Online Bible Commentary
The Chief Cornerstone
Acts 4:1 Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand. 5 And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes, 6 as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, "By what power or by what name have you done this?" 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: 9 If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, 10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.' 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved." (NKJV)
Peter and John have just been used by God to heal a lame man. The lame man was healed by his faith in Jesus Christ. The three men then went to worship in the temple in Jerusalem. The Jewish temple goers were amazed to see that the lame man was healed, and questioned John and Peter upon leaving the temple. The disciples credited Jesus with the healing and began to preach to the crowd.
As they preached, Peter and john were approached by “the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees” (v. 1). The religious leaders were “greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead” (v. 2).
The religious leaders, in their minds, were the only ones who were qualified to teach. The Sadducees were the liberals among the religious leaders. They only believed in the Pentateuch, the first five books of the Old Testament. They did not believe in resurrection, claiming that it was not taught in the Pentateuch.
Therefore, the religious leaders arrested Peter and John and, since it was “already evening”, they held them overnight until they could be tried the next day (v. 3). However, the preaching was successful as “about five thousand” men had become believers (v. 4). This number did not include women and children, and it is unclear if it included the three thousand from the Day of Pentecost.
The next day Peter and John were brought to trial. Those present were “rulers, elders, and scribes, as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest” (vv. 5-6). Annas was the high priest to whom Jesus was first taken. Caiaphas was the son-in-law of Annas. Caiaphas presided at the trial of Jesus.
The disciples were asked: “By what power or by what name have you done this?" (v. 7). Peter, “filled with the Holy Spirit”, replied that the “good deed done to a helpless man” was done by “Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead” (vv. 8-10).
Peter continued by citing Psalm 118:22. Jesus “has become the chief cornerstone”, the indispensible stone that completes the building (v.11). He is indispensible because there is no salvation without Him (v. 12).
So, Jesus is the “chief cornerstone.” The cornerstone of a building is the stone that binds together the sides of a building. It is a term used to denote a principal person. Jesus is that principal person of the Christian religion. Without His death, burial and resurrection there would be no Christian religion. He is the indispensible stone that completes the building.
Those religions that do not elevate Him above the Son of God, such as the Mormons, or a god, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses, are not Christian religions. Jesus is not just the Son of God or a god. Jesus is God, a member of the Holy Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.