Acts 4

acts-4.jpgGreetings!

Peter and John Before the Sanhedrin

4     The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.

The Sadducees were a group of Jewish religious leaders who did not believe in the resurrection.

5 The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 He is

“‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.’

12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

V. 12 is one of the one hundred verses in the Bible teaching that Jesus is the only way to salvation. 

Once again, Peter emphasizes the crucifixion and resurrection as central to the Gospel message.

13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”

The courage of Peter and John was evident, as was their witness in light of their lack of education.  God used ordinary men as Apostles and He uses ordinary people today to spread his Word. 

Instead of embracing the truth the leaders conspired to keep their power with the least possible inconvenience. 

18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, “Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God’s sight to obey you rather than God. 20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

21 After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.

As Romans 13 and other passages point out, we are to be obedient to our governments, but only to the extent that their laws don’t contradict God’s laws.  If we can only obey one party, we should obey God over man. 

Millions of people have lost their money, freedom and even their lives out of obedience to Christ.  I am inspired by them and by the Apostles who could not help speaking about what they saw and heard.  May we be as faithful as they were!

The Believers’ Prayer

23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:

“‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?

26 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.’

27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

This is a great prayer, especially v. 29.  May God consider the threats against us and enable his servants to speak his Word with great boldness.

He used scripture as part of his prayer (v. 25-26).  It may seem odd to quote God’s Word back to him, but it is actually a great practice.  My favorite devotional / prayer book is Face to Face: Praying the Scriptures for Intimate Worship.

The Believers Share Their Possessions

32 All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33 With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. 34 There were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales 35 and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone as he had need.

36 Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement), 37 sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

The Holy Bible : New International Version. 1996, c1984. Grand Rapids: Zondervan.

The early church was united and very generous.  Remember, this isn’t Socialism or Communism because it was all voluntary.  We should keep an eternal perspective and remember that possessions will rust and decay but the opportunities we use to advance God’s kingdom are eternal.  I was just thinking this morning about how it was time to reevaluate our giving and increase our % of donations.  It is so easy to think of all the material needs and such, but there are so many great ways to help others and spread the Word.

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One Response

  1. I am on the Stewardship Committee at my church and we struggle with emphasizing to our members the importance of tithing. The Old Testament suggests giving 10% of our income. Sometimes for me that seems like a lot, but I find that by tithing I put more faith in God to take care of me and in the end I am never in want of anything. He blesses me in so many ways. Its not really my money to keep anyway since everything I receive is ultimately from Him and belongs to Him.

    My committee comments on the fact that if every member were to even give 5% or 3% we would have plenty of money to keep our doors open, pay for our pastor, support our missionary, and provide opportunities for our own members to reach out to others with the Gospel. But instead we have a hard time keeping our budget, paying for our church workers, and take out loans to pay for heat and electricity. Ultimately where do their loyalties lie, Christ or money?

    I believe the church at large is struggling with this problem and pray that all Christians look towards the early church as an example of Christian Stewardship and Evangelism.

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