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8. Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,
9. If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;
10. Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
11. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.3
12. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
Not three months before, when Peter was in the palace of the high priest, a servant maid had said unto him, "Thou also wast with Jesus of Nazareth." And he denied: denied that he knew the man. He was then "a reed shaken by the wind." Now he is unmoved and fearless; a rock which the storms beat against in vain. This can be explained in one way, as it is here explained, and in no other. He was now filled with the Holy Ghost. And the same power which strengthened him, instructed him too. His Lord's words are remarkably fulfilled. The Lord forewarned his apostles that they should be brought before rulers and kings for his sake. They were so. And he had also encouraged them not to be anxious beforehand what they should answer and say ;4 for words should be put into their mouth as occasion arose. It was so. Peter at once applies to the rulers and elders of Israel, who had rejected their Messiah, that prophecy which, using a figure, spoke of a stone set at nought by earthly builders, but which should become the head of the corner: which the chief builder should choose out, and fix in the most important place. So it had proved. That Jesus whom they crucified had shown to how glorious a place he had been raised, in a way which they could not deny. Even by him doth this impotent man stand before you whole.
3 The stone which the builders rejected, is become the head stone of the corner Psalm cxviii. 22.
4 Luke xxi. 19. "I will give you a mouth and wisdom which all your adversaries shall not be able to resist."
The apostle, however, does not dwell on this. Jesus was not raised up that he might display his power; but he displayed his power that man might believe in him, and be saved. Peter proceeds to declare, Neither is there salvation in any other; for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.
We are led to ask, who was speaking thus? One, who three years before had been a fisherman of Galilee. Jesus saw him as he was employed in his business, and took him into his company. And to whom was this man now replying? To the chief priests and leaders of the nation. He tells them plainly, Ye have crucified the Son of God. He being raised from the dead, has given us authority. Behold the proofs of it. And in that authority we declare to you, that unless you likewise own his name, there is no salvation for you, and you stand condemned in the sight of God.
Very lately, Peter had been unable to conceive why Jesus should die. Should it prove so, which he was slow to believe; he ascribed it to no other reason than the malice of his enemies. 'Now he has been enlightened; and the whole book of God's counsels lies unfolded before him.
He perceives that in the sight of God, the state of all men was a state of spiritual death. And that, when mankind were thus lying under wrath and condemnation, Jesus came, and "gave his life a ransom." That therefore he must die, that man might live; that "as a corn of wheat, if it die, bringeth forth much fruit ;"s so the death of Jesus must be the seed, and the harvest, a multitude of souls. This he confidently proclaims : "Neither is there salvation in any other. He that hath the Son hath life: and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life."6
There is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we may be saved. Let us be thankful that there is That name: that God has provided a way for the recovery of sinful man : a way through which We "may be partakers of the divine nature and escape the corruption that is in the world." There is, too truly, "a sentence of death," under which we have fallen; but there is also a physician to whom we may entrust ourselves, and be safe. There is but one ark that can preserve us from the deluge i but there is that one. All are allowed, all are invited to enter it; to seek a refuge which they shall find secure: where they * John xii. 24. fi 1 John v. 12.
"shall not come into condemnation," but "are passed from death unto life."7
THE APOSTLES ARE FORBIDDEN TO PREACH IN THE NAME OF JESUS. THEIR ANSWER.—A.d. 33.
Acts iv. 13—22.
13. Note when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were tinlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus.
The rulers were astonished at the boldness with which they were answered; and that, not by persons who had been accustomed to plead or argue; but by unlearned and ignorant men: not such as could be expected to unfold the secret meaning of a prophecy, and to find in Christ Jesus that head corner stone of which David had spoken, and which had now been so strangely brought to light.
Observe, however, that it takes nothing from the authority of the apostles, that they were unlearned and ignorant. What they had to tell of their own knowledge did not require learning or instruction. They had to tell that they saw and conversed with Jesus after his resurrection from the grave. What more they had to tell was not from themselves, but
1 John v. 24.
from God: and the circumstance that they were unlearned and ignorant made them fitter channels of communication; more likely to convey a pure and unadulterated stream.
If these priests and rulers had been left to follow their own inclination, they would have silenced the apostles at once, by laying violent hands upon them. By the providence of God this was prevented.
14. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.
15. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,
16. 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.
17. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.
18. And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
19. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.
20. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
21. So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people; for all men glorified God for that which was done.
22. For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was showed.
In this narrative two things should be consi