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
Now for the missing question on the Bridge / Intro.
- Did you notice there was one question that I hadn’t dealt with? Or had you forgotten it?
- Why is verse 4 dropped into the middle of the other verses of the introduction which clearly set the scene?
Doesn’t it seem just a little curious to you that we have the description of the preliminary encounter with the priests and Sadducees resulting in Peter and John being held overnight. Which is then followed the next day with the rather strange appearance before the council without any clear charges being laid. Sandwiched between that is this rather peculiar verse.
“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.”
It seems like a summary verse which has been put in the wrong place.
- What is its connection to the verses before and after it? The connection doesn’t appear to be temporal, sequential in time.
- It doesn’t appear to be causative?
- There is no reason for the 5000+ new believers to be associated with Peter and John being put in prison. Is there?
- Isn’t there something curious about this verse?
- Do you have a deja vu feeling about it? You should do.
- Doesn’t it feel to you like you have heard this before? You ought to.
- Where does it come? Is Peter the source of this?
- Does it come from John who hasn’t spoken up yet?
- Or it is from the pen of Luke?
- A verse like this requires us to step away from the text and take in the big picture.
- Are there elements about this verse which remind you of other comments you have read?
Those who believed what Peter said were baptised and added to the church that day—about 3,000 in all.Acts 2:41
all the while praising God and enjoying the goodwill of all the people. And each day the Lord added to their fellowship those who were being saved.Acts 2:47
And to those verse we have added our focus verse for today.Acts 4:4
Allow me to remind you of Acts 1:8 and all I said about it since we began the Gems on Luke.
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be My witnesses, telling people about Me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.Acts 1:8
These are all key verses in the flow of the book of Acts. It was not Peter or John who drew our attention to the growth of the church and the moments when it happened. It was Luke. He was the redactor who combined his resources in the most appropriate way to achieve his purpose. Or is there a source behind Luke responsible? That could well be.
Take some time to think about it and put the pieces together. Consider the context in which these verses appear to help you decide what is going on. Once you have done that ponder a while on the positioning of this verse and the flow of thought or action around it. I will pull the threads together in the next Gem. In the meantime, this is a short pithy Gem for Good Friday for you to chew on.
A crowd is NOT a Church. You need a sequential discipleship process to turn attenders into missionaries.Ian Vail
A church’s strength & health is revealed in its small groups, not its pulpit! A Body’s life is in its cells, not its mouth!Ian Vail
The Church has never been a building, or needed a building to grow. Jesus died for people, not property.Rick Warren
God looks at a church’s SENDING capacity, NOT seating capacity: How many are mobilized for mission?”Anon
Some people go to church just to gather, and some people go to church “to grow”. Why do you go?A R Bernard