Monday, January 25, 2010

Acts 4 - Boldness

Acts 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. 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.

[Twice in chapter 3 (verses 15 and 26) Peter claimed to be a witness to Jesus' resurrection from the dead. The Sadducees denied any resurrection of the dead, so they brought the temple guard to arrest them, and put a stop to this resurrection teaching. Peter and John had gone to the temple in the late afternoon, so after healing the crippled beggar, and teaching in the temple courtyard, by the time they are arrested it is almost evening. So rather than bother the elders at dinner time, they held them overnight. Even though the sermon was interrupted, still many believed. The count of men who trusted Jesus to be the messiah had grown to 5,000. (120 before Pentecost, 3,000 on Pentecost, now 5,000.)] 

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

[The priests as guardians of the temple would try to control the message taught within the temple court. As co-conspirators to the murder of Jesus they were sure his death would send his followers back to the authorities of the temple. Their view of authority was that they had an office given to them by birthright of the priesthood, and that office gave them authority to work as they willed, to the exclusion of others. Christ's apostles were given authority by Jesus not as an office to use as they willed, but as an agency to do the will of Christ. This agency would be like a power-of-attorney, or a government ambassador, where the agent is bound to do the will of the principle. To act in the name of Jesus is to first submit to all that Jesus is as Messiah and Lord, then to guarantee that you are acting for him. Too many view the name of Jesus as a magic word hoping to invoke God's power to do their own will. When the apostles' act in the name of Jesus they only do it as they are led by the Spirit to do his will, to fulfill God's purpose.]

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: 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. 11 This is the 'stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.'
(Psalm 118:22) 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."

[This is the same message as Acts 2 and 3. – You killed Jesus – God raised Him from the dead – His life and power is evidenced by these miracles. Furthermore here he refers to the priests as the builders of the temple, rejecting the foundation of Jesus as Messiah. But this foundation of Christ as savior would be the cornerstone of the Church.]


The Name of Jesus Forbidden

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

[Boldness is the hallmark of the apostles teaching. The miracles confirmed the resurrection and the authority of the apostles to preach in Jesus' name.


Because of the miracle healing the priests and elders are stuck. The people all see God working in the apostles, but the keepers of the temple want this Jesus movement to stop. So they threaten them not to do anything else in Jesus' name, but even that the apostles reject, refusing to back down from their calling and mission.]

Prayer for Boldness

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, 25 who by the mouth of Your servant David[b] have said:

      ' Why did the nations rage,
      And the people plot vain things?
The kings of the earth took their stand,
      And the rulers were gathered together
      Against the LORD and against His Christ.'
(Psalm 2:1-2)

[Those who oppose the Lord often have earthly power and authority. And when you speak of Jesus they often rage, they curse, shout and even respond violently. But as Jesus' witnesses we remain peaceful, and overcome by perseverance abiding in Christ and maintaining a faithful walk and testimony.]
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, 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.

[Even evil acts and wicked men are subject to the sovereign will of God. Though the conspirators against Christ were doing evil, that evil was turned to achieve God's purpose. How many of us in this situation would pray that God would remove the opposition to his word, or pray that God would kill the ungodly leadership in the temple, or at least pray for your own personal protection. Here the apostles only pray for "boldness", the courage to speak in Jesus name no matter the personal costs. They prayed that God would continue to heal and do miracles as a sign, that they would have more opportunities to teach and preach Jesus.

And as they finished praying, their prayers were answered, they whole place where they gathered shook with God's power, they were again filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.]

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