Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John
With what courage and intrepidity they stood before them, the presence of mind they had, and the freedom of speech they used, as the word properly signifies: they observed their elocution, the justness of their diction, the propriety of their language, and the strength and nervousness of their reasoning; as well as their great resolution, constancy, and firmness of mind; not being afraid to profess the name of Christ, or to charge them with the murder of him; and that they seemed to be determined to abide by him, at all events; to assert him to be the true Messiah, though rejected by the Jewish builders; and that he was risen from the dead; and not only to ascribe unto him the miracle now wrought, but the salvation of men; and to declare, that there was none in any other but him: the Syriac version renders it, "when they heard the word of Simeon and John, which they spoke openly": and freely, without any reserve: they answered readily to the question, that it was by the name of Jesus of Nazareth that they had done this miracle; they dealt freely with the Jewish sanhedrim, and told them in so many words, that they were the crucifiers of Christ, and the rejecters of that stone, which God had made the head of the corner, and that there was no salvation for them in any other: it appears from hence, that John spoke as well as Peter, though his words are not recorded: and perceived that they were unlearned ignorant men;
not by what they now said, but by what they heard and understood of them before: they were informed that they were "unlearned" men, or who did not understand letters; not but that they had learned their mother tongue, and could read the Scriptures; but they had not had a liberal education; they had not been brought up at the feet of any of the doctors, in any of the schools and universities of the Jews; they were not trained up in, and conversant with, the nice distinctions, subtle argumentations, and decisions of the learned doctors, in the interpretation of the law of Moses, and the traditions of the elders: and understood that they were also "ignorant" men, (idiwtai) , "idiots", or private men; for men might be unlearned, and yet not be such; it seems the high priests themselves were sometimes unlearned men: hence, on the day of atonement,
``they used to read before him, in the order of the day, and say to him, Lord high priest, read thou with thine own mouth; perhaps thou hast forgot, or it may be, (tdml al) , "thou hast not learned" F3.''The Jews have adopted the word here used into their language; and express by it, sometimes a man that is mean, abject, and contemptible: thus instead of "children of base men", or "without a name", the Targumist on ( Job 30:8 ) reads, (Nyjwydh ynb) , "the children of idiots", or "private men": and in the Targum on ( 1 Samuel 18:23 ) ( 24:14 ) it is used for one lightly esteemed, and comparable to a flea: it sometimes designs persons in a private life, though men of learning and knowledge, in distinction from those that are in office; so we read F4, that
``three kings, and four (twjwydh) , "private" persons, have no part in the world to come; the three kings are Jeroboam, Ahab, and Manasseh; the four "idiots", or private men, are Balaam, Doeg, Ahithophel, and Gehazi.''And so a bench of idiots, or private men, is distinguished from a bench of authorized and approved judges F5; and sometimes the word is used of such, as are distinguished from doctors, or wise men; so when it is said F6,
``the command of plucking off the shoe, is done before three judges, and though the three are "idiots";''the note of Maimonides upon it is,
``not wise men, but that know how to read the language,''the Hebrew language: and such were the disciples, in every sense of the word; they were mean and abject, poor fishermen, men of no name and figure, that were in no office, and exalted station of life, nor versed in Jewish learning, but common private men: so that they marvelled;
the sanheddrim were astonished to hear them talk with so much fluency and pertinence: and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus;
looking wistly upon them, they knew them again, and remembered that; they were persons that were the disciples of Jesus, and whom they had seen in company with him; not in the high priest's palace, when Jesus was arraigned, examined, and condemned there; though Peter, and some think John was there at that time, yet not to be observed and taken notice of by the sanhedrim; but in the temple where Jesus taught, and where the chief priests, Scribes, and elders came, and disputed with him about his authority, and cavilled at him, ( Matthew 21:15 Matthew 21:23 ) .
F3 Misn. Yoma, c. 1. sect. 3.
F4 Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 11. sect. 2.
F5 T. Bab. Bava Metzia, fol. 32. 11.
F6 Misn. Yebamot, c. 12. sect. 1.