Tuesday, 4 January 2022
being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. Acts 4:2
Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)
You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).
The previous verse saw the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees coming upon Peter, John, and the beggar. Now, the account continues, saying, “being greatly disturbed.”
The verb is diaponeomai. It comes from dia (through) and poneomai (to work hard). Hence, it gives the sense of great distress or vexation. One might say, “troubled through and through,” or “thoroughly vexed.” These leaders were highly agitated “that they taught the people.”
Although what they taught is not yet stated, the very fact that these men were standing in the temple teaching would have been enough of a source of grief for them to be indignant. As has been seen in the gospels and already in Acts, the leaders looked at these men as uneducated Galileans.
How could they know anything of value concerning theology or what was culturally or morally right? It was only they, the priests, Levites, Sadducees, and other elites, that could debate such higher points. Not mere Galileans. But what really galled them was that they stood there teaching the people “and preached in Jesus.”
The words are correct, and they clean up a grievous error of the KJV which says, “through Jesus.” The Greek preposition en (in), not dia (through), is used. The preaching of John and Paul is “in Jesus” and it concerns “the resurrection from the dead.”
It is true that the resurrection of the dead for all people comes through Jesus, but this is not the point that John and Peter are making. Rather, it was Jesus who had resurrected just a short time ago. The point isn’t just that people standing there being preached to will be resurrected through Jesus, but that Jesus had resurrected. He is the firstfruits of those to be resurrected (1 Corinthians 15:20). If Jesus had not first resurrected, there would be no resurrection. This is the very argument that Paul makes in 1 Corinthians 15 –
“Now if Christ is preached that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead? 13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, then Christ is not risen. 14 And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. 15 Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up—if in fact the dead do not rise. 16 For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. 17 And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins! 18 Then also those who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable.” 1 Corinthians 15:12-19
Paul goes on with his logical argument in that chapter explaining all of the finer details that exist because of what occurred “in Jesus.” The truly galling point to these men is that it was they and the other leaders of Israel who had stood before Pilate calling out for His crucifixion. If Jesus had resurrected, then it meant that they had crucified their Messiah.
Such a notion could not be tolerated, and it vexed them through and through to even have it considered. If the resurrection is found in Jesus, then everything that they clung to – their status, their power, their influence – would be taken from them and would belong to the One they had done away with just a short time ago. To them, this was a great affront, and it could not be allowed to be conveyed to the people.
Life application: Again, and again, we see the importance of proper translation concerning the Bibles we use. When giving a general reading of Scripture for our daily devotionals, it may not seem so overly important. At such times, we just read to get an appreciation for the general sense of what is said.
However, as we mature in our thinking concerning Scripture, or when we attend studies that are intended to convey proper doctrine, it becomes more and more important to know exactly and precisely what is being said. Words have meaning. Sentence structure carries ideas that can be misunderstood. Tenses convey the thoughts of the author. If such are botched up, like the translation of the KJV above, real errors in thinking will eventually occur.
Fortunately, the theology of what is conveyed in this verse, and which was mistranslated by the KJV, is properly explained elsewhere. We cannot say, “Well then, no harm no foul.” That is incorrect. The concept of what is conveyed in Acts 4 is important and it is to be rightly understood by those who are reading and thinking on what is being said. Thus, it is important to not get captivated by one translation.
Instead, be studious in your daily reading and change up translations from time to time. This will give you a broader sense of what is going on. When you come to something that doesn’t read as you once read it, you should then say, “I need to find out which is correct, and why!” When reading this word, you are reading the very words conveyed to us by God. Therefore, let us pursue it as best we can for all our days.
Gracious heavenly Father, help us to see what is right and proper concerning various translations of Your precious word. Lead us to understand it more and more each day, and to think on the minutest of details that can actually have the greatest of meaning to the overall narrative. In rightly knowing Your word, we will more closely match our thinking with what You are telling us. May it be so to Your glory. Amen.