The Holy See
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2002 11 11
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Chapter 4


While they were still speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees 1 confronted them,


disturbed that they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.


They laid hands on them and put them in custody until the next day, since it was already evening.


But many of those who heard the word came to believe and (the) number of men grew to (about) five thousand.


On the next day, their leaders, elders, and scribes were assembled in Jerusalem,


with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly class.


They brought them into their presence and questioned them, "By what power or by what name have you done this?"


Then Peter, filled with the holy Spirit, answered them, "Leaders of the people and elders:


If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved,


then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed.


He is 'the stone rejected by you, 2 the builders, which has become the cornerstone.'


3 There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved."


Observing the boldness of Peter and John and perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men, they were amazed, and they recognized them as the companions of Jesus.


Then when they saw the man who had been cured standing there with them, they could say nothing in reply.


So they ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin, and conferred with one another, saying,


"What are we to do with these men? Everyone living in Jerusalem knows that a remarkable sign was done through them, and we cannot deny it.


But so that it may not be spread any further among the people, let us give them a stern warning never again to speak to anyone in this name."


So they called them back and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.


Peter and John, however, said to them in reply, "Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges.


It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard."


After threatening them further, they released them, finding no way to punish them, on account of the people who were all praising God for what had happened.


For the man on whom this sign of healing had been done was over forty years old.


After their release they went back to their own people and reported what the chief priests and elders had told them.


And when they heard it, they raised their voices to God with one accord and said, "Sovereign Lord, maker of heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them,


you said by the holy Spirit through the mouth of our father David, your servant: 'Why did the Gentiles rage and the peoples entertain folly?


The kings of the earth took their stand and the princes gathered together against the Lord and against his anointed.'


Indeed they gathered in this city against your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed, Herod 4 and Pontius Pilate, together with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,


to do what your hand and (your) will had long ago planned to take place.


And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness,


as you stretch forth (your) hand to heal, and signs and wonders are done through the name of your holy servant Jesus."


5 As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.


6 The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common.


With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all.


There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale,


and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.


Thus Joseph, also named by the apostles Barnabas (which is translated "son of encouragement"), a Levite, a Cypriot by birth,


sold a piece of property that he owned, then brought the money and put it at the feet of the apostles.



1 [1] The priests, the captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees: the priests performed the temple liturgy; the temple guard was composed of Levites, whose captain ranked next after the high priest. The Sadducees, a party within Judaism at this time, rejected those doctrines, including bodily resurrection, which they believed alien to the ancient Mosaic religion. The Sadducees were drawn from priestly families and from the lay aristocracy.

2 [11] Early Christianity applied this citation from Psalm 118:22 to Jesus; cf Mark 12:10; 1 Peter 2:7.

3 [12] In the Roman world of Luke's day, salvation was often attributed to the emperor who was hailed as "savior" and "god." Luke, in the words of Peter, denies that deliverance comes through anyone other than Jesus.

4 [27] Herod: Herod Antipas, ruler of Galilee and Perea from 4 B.C. to A.D. 39, who executed John the Baptist and before whom Jesus was arraigned; cf Luke 23:6-12.

5 [31] The place . . . shook: the earthquake is used as a sign of the divine presence in Exodus 19:18; Isaiah 6:4. Here the shaking of the building symbolizes God's favorable response to the prayer. Luke may have had as an additional reason for using the symbol in this sense the fact that it was familiar in the Hellenistic world. Ovid and Virgil also employ it.

6 [32-37] This is the second summary characterizing the Jerusalem community (see the note on Acts 2:42-47). It emphasizes the system of the distribution of goods and introduces Barnabas, who appears later in Acts as the friend and companion of Paul, and who, as noted here ( Acts 4:37), endeared himself to the community by a donation of money through the sale of property. This sharing of material possessions continues a practice that Luke describes during the historical ministry of Jesus ( Luke 8:3) and is in accord with the sayings of Jesus in Luke's gospel ( Luke 12:33; 16:9, 11, 13).

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