Chapter 4, Acts 4:1- 37, persecutions, arrest, earth-shattering prayer
Heavenly Father, we pray for Your presence to be with us as we open up the book of Acts. Thank You for making us right with You, through the atoning sacrifice of Your Son. Nourish our souls, water our hearts, and deepen our roots to produce fruits. Reveal the truth to us. We pray for ears to hear, eyes to see, and minds to understand scripture. We pray for correct interpretation and application of scripture, in Jesus’ name, Amen.
VV 1-4, 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 men came to be about five thousand.
In the gospels, the Pharisees persecuted Christ. In Acts, the Sadducees persecuted Christ’s disciples. The Sadducees did not believe in angels, miracles, life after death, and resurrection of the dead. The Sadducees, priests, and temple captains were jealous after the healing miracle. They arrested the apostles and put them into prison. Another 5000 people believed in Jesus, bringing the total number who were saved to 8000.
VV 5-7, 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?’’
The Jewish religious leaders arrived at the prison the next day to question the apostles. Annas, the high priest, and Caiaphas, his son-in-law, demanded to know who was responsible for healing the lame man.
VV 8-10, 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.
Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, testified that Jesus of Nazareth was the One who healed the lamed man. Peter accused the religious leaders of killing Jesus of Nazareth but God raised Him from the dead on the third day.
VV 11-12, 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.”
Peter quoted Psalm 118:22. The Sadducees rejected Jesus of Nazareth, the chief cornerstone of Israel. There is no salvation under other any name apart from Jesus of Nazareth.
Psalm 118: 22, ‘’The stone which the builders rejected, Has become the chief cornerstone’’.
V 13, 13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.
The Jewish leaders were amazed. Even though Peter and John were uneducated and untrained, they were bold and learned because they were followers of Jesus.
VV 14-18, 14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. 15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 16 saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.” 18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
The Jewish religious leaders could not deny that a great miracle had taken place in Jerusalem. They released the apostles with a gag order not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus.
VV 19-22, 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” 21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. 22 For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed. them.
Peter and John rejected the gag order, declaring that their loyalty was to God and not to men. The Jewish religious leaders had no choice but to release Peter and John because the people supported the apostles. The lamed man was forty years old when he was healed.
VV 23-31, 23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to 24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: ‘’Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? 26 The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together, Against the Lord and against His Christ.’ 27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. 29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
Peter and John returned and reported what happened to the other apostles and disciples. Their response was to pray to God in unison. They acknowledged God as the creator of heaven and earth. They quoted the messianic Psalm 2:1-3. They prayed for boldness to speak the word of God. They prayed for the divine anointing of the Holy Spirit to perform healing, miracles, signs, and wonders in the name of Jesus Christ. The prayer was so powerful that an earthquake occurred! They were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.
Psalm 2:1-3, Why do the nations rage, and the people plot a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying, “let us break their bonds in pieces, and cast away their cords from us.”
VV 32-37, 32 Now the multitude of those who believed was of one heart and one soul, neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33 And with great power, the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked, for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet, and they distributed to each as anyone had need. 36 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, 37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
The disciples were unanimous in heart and soul. They practiced a form of communism by sharing all their possessions and pooling all their resources into a common pool. They preached and testified to the resurrection of the Lord with boldness and great power. They had God’s grace and favour. They practiced a form of communism. Voluntarily selling all their possessions, they gave the proceeds to the apostles, who distributed them to whoever was in need. Joses or Barnabas, which means Son of Encouragement, entered the scene. Barnabas was a Jew, a Levite from Cyprus. He sold land and gave the money to the apostles.
The healing of the lame man was a powerful testimony. Do you have a personal testimony of a changed life? This is a very powerful evangelistic tool.
Peter and John were transformed because they had a personal relationship with Jesus. Do you have a personal relationship with Jesus?
The apostles refused to be gag because they were loyal to God, not men. Is your loyalty to God or men?
There is no salvation under any name under heaven apart from Jesus Christ.
Under persecution, the apostles prayed an earth-shattering prayer. How powerful is your prayer?
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be Your name, Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, give us this day our daily bread, forgive us our trespass, even as we forgive those who trespass against us, lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil, for Thine is the kingdom and the power, forever and ever, Amen.