Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled…
The Church was born and nursed amid storms. The advocates of Christianity have frequently met with unexpected opposition and cruel persecution. Men whose office it was to promote the progress of truth have striven to impede its course. Persecution intimidates the weak, but ennobles and purifies the true. The text teaches us three things about the genuine disciple.
I. THAT CHRISTIAN MEN ARE INSPIRED WITH DIVINE COURAGE IN TIMES OF PERSECUTION. "They saw the boldness of Peter and John." There is a wide difference between a Christian and a worldly man in times of trouble. The worldly man is timid, irritable, and restless; the Christian man is calm, courageous, and hopeful. Nothing can calm and strengthen a man more than a full assurance of God's protection. Three things show that the disciples were endowed with Divine fortitude.
1. Look at their noble defence. Peter speaks courageously and eloquently for Christ.
2. Look at their bold attack. Peter charged his accusers with ignorance, they had rejected Christ; he charged them with sin, they had crucified Christ.
3. Look at their undaunted spirit. They were commanded to cease from preaching; but they remained steadfast to the truth. God can inspire His children with courage to meet the fiercest conflicts of life — to endure pain, to suffer poverty, to bear bereavement, to meet persecution.
II. THAT CHRISTIAN MEN ARE INSPIRED WITH DIVINE WISDOM IN TIMES OF PERSECUTION. "And perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men." Christ had promised to impart wisdom to His disciples in times of danger. "When they deliver you up, take no thought how and what ye shall speak, for it shall be given you in that same hour what ye shall speak." "I will give you a mouth and wisdom that all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay and resist." Three things show that the disciples were Divinely instructed.
1. They were enabled to make a special declaration of the power of Christ. The examination was particular — "by what name" they had performed the miracle. The answer was particular — "by the name of Jesus." It was a merciful work, a successful work, a Divine work.
2. They were enabled to make a suitable declaration of salvation in Christ: "neither is there salvation in any other."
3. They were enabled to make a public declaration of their faith in Christ: "there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved." They believed in the supremacy of Christ. They knew He was both the Sou and the Sent of God. His word was true. His work was complete. "If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God." Christian men ought to speak boldly in defence of the truth. Speak for Christ anywhere and everywhere, in the shop and in the market, at fasts and at feasts. Speak of His life, His atonement, His resurrection, His intercession.
III. THAT CHRISTIAN MEN ARE INSPIRED WITH A DIVINE INFLUENCE IN TIMES OF PERSECUTION. "And they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus." The man who has frequent intercourse with Jesus will reflect his Master's spirit. Communion with Christ makes a man gentle, patient, courageous, devout, and zealous. When Moses came down from Mount Sinai his face shone with such a Divine lustre that the children of Israel "were afraid to come nigh him." The influence the disciples possessed is noticeable for three things.
1. It was a visible influence. "They saw, perceived, took knowledge of them." There is something in the conduct, disposition, and countenance of a good man that reports itself; his influence is felt in the world, the Church, the family circle. A Divine life cannot be concealed; the light must shine.
2. It was a mighty influence. They silenced their accusers, they convinced their hearers, they converted five thousand men.
3. It was a spiritual influence. The miracle only excited attention, the word produced conversion.
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.