Confraternity Bible: New Testament and Supplemental Commentary

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ACTS - Chapter 4

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Acts 4

Supplemental Commentary:

I.  THE CHURCH IN PALESTINE AND SYRIA  2, 1 -- 12, 25 (continued)

1.  Growth of the Church in Jerusalem  2, 1 -- 8, 3 (continued)

4, 1-22:  Arrest and Release of Peter and John.  The priests were particularly concerned because the teaching was being given in the temple precincts by unauthorized persons, and the Sadducees because it contradicted their denial of the resurrection of the dead (cf. Acts 23, 6-9).

8-12.  Answering the assembled Sanhedrin, St. Peter again touches on the chief points in his previous discourses, insisting on Christ's crucifixion and resurrection and His present power and glory; salvation is to be found only in Him, not in the Jewish Law.

4, 23-31:  Thanksgiving.  With the threats ringing in their ears, they had special need of courage to continue their preaching; miracles would lend weight to their words.

4, 32-37:  Manner of Life of Christians.  Cf. 2, 42-47.

Confraternity Bible:

Arrest and Release of Peter and John  1 Now while they were speaking to the people, the priests and the officer of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 being grieved because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in the case of Jesus the resurrection from the dead.  3 And they set hands upon them and placed them in custody till the next day; for it was already evening.  4 But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to be five thousand.

5 Now it came to pass on the morrow that their rulers and elders and Scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem 6 with Annas, the high priest, and Caiphas and John and Alexander and as many as belonged to the high-priestly family.  7 And setting them in the midst, they began to inquire, "By what authority or in what name have you done this?"

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are on trial today about a good work done to a cripple, as to how this man has been cured, 10 be it known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God has raised from the dead, even in this name does he stand here before you, sound.  11* This is
'The stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the corner stone.' 
12 Neither is there salvation in any other.  For there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved."

13* Now seeing the boldness of Peter and John, and finding that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they began to marvel, and to recognize them as having been with Jesus.  14 And seeing the man who had been cured standing with them, they could say nothing in reply.  15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the council chamber; and they conferred together, 16 saying, "What shall we do with these men?  For that indeed an evident miracle has been done by them is manifest to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.  17 But lest it spread further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more about this name to any man."  18 And summoning them, they charged them not to speak or to teach at all in the name of Jesus.

19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, decide for yourselves.  20 For we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard."  21 But they, after threatening them, let them go, not finding any way of punishing them, because of the people; for all were glorifying what had been come to pass.  22 For the man upon whom this miraculous cure had been done was more than forty years old.

Thanksgiving  23 Now after their dismissal, they came to their companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them.  24 But they, when they heard it, lifted up their voice with one accord to God and said, "Lord, it is thou who didst make heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them, 25* who didst say by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of our father David, thy servant,
'Why did the Gentiles rage and the peoples plan vain things? 

26* The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers assembled together

against the Lord and against his Christ.' 
27 For of a truth there assembled together in this city against thy holy servant Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, Herod and Pontius Pilate with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do what thy hand and thy counsel decreed to be done.  29 And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant to thy servants to speak thy word with all boldness, 30 while thou stretchest forth thy hand to cures and signs and wonders to be wrought by the name of thy holy servant Jesus."

31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke the word of God with boldness.

Manner of Life of Christians  32* Now the multitude of the believers were of one heart and one soul, and not one of them said that anything he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.  33 And with great power the apostles gave testimony to the resurrection of Jesus Christ our Lord; and great grace was in them all.  34 Nor was there anyone among them in want.  For those who owned lands and houses would sell them and bring the price of what they sold 35 and lay it at the feet of the apostles, and distribution was made to each, according as any one had need.  36 Now Joseph, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas (which is translated Son of Consolation), a Levite and a native of Cyprus, 37 sold the field that he had, and brought the price and laid it at the feet of the apostles.


11: Ps. 117, 22.

13: Uneducated and ordinary: not trained in the rabbinical traditions, and having no authority to teach.

25-26: Ps. 2, 1.

32: In common: as in 2, 44, while they still held private property, all were ready to use it for those in want, and the more fervent went to the extent of selling their possessions in whole or in part and turning over the proceeds to a fund for the poor.  That this latter practice was not obligatory or general, even in Jerusalem, is clear from the special mention of Barnabas in v. 36, and from 5, 4, where Ananias is reminded that he need not have sold his land, and that, if he did, he need not have given the money to the Apostles.