Wednesday, 19 January 2022
But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.” Acts 4:17
The council has deliberated concerning the matter of the healing and the apostle’s proclamation. They have even acknowledged that they cannot deny the authenticity of what occurred in the healing of the man. But they feel they must respond to what has occurred nonetheless, and so they render their decision, saying, “But so that it spreads no further.”
It has already been noted that what occurred has become “evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem,” as noted in the previous verse. However, being Galileans, it is certain that they would pass the words on to others visiting from Galilee, and they would probably continue to proclaim Christ to others visiting Jerusalem as well. If they were to go back to Galilee, there would even be their firsthand witness to share with the people. With just a few men, the entire nation could be apprised of the event rather quickly “among the people.”
This is the threat. If the message of Jesus is conveyed, saying that He has risen and it has been validated by a sign, it would mean that the leaders were complicit in the crucifixion of the Messiah. What would at first be news of a great miracle and the coming of the Messiah, would quickly turn into a backlash against the authorities who failed to recognize that He was, in fact, the Messiah. The people would no longer be compliant to their failed leadership. As such, the decision is to “let us severely threaten them.”
Manuscripts vary here. Some simply say, “threaten them.” Others say, “threaten them with a threat.” The latter seems more natural from the Hebrew perspective. Repeating a word in this manner is a common form of literary device that magnifies the intent of a matter. One might say, “With blessing I will bless you,” or “With killing you shall kill him.” In this, the matter is intensified. If this is what they said, it is likely Luke would have carefully recorded the intent of their words into the Greek.
Either way, their words will have no effect on the men. They will immediately refuse to comply and Acts 5 will have them once again arrested and taken before the council resulting in an even stricter penalty levied upon them. For now, however, the words of the council continue with, “that from now on they speak to no man in this name.”
The Greek preposition is epi, “upon.” It is the same one that was used in Acts 3:16. At that time, it was noted that Peter had healed the man based upon the faith found in (based upon) the name of Jesus.” The same is being conveyed here. The council does not want the apostles to speak upon the name of Jesus, meaning as a foundational subject of their faith.
This is what defines the words “that it spreads no further.” The miracle was simply a proof of the authority of the name. It is the name that both convicts and offends, and it is proclaiming the foundation of that name that the council demands should come to an end.
Life application: Philippians 2 refers to the name of Jesus in the most exalted way that it could be proclaimed –
“Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11 and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2: 9-11
This is a citation based upon Isaiah 45:23 –
“I have sworn by Myself;
The word has gone out of My mouth in righteousness,
And shall not return,
That to Me every knee shall bow,
Every tongue shall take an oath.”
Paul directly equates the name and authority of the Lord (Yehovah) of the Old Testament to Jesus in the new, clearly identifying the two as the same Being. As such, the name of Jesus is an affront and an offence to both Jew and to Gentile. The Jew (meaning the nation of Israel) has rejected the name. The Gentile world, for the most part, also rejects it. There are innumerable religions and false gods associated with them. To be told that someday all will bow the knee to Jesus is an obvious affront to those people.
And more, many within supposed “Christian” denominations also find the name an affront because they proclaim “another Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:4). Thus, it is intolerable even to they that have gotten things wrong.
With advancements in internet technology, the true Jesus can easily be contrasted to the false. No wonder the whole world will someday be opposed to the true gospel! The timing of the rapture, despite false predictions that arise almost daily, is (and will remain) completely unknown to us until it happens. There is no guarantee that believers will be free from intense persecution before that day. Indeed, in much of the world, this is as common as sand is in the desert.
If we truly believe the message of Christ, we must be willing to stand for it – even through any adversity that must come. This is not an issue of losing one’s salvation, but it is an issue of demonstrating faith to a world that increasingly needs such a witness. If not you, then who? Be sure to hold fast the name which is above every name. Hold fast to JESUS.
Gracious and merciful heavenly Father, You have done all that we need in order to be reconciled to You. As such, is it too difficult a thing for us to do all that we can to share this message of hope and reconciliation? Give us the fortitude to stand fast in the exalted name of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.