The Apostles' Confidence in God
Acts 4:18-31
And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.…

In the breast of every earnest man this conflict resolves itself into a question of duty of expediency. The easy thing is to suit one's convenience; the hard thing is to do right. In the case of Peter and John there was a disagreement between the higher and the lower law. The powers that be are ordained of God; wherefore it is right to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, and be ready unto every good work (Titus 3:1). But if there comes a moment when the soul is hemmed in between the mandate of an earthly ruler and the word of Jehovah, the way is plain: God must ever hold the first place in the soul of a true man. We are resolved to do our duty though the heavens fall! In reaching this determination they were moved by two arguments —

1. It was right. All considerations of mere prudence must stand aside for principle. Conscience has always the right of way. The meanest man on earth knows that God's service is above time-service. It was perfectly safe for the two disciples to submit that proposition to their inquisitors, as they did when they said, "Judge ye."

2. It was in line with the ruling motive of their lives. They had some time ago made up their minds deliberately to follow Christ. In that resolve there was no reservation; they had surrendered all. Now the matter is to be brought to a test; will they be loyal to their Master or not? There is no ground for hesitation. So Peter and John stood by their principles. It must have seemed to them as if they were facing death, but no matter. Now mark the immediate result.These disciples expected imprisonment, the lash, perhaps death, for their temerity; but God had His own plans.

1. Their judges "marvelled" at their courage and "let them go"! The angel of the Lord came and shut those lions' mouths so that they could not hurt them.

2. The people "glorified God for that which was done." That term, "the people," represents an inconstant and untrustworthy factor; but in this instance the good work done upon the impotent man was so manifest, and the subsequent demeanour of Peter and John in court so heroic, that they were perforce convinced and moved to glorify God.

3. The two disciples were themselves emboldened for further service. They had tried God and found Him faithful, and they were ready to try Him again. The lad David was encouraged to go out against Goliath by the fact that God had once before delivered him from a lion and bear that had taken a lamb out of his flock. A man's courage is like his biceps muscle; it grows by use.

4. The whole Church was strengthened and enheartened by this event. Courage is catching. Heroes make heroes.

(D. J. Burrell, D. D.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

WEB: They called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

Testimony not to be Stifled
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