Acts 3-4

Thursday Evening Bible Study

September 6, 2007


I like to watch Angels baseball.  They’re a great team.  Lately it’s been fun watching them come back after being behind.  But one thing about a professional sports team, you need to keep your skills up to be on the field playing.  If you let your skills slide, you might find yourself on the bench.

God can use anybody for His team.  But it seems to me that if you want to be on the field playing the game, it’s not a bad thing to keep your skills up.

What are the skills of a useful Christian?

As we are going through the next couple of chapters – try and pay special attention to the kind of people that God will be using.  Watch to see what “skills” they possess.

Acts 3

:1-10 Lame man healed

:1 Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.

We aren’t told how long after Pentecost it was that this took place. It is around 3:00pm, the “hour of prayer” when the incense would be offered inside the Temple; when the evening sacrifice would be slain.

Note that Peter and John have come to the Temple at prayer time.

:2 And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple;

:3 who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.

This fellow is close to 40 years old. He’s been lame a LONG time. I would imagine he has very little muscle tissue in his legs.

almseleemosune – mercy, pity – it’s money given out of compassion or pity on a person.

The Temple complex was a series of squares inside each other. The most “outer” court was the court of the Gentiles, where anyone could go. The Beautiful Gate was thought to be the “Nicanor” gate, one of the gates inside the temple separating the court of the Gentiles from the court of the women.

If he has been lying at this gate of the temple every day for years and years, I would imagine that Peter and John had seen him before. People like that you just learn to ignore after awhile.

:4 And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, "Look at us."

fixing his eyesatenizo – to fix the eyes on, gaze upon

For some reason, of all days, this fellow catches Peter’s eye.


Learning to listen to the Spirit’s leading

For Peter and John, this guy was not some person they had never seen before.
But today, for some reason, something was different and Peter decided to stop and talk to the fellow.

:5 So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.

The fellow thought that Peter and John would drop a coin or two into his basket.

:6 Then Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk."


Knowing Jesus’ name

It doesn’t take money to be useful to the Lord.
It’s just about knowing Jesus
You have one thing – the authority of Jesus and the knowledge of how a person can be saved.

:7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.


Men of faith

I think this was the toughest part of what Peter and John did. It’s one thing to pray for a person, but Peter actually lifted the fellow up. What if it didn’t work? What if the guy fell to the ground?
Peter is exercising faith.
Warning about presumption – Peter did this because he believed this is what he should do. Some people do these kinds of things because … I don’t know why. But I’ve seen sick and crippled people devastated when someone comes up to them and tries to do this when God isn’t behind it.

:8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them; walking, leaping, and praising God.

:9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God.

:10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

This guy was known by a lot of the “regulars”. He had been there a long time as a fixture, someone you knew was going to be there every day begging for money.

:11-26 Peter preaches in the Temple

:11 Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon's, greatly amazed.

Solomon’s porch – a meeting area in the “outer court” lined with columns.

:12 So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: "Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?


Humility - Giving credit where credit is due

I think this is one of the subtle dangers of serving the Lord.
You are filled with the Spirit. You learn to pray. You learn your Bible. You grow in your faith. And you see God work in your life.

And then you take all the credit. Or you expect people to thank you and when they don’t you feel hurt.

Peter knows clearly that he was not the one responsible for this man being healed.

:13 "The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go.

:14 "But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,

:15 "and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.

The crowd had asked for Pilate to release Barabbas, not Jesus.

Note that Peter is again being a “witness” of Jesus and the resurrection. Jesus said that when they were filled with the Holy Spirit, they would have power to be witnesses (Acts 1:8).

:16 "And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

Peter is careful to give the credit to Jesus. It was faith in Jesus that brought healing.

:17 "Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers.

:18 "But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.

:19 "Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,

:20 "and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before,

:21 "whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.

Peter goes from explaining what had happened to this man to explaining to the crowd about how to know Jesus – to repent from their sins and receive God’s forgiveness.

:22 "For Moses truly said to the fathers, 'The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you.

:23 'And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.'

Peter quotes from Moses (Deut. 18), saying that Jesus was that “prophet” like Moses that the people needed to pay attention to.

:24 "Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days.

:25 "You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, 'And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.'

:26 "To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities."

Jesus came to bring the blessing of Abraham to the whole world, but the blessing is going to come first to the Jews.

Acts 4

:1-4 Peter and John arrested

:1 Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them,

The captain of the temple was in charge of maintaining order.

:2 being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

It seems that the religious leaders either weren’t around or didn’t bother themselves with the events that took place on Pentecost with the coming of the Holy Spirit and three thousand getting saved.

But these events are taking place on their turf, inside the Temple grounds. They don’t want the apostles saying these kinds of things.

:3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.

:4 However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.

Even though Peter and John are thrown into jail overnight, an additional two thousand (3,000 + 2,000 = 5,000) come to believe in Jesus.

:5-12 Before the Sanhedrin

:5 And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes,

:6 as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.

All the leaders have assembled to figure out what to do with Peter and John.

:7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, "By what power or by what name have you done this?"

:8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:

filled with the Holy Spirit – the sense of the phrase is that Peter is again filled with the Holy Spirit on this occasion to be able to handle the situation in front of them.


Filled over and over

A mistake some people make with the work of the Holy Spirit is to think that the “baptism” or “filling” is just a one time event.
The empowering of the Holy Spirit is meant to be something that happens over and over and over again.
Paul writes,
(Eph 5:18 NKJV) And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

The word used here is in the “present” tense, meaning that we are to be continually filled with the Holy Spirit.

I think a healthy way to look at it is to think of ourselves as “leaky” vessels. When we ask the Holy Spirit to fill us, He does, but for some reason we seem to continually need more, perhaps because we leak.

When you “fill” your car with gasoline, it doesn’t stay “full”, but you burn the gas as you drive the car. You have to keep going back to the gas station to “fill up”.

When a life is lived by a constant filling of the Spirit, over and over again, I call this “walking in the Spirit”. Walking consists of taking one step at a time. Living your life being filled with the Spirit at each point of decision is like taking those steps.
(Gal 5:16 NKJV) I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

:9 "If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well,

:10 "let it be known to you all, 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 stands here before you whole.

Peter uses a bit of sarcasm – pointing out that he’s been arrested and is being charged with doing something good to someone who was helpless.

:11 "This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.'

:12 "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

He preaches Jesus to them.


Knowing the gospel

It seems to me that Peter keeps bringing people back to the issue of knowing Jesus. He knows the gospel and is not afraid to share it.

:13-22 The judgment against Peter and John

:13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.

uneducatedagrammatos (“not” + “lettered”, “not grammered”) – illiterate, unlearned, without learning, unlettered

untrainedidiotes – in the NT, an unlearned, illiterate, man as opposed to the learned and educated: one who is unskilled in any art


Being with Jesus

It’s not a bad thing to get an education.
But it’s better to spend time with Jesus.
If you have a desire to be used by God, it’s a good thing to go to school. It’s good to work at and sharpen your skills and abilities. But nothing replaces the time you need to spend with Jesus.
What does it mean to spend time with Jesus? What are things you can do to spend time with Jesus?

:14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.

What can the council say when this 40-year crippled man is standing there in perfect condition?

One of the greatest things you can share with a person is a changed life. What can they say to how your life has changed because of Jesus?

:15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,

:16 saying, "What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.

notablegnostos – known, notable; this wasn’t some rumor. There was clear undisputable proof standing right in front of them.

:17 "But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name."

severely threaten – literally, “let’s threaten them with a threat”

:18 And they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

:19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.

:20 "For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard."


Choosing God over man

It is generally best to do what the authorities ask you to do.
(Rom 13:1-2 NKJV) Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. {2} Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
But there are going to be times when you are going to be faced with either obeying men or obeying God. Next week we’ll hear Peter say:
(Acts 5:29 NKJV) But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: "We ought to obey God rather than men.
Note: Peter didn’t seem to expect them to understand this – he told them “whether it’s right to do this or not, you judge”, or he understands that they will make their own decision. But Peter is confident that what he’s doing is correct.
Some people come across as if they demand that the authority bows down to them and changes their decision. Peter doesn’t seem to think he’s going to convince them of anything, he is just going to do what he knows is right.

:21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done.

:22 For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.

:23-31 The church prays

:23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.

:24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: "Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them,


Who are you talking to?

I find a common pattern in the prayers of the Bible when it comes to difficult circumstances. It seems that the person’s praying often remind themselves that God is the Creator of the heavens and the earth. He is powerful. He is mighty.
It’s a good idea to remember who’s side you’re on.

:25 "who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: 'Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things?

:26 The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the LORD and against His Christ.'

The people are praying Scripture – right from Psalm 2. The realize that the world isn’t going to be in love with the Messiah.

:27 "For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together

:28 "to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.

:29 "Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,


What are you praying for?

If I was in this group, I’d be praying for God to protect the group. But that’s not what they pray for.
They ask for MORE BOLDNESS. These people are CRAZY!!!!!
They are crazy-in-love with Jesus.
I wonder if we should sometimes re-evaluate the things that we are asking God for.
We might be asking for the wrong things.

:30 "by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus."

:31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

There was some kind of earthquake.

They were all, again, filled with the Holy Spirit.

God answered their prayer and gave them more boldness.

Note: It does not say they were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke with tongues. It says they spoke God’s word with boldness. Tongues may often be involved when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, but not exclusively so.

:32-37 Church benevolence

:32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.

commonkoinos – common; this is the root word for koinonia, the word translated “communion” or “fellowship”. Those words have to do with what we have in “common”. Communion is all eating the same bread and drinking the same grape juice. It is having a relationship with the same Lord. Fellowship is having something in common with someone else, and our “fellowship” is in Jesus, we all have Jesus in common.

:33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.

gracecharis – grace. When you look at how “giving” the early church was, understand that it came from them knowing great “grace”. Grace is getting something you don’t deserve. They had tasted God’s love in such a way that they couldn’t help but share it with others.



A mechanic who worked out of his home had a dog named Mace. Mace had a bad habit of eating all the grass in the mechanic’s lawn, so the mechanic had to keep Mace inside. The grass eventually became overgrown. One day the mechanic was working on a car in his backyard and dropped his wrench losing it in the tall grass. He couldn’t find it for the life of him so he decided to call it a day. That night, Mace escaped from the house and ate all the grass in the backyard. The next morning, the mechanic went outside and saw his wrench glinting in the sunlight. Realizing what had happened, he looked up to the heavens and sang out loudly, proclaiming... (are you ready for this?) “A grazing Mace, how sweet the hound that saved a wrench for me!”

:34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold,

:35 and laid them at the apostles' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.

There was an early form of communism, communal living being practiced by the early church.

:36 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus,

:37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles' feet.

This is the same fellow who will be Paul’s traveling companion later in the book of Acts. He was an example of an “encourager” as well as a “giver”.


God’s people are givers

I don’t know that the pattern we need to emulate is communism. But the pattern we need to emulate is giving.
We need to learn to be sensitive to other peoples’ needs and learn to respond to those needs as the Lord would lead.
Our church’s philosophy on giving is rather “low-key”. We try and make sure that whoever is doing the announcements on Sunday at least mentions the “agape box”, but that’s about it most of the time. One of the reasons for this is our own reaction to churches or ministries that seem to be constantly twisting the arms of their people to make them give.
But I have to tell you that part of me wishes we would “pass the plate” on Sunday morning. It’s not that I want to be forcing people to give when they don’t want to, but I sometimes wish we did a little more to reinforce the truth that God’s people are supposed to understand the discipline of giving.
About once a year or so I will test the waters with the elders and see if we’re at that point yet as a church where we are ready to notch up the attention that ought to be placed on giving as a part of our worship. I’m not talking about being obnoxious and twisting people’s arms to give. I’m talking about making it clear that as Christians, “giving” is what we “do”.
We serve a God who is the greatest giver. We will never be able to out-give God. He loved us so much He gave us His own Son.
I believe that God’s people also ought to be givers as He would lead us.

(2 Cor 9:7 NKJV) So let each one give as he purposes in his heart, not grudgingly or of necessity; for God loves a cheerful giver.

What are some qualities of the people that that God uses?

1.     Prayer (3:1; 4:23-31)

2.     Sensitive to the Spirit’s leading (3:4)

3.     Knowing Jesus (3:6)

4.     Faith (3:7)

5.     Humility (3:12)

6.     Knowing the Scriptures (3:22; 4:11, 25)

7.     Filled with the Spirit (4:8, 31)

8.     Knowing and sharing the gospel (3:19; 4:12)

9.     Being with Jesus (4:13)

10. Obeying God over men (4:20)

11. Great grace (4:33)

12. Givers (4:35; 3:6)