Bible Commentary Bible History

Peter and John arrested and questioned | Acts 4:1-14

“And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide. Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.

And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.”

Commentary: After hearing of Peter’s speech by witness of the people in the temple, the priests, the temple captain, and the Sadducees took Peter and John in for arrest and questioning. This group of temple leaders were concerned with why the people marveled so much at their healing of the lame man, and what made that moment so special. Anyone causing a stir in the temple was already to be questioned, because unusual activity can be seriously detrimental to temple life, especially if there are many people praying or doing spiritual things (interruptions during prayer can be angering).

The Jews failed to accept Jesus as the Messiah (Psalm 118:22 => Matthew 21:42; Acts 4:11; 1 Peter 2:7). In addition, the failings of the temple service-members shows their immaturity spiritually. Around 5,000 were saved during this experience, and that means the temple will likely lose many attendees. This was the appointed time for this occurrence. Peter left them speechless, for they could not deny Jesus’ healing of the lame man.

When asked by the priests what name the miracle was done, Peter unashamedly testified that it was Jesus Christ (of Nazareth) whom the Jews killed, and He is the One who is risen and made His People whole (healthy, well). Jesus Christ is the chief cornerstone (a cornerstone is the main foundation stone, in that it is set first, and then all the other foundation is measured based on it). Therefore, Jesus is the prime example of Salvation, and He is our foundation – He sets the standard for how our lives are lived. He is the only One by which man can be saved.

Historical notes: The Pharisees had derived from the common people who attempted the preservation of the Jewish way of life, to keep it from foreign or political plans and other forms of corruption (today, we call these “activists”). The Sadducees derived from wealthy classes of people, and were more focused on exercising power and control in the Jewish society. The core difference in beliefs between the two was that the Pharisees actually believed in a physical resurrection of the dead; however, the Sadducees did not believe it (see Matthew 22:23; Acts 23:8). Overall, the Pharisees were quite fond of luring political leaders into their web of deceit.

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