Acts 4:3

Wednesday, 5 January 2022

And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. Acts 4:3

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 authorities had come upon Peter and John who were presenting words concerning the resurrection to the people. In their disturbed state, it next says, “And they laid hands on them.”  The obvious meaning is that being men of authority, they were arresting them. Of these words, the Pulpit Commentary notes –

“The harsh persecution of the disciples at Jerusalem at this time when the Sadducees were in power is in exact accordance with Josephus’s statement in the passage just referred to, that the Sadducees were more severe and cruel in their administration of justice than any other Jews. Their tenet of no life to come made them look to severe punishments in this life.”

As there were more than just Sadducees there, this may be a stretch of the analysis, but the truth of the statement concerning the Sadducees is still relevant to their attitude concerning matters of life. With the arrest f Peter and John, it next says, “and put them in custody.”

The word is new to Scripture, térésis. It signifies the state of safely keeping something. It will be seen again in Acts 5:18 concerning a public jail, and then again in 1 Corinthians 7:19 where it refers to the keeping of the commandments.

This is less of a punishment than it is a way of simply holding them over for a trial. There is a perceived offense that has been committed. As such, there will be an evaluation of that offense, but it will not occur “until the next day.”

Some believe this is based on the words of Jeremiah 21:12, where it says, “Execute judgment in the morning.” If this is correct, then it would show the illegal nature of Christ’s trial which was held, at least partially, at night. That is recorded in Matthew 26. As for Peter and John, they would be held in custody for a trial the next day. Luke records the reason as the verse finishes, saying, “for it was already evening.”

Acts 3:1 had said that “Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.” As this verse says it was already evening time, it would now be about 6pm. Therefore, from the time of their entering through the gate and meeting the beggar until their arrest was about three hours. It would have been an afternoon filled with their imploring the people to heed the message concerning Christ Jesus. Eventually word got to the leaders by some offended soul, and the subsequent arrest came about.

Life application: The comment about the Sadducees by the Pulpit Commentary is valid, even if that is not the reason for their arresting Peter and John. Sadducees are specifically noted three times in Scripture. Each time, it also notes that they say there is no resurrection. Once, in Acts 23:8, it also says they believe there are no angels or spirits.

Regardless of the last points, the fact that they denied any resurrection sets them off as men without any true hope. Their state is reflected in the words of David –

“Arise, O Lord,
Confront him, cast him down;
Deliver my life from the wicked with Your sword,
14 With Your hand from men, O Lord,
From men of the world who have their portion in this life.” Psalm 17:13, 14

If man’s portion is only in this life, then his attitude will reflect that. However, if a man truly believes in an after-life, his attitude will then reflect that. And further, if a man not only believes in an after-life, but also has the absolute surety of attaining the promises of eternal restoration with God because of the cleansing power of Christ, his life will reflect that as well.

The state of the world in which we live has become one which is turning more and more towards a hope and a portion in this life only. Because of that, the conduct of the people who believe this, especially when they are in power, will reflect this belief.

The doctrine of evolution has brought about an entire change in the thinking of humanity. If we are evolved from unthinking slime, and if we will return to nothing but corruption without any further hope, then the natural inclination is to get everything you can, while you can get it. Why not! “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die. And when we die, there will be nothing left to gain.”

It is a hopeless, tragic attitude that more and more permeates the world. And with it comes a diminished value of others in the eyes of those who hold it. “If I am a bug’s descendant, and he is too, then I might as well try to squash him before he squashes me.”

Thank God for Jesus Christ who gives man a hope that transcends this fallen, broken, and evil existence. For those who possess the surety of eternal life, there is a contentment that transcends the temporary and depressing nature of this current walk. There is a hope of eternal joy in the presence of God in a state that we cannot yet comprehend. This is the wonder of the hope that is found in Jesus Christ our Lord. Let us rejoice in Him no matter what our current state is like. Yes, let us rejoice in our Savior!

Lord God, no matter what happens in this life, we possess a hope that transcends the evils we may face. We have this hope because You have sent Jesus. Thank You, O God, for Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.