Acts 4:12 — And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved.
A NOTABLE miracle had been wrought. As Peter and John were entering the temple at the hour of afternoon prayer, they had encountered a poor cripple who was in the habit of having himself laid at the gateway to beg alms of the passing worshippers. Him they had healed, attracting his attention and faith by the great word, “In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, walk!” To the confounded crowd that ran together Peter had improved the opportunity to preach Jesus, whose mighty name, on faith having been awakened in it, had wrought this wonderful cure. The Sadducean leaders of the people had been, as the narrative puts it, greatly “worked up” by the occurrence; and, apprehending Peter and John, they had cast them into prison overnight and brought them on the morrow before the Sanhedrin. The question put to the apostles in their examination before this body was studiedly insulting in its every phrase, and runs up into an explosion of angry contempt: “What sort of power is it, and what sort of a name is it that you have done this thing by—you?” There is here an open relegation of the apostles to that herd of “vagabond Jews” who infested every city, working strange things by the power of some great name which they pronounced in their incantations.
“Then Peter,” says the narrative, “filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: ‘Rulers of the people, and elders, if it can possibly be we'”—note the emphasis of personal protest in this “we,”—”‘who are to-day called to account, for a good deed'”—note this emphatic “good deed”; not the misdeed for which it is customary to call men to account—”‘to an infirm man, by what it is that he has been saved,—be it known to all of you and to the whole people of Israel'”—here Peter it will be seen is rising to his climax,—”‘that it is by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom ye'”—an emphatic “ye” locating the persons with clear and strong assertion—”‘whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead,'”—oh, the tremendous poignancy of that contrast!—”‘by this name it is that he stands before you whole. This is the stone that was despised by you the builders, that is become the head of the corner.'”
Assuredly, we will say, pungency of rejoinder, boldness of proclamation, could go no further. And there stood the healed man in their midst, the living witness of the truth of the declaration. But Peter does go further than even this. Not content with so ringing an assertion of the reversal in the court of heaven of their earthly verdict on Jesus the despised Nazarene, and of the living presence among them of Him whom they had foully slain, doing wonders, Peter now suddenly rises to the height of his great argument and sets His Master on the pinnacle of His glory as the sole Prince and Saviour of all the earth. “This,” he says, “is the stone that was set at nought by you the builders, that has been made the head of the corner, and in none other,” he adds,—”in none other is there salvation; for neither is there any other name under heaven given among men, by which we must be saved!”
It is too late now to speak of the fine note of defiance, of holy and chastened challenge, that rings in this trumpet-like speech of Peter’s. In these last words it has passed beyond defiance and even beyond challenge, and taken on the note of summons and high proclamation. In them Peter steps forth unabashed before the world, as the herald of the Prince of Life, and asserts His crown prerogatives. Into the face of the sneering Sanhedrin before whom he stands arraigned he, an unlearned and ignorant man, flings this great and sweeping declaration: that Jesus Christ of Nazareth—whom they had crucified—was not only God’s Holy Servant, by way of eminence the Holy and Righteous One, against whom they had therefore grievously sinned when they laid their wicked hands upon Him; but is actually (though they have slain Him) the very Lord and Source of Life, into whose sole hands are gathered all the issues of Being, whether in this world or in the world to come.
We must not pause to seek to picture the effect with which this daring predication to Jesus of the unique empire over salvation must have struck upon those Jewish ears that day. Him they had slain, but truly He had risen from the dead to trouble them, and was showing forth His might in signs and wonders done in His name. Here was this crippled man, saved from his infirmity; and who could gainsay that the cure had been wrought by the name of Jesus? Nay, here are these unlearned and ignorant men themselves, saved from their special infirmities also; Peter, for example, who had denied his Lord at the mere glance of a serving-woman, now stands before the Sanhedrin itself, careless of their frowns and his own chains, and boldly proclaims his Lord’s risen glory and dominion over the whole realm of life. Who could gainsay that this cure too had been wrought by the name of Jesus? It is easy to imagine what searchings of heart there were in the Sanhedrin that day; what marvellings; what anxious inquiries as to what could be done to stop the spread of such a gospel. The two thousand years that have passed have taught us how vain all their efforts were; and, having rejected the stone that the Lord had made the head of the corner, how completely was fulfilled in them the further prediction of this same Jesus, that “he that falleth on this stone shall be broken to pieces, while on whomsoever it shall fall it will scatter him to dust.”
It is of more importance for us to-day, however, to inquire what we to-day—after these two thousand years of enlightenment during which the gospel of Jesus has had free course and been glorified— should learn from this great declaration of Peter, spoken, we are told explicitly, when he was filled with the Holy Spirit. It assures us too, after so long a time, that there is salvation in none other than Jesus, and that there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. What are we to understand by this tremendous assertion?