Chapter four verses one through four: “And as they spoke unto the people” something began to happen, which is the case when God’s true ministers speak His Truth. The people “heard them gladly” because Peter and John, as had Jesus (Mk. 12:37), spoke God’s Words. But then, as is still the case today, when word got out that many of the people were coming to believe God’s Truth, Satan began to stir up the religious leaders. Predictably, they set out to silence God’s men. As Peter was speaking the priests and Sadducees came upon them. Of all the enemies of God, these two groups, along with the Pharisees, were the most resistant toward the Word of the Lord. Because their Roman overlords recognized only one god–Caesar–these men had everything to lose if the people turned away from them and to the dead carpenter who claimed to be the Son of God. The priests were allowed to maintain their leadership positions only at the behest of their Roman dictators. Should the priests lose spiritual control over the masses–should the people turned to that itinerant preacher called Jesus–the Romans would remove them from their positions of power and prestige. So afraid of losing their status, they openly recognized only one king of the Jews–Caesar (Jn. 19:15). Jesus, Who claimed to be the king of the Jews, had become a problem. The only solution to the problem was to eliminate Him. The Jews themselves did not have the legal right to kill Him. For this reason they had to persuade the Romans to do it for them. Because the Romans were heathen and did not have access to the Holy Scriptures they did not know God’s Truth. For this reason Jesus asked God to forgive the Roman soldiers who beat and crucified Him. They truly did not know what they were doing. The priests and Sadducees, however, knew exactly what they were doing. The same would later hold true when a mob of Jews would killed Stephen. Being illiterate and having no personal access to the Scriptures, they knew only what the priests, Sadducees and Pharisees told them. For this reason Stephen would ask the Lord to forgive them. They indeed did not know what they were doing. Saul of Tarsus, knowing only the customs of the Pharisees, was as ignorant as were those he used to kill Stephen.
The Sadducees also had a reason to silence the apostles. Their rejection of Jesus was based primarily on the question of the resurrection of the dead which both He and His apostles preached. The Sadducees did not believe there would be a resurrection. Like their priestly counterparts, they were “grieved that the apostles preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” Recall that this was the main subject with which they tried to trick Jesus (Mat. 22). At that time Jesus proved them wrong using His only weapon–the Scriptures–the same weapon He had used to defeat Satan following His 40 day fast (Mat. 4). This is still the only weapon used by His people.
Seeing that the people were believing what Peter and John were saying, the priests had them placed in jail for the night. They had to separate them from the masses until they could figure out what to do with them. Jailing them was a mistake, for it stirred up the people even more. So much so that some 5000 were added to the church at that time. Now there were approximately 8000 believers in Jerusalem. Something had to be done. L.J.