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New Life Bible Chapel - Friday Bible Study - The book of Acts by Ritchin Sen In Acts 3 we saw how

Peter, with the help of the Holy Spirit, healed a man lame from birth which aided in proclaiming the gospel among Jews present at the Temple. Acts 4 I The Apostles Defence (Acts 4:1-22) a. v.1 We see as Peter and John were speaking when the priest, the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, that is, interrupted their preaching and took them into custody. The priests are the people who serve at the temple and are from the tribe of Levi, which started from Aaron and his sons (Lev. 8). The Captain of the temple was the commander of the temple police1. They were responsible for maintaining peace and order in the temple and they also comprised of Levites. In power, they were 2nd only to the high priest. The Sadducees were a very small group of Jews, mainly from rich aristocratic families, who held only the Pentateuch as Scripture. They denied supernatural things, such as resurrection from the dead (Mat 22:23) and the existence of angels (Acts 23:8). Some people see them as the same as Pharisees but the 2 groups had almost nothing in common. We wont go in detail here about their differences but the only time the two groups united was when during their opposition of Christ (Mat.22:15-16, 23, 34-35). APPLICATION QUESTION 1: Why were the priests, captain of the temple and Sadducees greatly annoyed with Peter and John? b. v.2 Now Peter and John were interrupted by these people because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. The highlight of the apostles sermon was the hindrance to the Jewish leaders beliefs. These Jewish leaders had put to death Jesus Christ and the charge they put on Him, for which Jesus received crucifixion, was that of a blasphemer and now these apostles were proclaiming His resurrection. They were not happy that the apostles were so public with the doctrine they objected to, the doctrine of resurrection. c. v.3-4 Because this doctrine was preached so openly to the Jewish crowd, Peter and John were arrested and put them behind bars because it was evening. The reason for this is because the Jewish Sanhedrin met in the mornings and so they were detained till the time they could appear in front of the Sanhedrin. And we can see that many of the people who heard the word that was preached, concerning the salvation made available through Jesus Christ, were saved. The number of the men alone, as recorded in Acts 4, grew to 5000 and so there could have been well over 10,000 Christians at that time. What we can see till now from Chapter 1 to 4, the rapid growth of the early church was made possible through 2 events that was influenced by the Holy Spirit: i. The preaching of the Word (Acts 2:14-41, 3:12-26) ii. The many wonders and signs (Acts 2:43, cf. 4:14, 16) d. v.5-6 The next day, the scene is at the Jewish high court with the elders and scribes there. It consisted of 71 members. 70 elders according to what was ordered by God in Numbers 11:16 and the high priest who presided over the whole gathering. In this court, the numbers were mainly dominated by the priestly Sadducees and the Pharisees only represented a minority, who were usually scribes (lawyers)

1 Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Book of Acts, NICNT. Grand Rapids, MI :Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

of the court2 3 . Here we see Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, who were of the high-priestly family, present at the court. Caiaphas was Annas son-in-law (John 18:13). John, which could be an alternate reading for Jonathan, was Annas own son. Not much of information is available about Alexander. But if we go back to Matthew 26:3, we can see that at that time the high priest was Caiaphas but in Acts 4:6, we see Luke calling Annas as the high priest and we know for a fact that not many days had passed since the time of Mat. 26 and Acts 4. Like in Matthews account, Caiaphas is still the high priest but some people explain this as a contradiction but we must always be aware of cultural aspects. In the Jewish culture, once you become a high priest, even once you retire, you still carry the designation of a high priest. In modern times it is similar to U.S. Presidents, they retain their titles for life. Annas served in the role of high priest from AD.6-15 and his son-in-law, Caiaphas, served from A.D.18-36. John, or Jonathon, would later serve as high priest from A.D.36-37. At this gathering, Annas, even though was ex-high priest, was a controlling figure because of his previous office and influence. e. v.7 Then Peter and John were brought and put in front of the court, on trial, and they were inquired by what power or by what name did they heal the lame man (Acts 3). The Sanhedrin, even though their motives were not right, were acting within their jurisdiction. Peter was asked to explain his actions, before the high Priest, because as per the Mosaic Law (Deut. 13:1-5), anyone who performed a miracle and used it to teach to the people, that person was to be examined. If the teaching was found to be false, that person was stoned4. This is reminiscent of when they asked Jesus the same question, the day after He cleansed the temple and healed many blind and lame people, while He was teaching at the temple in Matthew 21:23. f. v.8-10 Peter was then filled by the Holy Spirit in order to respond or deliver the divine message that God wanted these men to hear. This again is in fulfillment to what Jesus had prophesied to them in Luke 12:11-12, And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say. Now filled with the Holy Spirit, Peter begins to give a response to the Sanhedrins question. He begins to address the rulers of the people and elders and says to them that if they are being interrogated concerning the good deed done to a crippled man, that is to know by what means this crippled man was healed, Peter says the Sanhedrin and the whole of Israel should know what it is. Peter says that it was by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom they (the Sanhedrin) crucified and whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before them in perfect health, completely healed. g. v.11 Peter goes on to explain whom this Jesus was/is. The point that these Jewish leaders were missing. Peter quotes OT Scripture to make that connection, which is from Psalm 118:22. Jesus was the stone that was rejected by the builders (Jewish elders). The builders were the ones responsible in building up their nation but the stone they were to utilize, they threw away not realizing that the stone was, in all actuality, the cornerstone.The cornerstone is important because all other stones will be set in reference to this stone and therefore that determines the position of the entire structure. h. v.12 And here, Peter delivers the blow. He declares in such a way that there is no escaping the truth for these Jewish leaders. He proclaims that salvation is only available through one name and that is Jesus Christ. Peter makes his point by stating that in the whole world (under heaven) there is no other name of someone through whom we can be saved.
2 E.S.V. Study Bible Notes. 3 Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Book of Acts, NICNT. Grand Rapids, MI :Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co. 4 Willmington, Dr. H. L. (2011). Willmingtons GUIDE to the Bible. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.

R.C. Sproul said, Moses could meditate on the law, Mohammed could brandish the sword, Buddha could give personal counsel, Confucius could offer wise sayings. But none of these men was qualified to offer an atonement for the sins of the world. With v.12, Peter is not only inciting them regarding their beliefs but he is also inviting them to place their faith in Jesus who is the Christ. On closer study, the tactic that the Holy Spirit uses against men is amazing. He uses the same tactic of bringing the contrast between mans judgement and Gods judgement of Jesus. This happened in Peters last sermon as well. These Jewish leaders saw the works of God and tried to put Peter and John on trial but once Peter spoke and delivered the gospel message, through the Holy Spirit, he put the Jewish leaders on trial. i. v.13 Here the words uneducated and common did not mean that they were illiterate but just that they were ordinary men who did not attend advanced training at rabbinic schools nor formally taught OT theology. Because of which they were not expected to speak the way they did in the lands supreme court. The text says they spoke with boldness. The Greek word for boldness is parresia and it explains speech that is inspired by the Holy Spirit which results in courage and confidence to speak in spite of danger or threats present. The Sanhedrin were astonished by the apostles, and they immediately recognized that these men were with Jesus which is because they recognized the controversial teachings of that blasphemer they put to death a little over a month ago and now they see these apostles teaching and proclaiming that the blasphemer, Jesus, was resurrected from the dead and was alive. Also, they could recognize the authority with which the apostles were speaking because the Jewish elders said the same when they heard Jesus teaching in John7:15. j. v.14 Then the contrast comes in v.14, But. The Sanhedrin saw the lame man that was healed standing next to the apostles. Although they condemned Jesus as a blasphemer and they could very well put a charge against the apostles as being followers of Jesus who were teaching false theology, contradicting and polluting the teachings of the OT Scripture BUT they couldnt oppose them. Because the healing of the cripple man was a witness to the mighty works of God, a small part of Peters sermon, which was the gospel message. Peter and John lay claim that it was in Jesus name that the lame man was healed and there was nothing the Sanhedrin could say or do to deny that claim because the proof was standing right there in front of them. k. v.15-16 Then Peter and John were sent out of the council-chambers, momentarily, so that the elders could decide on what to do with these men. They could not decide on what to do because they realized two things: i. They couldnt punish the two apostles when they did not do any wrong (break any OT laws) and, ii. Because the apostles did a notable sign that was well known now throughout the city of Jerusalem. The elders not only wanted to punish them (but they couldnt) but they also wanted to put a stop to the message they were preaching to the Jewish people mainly because the incriminating truth, preached by Peter, was declaring the Sanhedrin as having executed the Messiah. And the Sanhedrins fear was that the people could not do anything else but listen to them because they were doing notable signs, with the help of the Holy Spirit. [SOMETHING TO THINK ABOUT]: If we want to preach the gospel to the outside world, that is to the people around us, do we show enough evidence of Christian conviction and behaviour in our lives, for them to take notice and accept what we say? Another way to look at it is, if you were to be arrested on the charge of being a Christian, would they find enough evidence to find you guilty? l. v.17-18 And so the Sanhedrin decided to charge, or threaten, the apostles to not speak nor teach anymore in the name of Jesus. Whats interesting here is that all the Sanhedrin tried to do was to

dismiss the apostles with a warning and not trying to disprove the apostles claim of the resurrection of Jesus. The reason being, there was no proof that he was still dead which is why we see the apostles so boldly proclaiming the resurrection of the Saviour. Imagine if ever the Jewish elders were able to refute the fact of Jesus resurrection how fast the early church would have collapsed and would not have continued to this very day!5 m. v.19-20 But Peter and John went contrary to what the council had ordered them to do. APPLICATION QUESTION 2: (Read Romans 13:1-7, Daniel 6:4-10) When is it allowable for a believer to disobey the civil authorities? Christians are to obey civil law or governing bodies (Rom. 13:1-7; 1 Pet. 2:13-17) but when such order come from authorities that prohibit preaching the gospel or goes clearly against the Word of God, God must be obeyed. Just like Peter said in Acts 5:29, We must obey God rather than men. When we keep this command we are always on the winning side, that is Gods. Nothing will ever hinder Gods plan for us when we stand for Him. That is exactly the case in Acts 4:20-21. Peter obeys Gods command and says he cannot but speak of what they have seen and heard about Jesus Christ. n. v.2122 We can see from the Bible that the Jewish elders base their decisions on what the people think (Mat. 21:26, 46; Mark 11:32; Luke 20:6,19,22:2; Acts 5:13, 26) rather than what God has commanded them. And so we can see the contrast here. Because the apostles obey Gods command, the council could only throw empty threats at them and could not punish the apostles and they are let free and on the other hand because the Jewish elders did not pay attention to God when they were supposed to and turned their attention to serving based on crowd-pleasing, they were left powerless. Here we see all the people present there were praising God because of what happened to the man lame from birth. The miracle of his healing through the name of Jesus Christ of Nazereth. II The Believers Prayer (Acts 4:23-31) a. v.23-24 When the apostles were released we see them going to their fellow believer friends house and reported all that the chief priests and elders said to them. On hearing all that was said, the believers as a whole resorted to prayer to the Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them. This prayer was influenced by OT Scripture as we can see this kind of language used in Exodus 20:11, 2 Chronicles 2:12; Nehemiah 9:6; Psalm 102:25, 124:8, 134:3, 146:6 etc. b.v.25-28 Here we see the believers quoting Psalm 2 which gives us Messianic references to what happened recently. The Gentiles raging can be seen as the Romans who sentenced Jesus to the cross and carried it out. The peoples who plotted in vain are represented by the Jewish leaders and the kings of the earth who set themselves was represented by Herod Antipas, while the rulers represented Pilate. By quoting this Psalm, the believers were showing it had a prophetic overtone to it. Them quoting the Psalm was declaring that all these men who acted against Jesus, were simply carrying out Gods plan. APPLICATION QUESTION 3: What were some of the things the believers prayed for after they faced their first opposition? How does their prayer challenge you? c. v.29-30 We see that instead of praying for their safety or protection they pray asking God to make them even bolder when they speak His Word, while God performs the different signs and wonders, through the name of Jesus, amongst the people. They dont pray against their enemies but rather for their courage to be able to be effective witnesses for Jesus amongst the opposition. d. v.31 And like an answer to their prayers, the whole place, where the believers were located, shook and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and they continued to speak the Word of God with boldness. III The Believers Charity (Acts 4:32-36)
5 Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Book of Acts, NICNT. Grand Rapids, MI :Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.

Now this section of Acts 4 may seem similar to Acts 2:43-47 but both these passages serve different purposes. The Acts 2 section was the conclusion of activities on the Day of Pentecost whereas the Acts 4 section serves as an introduction to Acts 5. This is a natural break in Lukes account. a. v.32-35 Here we see that all the believers were of one heart and soul, meaning they were all in agreement with one another in thought, word and deed. They shared everything they had with one another. The sharing even extended into each persons private property where believers were selling their own lands and houses and laying the proceeds of their sale at the apostles feet. The proceeds were then distributed among people whenever the need arose. Because of this intense, voluntary charity practised by the early believers, there was not a single person who was poor and needy (v.34). b.v.36 We see Joseph, or more commonly known as Barnabas, appear for the first time on the scene and we see him to be a Levite and a native of Cyprus. He sold the land that belonged to him and gave all the money to the apostles. APPLICATION QUESTION 4: (Read Num. 18:20,24; Deut. 10:9, 18:1-2) Even though Barnabas showed true Christian values what strikes you as contradictory in Acts 4:32-37 and the above mentioned references?