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Acts 4

SUMMARY.--The Arrest. The Trial Before the Sanhedrim. Peter's Reply. The Counsel of the Sanhedrists. Their Charge to Peter and John. The Appeal of Peter and John to the Higher Law. The Meeting of the Church for Prayer. The Divine Blessing.

      13, 14. Perceived that they were unlearned. Not educated in the schools of the rabbins. They had, however, a better learning. They had been with Jesus. In them the crucified Jesus stands before them, fearless as their Master. Beholding the man. He was the unimpeachable proof of the miracle.

      15. When they had commanded them to go aside. They sent them from their presence in order that they might confer freely together. The substance of their deliberations is condensed and reported. The conclusion they arrived at was, not to punish them for a miracle that all the people knew had taken place, but to stop their preaching by threats.

      19. Whether it be right in the sight of God. They appeal to the higher law. Their earthly government commanded them not to do what God had directed them to do. In a conflict of this kind there is only one course, that is, to obey God.

      20. We cannot but speak. Are under a moral and spiritual obligation to speak. They had a Divine message, and must tell it.

      21, 22. Let them go. With threats, afraid to punish them lest they should exasperate the people. Above forty years old. Therefore known to everybody as a life-long cripple.

      23. Came to their own company. To the body of Christians assembled together, and there reported what had taken place.

      24. Lifted up their voice to God with one accord. All engaged in prayer. It was a time of trial. They were forbidden, under awful threats, to preach Christ. Hence they go to God.

      25. Why did the heathen rage? Quoted from the second psalm. Psalms 2:1 Psalms 2:2 The predicted facts were all fulfilled in the trial and death of Christ. Verse 27 shows how they were fulfilled.

      28. To do whatsoever . . . thy counsel determined before to be done. It is not said that God decreed that Pilate, Herod and the rulers should do what they did, but that they did what God had decreed should be done. It was God's will that Christ should die, but they chose, of their own malignity, to slay him. Their will was free.

      29, 30. And now, Lord, . . . grant. Note their petition. They do not ask to be saved from pain, persecution, or death. There is nothing asked for themselves personally, but they ask (1) that they may have boldness, in the face of threats, to speak the word, and (2) that God would bear them witness by gifts of miraculous power. Their prayer is all for the work's sake.

      31. The place was shaken. As a sensible evidence that their prayer was granted, and then they were filled with the Holy Spirit, as on Pentecost, so inspired that all fear was shaken off.

      32-35. The multitude of them that believed. All the church. Of one heart and soul. Perfectly united as one body and with one life. Neither said any of them. Note the language that follows. It does not describe a community of goods, but a miraculous benevolence: (1) the goods were not a common fund, but each one had goods that he possessed; (2) he did not say that his goods were his own; (3) they used all as if it belonged to all; (4) there were none that lacked, for (5) those that had houses and lands sold them and brought the proceeds to the apostles. It was a time when a great liberality was called for. Thousands of Jews from abroad had become Christians and must remain at Jerusalem until instructed in the gospel. It was a great emergency, and the church was equal to it, for they brought money, goods, and the proceeds of houses and lands to sustain those who lacked. This continued until God was ready to send them forth, and when the persecution arose about Stephen they "went everywhere preaching the word."

      36, 37. Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas. His name was Joses; but the apostles from some feature of his character called him Barnabas, "the son of exhortation" (see Revision). A Levite. Of the sacred tribe. Of the country of Cyprus. The famous island of the Mediterranean. He and Paul afterwards carried the gospel there. Having land. Possibly a possession somewhere in Judea. See Num. 35:1-8 and Deuteronomy 10:8 Deuteronomy 10:9 . As a Levite, Barnabas would have rights in the Levitical possessions. This is the first mention of this celebrated companion of Paul's missionary labors. He next appears on a mission to Antioch ( chap. 11:22 ).

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