the two: Lit., “they,” that is, Peter and John.
the captain of the temple: Also mentioned at Ac 5:24, 26. By the first century C.E., this official position was held by a priest who was second in authority to the high priest. The temple captain was in charge of the priests serving at the temple. He also maintained order in and around the temple by means of what may be called a temple police force made up of Levites. Subordinate captains oversaw the Levites who opened the temple gates in the morning and closed them at night. These guards protected the temple treasury, generally kept the crowds in order, and ensured that no one entered restricted areas. There were 24 divisions of Levites. Each division served a week at a time in rotation, twice a year, and likely had a captain who answered to the captain of the temple. The temple captains were men of influence. They are mentioned along with the chief priests who conspired to have Jesus put to death. On the night Jesus was betrayed, they came with their forces to arrest him.—Lu 22:4 (see study note), 52.
elders: See study note on Mt 16:21.
Annas the chief priest: Annas was appointed high priest about 6 or 7 C.E. by Quirinius, the Roman governor of Syria, and served until about 15 C.E. Even after Annas was deposed by the Romans and no longer held the official title of high priest, he apparently continued to exercise great power and influence as high priest emeritus and was the predominant voice of the Jewish hierarchy. Five of his sons held the office of high priest, and his son-in-law Caiaphas served as high priest from about 18 C.E. to about 36 C.E. (See study note on Lu 3:2.) At Joh 18:13, 19, Annas is referred to as “the chief priest.” The same Greek word (ar·khi·e·reusʹ) could be used with regard to both the current high priest and a prominent member of the priesthood, including a deposed high priest.—See Glossary, “Chief priest.”
Caiaphas: This high priest, appointed by the Romans, was a skillful diplomat who held office longer than any of his immediate predecessors. He was appointed about 18 C.E. and remained in office until about 36 C.E. He was the one who examined Jesus and handed him over to Pilate. (Mt 26:3, 57; Joh 11:49; 18:13, 14, 24, 28) This is the only time he is mentioned by name in the book of Acts. Elsewhere in Acts he is referred to as “the high priest.”—Ac 5:17, 21, 27; 7:1; 9:1.
the Nazarene: See study note on Mr 10:47.
the chief cornerstone: See study note on Mt 21:42.
outspokenness: Or “boldness; fearlessness.” The Greek word par·re·siʹa has also been rendered “freeness of speech; confidence.” (Ac 28:31; 1Jo 5:14) This noun and the related verb par·re·si·aʹzo·mai, often rendered “speak boldly (with boldness),” occur several times in the book of Acts and convey an identifying mark of the preaching done by the early Christians.—Ac 4:29, 31; 9:27, 28; 13:46; 14:3; 18:26; 19:8; 26:26.
uneducated: Or “unlettered.” While the Greek term used here (a·gramʹma·tos) can mean illiterate, in this context it likely refers to those not educated in rabbinic schools. It appears that most Jews in the first century could read and write, in part because many schools were held in synagogues. Like Jesus, though, Peter and John had not studied at the rabbinic schools. (Compare Joh 7:15.) The religious elite in Jesus’ day felt that these schools were the only acceptable places for receiving a religious education. The Sadducees and the Pharisees no doubt felt that Peter and John were unqualified to teach or to expound the Law to the people. In addition, both of these disciples came from Galilee—an area where most people were farmers, shepherds, and fishermen. The religious leaders and others from Jerusalem and Judea apparently looked down on people from that region and viewed Peter and John as “uneducated” and “ordinary.” (Joh 7:45-52; Ac 2:7) God did not view them that way. (1Co 1:26-29; 2Co 3:5, 6; Jas 2:5) Before his death, Jesus had educated and trained them and his other disciples extensively. (Mt 10:1-42; Mr 6:7-13; Lu 8:1; 9:1-5; 10:1-42; 11:52) After his resurrection, he continued to teach his disciples by means of holy spirit.—Joh 14:26; 16:13; 1Jo 2:27.
the Sanhedrin hall: Or “the Sanhedrin.”—See study note on Lu 22:66.
miracle: Or “sign.” Here the Greek word se·meiʹon, often rendered “sign,” refers to a miraculous event that gives evidence of divine backing.
Sovereign Lord: The Greek word de·spoʹtes has the basic meaning “lord; master; owner.” (1Ti 6:1; Tit 2:9; 1Pe 2:18) When used in direct address to God, as here and at Lu 2:29 and Re 6:10, it is rendered “Sovereign Lord” to denote the excellence of his lordship. Other translations have used such terms as “Lord,” “Master,” “Sovereign,” or “Ruler (Master; Lord) of all.” Some translations of the Christian Greek Scriptures into Hebrew use the Hebrew term ʼAdho·naiʹ (Sovereign Lord), but at least one such translation uses the Tetragrammaton here.
his anointed one: Or “his Christ; his Messiah.” The Greek term used here is Khri·stosʹ, from which the title “Christ” is derived. At Ps 2:2, quoted here, the corresponding Hebrew term, ma·shiʹach (anointed one), is used. From this term the title “Messiah” is derived.—See study notes on Lu 2:26; Joh 1:41; Ac 4:27.
whom you anointed: Or “whom you made Christ (Messiah).” The title Khri·stosʹ (Christ) comes from the Greek verb khriʹo, which is used here. It literally refers to pouring oil on someone. In the Christian Greek Scriptures, it is used only in a sacred and figurative sense, referring to God’s setting a person aside for a special assignment under His direction. This Greek verb also occurs at Lu 4:18; Ac 10:38; 2Co 1:21; and Heb 1:9. Another Greek word, a·leiʹpho, refers to the applying of literal oil or ointment to the body, such as when it was used after washing, applied as a medicine, or poured on a body to prepare it for burial.—Mt 6:17; Mr 6:13; 16:1; Lu 7:38, 46; Jas 5:14.
Jehovah: These words are part of a prayer addressed to the “Sovereign Lord” (Ac 4:24b), a term that is rendered from the Greek word de·spoʹtes and that is also used to address God in a prayer recorded at Lu 2:29. In this prayer in Acts, Jesus is called “your holy servant.” (Ac 4:27, 30) The disciples’ prayer includes a quote from Ps 2:1, 2, where the divine name is used. (See study note on Ac 4:26.) In addition, this request that Jehovah give attention to their threats, that is, the threats of the Sanhedrin, uses terms that are similar to those used in prayers recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures, such as at 2Ki 19:16, 19 and Isa 37:17, 20, where the divine name is used.—See App. C3 introduction; Ac 4:29.
wonders: Or “portents.”—See study note on Ac 2:19.
had made supplication: Or “had prayed earnestly (pleadingly).” The Greek verb deʹo·mai refers to the offering of earnest prayer coupled with intense feeling. The related noun deʹe·sis, rendered “supplication,” has been defined as “humble and earnest entreaty.” In the Christian Greek Scriptures, the noun is used exclusively in addressing God. Even Jesus “offered up supplications and also petitions, with strong outcries and tears, to the One who was able to save him out of death.” (Heb 5:7) The use of the plural “supplications” indicates that Jesus implored Jehovah more than once. For example, in the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus prayed repeatedly and fervently.—Mt 26:36-44; Lu 22:32.
the word of God: This expression appears many times in the book of Acts. (Ac 6:2, 7; 8:14; 11:1; 13:5, 7, 46; 17:13; 18:11) Here the term “the word of God” refers to the Christian message originating with Jehovah God and featuring the important role of Jesus Christ in the outworking of God’s purpose.
were of one heart and soul: This expression describes the unity and harmony among the multitude of believers. At Php 1:27, the expression “with one soul” could also be rendered “with one purpose” or “as one man.” In the Hebrew Scriptures, the expression “one heart” is used at 1Ch 12:38, ftn., and at 2Ch 30:12, ftn., to describe unified desire and action. Also, the expressions “heart” and “soul” are often mentioned together to represent the entire inner person. (De 4:29; 6:5; 10:12; 11:13; 26:16; 30:2, 6, 10) The Greek phrase is used here in a similar way and could be rendered “they were completely united in thinking and purpose.” This was in harmony with Jesus’ prayer that his followers be united despite their diverse backgrounds.—Joh 17:21.
Son of: In Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, the phrase “son(s) of” can be used to indicate a prominent quality or characteristic that distinguishes a person or to describe a group of people. For example, at De 3:18, “valiant men,” or courageous warriors, are literally called “sons of ability.” At Job 1:3, the expression rendered “people of the East” is literally “sons of the East.” The expression “a worthless man” at 1Sa 25:17 renders the literal expression “a son of belial,” that is, “a son of worthlessness.” In the Christian Greek Scriptures, those who pursue a certain course of conduct or who manifest a certain characteristic are designated by such expressions as “sons of the Most High,” “sons of light and sons of day,” and “sons of disobedience.”—Lu 6:35; 1Th 5:5; Eph 2:2.
Son of Comfort: Or “Son of Encouragement.” The translation of the surname Barnabas, given to one of the disciples named Joseph. Since Joseph was a common name among the Jews, the apostles may have given him the name Barnabas for practical reasons. (Compare Ac 1:23.) As explained in the study note on Son of in this verse, the expression was sometimes used to indicate a prominent quality or characteristic that distinguishes a person. The surname Son of Comfort apparently highlights Joseph’s outstanding ability to encourage and comfort others. Luke reports that Joseph (Barnabas) was sent out to the congregation in Antioch of Syria and began to “encourage” his fellow believers. (Ac 11:22, 23) The Greek verb here rendered “encourage” (pa·ra·ka·leʹo) is related to the Greek word for “Comfort” (pa·raʹkle·sis) used at Ac 4:36.—See study note on Son of in this verse.