and the mind of the people in the temple.. The man himself surely reasoned that if he ever was healed, it would not be done by any man or by any ordinary means must have been abandoned, and all preference that this was jugglery or deception and faked have been dismissed.
The Apostles and Christians Prayer Meeting (vs. 23-31)
Peter and John left the council hall and convened with the rest of the Apostles and Christians. And had a prayer meeting.
They all lifted their voices to God: God, You are God who made heaven and earth the sea and all that is in them. The same God that David asked:
Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the Lord and against His Christ.'* (quoting Psalms 2)
"For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus."
Note: When they had prayed, the place where they were praying started shaking and everybody in the room was filled with the Holy Spirit and they spoke the Word of God with boldness. (vs. 31)
Sharing of Goods among the Brethren "A New Attitude" (vs. 32-37)
The multitude that believed was of “one heart” and “one soul”.
The Hebrews spoke of two friends as being "one man." In this verse, they became completely unified in the spirit. They were so unified that they agreed the same way pertaining to their religious views, and opinions and loved everybody in the fellowship without dissimulation. These five thousand believers in Jesus Christ immediately became drawn together as if they had one soul! It was shown in this union in every way possible. It was displayed in their conduct, in their prayers, and in the sharing of their property.
Now imagine how different the modern church would be if we were as unified today spiritually as they were at that moment after rejoicing in the Lord and praying for more boldness and power to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ without fear before magistrates and religious leaders.
They shared their possessions so all would not go lacking. (vs. 33)
The implication in this verse is not to suggest that everybody all of a sudden sold all their property and formed a “commune” or “common” house where everybody now lived together under one roof. The verse doesn’t imply that anybody was under any obligation to do this either. The members of the fellowship that were financially able to give aid to the poorer members did so out of their own volition and from the depths of their own heart and as the need arose. The other reason they did so was many of them were getting ready to leave their homes and preach the gospel in other countries and provinces and would be gone for long periods of time; some gone never to come back to their homeland.
They Apostles gave witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
The Apostles now endowed with the great power of the Holy Spirit boldly proclaimed the resurrection of Jesus Christ and because great grace was upon them, it meant that either they had favor either in the sight of the people they preached to or they had been given favor by God in their preaching. They all received much of the favor or grace of God and they had much favor with all who feared God
The grace or “favor” of God always implies a blessing or gift from the hand o the Lord’s mercy and power. The favor or benevolence of men may exist without being a benefit to you. That’s because it may not be in their power to administer any gift or benefit, even though they are have a willingness of authority to do it.
Secondly, the persons who enjoy their favor may not stand in need of any of their kind acts, but that is not so with God. God’s good will is always accompanied by his good work, and every soul that is an object of his benevolence stands in the utmost need of the acts of his benefits. Therefore, as God loved the world, he gave his Son Jesus as a ransom for all. We all needed his help as lost sinners in need of a D0ivine Savior. And because they all needed it, therefore they all had it. And truly we may say this also of the whole human race. For whom the Son of God tasted death that great grace would be upon all, it would be a great benefit that all people would know that everybody have been purchased by his sacrificial death in his blood.
Nobody lacked among them. The other Christians who were land and property owners sold their homes and property and laid all of the money at the Apostles feet, and the Apostles gave funds as they were needed to those who were in need.
It was customary with the Jews to call the poor together, to eat of the sacrifices, but as the priests, etc., were incensed against Christ and Christianity, consequently the Christian poor could have no advantage of this kind; therefore, by making a common stock for the present necessity, the poor were supplied; so there was none among them that lacked. This provision therefore of the community of goods, which could be but temporary, was made both suitably and seasonably.
Joses (Barnabas) who was a Levite from Cyprus sold his land and did the same. (laid the money at the Apostles feet)
Barnabas, called the “son of consolation” here of his own volition sells some of his property and lays the money at the Apostles’ feet to help under defray any needs the soon to be missionaries may need. Barnabas at some point became an apostle himself and afterward joined with Paul on the mission field. The irony of they becoming partners in ministry is: that "both" were born in pagan countries, though by descent Jews; and as they were trained in pagan lands, they were better suited for their special work.
Worthy of a note:
The case of Barnabas is that of a man who had property when he entered the ministry, and who gave up all for the Lord Jesus. The great mass of ministers, like very many who have been distinguished in other professions, have been taken from among the poor, and from humble ranks in life. But all have not been. Many have been wealthy, and have devoted all to Christ; and in regard to others, it is to be remarked, that a very considerable proportion of them could have gained more "wealth" in some other profession than they do in the ministry. The ministry is a work of self-denial, and none should enter it who are not prepared to devote all to the service of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Dr. William Edward Boddie