Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible, by John Wesley, [1754-65], at sacred-texts.com
act 4:1And as they were speaking to the people, the priests - came upon them - So wisely did God order, that they should first bear a full testimony to the truth in the temple, and then in the great council; to which they could have had no access, had they not been brought before it as criminals.
act 4:2The priests being grieved - That the name of Jesus was preached to the people; especially they were offended at the doctrine of his resurrection; for as they had put him to death, his rising again proved him to be the Just One, and so brought his blood upon their heads. The priests were grieved, lest their office and temple services should decline, and Christianity take root, through the preaching of the apostles, and their power of working miracles: the captain of the temple - Being concerned to prevent all sedition and disorder, the Sadducees - Being displeased at the overturning of all their doctrines, particularly with regard to the resurrection.
act 4:4The number of the men - Beside women and children, were about five thousand - So many did our Lord now feed at once with the bread from heaven!
act 4:5Rulers, and elders, and scribes - Who were eminent for power, for wisdom, and for learning.
act 4:6Annas, who had been the high priest, and Caiaphas, who was so then.
act 4:7By what name - By what authority, have ye done this? - They seem to speak ambiguously on purpose.
act 4:8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost - That moment. God moves his instruments, not when they please, but just when he sees it needful. Ye rulers - He gives them the honour due to their office.
act 4:10Be it known to you all - Probably the herald of God proclaimed this with a loud voice. Whom God hath raised from the dead - They knew in their own consciences that it was so. And though they had hired the soldiers to tell a most senseless and incredible tale to the contrary, Mat 28:12, Mat 28:15, yet it is observable, they did not, so far as we can learn, dare to plead it before Peter and John.
act 4:11Psa 118:22.
act 4:12There is no other name whereby we must he saved - The apostle uses a beautiful gradation, from the temporal deliverance which had been wrought for the poor cripple, by the power of Christ, to that of a much nobler and more important kind, which is wrought by Christ for impotent and sinful souls. He therein follows the admirable custom of his great Lord and Master, who continually took occasion from earthly to speak of spiritual things.
act 4:13Illiterate and uneducated men - Even by such men (though not by such only) hath God in all ages caused his word to be preached before the world.
act 4:17Yet that it spread no farther - For they look upon it as a mere gangrene. So do all the world upon genuine Christianity. Let us severely threaten them - Great men, ye do nothing. They have a greater than you to flee to.
act 4:18They charged them not to speak - Privately; nor teach - Publicly.
act 4:19Whether it be just to obey you rather than God, judge ye - Was it not by the same spirit, that Socrates, when they were condemning him to death, for teaching the people, said, "O ye Athenians, I embrace and love you; but I will obey God rather than you. And if you would spare my life on condition I should cease to teach my fellow citizens, I would die a thousand times rather than accept the proposal."
act 4:21They all glorified God - So much wiser were the people than those who were over them.
act 4:24The sense is, Lord, thou hast all power. And thy word is fulfilled. Men do rage against thee: but it is in vain.
act 4:25Psa 2:1.
act 4:27Whom thou hast anointed - To be king of Israel.
act 4:28The sense is, but they could do no more than thou wast pleased to permit, according to thy determinate counsel, to save mankind by the sufferings of thy Son. And what was needful for this end, thou didst before determine to permit to be done.
act 4:30Thou stretchest forth thy hand - Exertest thy power.
act 4:31They were all filled - Afresh; and spake the word with boldness - So their petition was granted.
act 4:32And the multitude of them that believed - Every individual person were of one heart and one soul - Their love, their hopes, their passions joined: and not so much as one - In so great a multitude: this was a necessary consequence of that union of heart; said that aught of the things which he had was his own - It is impossible any one should, while all were of one soul. So long as that truly Christian love continued, they could not but have all things common.
act 4:33And great grace - A large measure of the inward power of the Holy Ghost, was upon them all - Directing all their thoughts, words, and actions.
act 4:34For neither was there any one among them that wanted - We may observe, this is added as the proof that great grace was upon them all. And it was the immediate, necessary consequence of it: yea, and must be to the end of the world. In all ages and nations, the same cause, the same degree of grace, could not but in like circumstances produce the same effect. For whosoever were possessors of houses and lands sold them - Not that there was any particular command for this; but there was great grace and great love: of which this was the natural fruit.
act 4:35And distribution was made - At first by the apostles themselves, afterward by them whom they appointed.
act 4:36A son of consolation - Not only on account of his so largely assisting the poor with his fortune; but also of those peculiar gifts of the Spirit, whereby he was so well qualified both to comfort and to exhort.
act 4:37Having an estate - Probably of considerable value. It is not unlikely that it was in Cyprus. Being a Levite, he had no portion, no distinct inheritance in Israel.