Acts 4:17

ESV But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.”
NIV But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.'
NASB But so that it will not spread any further among the people, let’s warn them not to speak any longer to any person in this name.'
CSB But so that this does not spread any further among the people, let's threaten them against speaking to anyone in this name again."
NLT But to keep them from spreading their propaganda any further, we must warn them not to speak to anyone in Jesus’ name again.'
KJV But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.

What does Acts 4:17 mean?

The Sanhedrin can't deny that Jesus performed miracles greater than the Old Testament prophets who acted under the authority and power of God. They can't deny that Jesus rose from the dead, since they have no body (Matthew 28:11–15). And they can't deny that Peter and John healed a lame man and attributed the healing to the power of Jesus (Acts 4:8–10, 14–16). All these things are strong evidence that Jesus is a prophet and the Jewish Messiah, and God has legitimately empowered and commissioned the disciples to reveal His message to His people.

Still, the Sanhedrin's first instinct isn't to stop and listen, but to keep the people from hearing the message. The Gospels and the book of Acts give several reasons for this reaction.

After Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, the Sanhedrin said, "If we let him go on like this, everyone will believe in him, and the Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation" (John 11:48).

The members of the Sanhedrin are concerned that the Romans will take their position and authority. The Sanhedrin is made of chief priests, elders, and legal experts. At this time, the Roman government has an unhealthy influence over who will be high priest, and it behooves any man who wants the position to remain on good terms with the governor. The elders are the successful businessmen of Jerusalem. They have a great deal to lose financially if Rome implements martial law. Groups of Jews have rebelled against Rome since Rome took possession of the territory. Rome is getting impatient with the disruptions.

If the Sanhedrin allows another rebellion to get out of control, they stand to lose everything. They fear Rome will destroy Jerusalem and burn the temple. Which, sadly, is exactly what will happen years after the events described in Acts, in AD 70, in response to an uprising.

Greed and fear certainly inform the Sanhedrin's actions, but Pilate understood them before Jesus was crucified: they're jealous (Mark 15:10). They are jealous that the people like Jesus' message more than their own. Their jealousy will drive them to arrest all the apostles and beat them (Acts 5:17, 40). Jesus' followers offer a way to have forgiveness from and reconciliation with their God but because the words come from uneducated fishermen, they want nothing to do with it.
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