“Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus. And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in reply. But when they had ordered them to leave the Council, they began to confer with one another, saying, ‘What shall we do with these men? For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that it will not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no longer to any man in this name.’ And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.”
The Greek word for unlearned is“agramatos” meaning not versed in the learning of in the Jewish schools. The Greek word for untrained is “idiotes” meaning uneducated, without professional knowledge. Therefore these “educated” men were amazed at their understanding and confidence of the Word of God. And, they began to recognize that these were the same men who had been taught by Jesus, Who was the greatest teacher of all time. They were occupied with Christ because Bible doctrine in the soul plus the filling of the Spirit led to the principle of occupation with the Person of Jesus Christ. The religious leaders were so amazed with the evidence of divine power standing before them in the person of the “lame man,” that they could not even come up with a rebuttal. Remember the apostles quoted Scripture from the Old Testament and explained the true meaning of the passages as they related to Jesus Christ. These scribes, the great “theologians” of the day, learned something from Peter and John. This was the purpose in witnessing: to communicate knowledge, to communicate information. They received knowledge from them. It is our responsibility to communicate information, not to persuade people, not to use gimmicks of any kind. We communicate information and leave the rest to the Holy Spirit.
This was quite a contrast to the day of the crucifixion of Christ when Peter and John and the other apostles lacked courage and boldness. Now since the indwelling and filling of the Holy Spirit they were demonstrating tremendous courage and boldness. They had recalled many of the things that were taught them by Jesus in the three previous years. For the three years the disciples were with Him they failed to fully understand or to learn much doctrine. The point is that Jesus Christ Who was the greatest communicator of doctrine Who has ever lived was unable to reach many of the people of His own day. However, He said that after He had departed He would send the Comforter, and among other things the Comforter would guide them into all truth. He would teach the things and bring to mind the things which Jesus had taught them.
So now after three years of failing to learn very little, there is a major breakthrough, and we read of two of the apostles in this verse, Peter and John who were undoubtedly the closest to the Lord Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry. The word confidence indicates a mental attitude of genuine courage which was entirely different from anything which had existed before. These two men had no official recognition in the land, yet here they were declaring doctrinal information. They were not part of the religious syndicate nor identified with any official organization and yet the clarity and the boldness of these two men was obvious to all members of the Sanhedrin. They were very impressed with this thing and amazed at the clarity with which they taught doctrine.
You may recall that time after time during the ministry of Jesus He offered the Holy Spirit to the eleven disciples. He told them that all they had to do was to ask for the Holy Spirit and they would receive Him. Since this was still during the dispensation of Israel the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit did not exist. Enduement of the Holy Spirit was in place and you could ask God to be filled with the Holy Spirit. This went on for three years, and for three years they did not learn much. From the day of Pentecost, the day of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit began, they began to recall doctrine. There is a principle here that deals with the boldness of Peter and John, i.e. they did not have the human talent or the human ability to understand doctrine. And when a believer is filled by the Spirit he is able to learn doctrine, and it has nothing to do with his educational background, his normal IQ, or any other system that exists. It depends entirely upon the ministry of the Holy Spirit and desire and exposure to Bible teaching. In this verse we see a fantastic change which can be ascribed to two factors: the ministry of the Holy Spirit in the life and, as a result of that, the understanding of doctrine. Now, because Peter and John understood doctrine they were different people; because they were being controlled by the Holy Spirit. Now there was an entirely new viewpoint in life. They had courage, boldness, confidence in contrast to before when they were weak, they fell apart, they all ran away, were frightened, insecure, and not oriented to the plan of God. Boldness is a mental attitude -confidence in the Lord that no matter what happens everything is in His hands.
And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in reply. All during the time they were talking to Peter and John they kept looking at this man because they had passed him many times. Every member of the Sanhedrin had walked by this man, and now they couldn’t keep their eyes off him. He was standing there in perfect health and on his own two legs. This was astounding to them and one reason they were willing to listen to the message of Peter and John was because of the miracle. The miracle was designed to give a hearing to the Gospel, to make those who have negative volition and those who will not listen, turn around and listen. Here was this formerly lame man standing before them in perfect health, and there isn’t any way that they can condemn Peter and John.
The court decided to let Peter and John go, but the court should have received Christ as Saviour after hearing the Gospel. They couldn’t sweep the fact of the miracle under the rug, there’s no way to get around it. But they wanted to cut this thing off because they had rejected Christ as Saviour, and also for a reason that may not be obvious. These men were religionists, legalists, and everything that they stood for was based on a distortion of the Mosaic Law, and it was quite clear to them that Jesus Christ had set aside the Mosaic Law. They were working for salvation and they knew that Jesus Christ stood for everything that was opposed to their system. And because they understood that, they wanted to stop it right then and there. But so that it will not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no longer to any man in this name. This was around AD 30 and here were some people who wanted to stop the Gospel being spread. So they warned them not to preach the Gospel. This was the only thing that they could do.
But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.’ When they had threatened them further, they let them go (finding no basis on which to punish them) on account of the people, because they were all glorifying God for what had happened; for the man was more than forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.
Here is an issue. They have been ordered by the religious supreme court of the land to not mention the name of Jesus.
The religious “supreme court” represented the law of the land for Israel and we now have a conflict between the law of a religious organization versus the law of God. Israel was a nation within and had their own court system. So, Peter and John had to make a decision. If there is a conflict between the law of the land and God and His Word, which way should they go? In view of the fact that it is God who causes nations to rise and nations to fall, and it is God who preserves nations or destroys nation, the most patriotic thing they can do is to follow Bible doctrine because it is Bible doctrine that will keep the nation going. When the nation of Israel is destroyed it will be destroyed because it rejected Bible doctrine, and that will happen in 70 AD, the fifth cycle of discipline.
Peter and John told them exactly what their policy would be. They were fair all the way; they stood before the supreme court of the land and declared their policy. In doing so they were putting their lives in the hands of the Lord—the battle was the Lord’s, the Lord would have to take care of this, it was going to a higher court. This led to further threats and intimidation.
They kept on trying to intimidate them and finally released them. Here was the supreme court of the land, the Sanhedrin which desires to eliminate Peter and John. But they refrain because of the people. The people have an influence on the institutions of government in a land. These people did, and people always have. Peter and John however were not depending upon the people even though the people were the source of pressure on the Sanhedrin - they were depending on God.
The miracle of healing was the beginning of an all-out effort to evangelize Jerusalem and Judea. But in this evangelization there was no dependence upon the people, but dependence upon the power of the Holy Spirit and the doctrines of the Word of God. Through doctrine and the power of the Holy Spirit Christianity will continue to flourish until the Rapture of the Church. From Jerusalem the Gospel spread rapidly throughout the region until the Scripture says these men “turned the world upside down.”
“When they had been released, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, “O Lord, it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said, ‘Why did the Gentiles rage, And the peoples devise futile things? The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the Lord and against His Christ.’”
Power in the Church began with prayer. The prayer meeting was caused by the report which came from the apostles. The concept of Christian fellowship is caught up in the phrase they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. These people were not only believers but there was a wonderful relationship between these believers at this time. Later on the Jerusalem church will completely fail, but at this particular time they have this wonderful attitude one toward another.
Then we see the response is prayer (they lifted their voices to God). This is to God the Father. All prayer is processed by the Father. Even God the Son and God the Holy Spirit prayed to the Father. The Greek word for “Lord” used here is not the usual word attached to Jesus Christ, which is “kurios”and simply means deity. The Greek word for Lord here is “despotes” and is used primarily for God the Father. Whenever you find the making of heaven and earth it is the work of the Lord Jesus Christ—Colossians 1:16: John 1:3; Hebrews 1:10. Here, God the Father is also declared to have made them. The word “made” here has the idea of design. So God the Father was the designer but Jesus Christ was the creator.
Peter then used a quotation from Psalm 2. This is the second time there has been a quotation from the Old Testament which gives an application rather than an interpretation. The first one was in Acts 2, Peter’s message where he was explaining that the apostles and the other believers were not drunk but were fulfilling a principle similar to Joel 2:28, 29. By interpretation the Joel passage is Millennial, but by application you have the same type of phenomena there that you had with these believers on the day of Pentecost. Now we have the same thing again, this time Psalm 2. Psalm 2 is by interpretation belongs to the Tribulation, and here in Acts 4 we have the application. Remember that whenever you have an Old Testament scripture quoted in the New Testament, usually in a message, there is always a reason for it. It is not always interpretation; sometimes it is application, an analogy is developed. This is an application of Psalm 2 and the analogy is obvious.
Why did the Gentiles rage, And the peoples devise futile things? The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the Lord and against His Christ. The Sanhedrin, the Jewish rulers in the land, had gathered together against the Lord Jesus Christ. This has already been demonstrated. Herod was a ruler in the land, Pontius Pilate was a ruler in the land, the Sanhedrin including the chief priests and Annas the syndicate leader had all gathered together against the Lord Jesus Christ in the past. Now these same corrupt men were gathered together against the Lord’s servants in an attempt to stop the Gospel of Jesus Christ from going forward. Once again, a brilliant plan by Satan using religion to stop the spread of the Gospel.