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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 4 - Verse 19

Verse 19. Whether it be right, etc. The apostles abated nothing of their boldness when threatened. They openly appealed to their judges whether their command could be right. And in doing this, they expressed their full conviction of the truth of what they had said, and their deliberate purpose not to regard their command, but still to proclaim to the people the truth that Jesus was the Messiah.

In the sight of God. That is, whether God will judge this to be right. The grand question was, how God would regard it. If he disapproved it, it was wrong. It was not merely a question pertaining to their reputation, safety, or life; but it was a question of conscience before God. And we have here a striking instance of the principle on which Christians act. It is to lay their safety, reputation, and life out of view, and to bring everything to this test, WHETHER IT WILL PLEASE GOD. If it will, it is right; if it will not, it is wrong.

To hearken. To hear and to hearken are often used to denote to obey, Joh 5:24; 8:47, etc.

Judge ye. This was an appeal to them directly as judges, and as men. And it may be presumed that it was an appeal which they could not resist. The sanhedrim acknowledged itself to have been appointed by God; and to have no authority which was not derived from his appointment. Of course God could modify, supersede, or repeal their authority; and the abstract principle, that it was better to obey God than man, they could not call in question. The only inquiry was, whether they had evidence that God had issued any command in the case. Of that the apostles were satisfied; and that the rulers could not deny. It may be remarked, that this is one of the first and most bold appeals on record in favour of the right of private judgment and the liberty of conscience. That liberty was supposed in all the Jewish religion. It was admitted that the authority of God in all matters was superior to that of man. And the same spirit manifested itself thus early in the Christian church against all dominion over the conscience, and in favour of the right to follow the dictates of the conscience and the will of God. As a mere historical fact, therefore, it is interesting to contemplate this; and still more interesting in its important bearings on human liberty and human happiness. The doctrine is still more explicitly stated in Ac 5:29—"We ought to obey God rather than men."

{c} "hearken unto you more" Ac 5:29

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