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Peter and John before the Council


While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, 2much annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead. 3So they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4But many of those who heard the word believed; and they numbered about five thousand.

5 The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, 6with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7When they had made the prisoners stand in their midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” 8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, 10let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. 11This Jesus is

‘the stone that was rejected by you, the builders;

it has become the cornerstone.’

12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.”

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus. 14When they saw the man who had been cured standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15So they ordered them to leave the council while they discussed the matter with one another. 16They said, “What will we do with them? For it is obvious to all who live in Jerusalem that a notable sign has been done through them; we cannot deny it. 17But to keep it from spreading further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” 18So they called them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; 20for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.” 21After threatening them again, they let them go, finding no way to punish them because of the people, for all of them praised God for what had happened. 22For the man on whom this sign of healing had been performed was more than forty years old.

The Believers Pray for Boldness

23 After they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24When they heard it, they raised their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and everything in them, 25it is you who said by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant:

‘Why did the Gentiles rage,

and the peoples imagine vain things?


The kings of the earth took their stand,

and the rulers have gathered together

against the Lord and against his Messiah.’

27 For in this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, 28to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your word with all boldness, 30while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.

The Believers Share Their Possessions

32 Now the whole group of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one claimed private ownership of any possessions, but everything they owned was held in common. 33With great power the apostles gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. 34There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. 35They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. 36There was a Levite, a native of Cyprus, Joseph, to whom the apostles gave the name Barnabas (which means “son of encouragement”). 37He sold a field that belonged to him, then brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

23. Furthermore when they were let go. It shall appear by and by to what end they declared to the other disciples what things had befallen them, to wit, that they might be the more emboldened and encouraged by the grace of God hereafter; secondly, that they might arm themselves with prayer against the furious threatenings of their enemies; and thus must the children of God do, one must prick forward another, and they must join hand in hand, that they may vanquish the common adversary fighting under Christ’s banner. They consider 219219     “Reputent,” let them consider. with themselves what dangers hang over their heads, to the end they may be the more ready to enter 220220     “Obcundis,” to obviate or face them. the same, although they see their enemies press sore upon them; yet lest it should grieve them 221221     “Ne pigeat,” let it not grieve them. to have a new combat ever now and then, they assure 222222     “Confidant,” let them confide. themselves that they shall be invincible 223223     “Semper inexpugnabiles,” always invincible. through the same power of God whereby they got the victory before. And it is to be thought (although Luke makes no mention thereof) that the apostles being contented with their former answer, did not contend with those furies, [furious men;] and yet we must persuade ourselves that they were not so forgetful of their former constancy that they did submit themselves unto their ungodly decree like slaves. 224224     “Ut serviliter excipient,” as servilely to submit.

We are taught by this example what is our duty to do when our adversaries do imperiously threaten us; for we must not carelessly laugh in time of danger, but the fear of danger ought to drive us to crave help at the hands of God, and this is a remedy to comfort and set us up on foot, lest, being terrified with threatenings, we cease off from doing our duty. Here is a double fruit of this history, that the disciples of Christ do not jest when they hear that their enemies do threaten them so sore and press so sore upon them, as careless and sluggish men use to do; but being touched with fear, they fly to seek help at the hands of God; and again, they are not terrified, neither yet do they conceive any immoderate fear; 225225     “Qui eos ab efficio abducat,” which might draw them off from their duty. but crave of God 226226     “Eniti,” struggle after. invincible constancy with right godly petitions.

24. Thou art God, which hast created. Although this title and commendation of God’s power be general, yet it ought to be referred unto the present matter, for they do in such sort acknowledge the power of God in the creation of the whole world, that they apply the same therewithal unto the present use. In like sort, the prophets do oftentimes commend the same, to the end they may redress that fear which troubleth us when we behold the power of our enemies; secondly, they add thereunto the promise, and they make these two foundations of their boldness whereby they are emboldened to pray. And surely our prayers are such as they ought to be, and acceptable to God only then, when as staying ourselves upon his promises and power, we pray with certain hope to obtain that for which we pray, for we cannot otherwise have any true confidence unless God do will us to come unto him, and promise that he is ready to help us; and, secondly, unless we acknowledge that he is able enough to help us; wherefore let the faithful exercise themselves in this double meditation so often as they address themselves unto prayer. Furthermore, we gather hereby after what sort we ought to consider the creation of the world; to wit, that we may know that all things are subject to God, and ruled by his will, and when that the world hath done what it can, there shall no other thing come to pass but that which God hath decreed; yea, that the wantonness of the wicked is monstrous, as if the clay should resist the potter; for this is the meaning of the faithful generally, that whatsoever dangers hang over their heads, yet can God prevent the same infinite ways, forasmuch as all things are in his hand, and that he is able to make all the parts of heaven and earth (which he hath created) to obey him.

25. Who by the mouth of David. They descend now into the second member, that they ask nothing but that which God hath promised to perform, so that his will and power are joined together, to the end they may fully assure themselves that they shall obtain their requests; and because the kingdom of Christ is now in hand, they make rehearsal of the promise of God, wherein he promiseth to defend and maintain the same, so that when the whole world hath done what it can to overthrow it, yet all shall be in vain; and herein their godliness and sincere zeal, in that they are not so much careful for their own safety, as for the increasing and advancement of the kingdom of Christ.

Why have the Gentiles raged? We must need confess that David speaketh of himself, who after he was chosen king by the Lord, and anointed by Samuel the prophet, did enjoy the kingdom very hardly, 227227     “Per summas difficultates regno potitus est,” came to the kingdom through the greatest difficulties. because his enemies withstood him on every side. We know how the rulers and people conspired together with Saul and his family; after that the Philistines, and other strange enemies, despising him when he came newly to the crown, made war against him, striving who should begin first, wherefore it is not without cause that he complaineth that the kings rage and take counsel together, and that the people do go about divers things; nevertheless, because he knew that God was the supporter of his kingdom, he derideth their foolish enterprises, and affirmeth that they are vain; but because his kingdom was established, that it might be a figure or image of the kingdom of Christ, David doth not stay still in the shadow itself; but he apprehendeth the body, yea, the Holy Ghost, as the apostles do truly repeat the same, doth sharply reprove the foolish and ridiculous madness of the world, in that they dare invade the kingdom of Christ which God had esta-blished, as well in the person of David as of Christ himself. And this is a singular comfort, in that we hear that God is on our side, so long as we go on warfare under the kingdom of Christ. Hereby we may persuade ourselves, that howsoever all men, both high and low do wickedly conspire together against this kingdom, yet shall they not prevail, for what is all the whole world compared with God? But we must first of all know and assure ourselves of this, that God will continually maintain the kingdom of his Son, whereof he himself is the author, so that we may set his decree (which shall not be broken) against the rashness of men, that trusting to the help of his hand, we may not doubt to despise all the preparation and furniture of men, though they be terrible; and he doth diligently express how great the bands of the adversaries are; he saith, that they attempt all things, he doth also reckon up their counsels, lest any of these do terrify us. Furthermore, when as the Psalm teacheth, that the kingdom of Christ shall endure, maugre the heads of the adversaries, it doth also show that there shall be many adversaries, which shall endeavor to overthrow the same. On the one side, he bringeth in the kings raging, on the other, the people all out of quiet, 228228     “Tumultuantes,” in tumult. whereby he signifieth that all estates shall be offended at it; 229229     “Infensos illi,” hostile to it. and no marvel, because nothing is more contrary to the flesh than the spiritual sword of the gospel wherewith Christ killeth us, that he may make us obey him, (Romans 15:16.) Therefore, we must know this for a surety, that the kingdom of Christ shall never be quiet in the world, lest when we are to fight, we be afraid as at some strange thing.

26. Against the Lord, and his Christ. The Spirit teacheth by this word, that all those do make war against God which refuse to submit themselves to Christ; they do full little think this oftentimes, notwithstanding it is so that because God will reign in the person of his Son alone, we refuse to obey him so often as we rebel against Christ, as the Lord himself saith in John, “He which honoreth not the Son, honoreth not the Father.” Wherefore let the hypocrites profess a thousand times that they mean nothing less than to make war against God, yet shall they find this true, that God is their open enemy, unless they embrace Christ with his gospel. The use of this doctrine is double, for it armeth us against all the terrors of the flesh, because we must not fear, lest they get the victory of God which withstand the gospel. Again, we must beware, lest, through the contempt of godly doctrine, we advance ourselves against God to our own destruction.

27 Have met together in this city. They declare that this prophecy was proved to be true by the event, to the end they may believe the same more assuredly, for the sense is, Lord, thou hast spoken it and we have in truth tried [experienced] the same to be true; and they call to mind that which was done four years before, or thereabout. In like sort, it is expedient for us to apply the events of things which are foretold to the confirmation of our faith; but because it might seem that the matter fell out far otherwise then than the Psalm pronounceth, forasmuch as they raged not in vain, neither were the assaults of the enemies frustrate when they had put Christ to death; and their violence went further afterwards after a fearful manner. The faithful remove this offense, and say that the enemies could do no more than God had appointed; therefore, howsoever the wicked did suppose that Christ was quite taken away by death, and did now vainly triumph, yet the faithful confess that their rage was all but vain. But here may a question be moved, why he calleth them the Gentiles and people of Israel, seeing there was but one body? I think that the diversity of countries is noted in this place, out of which the Jews came together to the feast, as if they should have said, that the Jews which were born in divers places, having made, as it were, a concourse, did assault the kingdom of Christ, yet was their fury frustrate and of none effect.

Thy holy Son Jesus. The Grecians use the very same word which I translated even now, servant, when mention was made of David, for they call [πᾶιδα] sometimes a servant sometimes a son; and David is so called, because he was the minister of God, as well in ruling the people as in the office of a prophet; but this word, son, agreeth better with the person of Christ, unless some man had liefer take it thus, that Luke meant to allude unto that likelihood [resemblance] which David had with Christ when he setteth down a word of a double signification. It is expressly said, that God hath anointed his Son, that that may truly agree to him which is in the Psalm, for in anointing him God made him a King, and yet we must note therewithal what anointing this was, for we know that he was not anointed with visible oil, but with the Holy Ghost.

28. That they might do. I have already declared to what end this is spoken; that the kingdom of Christ was so far from being overrun by that conspiracy, that in truth it did then flourish. Notwithstanding herein is contained a singular doctrine, that God doth so govern and guide all things by his secret counsel, that, he doth bring to pass those things which he hath determined, even by the wicked. Not that they are ready willingly to do him such service, but because he turneth their counsels and attempts backward; so that on the one side appeareth great equity and most great righteousness; on the other appeareth nought but wickedness and iniquity. Which matter we have handled more at large in the second chapter. Let us learn here, by the way, that we must so consider the providence of God, that we know that it is the chief and only guider of all things which are done in the world, that the devil and all the wicked are kept back with God’s bridle, lest they should do us any harm; that when they rage fastest, yet are they not at liberty to do what they list, but have the bridle given them, yet so far forth as is expedient to exercise us. Those men which do acknowledge the foreknowledge of God alone, and yet confess not that all things are done as it pleaseth him, are easily convict by these words, That God hath appointed before that thing to be done which was done. Yea, Luke being not contented with the word counsel, addeth also hand, improperly, yet to the end he might the more plainly declare that the events of things are not only governed by the counsel of God, but that they are also ordered by his power and hand.

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