Acts 4

Acts 4

Peter and John Before the Council

And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.

On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.

The Believers Pray for Boldness

When they were released, they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. And when they heard it, they lifted their voices together to God and said, “Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them, who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit,

  “‘Why did the Gentiles rage,
    and the peoples plot in vain?
  The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers were gathered together,
    against the Lord and against his Anointed’—

for truly in this city there were gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

They Had Everything in Common

Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. There was not a needy person among them, for as many as were owners of lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold and laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need. Thus Joseph, who was also called by the apostles Barnabas (which means son of encouragement), a Levite, a native of Cyprus, sold a field that belonged to him and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.


Acts 4 Commentary

by Brad Boyles

As they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to them,  2  being greatly disturbed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

Acts 4:1-2 NASB

Why were the Sadducees so disturbed?

The Sadducees

  • Opposed to anyone instructing the general public in spiritual matters other than the priests.
  • Opposed to anyone making messianic claims and anyone teaching the resurrection of the dead.

The Sadducees were very literal in their translation of Judaism. They were traditional, holding only to the written Torah and rejecting the oral Torah. The Torah is simply the first 5 books of the Bible. In Jewish culture, they are referred to as the 5 books of Moses. Many Jews believed that Moses was given the written law (the written Torah) as well as an oral Torah (an oral version which was a more developed explanation of the written Torah).

One of the beliefs of the oral Torah was the spiritual nature of demons and angels as well as the resurrection of the dead.  The Sadducees, however, rejected the idea of the oral Torah and, therefore, rejected the idea that anyone could be raised from the dead.

Overall, the Sadducees represented a wealthy and traditional group of people within Jewish culture. These uneducated and untrained men, Peter and John, were challenging (1) Their Authority – because they were teaching the people about Jesus (2) Their Doctrine – because they had healed a man in the name of the risen Christ.

Jesus and Sin

The Sadducees wanted control. They wanted authority. They wanted tradition. They wanted prestige. And when their sinful idols were exposed, they had two choices. We always have two choices. They could respond with arrogance or respond with humility.

When Jesus challenges your sin, how do you respond? When he starts meddling in your life and brings confrontation or accountability, how do you respond? Do you make excuses? Do you get angry and blame others? A good indication of how you respond to Jesus is how you respond to others. How do you respond to your wife? How do you respond to your husband? What about other family members? It’s nearly impossible for someone to be obedient to Jesus and then extremely combative to those close to them. So, how are your relationships these days?

In the end, they arrest Peter and John but it’s too late in the day to give them a trial. So, they lock them up overnight. During that time, Luke records this…

But many of those who had heard the message believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.

Acts 4:4 NASB

Though God’s servants were chained, His Word and His Message could not be stopped. In fact, it was thriving. The result of the suffering of Peter and John being locked up in chains resulted in 5,000 men being saved. That number, 5,000, only records men, meaning, the actual number of women and children could have been much greater. When we are faithful to planting seeds, God’s Message cannot be stopped!

And what happens next is a personal and authoritative response from Peter. He’s not speaking on his own. He’s speaking through the Spirit of God.

“He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone.  12  “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”  13  Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.

Acts 4:11-13 NASB

The Community

And the congregation of those who believed were of one heart and soul; and not one of them claimed that anything belonging to him was his own, but all things were common property to them.  33  And with great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and abundant grace was upon them all.

Acts 4:32-33 NASB

These are the acts of the Holy Spirit. These people exist, not for themselves, but so that they could serve and ignite others with the Good News of our Savior. This passage of Acts celebrates community within the church, but it does so with an end goal to exist as an extension of the Most High God, and to bring Salvation to a hurting and confused world. The miraculous events described here are not done by extraordinary people. They are evidence of a unified body which understood that God would do abundantly more than they could ever hope or imagine if they sacrificed their lives.

We see possessions that were formerly viewed as “mine” are now being used for the Kingdom. My house, my food, my possessions, and my land should all be used to glorify God. Anything that God blessed the early church with qualified for use among the greater body. Why has that changed today?

A really good indicator of the Holy Spirit’s presence or absence in a person’s life is the act of either giving or not giving of material possessions. It really comes down to is a misunderstanding of Jesus’ authority over the things He’s allowed you to have. It’s not your stuff. It’s His.

The Holy Spirit blessed the action and commitment of the early church by drawing the people closer to Him, revealing Himself in a way like never before, destroying their formerly selfish attitude, increasing their worship, and increasing the number of those who were saved. Why would He not do the same today?

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