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persist in a notorious fraud? To such questions as these, let the enemies of our faith, if they are able, reply.
Acts v. 17-32.
The apostles continuing to gain many proselytes, by their preaching and miracles, the rulers of the Jews are alarmed, and resolve to take immediately the most vigorous measures for suppressing the Christian doc
17. Then the High Priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees) and were filled with indignation;
18. And laid hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison.
By saying that the High Priest and those who were with him, that is, the persons in public offices, were the sect of the Sadducees, the writer implies that the tenets of this sect were principally confined to such persons. It is not likely, therefore, that the opinion commonly entertained of them can be true, namely that they rejected all the books of scripture, except the Pentateuch or five books of Moses; for it is not to be supposed that persons denying the authority of so great a proportion of the scriptures would be placed in such situations. It is certain, however, that they denied the resurrection of the dead, and this, probably, made them so violent in opposing the Christians, who maintained the opposite doctrine. They were not satisfied now with apprehending one or two of the apostles, but seized the whole number, finding that they were all alike active in preaching this doctrine,
19. But the angel of the Lord, by
this life, or,
night, opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said,
20. Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of
all this doctrine of life*,” i. e. the doctrine of eternal life.
It was the opinion of the Sadducees, but not necessarily untrue because patronised by them, that the angels mentioned in scripture as intelligent agents, had no permanent existence, but were men or phantoms created by God for the particular occasion on which they appeared. Of this nature may have been the being who performed the present miracle, which was intended to give courage to the apostles in preaching the gospel.
21. And when they heard that, they entered into the
into the temple early in the morning and taught: but the High Priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate, « all the elders,” of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.
This was not an ordinary assembly of the Sanhedriin; for all the members were summoned to meet, as if to deliberate upon a matter of the highest mo
The High-Priest and his companions have nothing less in view than putting to death the whole company of the apostles, as the only means left for stopping the progress of the new doctrine. See the authorities for Tavta ang twns in Wakefield, and Griesbach,
But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned and told,
23. Saying, The prison, truly, found we shut with all safety, and the keepers, “ the guard,” standing before the doors * ; but when we had opened we found no man within.
As the guards could give no account of the prison- , ers, it is probable that they were all thrown into a deep sleep, at the time when the angel opened the doors and let them forth. In a similar
instance, when Peter was liberated, the soldiers were put to death, which was the Roman punishment for sleeping upon guard.
24. Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto they would grow, rather, " they doubted how this could bet.”
They doubted how they had been able to escape, whether it was by corrupting the guards, by their falling asleep, or by some other means.
The captain of the temple, as before explained, was the priest who presided over all the different classes of priests employed in the temple service.
25. Then came one and told them, saying, Behold the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people.
* Griesbach rejects . Doddridge, Wakefield, Harwood. Vol. 3.)
26. Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence, that is, without their being bound; for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned.
27. And when they had brought them, they set them before the council, and the High-Priest asked them,
28. Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? “ about this name," and behold ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring, “ and wish to bring," this man's blood
Here we see the ground of the alarm of the Jewish rulers, and the cause of their animosity against the apostles. They taught the people respecting Jesus that he was a great prophet, and that the Jewish rulers, in putting him to death by crucifixion, had been guilty of a heinous crime; and they did this so industriously and indefatigably, that Jerusalem was already filled with their doctrine, and the common people in no small degree inflamed-against their rulers, as appeared from their disposition to comunit violence on those who came to apprehend the apostles.
29. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, (he spoke in the name of the rest) we ought to obey God rather than men.
30. The God of our fathers raised
up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree, or, “ by hanging on a tree;"'
31. Him hath God exalted with his right hand, “at his right hand,” to be a prince and a saviour, for to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness, “ remission,” of sins.
32. And we are his witnesses of these things, and so is also the Holy Spirit, which God hath given to them that obey him.
“ The God of our fathers raised up Jesus.” By the phrase, “ raised up,” we are not here to understand raised from the dead, but honoured with a divine commission. The words are to be understood in the same sense as when they occur in the celebrated prophecy of Moses, who says, “ A prophet will the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, as he raised me.”
“ Whom ye slew by hanging on a tree.” It is observable that Peter, although by no means disposed to spare the Jewish rulers, or afraid of offending them, never inentions any aggravation of their crime, arising from putting to death a great pre-existent spirit, the maker of the world, or another God, which is a
“ Him plain proof that no such aggravation existed. hath God exalted at his right hand.” These words do not refer to any local elevation, but are merely metaphorical, and intended to signify a state of high favour and honour, such as those usually possessed who, in the courts of princes, were placed on the right hand of the throne. 'The honour conferred in the present instance was that of being a prince and a saviour, that is, the first or principal saviour, to the children of Israel; the apostles and other followers of