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4. Peter and John Before Sanhedrin
1And as they spake unto the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2being sore troubled because they taught the people, and proclaimed in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3And they laid hands on them, and put them in ward unto the morrow: for it was now eventide. 4But many of them that heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand. 5And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem; 6and Annas the high priest was there, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest. 7And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, By what power, or in what name, have ye done this? 8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders, 9if we this day are examined concerning a good deed done to an impotent man, by what means this man is made whole; 10be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even in him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11He is the stone which was set at nought of you the builders, which was made the head of the corner. 12And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved. 13Now when they beheld the boldness of Peter and John, and had perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. 14And seeing the man that was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. 15But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 16saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been wrought through them, is manifest to all that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. 17But that it spread no further among the people, let us threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. 18And they called them, and charged them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it is right in the sight of God to hearken unto you rather than unto God, judge ye: 20for we cannot but speak the things which we saw and heard. 21And they, when they had further threatened them, let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people; for all men glorified God for that which was done. 22For the man was more than forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was wrought. 23And being let go, they came to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said unto them. 24And they, when they heard it, lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, O Lord, thou that didst make the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that in them is: 25who by the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of our father David thy servant, didst say,
Why did the Gentiles rage,
And the peoples imagine vain things?
26The kings of the earth set themselves in array,
And the rulers were gathered together,
Against the Lord, and against his Anointed:
27for of a truth in this city against thy holy Servant Jesus, whom thou didst anoint, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, were gathered together, 28to do whatsoever thy hand and thy council foreordained to come to pass. 29And now, Lord, look upon their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness, 30while thy stretchest forth thy hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of thy holy Servant Jesus. 31And when they had prayed, the place was shaken wherein they were gathered together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spake the word of God with boldness. 32And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and soul: and not one of them said that aught of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. 33And with great power gave the apostles their witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. 34For neither was there among them any that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35and laid them at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto each, according as any one had need. 36And Joseph, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas (which is, being interpreted, Son of exhortation), a Levite, a man of Cyprus by race, 37having a field, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet.
Peter and John Imprisoned.
1 And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, 2 Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide. 4 Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.
We have here the interests of the kingdom of heaven successfully carried on, and the powers of darkness appearing against them to put a stop to them. let Christ's servants be ever so resolute, Satan's agents will be spiteful; and therefore, let Satan's agents be ever so spiteful, Christ's servants ought to be resolute.
I. The apostles, Peter and John, went on in their work, and did not labour in vain. The Spirit enabled the ministers to do their part, and the people theirs.
1. The preachers faithfully deliver the doctrine of Christ: They spoke unto the people, to all that were within hearing, v. 1. What they said concerned them all, and they spoke it openly and publicly. They taught the people, still taught the people knowledge; taught those that as yet did not believe, for their conviction and conversion; and taught those that did believe, for their comfort and establishment. They preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. The doctrine of the resurrection of the dead, (1.) Was verified in Jesus; this they proved, that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead, as the first, the chief, that should rise from the dead, ch. xxvi. 23. They preached the resurrection of Christ as their warrant for what they did. Or, (2.) It is secured by him to all believers. The resurrection of the dead includes all the happiness of the future state. This they preached through Jesus Christ, attainable through him (Phil. iii. 10, 11), and through him only. They meddled not with matters of state, but kept to their business, and preached to the people heaven as their end and Christ as their way. See ch. xvii. 18.
2. The hearers cheerfully receive it (v. 4): Many of those who heard the word believed; not all—perhaps not the most, yet many, to the number of about five thousand, over and above the three thousand we read of before. See how the gospel got ground, and it was the effect of the pouring out of the Spirit. Though the preachers were persecuted, the word prevailed; for sometimes the church's suffering days have been her growing days: the days of her infancy were so.
II. The chief priests and their party now made head against them, and did what they could to crush them; their hands were tied awhile, but their hearts were not in the least changed. Now here observe, 1. Who they were that appeared against the apostles. They were the priests; you may be sure, in the first place, they were always sworn enemies to Christ and his gospel; they were as jealous for their priesthood as Cæsar for his monarchy, and would not bear one they thought their rival now, when he was preached as a priest, as much as when he himself preached as a prophet. With them was joined the captain of the temple, who, it is supposed, was a Roman officer, governor of the garrison placed in the tower of Antonia, for the guard of the temple: so that still here were both Jews and Gentiles confederate against Christ. The Sadducees also, who denied the being of spirits and the future state, were zealous against them. "One would wonder" (saith Mr. Baxter) "what should make such brutists as the Sadducees were to be such furious silencers and persecutors. If there is no life to come, what harm can other men's hopes of it do them? But in depraved souls all faculties are vitiated. A blind man has a malignant heart and a cruel hand, to this day." 2. How they stood affected to the apostles' preaching: They were grieved that they taught the people, v. 2. It grieved them, both that the gospel doctrine was preached (was so preached, so publicly, so boldly,), and that the people were so ready to hear it. They thought, when they had put Christ to such an ignominious death, his disciples would ever after be ashamed and afraid to own him, and the people would have invincible prejudices against his doctrine; and now it vexed them to see themselves disappointed, and that his gospel got ground, instead of losing it. The wicked shall see it, and be grieved, Ps. cxii. 10. They were grieved at that which they should have rejoiced in, at that which angels rejoice in. Miserable is their case to whom the glory of Christ's kingdom is a grief; for, since the glory of that kingdom is everlasting, it follows of course that their grief will be everlasting too. It grieved them that the apostles preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. The Sadducees were grieved that the resurrection from the dead was preached; for they opposed that doctrine, and could not bear to hear of a future state, to hear it so well attested. The chief priests were grieved that they preached the resurrection of the dead through Jesus, that he should have the honour of it; and, though they professed to believe the resurrection of the dead against the Sadducees, yet they would rather give up that important article than have it preached and proved to be through Jesus. 3. How far they proceeded against the apostles (v. 3): They laid hands on them (that is, their servants and officers did at their command), and put them in hold, committed them to the custody of the proper officer until the next day; they could not examine them now, for it was even-tide, and yet would defer it no longer than till next day. See how God trains up his servants for sufferings by degrees, and by less trials prepares them for greater; now they resist unto bonds only, but afterwards to blood.