Acts Chapter 4
“Peter said unto Him, Lord, why cannot I follow Thee now? I will
lay down my life for Thy sake” —
in this audience (Zoom also) have made a commitment to the Lord? If you have,
on what you know about the adversary at this moment, how’s your commitment
have you made the mistake of miscalculating the might and power of the
knew, when you made your commitment that it was the hour of the power of
you when you made the commitment to Christ, that that
was the moment in which the prince of this world would make the supreme effort
to hold his own and refuse to be cast out.
Did you miscalculate your own
strength; do you still rely upon the passion of your own emotion?
Did you have any concept of how much
need there is for something stronger in fervor of passionate affection?
Did you miscalculate the kind of
weapon that you would need to overcome the evil?
Or are you still, after claiming “X”
number of years as Christian, trying to draw a literal sword to defeat the
Adversary? and thought/think that it would be sufficient to draw it and smite
with all your might, as Peter did cutting off the ear of Malchus, expect to
slay the Adversary? And go right on following wherever Jesus led?
Ask yourself, is it possible for
human enthusiasm to sustain the Soul?
Have if miscalculated the I need
that comes through prayer?
Like Peter, we too have failed in
like manner. We have brandished the cold steel of strong resolve. But the
disillusioning process has set in, and we have sorrowfully proved that it is
not by flesh and blood that we can enter the Kingdom. Let us not forget our
Lord’s comforting words to Peter: “Jesus
answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily, I say
unto thee, The cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice.”
we would love to follow You wherever You go, but we are weak and helpless, and
our own strength will fail in the final test. May we not trust in our own
resolutions or vows, but in the saving strength of Your Right Hand. In the Name
of Your Dear Son, Jesus and our Dear Lord and Savior, the Christ I pray. AMEN.
4, BIBLE STUDY
our study of this lesson, we will see how God teaches us to deal with the
are some figures in the lesson, we should recognize.
highest court of justice and the supreme council in ancient Jerusalem.
was the Sanhedrin Council? What purpose did the Council serve?
There is agreement
that the Sanhedrin Council of Jerusalem was the highest Jewish authority in
Israel before A.D. 70.
[In 70 AD, the Romans destroyed the temple in Jerusalem and looted its sacred
contents.] It was the
governing body of the Jewish nation at the time of Christ.
The Council was the supreme political and religious body of
Israel. In John 3:1 we are introduced to
a man called Nicodemus, a Pharisee. In that verse he is called a “ruler
of the Jews.” Then in verse 10 of the passage he is called “the
teacher of Israel.”
Both passages reveal
that Nicodemus was a political ruler of Israel and a religious teacher.
This reveals the Council was a political and religious body.
Who Were The Members Of The Council?
[The Sanhedrin Council is referred
to twenty-one times in the New Testament (Matthew 26:59; Mark 14:55; 15:1,
43; Luke 22:66; 23:50-51; Acts 4:15; 5:21, 27, 34,
41; 6:12, 15; 22:5, 30; 23:1, 6, 15, 20, 28; 24:20). Both Luke 22:66
and the comparison of Acts 22:5 with Acts 23:1-7 reveals the Sanhedrin Council
was also called the “council of the elders” (note Acts 23:1-7 follows the
events described in Acts 22). Luke 22:66 reveals that the Sanhedrin Council at
the time of the New Testament was composed of elders of the nation and included
both the chief priests and scribes. ]
Acts 23:1-7 reveals that the Council was composed of Pharisees, Sadducees,
and chief priests.
The First High Priest of the Council
during the time of Christ was Caiaphas (Matthew
26:3). He was chief priest from A.D. 18-36. After him the next
Chief Priest was Ananias (Acts 23:2).
The High Priest was the
president of the Council (Mark 14:53, 60-64).
Since there was no king during the
1st century A.D., he (High Priest) was the principal agent for the people in
dealing with Rome. Thus both religious and political power tend to focus on
Acts 5:34-35 indicates that the
famous rabbi Gamaliel was a member of the Council and made an
eloquent plea for justice for Peter and the Apostles. The only other members of
the Council named in the New Testament are two Christians. They
are Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (John 3:1; Mark 15:43; Luke
23:50-51; John 19:38-39).
The first step of Conversion (from sinner to
1. Repentance of the SIN that carries the penalty of eternal death.
2. Surrender ALL to Christ.
3. Regeneration of the Holy Spirit (sins are washed away, the sinner is
made a new creature IN CHRIST).
4. Justification – God declares the sinner “Not Guilty” of the sin that
carries the penalty of death (John 5:23, 24) sets the sinner apart from the
world for HIS use.
Let’s recall what we have studied in Acts 1, the
Promise of the Holy Spirit and how the Gospel would begin at Jerusalem and
venture throughout the entire world.
Acts 2, we saw the Coming of the Holy Spirit and His effects on the people: 1)
3000 Souls came to Christ; 2) 42And they continued stedfastly in the
apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.43And
fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the
apostles.44And all that believed were together, and had all things
common;45And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to
all men, as every man had need.46And they, continuing daily
with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat
their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,47Praising God, and
having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such
as should be saved.
happened with the 3000 Souls that came on the Day of Pentecost?
were all Jews who committed their Souls to Christ. Peter’s admonition to all
Jews was to Believe in Jesus as Messiah. “Then
Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of
Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the
Holy Ghost.39For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and
to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall
the promise was to Jews, their children, and Gentiles, who were afar off.] The
first step of Conversion for Jews is Repentance of rejecting Jesus as Messiah;
surrender, regeneration and justification.
we saw a continuation of the Spread of the Gospel from the Day of Pentecost.
Peter and John went to the Temple to pray and they encountered a Lame man who experienced,
1) the Power of the Holy Spirit at work, 2)
they continued in the Ministry of the Gospel (Evangelism).
we see, the beginning of Persecution. Satan, the Adversary failed at the
Jesus rose from the dead and he lost power/dominion over the Grave. “And,
behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom;
and the earth did quake, and the rocks rent;52And the graves were
opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose,53And
came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and
appeared unto many” [BELIEVERS]. Not
only did Christ rise, so did all Believers who had died. Christ did not deal with sinners
after the Resurrection. He had “finished” His Work on earth. Now it time for
the Apostles, the Prophets and the Disciples to plant the seed of the Gospel in
preparation for Paul, the Apostle to Gentiles to establish and organize the Local
Church on earth and to make it One IN Christ. “11Wherefore
remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are
called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh
made by hands;12That at that time ye were without Christ, being
aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of
promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:13 But now in
Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of
Christ.14 For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath
broken down the middle wall of partition between us;15Having
abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained
in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making
peace;16And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the
cross, having slain the enmity thereby:17And came and preached peace
to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.18For through
him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.19Now
therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the
saints, and of the household of God;20And are built upon the
foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief
corner stone;21In whom all the building fitly framed together
groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:
22In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God
through the Spirit.
only did Satan loose power over the death and the grave “Knowing that Christ being raised
from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him” – Romans
he lost power over sin: “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye
are not under the law, but under grace” – Romans 6:14.
4, the Adversary begins
Persecution of the Believers of the Gospel by using the Religious and Political
leaders of Israel. Satan, our enemy is spirit, he cannot do anything without a
body. Not everybody on the Council was used by Satan. Gamaliel, Nicodemus, and
Joseph of Arimathea spoke out for Jesus’ followers. The Sadducees and Priests
were the biggest headaches because they did not believe in the Resurrection and
the Priest didn’t want to be indicted for Jesus’ death.
Peter and John Before the Council
The Arrest (Acts 4:1-4)
“And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain
of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,2Being
grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the
resurrection from the dead.3And they laid hands on them, and put
them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide.4Howbeit
many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about
five thousand” – verses 1-4.
is beginning of the persecution of the Church. The Sadducees did not believe
in the resurrection of the dead and were opposed to Peter’s preaching. The
priests, of course, did not want to be indicted for the crucifixion of Christ.
Little did Israel’s religious leaders realize that Peter’s message was the one
thing that could save their nation! Had they admitted their sin and received
Christ, He would have bestowed the Promises that the Prophets had proclaimed
you understand this war between God and Satan, you will get caught up on the
wrong side of the battle.
“And he said, Hearken ye, all Judah, and ye
inhabitants of Jerusalem, and thou king Jehoshaphat, Thus saith the LORD unto
you, Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the
battle is not yours, but God’s” – l Chronicles 20:15.
out of the gate, the Apostles are challenged by Satan.
Jesus’ brother who opposed Jesus before the Resurrection, wrote one chapter in
the Bible. Verse 3 is very important to the Believer. “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto
you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and
exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which
was once delivered unto the saints” – verse 3.
Who delivered the Word of Faith that we must
contend (fight for)? The Apostles and
“Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens
with the saints, and of the household of God;20And are built upon
the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the
chief corner stone;21In whom all the building fitly framed
together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord:22In whom ye also
are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” – Ephesians
“Now all these things happened unto
them [THEM WHO?] for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon
whom the ends of the world are come” I Corinthians 10:11.
The Supremacy of Loyalty
stands for vital and distinctive truths, to many of which other denominations
do not adhere, and that we cannot compromise these truths without disloyalty to
the Scriptures and to our Lord. Baptists believe that they should cooperate
with other denominations, insofar as such cooperation does not affect these
truths, but no union with them is possible, except on the basis of acceptance
in full of the plain teaching of the Word of God – “But in vain they do worship me, teaching for
doctrines the commandments of men” – Matthew 15:9; “But ye have an
unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things.21I have not
written unto you because ye know not the truth, but because ye know it, and
that no lie is of the truth,27 ‘But the anointing which ye have received
of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same
anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as
it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him” – I John 2:20, 21, 27.
In Mark 13:23, “But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold
you all things.” Right in the middle of Jesus’ message about the future,
He tells us, “Take heed; behold, I have told you everything in advance” (NAS).
This should be one of the most motivating prophetic verses: a verse to stir us
to study the subject of prophecy, and find out what Jesus wants us to know.
These Apostles suffered for Christ. If
we suffer, we shall also reign with him: if we deny him, he also will deny us” –
II Timothy 2:12.
The Trial (Acts 4:5-22)
“And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and
elders, and scribes,6And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and
John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest,
were gathered together at Jerusalem.7And when they had set them in
the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?8Then
Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and
elders of Israel,9If we this day be examined of the good deed done
to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;10Be it known
unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ
of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by
him doth this man stand here before you whole.11This is the stone
which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the
corner.12Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none
other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.13Now
when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were
unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them,
that they had been with Jesus.14And beholding the man which was
healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.15But
when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred
among themselves,16Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that
indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them
that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.17But that it
spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they
speak henceforth to no man in this name.18And they called them, and
commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.19But
Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of
God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye.20For we cannot
but speak the things which we have seen and heard.21So when they had
further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might
punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that
which was done.22For the man was above forty years old, on whom this
miracle of healing was shewed.”
this particular court that was assembled on this particular night, was composed
primarily of the High Priest’s family, had become corrupted over the years.
This was an official meeting of the Sanhedrin, the highest Jewish council. Some
of these very men had assisted in the “trial” of Christ not many weeks before.
In fact, their question in Acts 4:7 reminds us
of Jesus’ trial (“And they that had laid hold on
Jesus led him away to Caiaphas the high priest, where the scribes and
the elders were assembled” – Matthew 26:57). Jesus had promised the Disciples
that the world would treat them the same way it had treated Him (“18If the world hate you, ye know that it
hated me before it hated you19If ye were of the world, the
world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have
chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you” – John 15:18ff).
Note, too, that in Matthew 21:23-44 these
same leaders had questioned Jesus about His Authority.
reply was directed by the Holy Spirit, in fulfillment of the promise in Luke 21:12-15, “12
But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you,
delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought
before kings and rulers for my name’s sake.13And it shall turn to
you for a testimony.14Settle it therefore in your hearts, not
to meditate before what ye shall answer:15For I will give you a
mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor
Matthew 10:20, “20For
it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.”
today should never claim this promise as an excuse for neglecting to study or
prepare for teaching or preaching. The Holy Spirit assists us in those
emergency hours when preparation is impossible if we have been faithful at
other times to study.
boldly stated that Jesus Christ, the crucified and now Living Lord, performed
the miracle through His Apostles. How those Jews must have trembled to come
face-to-face with their awful crime! Yet it did no good because their hearts
had become calloused.
identifies Christ as the Stone and the Jewish leaders as the builders. This is
a quotation from Psalm 118:22-23. Christ
Himself used this passage in debating with these very leaders (Matthew 21:43). The Jews rejected Christ as the
Chosen Stone on whom the Kingdom would be established; that Rejected Stone
became the Chief Cornerstone of the Church (Ephesians
that Peter stated clearly that Israel had rejected Christ. However, in Acts 4:12, he invited them to believe on Christ
and be saved [“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there
is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. While this verse certainly applies to all
sinners of every age, it had a special meaning for the nation in Peter’s day.
the leaders repented and received Christ, He would have saved the nation from
the awful tragedy that came in just a few years when Rome destroyed the Temple
and the City.
Acts 4:13-17 the “jury” recessed to consider
the case. They were impressed with the boldness of the Apostles. This is
significant inasmuch as Peter had denied his Lord in fear just a few weeks
before. The phrase “unlearned and ignorant” in Acts
4:13 literally means “untaught and unlettered”; that is, the Apostles
had not been instructed in the official Schools of the Rabbis. Yet they
knew so much more about the Scriptures than did the religious leaders. The
leaders also realized that these men “had been with
Jesus” (Acts 4:13) in the Garden and during His last week in Jerusalem
before His death.
they faced an even greater problem: how could they explain the healing of the
beggar? They could not deny the miracle, so they decided to silence the
Apostles did not accept this verdict, for their loyalty to Christ meant more
than any protection from the government. The judges finally had to let them go.
The boldness of the Disciples, the Power of the Word, and the testimony of the
healed beggar were too good a “case” and the judges had no answers.
The Victory (Acts 4:23-37)
Believers Pray for Boldness
23 And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported
all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.24And when
they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said,
Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and
all that in them is:25Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast
said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?26The
kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the
Lord, and against his Christ.27For of a truth against thy holy child
Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the
Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,28For to
do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.29And
now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with
all boldness they may speak thy word,30By stretching forth thine
hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy
child Jesus.31And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where
they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and
they spake the word of God with boldness.
Had Everything in Common
32And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of
one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he
possessed was his own; but they had all things common.33 And with
great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus:
and great grace was upon them all.34Neither was there any among them
that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought
the prices of the things that were sold,35And laid them down
at the apostles' feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he
had need.36And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas,
(which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of
the country of Cyprus,37Having land, sold it, and brought the
money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Christians always return “to their own company.” (They went out from us, but they were not of us;
for if they had been of us, they would no doubt have continued with us:
but they went out, that they might be made manifest that they were not
all of us” – I John 2:19.) The Assembly did not lament because persecution had
begun; rather, the Believers rejoiced and prayed!
that in Acts 4:25-26 they referred to Psalm 2:1-12, which is a Messianic Psalm,
speaking about the day when Christ shall return to rule with Power. Christians
today ought to imitate the first Christians in their praying, for they tied
their praying to the Word of God (“If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye
shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you” – John
prayed for boldness, and God answered by filling them with the Spirit. This was not a
“second Pentecost,” for the Spirit came to Fill with Power and not to baptize
the Believers. The Holy Spirit also gave them a wonderful Unity, so much so
that they sold their goods and shared with those in need. This “Christian
communism” was another proof of the presence of the Spirit, a sample
of what will happen in the Kingdom Age when all nations have the Spirit and
unselfishly love one another. This “communism” is a political and economic system
that seeks to create a classless society. [It has no relation to Marxist
communism, where it is believed that capitalism is a volatile economic system that
will suffer a series of ever-worsening crises— recessions and depressions —that
will produce greater unemployment, lower wages, and increasing misery among the
note that this sharing of goods was a temporary occurrence and is not
required by the Body of Christ today. While Christians today are to have the
same Spirit of Love, they are not expected to sell their goods and form a
Acts 11:27-30, the Christians at Antioch had
to send relief to the Jerusalem Believers. (See also Romans
15:26; I Corinthians 16:1-3; II Corinthians 8:1-4.)
Israel rejected the message, this gracious working of the Spirit gradually
disappeared. The pattern for NT Church Giving is found in II Cor. 8-9, I Timothy 5:8 and II Thessalonians 3:7-13.
“Boldness” seems to be a key
thought in this chapter. See how the early Believers received this boldness:
they were filled with the Spirit (“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them,
Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel” – Acts 4:8 and “And when they had prayed, the place
was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled
with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness” – Acts
they prayed (“And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and
grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak
thy word, Acts 4:29), and they relied on the Word of God (Acts 4:25-28). The Indwelling of the Holy Spirit
occurs once, but the FILLING of the Holy Spirit can occur as many times as
and I may have boldness in our walk and witness if we feed on the Word, pray,
and surrender to the Spirit. We may have boldness on earth because Christ gives
us boldness in Heaven (“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may
obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.
Hebrews 4:16 and “Having therefore, brethren, boldness
to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus” – Hebrews 10:19).