Peter and John Before the Council
Acts 4:1-22
And as they spoke to the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came on them,…

A notable miracle had been wrought at the gate of the temple, and a notable sermon had been preached to the assembled crowd, who were filled with wonder and amazement. It is the sequel of that which had been thus done and said which furnishes our present theme. We notice —

I. THE OFFENCE OF THE APOSTLES. It was not that they had been the means of bringing healing and health to a disabled man. Most sympathetic souls doubtless were glad. Others, probably (are there not always such?), after a little, began to question this way of coming to his health. It was not according to the regular practice. It was a reflection upon the professed practitioners of the healing art. But this was not the grievance to those with whom the two disciples of Jesus are brought into speedy conflict. These were the ruling class, the Sadducees, of whom were also the officials, both ecclesiastical and civil, who arrested Peter and John and locked them up for more deliberate examination. These were the rulers of the Church in that day; but they were by no means the religious class. The offence of the apostles was not that they had healed the lame man, or even that they had been disciples of Jesus, but that "they taught the people and proclaimed in Jesus the resurrection from the dead." It was an offence of doctrine rather than of deed which excited the opposition of these Sadducean rulers. It was the offence of supernaturalism. But there was something more than this in it. Men oppose teachings often because the teachings conflict with the lives which they prefer to live. Supernaturalism always has its foes, for it implies a present God — a God who works, who sees and will judge. Ours is a Sadducean age. Natural science has engrossed the attention of the learned class to a large degree. They will accept mind cure or hypnotism, but not the healing touch of God. They will allow the inspiration of the poet, but not of the prophet. The offence of the Cross is not the only one which stirs up hostility. The offence of supernaturalism is now equally cause of anger and derision as it was in the days of Peter and John.

II. THE DEFENCE OF THE APOSTLES. Thus arraigned and thus accused, the two disciples are put in ward until the morrow. This was the very time for which they bad been prepared — the very time to exercise their gift to be witnesses here in the very court of Israel. And that is what they were: not defenders of themselves, but sturdy, truthful, uncompromising witnesses to Jesus and the resurrection. So they rehearse the facts. "You ask us who has done this good deed to the helpless man? Jesus has done it; Jesus the Christ, the Messiah for whom Israel has looked and longed. Nay, you know Him well, Jesus of Nazareth, the Man whom you so lately condemned to death, yes, 'whom ye crucified' — He is the Author of this cure. For God undid your murder and raised Him from the dead." So they bore testimony to the thing which had been done. But now they testify to the greater things which He can do. "He is the only One by whom we can be saved. We disciples or your priests and Sadducees can be safe and be saved alone by Him whose name and power has wrought this cure." The defence of those who believe in supernaturalism is not argument. You cannot reason about the particulars in a sphere which men refuse to recognise. What can you do? You can oppose your faith to their unbelief, your confidence to their incredulity. You can give your ringing testimony to what you know. Testimony will win the day for Christ sooner and more surely than reasoning; for it will secure a hearing for the reasons of the faith that is in the disciples. Witnesses are more important than advocates. A hundred reasons why it should be so are not half as strong as one "It is so."

III. THE CHANGE OF THE JUDGES. After this form of a trial, the accusation and the defence, the court retires to consult. They cannot deny the facts. Facts are unfortunately stubborn things. What shall they do? "Let us silence them," they say; and so they bring the two unlearned men before them, and charge them, with all the authority they have, and with what dignity they can, "not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus." How well they were able to enforce their command the further record tells. It is not the last time in the history of the world that men of deep convictions have been met with a similar command. Right or wrong, it is impossible to correct men's thinking, or, for very long, their speaking, by the mere command or compulsion to be silent. The very command is a confession of weakness. To ask your foe not to strike again is to acknowledge your fear of him. You cannot silence witnesses. The fire which is in men's hearts cannot be smothered by the authority of courts, civil or ecclesiastical. The truth of God will overcome all lies at last in the kingdom of the truth, h the hot fires of experience the dross will be run off and the pure silver reflect the image of its Maker. All through this passage the name of Jesus is set forth as the source of power, of salvation, and of Divine teaching.

(Geo. M. Boynton.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,

WEB: As they spoke to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came to them,

Ecclesiasticism has no Exclusive Rights
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