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Book of Acts Chapter 4 - Christogenea Internet Radio 06-07-2013
We are going to begin this presentation by reading a passage from Josephus, from Antiquities Book 14, where Josephus also quotes some passages from Strabo and accepts Strabo's remarks with approbation. Strabo died about 12 years before Josephus was born, and Josephus was very much acquainted with his writings. We are doing this so that the scope of the political power held by the leaders of the temple in Judaea may be understood, and so that the size of the diaspora of Judaeans (which is not to be confused with the much earlier and much larger dispersions of Israel) may be more accurately perceived. By this we shall understand the daunting challenge which the apostles had in presenting the Gospel, which was indeed controversial and threatened the credibility of a long-established and very powerful political and religious institution:
Antiquities, 14:110-118 (14:7:2): 110 And let no one wonder that there was so much wealth in our temple, since all the Judaeans throughout the habitable earth, and those that worshipped God, nay, even those of Asia and Europe, sent their contributions to it, and this from very ancient times. 111 Nor is the largeness of these sums without its attestation; nor is that greatness owing to our vanity, as raising it without ground to so great a height: but there are many witnesses to it, and particularly Strabo of Cappadocia, who says thus:— 112 “Mithridates sent to Cos, and took the money which queen Cleopatra had deposited there; as also eight hundred talents belonging to the Judaeans.” 113 Now we have no public money but only what appertains to God; and it is evident that the Asian Judaeans removed this money, out of fear of Mithridates; for it is not probable that those of Judea, who had a strong city and temple, should send their money to Cos; nor is it likely that the Judaeans who are inhabitants of Alexandria, should do so neither, since they were in no fear of Mithridates. 114 And Strabo himself bears witness to the same thing in another place; that at the same time that Sylla passed over into Greece, in order to fight against Mithridates, he sent Lucullus to put an end to a sedition that our nation, of whom the habitable earth is full, had raised in Cyrene; where he speaks thus:—115 “There were four classes of men among those of Cyrene; that of citizens, that of husbandmen, the third of strangers [τῶν μετοίκων], and the fourth of Judaeans. Now these Judaeans are already gotten into all cities; and it is hard to find a place in the habitable earth that hath not admitted this tribe of men, and is not possessed by them: 116 and it hath come to pass that Egypt and Cyrene, as having the same governors, and great number of other nations, imitate their way of living and maintain great bodies of these Judaeans in a peculiar manner, and grow up to greater prosperity with them, and make use of the same laws with that nation also. 117 Accordingly, the Judaeans have places assigned them in Egypt, wherein they inhabit, besides what is peculiarly allotted to this nation at Alexandria, which is a large part of that city. There is also an ethnarch allowed them, who governs the nation, and distributes justice to them, and takes care of their contracts, and of the laws to them belonging, as if he were the ruler of a free republic. 118 In Egypt, therefore, this nation is powerful, because the Judaeans were originally Egyptians, and because the land wherein they inhabit, since they went thence, is near to Egypt. They also removed into Cyrene, because that this land adjoined to the government of Egypt, as well as does Judea, or rather was formerly under the same government.” And this is what Strabo says.
It is evident from history that some of these Judaeans were of the Babylonian deportation of Judah who never lost their identity as Judaeans even though they never returned to Jerusalem. Supporting that assertion is the statement by Peter at the end of his first epistle, which indicates that it was written from Babylon. Others of these Judaeans may have been of the even earlier Assyrian deportations, and there is some historical and archaeological evidence that some of those seem to have maintained their identity and never left Mesopotamia. From a Greek perspective they would have been called Judaeans because of their religion and personal customs. The Book of Tobit is a scriptural example of such a circumstance, although that book must date from the first century of the Assyrian captivity, from before the fall of Nineveh. What is more difficult to determine is how many of these “Judaeans” who were spread throughout the Greco-Roman world at this time were good figs, how many were bad figs, and how many were Edomites which were not made into Judaeans until circa 125 BC. It was the will of God that the message of the Gospel be that device which was to divide the Wheat from the Tares, and there were also Canaanites among the Greeks as well as the other Adamic and Israelite nations.
Isaiah 55: “10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it. 12 For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. 13 Instead of the thorn shall come up the fir tree, and instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle tree: and it shall be to the LORD for a name, for an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
In Acts chapter 3 we see a man known to have been crippled from birth and who begged outside of the temple gate each day, who was miraculously healed through the apostles. A great crowd of witnesses, marveling at the miracle, were then addressed at length by Peter. In his discourse, Peter explains to them that this miracle had only been possible by the name of Yahshua Christ, and he then blames the entire Judaean nation for the unjust execution of Christ, explaining that it was then necessary for the people to repent and to accept Christ as that prophet and Messiah promised by the Scriptures. Peter then warns them that this is the only way that they could have salvation and a share in the promises made to Abraham and in the inheritance of Israel. Peter ends his discourse by hearkening to certain prophecies made concerning Judah, where he says “26 To you first Yahweh, raising His servant, sent Him blessing you, by which to turn each back from your wickedness.”
[It must be stated parenthetically, that one does not somehow earn salvation by believing Christ. Rather, the Scriptures teach that His sheep hear His voice: that those who accepted the Gospel were indeed His people, and those who rejected it were to themselves be rejected. Again, the acceptance of the Gospel was the indicator which distinguished the Wheat from the Tares.]
At this point Acts chapter 3 ends, but the ongoing account of this same event is continued in Acts chapter 4:
IV 1 And upon their speaking to the people, the priests and the officer of the temple and the Sadducees fell upon them, 2 being quite troubled on account of their teaching the people and declaring that at the hands of Yahshua is resurrection from the dead.
The Codices Vaticanus (B) and Ephraemi Syri (C) have “high priests”. The phrase “at the hands of Yahshua” is literally “in that which is of Yahshua”. The King James Version has it merely “through Jesus”. Liddell & Scott explain at (“in”, 1722) that the word is used to describe something which is “in one’s hands, within one’s reach or power”.
3 And they laid hands on them and put them in custody for the next day, since it was already evening. 4 But many of those hearing the Word had believed, and the number of the men was about five thousand.
The word τήρησις (5084) is simply custody here. It is “a watching, keeping, guarding...a means of keeping, a place of custody” (Liddell & Scott) and indicates that the apostles were jailed. The Codices Sinaiticus (א) and Alexandrinus (A) want the word translated about.
It is readily evident from Acts 5:17 that the high priests at this time were actually of the sect of the Sadducees. It is also recorded in Josephus that this is the case. Here the Sadducees instigated this persecution, becoming very agitated concerning the evidence of a Spirit and the possibility of Resurrection or life after the death of the body, since they rejected any transcendental beliefs. In Acts 23:8 we are told “For indeed the Sadducees say that there is not to be a resurrection, nor are there messengers [angels] nor a spirit, but Pharisees confess both things.” In Acts chapter 23, we see that Paul took advantage of these differences between the Pharisees and the Sadducees in order to cause strife between them to his own advantage. Throughout the Gospels, Christ never communed with the Sadducees, and only addressed them when they accosted Him. Yet He often communed with Pharisees, and sought to persuade them. This is clear evidence that at least many of the Pharisees were considered redeemable by Christ, but He had no such intentions towards the Sadducees. (There is not one noble Sadducee mentioned in Scripture, to our recollection.)
Josephus also tells us these things concerning the Sadducees, where, along with the Pharisees and the Essenes, he describes them in Book 2 of his Wars of the Judaeans. Of the Sadducees he says “164 But the Sadducees are those who compose the second order [after the Pharisees], and take away fate entirely, and suppose that God is not concerned in our doing or not doing what is evil; and they say, that to act what is good, or what is evil, 165 is at men's own choice, and that the one or the other belongs so to everyone, that they may act as they please. They also take away the belief of the immortal duration of the soul, and the punishments and rewards in Hades. 166 Moreover, the Pharisees are friendly to one another, and are for the exercise of concord, and regard for the public; but the behaviour of the Sadducees one toward another is in some degree wild; and their conduct with those who are of their own party is as barbarous as if they were strangers to them. And this is what I had to say concerning the philosophic sects among the Judaeans.” The Sadducees are the real antecedents of most of today's jews, who hold to humanism, agnosticism, atheism, relativism and other excuses permitting their immorality.
Here it may be fitting to read another long passage from Josephus, from Antiquities, Book 20, which shall give us more insight into the nature of the Sadducees, who were actually the sect of the high priests for most of the time throughout the entire apostolic era until the fall of Jerusalem. The period which Josephus is describing here is around 62 AD, but the words of the historian here are also reflecting all the way back to this time of the first Christian Pentecost described in Acts, which is around 32 AD.
Antiquities, 20:197-207 (20:9:1,2): 197 And now Caesar, upon hearing the death of Festus, sent Albinus into Judea, as procurator; but the king deprived Joseph of the high priesthood, and bestowed the succession to that dignity on the son of Ananus, who was also himself called Ananus. 198 Now the report goes, that this oldest Ananus proved a most fortunate man; for he had five sons who had all performed the office of a high priest to God, and who had himself enjoyed that dignity a long time formerly, which had never happened to any other of our high priests [we shall see that his oldest Ananus is the Annas of the Gospel, the difference being the Greek and Hebrew forms of the name, and he is called high priest although his son-in-law Caiaphas actually held the office at the time of Christ - WRF]; 199 but this younger Ananus, who, as we have told you already, took the high priesthood, was a bold man in his temper, and very insolent; he was also of the sect of the Sadducees, who are very rigid in judging offenders, above all the rest of the Judaeans, as we have already observed; 200 when, therefore, Ananus was of this disposition, he thought he had now a proper opportunity [to exercise his authority]. Festus was now dead, and Albinus was but upon the road [the former and coming Roman governors - WRF]; so he assembled the Sanhedrin of judges, and brought before them the brother of Jesus, who was called Christ, whose name was James, and some others, [or some of his companions]; and, when he had formed an accusation against them as breakers of the law, he delivered them to be stoned [so we see that Ananus had opportunity because there was no Roman authority to answer to in Judaea who could immediately question him - WRF]: 201 but as for those who seemed the most equitable of the citizens, and such as were the most uneasy at the breach of the laws, they disliked what was done; they also sent to the king [Agrippa], desiring him to send to Ananus that he should act so no more, for what he had already done was not to be justified; 202 nay, some of them went also to meet Albinus as he was upon his journey from Alexandria, and informed him that it was not lawful for Ananus to assemble a Sanhedrin without his consent; 203 whereupon Albinus complied with what they said, and wrote in anger to Ananus, and threatened that he would bring him to punishment for what he had done; on which King Agrippa took the high priesthood from him, when he had ruled but three months, and made Jesus, the son of Damneus, high priest. [So we see that there were limits as to what the Sadducees could get away with, when good people stood up and complained of injustice to the higher Roman authorities. The modern-day Sadducees act much the same way, and Bolshevik Russia is an example of what evils they can do when there are no such authorities to be reckoned with.]
204 Now, as soon as Albinus had come to the city of Jerusalem, he used all his endeavours and care that the country might be kept in peace, and this by killing many of the Sicarii ; 205 but as for the high priest, Ananias [or Ananus, the former high priest from the time of Christ, who still had great influence so many years later - WRF] he increased in glory every day, and this to a great degree, and had obtained the favour and esteem of the citizens in a signal manner; for he was a great hoarder up of money: he therefore cultivated the friendship of Albinus, and of the high priest Jesus, by making them presents; 206 he also had servants who were very wicked, who joined themselves to the boldest sort of the people, and went to the threshingfloors, and took away the tithes that belonged to the priests by violence, and did not refrain from beating such as would not give these tithes to them. 207 So the other high priests acted in the like manner, as did his servants, without anyone being able to prohibit them; so that [some of the] priests, who were supported in olden days by those tithes, died for lack of food.
So we see that the Sadducees, the crime lords of ancient Judaea, were persecuting the Levitical priests, who were the only truly legitimate priests of the day. We also see that the Sadducees were the high priests responsible for the death of Christ, for the arrest of Paul, and for the death of the apostle James. Their nature is also left unrevealed in the teachings of the modern churches, and even most so-called Christian Identity teachers insufficiently understand the nature of this source of great evil from the time of Christ. They tend to blame all of the evil on the Pharisees, they oversimplify the circumstances in first-century Judaea, and they ignore, or are more probably ignorant of, the role and the nature of the Sadducees. Josephus also indicates, in Antiquities Book 13, that the sect of the Sadducees, as well as those of the Pharisees and Essenes, was already extant in Judaea as early as the days of the first of the Maccabees, or before 150 BC..
At the mention of the name Ananias, another form of Annas or Ananus or also Hannas, in the passage from Josephus just supplied, we have the following footnote from Whiston's edition: “This Ananias was not the son of Nebedeus, as I take it [who, as we learn from Josephus and Whiston elsewhere, was high priest at the time when Paul plead his case, circa 58 or 59 AD - WRF], but he who was called Annas or Ananus the elder, the 9th in the catalogue, and who had been esteemed high priest for a long time; and besides, Caiaphas, his son-in-law had five of his own sons high priests after him, who were those of numbers 11, 14, 15, 17, 24, in the foregoing catalogue. Nor ought we to pass slightly over what Josephus here says of Annas, or Ananias, that he was high priest a long time before his children were so, he was the son of Seth, and is set down first for high priest in the foregoing catalogue, under number 9. He was made by Quirinus, and continued till Ismael, the 10th in number, for about twenty-three years, which long duration of his high priesthood, joined to the successions of his son-in-law, and five children of his own, made him a sort of perpetual high priest, and was perhaps the occasion that former high priests kept their titles ever afterwards; for I believe it is hardly met with before him.”
Firstly, the original and authentic Levitical office of high priest was a lifetime appointment, and that office ended with the treachery of Herod. Here we see that it is evident in the pages of Josephus, that the high-priest Annas whom we know from the Gospels had himself already held the office for 23 years, from the governorship of that Quirinius which began about 6 AD. From Josephus as well as from John 18:13 we learn that Caiaphas was his son-in-law, and we see that five sons from each of these men had all held the office of high priest in the years subsequent. They were all Sadducees, and they were all related. These 12 men were not the only high priests of the period, since as we have seen here there were also other men who held the office, however these Sadducees were highly influential throughout the entire period, and held the office for much of this time, from 6AD all the way to the destruction of Jerusalem, a period of 64 years. Of these 64 years, Annas and Caiaphas alone held the post for nearly half of the time, and the 10 sons which they had between them held it for much of the other half. It is little wonder, that this is such an evil time in Judaea.
5 And there was on the next day a gathering of them, the leaders and the elders and the scribes in Jerusalem, 6 and Hannas the high priest and Kaïaphas and Iohannes and Alexandros [some suppose this to be that Alexander the alabarch, the title of the leader of the Judaeans dwelling in Alexandria, who is mentioned by Josephus at Antiquitites 18:159 and elsewhere, who was later imprisoned by Gaius Caligula but later released by Claudius] and as many as were of the race of the high priest, 7 and standing them [the apostles whom they had arrested the day before] in the midst they inquired, “By what power or by what name have you done this?” [Referring to the healing of the lame man.]
“The race of the high priest”: the Greek word rendered race here is γένος, which is usually translated as generation in the King James Version. It can be demonstrated from the early Greek literature and from the lexicons that in the Greek mind, a race was often understood to be a subdivision of a nation. Often the word γένος was used to refer to the descendants of a single man, although of course that man himself was related to others as well. It can be evidenced in our general history, however, that there are sound reasons why today we more readily esteem a nation to be a subdivision of a race. Once we understand that certain races have grown and branched out into several or even into many separate nations, we can understand the word differently, as we do today, and as the later Greeks also sometimes understood it from their own history. The typical King James Version assignment of the meaning of generation for γένος here would be absurd, since the apostles and everybody in Judaea would of course be part of the same generation, and therefore here it is rendered as kindred in the King James Version. To translate it kindred here, as the King James Version does, is to realize that it may be translated kindred elsewhere, however neither is that rendering very accurate as we think of kindred today relating only to one's close family members, where race usually designates the much wider group.
The apostle Paul considered all true Israelites to be his “kinsmen according to the flesh”, where he uses the word συγγενής of his fellow Israelites in Romans chapter 9, a word derived from γένος and more appropriately rendered as kinsmen or kindred. However in Romans chapter 4 Paul displays his understanding that those Israelites had also already become many nations. He displays this knowledge again in 1 Corinthians chapter 10, where he said “18 Behold Israel down through the flesh: are not those who are eating the sacrifices partners of the altar?” In that passage Paul was referring to certain pagan nations in Europe, whom he knew to have descended from ancient dispersions of Israel, and not to any so-called “Jews”. The word γένος generally has a wider application than συγγενής, yet here in Acts chapter 4 the apostles distinguish themselves from the high priests by the word γένος. In his later epistle, Peter considered all Israel to be a chosen race, or γένος (1 Peter 2:9). Therefore these high priests must be of a different γένος than that of Israel. Here it is distinctly clear that the apostles saw the high priests as being of a different race than they themselves were, and therefore it is highly unlikely that they considered them to be Israelites. By the phrase “as many as were of the race of the high priest” the writer [meaning the unknown writer from whom Luke received his record of this account] must have also meant to distinguish these people apart from the other “leaders and the elders and the scribes in Jerusalem” who had gathered for this hearing at this time, and by the phrase “as many as were of the race of the high priest” the writer also did not intend merely his nieces, nephews, cousins, and other close relatives, or συγγενής may have been the appropriate word to use in the description: rather, it is much more likely that the writer intended to identify those on the side of the high priests in this matter as being more loosely related to one another, and as being Edomites. For if they were not of Israel, of what other race could they have been?
8 Then Petros, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Leaders of the people and elders,
The Codex Bezae and the Majority Text have “elders of Israel” here. The text of the Christogenea New Testament follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B) and the 5th century Codex 0165. Added words can cause many a misunderstanding, and the Majority Text is replete with them.
9 if we this day are examined for the benefit of the sick man, by what manner he was delivered [or saved from his affliction, the King James Version has made whole], 10 it must be known by all of you and by all the people of Israel that in the Name of Yahshua Christ the Nazoraian, whom you crucified, whom Yahweh raised from among the dead, by Him he stands before you healthy.
Peter again blames the entire Judaean nation for the act of crucifying Christ, as he has been consistently portrayed as having done throughout his discourses in Acts.
11 He is the stone, who was set at naught by your builders, who has become the head cornerstone. 12 And there is no deliverance in any other, for there is not another name under the heaven which has been given among men by which it is necessary for us to be preserved.”
The Greek word rendered cornerstone, γωνία (1137), is literally “the head angle”, and therefore the King James Version has it as the “head of the corner”. The verse quotes from Psalm 118:22.
The Codex Vaticanus has “for you to be preserved”. The Greek verb σώζω (4982), preserved here in the appropriate tense, may also have been rendered saved, or delivered.
The Edomite jews are not the “builders”, and the scribes and the Pharisees are not the “builders”. The stone being a head cornerstone, from a Greek word which literally means a head angle, its being rejected can therefore be a metaphorical comparison to the fact that the Great Pyramid never had a capstone, and it is also representative of the rock in the desert, which was Christ, and those who came out of Egypt in the Exodus rejected Him, and those who were permitted to enter into that first “promised land” of Canaan rejected Him again. They are the builders, because they are the foundations of that which the Judaean nation was eventually derived from, and they rejected Yahweh God as their King (this is prophesied in Deuteronomy 17:14, and the story is told in 1 Samuel chapter 8). By accepting Christ as King, Israel finally repents for those initial rejections.
13 And observing the frankness of Petros and Iohannes, and perceiving that they are unlearned and unskilled men , wondering they then recognized them, that they were with Yahshua.
The Greek word παρρησία (3954) is “freespokenness, openness, frankness … and in a bad sense, licence of tongue” (Liddell & Scott). For this reason the King James Version has boldness, however that is implied only by the circumstances. Peter and John were simple tradesmen, fishermen, when Christ chose them as apostles. When they spoke, it was obvious that they were not skilled in the intellectual arts of the time. They had no guile, no agendas, they professed their testimony honestly and without artificial rhetorical devices. However their frankness was an asset to the spread of the Gospel, and is certainly why such men were chosen for that purpose.
The Judaeans had wondered how Christ had the ability to speak which He had displayed, since He did not attend their schools. At John 7:15 it is recorded “Then the Judaeans wondered saying 'How does He know literature, not being instructed?'” Neither did the eleven apostles have any such instruction.
Freedom of speech, or παρρησία, is a Christian principle, but Christians should understand that we can only have true freedom of speech in Christ. Therefore the enemies of Christ should never have had freedom of speech in our Christian nations, and that is why those nations are presently subverted by those same enemies of Christ! It is incredible, that we as a people had the total lack of foresight to allow the anti-Christ such freedom within Christian nations. However that too is a fulfillment of prophecy.
Ephesians 3: “10 In order that the exceedingly intricate wisdom of Yahweh would now become known to the realms and to the authorities in heavenly places through the assembly, 11 in accordance with the purpose of the ages, which He has done in Yahshua Christ our Prince. 12 With whom we have freespokenness and access in confidence through His faith.”
1 John 2: “28 And now, children, you abide in Him, that if He should appear, we would have freespokenness and would not be dishonored by Him at His presence. 29 If you know that He is righteous, you also know that each who is practicing righteousness has been born from of Him.”
From Isaiah 29: “19 The meek also shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the poor among men shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel. 20 For the terrible one is brought to nought, and the scorner is consumed, and all that watch for iniquity are cut off: 21 That make a man an offender for a word, and lay a snare for him that reproveth in the gate, and turn aside the just for a thing of nought. 22 Therefore thus saith the LORD, who redeemed Abraham, concerning the house of Jacob, Jacob shall not now be ashamed, neither shall his face now wax pale. 23 But when he seeth his children, the work of mine hands, in the midst of him, they shall sanctify my name, and sanctify the Holy One of Jacob, and shall fear the God of Israel. 24 They also that erred in spirit shall come to understanding, and they that murmured shall learn doctrine.”
It is the enemies of God and of righteousness that make themselves the enemies of freespokenness, and our history – both ancient and modern – proves as much time and again.
14 And looking at the man who was healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in reply. 15 Then bidding them to go outside of the council, they conferred with each other, 16 saying “What shall we do with these men? For indeed it is known that a visible sign has come through them by all those dwelling in Jerusalem, and we are not able to deny it!
The latter half of verse 16 may just as well be read: “For indeed that it is known that a sign has come through them by all those dwelling in Jerusalem is manifest, and we are not able to deny it!” The enemies of God hated Christ for the miraculous things which He had done, and now those who followed Him have multiplied His miracles, knowledge of which cannot be contained among the people. Along with the gift of speaking in tongues, the ability to do something such as this healing was also a gift chosen by God which facilitated the spread of the Gospel to Israel.
17 But in order that it not be spread to a greater extent to the people we should threaten them not any longer to speak in this name to any of the men.” 18 And calling them they instructed them generally not to utter nor to teach by the Name of Yahshua.
The Majority Text has “we should threaten them with threats”, where the King James Version renders the Greek “let us straitly threaten them”; the text of the Christogenea New Testament follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B) and Bezae (D).
The verb παραγέλλω (3853) may have been rendered commanded rather than instructed. It is “to transmit as a message...to give the word, give orders...to order, recommend, exhort...” and the noun παράγγελμα “a message transmitted...an order, command, an instruction, precept...” (Liddell & Scott). The Codex Bezae (D) reads verse 18 “And upon their assenting to an opinion, calling them they instructed them each not to utter nor to teach by the name of Yahshua.”
This command issued by the Sadducees reveals the satanic proclivity to control the minds of men: if they could have gotten away with it, they surely would have ordered the apostles stoned instead, in order to silence them permanently. This seems to be the first officially anti-Christian hate-speech law, brought to us by the anti-Christ jews, just as such laws are brought to us today!!! These Sadducees are the ancient versions of Abe Foxman, Eric Holder, Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, Chuck Schumer, Diane Feinstein, Harry Reid, and all of the other godless bastards who attempt to do these same things today.
19 But Petros and Iohannes replying said to them: “Whether it is just [or righteous] before Yahweh to listen to you, or rather to Yahweh, you decide. 20 For we are not able to not speak of the things which we have seen and we have heard.”
And this too should serve as an example to us today, regardless of the outcome, whether or not we are persecuted for it, to always speak the truth regarding that which we are confronted with.
Philippians 1: “27 Only conduct yourselves worthily of the good message of the Anointed, in order that whether coming and seeing you, or being away, I hear of the things concerning you, that you stand in one spirit, in one soul together striving in the faith of the good message. 28 And in nothing being frightened by the opposition, which to them is an indication of destruction, but of your preservation, and this from Yahweh. 29 Because to you it has been offered concerning Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also in behalf of Him to suffer, 30 having that same struggle like you have seen with me, and now you hear of with me.”
2 Timothy 2: “12 And yet all those wishing a pious life in Christ Yahshua will be persecuted. 13 And evil men and enchanters will advance for the worse, deceiving and being deceived themselves.”
1 Peter 3: “14 But if then you should suffer on account of righteousness, you are blessed. So you should not fear their fear nor be troubled.”
1 Peter 4: “15 For not any among you must suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler in the matters of others, 16 but if as a Christian, you must not be ashamed, but you must honor Yahweh by this name, 17 because the time of judgment is to begin for the house of Yahweh. But if first for us, what is the end for those who are disobedient to the good message of Yahweh?”
There is no doubt, that by adhering to and professing the Gospel of Christ and the laws of our God, Christians shall suffer in this life, but will be rewarded in that which is to come. As Christians reject the world, the world rejects Christians. Therefore by attempting to live a pious life and separate oneself from all of the unclean beasts and every sort of deviant sinner, Christians can expect to be persecuted. Life in first century Rome, as we see in Paul's description in Romans chapter 1, was every bit as perverted and decadent as the world is today. The apostles were not persecuted for preaching peace, love and joy. Therefore the Roman historian Tacitus spoke of the “anti-social tendencies” of Christians (Annals, Book 15), which all Christians should have so long as society is controlled by the eternal enemies of God and Christ. Tacitus made these statements in spite of the fact that he himself was displeased with the decadence of Rome, which is a recurring theme in his Germania. And wherever the jews are found, the inevitable result is the recreation of Sodom and Gomorrah. The tree is known by its fruit.
21 Then further threatening them they released them, not finding how they could restrict them on account of the people, because they all extolled Yahweh for that which happened. 22 For the man was older [literally greater] than forty years upon whom the sign of this healing had come.
It took the wicked leaders of the Judaeans quite some time in conspiracy to build a case against Christ, and quite some effort in pressuring Pontius Pilate to let them have their way with it. With all of the witnesses here they could not easily dispose of the apostles without serious political repercussions from Rome. While the high priests had much power and authority, and many benefits from the office and the wealth of the temple, they nevertheless frequently had to answer to the Roman officials under pressure from the people. We are already informed in verse 3 of the chapter, that there are five thousand witnesses who came to believe the Gospel through this event. The office of high priest changed hands often at the political whims of the Romans or whoever they put in control of it. For quite some time during the latter parts of this period covered by the Book of Acts, Rome left it to Herod Agrippa to appoint or change high priests as he deemed fit. Although Herod was an Edomite, as was frequently attested by Josephus, his first considerations were political and he acted in his own interests since he too held his office at the luxury of the Romans. Instances of such changes in the office of high priest, and threats of punishment from Rome if the high priests abused their position, have been described in the citations from Josephus which we provided earlier in this presentation. So with all of these witnesses, the Sadducees here could not unjustly punish the apostles as they saw fit, without risking some reprisal from Rome.
23 And being released they went to their own countrymen and reported as much as the high priests and the elders said to them.
The Greek phrase τοὺς ἰδίους (which is the Accusative plural case) is here “their own countrymen”, as Thayer has in his lexicon at ἴδιος (2398), for the Nominative plural οἰ ἴδιοι, “one’s own people...one’s fellow-countrymen, associates...one’s household, persons belonging to the house, family, or company...”, and the 9th edition of the Liddell & Scott Greek-English Lexicon agrees, having at the same phrase under ἴδιος “members of one’s family, relatives”. Here it is certainly evident that this phrase is set in opposiiton to the phrase found earlier in verse 6 where it says “and as many as were of the race of the high priest”. Knowing from both Josephus and Paul (for instance in Romans chapter 9) that many of the leaders and high priests of the time were Edomites, but the followers of Christ surely Israelites, here once again we see these people distinguished. The people of the apostles were a people distinct from those of the high priests and the Sadducees, in a way which was not merely theological or philosophical. The modern translations obfuscate the distinctions which were made in the original writing. We will see the distinction reinforced at Acts 5:13 where it says “and not one of those others dared to join with them, but the people exalted them.”
24 And those hearing with one accord raised a voice to Yahweh and said “Master! You who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all things in them, 25 who by the mouth of our father David your servant through the Holy Spirit said ‘Why do the nations rage, and the peoples practice vanities? 26 The kings of the earth made a stand, and the rulers gathered into one place against Yahweh and against His Anointed.’
The Codex Bezae and the Majority Text want the phrase “of our father” in verse 24. The Majority Text also wants the phrase “through the Holy Spirit” in verse 25. The Codex Bezae has this phrase, but the wording of both verses in that manuscript is quite different than any of the others. In both instances the text of the Christogenea New Testament follows the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), and Vaticanus (B).
“Why do the nations rage”, or if the Greek word ἔθνος is read disparagingly, as it may be, then the phrase may have been rendered “why do the heathens rage”. Yet the context of Psalm 2 intends the other Genesis 10 Adamic nations, even though they may already be “heathens” (i.e. mixing themselves with and/or following the practices and idolatry of the non-Adamic races). It shall be elucidated later in our presentation of Acts, that when groups of mixed nationalities are referenced, the word ἔθνος may be interpreted as people. Yet the Greek word λαός (2992), which here in verse 25 is peoples in the plural, literally means people and in Greek it is regularly “the people, both in singular and plural” according to Liddell & Scott. Brenton nevertheless writes “peoples” in his Septuagint translation in some places, for instance at Psalm 117:1, and translating this passage in its historical context I found it fitting to do so here.
These verses quote Psalm 2:1-2. While the second psalm is a profound Messianic prophecy, in the primary context of the passage as it was written, David references either himself alone, or the nation of Israel collectively, with the phrase “His Anointed”, as they are the Anointed People of Yahweh. Depending on how the pronouns are understood in verse 3 of that Psalm, it may be argued that either understanding is correct. The 3rd person plural pronouns may refer to Yahweh and David, or to the children of Israel in general. (The Christogenea New Testament recognizes the use of the Greek phrase ὁ χριστός, where it often applies to the children of Israel as God's Anointed, and that can be established in many other passages of Scripture, even though the King James Version and many other translations do not recognize such an application.) Either reading may be correct, and the prophecy may intend to have a multiple fulfillment.
Here the apostles seem to be citing this Psalm both in reference to themselves collectively, in what they had just experienced, and in reference to Christ, whom they describe as having been anointed in verse 27 below, where it is said that these same people had previously “gathered against” Him. The words of David in the Psalm, it may even be argued, have a perpetual fulfillment until the final day of Yahweh's vengeance against His enemies, which the Psalm also later suggests. This would be the interpretation most agreeable to us.
Psalm 2: “1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, 3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. 4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. 5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. 6 Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. 7 I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. 8 Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. 9 Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter's vessel. 10 Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. 11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”
27 For in truth they gathered in this city against Your holy servant Yahshua, whom You anointed, both Herodas and Pontios Pilatos with the Nations and peoples of Israel,
As we have just discussed at verse 25, the word peoples here also is from the plural form of λαός (2992). The phrase “nations and peoples” in this verse is not properly a Greek hendiadys (which is a grammatical device designating that two nouns refer to a single entity), since neither noun is accompanied with a definite Article. The reference to nations may simply refer to the ethnically mixed multitudes of the people gathered in Jerusalem, yet the writer still seems to be acknowledging the fact that the Old Testament Israelites had long ago divided into many separate nations, which is certainly established elsewhere in Luke.
From Luke 2, the words of Simeon who sought to see the consolation of Israel: “29 Now release Your servant, Master, in peace according to Your word: 30 Because my eyes have seen Your Salvation, 31 which You have prepared in front of all the people: 32 a light for the revelation of the Nations and honor of Your people Israel!” In this statement which Luke attributes to Simeon, the nations and the honor are both of the children of Israel.
28 to do as much as Your hand and will preordained to happen.
This is a profession that everything which became of Christ in His ministry was within the intentions of Yahweh which were pronounced beforetime in the prophets, which would include the Psalms of David.
29 And now these things, Prince! You must look upon their threats and give to Your servants to speak Your Word with all frankness,
Upon all of these events, being arrested and persecuted by the high priests and the other Sadducees, the apostles prayed that they would be able to spread the Gospel all the more, and that their ability to do so would be at the hand of God. Later, Paul prayed for this same thing in his epistles, such as in 2 Corinthians 3:12 where he said “Therefore having such expectations we use much openness”.
Philippians 1: “19 For I know that this for me will result in preservation, through your supplication and the additional fortune of the Spirit of Yahshua Christ 20 in accordance with my eager expectation and hope, seeing that in nothing shall I be ashamed, but with all freespokenness - as always - even now Christ shall be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.”
Ephesians 6: “18 Through all prayer and entreaty worshiping at all times in Spirit, and for this very thing being watchful with all persistence and entreaty on behalf of all of the saints; 19 and on my behalf in order that speech may be given to me in the opening of my mouth with freespokenness to make known the mystery of the good message, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains, that in them I may speak freely as it is necessary for me to speak.”
Paul was imprisoned at the time in which he wrote both epistles, those to the Ephesians and to the Philippians. Yet he still prayed for the ability to preach the gospel openly.
30 by which extending Your hand for healing and signs and wonders to happen through the Name of Your holy servant Yahshua.” 31 And upon their making supplication, the place in which they were gathered was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the Word of Yahweh with frankness.
Expressing as much in their prayer, the apostles understood that the spread of the gospel by necessity had to be facilitated by the glory of God. That the spread of the Gospel was successful in the face of such great opposition, and in spite of the competition which it had from so many long-established and popular Greek and heathen philosophies, is proof of its veracity. Additionally, that so many men and women were willing to die on behalf of it – which we have abundant records to prove in pagan and Christian sources alike – is also sufficient proof that all of these things are true. Those who deny them deny a profound historical reality, laid out long beforehand in the words of the prophets, and therefore they oppose themselves to all of the will and prescience of a God who has long ago proven beyond doubt both His being and His purpose.
32 And the multitude of those believing were of one heart and soul, and no one reckoned any of his belongings to be his own, but everything was common to them. 33 And with great power the ambassadors delivered the testimony of the resurrection of Prince Yahshua, and great favor was with them all. 34 Indeed neither was there any deficiency among them, for as many as were owners of farms or houses, selling them brought the proceeds of the things sold 35 and set it by the foot of the ambassadors, and they distributed to each just as any had need. 36 Then Ioseph, who was called Barnabas by the ambassadors, which is interpreted “son of consolation”, a Levite, a Kupriot by birth, 37 selling a farm belonging to him brought the money and set it before the feet of the ambassadors.
Concerning “Joseph, who was called Barnabas”: the Majority Text, and therefore also the King James Version, have Joses instead. The text of the Christogenea New Testament follows the 4th century papyrus P8, and the Codices Sinaiticus (א), Alexandrinus (A), Vaticanus (B) and Bezae (D). The phrase “son of consolation”, as it also is in the King James Version, may well be “son of encouragement”, the Greek word παράκλησις bearing either meaning. Notice that Barnabas was a Cypriot by birth, but Levite is a tribal distinction. Barnabas is notable for his later work and then for his disagreement with Paul of Tarsus.
We have discussed Christian communion at length here recently, while presenting Acts chapter 2. It is clear that these people were devoting their lives and everything they had to the cause of the Gospel, and that they were doing so voluntarily. We will reserve further comment until next week, when we discuss these things again in concert with the account of those events which open Acts chapter 5, where we will also discuss Christian dedication and commitment.