Expositor's Dictionary of Texts
And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,No Other Name
I wish to give reasons, deep and abiding reasons, for believing that the Apostles spoke, under the guidance of the Spirit, an eternal truth. It is by understanding the idea of salvation that we see the justice of this exclusive claim. There are four points out of many on which we will dwell just now.
I. God the Father is only known through the Son. Plato recognises, but does not know God. The heart of the stoic emperor, Marcus Aurelius, is brave and resigned, but utterly uncomforted. And, as it was in the beginning, so it is now. You find it in modern literature and in intercourse with men; to be without Christ is one and the same thing as to be forlorn and without personal knowledge of God in the world. For, not only is the Father unknown except through Christ; we may be sure that the Father is unknowable except through Him. Fatherhood implies sonship. Until the Son was seen the Father could not be known.
II. Only by Him do we understand the will of God that we may do it. Christ the Way is the one clear light and certain strength of mankind. The will of God is that we should love Him, and love one another, that we should live an inward life of purity, of truth, of service, that we should take up our cross to follow the Ideal, that we should live free from worldliness and care, that our eyes should be on the heavens; and that all should be realised by faith in Christ our Lord.
III. Only by Him are we saved from sin and reconciled to our own conscience. Consider what is meant by deliverance from sin. Think of it, if you will, only as the reconciliation of the soul with itself, the quiet conscience, the growth and power possible when the conflict within is stilled. Nothing is more certain than that this inward reconciliation is not found elsewhere if it is not found in Christ. Christ delivers men from sins. Vices are overcome. Ancient deeds of ill are blotted out. Habits are broken. The nature is changed. The conscience is at peace.
IV. Only by Him can we have assurance of pardon, communion with God, certainty of immortality. These are wrought in us by the Spirit, but only it seems by the Spirit in direct connection with the person of Christ.
—R. F. Horton, The Trinity, p. 191.
References.—IV. 12.—H. P. Liddon, Sermons Preached on Special Occasions, p. 267. J. P. Lange, Preacher's Magazine, vol. xviii. p. 185. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. iv. No. 209. IV. 112, 13.—C. Perren, Revival Sermons in Outline, p. 297.
The Boldness of Peter and John
The text is one which rarely gets justice paid to it. I have heard it very many times, and I have very rarely heard it quoted with the significance which is due to it. We pray for love, we pray for meekness, we pray for holiness, and we pray that men may take knowledge of us—at least those of us who wish it to be so—that we have been with Jesus. It is right that we should pray thus; yet, if you look into this text you will see that it is none of these things in the disciples that reminded the enemies of Jesus that these men had been with Christ; we read—not when they saw their love, not when they saw their tenderness, not when they saw their holiness—but 'when they saw their boldness they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus'. And yet men say that Christianity is for womankind only!
I. The Result of Contact with Christ.—Peter and John were imprisoned because they refused to cease teaching the people. The morning brought them before the great Council, and what was Peter's answer? He would not budge an inch; he abated not one jot or one tittle of those tremendously high and lofty claims which he had made for Christ, his Saviour, Lord, and King, but he charged his judges with having crucified Christ. Do you wonder that that Council was astonished at the boldness of these men? The Council turned and saw in front of them men, unlearned, ignorant, but bold, and they put it down to the fact that they had been communing, had been in friendly converse, with Jesus. I do not think they meant it as a compliment at all; they remembered Jesus and they hated them for the very memory. In whatever sense we take these words we have this thought, that being with Jesus will make a man.
II. The Boldness of Christ.—Let us look at Christ's character in one or two of its phases. There is an incident in St. Matthew 12:16 which shows us our Lord's moral character. If you want moral courage in your life you will find the example in Jesus Christ. Neither in word nor deed did Christ regard those men who came to entangle Him in His talk. Then remember that one of His first acts in the Temple, where He found the money-changers and bargainers trafficking in unholy traffic, was to take a whip of small cords, and, single-handed, to lash them from the House of God. See, again, how fearlessly the Lord told His enemies the truth, even though at that moment they were going to kill Him: 'Ye are of your father the devil'. Look again when the Lord was before Pilate: 'Thou couldest have no power at all against Me'. Is it not such a Master as that that we can serve? What think you of this Christ? Can we not serve Him and follow Him, and if we do serve Him, can we ever be craven-hearted again?
III. Strength in the Lord.—Perhaps we do not realise how truly strong Christ was until we see two things combined in Him—strength combined with a wonderful, delicate sympathy, kindness and love. Some have one, some have the other—they are both spoilt unless mixed in the proper proportions—in Christ they were perfect. Christ Jesus is the perfect man, and true manliness can stoop as well as soar. Bismarck once said: 'We Germans fear God and nothing else in the world'; and you will find the most splendid examples of fearlessness, the most wonderful examples of heroic devotion among those whose chief joy it is to call Christ Jesus Lord. There is no other source of abiding strength than this, strength in the Lord. Let the Holy Spirit so guide the lives of all in this church, so that in the towns or cities, or wherever you may go, 'they may take knowledge of you that you have been with Jesus'.
I. Who were the men upon whom this masculine grace was found? (1) 'When they beheld the boldness of Peter.' That is an astonishing conjunction! It is one of the phrases which describe the wonderful ministry of grace. It records a Gospel miracle. I know that our hardest rocks, the igneous rocks, are just transformed mud, mud that has passed through the ministry of terrific fire. And here is Simon Peter, once as yielding as mud, not bearing a feather's weight, but now having passed through the discipline of flame, the fire of an intense affection, he is firm and irresistible as rock. 'Thou also wast one of His disciples!'... 'I know not the man!' That is the yielding mud! And it is this man, transformed in the very fibres of his being, who now arrests the thoughtless indifference of the world, and by the spectacle of a magnificent boldness startles it into a great surprise. 'When they beheld the boldness of Peter they marvelled.'
(2) 'And of John!' I cannot say that the artist's John very frequently conveys to me a sufficient conception of the bosom friend of Christ. The artist usually figures him as of mild and gentle countenance, with far-away dreamy eyes, and of most effeminate mien. Well, I think that any true portraiture of John must include some of these things: there must be a suggestion of mysticism, and in the face there must be a large and winsome gentleness to which we feel we could expose our wounds and our broken hearts; but the gentleness must not be effeminate, it must be strong and masculine, and in the face must be charactered elements with which the flippant could no more trifle than he could play with fire. If John is light he is also lightning! 'And He surnamed them Boanerges, the sons of thunder!' Perhaps the character of the Apostle John might find its appropriate symbol in a lovely dale in Derbyshire through which I have often strolled. There are the soft, sweet, grassy slopes, a welcome delicacy for tired feet; but, rising sheer out of the luscious green there tower the bare, stern, rocky crags, revealing to us the character of the hidden foundations in which even the quiet springy turf finds its bed and rest. John leaned on the Master's breast; he went to Patmos for his faith! 'When they beheld the boldness of Peter and John... they marvelled.'
II. This boldness was a phenomenon. They could not fit it into any of the current explanations. It was clear that it was not the product of the schools. It was not the fruit of culture. They 'perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men'. They could not fit these men anywhere into the hierarchy of official teachers, and so they relegated them to the ranks of the unrecognised, the mere quacks, and labelled them 'unlearned and ignorant men'. And yet here the men stood, with fine spiritual serenity, with an unshaken strength of assurance, with a firm definiteness of thought, with an unwonted precision of speech, and a magnificent irresistibleness of life! Schooled or unschooled this had to be accounted for! Fisherman or rabbi, this character demanded explanation!
III. What was the explanation of this character which so perplexed the world? You must turn back to the eighth verse, and you will find the secret. 'Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost!' That is the explanation of the boldness. It is Peter plus the Infinite! A man who is filled with God can be none other than bold.
IV. There is great and peculiar need of this apostolic 'boldness' today. The times imperatively demand the military attitude in the soul. The Christian character must be conspicuous for strength, intelligence, decisiveness, attack. Whatever may be allowed to lie in obscurity, or hidden away in secret and mystical depths, the masculinity of Christian discipleship must stand out in bold and flaming relief.
(1) 'When they beheld the boldness!' That is the character with which we must confront the world. We need to display boldness of assurance.
(2) And we need to display boldness of will. Look again at these Spirit-filled men. 'Let us straitly threaten them that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.'... 'We cannot but speak.' How magnificent the response! They felt their wills to be caught in the sweeping current of the Infinite! They were impelled by a mighty imperative, constrained by an all-encompassing and irresistible necessity.
—J. H. Jowett, The Transfigured Church, p. 181.
The Manliness of Christ
Many are alienated from Christianity because they have never realised that the ideal Christian life and the ideal manly life are one and the same thing. Unfortunately, there are all too many unmanly Christians. Yes: but if there are unmanly Christians, read your New Testament and tell me if you find there an unmanly Christ. Christ is the ideal of religion. Therefore, if you would do all that may become a man, if you would be brave and true, and strong and tender, if, in Milton's magnificent phrase, you would learn 'to hate the cowardice of doing wrong,' follow Him. I will mention one or two of the facts which illustrate for us the true manliness of Christ.
I. His moral courage. Neither in deed nor in word did He regard the person of man. One of the first acts of His public ministry was to enter into the Temple where the bargainers and money-changers carried on their unholy traffic, and with a whip of small cords, single handed, to lash them from the house of God.
II. Note, further, Christ's steadfastness of purpose 'The characteristic of heroism,' says Emerson, 'is persistency. All men have wandering impulses, fits and starts of generosity. But when you have chosen your part, abide by it, and do not weakly try to reconcile yourself with the world.' Try Christ's life by that test and see what is the result.
III. And yet, perhaps, we never truly feel how nobly strong Christ was until we have seen how in Him strength united with the most wonderfully delicate refinement of feeling and perfection of sympathy.
Christ Jesus is the perfect Man; for true manliness can stoop as well as soar; it knows how to be gentle and unresisting, and how to be bold and self-assertive; it can forgive and forbear, as it can also be angry and condemn. Tennyson sings of 'that gentleness which, when it weds with manhood, makes a man'. I venture to affirm that you will find the most splendid examples of simple fearlessness and heroic self-devotion among those who have counted it their chiefest joy to call Christ Jesus Lord. This word above all let us lay to heart—all that Peter and John gained by communion and fellowship with Christ we may gain too.
—G. Jackson, First Things First, p. 81.
References.—IV. 13.—J. M. Neale, Sermons Preached in a Religious House, vol. i. p. 280. Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. i. No. 21. W. G. Horder, Christian World Pulpit, vol. liii. p. 106. H. Alford, Quebec Chapel Sermons, vol. ii. p. 77. J. H. Jowett, The Transfigured Church, p. 181. Expositor (7th Series), vol. v. p. 116. IV. 15.—H. Bailey, The Gospel of the Kingdom, p. 70. IV. 18-20.—F. D. Maurice, The Acts of the Apostles, p. 48. IV. 19.—A. G. Mortimer, The Church's Lessons for the Christian Year, pt. ii. p. 379. IV. 19, 20.—H. Smith, Preacher's Magazine, vol. xviii. p. 421. J. M. Neale, Readings for the Aged (4th Series), p. 138. Ibid. Sermons Preached in Sackville College Chapel, vol. ii. p. 284.
The Irrepressible in Christian Testimony
The words are those of Peter and John before the Jewish Council when they were examined concerning the healing of the lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. There was that in them that would not allow them to keep silence.
I. Let us seek for an explanation of this irresistible impulse. We are familiar with it in other departments, and our knowledge of it there may help us to the analysis of it here. (1) Sometimes this constraining impulse to a certain course is to be traced to that subtle thing which we call genius, so that in spite of all obstacles that may be in his way the man at length finds vent for what is in him, and rises to eminence. It is thus, for example, with the poet and the artist, the musician and the engineer. (2) In others this irrepressibility is the result of emotion. (3) The same thing is seen in the matter of love; and the mother for her child, or the friend for his friend, or the philanthropist in the cause of suffering humanity, are all alike self-forgetting, and incapable either of being restrained by others, or of holding back themselves when circumstances require their exertion. (4) So, too, there is an uncontrollable element in sorrow. (5) But strongest of all, perhaps, in their power to compel their external expression are the dictates of conscience, when that faculty is enlightened by the truth and quickened by the Spirit of God. Now when we turn to the case of the Apostles in the text, we find at the root of that irrepressible impulse to testify to Christ the greater number of those influences which I have specified.
II. But now having analysed and accounted for this peculiarity in the two Apostles, we shall find in that itself the explanation of many other things about them. (1) Thus to begin with, it fully accounts for their earnestness. (2) It largely explains their courage. (3) This quality goes far to explain their persistence. (4) So once more it explains their naturalness.
III. It becomes then a most important question for us all, how we are to get to this most desirable state of heart and mind, how we are to attain to such a disposition concerning the Gospel that we shall feel that 'we cannot but' speak it in some way or other to our fellow-men. (1) As an indispensable factor to the production of this irrepressibility I name positive convictions as to the truth itself. Uncertainty of belief from the very nature of the case produces hesitancy of speech. Doubt leads to dumbness. (2) A vivid realisation of the fact that without the Gospel our fellow-men are perishing. (3) A sense of personal responsibility.
I will deal very simply with some of the motives which ought to urge us on to do our part in the great missionary work left us by our Lord Jesus Christ.
I. I would begin with the very lowest motive—in fact I am not sure that I ought to mention it at all, for I know well there is no one who is drawn to take part in the work from this motive alone. But still, perhaps, we ought to mention it. One motive is self-interest. Our self-interest advises us to take part in this missionary work.
II. In the second place, duty demands it Because, in the first place, there is the command of our Lord, His last command, 'Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature'. And then you have been put in trust with the Gospel.
III. But a third motive surely is this—pity compels us to preach the Gospel.
IV. And then, in the fourth place, surely gratitude prompts us to preach the Gospel, the love of Christ constrains us. Think what the Gospel is to you. The Gospel being precious to your soul, you must surely proclaim that which you have seen.
V. And then, lastly, life requires you to preach the Gospel. The Divine nature is to give, and if you have the Divine life, life requires you to give. A fire which has no vent will very soon have no flame, a spring which has no outlet must find an outlet somewhere, and if you have the Divine life within you, then you must speak that which you do see and know; you cannot help it.
—E. A. Stuart, The One Mediator and other Sermons, vol. xi. p. 81.
References.—IV. 20.—Bishop Galloway, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lx. p. 168. Expositor (6th Series), vol. ii. p. 389; ibid. vol. vii. p. 394. IV. 21.—Ibid. (4th Series), vol. ii. p. 213.
'The man was above forty,' that was the wonder of it. When our life crosses a certain line we regard the forces of recuperation as reduced. When life attains to a certain age we regard its habits as finally fixed, and nothing short of a miracle can alter a man's course and disposition. But this miracle typifies that spiritual transformation which can be worked upon men even when their lives are established in rigid habits. There are none too old for the ministries of grace. And yet we must not lose sight of the great truth that the best time to enter into covenant with the Lord is in the period of habit-formation, and not when habit has been fixed by the ill practices of the years.
I. For what friendly forces are we prone to lose as we grow older? (1) We are always in peril of losing the ministry of an active wonder. (2) Ready confidence. (3) Simple love.
II. But besides the things that we lose there are also hostile forces that we acquire with the years. (1) In the first place, there is a deadly familiarity with the truth. (2) And then there is the terrific power of worldly gravitation. (3) When we come to the age of forty we are reaching the season when life becomes fixed. We get into a groove, and our groove becomes our grave, and we cannot get out.
III. What shall I say then? Surely it is far away the best thing to close with Christ early.
IV. But what of those from whom youth has passed, and upon whom these hostile forces are waging incessant war? Can the miracle of redemption be wrought? The Scriptures just laugh in ecstatic joy as they declare the possibilities of the old. 'Your old men shall dream dreams!' 'They shall bring forth fruit in old age.' And how shall it all be done? By the renewing efficacy of the Christ of God.
—J. H. Jowett, The British Congregationalist, 21st November, 1907.
The Lame Man Healed
This 'miracle of healing' is the first recorded miracle wrought by the Apostles after the Pentecost. This act of healing is to be looked upon not simply as a miracle or as an act of Divine power, but also as a speaking parable, a sign. The Man Lame is a sign of the decrepitude and helplessness of the soul under sin; the Man Healed is a sign of the higher healing which Christianity brings to souls afflicted with sin.
I. The Man.—'A certain man lame from his mother's womb' (3:2). (1) He was helpless. The ankle bones were supple and soft and could not sustain the body. This man was born in this condition. His lameness was not the result of accident or disease. (2) The man was moreover poor. Judaism provided no hospitals for the sick and decrepit, and no homes of benevolence for the poor, and in the absence of such institutions the helpless and needy gathered around the Temple and synagogues and appealed to the worshippers as they passed by. The physical condition of this man is a true type of our moral condition. Like the lame man, we are not only helpless but poor. This is very humiliating to our proud nature.
II. The Miracle.—The man was healed. (1) The healing was unexpected. Our redemption comes from an unexpected source. The penitent under a sense of sin finds it easy to believe in God's justice, but difficult to believe in God's mercy. (2) This miracle of healing was Divine. The great work of soul healing is God's. (3) The healing was conditional. Jesus Christ demands faith, receptivity, a will to be saved and faith in Him that He can save. (4) The healing was complete. When Christ saves, He renews the will, purifies the affections, hallows the thoughts, gives a right bias to the whole nature, so that the man becomes a new creature, a new creation, all things become new.
III. The Showing.—The effect of this Divine working was marvellous on all concerned. (1) On the man himself. (2) The effect of the miracle on the people 'They were filled with wonder and amazement' (3:10). Nor is this all. Peter took the opportunity of preaching Christ to the people. He based his address on the miracle, but more especially on the fact that the miracle was wrought in the name of Jesus Christ. (3) The effect on the authorities. (4) What was the effect of all this on the Apostles themselves?
—Richard Roberts, My Closing Ministry, p. 289.
The Name Above Every Name (For St. Peter's Day)
I. Look at this poor man lying at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple. This was scarcely a year after our Lord's Ascension; and the first thing that strikes me is this: How came Jesus of Nazareth, He that went about doing good, to have passed this poor creature by? He was above forty years old; a cripple, therefore, before our Lord was born; laid daily at the gate of the Temple. Did Jesus Himself never go to the Temple? 'I was daily with you,' He Himself says, 'in the Temple.' Both daily there! And how came the cripple never to have seen the Great Physician? Shall we say that our Lord never went by that particular gate? We cannot Why not? Why, you are to understand that the Beautiful Gate of the Temple led into Solomon's porch or cloister; and in that gate the poor man was daily laid. But one day in the winter before His Passion, it is written, 'Jesus walked in the Temple in Solomon's porch'. Up and down, backwards and forwards, still in sight of the poor man, the Saviour of the world went on—and yet without one gracious word: 'Be made whole of thy disease'. This priest, the great High Priest, when He saw him, passed by on the other side. Why this poor man was not healed by our Lord I cannot tell you. It might be that he did not ask at all. If he did ask, then he was heard; only his petition was put off a little.
II. Then you may learn a lesson that, though God is the God of all times and all places, still there are some times at which and some places in which He seems easiest found. Here, you see, the place was the Temple; the time, three o'clock in the afternoon; which was that of our Lord's Passion. In that Temple where Jesus Himself had so often walked, at that hour in which He had offered up the evening sacrifice of the world, then His two disciples went up to pray. And in that Temple and at that hour came the first Apostolic miracle.
III. Look at Peter's speech. 'Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I thee.' If you had lived in pagan times, and had wished to serve an idol, and had sent to the priest, and had said: 'Silver and gold have I none,' you would have found that he cared very little about anything else you had. But He, that was poor Himself—so poor as not to have where to lay His head—He that, though all the beasts of the forest were His, and His the cattle upon a thousand hills, was oftentimes an hungered—He who chose poor men, unlearned and ignorant men, to be His servants and courtiers, to Him you may safely go and say, 'Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I Thee'.
—J. M. Neale, Sermons in Sackville College Chapel, vol. ii. p. 298.
References.—IV. 23.—G. H. Morrison, Scottish Review, vol. i. p. 90. Expositor (6th Series), vol. iv. p. 224; ibid. vol. x. p. 280. IV. 24.—T. Arnold, Sermons, vol. iii. p. 202. IV. 27-30.—Expositor (5th Series), vol. ix. p. 67. IV. 30.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. ix. No. 545. IV. 31.—J. W. Weddell, Christian World Pulpit, vol. lvi. p. 215. IV. 31-33.—C. A. Berry, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xlvi. p. 257.
The Church of God
In order that we may realise afresh something of what the Church of Christ ought to be, we will take the picture of the primitive Church as it appears in our text, and try to discover some of those elements which ought to characterise the life of the Church today.
I. Reality of Inward Life.—'The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.' Christianity always works from within, and as a consequence we see here two great elements of spiritual reality in the inward life of the Church.
(a) The Church was characterised by spiritual unity, 'the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul'. It is worthy of note that they were a 'multitude,' a large number, and doubtless with great varieties of temperament, capacity, and antecedents. Yet they were united by faith in Christ, they were all characterised by this simple trust, they were a multitude that 'believed'.
(b) The Church was also characterised by remarkable unselfishness. The original is very striking, 'Not even one said that anything he possessed was his own'. Out of the spiritual relationship to Christ came a social relationship to one another. As cause is to effect, so the unity was to the unselfishness; the two could not be separated. Here we find a genuine Christian socialism as the result of individual unity, a socialism which was the spontaneous expression of the love of God in their hearts. Systematic provision for the poor was unknown in heathenism, and had been very largely neglected by the Jews notwithstanding the commands of the Mosaic law to remember the poor and the stranger. It must therefore have been astonishing to the people of Jerusalem to see so many voluntary givers. This picture of Christian socialism is very striking; it shows the difference between the socialism which is Christian and the socialism which is not Christian.
Thus by unity and unselfishness this primitive Church was marked by the possession of intense spiritual reality; their inward life was right with God and with one another.
II. Prosperity of Outward Life.—'And with great power gave the Apostles witness of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.' Spiritual life always expresses itself; and reality, as we see it here, leads to genuine prosperity.
(a) Mark the power of the Apostolic Testimony: 'With great power gave the Apostles witness of the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus.'
(b) Mark the power of the Christian Life. 'Great grace was upon them all.'
III. Spirituality of Upward Life.
(a) Their life was a life lived in prayer.
(b) Their life was a life lived in the Holy Spirit. Thus we find this primitive Church life characterised by Reality, Prosperity, and Spirituality, the last being the explanation of the other two.
IV. What has all this to do with us today?—Just this: that in proportion as our Church life reproduces these elements, the cause of the Gospel will be powerful and triumphant; and in proportion as these elements are absent will the cause of Christ be weak and even defeated.
References.—IV. 32, 33.—H. S. Holland, Christian World Pulpit, vol. xliv. p. 177. IV. 34, 35.—R. F. Horton, ibid. vol. lxxiii. p. 312. IV. 36.—J. Baines, Sermons, p. 227. J. S. Bartlett, Sermons, p. 138. W. J. Hills, Sermons and Addresses, p. 83. S. Baring-Gould, Village Preaching for Saints' Days, p. 120. IV. 36, 37.—H. J. Wilmot-Buxton, Holy-tide Teaching, p. 121.
Proprietorship Or Stewardship (For St. Barnabas' Bay)
This incident in the life of St. Barnabas suggests to our minds the true principle of possession. We are stewards of the things we possess, not owners. This, surely, is the principle of property within the Church of Christ.
I. God Permits us to Possess, but not to Call the Things which we Possess our own.—They are His. How are we to use them? Not with exclusive reference to self, but with that expansive desire for others' good which is after the example of our loving Lord. So St. Paul bids the Ephesians 'work, that they may have,' not have to call their own, but 'have to give to him that needeth'. The Socialistic negation of property contradicts the necessities of human nature as it is, and has no guarantee against human selfishness.
II. Christianity Anticipates the Glory of Human Nature as it is to be, and invokes against self-seeking the authority and the power of God Himself. Practically, the evil spirit of exclusiveness in possession can only be cast out by making the Lord Jesus lord not of our property only, but of our heart first. On the other hand, if we want to have Him 'dwelling in our hearts by faith,' we have to see to it that our hearts are not preoccupied and hardened by a habit of calling our possessions our own, and excluding Christ's needy brethren from their right in the enjoyment of them.
III. Let us Acquire the Habit of Living in Christ and Christ in us, and as a part of this let us learn to look upon the things which we possess as not our own but His. Then shall we use them conscientiously, with a sense of trust concerning them.
References.—V. 1.—Expositor (5th Series), vol. ii. p. 314. V. 1, 2.—Christianity in Daily Conduct, p. 183. V. 3.—A. G. Mortimer, The Church's Lessons for the Christian Year, pt. ii. p. 392. V. 6.—Expositor (6th Series), vol. vi. p. 442. V. 14.—Ibid. vol. ix. p. 469. V. 17.—Expositor (4th Series), vol. i. p. 86. V. 19.—Christian World Pulpit, vol. 1. p. 55. V. 19, 20.—Spurgeon, Sermons, vol. xxxiv. No. 2032. R. F. Horton, The Hidden God, p. 113.
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.
But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,
Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.
But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.
And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.
For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.
For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.
And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.
And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:
Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?
The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.
For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,
For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.
And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,
By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.
And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold,
And laid them down at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus,
Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.