Acts 4:13-18
Acts 4:13 (KJB)
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
Boldness - Confidence
Unlearned - Unlettered or Illiterate
Ignorant - Unskilled in speaking, laymen, or amateur
Here we have a verse that should be an encouragement to all Christians. Peter and John, in their testimony before the leaders no doubt did not possess the “theological” vocabulary of these schooled men. Nevertheless, Peter and John made a defense of their position. This does not mean that they were totally unschooled because they would have gone to school at the local synagogue when they were younger plus they owned their own businesses and would have had to know how to read and write. They probably used street language, not profane or cursing, but simple words that the people would use on a regular basis to speak with one another. There was probably a hint of them being unlearned when they lacked the theological language of the learned. They also knew that they were laymen, not having attended a school of training. What probably amazed them was the fact that Peter and John spoke with such boldness without a degree or any higher learning. (Mat 11:25 KJV) At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes.
This should be an encouragement to those who have never attended Bible school or seminary. This verse shows that you do not need those things to be a strong witness for the Lord Jesus Christ. In fact, all the courses in Bible college and seminary actually choke the learning of the Bible because they cause your mind to dwell on all the other subjects, making learning the Bible just one of the courses. It is not wrong to learn Biblical Archaeology, the Bible languages of Hebrew and Greek, Church History, Apologetics, etc. These are all good subjects but they should not overshadow the study of Scripture and they should be done as secondary studies. The fact that they were speaking with boldness made these leaders realize that these two men were with Jesus.
(Mat 7:29 KJV) For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. Matthew 7:29 states that Jesus taught as one who had authority. The Scribes taught from their commentaries and their own ideas which amounted to the fact that they were just teaching opinions and in the Kingdom of God, man’s opinions carry no weight. Have you ever heard people say something like, “I believe” or “In my opinion?” That would be equivalent to the scribes teaching from their commentaries. When we quote actual Scriptures in our teaching and preaching, the authority shifts from us to the Bible and it is only the Bible that can confront, challenge, and conform the hearers. It is when Peter and John quoted heavily from the Scriptures, is what caught the attention of the leaders and knew they were with Jesus because they heard Jesus speak and knew He spoke with authority and that principle has been transferred to every true believer.
Acts 4:14 (KJB)
And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.
Not only were the elders troubled by the bold witness of Peter and John, they also had to contend with the fact that a real healing had taken place because the man that was healed stood in front of them just as Lazarus stood in front of the crowd when the Lord raised him from the dead. What could they possibly say since the evidence was right there. If Peter and John would have met him on the road and the healing took place in private, then they might have a reason to claim that the man was never crippled to begin with but in this case, the man was at the gate every single day and was seen by thousands, so they could not reject the reality standing in front of them.
Acts 4:15 (KJB)
But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,
Conferred - Discussed, pondered, or disputed
They have heard Peter and John and they saw the evidence that a true miracle was done, so now it was time to start plotting against the true Gospel. They asked them to step outside while they began to discuss the issue. The word “conferred” even carries with it the idea of “disputing” so there may have been disagreements among the leaders as they tried to seek a solution to a problem which they thought had disappeared.
Acts 4:16 (KJB)
Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.
Notable - Something that is known
If you notice the response of false religion to the true Gospel is “what shall we do to these men?” Immediately they wanted to focus on Peter and John and how they could discredit their teaching. The problem was that the miracle which took place was well known by all in Jerusalem and they could not deny it. Their problem was trying to discredit two men who have performed a well known miracle. They had the evidence standing right there, which was undeniable.
Acts 4:17 (KJB)
But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.
Threaten - Forbid by threatening
Here is the folly of the unbeliever. Their focus was on Peter and John and they thought that by threatening them, the knowledge of the miracle would spread no further. They forgot one major point and that was that thousands of people already saw the man walking and that all Jerusalem was speaking about the miracle at the temple. Even if they would have put Peter and John to death, the miracle was still fresh in everybody’s mind plus the healed man was walking around as a testimony to the fact that he was healed by the Lord Jesus Christ. Instead of these leaders focusing on the fact that a great miracle had taken place, they were still concerned about their positions and wealth. If they were true teachers of the Hebrew Scriptures, they would have rejoiced that God visited them by showing this great miracle. This is so like organized religion that this practice continues today in churches. If one brings a truth from Scripture which negates a teaching by the Pastor or Elders, the person bringing the truth will be threatened with expulsion rather than having the erroneous teaching corrected, the position and the pride will always be together in those who reject correction.
Acts 4:18 (KJB)
And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
They called them back into the place where they met and instead of investigating the miracle and rejoicing with the man, they decided to threaten Peter and John to never speak or teach in the name of Jesus. They were not prohibiting them from teaching or speaking, but they were to eliminate the name of Jesus from all their teaching and speaking. Is it not the same today with organized religion and other entities? You can pray before a football game but not in the name of Christ. You can talk about religion in school and you can even name Buddha, Confucius, Mohammed but the name of Christ is never to be mentioned. Has anything changed much in the last two thousand years? (Eccl 1:9 KJV) The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun. Nothing new under the sun, the same opposition that was present then, is present today.