Acts 4:7
They had Peter and John brought in and began to question them: "By what power or what name did you do this?"
Truth from the TribunalW. Clarkson Acts 4:1-21
Apostolic TrialsJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 4:1-22
BigotryJ. Alexander, D. D.Acts 4:1-22
Christ the Power of GodChristian AgeActs 4:1-22
Christ's Servants Before the TribunalE. Johnson Acts 4:1-22
Ecclesiasticism has no Exclusive RightsGeneral Gordon.Acts 4:1-22
Peter and John Before the CouncilD. J. Burrell, D. D.Acts 4:1-22
Peter and John Before the CouncilGeo. M. Boynton.Acts 4:1-22
Peter and John ExaminedJ. Dick, A. M.Acts 4:1-22
Righteous BoldnessHerrick Johnson, D. D.Acts 4:1-22
Teaching and PersecutionJ. Parker, D. D.Acts 4:1-22
The Captain of the TempleProf. I. H. Hall.Acts 4:1-22
The First Persecution of the ApostlesJ. Bennett.Acts 4:1-22
The First Persecution of the ChurchJ. Cynddylan Jones, D. D.Acts 4:1-22
The Four Chief Props of ApologeticsO. Smith, D. D.Acts 4:1-22
The Miracle At the Beautiful Gate as an EpochD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 4:1-22
Typical Religious PersecutionW. Hudson.Acts 4:1-22
The First Trial of Christian Preachers in a Court of JudgmentP.C. Barker Acts 4:4-22
The Servants in the Footsteps of Their LordR.A. Redford Acts 4:5-12
Christ the Head of the CornerJ. W. Burn.Acts 4:7-10
Giving the ReasonW. E. Chadwick, M. A., C. F. Deems, LL. D.Acts 4:7-10
Men as Moral ArchitectsD. Thomas, D. D.Acts 4:7-10
The Corner StoneBp. Jacobson.Acts 4:7-10
The Power in Apostolic MiraclesR. Tuck, B. A.Acts 4:7-10
The Pre-Eminence and Power of the Name of Jesus Christ of NazarethH. J. Van Dyke, D. D.Acts 4:7-10

I. Compare the CIRCUMSTANCES of this testimony with those in which Jesus stood. Some of the same were present. Actuated by similar feelings against the truth. But notice:

1. Called together on the ground of one specific fact - the miracle done (ver. 7) undeniably real.

2. Without any accusation as in the Lord's case. No false witnesses called.

3. In appearance, at least, orderly and candid; inquiring, "By what power, or in what Name, have ye done this?" certainly evincing, as does the sequel, considerable reaction from the fury of the Crucifixion. Conscience was at work. A sign that the gospel was already beginning to lay hold of Jerusalem.

II. Consider the TESTIMONY borne by the apostle.

1. The substance of it. It pointed to the signs of Divine power present; connected those signs with the Name and authority of Jesus Christ; clearly announced the fulfillment of Scripture, and invited all to rejoice in the blessings of the gospel.

2. The inspiration of it; seen in its simplicity, boldness, wisdom, and yet supreme gentleness and love. A perfect respect for the old, and yet an entire acceptance of the new with all its consequences. It was not the address of a criminal excusing himself, or of a suspected man putting by the misconstructions of enemies; it was the appeal of a herald and inspired ambassador, fulfilling his Divine office to be a witness to Jesus. There was in it a sublime indifference to human opposition, and yet a confidence in the sufficiency of the gospel which could not have been of merely human origin. Peter spoke as one "filled with the Holy Ghost," the Spirit of truth, life, and love; as a true Israelite, without one word of disparagement of what was represented in that Sanhedrim; and yet as a true apostle of Christ; as the priest of that restored temple, of which Jesus was henceforth the Corner-stone; and as a true prophet, able to connect the present with the past and the future, and say, "Thus saith the Lord." - R.

By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?
The fact of the healing was recognised; and the logical conclusion, that it was a sign of the presence and working of some supernatural power, was not shirked; but the inquiry remained, "What is your power and authority?" The word "power" is that used of our Lord's miracles, and translated "mighty works." The term "name" here stands for "authority." This the Sanhedrin asked because they regarded themselves as the highest religious authority in the land, and they could approve of nothing which had not been submitted for their sanction. They had to learn that God never will allow His grace to be tied with official bonds. Moses gave the high example of the noble spirit. "Would God that all the Lord's people were prophets, and that He would put His Spirit on them!" We are led to consider the apostolic miracles, and what was thought of them.

I. THE PEOPLE'S THOUGHT OF THEM. Miracles excited the interest of the "common people." This is true both of our Lord's miracles and of those wrought by the apostles. The great distinction between the two series is this — our Lord permitted His miracles to witness to Himself; but the apostles turned the people's minds from themselves. The "common people" are more susceptible to the supernatural than the learned; partly because they are more simple, freer from prejudices; and partly because sentiment and imagination are toned and repressed by knowledge. The simplicity of the "common people" has both its good and its bad side. They hardly knew What to make of St. Peter's miracle. It was not in their way to think the matter out. Enough for them that it was a sign of gracious power. They must be good men who were the agents of such good work; and so they were prepared to listen with the expectation that their word would be as good as their work. It is a safe principle that if a man's works are kind and good we may expect kindness and goodness in his words; and we may even assume that there will be truth in them. Our Lord taught us that by their works we may judge our teachers.

II. THE PRIESTS' THOUGHT OF THEM. The priests stand for the Sadducee section. They were not simple-minded, and so not prepared fairly to consider the apostolic miracle. They had taken up strong prejudices against our Lord which developed into active enmity, and secured our Lord's death. But their gratification passed into intense anxiety when the guard reported, and the disciples of the Crucified openly declared that He was risen. If that were true they were convicted of the almost inconceivable crime to a Jew, of judicially murdering the long-promised Messiah. In their straits they determined to put a bold face on the matter, and make violence serve their end. Perhaps they even succeeded in deluding themselves; and when news came of this miracle of healing they declared it must have been wrought by some malign power, some strange jugglery; and it was their duty to deal with these men as wizards and mountebanks. To these prejudiced priests the same rule may be applied as sufficed for the people, and the character and quality of the apostle's works should be allowed to declare their truthfulness, and explain the source of their authority.

III. THE APOSTLES' THOUGHT OF THEE (vers. 9-12). They firmly declare that they had wrought the miracle by Divine power entrusted to them; and that they had exerted that power by the authority of that very Nazarene whom they had crucified, but who was risen, and sending forth that grace of which the miracle of healing was an outward sign. The apostles teach us to look upon the miracle — and all the cycle of apostolic miracles — as being signs of —

1. The Divine presence: the Lord was present to heal.

2. The Divine witness, giving public attestation to their teachings and preachings; and —

3. The Divine work, which is to recover men from all the ill and woes brought in by sin, redeeming them from both sin and sin's effects. Conclusion: Miracles are fitting modes of persuasion only for the unscientific ages and peoples. They are witnesses to eye and feeling for those who are mainly influenced through the senses rather than through the mind. Therefore the age of miracles has ceased; and the ever-working miracle of God's converting and renewing grace in men's hearts and lives suffices to convince all open souls that Jesus the Risen is the One, only, all-sufficient Saviour still.

(R. Tuck, B. A.)

These are manifest —

I. IN THE NECESSITY FOR THE GOSPEL, AND IN ITS CORRESPONDING NATURE. Two correlative words summarise the whole Bible — sin and salvation. But our knowledge of these is not derived from the same source. There is a distinction between what is revealed and what is only recorded in Scripture. Salvation is revealed. But sin is only recorded. It was already in the world, and the consciousness of it was interwoven with human experience before salvation was proclaimed (Romans 3:20). The Scriptures assume this terrible fact. All their warnings, invitations, and promises are based upon it. All the rites prescribed in the Old Testament and all the forms of worship recognised in the New take it for granted. It lies at the foundation of all prayer. The Scriptures also directly assert it. "All have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." The most formal and elaborate argument of the Bible (the Epistle to Rome) sustains these assertions. On the dark background of natural religion, by which all men are tried and found guilty, the glorious gospel shines resplendent. Jesus Christ is not a light, but The Light of the world, without which there is no deliverance from the power of darkness. God has laid at the foundation of all revealed theology, and of all Christian effort, that Stone which foolish builders have rejected, and has graven upon it this indelible inscription, "Neither is there salvation in any other — for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved."

II. IN THE BIBLICAL HISTORY OF THAT NAME. It is not a mere collection of arbitrary titles, but the embodiment of the Divine nature and purpose. The Elohim created the heavens and the earth; but Jehovah Elohim entered into covenant with man. This new name (Exodus 6:3) runs through and characterises the Old Testament economy, until its last prophet proclaims the promise, "Jehovah whom ye seek shall suddenly come to His temple; even the Angel of the Covenant, whom ye delight in" (Malachi 3:1). The New Testament revelations begin with the fulfilment of the promise that closes the Old. Jesus is the human name of the Covenant Angel. In the synagogue at Nazareth He claims to be the Anointed of God, and from that time His words evoke the recognition of His nature and His mission. Andrew declares, "We have found the Messias," and Philip confirms the testimony. Nathanael falls down before Him, and says, "Rabbi, Thou art the Son of God, Thou art the King of Israel." The woman of Samaria exclaims, "Is not this the Christ?" Peter falls prostrate at His feet, crying out, "Depart from me, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!" and "No man can call Jesus Lord, but by the Holy Ghost." Now He is not only Jesus, He is Jesus the Christ, and "Our Lord Jesus Christ." That name is above every name. It translates the ineffable name of Jehovah into human speech, and interprets it to human hearts. It runs through and unifies all Scripture. It embodies the expressed essence of a thousand titles, by which all that is glorious and amiable in God and man, in heaven or earth, is appropriated to Him.

III. IN THE CONSTITUTION OF HIS PERSON. The Incarnation of the Son of God is the most stupendous fact in the history of the universe. This it is that makes His name Wonderful. This is the foundation God has laid in Zion, and calls upon men and angels to behold — the elect, tried, and precious stone, rejected of men, but made in the Divine plan and in human experience, the head of the corner. And that which demonstrates this stupendous fact as the power of God unto salvation is the revealed purpose that Jesus Christ should come in the flesh to be "the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world." Among the human builders there are none whose speech is so utterly confounded, and whose wisdom is more manifestly taken in their own craftiness, than those who undertake to re-write the life of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, to explain His mission, and the confessed power of His name, omitting the recognition of His Deity, and the cleansing power of His atoning blood. Regarded simply as a man and a teacher, He is a bundle of contradictions. For while we are not competent to set limits to the Almighty, we do know what man can do; and we know that no uninspired and deceitful man could have drawn this consistent portraiture of the incarnate God. It is only when we add to the human name and nature of Jesus — the Divine attributes and purposes of which the angels sang when they declared Him to be "a Saviour who is Christ the Lord" (Luke 2:11) — that we can apprehend the truth and grace which shine out in all His recorded ministry, or the power with which the story of His life comes home to the universal heart.


1. He is that Prophet whose coming Moses predicted, and for whose teaching he challenged an absolute credence. His instructions prepare the way for the effectual application of His sacrifice.

2. This Prophet is also the great High Priest, and by the one offering of Himself He has both satisfied Divine justice, and for ever perfected them that are sanctified.

3. Moreover, our Lord Jesus Christ is King. His royal power underlies and gives efficacy to His prophetic and priestly offices.

4. These offices impart a Divine efficacy to the facts of His death and resurrection. He died as a Prophet and Martyr, to confirm His testimony. He died as a King, to conquer death, and him that hath the power of it. He died as a Priest, that by His precious blood He might redeem and purify unto Himself a peculiar people.

V. IN ALL TRUE PREACHING OF THE GOSPEL. The power of God unto salvation resides in the gospel, i.e., in the open proclamation of the truth as it is in Jesus; and demonstrates itself in them that believe. "All power," says the ascending Saviour, "is given unto Me; go ye, therefore, and teach all nations." So the apostles understood it, and because they believed, therefore have they spoken. When the Jewish council charged them to speak no more to any man in this name, they answered, "We cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard." Wherein consisted their inability to keep silence? Doubtless they were constrained by loyalty to Christ. But their loyalty ran much deeper than the external commandment. It was but another name for a Divine sympathy and oneness with Him.

(H. J. Van Dyke, D. D.)

If we this day be examined of the good deed
Let us see that we can give a good reason for our work, both to ourselves and also to others. It is well for us again and again to question ourselves as to the real motives and, as far as we can predict them, the probable results of our actions. Let us see that we can give thoroughly satisfactory answers to questions about whose real meaning there can be no possible doubt. Questions such as these, Why do I teach in the Sunday school? Why ought I to teach? What should be the reason for and the object of my instruction? Don't let us be satisfied with merely general and indefinite answers, such as, "Because it is right," or "Because it is known and admitted to be a good work." The real answer should be of this kind, "It is most important that these children and these young people should have a thorough knowledge of the life and words, the example and teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. They should be taught to seek for and be guided by His Spirit, they should be prepared for the many temptations they will meet in the world. The conscience must be made tender and able to discern between good and evil. The will must be strengthened so that they may be able to persevere in that course of life which they perceive and know to be right. Moreover, since the conflict upon which they will enter will be of lifelong duration, it is most important that they should be trained to live a disciplined life; that they should be taught that the Church, besides being a school, is also an army, the members of which should lead disciplined lives; that they should learn that a means and a method and a safeguard is provided against all forms of temptation by means of this discipline." The district visitor should also be able to answer the same questions. They must answer both themselves and others. From the nature of their work they are more likely to be criticised than the Sunday-school teacher; for they deal with those of mature years, with those who can form an opinion, and who are not slow to detect and judge their motives. Let people see, then, that our object is helpfulness. Teach them how many are, by sad experience, proved to be impotent to carry on the struggle of life; tell them how we would instruct them in the laws of life, and help and strengthen them to live happier and healthier lives. St. Peter pointed to effects produced; we must do the same; we must show men and women how those who are really obedient to the teaching of Christ and the discipline of the Church are more able to fulfil the duty to which God has called them.

(W. E. Chadwick, M. A.)May I never be disposed to apologise for any "good deed" which I may have wrought in the name of Jesus, no matter who may be offended thereby. May I never be tempted to give to myself any glory for anything that has been wrought through me by the Holy Ghost. May I not be moved by any regard for the opinions of what is called cultivated society or the opinions of materialistic scientists to attempt to explain away, or explain on some natural principle, that which has been wrought by the supernatural grace of God, by the power of faith in Jesus. May I never be ashamed of Jesus because of the opprobrium thrown on Him by His enemies. Jesus of Nazareth: call Him so, bigoted churchmen; call Him so, powerful worldlings; call Him so, cultivated sceptics; but He is Jesus, and whether of Nazareth, or Bethlehem, or Jerusalem, or earth, or heaven, faith in His name has healed millions, and not a single soul has ever been healed by faith in any other name.

(C. F. Deems, LL. D.)

This is the Stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the Head of the corner
is the top stone at an angle of the building. of great weight and importance in their roofs, built of solid fiat stones, to admit of being walked upon. Christ as the Corner Stone united Jews and Gentiles, as He united the two natures, the Godhead and the manhood. His own name must have helped to endear this Psalm to the apostle (1 Peter 2:4-7).

(Bp. Jacobson.)

These words, borrowed from Psalm 118:22, are also quoted by all the evangelists except John, and are applied to the Jewish leaders who professed to be the builders of the temple of religion. All men are builders in some form or another. Man is a constructive creature. Some are building scientific systems, some mercantile schemes, some social institutions. All are building their own character. The text suggests —

I. MAN'S GREAT NEED AS A MORAL BUILDER — a foundation stone. A good foundation is essential to a good building.

1. Is it a system that man is building? He must have a foundation principle which will give strength and unity to all the parts.

2. Is it an institution — social, political, or ecclesiastical? It must be based on some good reason.

3. Is it character? Whatever a man's governing disposition, whether sensuality, avarice, ambition, selfishness, or benevolence and religion, that is the foundation of his character.


1. In their system of thought. The world teems with intellectual buildings, some of a grand and imposing character; but they have no Divine truth for their foundation. These, like houses on the sand, are constantly tumbling down. The ever-swelling river of history bears on its bosom the wrecks of many such.

2. In their institutional arrangements. A truculent expediency, a false philanthropy, a perverted religious sentiment, form the basis of many political, social, and religious institutions. These cannot stand; many have tumbled down; some are tumbling now; all must go.

3. In their practical enterprises. Schemes of business are launched, great companies are built up, whose foundations are chicanery and fraud, and sooner or later they fail.

4. In their moral character. Man's character is made up of habits, habits are made up of acts, and acts start from principles which lie at the foundation. But the principles are not Divine. They are selfish, not benevolent; carnal, not spiritual; atheistic, not godly. All these are "wood, hay, stubble," and cannot last.

III. MAN'S ULTIMATE DISCOVERY AS A MORAL BUILDER. One day he will find the Divine, which he rejected, supreme.

1. This is often fulfilled in the individual characters of men — in the history of all who have been genuinely converted. The stone which they once set at nought, through the renovating grace of God, becomes the head of the corner. Christ, whom they once despised, becomes their all in all.

2. This is being gradually fulfilled in the life of society. As the old systems, institutions, and enterprises in society which have been founded on wrong principles totter and fall, society begins to look out for a firmer foundation — for the Divine — and the rejected stone in many cases is becoming the head of the corner. The varied edifices in social life are becoming Diviner things.

3. This will be fully realised in the final history of the world. Christ. whom the world had rejected, will be the subject of every thought, the spirit of every system, the spring of every activity, the sweetness of every pleasure, the glory of every distinction. He shall be all in all. What a terrible discovery for Christ's rejecters!

(D. Thomas, D. D.)

Christ acts in a two-fold capacity in the building up of human life. He is the foundation (1 Corinthians 3:2; 1 Peter 2:4-7); and the stone which crowns the edifice and gives it completeness, unity, and strength. He is thus the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last. The text sets forth Christ in the latter of these two capacities. Man without Christ is incomplete, disorganised, and weak; in Him he has perfection, oneness, and power. We see this —

I. IN THE HISTORY OF THE RACES. Before Christ came humanity lacked its full development. Never before the Advent was there an exhibition even in the ideal of what man could be. Just as man was the crown and perfection of God's handiwork in creation, so is Christ the crown and perfection of man. And wherever Christ is not accepted and placed in His true position, the fatal flaw of incompleteness is apparent. Note, too, the disintegration of humanity before Christ came, and where Christ's supremacy is not recognised. "One is your Master," etc., is the secret of the unity of mankind. Weakness, too, is stamped upon all ancient nationalities, in spite of high civilisation and bloated armaments, "part of iron and part of clay." Hence their non-survival. Internal weakness, prophetic of sure decay, is the fate of every nation that rejects the Head of the Corner.

II. IN THE EXPERIENCE OF THE INDIVIDUAL. These principles hold good of man's —

1. Intellectual life. Ancient and modern antichristian philosophy were and are defective, lacked coherence, had and have no power to quicken. The truth as it is in Jesus alone can survive, because it has in it all that man needs to know, appeals to all his faculties, reason, imagination, etc., and thoroughly satisfies the mind. Then it is a complete and well-rounded unity, and by accepting it man's intellectual nature becomes at one with itself and with the other faculties. And finally the words of Jesus "are spirit and are life."

2. Moral life. "One thing thou lackest " is the allegation against all systems and men out of Christ, and how true Romans 8. is of all the unregenerate! "Dead in trespasses and sins" completes the fatal category.

3. Business life. The fatal lack here is that of the ennobling motive, "Do all to the glory of God." Men are "distracted" because of the want of a cohering commercial principle such as "Ye serve the Lord Christ" would supply. And all enterprises are impotent to do more than supply man's physical needs which are not animated by the Spirit of Christ.


(J. W. Burn.)

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