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Acts 4:31

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The place was shaken - This earthquake was an evidence of the presence of God, and a most direct answer to their prayer, as far as that prayer concerned themselves. The earthquake proclaimed the stretched-out arm of God, and showed them that resistance against his counsels and determinations must come to nought.

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost - And, in consequence of this, they spake the word of God with boldness; a pointed answer to a second part of their request, Acts 4:29. A right prayer will always have a right and ready answer. Though these disciples had received the Holy Spirit on the day of pentecost, yet they were capable of larger communications; and what they had then received did not preclude the necessity of frequent supplies, on emergent occasions. Indeed, one communication of this Spirit always makes way and disposes for another. Neither apostle nor private Christian can subsist in the Divine life without frequent influences from on high. Had these disciples depended on their pentecostal grace, they might have sunk now under the terror and menaces of their combined and powerful foes. God gives grace for the time being, but no stock for futurity, because he will keep all his followers continually dependent on himself.

With boldness - Παντι τῳ θελοντι πιστευειν, To all who were willing to believe, is added by DE, two others, Augustin, Irenaeus, and Bede.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And when they had prayed - The event which followed was regarded by them as an evidence that God heard their prayer.

The place was shaken - The word which is translated “was shaken” commonly denotes “violent agitation,” as the raging of the sea, the convulsion of an earthquake, or trees shaken by the wind, Matthew 11:7; Acts 16:26; Hebrews 12:26. The language here is suited to express the idea of an earthquake. Whether the motion was confined to the house where they were is not said. They probably regarded this as an answer to their prayer, or as an evidence that God would be with them:

(1)Because it was sudden and violent, and was not produced by any natural causes;

(2)Because it occurred immediately, while they were seeking divine direction;

(3)Because it was an exhibition of great power, and was an evidence that God could protect them; and,

(4)Because a convulsion so great, sudden, and mighty was suited at that time to awe them with a proof of the presence and power of God. A similar instance of an answer to prayer by an earthquake is recorded in Acts 16:25-26. Compare Acts 2:1-2. It may be added, that among the Jews an earthquake was very properly regarded as a striking and impressive proof of the presence of Yahweh, Isaiah 29:6; Psalm 68:8, “The earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God; even Sinai itself was moved at the presence of God, the God of Israel.” See also the sublime description in Acts 4:6-11. Compare Matthew 27:54. Among the pagan, an earthquake was regarded as proof of the presence and favor of the Deity. (See Virgil, Aeneid, 3:89.)

They were all filled … - See the notes on Acts 2:4. Their being filled with the Holy Spirit here rather denotes their being inspired with confidence or boldness than being endowed with new powers, as in Acts 2:4.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Christ's followers do best in company, provided it is their own company. It encourages God's servants, both in doing work, and suffering work, that they serve the God who made all things, and therefore has the disposal of all events; and the Scriptures must be fulfilled. Jesus was anointed to be a Saviour, therefore it was determined he should be a sacrifice, to make atonement for sin. But sin is not the less evil for God's bringing good out of it. In threatening times, our care should not be so much that troubles may be prevented, as that we may go on with cheerfulness and courage in our work and duty. They do not pray, Lord let us go away from our work, now that it is become dangerous, but, Lord, give us thy grace to go on stedfastly in our work, and not to fear the face of man. Those who desire Divine aid and encouragement, may depend upon having them, and they ought to go forth, and go on, in the strength of the Lord God. God gave a sign of acceptance of their prayers. The place was shaken, that their faith might be established and unshaken. God gave them greater degrees of his Spirit; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, more than ever; by which they were not only encouraged, but enabled to speak the word of God with boldness. When they find the Lord God help them by his Spirit, they know they shall not be confounded, Isa 1.7.
Ellen G. White
Reflecting Christ, 241.1

And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness. Acts 4:31. RC 241.1

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Ellen G. White
Faith and Works, 63.3

When Christ, the Hope of Israel, was hung upon the cross and was lifted up as He told Nicodemus He would be, the disciples’ hope died with Jesus. They could not explain the matter. They could not understand all that Christ had told them about it beforehand. FW 63.3

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Ellen G. White
The Voice in Speech and Song, 226f

Certainty Born of Heart Conviction—Do not present the truth in a formal manner, but let the heart be vitalized by the Spirit of God, and let your words be spoken with such certainty that those who hear may know that the truth is a reality to you. Your manner may be educated, and your words may be of that character that they will voice the words of Peter: “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty.” With just as much assurance you may declare the message of God's truth. Those who believe sacred, eternal truth, must put their whole soul into their efforts. We must be stirred to the very heart as we behold the fulfilling of prophecy in the closing scenes of this earth's history. As our vision extends still further into the glories of eternity—the coming of Christ with power and great glory, and the scenes of the great day of judgment—we should not remain tame and unmoved. “I saw the dead,” John says, “stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the Book of Life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works.”—Letter 8, 1895. VSS 226.1

Enthusiasm in Things Real and Imaginary—On a certain occasion, when Betterton, the celebrated actor, was dining with Dr. Sheldon, archbishop of Canterbury, the archbishop said to him, “Pray, Mr. Betterton, tell me why it is that you actors affect your audiences so powerfully by speaking of things imaginary.” VSS 227.1

“My lord,” replied Betterton, “with due submission to Your Grace, permit me to say that the reason is plain: It all lies in the power of enthusiasm. We on the stage speak of things imaginary as if they were real, and you in the pulpit speak of things real as if they were imaginary.”—Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 255. VSS 227.2

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 60-9

“Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up His Son Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.” AA 60.1

Thus the disciples preached the resurrection of Christ. Many among those who listened were waiting for this testimony, and when they heard it they believed. It brought to their minds the words that Christ had spoken, and they took their stand in the ranks of those who accepted the gospel. The seed that the Saviour had sown sprang up and bore fruit. AA 60.2

While the disciples were speaking to the people, “the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” AA 60.3

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