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Bible Commentaries
Acts 4

Robertson's Word Pictures in the New TestamentRobertson's Word Pictures

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Verse 1

The captain of the temple (ο στρατηγος του ιερου). Twenty-four bands of Levites guarded the temple, one guard at a time. They watched the gates. The commander of each band was called captain (στρατηγος). Josephus names this captain of the temple police next to the high priest (War. VI. 5, 3).

The Sadducees (ο Σαδδουκαιο). Most of the priests were Sadducees now and all the chief priests since John Hyrcanus I deserted the Pharisees (Josephus, Ant. XVII. 10, 6; XVIII. 1, 4; XX. 9, 1). The Sadducees were slow to line up with the Pharisees against Jesus, but they now take the lead against Peter and John.

Came upon them (επεστησαν αυτοις). Second aorist active indicative (intransitive). Burst upon them suddenly or stood by them in a hostile attitude here (Luke 20:1; Luke 24:4; Acts 6:12; Acts 17:5; Acts 22:20; Acts 23:11).

Verse 2

Being sore troubled (διαπονουμενο). Present passive participle of old verb διαπονεω (perfective use of δια) to be worked up, indignant. In the N.T. only here and Acts 16:8.

Because (δια το). The articular infinitive with two accusatives, one the object (the people), the other ("they") of general reference.

In Jesus (εν Ιησου). In the case of Jesus, an actual instance of resurrection which the Sadducees denied (Matthew 22:23). This same use of εν appears in 1 Corinthians 4:6 (in us). The Sadducees were also aristocrats and political ecclesiastics who disliked popular disturbances. In particular, they resented the claim about Jesus whom they had helped crucify.

Verse 3

In ward (εις τηρησιν). Probably in one of the chambers of the temple. In safe keeping (from τηρεω, to guard). Old word, in the N.T. only here and Acts 5:18; 1 Corinthians 7:19. So in papyri.

Now eventide (εσπερα ηδη). Hence no trial could take place before the next day, a regulation violated in the case of Jesus.

Verse 4

Men (ανδρων). Strictly, men and not women, for ανθρωπος is the term for both men and women. But in Luke 11:31 ανδρες seems to include both men and women and that is possible here, though by no means certain, for see Matthew 14:21 where the women and children are expressly excepted.

Verse 5

Rulers and elders and scribes (τους αρχοντας κα τους πρεσβυτερους κα τους γραμματεις). The three classes composing the Sanhedrin (rulers=chief priests who were Sadducees, the scribes usually Pharisees, the elders not in either class: 24 priests, 24 elders, 22 scribes).

Were gathered together (συναχθηνα). First aorist passive infinitive of συναγω with accusative of general reference and the subject of εγενετο.

Verse 6

Annas (Hαννας). One of the rulers or chief priests, ex-high priest (A.D. 7-14) and father-in-law of

Caiaphas (Καιαφας) who was actual high priest at that time, though the title clung to Annas as here (both so called in Luke 3:2), Caiaphas so by Roman law, Annas so in the opinion of the Jews. They with John and Alexander are the leaders among the Sadducees in pressing the case against Peter and John.

Verse 7

In the midst (εν τω μεσω). The Sanhedrin sat in a semicircle.

They inquired (επυνθανοντο). Imperfect middle, began to inquire.

Or in what name (η εν ποιω ονοματ). As if by some magical formula such as exorcists practised (Acts 19:13) as if to catch them by (Deuteronomy 13:1).

Have ye done this (εποιησατε τουτο υμεις). Note emphatic use of υμεις (ye).

Verse 8

Filled with the Holy Spirit (πλησθεις πνευματος αγιου). For this occasion and so above all fear as in verse Acts 4:31 and as in Acts 2:4.

Verse 9

Concerning a good deed done to an impotent man (επ ευεργεσια ανθρωπου ασθενους). Objective genitive. Note ευεργεσια (old word, in the N.T. only here and 1 Timothy 6:2), as a benefactor, not a malefactor. Skilful turn made by Peter.

Is made whole (σεσωστα). Perfect passive indicative of σωζω, stands whole.

Verse 10

Be it known (γνωστον εστω). Imperative present active third singular of ειμ, to be, and the verbal adjective γνωστον.

Whom ye crucified (ον υμεις εσταυρωσατε). Too good a chance to miss, and so Peter boldly charges the Sanhedrin with responsibility for the death of Jesus. Note υμεις (ye) again.

Whom God raised from the dead (ον ο θεος ηγειρεν εκ νεκρων). Note repetition of ον (whom). This is God's answer to their act of crucifixion.

In him doth this man stand (εν τουτω ουτος παρεστηκεν). Rather (note play on ουτος), "In this one (ον, ον) this one stands (present perfect active indicative, intransitive)." In Jesus this man stands before you whole (υγιης). It was a centre shot.

Verse 11

Of you the builders (υφ' υμων των οικοδομων). The experts, the architects, had rejected Jesus for their building (Psalms 118:22) as Jesus himself had pointed out (Matthew 21:42; Luke 21:17). This very Rejected Stone God had made the head of the corner (either the highest corner stone right under the roof or the corner stone under the building, Isaiah 28:16) as Jesus showed, as Peter here declares and repeats later (1 Peter 2:6).

Verse 12

Salvation (η σωτηρια). The Messianic salvation as in Acts 5:31; Acts 17:11 and as Jesus meant in John 4:22. It is amazing to see Peter speaking thus to the Sanhedrin and proclaiming the necessity of salvation (δε σωθηνα) in the name of Jesus Christ and in no other. If this was true then, it is true today. There is no second (ετερον) name to go beside that of Jesus in India, China, Japan, or America.

Verse 13

The boldness (την παρρησιαν). Telling it all (παν, ρησια). See also verses Acts 4:29; Acts 4:31. Actually Peter had turned the table on the Sanhedrin and had arraigned them before the bar of God.

Had perceived (καταλαβομενο). Second aorist middle participle of καταλαμβανω, common verb to grasp strongly (κατα), literally or with the mind (especially middle voice), to comprehend. The rulers recalled Peter and John from having seen them often with Jesus, probably during the temple teaching, etc.

They were unlearned (αγραμματο εισιν). Present indicative retained in indirect discourse. Unlettered men without technical training in the professional rabbinical schools of Hillel or Shammai. Jesus himself was so regarded (John 7:15, "not having learned letters").

And ignorant (κα ιδιωτα). Old word, only here in the N.T. and 1 Corinthians 14:24; 2 Corinthians 11:6. It does not mean "ignorant," but a layman, a man not in office (a private person), a common soldier and not an officer, a man not skilled in the schools, very much like αγραμματος. It is from ιδιος (one's own) and our "idiosyncracy" is one with an excess of such a trait, while "idiot" (this very word) is one who has nothing but his idiosyncracy. Peter and John were men of ability and of courage, but they did not belong to the set of the rabbis.

They marvelled (εθαυμαζον). Imperfect (inchoative) active, began to wonder and kept it up.

Took knowledge of them (επεγινωσκον αυτους). Imperfect (inchoative) active again, they began to recognize them as men that they had seen with Jesus.

Verse 14

They could say nothing against it (ουδεν ειχον αντειπειν). Imperfect again, they kept on having nothing to say against it. The lame man was standing there before their eyes in proof of what Peter had said.

Verse 15

They conferred among themselves (συνεβαλλον προς αλληλους). Imperfect active again. With Peter and John and the lame man outside, they began to compare (συν, βαλλω) notes and take stock of their predicament.

Verse 16

What shall we do? (Τ ποιησωμεν). Deliberative aorist active subjunctive (ingressive and urgent aorist).

Notable miracle (γνωστον σημειον). Or sign. It was useless to deny it with the man there.

We cannot deny it (ου δυναμεθα αρνεισθα). That is, it will do no good.

Verse 17

That it spread no further (ινα μη επ πλειον διανεμηθη). First aorist passive subjunctive of διανεμω, to distribute with ινα μη, negative purpose.

Let us threaten them (απειλησωμεθα αυτοις). Hortatory aorist middle subjunctive of απειλεω, old verb (note middle voice). In the N.T. only here and 1 Peter 2:23.

That they speak henceforth to no man in this name (μηκετ λαλειν επ τω ονοματ τουτω μηδεν ανθρωπων). Indirect command with the infinitive and double negative (μηκετι, μηδεν). They will not say "Jesus," but make a slur at "this name," contemptuous use of ουτος, though they apparently do mention the name "Jesus" in verse Acts 4:18.

Verse 18

Not to speak at all (καθολου μη φθεγγεσθα). Same construction as above, infinitive in indirect command with negative μη (and μηδε).

Verse 20

For we cannot but speak (ου δυναμεθα γαρ ημεισ--μη λαλειν). Both negatives hold here, "For we (note emphatic ημεις) are not able not to speak" (what we saw and heard). This is defiance of the civil and ecclesiastical authorities that was justified, for the temple authorities stepped in between the conscience and God. Peter and John were willing to pay the price of this defiance with their lives. This is the courage of martyrs through all the ages.

Verse 21

When they had further threatened them (προσαπειλησαμενο). The "further" is in "pros" (in addition),

Finding nothing how they might punish them (μηδεν ευρισκοντες το πως κολασωντα αυτους). Note the article "to" before πως (how), "the how." Aorist middle deliberative subjunctive κολασωντα in indirect question after πως from κολαζω, to lop (κολος, lopped), to curb, to prune, to correct, to punish. Old verb, in the N.T. only here and 2 Peter 2:9.

Glorified God (εδοξαζον τον θεον). Imperfect active, kept on glorifying God while the Sanhedrin were threatening Peter and John. It was to laugh at the helplessness of the Sanhedrin.

Verse 22

Was wrought (γεγονε). Second past perfect active without augment from γινομα.

Verse 23

To their own company (προς τους ιδιους). Their own people as in John 1:11; John 13:1; Acts 24:23; 1 Timothy 5:8; Titus 3:14, not merely the apostles (all the disciples). In spite of Peter's courageous defiance he and John told the brotherhood all that had been said by the Sanhedrin. They had real apprehension of the outcome.

Verse 24

With one accord (ομοθυμαδον). A concert of voices as already seen by the word in Acts 1:14; Acts 2:46 and later in Acts 5:12; Acts 7:57; Acts 15:25.

O Lord (Δεσποτα). Our word despot. Old word for relation of master to slaves or household servants (1 Timothy 6:1; 2 Timothy 2:21; Titus 2:9; 1 Peter 2:18). Simeon thus addressed God (Luke 2:29). So in 2 Peter 2:1; Judges 1:4; Revelation 6:10. See "slaves" in verse Acts 4:29.

Verse 25

By the mouth of our father David (του πατρος ημων δια πνευματος αγιου στοματος Δαυειδ). From Psalms 2:1. here ascribed to David. Baumgarten suggests that the whole company sang the second Psalm and then Peter applied it to this emergency. The Greek MSS. do not have δια (by) here before στοματος, but only δια before πνευματος αγιου (the Holy Spirit). Hort calls this a "primitive error" perhaps due to an early scribe who omitted this second δια so close to the first δια (Robertson, Introduction to the Textual Criticism of the N.T., p. 238). A small list of such primitive errors is there given as suggested by Dr. Hort.

Why (ινα τ). This Greek idiom calls for γενητα (second aorist middle subjunctive),

That what may happen .

The Gentiles (εθνη). So always in LXX, while λαο (peoples) can include Jews.

Did rage (εφρυαξαν). First aorist active indicative of φρυασσω, late word, to neigh like a horse, to prance or stamp the ground, to put on lofty airs. Only here in the N.T. in this quotation from Psalms 2:1.

Imagine (εμελετησαν). First aorist active indicative of μελεταω. Old verb from μελετη (care), to practise, to caution, as orators and rhetoricians. Only here in the N.T. in this quotation.

Verse 26

Set themselves in array (παρεστησαν). Literally, stood by.

Against his Anointed (κατα του Χριστου αυτου). Against his Messiah, his Christ.

Verse 27

Both Herod and Pontios Pilate (Hηρωιδης τε κα Ποντιυς Πειλατος). Luke alone (Luke 23:12) tells of the reconciliation between Herod and Pilate at the trial of Jesus. So Peter and the rest interpret this prophecy as directly fulfilled in their conduct towards Jesus Christ.

Whom thou didst anoint (ον εχρισας). As in verse Acts 4:26 (cf. Luke 4:18; Isaiah 61:1). Inaugurated as King Messiah.

Verse 28

Foreordained (προωρισεν). First aorist active indicative of προοριζω, "They rise above sight and seem to see the Hand which 'shapes men's ends, rough hew them how they will'" (Furneaux).

Verse 29

And now (κα τα νυν). "And as to (accusative of general reference) the now things (the present situation)." Only in the Acts in the N.T. (Acts 5:38; Acts 17:30; Acts 20:32; Acts 27:22).

Grant (δος). Second aorist active imperative of διδωμ, urgency of the aorist, Do it now.

To speak thy word with all boldness (μετα παρρησιας πασης λαλειν τον λογον σου). Literally, "with all boldness to go on speaking (present active infinitive) thy word." Peter and John had defied the Sanhedrin in verse Acts 4:20, but all the same and all the more they pray for courage in deed to live up to their brave words. A wholesome lesson.

Verse 30

While thou stretchest forth thy hand (εν τω την χειρα εκτεινειν σε). Luke's favourite idiom, "In the stretching out (articular present active infinitive) the hand as to thee" (accusative of general reference), the second allusion to God's "hand" in this prayer (verse Acts 4:28).

To heal (εις ιασιν). For healing. See verse Acts 4:22.

And that signs and wonders may be done (κα σημεια κα τερατα γινεσθα). Either to be taken as in the same construction as εκτεινειν with εν τω as Revised Version has it here or to be treated as subordinate purpose to εν τω εκτεινειν (as Knowling, Page, Wendt, Hackett). The latter most likely true. They ask for a visible sign or proof that God has heard this prayer for courage to be faithful even unto death.

Verse 31

The place was shaken (εσαλευθη ο τοπος). By an earthquake most likely as in Acts 16:26, but none the less a token of God's presence and power (Psalms 114:7; Isaiah 2:19; Isaiah 2:21; Hebrews 12:26).

Were gathered together (ησαν συνηγμενο). Periphrastic past perfect passive of συναγω.

They spake (ελαλουν). Imperfect active indicative, began to speak, after being filled (επλησθησαν, aorist passive indicative) with the Holy Spirit. Luke uses the very words of the prayer in verse Acts 4:29 to describe their conduct.

Verse 32

Of one heart and soul (καρδια κα ψυχη μια). It is not possible to make sharp distinction between heart and soul here (see Mark 12:30), only that there was harmony in thought and affection. But the English translation is curiously unlike the Greek original. "There was one heart and soul (nominative case, not genitive as the English has it) in the multitude (του πληθους, subjective genitive) of those who believed."

Not one of them (ουδε εις). More emphatic than ουδεις, "not even one."

Common (κοινα). In the use of their property, not in the possession as Luke proceeds to explain. The word κοινος is kin to συν (together with)=ξυν (Epic) and so ξυνοσ=κοινος. See this word already in Acts 2:44. The idea of unclean (Acts 10:15) is a later development from the original notion of common to all.

Verse 33

Gave their witness (απεδιδουν το μαρτυριον). Imperfect active of αποδιδωμ, old verb to give back, to pay back a debt (Luke 7:42), but a late omega form instead of the usual απεδιδοσαν. They kept on giving their witness with power after the answer to their prayer (verse Acts 4:31).

Of the resurrection (της αναστασεως). It was on this issue that the Sadducees had arrested them (Acts 4:1-3).

Verse 34

That lacked (ενδεης). Literally, in need, old adjective, here only in the N.T.

Were (υπηρχον). Imperfect active of υπαρχω, to exist.

Sold them and brought (πωλουντες εφερον). Present active participle and imperfect active indicative. Selling they brought from time to time, as there was occasion by reason of need. Hence the wants were kept supplied.

Laid them (ετιθουν). Imperfect active again, repetition, of τιθημ, late omega form for the usual ετιθεσαν.

Verse 35

Distribution was made (διεδιδετο). Imperfect passive of διαδιδωμ, late omega form for διεδιδοτο (the stem vowel ο displaced by ε). Impersonal use of the verb here.

According as any one had need (καθοτ αν τις χρειαν ειχεν). Imperfect active of εχω with καθοτ and αν with the notion of customary repetition in a comparative clause (Robertson, Grammar, p. 967).

Verse 36

Barnabas (Βαρναβας). His name was Joseph (correct text, and not Jesus) and he is mentioned as one illustration of those in verse Acts 4:34 who selling brought the money. The apostles gave him the nickname Barnabas by which later he was known because of this noble deed. This fact argues that all did not actually sell, but were ready to do so if needed. Possibly Joseph had a larger estate than some others also. The meaning of the nickname is given by Luke as "son of consolation or exhortation" (υιος παρακλησεως). Doubtless his gifts as a preacher lay along this same line. Rackham thinks that the apostles gave him this name when he was recognized as a prophet. In Acts 11:23 the very word παρεκαλε (exhorted) is used of Barnabas up at Antioch. He is the type of preacher described by Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:3. Encouragement is the chief idea in παρακλησις though exhortation, comfort, consolation are used to render it (Acts 9:31; Acts 13:15; Acts 15:31). See also Acts 16:9; Acts 20:12. It is not necessary to think that the apostles coined the name Barnabas for Joseph which originally may have come from Βαρνεβους (Deissmann, Bible Studies, pp. 308-10), son of Nebo, or even the Hebrew Bar Nebi (son of a prophet). But, whatever the origin, the popular use is given by Luke. He was even called apostle along with Paul (Acts 14:14) in the broad sense of that word.

Verse 37

Having a held (υπαρχοντος αυτω αγρου). Genitive absolute with present active participle of υπαρχω and dative of possession.

Sold it and brought (πωλησας ηνεγκεν). Aorist active participle of πωλεω and second aorist active indicative of φερω because a single definite instance. So also with εθηκεν (laid), first aorist active.

Bibliographical Information
Robertson, A.T. "Commentary on Acts 4". "Robertson's Word Pictures of the New Testament". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rwp/acts-4.html. Broadman Press 1932,33. Renewal 1960.
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