And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.…
The narrative gives us such a view of this as throws the secular thing into contempt, and reveals the lamentable imperfection of modern spiritual fellowship. From it we learn that early Christian socialism was —
I. ATTRACTIVE. No sooner were the apostles free than they returned as if drawn by magnetic force to their chosen society. There were two things that rendered it attractive.
1. Responsive listening. There is a law of mind which urges a man to communicate what he deems of great importance. It is also a law to seek the most responsive listeners. To those who will give a cordial hearing we go, rather than to the hostile or indifferent. True Christian socialism involves this. There the speaking brother will find an audience all candour and love. This is not the case in the cavilling, captious, secular socialism, and alas! not always in the Church where there is too often the prejudice that deafens the ear and closes the heart.
2. Sympathetic cooperation. For this we instinctively crave, and without it the strongest are weak. Without the breeze of social sympathy the sails of our spirits would collapse in the voyage of duty. Peter and John knew that they had this, and so were strong in prison and before, the council, and when "let go" they instinctively found their way to their sympathetic brethren. Thus was Christian socialism attractive. Kindred souls flowed to it as rivers to the sea. What circle is so attractive as that which has —
(1) A common object of supreme affection.
(2) A common class of dominant thoughts.
(3) A common cause engrossing the chief activities of being. This is the ideal of Christian fellowship. Would that it were everywhere realised.
II. RELIGIOUS. This comes out in —
1. Ascription. Here We have a recognition of God's —
(1) Authority. "Lord, Thou art God." The word is that from which "despot" is taken. Deeply did the company feel the absoluteness of the Divine control.
(2) Creatorship. "Which hast made," etc.
(3) Revelation. "By the mouth of Thy servant David."(4) Predestination. They regarded all the enemies of Christ as unconsciously working out the eternal plans of heaven.
2. Supplication. Note —
(1) The substance of their prayer. They invoked
(a) Personal protection. Behold their threatenmgs, i.e., those of vers. 17 and 21. The meaning is, "Guard us and frustrate the evil designs of our enemies."
(b) The power of spiritual usefulness. "That with all boldness," etc. Protection is desired for service, not because they dreaded martyrdom.
(c) Miraculous interposition. "That signs and wonders," etc.:
(d) "Enable us to work miracles that we may be more successful in spreading the knowledge of Christ." This power Christ had promised; they had an authority, therefore, to seek it.
(2) The success of their prayer (ver. 31). In answer there was —
(a) A miraculous sign, familiar to Old Testament saints (Exodus 19:18; Psalm 68:8).
(b) An impartation of Divine power — to preach the gospel.
III. AMALGAMATING (ver. 32). Note in regard to this amalgamating force that —
1. It was most hearty and practical (ver. 34). The thorough unity of soul expressed itself in the surrender of worldly goods. Aristotle defines friendship as "one soul residing in two bodies." It was so here. The rising tide of brotherly affection bore away from their hearts all love of gain.
2. It consisted with a diversity of position and service (vers. 35, 36). The apostles were both the spiritual and economical heads of the community. Material bodies may get so thoroughly fused as to lose all their individual peculiarities; but minds, however closely welded together by social love, will retain for ever their individuality of being, position, and mission. Social unity is not the uniformity of a regiment moving with one step and in the same garb, but rather like the variety of the landscape, each object clad in its own costume and bending to the breeze according to its own structure and style. It is not the sound of one monotonous note, but all the varying notes of being brought into sweetest harmony.
3. It was produced by the gracious favour of heaven. "Great grace was upon them all."
(1) The love of God was the parent of their liberality.
(2) This liberality brought the esteem of men.
(D. Thomas, D. D.)
Parallel VersesKJV: And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.