When last we left the Apostles Peter and John, they had just healed a crippled beggar at the temple. Peter took advantage of the situation and started preaching the Good News of Jesus’ salvation. In Acts 4, both he and John keep preaching with boldness and they get in trouble with the exact same people who crucified Jesus. What they say when confronted is a lesson for us in courage. Let’s dig in…
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. 2 These leaders were very disturbed that Peter and John were teaching the people that through Jesus there is a resurrection of the dead. 3 They arrested them and, since it was already evening, put them in jail until morning. 4 But many of the people who heard their message believed it, so the number of men who believed now totaled about 5,000. (Not counting their wives and children).
5 The next day the council of all the rulers and elders and teachers of religious law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, along with Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and other relatives of the high priest. 7 They brought in the two disciples and demanded, “By what power, or in whose name, have you done this?”
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of our people, 9 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? 10 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. 11 For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says,
‘The stone that you builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.’ [Psalm 118:22]
12 There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”
13 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 recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. 14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there among them, there was nothing the council could say. 15 So they ordered Peter and John out of the council chamber and conferred among themselves.
16 “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. 17 But to keep them from spreading their propaganda any further, we must warn them not to speak to anyone in Jesus’ name again.” 18 So they called the apostles back in and commanded them never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus.
19 But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than him? 20 We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”
21 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 22 for this miraculous sign—the healing of a man who had been lame for more than forty years.
They were ordinary people filled with courage…
“Filled with the Holy Spirit” — when we read or hear that phrase we may imagine holy rollers screaming, speaking gibberish, and falling on the floor in a Charismatic church. That’s not what’s going on here. The Holy Spirit is giving Peter and John boldness to preach the truth about Jesus’ salvation.
Remember, Peter and John were merely uneducated fishermen from Galilee. The Holy Spirit gave them the right words to say at the right time. They were able to articulate themselves clearly.
What seems to be a disregard for personal safety, is courage only found in the power of the Holy Spirit. Peter and John were brought in front of the same religious leaders who crucified Jesus. They knew they were taking a risk, but the risk was worth it as they added more than 2000 new believers to the church.
The Believers Pray for Courage
23 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. 24 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— 25 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?
26 The kings of the earth prepared for battle;
the rulers gathered together
against the Lord
and against his Messiah.’ [Psalm 2:1-2]
27 “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. 28 But everything they did was determined beforehand according to your will. 29 And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. 30 Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
31 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.
God Uses Bad Circumstances to Spread His Word
Last April, during the first COVID-19 lockdown, when all the churches were told they could not meet, many churches moved their Easter services online. One church in California, baptized over 1000 people the week after. These churches in CA have not shut down and are fighting their state government. They are still meeting and growing tremendously. So much so, that they’ve had to add more services and are talking about expanding their campuses. This is very similar to what the first apostles went through. But, God is giving them the courage and boldness to stand up to government leaders who are trying to suppress the spreading of God’s Good News.
“Expect great things from God. Attempt great things for God.”William Carey, missionary
This song came to mind…
There is Power in the Name of Jesus
Next we look in on the church members and how they helped each other…
The Believers Share Their Possessions
32 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. 33 The apostles testified powerfully to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God’s great blessing was upon them all. 34 There were no needy people among them, because those who owned land or houses would sell them 35 and bring the money to the apostles to give to those in need.
36 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. 37 He sold a field he owned and brought the money to the apostles.Acts 4 NLT
What we see here is unity — under one accord. Again, this is not socialism, as the government is not involved. It’s the people who have a lot sharing with the people who are needy. That’s charity. It’s showing the love of Jesus with their actions.
Two dear friends of mine went to be in Heaven with Jesus this week. One died of cancer, one of COVID. I’ve mentioned their faith before.
My friends are both now totally & completely healed from their diseases. They both knew Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Savior. Because of that, I know I will see them again. That’s the confident hope true believers have once they invite Jesus into their hearts.