Acts 4

Peter and John Before the Sanhedrin

1 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people.
2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.
3 They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day.
4 But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.
5 The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem.
6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family.
7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people!
9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed,
10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed.
11 Jesus is “ ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’[a]
12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say.
15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together.
16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it.
17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”
18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
19 But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges!
20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
21 After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened.
22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.

The Believers Pray

23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them.
24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.
25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “ ‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?
26 The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers band together against the Lord and against his anointed one.[b][c]
27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed.
28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.
29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.
30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

The Believers Share Their Possessions

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had.
33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And God’s grace was so powerfully at work in them all
34 that there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales
35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need.
36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”),
37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

Images for Acts 4

Acts 4 Commentary

Chapter 4

Peter and John imprisoned. (1-4) The apostles boldly testify to Christ. (5-14) Peter and John refuse to be silenced. (15-22) The believers unite in prayer and praise. (23-31) The holy charity of the Christians. (32-37)

Verses 1-4 The apostles preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. It includes all the happiness of the future state; this they preached through Jesus Christ, to be had through him only. Miserable is their case, to whom the glory of Christ's kingdom is a grief; for since the glory of that kingdom is everlasting, their grief will be everlasting also. The harmless and useful servants of Christ, like the apostles, have often been troubled for their work of faith and labour of love, when wicked men have escaped. And to this day instances are not wanting, in which reading the Scriptures, social prayer, and religious conversation meet with frowns and checks. But if we obey the precepts of Christ, he will support us.

Verses 5-14 Peter being filled with the Holy Ghost, would have all to understand, that the miracle had been wrought by the name, or power, of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, whom they had crucified; and this confirmed their testimony to his resurrection from the dead, which proved him to be the Messiah. These rulers must either be saved by that Jesus whom they had crucified, or they must perish for ever. The name of Jesus is given to men of every age and nation, as that whereby alone believers are saved from the wrath to come. But when covetousness, pride, or any corrupt passion, rules within, men shut their eyes, and close their hearts, in enmity against the light; considering all as ignorant and unlearned, who desire to know nothing in comparison with Christ crucified. And the followers of Christ should act so that all who converse with them, may take knowledge that they have been with Jesus. That makes them holy, heavenly, spiritual, and cheerful, and raises them above this world.

Verses 15-22 All the care of the rulers is, that the doctrine of Christ spread not among the people, yet they cannot say it is false or dangerous, or of any ill tendency; and they are ashamed to own the true reason; that it testifies against their hypocrisy, wickedness, and tyranny. Those who know how to put a just value upon Christ's promises, know how to put just contempt upon the world's threatenings. The apostles look with concern on perishing souls, and know they cannot escape eternal ruin but by Jesus Christ, therefore they are faithful in warning, and showing the right way. None will enjoy peace of mind, nor act uprightly, till they have learned to guide their conduct by the fixed standard of truth, and not by the shifting opinions and fancies of men. Especially beware of a vain attempt to serve two masters, God and the world; the end will be, you can serve neither fully.

Verses 23-31 Christ's followers do best in company, provided it is their own company. It encourages God's servants, both in doing work, and suffering work, that they serve the God who made all things, and therefore has the disposal of all events; and the Scriptures must be fulfilled. Jesus was anointed to be a Saviour, therefore it was determined he should be a sacrifice, to make atonement for sin. But sin is not the less evil for God's bringing good out of it. In threatening times, our care should not be so much that troubles may be prevented, as that we may go on with cheerfulness and courage in our work and duty. They do not pray, Lord let us go away from our work, now that it is become dangerous, but, Lord, give us thy grace to go on stedfastly in our work, and not to fear the face of man. Those who desire Divine aid and encouragement, may depend upon having them, and they ought to go forth, and go on, in the strength of the Lord God. God gave a sign of acceptance of their prayers. The place was shaken, that their faith might be established and unshaken. God gave them greater degrees of his Spirit; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, more than ever; by which they were not only encouraged, but enabled to speak the word of God with boldness. When they find the Lord God help them by his Spirit, they know they shall not be confounded, ( Isaiah 1.7 ) .

Verses 32-37 The disciples loved one another. This was the blessed fruit of Christ's dying precept to his disciples, and his dying prayer for them. Thus it was then, and it will be so again, when the Spirit shall be poured upon us from on high. The doctrine preached was the resurrection of Christ; a matter of fact, which being duly explained, was a summary of all the duties, privileges, and comforts of Christians. There were evident fruits of Christ's grace in all they said and did. They were dead to this world. This was a great evidence of the grace of God in them. They did not take away others' property, but they were indifferent to it. They did not call it their own; because they had, in affection, forsaken all for Christ, and were expecting to be stripped of all for cleaving to him. No marvel that they were of one heart and soul, when they sat so loose to the wealth of this world. In effect, they had all things common; for there was not any among them who lacked, care was taken for their supply. The money was laid at the apostles' feet. Great care ought to be taken in the distribution of public charity, that it be given to such as have need, such as are not able to procure a maintenance for themselves; those who are reduced to want for well-doing, and for the testimony of a good conscience, ought to be provided for. Here is one in particular mentioned, remarkable for this generous charity; it was Barnabas. As one designed to be a preacher of the gospel, he disentangled himself from the affairs of this life. When such dispositions prevail, and are exercised according to the circumstances of the times, the testimony will have very great power upon others.

Cross References 50

  • 1. Luke 22:4
  • 2. Matthew 3:7; Matthew 16:1,6; Matthew 22:23,34; Acts 5:17; Acts 23:6-8
  • 3. Acts 17:18
  • 4. Acts 5:18
  • 5. S Acts 2:41
  • 6. Luke 23:13
  • 7. S Matthew 26:3; Luke 3:2
  • 8. S Luke 1:15
  • 9. ver 5; Luke 23:13
  • 10. Acts 3:6
  • 11. S Mark 1:24
  • 12. S Acts 2:24
  • 13. Psalms 118:22; Isaiah 28:16; Zechariah 10:4; Matthew 21:42; Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:7
  • 14. S Matthew 1:21; John 14:6; Acts 10:43; S Romans 11:14; 1 Timothy 2:5
  • 15. S Luke 22:8
  • 16. Matthew 11:25
  • 17. Mark 3:14
  • 18. S Matthew 5:22
  • 19. John 11:47
  • 20. Acts 3:6-10
  • 21. Amos 7:13; Acts 5:40
  • 22. Acts 5:29
  • 23. Job 32:18; Jeremiah 20:9; Amos 3:8
  • 24. S Luke 24:48
  • 25. Acts 5:26
  • 26. S Matthew 9:8
  • 27. S Acts 1:14
  • 28. Nehemiah 9:6; Job 41:11; Isaiah 37:16
  • 29. Acts 1:16
  • 30. Psalms 2:1,2; Daniel 9:25; Luke 4:18; Acts 10:38; Hebrews 1:9
  • 31. S Matthew 14:1
  • 32. S Matthew 27:2; Luke 23:12
  • 33. ver 30; Acts 3:13,14
  • 34. Acts 2:23
  • 35. ver 13,31; Psalms 138:3; Acts 9:27; Acts 13:46; Acts 14:3; Acts 28:31; Ephesians 6:19; Philippians 1:14
  • 36. S John 4:48
  • 37. ver 27
  • 38. Acts 2:2
  • 39. S Luke 1:15
  • 40. S Hebrews 4:12
  • 41. S ver 29
  • 42. Acts 2:44
  • 43. S Luke 24:48
  • 44. Acts 1:22
  • 45. S Romans 3:24
  • 46. Matthew 19:21; Acts 2:45
  • 47. ver 37; Acts 5:2
  • 48. Acts 2:45; Acts 6:1
  • 49. Acts 9:27; Acts 11:22,30; Acts 13:2; 1 Corinthians 9:6; Gal 2:1,9,13
  • 50. ver 35; Acts 5:2

Footnotes 3

Acts 4 Commentaries