Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled…
This astonishment was the natural effect of the appearance of a true Christianity differing so greatly from all its surroundings, of an effect disproportionate to the apparent cause. Strange coincidence that in the moment of their amazement the rulers should give the true explanation, "They have been with Jesus." This should remind us, in the face of those powers now leagued against us, that we too possess a supernatural power, ever-victorious, be the combat what it may. This amazement —
I. WAS THE MANIFESTATION OF THE SPIRIT OF THE WORLD WHICH RELIEVES ONLY IN THE VISIBLE, whether as to power, riches, or science.
1. None of these characteristics were found in these men, therefore when the power of the invisible and Divine appears in them, it is beyond the comprehension of the world which ignores that the visible is the Son of the invisible, and lives by its inspiration.
2. It is remarkable that this amazement was felt by the representatives of a holy religion. One could understand the Romans, men of war, or the Greeks, lovers of art, or the worshippers of gods which were only personifications of natural or human feeling, feeling such amazement. But here we are in the land of the prophets, yes — but religion was in a state of decay, impregnated with the spirit of the world. Therefore its pride was punished and its wisdom confounded.
II. AROSE FROM THE ILLITERACY OF THE DISCIPLES.
1. Opposition does not exist between religion and science in itself, but between false knowledge and religion. Two conditions of religious knowledge proceed from the nature of its object, which is God.
(1) The moral intuition of the heart and conscience.
(2) The communication of the Spirit of God. Learning destitute of these conditions is ignorance, but having them the apostles could afford to be illiterate. See that learned man with his phylacteries. He reads the Scriptures, but understands nothing; compare him with the man who was born blind. Yes, these apostles, opening their minds to the teaching of the Master, have learned more than all the sages of Jerusalem.
2. Application to the present time.
(1) Man objects to illiterate Christianity compared to antichristianity. But the objection must be overruled, for Christianity has knowledge rich and fruitful. Fear nothing, therefore.
(2) God wills, perhaps, to lead us back to the intuitions of the heart and conscience.
(3) Above all, we should learn the lessons of the upper room, that we may cause our contemporaries to acknowledge that we "have been with Jesus."
(E. De Pressense, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: 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.