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
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
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
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.Acts 4:4
Have a few important pieces come together for you, with me highlighting these verses? Do you see now why Luke concentrates a lot on the witnesses to the action? The Lord told the disciples that they would be WITNESSES of Him, to Him and about Him. The witness theme is one that runs throughout the book. That’s one of the reasons there are so many speeches. Not only that but we are told that the flow of this action will be outward from Jerusalem. At the moment we are still in Jerusalem. We are still on the first phase of the expansion of the Gospel. Notice too that it is all the work of the Holy Spirit. Peter and John have not had to do much at all and the other disciples have not been involved it seems. At the end of the day of Pentecost 3,000 had been added to the church. There are a number of days unaccounted for between the end of the day of Pentecost and the day when the healing took place at the temple. The Coming of the Spirit and the miracle of languages resulted in 3,000 people being added to the fold by the end of the day. Then there are a number of days which go by when the fledgling church is growing just simply because of the dynamic which people observe between the body of believers. It is almost like John records in his gospel – the result of the people seeing the love and care they have for one another. [They will know you are my disciples by your love.] We are told that new members were being added to their fellowship each day. On one of those days, the healing takes place at the temple, observed by all who were at the afternoon prayer meeting that day. No doubt there were many others outside the temple who observed the result of the healing and who knew the man. It seems he was known by all. On each occasion, an explanation (or witness) is given as to what is happening and why. Now, following the day on which the lame man was healed, there is a manifold increase in the fellowship as a result of what had happened. The number has gone from3,000 in all (which infers women and children are included in the count along with the men) to 5,000 men not including women and children. Let’s just put forward a guess of a ratio of 1:1:1 in men, women and children in the total of 3,000 – so 1,000 men, 1,000 women and 1,000 children. If that is the case then the number of men has increased five fold from 1,000 to 5,000. Just how many there are on the day after the healing we don’t know. But the point is that there was a sudden increase of growth in adherents.
Why were we not told the number at the end of the day of the healing? Why does this verse (Acts 4:4) curiously appeared in the midst of the court hearing? Some feel that it does act as a summary at the end of the day of the healing. If Robert Estienne had divided the chapter at the end of verse 4, then it would have. Verse five would then start the next day after their night in custody. But the flow of the Greek doesn’t allow for that because rather than the focus being on action after the healing, the attention has switched to the opposition it has generated. With the way Luke has linked these ideas, it is almost as if the growth has come because of persecution. Hold that thought! That may be important later. Can growth indeed come from persecution? Is that a healthy way of looking at it? Well, let’s for now put it on the back burner and consider it.
Is the summary verse, which follows the growth of believers, in the wrong place or is it in exactly the right place it needs to be?If Estienne had divided the chapter after our focus verse, we might assume that after each miraculous event or action we have the summary verse to relay to us the news of the growth of the body of believers. But where it is placed in Acts 4:4, the focus appears to be persecution. Is this a bridge to changes that are in the wind? Food for thought but if you really want to know, then wait and ask Luke. Or as I said in the previous Gems, perhaps it is not Luke you should ask but rather the Holy Spirit as the Inspirer of the book and the action. After all, the book of Acts is about the Acts of the Holy Spirit, is it not?
The first item on God’s agenda is saving your soul for eternity.Ian Vail
If your plans don’t generate opposition, you may have set your sights too low.Ian Vail
A certain amount of opposition is of great help to a man. Kites rise against, not with the wind.John Neal
We’re NOT called to be judge, prosecutor, or even defence attorney! We are called to be WITNESSES.Anon
Every time your faith is put on trial, your character is placed on the witness stand.A R Bernard