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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.

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1. And as they spoke Hereby it appeareth how watchful the wicked be, because they are always ready at an inch to stop the mouth of the servants of Christ. And, undoubt edly, they came together, as it were, to quench some great fire; which thing Luke signifieth, when as he saith that the ruler or captain of the temple came also; and he addeth, moreover, that they took it grievously that the apostles did teach. Therefore, they came not upon them by chance, but of set purpose, that, according to their authority, they might restrain the apostles, and put them to silence. And yet they have some show of law and equity; for if any man did rashly intrude himself, it was the office of the high priest to repress him; and also in like sort, to keep the people in the obedience of the law and the prophets, and to prevent all new doctrines. Therefore, when they hear unknown men, and such as had no public authority, preaching unto the people in the temple, they seem, according as their office did require, and they were commanded by God, to address themselves to remedy this. And surely, at the first blush, it seemeth that there was nothing in this action worthy of reprehension, but the end doth at length declare that their counsel was wicked, and their affection ungodly.

Again, it was a hard matter for the apostles to escape infamy and reproach, because they, being private and despised persons, did take upon them public authority; to wit, because, when things are out of order, many things must be essayed to [against] the common custom, and especially, when we are to avouch and defend religion and the worship of God, and the ringleaders themselves do stop all ways, and do abuse that office against God, which was committed unto them by God. The faithful champions of Christ must swallow up and pass through this ignominy in [under] Popery. For a thousand summers will go over their heads before any reformation or amendment will wax ripe amongst them for the better. Therefore, Luke standeth upon this point, when as he saith that they were grieved because the resurrection was preached in the name of Christ. For hereupon it followeth that they did hate the doctrine before they knew the same. He expresseth the Sadducees by name, as those which were more courageous 202202     “Animosiores,” more zealous. in this cause. For they were almost [usually] a part of the priests; but because the question is about the resurrection, they set themselves against the apostles more than the rest. Furthermore, this was most monstrous confusion amongst the Jews, in that this sect, which was profane, was of such authority. For what godliness could remain, when as the immortality of the soul was counted as a fable, and that freely? But men must needs run headlong after this sort, when they have once suffered pure doctrine to fall to the ground amongst them. Wherefore, we must so much the more diligently beware of every wicked turning aside, lest such a step do follow immediately.

Some men think that the ruler of the temple was chosen from among the priests, but I do rather think that he was some chief captain of the Roman army; for it was a place which was fortified both naturally and artificially. Again, Herod had built a tower there, which was called Antonia; so that it is to be thought that he had placed there a band of soldiers, and that the Roman captain had the government of the temple, lest it should be a place of refuge for the Jews, if they had stirred up any tumult, which we may likewise gather out of Josephus. And this agreeth very well, that the enemies of Christ did crave the help of the secular power, under color of appeasing some tumult. In the mean season, they seek favor at the hands of the Romans, as if they were careful to maintain the right of their empire.

4. And many of them which heard The apostles are put in prison, but the force of their preaching is spread far and wide, and the course thereof is at liberty. Of which thing Paul boasteth very much, that the Word of God is not bound with him, (2 Timothy 2:9.) And here we see that Satan and the wicked have liberty granted them to rage against the children of God; yet can they not (maugre their heads 203203     “Omnia machinando,” by all their machinations. ) prevail, but that God doth further and promote the kingdom of his Son; Christ doth gather together his sheep; and that a few men unarmed, furnished with no garrisons, do show forth more power in their voice alone, than all the world, by raging against them. This is, indeed, no common work of God, that one sermon brought forth such plentiful fruit; but this is the more to be wondered at, that the faithful are not terrified with the present danger, and discouraged from taking up the cross of Christ together with the faith. For this was a hard beginning for novices. Christ did more evidently declare by this efficacy and force of doctrine that he was alive, than if he should have offered his body to be handled with hand, and to be seen with the eyes. And whereas it is said that the number of those which believed did grow to be about five thousand, I do not understand it of those which were newly added, but of the whole church.