The God of our fathers raised up Jesus - It was well to introduce this, that the council might at once see that they preached no strange God; and that he who so highly honored the patriarchs, Moses, and the prophets, had yet more highly honored Jesus Christ in raising him from the dead and seating him at his right hand, and proclaiming him as the only giver of salvation and the repentance which leads to it.
Whom ye slew - They charge them again with the murder of Christ, as they had done before, Acts 4:10-12, where see the notes.
Raised up Jesus - This refers to his resurrection.
Hanged on a tree - That is, on the “cross,” Galatians 3:13; 1 Peter 2:24; Acts 10:39; Acts 13:29. This is the amount of Peter‘s defense. He begins with the great principle Acts 5:29, which they could not gainsay, that God ought to be obeyed rather than man. He then proceeds to state that they were convinced that God had raised up Jesus from the dead, and as they had such decisive evidence of that, and were commanded by the authority of the Lord Jesus to be “witnesses of that,” they were not “at liberty” to be silent. They were bound to obey God rather than the Sanhedrin, and to make known everywhere the fact that the Lord Jesus was risen. The remark that God had raised up Jesus whom they had “slain,” does not seem to have been made to irritate or to reproach them, but merely to “identify” him as the person that had been raised. It was also a confirmation of the truth and reality of the miracle. Of his “death” they had no doubt, for they had been at pains to certify it, John 19:31-34. It is certain, however, that Peter did not shrink from charging on them their guilt; nor was he at any pains to “soften” or “mitigate” the severe charge that they had murdered their own Messiah.
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 77.1
In Jerusalem, where the deepest prejudice existed, and where the most confused ideas prevailed in regard to Him who had been crucified as a malefactor, the disciples continued to speak with boldness the words of life, setting before the Jews the work and mission of Christ, His crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. Priests and rulers heard with amazement the clear, bold testimony of the apostles. The power of the risen Saviour had indeed fallen on the disciples, and their work was accompanied by signs and miracles that daily increased the number of believers. Along the streets where the disciples were to pass, the people laid their sick “on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.” Here also were brought those vexed with unclean spirits. The crowds gathered round them, and those who were healed shouted the praises of God and glorified the name of the Redeemer. AA 77.2Read in context »
The apostles continued their work of mercy, in healing the afflicted and in proclaiming a crucified and risen Saviour, with great power. Numbers were continually added to the church by baptism, but none dared join them who were not united heart and mind with the believers in Christ. Multitudes flocked to Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those who were vexed by unclean spirits. Many sufferers were laid in the streets as Peter and John passed by, that their shadows might fall upon and heal them. The power of the risen Saviour had indeed fallen upon the apostles, and they worked signs and miracles that daily increased the number of believers. SR 254.1
These things greatly perplexed the priests and rulers, especially those among them who were Sadducees. They saw that if the apostles were allowed to preach a resurrected Saviour, and to do miracles in His name, their doctrine that there was no resurrection of the dead would be rejected by all, and their sect would soon become extinct. The Pharisees saw that the tendency of their preaching would be to undermine the Jewish ceremonies and make the sacrificial offerings of none effect. Their former efforts to suppress these preachers had been in vain, but they now felt determined to put down the excitement. SR 254.2Read in context »
The people were astonished at the boldness of Peter and John and took knowledge of them that they had been with Jesus; for their noble, fearless conduct was like that of Jesus when before His enemies. Jesus, by one look of pity and sorrow, reproved Peter when he had denied Him, and now as he boldly acknowledged his Lord, Peter was approved and blessed. As a token of the approbation of Jesus, he was filled with the Holy Spirit. EW 194.1
The priests dared not manifest the hatred which they felt toward the disciples. They commanded them to go aside out of the council, and then conferred among themselves, saying, “What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.” They were afraid to have the report of this good deed spread among the people. Should it become generally known, the priests felt that their own power would be lost, and they would be looked upon as the murderers of Jesus. Yet all that they dared to do was to threaten the apostles and command them to speak no more in the name of Jesus, lest they die. But Peter declared boldly that they could but speak the things which they had seen and heard. EW 194.2
By the power of Jesus the disciples continued to heal the afflicted and the sick who were brought to them. Hundreds enlisted daily under the banner of a crucified, risen, and ascended Saviour. The priests and elders, and those particularly engaged with them, were alarmed. Again they put the apostles in prison, hoping that the excitement would subside. Satan and his angels exulted; but the angels of God opened the prison doors, and, contrary to the command of the high priests and elders, bade the apostles, “Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.” EW 194.3Read in context »
“And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man's blood upon us.” (See Matthew 23:34, 35.) “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him. When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.” TM 72.1
Then the Holy Spirit moved upon Gamaliel, a Pharisee, “a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people.” His advise was, “Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: but if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. And to him they agreed.” TM 72.2
Yet the attributes of Satan so controlled their minds that, notwithstanding the wonderful miracles that had been wrought in healing the sick and in releasing God's servants from prison, the priests and rulers were so filled with prejudice and hatred that they could hardly be restrained. “When they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” TM 72.3Read in context »
But Peter was converted, and then after the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ when before the rulers, he boldly declared for Jesus, and charged the rulers with these words: “But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and killed the Prince of life.” There Peter shows himself entirely a different man after his conversion than the self-confident, boasting Peter prior to his conversion. I presented before them the voice of the world, the enemies of Christ, saying to Christ's messengers, “Ye should not teach in this name” and “bring this Man's blood upon us.” Did this threatening succeed? did it make cowards of the witnesses of Christ? No; they proclaimed the message given them of God; and they were shut up in prison, and God sent His angel to release them. The angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors and brought them forth, and said, “Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.” This voice from the heavenly angels was directly opposite to that voice from the authorities, and which should they obey? “Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with His right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey Him. When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.” Then Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, pleaded in behalf of the apostles, and his words prevailed. Well, this is a little part of the words the Lord gave me to speak to the people. TM 268.1Read in context »