Peter and John Arrested
1-2The teaching and preaching of Peter and John angered the priests, the captain of the temple police, and representatives of the Jewish sect of the Sadducees. # 4:1–2 Of the three major sects of Judaism of that day (Pharisees, Essenes, and Sadducees), the Sadducees were a small but influential group that philosophically denied the supernatural and gravitated instead toward political control of the people. Their denial of the resurrection is what prompted their actions here. They were furious that the people were being taught that in Jesus there is a resurrection from the dead. So while Peter and John were still speaking, the Jewish authorities came to the temple courts to oppose them. 3They had them arrested, and since it was already evening they kept them in custody until the next day. 4Yet there were many in the crowd who believed the message, # 4:4 Or “the Word” (Gr. logos). bringing the total number of men who believed # 4:4 Although the cultural way of numbering the Jewish crowd is technically “adult males,” the usage of the Greek term ton andron is consistently found throughout Greek literature as an inclusive and formal term of respect, similar to “ladies and gentlemen.” Including women and children, the early church swelled rapidly into tens of thousands. to nearly five thousand!
5The next day many Jewish leaders, religious scholars, and elders of the people convened a meeting in Jerusalem. 6Annas the high priest was there with Caiaphas, John, Alexander, # 4:6 There is little known about John (or Jonathan) and Alexander. It is possible that John was the son of Caiaphas, who would one day be the high priest. Or John and Alexander could have been the leaders of the Sadducees. and others who were members of the high priest’s family. 7They made Peter and John stand in front of the council as they questioned them, saying, “Tell us, by what power and authority have you done these things?” # 4:7 Or “In whose name did you do this?”
8Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, answered, “Respected elders and leaders of the people, listen. 9Are we being put on trial today for doing an act of kindness by healing a frail, crippled man? Well then, 10you and everyone else in Israel should know that it is by the power of the name of Jesus that the crippled man stands here today completely healed! You crucified Jesus Christ of Nazareth, # 4:10 Or “the Nazarene.” but God raised him from the dead. 11This Jesus is ‘the stone that you, the builders, have rejected, and now he has become the cornerstone!’ # 4:11 See Ps. 118:22. 12There is no one else # 4:12 Peter insisted there was no man who could claim to be the Messiah other than Jesus. who has the power to save us, for there is only one name to whom God has given authority by which we must experience salvation: # 4:12 The Aramaic is “We must experience the Life Giver” or “We must receive the covenant of life.” the name of Jesus.”
13The council members were astonished as they witnessed the bold courage # 4:13 The Aramaic is “hearing the bold words of Peter and John.” of Peter and John, especially when they discovered that they were just ordinary men who had never had religious training. # 4:13 The Aramaic is “They did not know the scrolls.” The Greek is “uneducated.” Then they began to understand the effect Jesus had on them simply by spending time with him. 14Standing there with them was the healed man, and there was nothing further they could say.
15So they ordered them to leave the room while they discussed the matter. Among themselves, they said, 16“What should we do with these men? Everyone in Jerusalem can clearly see that they’ve performed a notable sign and wonder—we can’t deny that. 17But to keep this propaganda from spreading any further among the people, let’s threaten them severely and warn them to never speak to anyone in this name again.”
18So they had them brought back in before the council, and they commanded them to never teach the people or speak again using the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John replied, “You can judge for yourselves—is it better to listen to you or to God? 20It’s impossible for us to stop speaking about all the things we’ve seen and heard!”
21Since the members of the council couldn’t come up with a crime they could punish them for, they threatened them once more and let them go. All the people praised God, thrilled over the miraculous healing of the crippled man. # 4:21 Made explicit from the text, “over what had happened.” 22And the man who received this miracle sign of healing was over forty years old. # 4:22 For the significance of the number forty, see the second footnote on 1:3.
The Church Prays
23As soon as they were released from custody, Peter and John went to the other believers and explained all that had happened with the high priest and the elders. 24When the believers heard their report, they raised their voices in unity and prayed, “Lord Yahweh, # 4:24 As translated from the Aramaic. you are the Lord of all! You created the universe—the earth, the sky, the sea, and everything that is in them. # 4:24 See Ex. 20:11; Ps. 146:6. 25And you spoke by the Holy Spirit through your servant David, our forefather, saying:
‘How dare the nations plan a rebellion,
ranting and raging against the Lord Most High?
Their foolish plots are futile!
26Look at how the kings of the earth take their stand,
with the rulers scheming and conspiring together
against God # 4:26 The Aramaic is “Lord Yahweh,” and the Greek is “Lord” (kurios). and his anointed Messiah!’ # 4:26 See Ps. 2:1–2.
27“In fact, Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with Jews and non-Jews, met together to take their stand against your holy servant, Jesus the Messiah. 28They did to him all that your purpose and will had determined, according to the destiny you had marked out for him. 29So now, Lord, listen to their threats to harm us. Empower us, as your servants, to speak the word of God freely and courageously. 30Stretch out your hand of power through us to heal, and to move in signs and wonders by the name of your holy Son, Jesus!” # 4:30 As translated from the Aramaic. The Greek is “your holy servant, Jesus.”
31As they prayed the earth shook beneath them, causing the building they were in to tremble. # 4:31 The Aramaic is “an earthquake.” Each one of them was filled with the Holy Spirit, and they proclaimed the word of God with unrestrained boldness. # 4:31 The Greek word is parresia. This involves more than confidence; it was a free-flowing, unrestrained boldness. It can also mean “freedom of speech.” Parresia carries nuances that are not easily brought over into English. The person who speaks with parresia will say everything that is on his mind with no restraint, flowing out of his heart with confidence. It involves being frank and honest, hiding nothing and speaking directly to the heart. Most often it is a word used for public speaking. It refers to speech that is not tailored to make everyone happy but to speak the truth, in spite of what that may cost. It is the courage to speak truth into the ears of others. This was reserved for only the highest rank of Greek citizens, not people of other lands or slaves. The right to speak freely was an essential aspect of Athenian democracy. Although it is sometimes associated with negative speech, in this context parresia refers to an unrestrained boldness. There was a Greek idiom that said essentially, “If you tell me the truth no matter what that truth turns out to be, I will not punish you.” This was known as the Parresiastic Contract. See M. Foucault, “Discourse and Truth: The Problematization of Parresia,” six lectures given at the University of California at Berkeley, 1983, ed. by Joseph Pearson in 1985. Parresia is found also in Mark 8:32; John 7:4, 13, 26; 10:24; 11:14, 54; 2 Cor. 3:12; 7:4; Eph. 3:12; 6:19; Phil. 1:20; and numerous other places.
32All the believers were one in mind and heart. Selfishness was not a part of their community, for they shared everything they had with one another. 33The apostles gave powerful testimonies about the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great measures of grace # 4:33 Or “mega-grace.” rested upon them all. 34-35Some who owned houses or land sold them and brought the proceeds before the apostles to distribute to those without. Not a single person among them was needy.
36-37For example, there was a Levite from Cyprus named Joseph, who sold his farmland and placed the proceeds at the feet of the apostles. They nicknamed him Barnabas (or “Encourager”). # 4:36–37 The name Barnabas means “son of encouragement,” or “son of the prophet.” This was the Barnabas who traveled with Paul as an apostle.