Updated: Nov 11
If you do a quick bit of research, you will find that between forty-five and fifty-five percent of the New Testament is directly quoted from the Old Testament. What does this show us?
It shows that the Old and New Testaments are not two segmented books ruled two by different Gods but rather one long epic story of rescue authored by God the Father. There is no angry, vengeful God of the Old Testament who is replaced by a sweet, tender, loving God in the New Testament. The Bible is easiest to understand when we accept that it is one story built on itself.
In Chapter Four of Acts, we begin to see how these Messianic Jewish men and women begin to forge together a new religion based on the scripture of the Old Testament and the life of Christ, as seen firsthand by this group. Remember there is no New Testament, we are 300-plus years away from that being collected and canonized by Constantine and his representatives. Beginning here, we will read how the persecution of the disciples begins and we will be afforded the opportunity to marvel at the bravery they displayed by obediently following the command of Christ as they share His Good News.
And as they were speaking to the people, - Remember, when Luke wrote this letter, there were no chapter breaks, section headers, or verse numbers. As we read the opening of chapter four, what we really have is a continuation of chapter three. Peter and John are still in the same court and still talking to the same people who watched them heal the lame mane simply by using the name of Jesus.
the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, - This spectacle of divine healing occurs just feet away from where the leaders and Temple police spend their days. News travels fast, and these men heard or were alerted to the commotion happening in the outer courts.
greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. - All the work of framing Jesus, the kangaroo courts that convicted Him, and his eventual murder backfired on the leaders. Note that the Sadducees did not confront Jesus while in life; it was primarily the Pharases who pestered and murdered Christ.
The difference between the Sadducees and the Pharisees
Often in modern Bible reading, we use the terms Sadducees and Pharisees interchangeably, but in truth, they are completely different groups with vastly different theology.
The Pharisees believed in the afterlife and the resurrection of the dead. They believed that God created the world, chose Israel as his chosen people, and rewarded and punished them according to his law. They also felt that the Law of Moses contained ambiguities that they strove to fix by developing rules and regulations for every possible human action to adhere to the will of God as outlined in the Torah. They primarily did their work and worship in the Synagogues.
In contrast, the Sadducees believed that there was no resurrection of the dead, no afterlife, no spirit realm, and no angels. As a general rule, they were literal to the Law, leaving little room for interpretation or situation issues. Most Sadducees were priests of the Temple.
And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. - Notice how when Jesus was arrested, there were several trials at night, yet now, with the less threatening Peter and John and the Passover no longer looming, the trial is postponed until morning. We must remember the timing; for the leaders of the Jewish temple, Jesus had to be condemned and murdered quickly so it would not break Jewish law and cause a riot on Passover. Peter and John did not fall under those same conditions.
But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. - This is the beginning of the growth through martyrism. People see that suffering is accepted, even bearable, for the sake of the Gospel. These martyrs' resolve had an appeal that attracted many to the faith in the first 300 years of the church. It is important to realize that five thousand people were converted on the authority of the Old Testament and the witness testimony of Jesus. Ironic that the New Testament church was started without a New Testament and that today, many ignore the scriptures that the church was built on in support of replacement theology.
On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, - We are now hearing about day two of this event.
with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family.
Annas presided over the Sanhedrin (the ruling Jewish council of 72 men)
Caiaphas was the accuser at the trial of Jesus.
John most likely was the son of Annas who eventually replaced Caiaphas as a High Preist.
Alexander - Little is known of this person other than that he was part of the family line.
And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” - Names in the Hebrew language represented the characteristics of a person. By asking this question, they are asking where did this power come from?
Jesus = God is Salvation
Peter = Rock
Andrew = Masculine
John = God is Gracious
Matthew = Gife of God
Abram = Father of many
Adam = Man
Knowing this, we can see how God, with all his traits and attributes, has many, many names.
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, - Peter was now speaking words of a divine nature. He was not divine, but the words that came out of his mouth were. They were not of his thoughts but rather inspired words of God delivered by the spirit through the tongue of Peter. We will hear again in scripture about this Holy Spirit-led preaching.
“Rulers of the people and elders, - Peter speaks up with no fear of these men and addresses them with authority. Why? because Jesus gave the authority to him to speak this way and also because Peter understood who his true master was.
if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, - The motives of the Sanheedren are called into the public record at this point.
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. - In his second "sermonette," in The book of Acts. Peter delivers the Gospel message; Peter speaks clearly of the Good News of Jesus Christ and the resurrecting power of the God Father.
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.” - These same seventy-two men were now being reminded that they sent Jesus to die on the cross, and all that did was move the movement forward. Possibly the largest backfire in all of history, the actions of these men propelled a small movement into the forefront of the Jewish world. Remember, before Passover, the number of followers was so small that they were all housed in one room just two chapters earlier.
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. - God requires no formal education to preach His word; on the contrary, even though churches today almost always foolishly require a seminary degree, the author of the Bible, God the Father, does not. As a matter of fact, as we begin with Adam and Abraham and end with John in Revelations, God's pattern is generally to choose common, everyday men to grow the kingdom. Only those with pedigrees seem surprised at this.
And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. - The leaders recognized that John and Peter had been companions with Christ,
But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. - They were looking at the power of a healed man with their own eyes.
But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, saying, “What shall we do with these men? - The council is now meeting privately to discuss how to rid themselves of these two troublemakers even in the light that they have done nothing wrong.
For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. - Remember, these Sadducees do not subscribe to the idea of resurrection and deny the return of Christ both actually and fundamentally.
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. - As authorities often do when they have no true power, the council resorts to trying to bully Peter and John a tactic still used in churches today on those with new or unconventional ideas.
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.” - Bold and fearless. Newly emboldened by the Holy Spirit, Peter and John can not help but share the Good News of Jesus. They have been entrusted with too much light to keep it under a basket. Jail, financial loss, social disgrace, and death were all very real outcomes for these two if they kept healing in the name of the Risen Christ, but they were willing to pay whatever cost was required to let others know of the salvation of Christ.
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. - If this was a secret trial, without those who watched Peter heal the lame man, we can safely assume a different outcome would have resulted.
For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.- This was confirmation that this was no carnival trick or a setup. The healed man had been seen lame and begging for forty years.
When they were released, - Peter and John
they went to their friends and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. - Presumably, the other ten disciples and a company of newly converted believers.
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, and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stayed’?- Again, we notice they lifted their voices together; there was no denominational division. It was not Catholics, Baptists, Methodists, or Mormons, they were just believers who followed what the scripture said. Only the truth. This prayer is based on well-known scripture found in the Book of Job. It mimics the Lord's prayer in that it begins with an acknowledgment that God is preeminent and sovereign over all creation.
“Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb, when I made clouds its garment and thick darkness its swaddling band, and prescribed limits for it and set bars and doors, Job 38:8-11
who through the mouth of our father David, your servant, said by the Holy Spirit, - Acknowledgment that as co-heirs of Christ, believers have been spiritually adopted into the line of David.
“‘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’— A direct quote from Psalms two. A psalm by David, written in dismay at why man always seems to choose to rebel against God. It is a lament as to why man seeks to, at every corner, usurp God's power and authority.
for truly in this city - Jerusalem
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. - A recount of the death of Christ as well as confirmation that it was part of God the Father's predestined plan all along.
And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, - The disciples remember the promise of Jesus, ever truthful and ever faithful, and continued His mission in obedience.
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” - Matthew 28:20
while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” - Peter is giving the Glory of healings like this to the Father.
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. - A literal answer to their prayer in real-time. Peter asked for strength, and God sent the Holy Spirit so powerfully that it shook the entire house, providing them with the boldness they requested to complete the job.
Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul, - Complete unity.
and no one said that any of the things that belonged to him was his own, but they had everything in common. - A community in the truest sense of the word.
And with great power the apostles were giving their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was upon them all. - In light of what just happened to John and Peter, this claim of grace must carry some heavy weight. Just hours ago, they were on the floor of the court, facing penalty and punishment that could have included death, and now they are here, preaching the gospel with great power while receiving great grace.
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. - This action of selflessness and cooperation was powerful as it provided for everyone's physical needs, yet it was also much more. These people sold their possessions and lands voluntarily, not under coercion or duress. The first fruits produced in the lives of these believers were born out of humility. We can see a striking contrast between the lack of humility God's first two humans showed when they chose to eat the forbidden fruit and live a life separated from Him and the absolute and total humility that is marking the lives of God's people now that Christ has closed that gap.
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. - This unrequested and unrequired act of sacrifice and generosity will play a part in the beginning of the next chapter. In the Hebrew culture, this was a pledge or a vow, not between man and other men but between man and God. While the material blessing of this sale benefits man, God is the ultimate receiver of glory and the ultimate judge of the vows fulfillment.
Bible Study Questions - Week 4
What was a high Presit and what did they do from v.6?
What does it mean in v. 8 when it says "Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit" and why is that important for us to notice?
In v. 19-20, what did Peter and John mean?
Where is v. 25-26 originally from and what does it mean?
What is meant in v. 32 when it says that the believers were of one heart and one soul?
What did you learn or rediscover about God the Father in this Chapter?
What did you learn or rediscover about Jesus Christ in this Chapter?
What did you learn or rediscover about the Holy Spirit in this Chapter?
What did you learn or rediscover about the church in this Chapter? Does it Differ from what you understood?
What did you learn or rediscover about what a pastor should do in this Chapter? Does it Differ from what you understood?
What verses of the Old Testament did you cross-reference to understand this chapter?
So what? How will the answer to the question above change how you live life on a day-to-day basis?