13Now 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. 14And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. 15But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 16Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.17But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.18And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.20For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. 21So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done. 22For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.
St. John Chrysostom in his Homily X on Acts IV said:
Already these men have born testimony as martyrs: set in the battle against all, they said, ‘We cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard.’ If the things we speak are false, reprehend them; if true, why do you hinder them? Such is philosophy! Those in perplexity, those in gladness, those covered with exceeding shame, those doing all with boldness: those in fear, those in confidence. For who, I would ask, were the frightened? Those who said, ‘That it should spread no further among the people,’ or these who said, ‘we cannot but speak the things we have seen and heard?’ And these had a delight, a freedom of speech, a joy surpassing all; those a despondency, a shame, a fear; for they feared the people.
‘They recognized that they had been with Jesus.’ Not without purpose has the Evangelist set down this passage, but so that he might reveal where they were, that is, at the passion. For these men alone were with him then, when indeed they had seen them humble and dejected. It was this that particularly surprised them, namely, the greatness of the change. For in fact Annas, Caiaphas and company were there and had stood by him as well. Now their great outspokenness shocked them. For it was not only by their words that they revealed their lack of concern over the accusations they faced and the extreme danger impending, but also by their bearing, their voice and their gaze – in short, by everything about them they showed the outspokenness with which they confronted the people.”
Venerable Bede in his Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles said:
“According to the historical sense, this shows that the man’s mature age [made him] invincible to detractors. Allegorically, however, [the passage signifies that] that people of Israel not only despised the manna and sought the base things of Egypt for the forty years in the desert, but even in the land of promise they continued always to limp along with the rites of idols together with those of the Lord. Or, if the number forty signifies the fullness of the twofold law (for four times ten makes forty), a transgressor of both, as it were by lying enfeebled, transcends a fortyfold perfection.”