Acts 4:1-31 Comments by Stephen Ricker
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Salvation is Found in No One Else
Comments for Study 6

Acts 4:1-31
Memory Verse: 12


I. Salvation is Found in No One Else (1-12)

>1. Who came to Peter and John? (1: 5:17)

"The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people." -Acts 4:1

* "Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. -Acts 5:17

* "The priests" -of the Levi line. Main duty was to do work and serve at the temple. Because there was so many they took turns in serving in the temple. (Luke. 1:23)

* "the captain of the temple guard" -A member of one of the leading priestly families; next in rank to the high priest. (5:24, 26; Luke. 22:4, 52)

* "the Sadducees" -A Jewish sect who didn't believe in the resurrection or a personal Messiah. They believed that the Messianic age-an ideal time-was then present and must be preserved. They came from the priestly line and controlled the temple. The high priest, one of their number, presided over the Sanhedrin (5:17; 23:6-8; Mat. 22:23-33)

* These people had a lot of power.

* Same ones who rejected Jesus and had him killed.

* They must have listened to Peter's message for a while.

* Peter and John must have been also speaking to them. (3:17) Note, that Peter and John were bold. A sign of the Holy Spirit is boldness when enemies are around.

>Why were they disturbed? (2)

"They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead." -Acts 4:2

* "greatly" -They thought by killing Jesus and exposing him to public disgrace would silence his "movement".

* They were disturbed because:
    1) "were teaching the people" -Not only proclaiming. Teaching is not just preparation for evangelism or follow-up after evangelism. It is a mainline evangelistic strategy. Beginning with the ministry of Jesus and continued by first-century Christians, educational evangelism has always been in the forefront of the church's efforts to reach a lost world. (5:21; 17:2; 28:3)
    2) "proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead" -even though the Sadducees, who were there did not believe in it. It was a doctrinal difference, not much of a personal one at this point.

* However, they were a little jealous of Peter and John because of the healed man and the great crowd that had developed.

* The disciples were invading these leaders turf, the temple.

* These leaders thought that when they put Jesus to death his movement would die.

>What did they do to Peter and John? (3)

"They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. -Acts 4:3

* 1) "They seized Peter and John" -By doing so they again worked to stop the work of the Holy Spirit. We should not be surprised when we are in the middle of a great work of the Holy Spirit and then all of a sudden the evil one and his people do something to stop it for even then God is doing something.
2) "they put them in jail until the next day" -there was not enough time to hold a trial for the temple was closed and the Sanhedrin has stopped for the day.

* "because it was evening" -the evening sacrifices ended at about 4:00 P.M. At that time the temple gates would be closed. Therefore, Peter's message was from till about 3:00 P.M. to about 4:00 P.M.

>2. What was the response to their messages? (4)

"But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand. -Acts 4:4

* "many who heard the message believed" -the power of the gospel caused self-interest groups to oppose it, but brings many unbelievers to faith. Powerful gospel preaching results in great church growth.

* "men grew to about five thousand" -so about ten thousand adults plus children. On Pentecost the converted number was only three thousand. The church was growing.

>What kind of meeting was held on the following day? (5)

"The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. -Acts 4:5

* "The next day" -Any judgements involving life and death must be begun and concluded in daylight hours per the Sanhedrin rules.

* "elders and teachers of the law in Jerusalem" -This was called the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was the "supreme court" of Judea. (Luke. 5:17, 22:66; Mat. 2:4, 15:2; Mark. 14:55; John 3)

>Who attended the meeting? (6)

"Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest's family. -Acts 4:6

* "high priest" -The religious leader of Israel. The Mosaic law says that one is appointed by God for life. (Lev. 8, 21-22)

* "Annas the high priest" -high priest for nine years, 6-15 A.D. Deposed by the Romans and succeeded by his son, Eleazar, then by his son-in-law, Caiaphas. (18-36 A.D.) However, Annas was still recognized by the Jews as high priest. (Luke. 3:2; John. 18:13-24)

* "Caiaphas" -A puppet high priest put there by the Romans because they did not like Annas.

* "John" -May be Jonathan son of Annas, who was appointed high priest in A.D 36. Others suggest it was Johanan ben Zaccai, who became the president of the Great Synagogue after the fall of Jerusalem.

* "Alexander" -unknown.

>What was their main question? (7)

"They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: "By what power or what name did you do this?" -Acts 4:7

* They tried to intimidate (oppress by their positions) the apostles.

* "began to question them" -perhaps other questions where asked but these where the gist of the questions.

* "what power" -what authority did they have and who gave it to you.

* "what name" -they wanted them to either confess Jesus or reject Jesus. They expected the disciples to say nothing because they did not know how to react when Peter answered as he did.

* This was the same question that they had asked John the Baptist and Jesus.

>3. What was Peter's response? (8-9; Luke 21:12-14)

"Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: "Rulers and elders of the people! If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, -Acts 4:8-9

* ""But before all this, they will lay hands on you and persecute you. They will deliver you to synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors, and all on account of my name. This will result in your being witnesses to them. But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. -Luke 21:12-14

* "Filled" -simply that the Spirit, who had come to live permanently in Peter's life at Pentecost, consciously lead Peter to speak. Peter's gift was prophecy, the great gift of the Spirit. (1 Co. 14:1) When I practiced it I love as Peter did. (1 Co. 13:13)

* "with the Holy Spirit" -only way Peter could have delivered this message. In the past he was fearful of a servant girl and denied Jesus. While Peter and John were on trial for their faith, the Spirit empowered Peter to preach. Jesus had promised that under these circumstances the Spirit would tell the disciples what to say. (Luke 13:11-12, 21:12-14; John 16:7-11)

* The previous night Peter must have not worried about what to say to his "enemies", as Jesus instructed. Peter must have just prayed, as Paul did in prison. This is clear by Peter's message, for it was truthful, simple, to the point and powerful.

* "Rulers and elders of the people!" -Peter respected them in their position of leadership even though they were responsible for Jesus' death.

>What was his message to the members of the Sanhedrin? (10-11; Psalm 118:22-23)

"then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. He is "'the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone.' -Acts 4:10-11

* "The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the LORD has done this, and it is marvellous in our eyes. -Psalm 118:22-23

* "by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth" -by proclamation the world mission of the church is carried out. All Christian proclamation is about Jesus. The Spirit guides the church in all its proclamation, and thereby reminds people of Jesus. (John. 14:26, 15:26-27, 16:12-15)

* "you crucified" -very bold to say this. The Sanhedrin had tried to hide this fact from the people but Peter was proclaiming it publicly.

* "God raised from the dead" -this with the previous clause should have been very piercing to the Sanhedrin.

* "this man stands before you healed" -he must have been there and in jail with Peter and John.

* "the stone you builders rejected" -this quote was to help them believe it was God's will. God even worked through their wickedness to accomplish his will. God knew they would do it.

* Jesus used Psalm 118:22 many times before. (Mat. 21:42)

* "you" -Peter changed for their benefit for it was truth.

>What was his conclusion? (12; John 14:6; Phil. 2:6-12)

"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." -Acts 4:12

* "Jesus answered, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. -John 14:6

* "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death--even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed--not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence--continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, -Phil 2:6-12

* "salvation is found in no one else" -Peter was offering them salvation.

* "we must" -included himself and them.

* This was out of Peter's shepherd heart for the people. He accepted Jesus' words in John 21:15-17.

II. Shall We Obey Men Rather Than God? (13-22)

>4. What made them astonished? (13)

"When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. -Acts 4:13

* "saw the courage" -no fear in the disciples. A certain boldness characterized by the assurance, authority and forthrightness of the apostles (2:29, 4:29, 28:31) The Jewish leaders saw the courage but didn't recognize that it was God's work through the Holy Spirit.

* "unschooled" -by the leaders standards Peter and John were thus.

* "ordinary men" -saw from a humanistic point of view. Also shows what kind of people were the apostles even though they were the church leaders.

* "took note that these men had been with Jesus" -the leaders linked Jesus as the one who trained these men.

>What was their dilemma? (14-16)

"But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. "What are we going to do with these men?" they asked. "Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. -Acts 4:14-16

* "everybody living in Jerusalem" -all knew of the man because everyday for at least 20 years he was at the gate called Beautiful.

* They didn't listen to the message of Peter.

* Peter answered their question but they didn't react to his answer because they were not prepared for this answer or perhaps even an answer at all.

>What was their solution? (17-18)

"But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name." Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. -Acts 4:17-18

* "this thing" -miracle in Jesus' name and preaching in Jesus' name. This shows that the main attack was against Jesus not the disciples as Jesus had said.

* "this name" -they wouldn't even say Jesus' name.

* "commanded" -thinking they had power of God behind them because they were anointed. This would be right except they opposed God which was very clear.

>How could Luke have known about their discussion? (Acts 22:3)

* ""I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, but brought up in this city. Under Gamaliel I was thoroughly trained in the law of our fathers and was just as zealous for God as any of you are today. -Acts 22:3

* "Gamaliel" -lived in Jerusalem and was a leader in Jerusalem.

* Paul was probably there.

* Also John and Peter went back and reported everything. (23)

>5. What was Peter and John's response? (19-20)

"But Peter and John replied, "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." -Acts 4:19-20

* "Judge for yourselves" -Jesus said this statement to them often. Peter and John learned from Jesus.

>What does the Bible teach about obedience to the visible authorities? (Rom. 13:1; Heb. 13:17)

* Everyone must submit himself to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. -Romans 13:1

* "Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. -Hebrews 13:17

* Peter and John let them seize them. They called them leaders and rulers. They talked with respect. This is different than Peter in the past for he cut off one man's ear when Jesus was arrested. The disciples had a calm voice and not self righteous nor proud. They weren't rebellious. They also submitted to their punishment.

>When and how does a Christian obey God rather than men? (John 18:37; Mat. 5:10-11)

* "Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. "Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. -Matthew 5:10-11

* "You are a king, then!" said Pilate. Jesus answered, "You are right in saying I am a king. In fact, for this reason I was born, and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone on the side of truth listens to me." -John 18:37

* When man's authority goes against God's. Jesus specifically commanded the disciples to preach in his name. The religious leaders were telling them to do the opposite.

* People under the name of religion use religion to go against authority.

>What further actions did the members take? (21-22)

"After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old. -Acts 4:21-22

* "further threats" -Only verbal persecution at this time.

* "over forty years old" -It was a definite miracle.

* "all the people were praising God" -moved by public opinions.

III. The Believers' Prayer (23-31)

>6. Upon their release, what did Peter and John do? (23)

"On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. -Acts 4:23

* "their own people" -The Jewish leaders were not their people.

>What was the response of the church? (24)

"When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. "Sovereign Lord," they said, "you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. -Acts 4:24

* "they raised their voices together in prayer to God" -The church dealt with the problem through prayer (relying on God through prayer).

* "Sovereign Lord" -God is ruler. Sovereign is "despotes" in Greek. God is "Theo" in Greek.

* "you made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them" -they recognized God's power and therefore his sovereignty.

* They didn't pray, "What should we do." They learned through Bible study and study of Jesus' words.

* No fear. Their motivation was not fear.

>7. What was the contents of their prayer? (25-30)

"You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: "'Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.' Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus." -Acts 4:25-30

* The persecution wasn't against them but against God. (25)

* Jesus suffered so suffering is natural, it is God's will. (27)

* God knew beforehand what would happen. He was in control. (28)

* There is a lot of Scripture quoted in Acts by the first church. This gives us a good example.

* Prayer meeting message.

* They solved the problem through he word of God and prayer.

* They were a well trained army of God.

* "indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate" -all the church understood Scripture and could apply it to diverse and sudden situations.

* "enable your servants to speak your word" -made a point that the message would be spoken.

* "perform miraculous signs and wonders" -confirm the word they spoke.

* "holy servant Jesus" -shows their remembrance of a servants life.

>What happened after the prayer? (31)

"After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. -Acts 4:31

* "was shaken" -a sign to confirm their prayers.

* A problem is a time to grow just as they had grown when the church first began.

* "all" -no exclusions even though they prayed for the leaders.

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