While Peter and John were still speaking to the people who had flocked to hear, the priests and the Sadducees became “greatly annoyed” (verse 2). There were several reasons for them to be disturbed over this sermon. To begin with, the Sadducees did not believe in resurrection at all (Acts 23:8). Secondly, they had themselves condemned Jesus to death. As Campbell wrote in his commentary: “the great popularity of the gospel message threatened their political base, promised to hold them up before the people as murderers, as ignoramuses concerning the Holy Scriptures, and as deserving of universal contempt.” Peter and John were arrested and put into custody until the next day. But verse 5 says that many more who had heard “the word” believed. “The word” was the same as it is today: Jesus, the Son of God, has risen from the dead, and it is only through Him “by which we must be saved!” The number of men alone in the Lord’s church now came to about 5,000.
The next day, Peter and John faced Annas the high priest, Caiaphas and the rest of the Sadducees, and the elders and scribes, who asked them by what power or what name they had acted. Peter, who had earlier feared these men enough to deny that he even knew the Lord, was now filled with the Holy Spirit. In verses 8-11, with respect but also with boldness of conviction, he eloquently told them that the lame man had been healed by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom they crucified. The reference to Jesus being the cornerstone, rejected by the builders (them) was from Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 28:16.
After deliberating, the council knew they had no just charge to bring against them, but they warned them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus any more. The truth still meant nothing to the Sanhedrin. But Peter and John would only say that they would have to judge whether it is right to listen to God or the council. They would speak the truth. The council gave them another warning before releasing them. God, through Peter and John, had given these men the chance to repent and they chose to reject the Lord again.
Back with their friends they lifted their voices in prayer to God, quoting Psalm 2:1-2 in verses 25-26 and asking God to “look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.” In verse 31, when they finished praying “the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” God had given His response.
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
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