Acts Chapter 4
An Understandable Version of ACTS
Translation by William E. Paul
Concise PRESENTATION NOTES
by Charles Dailey
Edited and enlarged by Fred P Miller

(Black underlined words match words in the Bible text.)
1) As they were speaking to the [crowd of] people, the [Jewish] priests, the captain of the Temple [guard] and the Sadducees [i.e., a sect of the Jewish religion] approached them The priests' authority was being threatened, the captain of the Temple did not want attention centered on these men within his jurisdiction and the Sadducees' theology about no life beyond the grave was being contradicted. Luke 20:27. The captain - 1 Chronicles 9:11- was second only to the High Priest in authority.
2) and were greatly disturbed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that Jesus had been raised from the dead. With the message of Jesus in conflict with so many leaders, no wonder they were greatly disturbed.
3) So, these [Jewish] leaders arrested Peter and John and put them in jail until the next day because it was [already] evening. Jailing was probably in the Temple itself. Their system of justice was swift and the arraignment was to be the next morning. No trials were allowed after sundown. See Mishnah law. The Jews did not have long-term jails, though others did.
4) But many of the people who heard the message [of God] believed [in Jesus] and the number of men [alone] came to be about five thousand. Like a good reporter, Luke shows the conflict that was developing between the leaders and the people.
- 5,000 males represent many households and quite a force in the streets.
5) And the next day the [Jewish] rulers, elders and teachers of the law of Moses gathered together in Jerusalem.

Roman Catholic historians hold that the dungeon in the Palace now called Gallicantu was the site of the jailing of Peter and John.

The Council traditionally met in the morning. Jeremiah 21:12. This group of 70 (the artist shows 72 See why here.) traces to Exodus 24:1, but they did not always rule Israel. Under the Romans, they tried many offenses, but could not legally put a person to death. John 18:31. The Palace of the High priest on Mt Zion where Jesus was tried and imprisoned overnight contained a convienient jail and place for a trial. In 1931 a Church was built over the site and called St Peter Gallicantu (of the cock crowing).
6) [They were]: Annas, the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and all the High Priest's family [members]. During this time, Annas was the lawful High Priest, but Caiaphas was recognized as High Priest by the Romans.
- See McGarvey Comments on Annas and Caiaphas
- Josephus 18.2.2 gives the history; He calls Annas Ananus. Annas was deprived of the High Priest office and then more than one held the office for a year or so until Caiaphas was appointed to the office and Annas and Caiphas shared the responsibility of the office but Caiaphas, son in law to Annas, was the official High Priest. (John 18:13ff)
7) And when these men had Peter and John brought before them, they asked, "By whose authority or in what name have you done this thing [i.e., healed the crippled man]?" The question is not about whether the miracle happened, but where these two fishermen received the authority to do it.
- The charge was vague, but not Peter's answer.

Artist's view of the Sanhedrin in Council

8) Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, addressed them, saying, "Rulers and elders of the people, Jesus had pledged help for this moment in Luke 12:11.
- Peter is standing where Jesus stood a short time back. Luke 22:66.
9) if we are being questioned today concerning how this man with a serious handicap was made completely well,
10) we want you men and all the people of Israel to know that this man was made completely well through the name of Jesus Christ from Nazareth. [He is the One] whom you people put to death on the cross, but God raised from the dead. Peter carefully spells out the authority (name) that healed the handicapped beggar. The healing is recorded in Acts 3:6.
- Peter also shows how their authoritative Council clashed with the God of Heaven and was responsible for a corrupt death sentence. Accusing the court is a bold move inspired by the Holy Spirit.
11) He is that [Psa. 118:22], 'stone that was rejected by you builders but was made the principal stone by which the entire building is aligned.' They have rejected the Cornerstone or Capstone that God sent to build His Kingdom. It's like King David had spoken to them across ten centuries! Jesus had quoted this same verse within their earshot a few months before and they responded with anger. Luke 20:17-19.
12) And there is salvation in no other One [than Jesus] for there is no other Name in the whole world, proclaimed by men, by which [a person] can be saved." Personal salvation is a new theme recently announced. Mark 16:16 and Acts 2:38.
13) Now when these men saw how boldly Peter and John spoke, and perceived that they were uneducated and [even] ignorant men, they were quite surprised; then they recognized that they had been with Jesus. Peter and John, being from Galilee, had not been educated in their Rabbinical schools. However, the Council knew enough about Jesus to recognize his character and teachings in these men.
- They has spent nearly three years as Jesus' disciples.
14) And when they saw the healed man standing there with Peter and John, there was nothing they could say [to refute the obvious miracle]. This healed defense witness was irrefutable, just as the empty tomb was indisputable.
- It is hard to visualize 70 political types with nothing to say!
15) But when the Council [of Jewish leaders] made Peter and John leave [the meeting], they discussed the matter among themselves, We call this "closed executive session."
- Was Saul / Paul present and later reported it to Luke? The question is: Was Paul a member of the Sanhedrin?
16) saying, "What should we do to these men? For we cannot deny that a significant miracle was performed by them, and everybody living in Jerusalem knows it. They could neither deny it nor explain it. Attempting to discredit the miracle would simply discredit themselves with the people.
17) But we do not want this [teaching] to spread any further so let us threaten them [and demand] that they do not speak to anyone about Jesus anymore." These elitists know what is best for their nation! They were neither the first nor the last government officials to hold this view.
- They were like ants conferring on how to stop a raging river.
18) And so they called Peter and John in and warned them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus [anymore]. This was a new law that had to be obeyed.
19) But Peter and John replied, "You decide whether it is right before God to listen to you men or to Him; Here was a conflict between God's law and the newly-minted civil law. The believer must always choose God over men.
20) we cannot help but speak about the things we have seen and heard." The two apostles promised civil disobedience. Notice that John spoke as well. They are being witnesses, just as the Lord had requested. Acts 1:8.
21) And when the Council had threatened them some more, they [finally] released them because they could not find any reason to punish them. [Actually] they were worried about how the people felt [about the matter], since everybody was giving honor to God for the miracle that had been performed. The Council's blatant rejection of the truth was reinforced with added threats of punishments if Peter and John didn't keep this under wraps.
- The Council was concerned about the opinion polls.
- Peter and John were popular with the ordinary people in Jerusalem. God was receiving the credit for the miracle.
22) Now the man who was healed was over forty years old.
23) So, after Peter and John were released, they went [back to the other apostles] and reported everything the leading priests and elders [of the Jews] had said to them. The two went back and reported to the rest of the apostles what had happened including the new law of verse 18. Donald Nash eminent KCU Greek Scholar, handles controversies as Matthias being one of the 12, the 12 only receiving the Baptism of the Spirit and the necessity of immersion. Dr. Nash correctly observes in 4:23 that Peter and John returned to the company of the 12, not the 5,000 plus brethren that is frequently taught.
24) And when the disciples heard this report they united their voices to God in prayer [saying]: "O, Lord, You made the heaven, the earth, the sea and everything in them. Evidently one led in prayer and the others said the "Amen." 1 Corinthians 14:16.
- They acknowledged God's sovereignty and creative power.
25) [You] said, through the Holy Spirit and by means of [the inspired writings of] our forefather David, your servant, [Psa. 2:1-2], 'Why did the [unconverted] Gentiles rage [at the Messiah], and the people [of Israel] devise useless plans [for opposing Christ]? King David's inspiration is affirmed.
- Gentiles, particularly the Romans that occupied the land.
- People, a common term for average Abe Israel.
- God had foreseen here the way the Messiah would be treated. The prophecy has no other fulfillment than in the first century.
26) The kings of the earth [i.e., Herod and Pilate] took their stand [against Jesus], and the rulers [of the Jews] gathered against the Lord and against His Anointed One [i.e., Christ].' This prayer embodies quoted Scripture.
- The word Anointed One or Messiah (Greek: Christ) appears only in Psalm 2;1 and Daniel 9:25.
27) For [truly] it was both Herod and Pontius Pilate, together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, who gathered together in this city [of Jerusalem] against your Holy Servant Jesus Herod (Antipas called "the Tetrarch") and Pontius Pilate Herod son of Herod the Great was an Idumean not a Jew.
- "both Herod, and Pontus Pilate" Luke 23:1-8
conspired with Jews under Roman authority to put Jesus to death.
- Josephus gives a perhaps too detailed view of the Herodian Family Jos. Antiq. 18.5.4
28) to do what your plan and wisdom predetermined should happen. God had written the script. The gang mentioned in verse 27 chose to play the parts.
29) So, now Lord, take account of the threats [of these Jewish leaders] and give your servants all the boldness [we need] to speak your message, These men needed a special measure of boldness from the Lord.
30) while you perform [miraculous] healings and signs and wonders through the name [i.e., by the authority] of your Holy Servant Jesus." The only ones speaking publicly for the Lord and performing miracles, signs and wonders were the 12 apostles. Therefore, we believe this section describes a prayer meeting in that group. See that Luke refocuses in verse 32.
31) And after they had prayed, the place where they were gathered shook, and these disciples were all filled with [the power of] the Holy Spirit and they were able to speak the message of God with boldness. The Twelve had prayed for, and promptly received, boldness even though further public speaking was against the newly-made law of the Council.
- The God that can bring darkness at noon can shake the earth when he chooses. Matthew 27:51; Mt. 28:2. See case in Acts 16:25,26.
32) So, the large number of believers were united in heart and soul [i.e., mind and spirit] and not one of them said that anything he owned [really] belonged to him, but they shared all things in common. Luke now describes the astonishing oneness of the entire church. The camaraderie of Acts 2:44 is continuing. The group is all Jewish, but with different ethnic backgrounds. Differences were set aside because of their new-found faith in the resurrected Jesus. This is an answer to Jesus' prayer of John 17:20-21.
33) And the apostles testified concerning the resurrection of the Lord Jesus with great power, and the favor [of God] was upon all of them. The resurrection story was recited repeatedly and the miracles also continued. This was in direct violation of the new law forbidding speaking or teaching in the name of Jesus.
- God blessed their preaching.
34) And no one lacked anything, for all who owned property or houses sold [some of] them and brought the money They sold their long-term investments to meet this immediate need.
35) and gave it to the apostles, who distributed it to each person who had a need. The money was brought to the apostles for redistribution. This shows a high level of trust in their leaders. But this was not a precedent set for all the churches to follow. Early Christians were generous and sent to help other churches but they did not have community of goods as a rule. Acts 11:28 and Romans 15:25
36) And Joseph, who was called by the apostles, Barnabas (which means "son of encouragement"), was a descendant of the Jewish tribe of Levi, whose family originated from [the island of] Cyprus. Luke introduces Barnabas. We will follow his story later in Acts. Luke nearly always introduces his characters prior to focusing on their lives.
- son of means it is his leading trait.
- Later Barnabas would return to his homeland on Cyprus with the Gospel story. Acts 13:4. And still later he would return home with Mark when He and Paul split up. Acts 15:39.
37) He owned a field, but [due to the great need] sold it and brought the money and gave it to the apostles [for distribution]. Generous, people-loving Barnabas illustrates the sharing that was in progress.


Compare James McGarvey's comments on Chapter 4.

Compare Albert Barnes's notes on Chapter 4.

Last Chapter--------------------------Next Chapter--------Index


Return to Resources Page

Return to Moellerhaus Index