We have learned that Peter and John were just by the temple gate called Beautiful. They healed a lame man. People were amazed at their act, seeing the event and recalling that this lame man was indeed that once lame man, who was now walking and “praising God.”
Then we learned that these people looked at Peter and John as if they had a certain power to heal. Peter, however, proclaimed that the power was/is in the name of Jesus and not in him. Then he explained what they did and how they denied Christ; how they killed the Source of life, who God hath raised Him from the dead.
Moreover, Peter said they were “witnesses” of that event. He then calls them to repent and turn back.
It is hard to tell if Peter was calling for personal repentance or corporate repentance. The reason is the corporate call is in line with the Jewish understanding of that time that the repentance of Israel would usher God’s kingdom to come!
While this was going on, the trouble came.
Peter and John’s Arrest
Acts 4:1–3 KJV 1900
And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide.
But, before going into this chapter, we have to recall of what Jesus ALREADY told His disciples.
Matthew 10:16–18 KJV 1900
Behold, I send you forth as sheep in the midst of wolves: be ye therefore wise as serpents, and harmless as doves. But beware of men: for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues; And ye shall be brought before governors and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them and the Gentiles.
So, Jesus gave them instructions and warnings about the persecution.
Here in chapter 4:1-3, we see that persecution already.
The Sadducees who do not believe in the resurrection are having issues.
Verse 2 says they were grieved - provoked to anger! Why because they were continuously teaching the people and were preaching through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
So we learn that both of them are in custody (v. 3).
However, they were not able to stop God from accomplishing His plan.
God’s Mission Continues
Acts 4:4 KJV 1900
Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.
What is God’s mission? Saving His people.
Peter’s Speech Before the Authorities (4:5-22)
Acts 4:5–6 KJV 1900
And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.
Acts 4:7 KJV 1900
And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?
The inquiry here is not a matter of the legitimacy of the miracle, but a matter of authority.
They question the “source” - by what power or by what name, have you done this?
Acts 4:8 KJV 1900
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,
Then Peter filled with the Holy Spirit said - this means that the Spirit inspired Peter to speak.
Acts 4:10 KJV 1900
Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
Be it known to you all - Peter is making it known publicly.
The source of this healing is Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, however, God raised Him from the dead.
In other words, you have no excuse after you listen to what I am saying now. No Excuse.
Peter then quotes in verse 11. Psalm 118:22
Psalm 118:22 KJV 1900
The stone which the builders refused Is become the head stone of the corner.
Jesus is the rejected stone; the leaders of Israel are the builders.
Acts 4:11 KJV 1900
This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner.
What is the point of this insertion by Peter?
Acts: Expanded Digital Edition (Explanation of the Text)
This application of Ps 118:22 has a fourfold significance. First, Jesus has been vindicated by God. Second, the Jewish leaders have been mistaken in their rejection of Jesus. Third, the fatefully misguided action of the Jewish leaders has been reversed by God, who has raised Jesus from the dead. Fourth, God is building a new building; the reference to a cornerstone suggests a monumental building—a new (spiritual) temple in which God’s presence among his people is based on Jesus’ death and resurrection and thus contingent upon the acceptance of God’s revelation in Jesus, Israel’s Messiah, and upon faith in the significance of Jesus for God’s people.
The Source of Salvation
Peter affirms that salvation is found only in Jesus.
Acts 4:12 KJV 1900
Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
The Reaction of the Sanhedrin
They saw boldness in Peter and John
Acts 4:13–16 KJV 1900
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.
What does Jesus say in Luke 21:12
Luke 21:12–16 KJV 1900
But before all these, they shall lay their hands on you, and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues, and into prisons, being brought before kings and rulers for my name’s sake. And it shall turn to you for a testimony. Settle it therefore in your hearts, not to meditate before what ye shall answer: For I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able to gainsay nor resist. And ye shall be betrayed both by parents, and brethren, and kinsfolks, and friends; and some of you shall they cause to be put to death.
The Holy Spirit God gave them words and that boldness. The Jewish authorities have nothing to say. They were in shock and shame. Yet, they have to do something.
Acts 4:17 KJV 1900
But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.
Imposing a Ban - Do not speak in the name of Jesus
Acts 4:18 KJV 1900
And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
Rejecting the Ban - Not happening
Acts 4:19–20 KJV 1900
But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.
It is not right thing to do for us, nor for you. God is above all, above you, He placed you where you are now, and He has appointed us for a task.
Acts 4:21–22 KJV 1900
So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done. For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.
Despite persecution, when we serve the Lord with all our heart, God will give us the words and boldness we need when we face obstacles.
The Prayer of the Persecuted
The Report (Acts 4:23)
After the release of Peter and John, they reported to their friends of what happened.
Acts 4:23 KJV 1900
And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.
Notice the “company” or these “people” did not call on the Lord to either curse the authorities or the destroy the authorities. What did they do?
Acts 4:24 KJV 1900
And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:
Their response was seeking God’s face through prayer.
They heard it, and they lifted up their voice to God with one accord. The corporate prayer? This is what they did in Acts 1:14
Acts 1:14 KJV 1900
These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
They address to the Sovereign Lord. The Greek term used here is despotes, which means God who is in control of all things.
The Content of Their Prayer
With in this content of prayer I see a few things:
The Past Events - Acts 4:24-26.
The Present Events - Acts 4:27-28.
The Future Events - Acts 4:29-30.
Acts 4:24–27 KJV 1900
And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together,
The citation of Psalm 2:1-2
Psalm 2:1–2 KJV 1900
Why do the heathen rage, And the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the Lord, and his anointed, saying,
In the Acts passage we note that these Gentiles rage (action undefined - it happened at some point); why do these people plot in vain? (again, undefined aspect - the action took place in the past).
Further the text says the Kings set themselves, and the rulers gatheredtogether against the Lord, and against the Anointed (Jesus Christ). If you notice, all these are past verbs.
In other words, they have already made up their minds to oppose the Lord, and His work.
The Power of Their Prayer
Acts 4:31 KJV 1900
And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
So what can we learn from 4:29-30?
The Prayer of the Persecuted
They understood and acknowledged the threat in their prayer v. 29a
They prayed and asked God to give them boldness of speech v. 29b
They prayed to use these circumstances to continue to carry out the Gospel mission v. 30.
Their prayer was heard, and their request was granted by the Lord v. 31.
The Sharing of Property 4:32-37
Acts 4:32 KJV 1900
And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
The Unity In the Saved People
So we see the attitude of unity in these saved people. They were of one heart and soul - they are all “one.” They were sharing things - common.
Isn’t this what the body of believers (a Church) need to be doing? Sharing things, showing kindness, being gracious, etc?
The Ministry of the Apostles
While this was one of the main things going on in the Church, on the other side, Luke suggested the ministry of the Apostles with great power - by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Acts 4:33 KJV 1900
And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
The Apostles were witnessing the resurrection of Jesus Christ. They could do all this because of the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Because of their continuous teaching and preaching about Jesus Christ, the people's attitudes were changed - they were transformed. Because of their transformation, they were being generous.
Acts 4:34 perhaps echoes Deut. 15:4
Deuteronomy 15:4–5 KJV 1900
Save when there shall be no poor among you; for the Lord shall greatly bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it: Only if thou carefully hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all these commandments which I command thee this day.
Notice the phrase: carefully hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God.
According to Deut. 15 4-6, the prerequisite to receiving Yahweh’s blessings is to obey His voice. Is Luke trying to show something here?
This could be part of a general typology that sees a correspondence between, on the one hand, the redemption of the Israelites from Egypt and their prosperous settlement in the land, and, on the other hand, the new redemption wrought by Christ and the setting up of the new community
Acts 4:35 KJV 1900
And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
The people brought stuff and placed it at the feet of apostles. Probably showing respect and accepting the authority of the apostles. Also, that the apostles would make the decision to distribute the proceeds.
Acts 4:36–37 KJV 1900
And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Better understood as son of exhortation.
This little event of Barnabas functions as a contrast to what was going to happen in chapter 5.
What can we learn?
Church and individual members of the Church must be generous in giving.