While Peter and John were speaking to the people, they were confronted by the priests, the captain of the Temple guard, and some of the Sadducees. These leaders were very disturbed that Peter and John were teaching the people that through Jesus there is a resurrection of the dead. They arrested them and, since it was already evening, put them in jail until morning. But many of the people who heard their message believed it, so the number of believers now totalled about 5,000 men, not counting women and children. The next day the council of all the rulers and elders and teachers of religious law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, along with Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and other relatives of the high priest. They brought in the two disciples and demanded, “By what power, or in whose name, have you done this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of our people, are we being questioned today because we’ve done a good deed for a crippled man? Do you want to know how he was healed? Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognised them as men who had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there among them, there was nothing the council could say. So they ordered Peter and John out of the council chamber and conferred among themselves. “What should we do with these men?” they asked each other. “We can’t deny that they have performed a miraculous sign, and everybody in Jerusalem knows about it. But to keep them from spreading their propaganda any further, we must warn them not to speak to anyone in Jesus’ name again.” So they called the apostles back in and commanded them never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than Him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.” The council then threatened them further, but they finally let them go because they didn’t know how to punish them without starting a riot. For everyone was praising God for this miraculous sign—the healing of a man who had been lame for more than forty years. As soon as they were freed, Peter and John returned to the other believers and told them what the leading priests and elders had said. When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God: “O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them— You spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, Your servant, saying, ‘Why were the nations so angry? Why did they waste their time with futile plans? The kings of the earth prepared for battle; the rulers gathered together against the LORD and against His Messiah. In fact, this has happened here in this very city! For Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate the governor, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were all united against Jesus, Your holy servant, whom You anointed. But everything they did was determined beforehand according to Your will. And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, Your servants, great boldness in preaching Your word. Stretch out Your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of Your holy servant Jesus.” After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness. All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had. The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need. For instance, there was Joseph, the one the apostles nicknamed Barnabas (which means “Son of Encouragement”). He was from the tribe of Levi and came from the island of Cyprus. He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles.Acts 4:1-37
Now we come to the next block of text we have to deal with from Acts 4. Before we start we have to work out how many segments or sense units are involved so that we can make the best sense of it. What naturally fits together into units so that we can make better sense of the pieces? So I am giving that task to you. Divide it into the sections that you think best enable us to make sense of it. Where would you put the unit breaks to enable us to see how this fits together or doesn’t fit together? What needs to be broken into separate units to help us make better sense of the whole? Divide the units and give them a title to aid your understanding of how the parts come together to make the whole. Remember, neither the divisions nor the segment titles (pericope headings) were present in the original text. So now is your chance to put the divisions and the headings in to help you understand it better.
When you have divided it into its parts, list the questions you think need to be asked in order to better understand each unit? Questions to help your understanding about the details in each part and questions to ask about the whole to help you see how the parts come together. Which parts need to be separated and set apart as separate part(s) that don’t fit with the unit before or after it? Remember, it’s the questions you ask which determine the depth of your understanding. What elements need further examination in order for us to better understand what Peter or Luke is intending here? What words or elements are in focus to help us understand what the speaker or the writer is intending here?
I will share my division of Acts Chapter 4 in the next Gem along with some of the questions I have come up with. Remember, the divisions of Scripture don’t necessarily follow the chapters and verses put in our Bible by Robert Estienne. So now is your chance to determine what you think based on your reading of the passage.
Continuing story in the following Gems.
Why do we spend more time reading and watching what we know is a lie than reading what we know is the truth?Rick Warren
The Bible is meant to be bread for daily use, not cake for special occasions.Ian Vail
Don’t be afraid to do what it is you know you should do even if you end up being the only one doing it.Anon
The greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually be afraid you will make one.Elbert Hubbard