The Bridge / Intro:
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?”Acts 4:1-7
Peter’s Bold Response:
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.”Acts 4:8-12
The Council’s Response:
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.”Acts 4:13-17
Peter and John recalled and threatened:
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.Acts 4:18-22
The Believers Response to God:
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.”Acts 4:23-30
The End Result:
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.Acts 4:31-35
An example given – the Next Bridge:
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 4:36-37
So often preachers and Bible study groups, to name a few, attempt to take a verse and over-analyse it. I am sure we are all aware that you cannot take a sentence out of its setting and analyse it in any way you choose. Any sentence we speak in a conversation, speech, lecture, sermon, dialogue or any other form of human communication must always be interpreted in its context. As the saying goes: a text without a context is a pretext. Once we know the overall context, the flow of speech or written thought unfolds in layers. It is easy to understand every sentence if we can spot the way the flow is moving. If we take note of the repeated elements then it becomes clear what is being said. Once we have a feel for the big picture, we are in a better position to interpret each individual sentence in its context and see where the speaker or the writer is going with what is being said.
It is interesting the way this account is structured. I am sure you have worked out that it is a follow-on from Chapter 3. We are still dealing with the same event – the healing of the lame man. But now we have entered a different phase of the fallout (aftermath if you would prefer). There is his reaction to his healing, there is the reaction of those in the temple to his healing. Peter then makes a speech about its significance. While this is all happening, Peters speech is interrupted by the Council and the temple guard who confront them. Peter and John are arrested and spend the night in jail and then the next morning are called before the Council. Notice the man is not with them in jail or before the Council as a defendant, but he was in the Council Chamber where the hearing was taking place. His presence (verse 14) limits the lengths to which the Council can go in punishing Peter and John.
Notice the progression of events
- the healing
- the explanation with credit to Christ.
- confronted by the Council
- imprisoned overnight
- a hearing before the Council
- the Council discuss their strategy
- Council warn Peter and John
- Peter and John released
- the believers respond to God
- the church grows in numbers and unity
- a curious example given
Take careful note of the pattern. It is very carefully structured. Note the similarities which keep popping up in this account. They are there for a reason. Luke is recounting the events in a very deliberate way. Despite the fact that we can pick out the segments above, it is also clear that the whole account from the opening of Chapter 3 all goes together in terms of the narrative being told. There is flow between each section. These segments are held together either by temporal or by logical connections which I have coloured red. Take note of the flow which exists between them. One thing leads into the next. It is all sequential by nature and structure.
Now it is time for you to stop and ponder what you need to know in each of the sections above. Ask your questions to aid your understanding.
I will add mine tomorrow and then proceed to work through each section one by one.
One of the happiest moments you will experience in feeding on the Word of God is when you find the gold for yourself!
When God quickens His Word to your heart it is no longer Logos but has become Rhema. It has been planted deep within your Spirit. Learn to cherish those moments.Ian Vail
Always remember that striving and struggle precede success, even in the dictionary.Ian Vail
The miracle is this – the more we share, the more we have.Anon
Open your heart to the input of the Holy Spirit who lives inside you and inspired the Book.Anon