Online Bible studies, Christian, New Testament Acts 4 Bible study

Chapter 4

 

Arrested for proclaiming the gospel V1 - 12

4:1-3 While Peter and John were speaking to the people, the priests and the commander of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to them, angry because they were teaching the people and announcing in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. So they seized them and put them in jail until the next day (for it was already evening).

 

The commotion that Peter and John had caused by the healing of the lame man and then preaching the gospel message particularly concerning the resurrection of Christ from the dead brought a response from those in authority.   The head of the temple police along with some priests and Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection (Matt. 22:23), came and arrested them and they were held in custody over night.   '

 

4:4 But many of those who had listened to the message believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.

 

Those who had heard and believed were saved and within a few days their number had grown from 120 to 3000 and then to 5000, and this was just men.   There were most probably women and children as well.   Jesus had told them that they would do greater things than He after the Comforter, Holy Ghost, had come and here was the fulfilment of His word (John 14: 12,16).   '

 

4:5-6 On the next day, their rulers, elders, and experts in the law came together in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and others who were members of the high priest's family.

 

The next day Peter and John were hauled before the Sanhedrin with all the leading dignitaries present.   Remember that they were but common fishermen, therefore to be brought before the Jewish supreme court was no light matter and would have ordinarily given them great fear.   Jesus said that they would be brought before those in authority for testifying of Him.   He also instructed them what they should do (Math. 10:17-20).

 

4:7 After making Peter and John stand in their midst, they began to inquire, "By what power or by what name did you do this?"

 

They were not interested in the man's healing but who had gaven them authority to do it, they knew it wasn't theirs!

 

4:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, replied, "Rulers of the people and elders,

 

Again in fulfilment of the promise of Jesus, Peter receives another filling of the Holy Spirit, or rather being already filled is empowered/anointed  and given the words to answer them.   '

 

4:9-10 if we are being examined today for a good deed done to a sick man — by what means this man was healed —let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, this man stands before you healthy.

 

Peter does not dwell on the miracle of the healing but on the One who did it.   He comes straight to the point and would have not only those present but the whole of Israel to know that the man was healed by the very one who 'they" had crucified, but whom 'God"  had raised from the dead.   The death and resurrection of Christ is still the main theme of his gospel message to the people and so should ours be today.   '

 

4:11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, that has become the cornerstone.

 

He uses the illustration of a master builder, taken from the Old Testament, (Psalm 118:22) who very carefully chooses what stones he will use in his building, especially the cornerstone, the one which all the others depend on.   They had rejected the one, Jesus, whom God had chosen to be the chief cornerstone of the spiritual building that He would make to dwell in (Eph. 2:20-22).

 

4:12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among people by which we must be saved."

 

There is no other way that people can be saved except through and in the Name of Jesus Christ. No matter what men may say, Jesus said '"I am the way, the truth, and the life, No one comes to the Father except through Him" " (John 14:6).

 

Forbidden to Preach

4:13 'When they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and discovered that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized these men had been with Jesus.

 

These rulers knew that neither Peter or John had received any proper education in what was called the "rabbinical schools". Nor had they received any training in the art of preaching or teaching the scriptures. They could not deny that what they had said was given with power and authority and thus they marvelled at it.   The only conclusion they could come too was that these were men who were walking  close to the Lord Jesus Christ, and who sitting  at His feet learning  of Him ( Matt. 11:29).   Can people say this of us ?  '

 

4:14-16 And because they saw the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say against this. But when they had ordered them to go outside the council, they began to confer with one another, saying, "What should we do with these men? For it is plain to all who live in Jerusalem that a notable miraculous sign has come about through them, and we cannot deny it.

 

The Sanhedrin were now in a dilemma, they could not dispute that the lame man had been completely healed because he was standing before them and all Jerusalem were aware of it.   But they did not want the gospel message of Christ to prosper and so they had to do something.

 

4:17 But to keep this matter from spreading any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name."

 

After conferring together they decide that the only course open to them was to sternly threaten and forbid them to  continue to spread the Good News.   '

 

4:18 And they called them in and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

 

The fact that they ordered them not to preach or teach in the name of Jesus shows that it was not the disciples they were afraid of but Jesus Christ.   '

 

4:19-20 But Peter and John replied, "Whether it is right before God to obey you rather than God, you decide, for it is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard."

 

In answer Peter throws the ball back in their court for they could not argue against his statement. For all through the scriptures the exhortation is for God to be obeyed at all times  (1 Sam. 15:22).   The disciples could not but openly declare the truth that they had received from the Lord or fail to make it known that others may be saved.   Jesus had told them they were the light of the world and they were going to let that light shine through them no matter what men may do to them (Matt. 5:15-16).

 

4:21-22 After threatening them further, they released them, for they could not find how to punish them on account of the people, because they were all praising God for what had happened. For the man, on whom this miraculous sign of healing had been performed, was over forty years old.

 

The rulers mouths were shut and they could only repeat their warnings because all the people were praising God for what he had done for the once lame man.

 

Praying for Boldness

4:23-24 When they were released, Peter and John went to their fellow believers and reported everything the high priests and the elders had said to them.  When they heard this, they raised their voices to God with one mind and said, "Master of all, you who made the heaven, the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them,

 

On being released they immediately return to the fellowship of believers and report all that had been said to them.   The response of the believers was to give praise and glory to God and to defy the ban on witnessing and instead take the matter to the Lord in prayer.   '

 

4:25-26 who said by the Holy Spirit through your servant David our forefather, 'Why do the nations rage, and the peoples plot foolish things? The kings of the earth stood together, and the rulers assembled together, against the Lord and against his Christ.'

 

They turn to the scriptures and see in this quote from Psalm 2:1-2 a fulfilment of prophecy concerning the Lord.  

 

4:27-28 For indeed both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together in this city against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do as much as your power and your plan had decided beforehand would happen.

 

They saw in Herod, Pontius Pilate, as representative of Caesar, the rulers, the Sanhedrin, the conspiracy to overthrow and destroy Jesus Christ as foretold in this Psalm. Little did these know that they were in fact carrying out, not their own plans, but fulfilling the plans and purposes of God.

 

4:29-30 And now, Lord, pay attention to their threats, and grant to your servants to speak your message with great courage, while you extend your hand to heal, and to bring about miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.

 

The threats are committed to the Lord in prayer and they ask that they may have boldness in the face of persecution and opposition to declare the word (Eph. 6:19-20), and that their witness may be confirmed by healing's, signs and wonders through the Name of Jesus (Mark 16:20).

 

4:31 When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God courageously.

 

When they had finished praying the place where they were was shaken as they received another infilling of the Holy Spirit and they were enabled by Him to boldly declare the word of God without fear.

 

Sharing and Distributing to the Needy

4:32 The group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one said that any of his possessions was his own, but everything was held in common.

 

How were they able to go against their human nature and call all that they had as not belonging to themselves but to all believers ?   Because being filled with the Holy Spirit had united them as '"one heart and soul"".   '

 

4:33 With great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was on them all.

 

It was also because of this that the apostles were able to give powerful witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ which was followed by many miracles.   All this was done because of the greatness of God's grace towards them.   For it was not of themselves that these mighty things were accomplished but by 'the power of grace" alone.   Zechariah 4: 7 gives us an example of this in operation when Zerubbabel is told to shout "grace" at the mountain of obstacles in his way.  

 

4:34-35 For there was no one needy among them, because those who were owners of land or houses were selling them and bringing the proceeds from the sales and placing them at the apostles' feet. The proceeds were distributed to each, as anyone had need.

 

Because of this love and oneness in spirit those who had lands and houses sold them and brought the proceeds to the apostles that they may give to those who were in need, none lacked for anything  (Matt. 19:21; Rom. 12:13).  This giving was done out of the sufficiency that God had blessed the givers with.  Those who did not have could not give (see 2 Cor. 8:12-15).  

 

4:36-37 So Joseph, a Levite who was a native of Cyprus, called by the apostles Barnabas (which is translated "son of encouragement"), sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and placed it at the apostles' feet.

 

Why was it that out of all that gave only Barnabas (the same Barnabus who befriended Paul Acts 9:27) is singled out. The answer is partly given in the surname that the Christians gave him "Son of Consolation" or "Encouragement" which means, coming alongside to help, to comfort. One whose very presence strengthens, who upholds those appealing for assistance. Barnabus was outstanding in all these things. Another reason may possibly be to give a comparison with Ananias and Sapphira in the next chapter.

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