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Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 36: Acts, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at

Acts 4:13-18

13. And when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and considered that they were men unlearned and ignorant, they wondered; and they knew them, that they had been with Jesus. 14. And when they saw the man that had been healed standing with them, they could not say against it. 15. But when they had commanded them to depart out of the council, they consulted among themselves, 16. Saying, What shall we do to these men? For a manifest sign is done by them, and it is openly known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem; neither can we deny it. 17. But lest it be noised any farther among the people, in threatening let us threaten them, that they speak not henceforth to any man in this name. 18. And then when they had called them, they charged them that they should not speak at all, or teach, in the name of Jesus.


13. Here may we see an evil conscience; for being destitute of right and reason, they break out into open tyranny, the hatred whereof they had essayed to escape. Therefore, he doth first declare that they were convict, that it may appear that they did war against God wittingly and willingly like giants. For they see a manifest work of his in the man which was healed, and yet do they wickedly set themselves against him. In as much as they know that Peter and John were men unlearned and ignorant, they acknowledge that there was somewhat more than belongeth to man in their boldness; therefore they are enforced to wonder whether they will or no. Yet they break out into such impudence, that they fear not to seek some tyrannous means to oppress the truth. When as they confess that it is a manifest sign, they condemn themselves therein of an evil conscience. When they say that it is known to all men, they declare that passing over God they have respect unto men only. For they betray their want of shame thereby, that they would not have doubted to turn their back if there had been any color of denial. And when they ask what they shall do, they make their obstinate wickedness known unto all men. For they would have submitted themselves unto God, unless devilish fury had carried them away to some other purpose. This is the spirit of giddiness and madness, therewith God doth make his enemies drunk. So when they hope shortly after that they can by threatenings bring it about, that the same shall go no farther, what can be more foolish? For after they have put two simple men to silence, shall the arm of God be broken?

17. In threatening let us threaten. Here may we see what a deadly evil power void of the fear of God is. For when that religion and reverence which ought doth not reign, the more holy the place is which a man doth possess, the more boldly  211 doth he rage. For which cause we [should] always take good heed that the wicked be not preferred unto the government of the Church. And those which are called to this function must behave themselves reverently and modestly, lest they seem to be armed to do hurt. But and if it so happen they abuse their honor, the Spirit declareth there, as in a glass, what small account we ought to make of their decrees and commandments.  212 The authority of the pastors hath certain bounds appointed which they may not pass. And if they dare be so bold, we may lawfully refuse to obey them; for if we should, it were in us great wickedness, as it followeth now.



Audacius,” audaciously.


Quam pro nihilo ducendum sit quicquid decernunt et jubent,” that whatever they order and decree ought to be held as null.

Next: Acts 4:19-23