And as they spoke to the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came on them,…
The principles which are illustrated or suggested here are -
I. THAT MEN IN THE HIGHEST RELIGIOUS POSITION MAY BE ALL WRONG IN THEIR THEOLOGY. The priests were grieved that the apostles taught the people that which we know to have been God's own truth (ver. 2). In every age since then, the teaching of pure doctrine has been a veritable grief to those who have been regarded by many as the religious authorities of the land.
III. THAT MEN IN THE HIGHEST POLITICAL POSITION MAY BE USING THEIR POWER AGAINST THE WELL-BEING OF THE STATE. The state officials "came upon" the apostles of our Lord (ver. 1), and "laid hands on them, and put them in hold" (ver. 3). How often has this scene been re-enacted since then; the men in office using their authority to restrain and silence the teachers of truth, the reformers of national life!
III. THAT FAITHFUL MEN HAVE THEIR CONSOLATIONS WHEN OPPOSED AND SILENCED BY THE STRONG. That was not a very unhappy evening which Peter and John spent in the stronghold of the temple. As they walked within the narrow bounds of their captivity, they thought rejoicingly of the "five thousand men" who had heard the word they had spoken, and had believed it and been saved by it. Spiritual successes are an ample compensation for material discouragements (Acts 16:25).
IV. THAT TO FAITHFUL MEN GOD GRANTS COURAGE AND CONSTANCY ACCORDING TO THEIR DAY. (Vers. 5-13.) Before the Sanhedrim Peter and John show themselves brave and fearless. There is nothing apologetic about their demeanor, nothing supplicatory about their tone. They stand erect and they "speak straight on," as men who stand before God and who speak for him. In truth, they are men in whom dwells (ver. 8); hence their noble attitude and their manly spirit. God gives them grace according to their day. So will he to us also. Let us be receptive of his truth when he speaks to us; let us be faithful at our post when we speak for him; and then, when the trial hour shall come, he will nerve us for the scenes through which we shall have to pass, and we shall be "strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might."
V. THAT THERE IS ONE, AND ONLY ONE, ROAD TO HEAVEN. (Ver. 12.) Many paths lead into it; there are many ruts in the road; many very different pilgrims along it; many views as we look out on either side of it and at different stages on it. But there is only one way: this is found in him who says, "I am the Way."
VI. THAT THE SPIRITUAL TRIUMPHS OF CHRISTIAN TRUTH ARE THE MOST COGENT WITNESSES ON ITS BEHALF. (Ver. 14.) In presence of reclaimed drunkenness, silenced profanity, cleansed and uplifted impurity, regenerated selfishness, humbled pride, what can infidelity or irreverence do? It is dumb; it is helpless.
VII. THAT HUMAN ERROR 18 IMPOTENT IN ITS CONTEST WITH DIVINE TRUTH. (Vers. 16-21.) Authority, in the person of this Jewish Sanhedrim, is ill intentioned enough; it is willing enough to smite; it Considers patiently and earnestly how far it dares to go; it threatens, forbids, threatens still further, and then impotently and ignominiously releases. Error is often fiercely antagonistic, industriously hostile, actively opposed to the truth of God; but let us take courage in dark hours - it is held under restraint; there is a point beyond which it cannot go; it will be compelled to relax its hold, and truth will come forth, before long, rejoicing in its liberty. - C.
Parallel VersesKJV: And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,