Acts 4

Thursday Evening Bible Study

September 26, 2013


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved?

The book of Acts takes up where the gospels leave off. Jesus died on the cross for our sins, rose on the third day, and just before He ascended into heaven He told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promised Holy Spirit.

It was about a week later, on the day of the Jewish feast of Pentecost, that the Holy Spirit was poured out on the disciples, Peter preached, and the church was born.

Last week we saw Peter and John entering the Temple where they encountered a man who had been lame from birth, begging for money.

(Ac 3:6 NKJV) 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.”

The man was healed, a crowd began to develop, and again Peter preached to the crowd, telling them about Jesus.

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,

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

:1 the captain of the temple

The guys in charge of maintaining order. Temple police.

:1 priests … Sadducees

The Sadducees was one of the sects, or denominations of the Jews. They were the more liberal group. They didn’t believe in miracles and they didn’t believe in angels. They only believed that the first five books of the Old Testament (also called the Pentateuch or Torah) were inspired. They also did not believe there was a resurrection from the dead.

That’s why they were so sad-you-see.

The priests tended to be of the Sadducees.

:2 preached in Jesus the resurrection

Because the Sadducees and priests didn’t believe in any kind of resurrection, they didn’t like the fact that Peter and the other apostles were teaching that Jesus had risen from the dead.

: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.

:4 to be about five thousand

Even though Peter and John are thrown into jail overnight, more people have come to believe in Jesus.

In Acts 1, there were 120 disciples. In Acts 2, the church had grown to be 3,000, now it’s 5,000 (men).

4:5-12 Answering 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.

:5 rulers, elders …

This is the Sanhedrin, the religious rulers over Israel. The Sanhedrin was a group of seventy men and contained both Sadducees and Pharisees.

The Pharisees were the conservative, orthodox sect of the Jews. They DID believe in miracles, angels, all the books of the OT as inspired, and in the resurrection.

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

:7 they askedpunthanomai – to enquire, ask; to ascertain, by enquiry

:7 By what power or by what name

Keep in mind that an amazing miracle has been done. A man who has been lame for over forty years, since birth, has been healed.

I find it interesting that they are no longer challenging the teaching of the resurrection since the whole council is there, which includes Pharisees.

Instead, they want to know what’s behind the miracle.

Isn’t that a stupid thing to be asking? Shouldn’t they just be grateful that the man got healed?



Actually it isn’t that stupid.
(Dt 13:1–5 NKJV) —1 “If there arises among you a prophet or a dreamer of dreams, and he gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes to pass, of which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods’—which you have not known—‘and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for the Lord your God is testing you to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. 4 You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him. 5 But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has spoken in order to turn you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of bondage, to entice you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall put away the evil from your midst.
Moses wrote that just because a miracle is done, or something predicted comes to pass, doesn’t mean that it is from God.

The bigger issue is whether or not this person doing the miracle is leading the people away from worshiping Yahweh, the one true God.

We talked last Sunday about the gift of prophecy and our obligation to “judge” or “test” prophecies.
(1 Co 14:29 NKJV) Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.
My old pastor used to say that we need to “chew the chicken and spit out the bones”.

The problem is that sometimes we don’t stop to spit out the bones …

Play Dad Ate The Bones video

The Sanhedrin is actually doing the right thing in testing, but they are doing it incorrectly and will come to the wrong conclusion.
Is Jesus Yahweh”? Or is He some “other god”?
The problem the Jewish leaders are having is that they didn’t recognize that Jesus was the Promised One, the Messiah.
He is in fact, Yahweh

Isaiah records a vision he had of Yahweh:

(Is 6:1–3 NKJV) —1 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of His robe filled the temple. 2 Above it stood seraphim; each one had six wings: with two he covered his face, with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew. 3 And one cried to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!”

John tells us that the glory Isaiah saw was that of Jesus:

(Jn 12:41 NKJV) These things Isaiah said when he saw His glory and spoke of Him.

Jesus claimed to be Yahweh.

(Jn 8:57–59 NKJV) —57 Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

The phrase “I AM” in Greek is one of the ways of translating God’s name, Yahweh.

59 Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.

They picked up stones because Jesus was claiming to be Yahweh.

Jesus said it was necessary to believe He was Yahweh to be saved:

(Jn 8:24 NKJV) Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am He, you will die in your sins.”

In the Greek, Jesus is literally saying, “for if you do not believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.  He’s saying that if you don’t believe He is God, you won’t be saved.

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

:8 filled with the Holy Spirit

We saw Peter in the group who had earlier been filled with the Holy Spirit:

(Ac 2:4 NKJV) And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
At that time they spoke with tongues and Peter got up to preach.

Now we see again Peter being filled with the Spirit and instead of being tongue-tied and fearful, he clearly addresses the Sanhedrin and answers their questions.

Remember, this is the man who denied Jesus when a little slave girl accused him of being Jesus’ follower.  Now he is speaking to the Sanhedrin.

: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.

:10 by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth

This is Peter’s answer to their question.

They did this in the name of Jesus, by the power of the name of Jesus.

When Peter met the lame man, this is what he said,

(Ac 3:6 NKJV) 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.”

:10 whom you crucified

This same group of men had condemned Jesus, sent Him to Pilate, and asked for Jesus to be crucified.

:10 whom God raised from the dead

Just in case the Sadducees weren’t clear on this, Peter reminds them that God had indeed raised Jesus from the dead.

Years later when Paul was standing on trial before the Sanhedrin, he mentioned the resurrection of the dead and caused the Sanhedrin to start arguing with each other – the Pharisees arguing with the Sadducees about the resurrection.

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

:11 rejected by you builders

Peter is quoting from Psalm 118:

(Ps 118:22 NKJV) The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.
Psalm 118 is a fantastic Messianic Psalm about the coming of the Messiah.
It’s the song that includes the lines,

(Ps 118:25–26 NKJV) —25 Save now, I pray, O Lord; O Lord, I pray, send now prosperity. 26 Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! We have blessed you from the house of the Lord.

These were the words the people had been shouting to Jesus on His triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. The words “Save now” translate the phrase “Hosanna”.

Psalm 118 also includes the line:

(Ps 118:24 NKJV) This is the day the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.

We’ve talked about how Daniel 9 predicts the very day that the Messiah would come into Jerusalem, Palm Sunday. That was “the day” the LORD had made.

There was an old Jewish tradition concerning the building of the temple.

The story was that there was a stone sent up from the quarry to the building site. When the builders received the stone, they couldn't figure out where it was supposed to go, so they threw it over the hill to get it out of the way. The tradition goes that when they got near to finishing the building, the builders sent back word to the quarry asking where the corner stone was. When the quarry sent back saying that they had already sent it long ago, the builders realized that this one stone, the most important in the whole building, had been the one thrown away.
Now Peter reminds the Jewish leaders that they as the “builders” of Israel have rejected the chief cornerstone, Jesus Christ.

Note: Again Peter sneaks in Scripture into his message.

: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.”

:12 there is no other name

The issue before the Sanhedrin is the “name” or “authority” by which this miracle has been done.

Peter now makes the issue crystal clear.

There is only one name that counts. Jesus.


Narrow minded

Yes, we Christians are quite narrow minded.
That’s because this is what the Bible teaches us.
Jesus Himself said,
(Jn 14:6 NKJV) Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.
God is the one who has decided that there is only one way that leads to Him.
It would be horribly foolish for us to tell people that “all roads lead to heaven” when indeed there is only one road.
If you bought a ticket to go to Hawaii, would you get on board if the pilot told you it didn’t matter which direction he flew the plane because “all flight plans end in Hawaii”?
There is only one road to heaven because there is only One who has paid the price for our sins – Jesus.

4:13-22 Sanhedrin Response

: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.

:13 uneducated and untrained men

This is the simple truth about Peter and John. This is what they were.

uneducatedagrammatos – illiterate, without learning, unlettered

These guys hadn’t been to school. They didn’t have their “letters” in any subject.

untrainedidiotes – a private person, a common soldier; in the NT unlearned, illiterate

Does the Greek word here sound like a word we use? Idiots?

:13 they had been with Jesus


The Best Education

It’s not wrong to get an education.
The root idea of the word “disciple” is the idea of being a “learner”.
It’s good to keep sharpening yourself, to keep learning, to keep growing mentally.
But the bigger question is whether or not you’ve spent time with Jesus.
Spending time with Jesus is more than just learning facts.

It’s about obedience, letting Him change your life.

Anyone who has spent time with Jesus knows what Jesus taught, like this:

(Mt 7:24–27 NKJV) —24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. 26 “But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: 27 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall.”

Just knowing “stuff” isn’t enough. We must learn to “do” stuff. We must learn to obey what Jesus has taught us.

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

:14 they could say nothing

You can’t really get too critical of Peter and John when the guy who has been lame for forty years is standing next to them.


A Changed life

One of the problems Christians have with unbelievers is their credibility.  We pretend to be something we’re not.
The idiot tried to sell his old car. He was having a lot of problems selling it, because the car had 200,000 miles on it. One day he mentioned his problem to a friend he worked with. The friend told him, “There is a way to make your car easier to sell, but it’s not legal.” “That doesn’t matter,” replied the idiot, “as long as I can sell the car.” “Okay,” said the friend. “Here’s the address of a friend of mine. He owns a car repair shop. Tell him I sent you and he will turn the odometer in your car back to 70,000 miles. Then it shouldn’t be a problem to sell.” The following weekend, the airhead made the trip to the mechanic. A month later, the friend asked the airhead, “Did you sell your car?” “No,” replied the airhead, “why should I? It only has 70,000 miles on it.”

Some of us are like that.  We feel like we need to “sell” Jesus to people around us, but we have a problem.  We aren’t letting God do a work of truth in our lives and we keep trying to turn the odometer back to give people the idea that God is working when He isn’t.  And He isn’t working because we’re reluctant to change.

One of the greatest things you can share with a person is how Jesus changes lives.  Really changes lives.


From Wiersbe: “In his evangelistic ministries, the Methodist preacher Samuel Chadwick used to pray for “a Lazarus” in every campaign, some “great sinner” whose conversion would shock the community. God answered his prayers in meeting after meeting as infamous wicked men trusted Christ and became witnesses through their changed lives. Let’s go after the “hard cases” and see what God can do!”
What can they say to you when Jesus has really changed you?
This is why it’s so important to be real in your walk with the Lord. If you’re struggling, admit it. That’s the only way to grow out of it. And when you are doing well, it’s the real thing, not an act, and people have no response to the reality of God working in your life.

: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.

: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.”

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

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

:18 not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus

This is all they have the courage to tell the apostles.

They want them to just stop talking about 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.

:19 Whether it is right

(Ac 4:19 NIV) But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges!

The Sanhedrin have set themselves up as the judges in this issue. They are going to make a judgment. Peter says the judgment they really have to make is whether or not Peter and John should listen to them more than to God.

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

:20 the things which we have seen and heard

The things that they are saying are things they’ve seen – things they have watched God do.

They are also things they’ve heard – what Jesus has taught them and what the Holy Spirit has taught them.

: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.

:21 finding no way of punishing them

The attitude of the crowd is going to keep the Sanhedrin from punishing Peter and John. They’re released with a warning.

4:23-31 Bold Prayer

: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,

:24 Lorddespotes – a master, Lord

Carries the idea of absolute ownership and uncontrolled power.

:24 who made heaven and earth…

They start their prayer by reminding themselves just who they are talking to.

God is our Creator.

: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.’

: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.

:25 Why did the nations rage

They are quoting Psalm 2:1-2. They are praying this scripture.

(Ps 2:1–2 NKJV) —1 Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing? 2 The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,
They are reminding themselves that God had already predicted that there would be opposition to the coming Messiah, the “Anointed” one.

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

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

:29 with all boldness they may speak

This is the heart of their request. They pray for boldness.

boldnessparrhesia – freedom in speaking, unreservedness in speech; free and fearless confidence, cheerful courage, boldness, assurance


What are you praying for?

They don’t pray for God to remove the rulers or to shut them up.
They pray that they would be bold and continue to speak in the middle of their persecution.
John tells us the secret of getting your prayers answered:
(1 Jn 5:14–15 NKJV) —14 Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
The secret is learning to ask for what God wants.
I think that from time to time we need to evaluate what we’ve been asking for.

It’s not wrong to ask for things. It’s not wrong to ask for what you want.

Yet ultimately we need to learn what it is that God wants.

Sometimes God might want something different than what I’m asking for.

Phillip Brooks wrote - “Do not pray for easy lives, pray to be stronger men and women. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks.”

: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.

:31 the place … was shaken

There was an earthquake.

:31 they were all filled with the Holy Spirit

Once again, the Holy Spirit falls on the church.

Note: It doesn’t say they spoke with tongues. They might have, but it doesn’t say it.

When Peter was again (vs. 8) filled with the Spirit, it involved his reply to the Sanhedrin. It doesn’t mention tongues.


Again and again

We don’t need to be filled with the Spirit just once.
We need to be filled over and over and over again.
Paul wrote,
(Eph 5:18 NKJV) And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,

The grammar speaks of being continually filled with the Spirit, over and over again.

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.
(Ga 5:16 NKJV) I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.

:31 they spoke the word of God with boldness

God answered their prayers.

It also fits the pattern of Acts 1 –

(Ac 1:8 NKJV) But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
Once again they were filled with the Spirit of God. The result was “speaking” the word of God, and with “boldness”. They are “bold” “witnesses”.

4:32-37 Sharing

: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.

:32 one heart and one soul



One of the strengths of the early church was in their “unity”.
Sometime ago Denalyn, Max Lucado's wife, bought a monkey. He writes,

I didn't want a monkey in our house, so I objected. "Where is he going to eat?" I asked. "At our table." "Where is he going to sleep?" I inquired. "In our bed." "What about the odor?" I demanded. "I got used to you; I guess the monkey can too."

Unity doesn't begin in examining others but in examining self. Unity begins, not in demanding that others change, but in admitting that we aren't so perfect ourselves.

Max Lucado, In The Grip of His Grace (Word, 1996), p. 164.

Perhaps if we slowed down our criticizing, and work on changing ourselves, think what God could do.

:32 commonkoinos – common

This is the word that’s at the root of “fellowship” and “communion” (koinonia), having things in “common”. Here, the church had their property in common.

You could say they were true “communists”, but not something that was forced on them by the government, but something they willingly did for one another.

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

:33 with great power … gave witness

:33 powerdunamis – strength, power, ability

:33 witnessmarturion – testimony

Same two concepts, same two Greek words as are in Acts 1:8

(Ac 1:8 NKJV) But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

:33 to the resurrection

We’ve seen this each week, the big issue in the messages of the early church was the resurrection of Jesus from the dead.

:33 great grace was upon them all

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,

:34 who lackedendees – needy, destitute

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

:35 they distributed to each

The folks who owned properties sold them, giving the proceeds to the apostles to distribute among the poor of the church.

I find it fascinating that it doesn’t seem as if the apostles twisted people’s arms to give. They just gave.

Martin Luther wrote, “There are three conversions necessary: the conversion of the heart, mind and the purse.”

: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.

:26 Joses … named Barnabas

This is the fellow that will one day team up with the apostle Paul (as in “Paul and Barnabas”).

His actual name was Joses, perhaps a form of “Joseph”.

The apostles nicknamed him “son of encouragement” which comes out in Aramaic as “Bar-nabas

He was a guy known for encouraging others. Perhaps he had the gift of “exhortation”
Encouragementparaklesis – exhortation, admonition, encouragement, comfort

Barnabas was originally from the island of Cyprus.

One of the first places that Paul and Barnabas will go to on their first missionary journey will be to the island of Cyprus.

He was also a Levite, from the tribe of Levi, he could have had responsibilities in serving in the Temple.

Barnabas was also one of those who sold property and gave it to the apostles to distribute to the poor.