Peter and John Arrested
4 And while Peter and John were talking to the people, the priests and the captain [who was in charge of the temple area and] of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to them, 2 being extremely disturbed and thoroughly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in [the case of] Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 So they arrested them and put them in jail until the next day, because it was evening. 4 But many of those who heard the message [of salvation] believed [in Jesus and accepted Him as the Christ]. And the number of the men came to be about 5,000.
5 On the next day, their magistrates and elders and scribes (Sanhedrin, Jewish High Court) were gathered together in Jerusalem; 6 and [a]Annas the high priest was there, and [b]Caiaphas and [c]John and Alexander, and all others who were of high-priestly descent. 7 When they had put the men in [d]front of them, they repeatedly asked, “By what sort of power, or in what name [that is, by what kind of authority], did you do this [healing]?” 8 Then Peter, filled with [the power of] the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people [members of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish High Court], 9 if we are being put on trial today [to interrogate us] for a good deed done to [benefit] a disabled man, as to how this man has been restored to health, 10 let it be known and clearly understood by all of you, and by all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you [demanded be] crucified [by the Romans and], whom God raised from the dead—in this name [that is, by the authority and power of Jesus] this man stands here before you in good health. 11 This Jesus is the stone which was despised and rejected by you, the builders, but which became the [e]chief Cornerstone.(A) 12 And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among people by which we must be saved [for God has provided the world no alternative for salvation].”
Threat and Release
13 Now when the men of the Sanhedrin (Jewish High Court) saw the confidence and boldness of Peter and John, and grasped the fact that they were [f]uneducated and untrained [ordinary] men, they were astounded, and began to recognize that they had been with Jesus. 14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing there with them, they had nothing to say in reply. 15 But after ordering them to step out of the Council [chamber], they began to confer among themselves, 16 saying, “What are we to do with these men? For the fact that an extraordinary miracle has taken place through them is public knowledge and clearly evident to all the residents of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to keep it from spreading further among the people and the nation, let us [sternly] warn them not to speak again to anyone in this name.” 18 So they sent for them, and commanded them not to speak [as His representatives] or teach at all in the name of Jesus [using Him as their authority]. 19 But Peter and John replied to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you and obey you rather than God, you must judge [for yourselves]; 20 for we, on our part, cannot stop telling [people] about what we have seen and heard.” 21 When the rulers and Council members had threatened them further, they let them go, finding no way to punish them because [of their fear] of the people, for they were all praising and glorifying and honoring God for what had happened; 22 for the man to whom this sign (attesting miracle) of healing had happened was more than forty years old.
23 After Peter and John were released, they returned to their own [people] and reported everything that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard it, they raised their voices together to God and said, “O Sovereign Lord [having complete power and authority], it is You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything that is in them,(B) 25 who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David, Your servant, said,
‘Why did the nations (Gentiles) become arrogant and rage,
And the peoples devise futile things [against the Lord]?
‘The kings of the earth took their stand [to attack],
And the rulers were assembled together
Against the Lord and against His Anointed (the Christ, the Messiah).’(C)
27 For in this city there were gathered together against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined [before the creation of the world] to occur [and so without knowing it, they served Your own purpose]. 29 And now, Lord, observe their threats [take them into account] and grant that Your bond-servants may declare Your message [of salvation] with great confidence, 30 while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders (attesting miracles) take place through the name [and the authority and power] of Your holy Servant and Son Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were meeting together was shaken [a sign of God’s presence]; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness and courage.
Sharing among Believers
32 Now the company of believers was of one heart and soul, and not one [of them] claimed that anything belonging to him was [exclusively] his own, but everything was common property and for the use of all. 33 And with great ability and power the apostles were continuously testifying to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace [God’s remarkable lovingkindness and favor and goodwill] rested richly upon them all. 34 There was not a needy person among them, because those who were owners of land or houses were selling them, and bringing the proceeds of the sales 35 and placing the money down at the apostles’ feet. Then it was distributed to each as anyone had need.
36 Now Joseph, a Levite and native of Cyprus, who was surnamed [g]Barnabas by the apostles (which translated means Son of Encouragement), 37 sold a field belonging to him and brought the money and set it at the apostles’ feet.
Fate of Ananias and Sapphira
5 Now a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, 2 and with his wife’s full knowledge [and complicity] he kept back some of the proceeds, bringing only a [h]portion of it, and set it at the apostles’ feet. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and [secretly] keep back for yourself some of the proceeds [from the sale] of the land? 4 As long as it remained [unsold], did it not remain your own [to do with as you pleased]? And after it was sold, was the money not under your control? Why is it that you have conceived this act [of hypocrisy and deceit] in your heart? You have not [simply] lied to people, but to God.” 5 And hearing these words, Ananias fell down suddenly and died; and great fear and awe gripped those who heard of it. 6 And the young men [in the congregation] got up and wrapped up the body, and carried it out and buried it.
7 Now after an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. 8 Peter asked her, “Tell me whether you sold your land for so much?” And she said, “Yes, for so much.” 9 Then Peter said to her, “How could you two have agreed together to put the Spirit of the Lord to the test? Look! The feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out also.” 10 And at once she fell down at his feet and died; and the young men came in and found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear and awe gripped the whole church, and all who heard about these things.
12 At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders (attesting miracles) were continually taking place among the people. And by common consent they all met together [at the temple] in [the covered porch called] Solomon’s portico. 13 But none of the rest [of the people, the non-believers] dared to associate with them; however, the people were holding them in high esteem and were speaking highly of them. 14 More and more believers in the Lord, crowds of men and women, were constantly being added to their number, 15 to such an extent that they even carried their sick out into the streets and put them on cots and sleeping pads, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on one of them [with healing power]. 16 And the people from the towns in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing the sick and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all being healed.
Imprisonment and Release
17 But the [i]high priest stood up, along with all his associates (that is, the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy and resentment. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in a public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, and leading them out, he said, 20 “Go, stand and continue to tell the people in the temple [courtyards] the whole message of this Life [the eternal life revealed by Christ and found through faith in Him].” 21 When they heard this, they went into the temple [courtyards] about daybreak and began teaching.
Now when the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Council (Sanhedrin, Jewish High Court), even all the council of elders of the sons of Israel, and sent word to the prison for the apostles to be brought [before them]. 22 But when the officers arrived, they did not find them in the prison; and they came back and reported, 23 “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened [the doors], we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard these things, they were greatly perplexed, wondering what would come of this. 25 But someone came and told them, “The men whom you put in prison are standing [right here] in the temple [area], teaching the people!” 26 Then the captain went with the officers and brought them back, without hurting them (because they were afraid of the people, worried that they might be stoned).
27 So they brought them and presented them before the Council (Sanhedrin, Jewish High Court). The high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this [j]Man’s blood on us [by accusing us as His murderers].” 29 Then Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men [we have no other choice]. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a [k]cross [and you are responsible].(D) 31 God exalted Him to His right hand as Prince and Savior and Deliverer, in order to grant repentance to Israel, and [to grant] forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has bestowed on those who obey Him.”
33 Now when they heard this, they were infuriated and they intended to kill the apostles. 34 But a Pharisee named [l]Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law [of Moses], highly esteemed by all the people, stood up in the Council (Sanhedrin, Jewish High Court) and ordered that the men be taken outside for a little while. 35 Then he said to the Council, “Men of Israel, be careful in regard to what you propose to do to these men. 36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody [of importance], and a group of about four hundred men allied themselves with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were scattered and came to nothing. 37 After this man, Judas the Galilean rose up, [and led an uprising] during the time of the census, and drew people after him; he was also killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38 So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men [merely human in origin], it will fail and be destroyed; 39 but if it is of God [and it appears that it is], you will not be able to stop them; or else you may even be found fighting against God!”
40 The Council (Sanhedrin, Jewish High Court) took his advice; and after summoning the apostles, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and released them. 41 So they left the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy [dignified by indignity] to suffer shame for [the sake of] His name. 42 And every single day, in the temple [area] and in homes, they did not stop teaching and telling the good news of Jesus as the Christ (the Messiah, the Anointed).
Choosing of the Seven
6 Now about this time, when the number of disciples was increasing, a complaint was made by the [m]Hellenists (Greek-speaking Jews) against the [[n]native] Hebrews, because their widows were being overlooked in the daily serving of food. 2 So the [o]Twelve called the disciples together and said, “It is not appropriate for us to neglect [teaching] the word of God in order to serve tables and manage the distribution of food. 3 Therefore, brothers, choose from among you seven men with good reputations [men of godly character and moral integrity], full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may put in charge of this task. 4 But we will [continue to] devote ourselves [steadfastly] to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 The suggestion pleased the whole congregation; and they selected [p]Stephen, a man full of faith [in Christ Jesus], and [filled with and led by] the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas (Nikolaos), a proselyte (Gentile convert) from Antioch. 6 They brought these men before the apostles; and after praying, they laid their hands on them [to dedicate and commission them for this service].
7 And the message of God kept on growing and spreading, and the number of disciples continued to increase greatly in Jerusalem; and a large number of the priests were becoming obedient to the faith [accepting Jesus as Messiah and acknowledging Him as the Source of eternal salvation].
8 Now Stephen, full of grace (divine blessing, favor) and power, was doing great wonders and signs (attesting miracles) among the people. 9 However, some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (freed Jewish slaves), both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and [the province of] Asia, rose up and questioned and argued with Stephen. 10 But they were not able to successfully withstand and cope with the wisdom and the intelligence [and the power and inspiration] of the Spirit by whom he was speaking. 11 Then [to attack him another way] they secretly instructed men to say, “We have heard this man [Stephen] speak blasphemous (slanderous, sacrilegious, abusive) words against Moses and against God.” 12 And they provoked and incited the people, as well as the elders and the scribes, and they came up to Stephen and seized him and brought him before the Council (Sanhedrin, Jewish High Court). 13 They presented false witnesses who said, “This man never stops speaking against this holy place and the Law [of Moses]; 14 for we have heard him say that this Jesus the Nazarene will tear down this place and will change the traditions and customs which Moses handed down to us.” 15 Then all those who were sitting in the Council, stared [intently] at him, and they saw that Stephen’s face was like the face of an angel.
- Acts 4:6 Annas served as high priest a.d. 6-15. He was removed from the position by Rome, but continued to be extremely influential and was regarded by the Jews as de facto high priest even though others (his sons and son-in-law) officially held the office.
- Acts 4:6 Caiaphas (Annas’ son-in-law) served as high priest a.d. 18-36.
- Acts 4:6 Perhaps this is Jonathan, one of Annas’ sons.
- Acts 4:7 The Sanhedrin sat in a semi-circle.
- Acts 4:11 The cornerstone is the supreme foundation stone governing the structure of the entire building. All other stones will be set in reference to this stone.
- Acts 4:13 They had no formal religious training in the rabbinical schools.
- Acts 4:36 Barnabas becomes a prominent figure in the book of Acts (9:27; 11:22-30; 13:1-14:28, etc.), and it may be for that reason that Luke briefly mentions him here, telling the reader how Barnabas came to be associated with the apostles.
- Acts 5:2 Ananias wanted everyone to think that he had turned over all the money from the sale, so secretly holding some back was essentially embezzling. If he had been honest and told Peter that he had kept some of the money, he would have done nothing wrong.
- Acts 5:17 This may refer to either Caiaphas (the official high priest) or his father-in-law, Annas (the de facto high priest). See note 4:6.
- Acts 5:28 The reason the Council members refused to refer to Jesus by name is unclear, but may indicate contempt, guilt, or perhaps fear.
- Acts 5:30 Lit wood.
- Acts 5:34 Saul of Tarsus, later known as the apostle Paul, was among Gamaliel’s students. See 22:3.
- Acts 6:1 Jews born outside the Holy Land who spoke the Greek language and had adopted much of the Greek culture.
- Acts 6:1 Native-born Jews who spoke Hebrew and/or Aramaic and lived according to Jewish custom.
- Acts 6:2 See note Matt 10:2.
- Acts 6:5 These seven men had Greek names, so they may have been Greek in ancestry, language, or way of life; however, Stephen, in his defense before the Sanhedrin (ch 7), exhibited an extensive knowledge of Jewish history.