With great power gave the apostles witness - This power they received from the Holy Spirit, who enabled them, μεγαλῃ δυναμει, with striking miracles, to give proof of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus; for this is the point that was particularly to be proved: that he was slain and buried, all knew; that he rose again from the dead, many knew; but it was necessary to give such proofs as should convince and confound all. This preaching and these miracles demonstrated this Divine truth: Jesus died for your sins - he rose again for your justification; behold what God works in confirmation of these glorious truths; believe therefore in the Lord Jesus, and ye shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
Great grace was upon them all - They all received much of the favor or grace of God; and they had much favor with all who feared God. In both these ways this clause may be understood; for χαρις means favor, whether that be evidenced by benevolence or beneficence, or by both. The favor of God is the benevolence of God; but his benevolence is never exerted without the exertions of his beneficence. Hence the grace or favor of God always implies a blessing or gift from the hand of his mercy and power. The favor or benevolence of men may exist without beneficence, because it may not be in their power to communicate any gift or benefit, though they are disposed to do it; or, 2dly. the persons who enjoy their favor may not stand in need of any of their kind acts; but it is not so with God: his good will is ever accompanied by his good work; and every soul that is an object of his benevolence stands in the utmost need of the acts of his beneficence. Hence, as he loved the world, he gave his Son a ransom for all. All needed his help; and, because they all needed it, therefore all had it. And truly we may say of the whole human race, for whom the Son of God tasted death, that great grace was upon all; for All have been purchased by his sacrificial death. This by the way.
And with great power - See Acts 1:8. The word “power” here denotes “efficacy,” and means that they had “ability” given them to bear witness of the resurrection of the Saviour. it refers, therefore, I rather to their preaching than to their miracles.
Gave the apostles witness - The apostles bore testimony to.
The resurrection of the Lord Jesus - This was the main point to be established. If it proved that the Lord Jesus came to life again after having been put to death, it established all that he taught, and was a demonstration that he was sent from God. They exerted, therefore, all their powers to prove this, and their success was such as might have been expected. Multitudes were converted to the Christian faith.
And great grace - The word “grace” means “favor.” See the notes on John 1:16. The expression here may mean either that the favor of God was remarkably shown to them, or that they had great favor in the sight of the people. It does not refer, as the expression now does commonly, to the internal blessings of religion on a man‘s own soul, to their personal advancement in the Christian graces, but to the favor or success that attended their preaching. The meaning probably is, that the “favor” of the “people” toward them was great, or that great success attended their ministry among them. Thus, the same word grace (Greek) is used in Acts 2:47. If this is its meaning, then here is an instance of the power of the testimony of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus to impress the minds of people. But this is not all, nor probably is it the main idea. It is that their union, their benevolence their liberality in supplying the needs of the needy, was a means of opening the hearts of the people, and of winning them to the Saviour. If we wish to incline others to our opinions, nothing is better adapted to it than to show them kindness, and even to minister to their temporal needs.
Benevolence toward them softens the heart, and inclines them to listen to us. It disarms their prejudices, and disposes them to the exercise of the mild and amiable feelings of religion. Hence, our Saviour was engaged in healing the diseases and supplying the needs of the people. He drew around him the poor, the needy, and the diseased, and supplied their necessities, and thus prepared them to receive his message of truth. Thus, God is love, and is constantly doing good, that his goodness may lead people to repentance, Romans 2:4. And hence, no persons have better opportunities to spread the true sentiments of religion, or are clothed with higher responsibilites, than those who have it in their power to do good, or than those who are habitually engaged in bestowing favors. Thus, physicians have access to the hearts of people which other persons have not. Thus, parents have an easy access to the minds of children. for they are constantly doing them good. And thus Sunday-school teachers, whose whole work is a work of benevolence, have direct and most efficient access to the hearts of the children committed to their care.
Their Saviour had been rejected and condemned, and nailed to the ignominious cross. The Jewish priests and rulers had declared, in scorn, “He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He be the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him.” But that cross, that instrument of shame and torture, brought hope and salvation to the world. The believers rallied; their hopelessness and conscious helplessness had left them. They were transformed in character, and united in the bonds of Christian love. Although without wealth, though counted by the world as mere ignorant fishermen, they were made, by the Holy Spirit, witnesses for Christ. Without earthly honor or recognition, they were the heroes of faith. From their lips came words of divine eloquence and power that shook the world. TM 67.1
The third, fourth, and fifth chapters of Acts give an account of their witnessing. Those who had rejected and crucified the Saviour expected to find His disciples discouraged, crestfallen, and ready to disown their Lord. With amazement they heard the clear, bold testimony given under the power of the Holy Spirit. The words and works of the disciples represented the words and works of their Teacher; and all who heard them said, They have learned of Jesus, they talk as He talked. “And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.” TM 67.2
The chief priests and rulers thought themselves competent to decide what the apostles should do and teach. As they went forth preaching Jesus everywhere, the men who were worked by the Holy Spirit did many things that the Jews did not approve. There was danger that the ideas and doctrines of the rabbis would be brought into disrepute. The apostles were creating a wonderful excitement. The people were bringing their sick folk, and those that were vexed with unclean spirits, into the streets; crowds were collecting around them, and those that had been healed were shouting the praises of God and glorifying the name of Jesus, the very One whom the Jews had condemned, scorned, spit upon, crowned with thorns, and caused to be scourged and crucified. This Jesus was extolled above the priests and rulers. The apostles were even declaring that He had risen from the dead. The Jewish rulers decided that this work must and should be stopped, for it was proving them guilty of the blood of Jesus. They saw that converts to the faith were multiplying. “Believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.” TM 67.3Read in context »
This chapter is based on Acts 5:12-42.
It was the cross, that instrument of shame and torture, which brought hope and salvation to the world. The disciples were but humble men, without wealth, and with no weapon but the word of God; yet in Christ's strength they went forth to tell the wonderful story of the manger and the cross, and to triumph over all opposition. Without earthly honor or recognition, they were heroes of faith. From their lips came words of divine eloquence that shook the world. AA 77.1Read in context »
What was the result of the outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost? The glad tidings of a risen Saviour were carried to the uttermost parts of the inhabited world. As the disciples proclaimed the message of redeeming grace, hearts yielded to the power of this message. The church beheld converts flocking to her from all directions. Backsliders were reconverted. Sinners united with believers in seeking the pearl of great price. Some who had been the bitterest opponents of the gospel became its champions. The prophecy was fulfilled, “He that is feeble ... shall be as David; and the house of David ... as the angel of the Lord.” Zechariah 12:8. Every Christian saw in his brother a revelation of divine love and benevolence. One interest prevailed; one subject of emulation swallowed up all others. The ambition of the believers was to reveal the likeness of Christ's character and to labor for the enlargement of His kingdom. AA 48.1
“With great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.” Acts 4:33. Under their labors were added to the church chosen men, who, receiving the word of truth, consecrated their lives to the work of giving to others the hope that filled their hearts with peace and joy. They could not be restrained or intimidated by threatenings. The Lord spoke through them, and as they went from place to place, the poor had the gospel preached to them, and miracles of divine grace were wrought. AA 48.2
So mightily can God work when men give themselves up to the control of His Spirit. AA 49.1Read in context »