Acts 4:23-31

23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.

24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them,

25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said:

‘Why did the nations rage,
And the people plot vain things?

26 The kings of the earth took their stand,
And the rulers were gathered together
Against the Lord and against His Christ.’

27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together

28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.

29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,

30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”

31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

own companions (v.23) — the other apostles and, probably, other believers

We constantly read in the New Testament of the “chief priests” (the same word as for high priest, but in the plural) as a class by themselves. This usage of the word is also confirmed by passages in Josephus. We know that Herod and the Romans set up and deposed high priests at will, insomuch that there were no less than 28 of them from the time of Herod the Great to the capture of Jerusalem by Titus. From such deposed and non-officiating high priests probably arose the group called in our version “chief priests.” The title may have included, also, the heads of the 24 priestly courses. They thus constituted the leaders of the hierarchy, and were probably synonymous with the rulers. — The Acts of the Apostles, by Thomas Walker, pages. 99-100

Lord (v.24) = (here) absolute sovereign — not the usual word for “Lord”

Quote (vs. 25-26) from Psalm 2:1-2 in the Septuagint. It is only here (v.25) that we learn that David wrote Psalm 2.

The Psalm begins with a prediction that the Gentiles were to oppose the Lord and His anointed, that is Christ. And here we see a partial fulfillment of this prophecy. Herod, Pontius Pilate, the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel had indeed gathered together in that city to do what the hand and the counsel of the Lord had determined before should come to pass. The Anointed of the Lord had been rejected and refused. The Gentiles had an equal share in it. The rulers of the peoples of Israel had given command that His blessed Name should no more be mentioned. All was pre-determined by God, which, of course, did not clear them from responsibility and guilt. It is an interesting fact that the text of the second Psalm does not show that His own people Israel were to have part in that rejection. But this does not exhaust the prophetic meaning of the second Psalm. The rejection of the Christ of God by the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel in the beginning of this age is only a prelude to the greater rejection of the Lord at the end of the age. Then the kings of the earth will form a great confederacy and say: “Let us break their bands asunder and cast away their cords from us.” This will be followed by the great event which is so clearly revealed in the second Psalm, the Coming of the King to rule over these nations and to break them with a rod of iron. The rejected Christ will be enthroned as King upon the holy hill of Zion. Of Him the Lord will declare; “Thou art My son; this day have I begotten Thee.”  (In resurrection from the dead.) Only then will the second Psalm be fulfilled. — The Acts of the Apostles, by Arno C. Gaebelein, pages 96-97

nations (v.25) — Gentiles

rage (v.25) — from the word for “the fierce neighing of untamed horses”

people (v.25) — perhaps a reference to Israel

plot (v.25) = give anxious thought and care

vain (v.25) — It was vain to rage against God.

kings of the earth (v.26) — here referring to Herod and Pilate

rulers (v.26) — perhaps referring to the Sanhedrin

holy (v.27) = separated, consecrated

anointed (v.27) — as the Messiah

Herod (v.27) — Herod Antipas, Tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea (Luke 23:7)

hand (v.28) — God’s disposing power

counsel (v.28) — Gods predetermining wisdom

The death of Christ for man’s salvation was pre-ordained before the foundation of the world (Acts 2:23). The verb here used, save for this one passage, is peculiar to Paul. If we collate the texts in which it occurs, we find that,

  1. Christ’s death and passion were fore-ordained (Acts 4:28)
  2. The believer’s likeness to his Savior was fore-ordained (Romans 8:29-30)
  3. The hidden wisdom of the Gospel was fore-ordained (1 Corinthians 2:7)
  4. The Christian’s adoption and privileges were fore-ordained (Ephesians 1:5, 11)

The Acts of the Apostles, by Thomas Walker, page 103

servants (v.29) = bondservants, slaves

heal (v.30) — a medical term used only by Luke

In the face of the Sanhedrin’s threats to be silent, they did not pray for protection or permission to be quiet, but for boldness.

spoke (v.31) = continued to speak

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