Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
JOHN BEFORE THE
1-12. the captain--of the Levitical guard.
of the temple--annoyed at the disturbance created around it.
and the Sadducees--who "say that there is no resurrection"
irritated at the apostles "preaching through (rather, 'in') Jesus the
resurrection from the dead"; for the resurrection of Christ, if a fact,
effectually overthrew the Sadducean doctrine.
4. the number of the men--or males, exclusive of women; though the
word sometimes includes both.
about five thousand--and this in Jerusalem, where the means of
detecting the imposture or crushing the fanaticism, if such it had been,
were within everyone's reach, and where there was every inducement to
sift it to the bottom.
5. their rulers, &c.--This was a regular meeting of the
Sanhedrim (see on
6. Annas . . . and Caiaphas--(See on
John and Alexander--of whom nothing is known.
7. By what power or . . . name have ye done this--thus admitting the
reality of the miracle, which afterwards they confess themselves unable
8. Then, filled with the Holy Ghost, said--(See
10. Be it known unto you . . . and to all the people of Israel--as
if emitting a formal judicial testimony to the entire nation through its
rulers now convened.
by the name of Jesus, &c.--(See on
even by him doth this man stand before you whole--for from
it appears that the healed man was at that moment before their
11. This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders,
&c.--This application of
already made by our Lord Himself before some of the same "builders"
is here repeated with peculiar propriety after the deed of rejection
had been consummated, and the rejected One had, by His exaltation to
the right hand of the Majesty on high, become "the head of the
12. Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other
name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved--How
sublimely does the apostle, in these closing words, shut up these rulers
of Israel to Jesus for salvation, and in what universal and emphatic
terms does he hold up his Lord as the one Hope of men!
13-17. perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men--that is,
uninstructed in the learning of the Jewish schools, and of the common
sort; men in private life, untrained to teaching.
took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus--recognized them
as having been in His company; remembering possibly, that they had seen
them with Him [MEYER,
ALFORD]; but, more probably,
perceiving in their whole bearing what identified them with Jesus: that
is, "We thought we had got rid of Him; but lo! He reappears in these
men, and all that troubled us in the Nazarene Himself has yet to be put
down in these His disciples." What a testimony to these primitive
witnesses! Would that the same could be said of their successors!
16. a notable miracle . . . done by them is manifest to all . . . in
Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it--And why should ye wish to deny it, O
ye rulers, but that ye hate the light, and will not come to the light
lest your deeds should be reproved?
17. But that it spread no further . . . let us straitly--strictly.
threaten . . . that they speak henceforth to no man in
this name--Impotent device! Little knew they the fire that was
burning in the bones of those heroic disciples.
18-22. Whether it be right . . . to hearken to you more than
. . . God, judge ye.
20. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and
heard--There is here a wonderful union of sober, respectful appeal to the
better reason of their judges, and calm, deep determination to abide the
consequences of a constrained testimony, which betokens a power above
their own resting upon them, according to promise.
21. finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people--not at a loss for a pretext, but at a loss how to
do it so as not to
rouse the opposition of the people.
DISMISSED FROM THE
PROCEEDINGS TO THE
23-30. being let go, they went to their own company--Observe the two
opposite classes, representing the two interests which were about to
come into deadly conflict.
24. they lifted up their voice--the assembled disciples, on hearing
with one accord--the breasts of all present echoing every word of
this sublime prayer.
Applied to God, the term expresses absolute authority.
God which hast made heaven and earth--against whom, therefore, all
creatures are powerless.
25. by the mouth of . . . David--to whom the Jews
ascribed the second Psalm, though anonymous; and internal evidence
confirms it. David's spirit sees with astonishment "the heathen, the
people, the kings and princes of the earth," in deadly combination
against the sway of Jehovah and His Anointed (his Messiah, or
Christ), and asks "why" it is. This fierce confederacy our praying
disciples see in full operation, in the "gathering together of Herod
and Pilate, the Gentiles (the Roman authority), and the people of
Israel, against God's holy Child ('Servant') Jesus." (See on
The best ancient copies read, after "were gathered together," "in
this city," which probably answers to "upon my holy hill of Zion,"
28. thy hand and thy counsel determined . . . to be done--that is, "Thy
counsel" determined to be done by "Thy hand."
29. now, Lord, behold their threatenings--Recognizing in the
threatenings of the Sanhedrim a declaration of war by the combined
powers of the world against their infant cause, they seek not
enthusiastically to hide from themselves its critical position, but
calmly ask the Lord of heaven and earth to "look upon their
that with all boldness they may speak thy word--Rising above self,
they ask only fearless courage to testify for their Master, and divine
attestation to their testimony by miracles of healing, &c., in His
31-37. place was shaken--glorious token of the commotion which the
Gospel was to make
and the overthrow of all opposing powers in which this was to issue.
they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and spake, &c.--The
Spirit rested upon the entire community, first, in the very way they
had asked, so that they "spake the word with boldness"
(Ac 4:29, 31);
next, in melting down all selfishness, and absorbing even the feeling
of individuality in an intense and glowing realization of Christian
unity. The community of goods was but an outward expression of this,
and natural in such circumstances.
33. with great power--effect on men's minds.
great grace was upon them all--The grace of God copiously rested on
the whole community.
35. laid . . . at the apostles' feet--sitting, it may be, above the
rest. But the expression may be merely derived from that practice, and
here meant figuratively.
36. Joses, &c.--This is specified merely as an eminent example of
that spirit of generous sacrifice which pervaded all.
son of consolation--no doubt so surnamed from the character of his
a Levite--who, though as a tribe having no inheritance, might and
did acquire property as individuals
Cyprus--a well-known island in the Mediterranean.