Acts 4:5-12

5 And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes,

6 as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.

7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:

9 If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well,

10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.

11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’

12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

scribes (v.5) — teachers of Jewish law

The word “Sanhedrin” means “Council” and stands for the ruling body and supreme authority among the Jews. We do not know when this Council first came into existence, though the Jews themselves trace its origin back to the “seventy elders” whom Moses appointed (Numbers 11:16-30). In allusion to that event, it consisted of seventy members, with a president, making seventy-one in all. It was in active existence in the Greek period, and, under the Romans, was still allowed to exercise authority, with certain important limitations. It was accustomed to assemble in the precincts of the temple, in a hall called “the Hall of Hewn Stone,” the members being seated in a semi-circle, with the president in the center. — Walker, pages 87-88

John and Alexander (v.6) — unknown for sure, probably relatives of Annas

Annas had been appointed high priest by the Roman legate Quirinus (Cyrenus) in A.D. 6 or 7, but was deposed by the procurator Valerius Gratus in A.D. 14-15, so that he was not actually high priest at this time. But though he had lost his former office, he still retained great influence and power, as is shown by the fact that our Lord was first taken to him for examination (John 18:13). We learn from Josephus that he had five sons, all of whom attained to the high priestly office. Caiaphas, also, who was now high priest, was his own son-in-law. The old title still clung to Annas, and it may be that he was encouraged to ignore his deposition. Perhaps, too, he was “Nazi” or president of the Sanhedrin, and some have advanced evidence tending to show that there was a deputy-high-priest, who acted as locum-tenens for the high priest proper in case of need. But, apart from such conjectures, we have precedents in Josephus for employing the term “high priest” of one who had formerly held that office. Annas belonged to the Sadducean party, and was virtually its chief, being very rich and influential. Precedence is given to him in this verse, as he clearly overshadowed his son-in-law. Josephus calls him “Ananus.” It must not be forgotten, also, that the word translated “high priest” occurs frequently in the New Testament in the plural, being rendered “chief priests.”

Caiaphas’ full name was Joseph Caiaphas, and he was appointed high priest in A.D. 18 by Valerius Gratus who preceded Pontius Pilate as procurator of Judea. His pontificate lasted till A.D. 37, when he was removed from office by Vitellius. He is notable both for his dictum that it was expedient that one man should die for the people and also for the fact that he was the high priest at whose tribunal our Lord was condemned. As mentioned above, he was son-in-law to Annas. — Walker, pages 88-89

asked (v.7) = kept inquiring — an interrogation

by what power (v.7) = by what kind of power — implying it was magic

you (v.7) — emphatic — as though to show scorn

There is a great deal of light on this story in the book of Deuteronomy. In the thirteenth chapter, there are instructions carefully given to the rulers of the people concerning possible manifestations in their history. Let us read one or two words. “If there arise in the midst of thee a prophet or a dreamer of dreams” — and a perfect description of the two men who stood before the Sanhedrin is then given — “and he give thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass,” and if that sign actually wrought is intended to lead you from Jehovah to other gods, you are not to hearken and this man is to be punished with death. In the fourteenth verse we read: “Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought in the midst of thee” then — there was to be punishment. The Sanhedrin was obeying this ancient instruction to their people. — Morgan, page 121

judged (v.9) — in a legal sense

good deed (v.9) — They had done nothing wrong. good = beneficial

helpless (v.9) = without strength, infirm

made well (v.9) = made whole and continues whole. Peter uses the noun form in verse 12 for “salvation,” so it is spiritual as well as physical wholeness.

Jesus Christ of Nazareth (v.10) — the name by which He was known to those who crucified Him, with the addition of His Messiahship

whom you crucified (v.10) — this is the same group of men who tried Jesus now questioned His apostles (John 15:20; Mark 13:9). The emphasis is on “you” — Peter points out their guilt as part of his plea for their repentance.

whom God raised from the dead (v.10) — Peter emphasizes the very point of contention with the Sadducees.

this man stands before you (v.10) — The healed man might also have been thrown in prison.

quote (v.11) — from Psalm 118:22. Peter uses it again in 1 Peter 2:7.

The Holy Spirit puts the same Scripture before these rulers, elders and the chief priests, which the Lord had mentioned in their presence. “By what authority doest thou these things?” the same men had asked Him, who now asked His disciples. And the Lord had answered them in parables (Matthew 21:23-41). At the close of His second parable, the Gospel of Matthew tells us, the Lord quoted the words to them which Peter now uses in their presence. “Jesus says to them, Have ye never read in the Scriptures, The stone which they that builded rejected, has become the corner stone; this is of the Lord and it is wonderful in our eyes? Therefore I say to you, that the kingdom of god shall be taken from you and shall be given to a nation producing the fruits of it. And he that falls on this stone shall be broken, but on whomsoever it shall fall it shall grind him to powder. And the chief priests and the Pharisees having heard His parables, knew that He spoke about them.” The 118th Psalm from which the verse of the rejected stone is taken, belongs to the hymn mentioned in Matthew 26:30. It belongs to the Jewish ritual, known by the name of “the great Hallel,” still used by the Jews during the Passover celebrations. But neither the modern nor the older Jewish expositors apply the words about the rejected stone to the Christ, their promised Messiah. Some say it refers to David himself, that he was the rejected stone and others apply it to the nation, rejected now but destined to be the corner stone of the nations. But the Lord had told them that He was the rejected stone mentioned in that Psalm, and here the Holy Spirit presses the same truth home to their hearts. — Gaebelein, pages 90-91.

rejected (v.11) = to treat as if of no account

chief cornerstone (v.11) — the strength and crown of the superstructure

we might be saved (v.12) — plural, probably in reference to the nation of Israel

But notice very particularly how Peter finished. That Deuteronomic instruction said that if there should be an actual sign wrought, tending to lead men from Jehovah, the men working the sign must die. He, said Peter, “is the Stone which was set at nought of you the builders, which was made the head of the corner. And in none other is there salvation; for neither is there any other Name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved.” By that quotation from Psalm 118 he denied that he was leading men away from Jehovah; and claimed that he was acting in harmony with the foretelling of their ancient Scriptures, which was the burden of the message he had delivered in the porch of Solomon. — Morgan, page 122

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