What does Acts 4:13 mean?
ESV: Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus.
NIV: When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
NASB: Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.
CSB: When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus.
NLT: The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus.
KJV: Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
NKJV: Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.
Verse Commentary:
"Uneducated" is from the Greek root word agrammatos and "common" is from the Greek root word idiōtēs. Together, they mean Peter and John had no formal training in rhetoric or Jewish theology. Culturally, it shows the deep disrespect groups like the Sanhedrin had for "lesser" people. Peter and John are not members of a privileged class that could afford higher education, nor are they of a religious class that would sit under a scholar. In fact, they are fishermen (Mark 1:16–20), and Jesus, their rabbi, didn't have formal education, either (John 7:15). And yet, not only does Peter have the confidence to present his case before the highest religious court of the land (see Mark 1:21–22), he has the audacity to place Jesus into Old Testament passages as if he were a rabbi schooling the chief priests and scribes.

Peter and John are able to speak so confidently because of their training under Jesus and the empowerment of the Holy Spirit. They are following the example of Jesus, who spoke with an authority that the teachers in the synagogue dared not assume (Mark 1:27). They are obeying Jesus, acting as His witnesses in Jerusalem (Acts 1:8). And they are saying the words the Holy Spirit gives them, as Jesus promised (Matthew 10:19–20).

Peter's boldness is even more notable. John, at least, knows the high priest (John 18:15). Peter cut off the ear of the high priest's servant (John 18:10) and once denied knowing Jesus, possibly out of fear that the servant's friends and relative would recognize him as the assailant (John 18:26–27).

With the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, Peter can boldly talk about Jesus in front of any audience (Acts 2:1–4). The Holy Spirit gives him both the words to say and the courage to say them. Later, Paul will explain, "God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God" (1 Corinthians 1:27–29). And God can choose an uneducated fisherman who is guilty of assault to teach the Jewish leaders their own theology and accuse them of murdering an innocent One.
Verse Context:
Acts 4:13–22 covers the reaction of the Sanhedrin to Peter's convicting assertion: that he and John healed a lame man by the power of Jesus' name. The Sanhedrin is frustrated to learn the followers of Jesus—the man they had killed—are in Jerusalem, healing and preaching and gathering more followers. The Sanhedrin wants them out of the way before they grow too popular. So they start slowly by forbidding Peter and John to teach about Jesus. It's an apparent win-win: either these uneducated commoners will stop telling everyone about Jesus or they will disobey a direct order and be vulnerable to greater punishment.
Chapter Summary:
Acts 4 continues the story started in Acts 3. Peter and John have healed a man born lame and preached that Jesus has risen from the dead. The Sanhedrin orders their arrest for teaching the resurrection. The Jewish officials warn Peter and John to stop speaking in Jesus' name. Peter and John refuse, but, since they have committed no crime, the Sanhedrin releases them. Peter and John return to their friends, and the Jesus-followers pray for boldness in the face of growing persecution. The church continues to grow, sharing all their possessions so that no one is in need.
Chapter Context:
Acts 4 gives the first hints of the persecution the church will face throughout its history. Peter and John attract attention when Peter heals a well-known lame beggar, and Peter uses the publicity to tell others about Christ. The Sanhedrin cannot allow the apostles to continue teaching Jesus rose from the dead. They arrest, warn, and free Peter and John, but it's just the beginning. Soon, they will arrest and beat all the apostles (Acts 5:17–42). Then a mob will stone Stephen (Acts 7:54–60). And Saul will persecute Jesus-followers in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1–3) and beyond (Acts 9:1–2). The Sanhedrin fails to realize—if you send Jesus-followers fleeing into the world, they will take Jesus' message with them.
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
Accessed 5/24/2024 10:52:31 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV, NKJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.