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Acts Four

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

Acts 4:1 And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,

Acts 4:2 Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

through Jesus the resurrection. The authorities tried in every way to stop the spread of the Christian faith, especially “being grieved” at the preaching of the resurrection, since so many were believing it (Acts 4:4). They could have stopped the spread of the faith easily, of course, merely by producing and displaying the dead body of Jesus. This they could not do, however, because He had risen from the dead and ascended to heaven! Their inability to produce His body is thus one of the “many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3) of His bodily resurrection. They would surely have done this if they could.

Acts 4:3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide.

Acts 4:4 Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

Acts 4:5 And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes,

Acts 4:6 And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.

Annas the high priest. The stone burial ossuary of Caiphas in the tomb of Annas was identified in 1994 near the Hinnom Valley in Jerusalem.

Acts 4:7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?

Acts 4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,

Acts 4:9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;

Acts 4:10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

Acts 4:11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.

head of the corner. Peter, with John, preached with great boldness, even accusing the same chief priests that had manipulated the crucifixion of Jesus just a few weeks before. That same Peter had once been so fearful of his life that he denied Christ three times. The amazing transformation in Peter can only be explained in one way: he knew beyond any question that Jesus had triumphed over death and was now energizing him by His indwelling Spirit. He quoted Psalm 118:22 to them, exactly as Jesus had done earlier (Matthew 21:23, 42), applying it directly against them.

Acts 4:12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

none other name. This is one of the clearest statements that can be found anywhere setting forth the one way of salvation. Only Christ can save, for He both created and sustains all things. He Himself has made this plain (e.g., John 14:6). As offensive as such a truth may be to non-Christians, we must continually make it clear in our witness to them, for without Christ they are lost and bound for hell.

Acts 4:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.

unlearned and ignorant men. Being “with Jesus” yields greater wisdom and courage, as well as happier and more productive lives, than great wealth or great learning, entities possessed in large measure by the men whom Peter and John were accusing. Suddenly the accused had become the accusers, and had silenced their intended judges.

Acts 4:14 And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.

nothing against it. Intellectual or philosophical arguments are silenced when confronted with direct evidence of the power of the gospel.

Acts 4:15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,

Acts 4:16 Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.

Acts 4:17 But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.

Acts 4:18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

Acts 4:19 But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.

Acts 4:20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.

Acts 4:21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.

Acts 4:22 For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was showed.

Acts 4:23 And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.

Acts 4:24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:

which hast made heaven. The first Christians firmly believed in a personal omnipotent Creator, who had now become man in the person of Jesus Christ, whom their own religious leaders had rejected. Knowing Him, they were glad to suffer persecution for His name's sake (Acts 5:41).

Acts 4:25 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?

thy servant David. Psalm 2:1-2 is quoted here in Acts 4:25-26, then applied in Acts 4:27-28. It is noteworthy that David is not actually listed as author of this psalm in a superscript in the book of Psalms itself, as was true for most of his psalms. This suggests that some of the other anonymous psalms may also have been written by David.

heathen. The reference to the “heathen” or “Gentiles” was meant to apply to Herod, Pilate and the other Gentiles who persecuted and executed Jesus. “The people,” therefore, refers to the Jewish mob and their leaders who were guilty of the same crime.

Acts 4:26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.

kings of the earth. The Messianic prophecies in the second psalm go well beyond their precursive fulfillment in the rejection and crucifixion of Christ at His first coming, looking ultimately to a worldwide rejection of Him and His people in the last days. See notes on Psalm 2.

Acts 4:27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,

Acts 4:28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

determined before. “Determined before” is the same in the Greek as “predestinated.” These verses contain another striking example of the conjoining of human responsibility and God's sovereignty in the same context, with no hint of this being a problem. Note also Acts 2:23.

Acts 4:29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,

with all boldness. This should be our prayer and attitude in these last days as Christians today face similar opposition in every land.

Acts 4:30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.

Acts 4:31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.

filled with the Holy Ghost. This was at least the second time that these early Christians in the Jerusalem church were filled with the Holy Spirit (note Acts 2:4). The “filling” of the Holy Spirit is not a once-for-all experience, but an oft-repeated experience, to be attained through earnest prayer and desire to honor God. Its manifestation is not usually that of supernatural speaking in other languages, as at Pentecost, but rather that of “speaking the word of God with boldness,” as on this occasion, and that of a joyful and godly Christian life (see Ephesians 5:18-20).

Acts 4:32 And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.

one soul. “One soul” connotes a common spirit of enthusiasm for the job at hand.

all things common. “Common” in the Greek means simply “ordinary.” Some believers (e.g., Barnabas—Acts 4:36-37) were well to do, but considered their possessions as just common goods which could easily be given up. This was not an early example of socialism or communism, as some teach, for it was entirely voluntary, not planned and enforced governmentally. They did not give up their possessions except as needed, but were quite willing to do so. Furthermore, this was done because of the special circumstances at the time and was not the practice among other churches. We should always be willing to share as needed, but this does not normally entail turning all possessions over to the church leaders.

Acts 4:33 And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.

witness of the resurrection. The apostles could witness “with great power” because they had seen the irrefutable evidence of the bodily resurrection of Christ. This is the crowning proof of the truth of Christianity. Only God Himself could defeat death, and Jesus had thereby demonstrated His unique deity. It is no wonder that very soon “the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem greatly” (Acts 6:7).

Acts 4:34 Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,

Acts 4:35 And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.

Acts 4:36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,

Acts 4:37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.