Acts Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern

chapter 4
1. Kefa and Yochanan were still speaking to the people when the cohanim, the captain in charge of the Temple police, and the Tz’dukim came upon them,
2. very annoyed that they were teaching the people the doctrine of resurrection from the dead and offering Yeshua as proof.
Cohanim. See Mt 2:4N.
Tz'dukim, "Sadducees," who denied resurrection from the dead. See Mt 3:7N, 22:31-32&N. 

3. The Temple police arrested them; and since it was already evening, they put them in custody overnight.
4. However, many of those who heard the message trusted; the number of men alone was about five thousand.
The number of men (Greek andron, "men," i.e., not women) came to about five thousand. Since Kefa was addressing men who had just been praying minchah (3:1 &N), not women, this seems to mean that 5,000 men came to trust in Yeshua as a result of this sermon. A less likely interpretation is that at this time the number of men in the Messianic Community totalled 5,000, including those who had come to faith earlier. In either case there would have been additional women and children, thousands of them. See 2:41N. 

5. The next day, the people’s rulers, elders and Torah-teachers assembled in Yerushalayim,
Rulers, elders and ToraA-teachers (see Mt 2:4N), that is, the Sanhedrin (see Mt 5:22N). 

6. along with ‘Anan the cohen hagadol, Kayafa, Yochanan, Alexander and the other men from the family of the cohen hagadol.
On Anan and his family see Yn 18:13&N. 

7. They had the emissaries stand before them and asked, “By what power or in what name did you do this?”
8. Then Kefa, filled with the Ruach HaKodesh, said to them, “Rulers and elders of the people!
9. If we are being examined today about a good deed done for a disabled person, if you want to know how he was restored to health,
10. then let it be known to you and to all the people of Isra’el that it is in the name of the Messiah, Yeshua from Natzeret, whom you had executed on a stake as a criminal but whom God has raised from the dead, that this man stands before you perfectly healed.
11. “This Yeshua is the stone rejected by you builders which has become the cornerstone. (Psalm 118:22)'
At Mt 21:42 Yeshua too quoted Psalm 118:22. 

12. There is salvation in no one else! For there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by whom we must be saved!”
There is salvation in no one else! For there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by whom we must be saved! Like 2:36 (see note there) this verse contradicts the Two-Covenant theory, which posits that Jews don't need Yeshua for salvation as they are already "with the Father" through the covenant with Abraham (Yn 14:6N). It is true that the covenant with Abraham assures a special place for the Jewish people as a nation, and there are great and valuable promises associated with that covenant (see Sha'ul's discussion of the subject at Romans 4,9-11; Galatians 3-4; and notes to these chapters). But it does not guarantee salvation for the individual Jew; that is not among its terms. Kefa, here addressing Jews, not Gentiles, and speaking by inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God (v. 8), asserts that Yeshua is the only person by whom we (the Jewish people, both individually and collectively) must (there is no alternative) be saved (from eternal destruction and God's fury due us for our sins). And if there is no other salvation for Jews, who already have wonderful promises from God, how much more (Mt 6:30N) is there no other salvation for Gentiles.

Moreover, since he is speaking to the leaders of the Jewish nation, he may also be asserting that national salvation can come only through Yeshua. See Mt 23:37-39&N, Ro 11:23-29&NN, 2C 1:20&N. 

13. When they saw how bold Kefa and Yochanan were, even though they were untrained ‘am-ha’aretz, they were amazed; also they recognized them as having been with Yeshua.
When they saw how bold Kefa and Yochanan were,... they were amazed. These "hicks" from the Galil (see next paragraph) dared to address the core of the establishment and tell them they were wrong! It was the Ruach HaKudesh at work in believers who gave such boldness (see vv. 23-31 &NN), and he does the same today.

Untrained 'am-ha'aretz, literally, "people of the land." ordinary folks, not systematically educated in the Bible and the traditions of either the P'rushim or the Tz'dukim (who together constituted the Sanhedrin's membership). Jewish people have always had high regard for education, and "education" used to mean primarily education in religious matters. Thus an "untrained 'am-ha'aretz' would be guaranteed low social status, and little would be expected of him. The members of the Sanhedrin could easily spot these Galileans by their up-country accents as persons unlikely to be delivering religious truth. (I recall from my youth in America northerners who were surprised when a person with a southern accent turned out to be well educated.) But the Galileans' lack of training did not affect the truth of their message: there are uneducated savants and educated fools. For more, see Yn 7:15&N.

Messianic Jews are sometimes disdained by the Jewish community as being untrained in Judaism. "If you had a good Jewish education, you wouldn't believe this nonsense about Jesus." Like other Jews some Messianics have received a Jewish education, and some have not. But deciding whether Yeshua is the Messiah is not so abstruse a question as to require intensive Jewish education. The Tanakh lays down some criteria the Messiah is to meet, and the New Testament demonstrates that Yeshua has fulfilled some of them already and promises that at his return he will fulfill the rest (see Section VII of the Introduction to the JNT). Furthermore, no matter how much Jewish education a Jew might have, it would not be enough to change his mind if he is determined to reject Yeshua.

For example, Daniel Zion was Chief Rabbi of Bulgaria from 1928 to 1948. He authored over twenty books, including the first translation of the Siddur (the Jewish prayerbook) into Bulgarian. Sometime in the 1930's he came to faith in Yeshua the Messiah (see 9:4N). When Hitler wanted to deport the Jews of Bulgaria to the Polish death camps, Rav Daniel prevailed on King Boris И not to permit it. As a result, 86% of Bulgaria's 50,000 Jews survived World War II, a record proportionally better than in any other country reached by the Nazis except Denmark, whose Jewish community was one-tenth as large. Later, leading most of Bulgarian Jewry, Rav Daniel made aliyah (immigrated to Israel) and became rabbi of a synagogue in Yafo. On Shabbai he would conduct regular services in the morning and teach from the New Testament at home in the afternoon. He retained the respect of Israel's Bulgarian Jewish community, even though his faith in Yeshua was well known. I met him in 1974; he died in 1979, aged 96. How will those who derogate Messianic Jews as 'am-ha 'aretz explain Rav Daniel's open and bold proclamation of Yeshua as the Mashiach of Israel? Will they say he did not have "enough Jewish education" to make an informed decision? See Mt 13:52&N. For more on Rav Daniel see Joseph Shulam, "Rabbi Daniel Zion, Chief Rabbi of Bulgaria Jews During World War II," in Mishkan #15 (1991), P.O. Box 116, Jerusalem, pp. 53-57. 

14. Moreover, since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there beside them, there was nothing they could say to discredit the healing.
15. So they told them to step away from the Sanhedrin while they discussed the matter privately.
16. “What can we do with these men?” they asked each other. “Why, anyone in Yerushalayim can see that a remarkable miracle has come about through them — we can’t possibly deny that.
17. But to prevent it from spreading any further among the people, let’s warn them not to speak any more to anyone in this name.”
How can Luke know what went on behind locked doors? We know that Yosef of Ramatayim was both a believer and a member of the Sanhedrin (Mk 15:43); Nakdimon, also a secret believer, was probably in the Sanhedrin too (Yn 7:50). Luke in his researches (Lk 1:3) would have consulted them or other Sanhedrin members who came to faith later. 

18. So they called them in again and ordered them under no circumstances to speak or teach in the name of Yeshua.
19. But Kefa and Yochanan answered, “You must judge whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than God.
You must judge whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than God. Also 5:29, "We must obey God, not men." These verses constitute a solid basis for civil disobedience in a wicked state, but no rationalization at all for illegal behavior grounded in selfishness. 

20. As for us, we can’t help talking about what we have actually seen and heard.”
21. They threatened them some more but finally let them go — they couldn’t punish them because of the people, for everyone was praising God over what had happened,
22. since the man who had been miraculously healed was more than forty years old.
23. Upon being released, they went back to their friends and reported what the head cohanim and elders had said to them.
24. When they heard it, they raised their voices to God with singleness of heart. “Master,” they prayed, “You made heaven, earth, the sea and everything in them (Psalm 146:6).
Why, at the beginning of their prayer, do these Messianic Jews remind God that he made heaven, earth, the sea and everything in them? Not only because it is pointless for mere human beings to fight God (vv. 25-28), but because the talmidim are praying that God will sovereignly give the Messiah's "slaves" power "to speak JGod's] message with boldness" (vv. 29-31). Similarly, in the Siddur, a morning prayer asking God to regather the Jewish people from the four corners of the earth alludes to the same passage of Psalm 146:6 because it so clearly requires God's sovereign power to do it (Hertz edition, pp. 30-31). But at 14:15 below, the passage is used differently, to point pagans away from manmade idols to the Creator of all. 

25. By the Ruach HaKodesh, through the mouth of our father David, your servant, you said, 'Why did the nations rage and the peoples devise useless plans
26. The kings of the earth took their stand; and the rulers assembled together against Adonai and against his Messiah' (Psalm 2:1–2).
The book of Acts quotes the Greek of the Septuagint. The Hebrew for Psalm 2:1-2 reads:
"Why are the nations in an uproar? And why do the peoples mutter in vain? "The kings of the earth arise
And the rulers take counsel together
Against Adonai and against his Messiah" [or: "and against his anointed one"].

Jewish writings often call attention to a text by citing its beginning; therefore the reader should understand that the believers' prayer of vv. 24-30 is permeated by all of Psalm 2, not just its initial verses. Jewish as well as Christian expositors have seen Psalm 2 as Messianic. However, Rashi, the greatest of the Jewish commentators, says.

"Our rabbis expound it as relating to king Messiah; but according to its plain meaning it is proper to interpret it in connection with David, in the light of the statement, 'And when the Philistines heard that David was anointed king over Israel, all the Philistines went up to seek David' (2 Samuel 5:17)."

Yet even if the plain sense (p'shat, Mt 2:15N) does refer to David, the writings of the Scripture and the events of salvation history often contain a deeper meaning to be clarified only when later history plays on the theme already revealed. The theme of Psalm 2 is that while men may devise plans according to their own purposes, it is God who will have his way. This is why the talmidim addressed God as "Master" (v. 24) and reminded themselves in the prayer that he created earth, sky, sea and all living creatures. This gives them the necessary assurance that despite the Sanhedrims warning (v. 17) and opposition, God will vindicate his Messiah and those who proclaim his message. The prayer is answered immediately (v. 31). 

27. “This has come true in this city, since Herod and Pontius Pilate, with Goyim and the peoples of Isra’el, all assembled against your holy servant Yeshua, whom you made Messiah,
Herod Antipas, son of Herod the Great (Mt 2:1-22, Lk 1:5). Ruler of the Galil. See also Ml 14M-12&NN, Mk 6:14-29, 8:15; Lk 3:1, 19-20; 8:3, 9:7-9,23:7-15; Ac 13:1.

Pontius Pilate, procurator of Judea (Mt 27:2N), is singled out, along with Herod, as having unique responsibility in bringing about Yeshua's death (see Mt 27:16-24N).

Goyim, "nations, pagans, non-Jews"; see 5:47N. In the Hebrew of Psalm 2:1 (vv. 25-26N) the word rendered "nations" is "Goyim." The peoples of Israel. Usually the singular, "people," is used; here the plural along with "Goyim" implicates all humanity as having been assembled against... Yesbua.

Servant. See 3:13N.
Whom you made Messiah or, literally, "whom you anointed" (Greek on echrisas). But here it refers back to Psalm 2 and shows, like the rest of v. 27, fulfillment of its prophecies (see vv. 25-26N). See Mt 1:1N on "Messiah." 

28. to do what your power and plan had already determined beforehand should happen.
29. “So now, Lord, take note of their threats; and enable your slaves to speak your message with boldness!
30. Stretch out your hand to heal and to do signs and miracles through the name of your holy servant Yeshua!”
31. While they were still praying, the place where they were gathered was shaken. They were all filled with the Ruach HaKodesh, and they spoke God’s message with boldness.
They were all filled with the Ruach HaKodesh. Some of them had been Tilled before (2:4), but Ep 5:18 instructs believers to keep being filled with the Holy Spirit.

They spoke God's message with boldness. This is a sure sign of being filled with the Holy Spirit (compare vv. 8, 13&N), and it is also the purpose of the filling (1:8). 

32. All the many believers were one in heart and soul, and no one claimed any of his possessions for himself, but everyone shared everything he had.
33. With great power the emissaries continued testifying to the resurrection of the Lord Yeshua, and they were all held in high regard.
They were all held in high regard by the nonbelieving Jews, as at 2:47. Nevertheless, thinking highly of believers is not enough to save unbelievers. Or, saying the same thing in the words of Israel's former prime minister, Mcnachem Begin, "There is a great difference between gathering a good impression and taking the correct view" (The Revolt, Dell, revised edition 1977, p. 395). 

34. No one among them was poor, since those who owned lands or houses sold them and turned over the proceeds
See 2:44-45N. 

35. to the emissaries to distribute to each according to his need.
36. Thus Yosef, whom the emissaries called Bar-Nabba (which means “the Exhorter”), a Levi and a native of Cyprus,
Yosef, whom the emissaries called Bar-Nabba (which means "the Exhorter")- "The Exhorter" translates Greek uios parakleseos, which can mean "son of counsel," "son of comfort," "son of exhortation," "son of encouragement." Aramaic bar ("son, son of") often has the sense, "one who has the quality of (see Mt I:IN). The word "nabba" is apparently related to the Hebrew root meaning "prophet," and a prophet is one who counsels, comforts, exhorts and encourages. Apparently Yosef was always comforting and exhorting his fellow talmidim, so the emissaries gave him this nickname. He becomes an important figure in Chapters 9-15. 

37. sold a field which belonged to him and brought the money to the emissaries.

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