Acts Chapter Four

 

Read Acts 4:1-4

 

v1.  “AND AS THEY SPAKE UNTO THE PEOPLE, THE PRIESTS, AND THE CAPTAIN OF THE TEMPLE, AND THE SADDUCEES, CAME UPON THEM.”

 

            Trouble has come.  Remember that we started out with Peter and John going to the temple to pray and when they arrived they healed the lame man.  A crowd gathered and Peter took advantage of the opportunity and preached Jesus unto them.  A thought that crossed my mind in this study; is how often do we take advantage of opportunities to teach Jesus?

            We apparently have three groups of people coming to Peter and John here.  The priests or rulers who did not believe in Jesus and did not want the idea taught that he was the Messiah, or the Christ.  They had rejected him; he did not fit what they were looking for, nor was he one of them.  Then the captain of the temple, literally the priest assigned as the captain of the temple guard, the one responsible for the protection of the temple and maintaining order and control over the crowds that gathered there.  Perhaps even the same one that went to the mount of Olives when Jesus was taken.  He took his orders from the chief priest or the high priest himself.  Lastly we have the Saducees who did not believe in the resurrection and took exception to the fact that Peter is preaching that Jesus has been resurrected.  Other readings that I have done would indicate that they were in political power at this time, at least in terms of numbers if not control of the priesthood.

 

v2.  “BEING GRIEVED THAT THEY TAUGHT THE PEOPLE, AND PREACHED THROUGH JESUS THE RESURRECTION OF THE DEAD.”

 

            It seems that the Saducees were the most grieved as we’re told that the problem was the preaching of the resurrection.  We know from prior studies that they didn’t believe in such things, Matthew describes them as follows:

 

“THE SAME DAY CAME TO HIM THE SADDUCEES, WHICH SAY THAT THERE IS NO RESURRECTION, AND ASKED HIM.” Matthew 22:23 

 

            Brother Luke also records for us later in his book:

 

Acts 23:8  FOR THE SADDUCEES SAY THAT THERE IS NO RESURRECTION, NEITHER ANGEL, NOR SPIRIT: BUT HE PHARISEES CONFESS BOTH.”

 

v3.  “AND THEY LAID HANDS ON THEM, AND PUT them IN HOLD UNTO THE NEXT DAY: FOR IT WAS NOW EVENTIDE.”

 

            Busted.   They laid hands on them, arrested them, took them and as we would say today put them in the holding tank for the night.  Peter started his teaching sometime around 3:00 p.m. (ninth hour, Acts 3:1) and it is eventide.  What does that word mean?  At or of evening, too late to have a trial or do anything further that day.  Note that Peter has been preaching since about 3:00 p.m. and now it is at or near 6:00 p.m. or the end of the day.

 

v4.  “HOWBEIT MANY OF THEM WHICH HEARD THE WORD BELIEVED; AND THE NUMBER OF THE MEN WAS ABOUT FIVE THOUSAND.”

 

            Contrary to the priests, captain of the temple and the Sadducees these people believed and the number of men, in addition to women was about 5,000.  The church is growing.  What is being presented to make it grow?  How many evangelism programs did they have?  Did they have to put on a show with drama, dancing, special music, etc. to attract the “unchurched”?  Did they compromise the word of God, water it down, did they fail to tell them that they had sin in their lives, to make the Word of God more palatable to the people listening?  They didn’t do any of these things did they?  Neither should we.

 

Read Acts 4:5-12

 

v5.  “AND IT CAME TO PASS ON THE MORROW, THAT THEIR RULERS, AND ELDERS, AND SCRIBES,”

 

            It was the custom of the Jews to have their trials in the morning, does anyone know why?

 

Jeremiah 21:12  “O HOUSE OF DAVID, THUS SAITH THE LORD; EXECUTE JUDGMENT IN THE MORNING, AND DELIVER him that is SPOILED OUT OF THE HAND OF THE OPPRESSOR, LEST MY FURY GO OUT LIKE FIRE, AND BURN THAT NONE CAN QUENCH it, BECAUSE OF THE EVIL OF YOUR DOINGS.”

 

            Peter and John are brought before the Sanhedrin council, the highest court of the Jews.  Since they ruled this country; why did the Romans allow this court to be maintained?  Its function was primarily religious in nature, they could put people in prison and punish them in other ways but they could not carry out an execution; the Roman civil government reserved that authority to themselves.  Otherwise they allow their provinces to govern themselves, it was less trouble.

            So who do we have participating?  Who are the rulers?  (The ruling priest or chief priest of each of the twenty-four courses of priests that served the temple).  Who are the elders?  Again one each in the twenty-four courses of priest that served the temple and there were twenty-four scribes as well; giving us a Sanhedrin council that numbers 72 individuals excluding the high priest himself.

 

v6.  “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.”

 

            We have two high priests, how can that be?  Well let’s look at what we know from scripture.  In Luke’s earlier treatise they’re both mentioned as a mark in time when John the Baptist began his ministry:

 

Luke 3:2  ANNAS AND CAIAPHAS BEING THE HIGH PRIESTS, THE WORD OF GOD CAME UNTO JOHN THE SON OF ZACHARIAS IN THE WILDERNESS.”

 

            John tells us that there was a family relationship between Annas and Caiaphas.

 

John 18:13  AND LED HIM AWAY TO ANNAS FIRST; FOR HE WAS FATHER IN LAW TO CAIAPHAS, WHICH WAS THE HIGH PRIEST THAT SAME YEAR.”

 

            Annas was Caiaphas’ father-in-law, the elder priest and probably the one who was high priest through the normal selection and succession process that God had given the Israelites. However, the Romans, in their control of the local political process, also appointed them a high priest and that is the role that most scholars attribute to Caiaphas.

 

v7.  “AND WHEN THEY HAD SET THEM IN THE MIDST, THEY ASKED, BY WHAT POWER, OR BY WHAT NAME, HAVE YE DONE THIS?”

 

            When the Sanhedrin assembled that morning along with all the relatives of the high priests who came to see the show, they set Peter and John in their midst.  They didn’t deny that a miracle had happened, did they?  They acknowledged the activity that had occurred the day before, verifying for us that Peter did indeed perform a miracle.  Rather their focus was by what power or authority did he do this?  This is the same question that they had asked Jesus:

 

“AND WHEN HE WAS COME INTO THE TEMPLE, THE CHIEF PRIESTS AND THE ELDERS OF THE PEOPLE CAME UNTO HIM AS HE WAS TEACHING, AND SAID, BY WHAT AUTHORITY DOEST THOU THESE THINGS?  AND WHO GAVE THEE THIS AUTHORITY?” Matthew 21:23 

 

            Should we be concerned about someone’s authority today?  Absolutely! We should question any teacher, preacher or anyone else who professes to present the word of God.  What is your authority?  Where are you getting what you’re teaching?  How does that represent scripture, etc?

 

v8.  “THEN PETER, FILLED WITH THE HOLY GHOST, SAID UNTO THEM, YE RULERS OF THE PEOPLE, AND ELDERS OF ISRAEL,”

 

            Peter answers their question about authority.  Brother Luke writing by God’s direction didn’t leave us in the dark either did he?  How is it that Peter was able to speak so boldly?  Jesus promised them this ability through the Holy Spirit.

 

Luke 12:11-12  AND WHEN THEY BRING YOU UNTO THE SYNAGOGUES, AND unto MAGISTRATES, AND POWERS, TAKE YE NO THOUGHT HOW OR WHAT THING YE SHALL ANSWER, OR WHAT YE SHALL SAY: FOR THE HOLY GHOST SHALL TEACH YOU IN the SAME HOUR WHAT YE OUGHT TO SAY.”

 

v9.  “IF WE THIS DAY BE EXAMINED OF THE GOOD DEED DONE TO THE IMPOTENT MAN, BY WHAT MEANS HE IS MADE WHOLE;”

 

            Peter with his first words puts them in a box doesn’t he?  A good deed had been done to a man that was crippled, unable to walk, “IMPOTENT” is the word translated; from birth.  If these rulers punish Peter and John for healing this man, what position do they put themselves in?  That of being against doing good and being very political people what does that do to them?

 

v10.  “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.”

 

            Peter makes four main points with his first sentence.  First of all he wants his response known to them and to all who would hear.  Secondly he tells them that it is by the power of the Saviour (Jesus), the Messiah (Christ) who came from Nazareth.  Thirdly that this is the same man that they crucified, murdered through the Roman authorities. And fourthly he has been raised from the dead.  Not exactly what they wanted to hear, especially the Saducees regarding the resurrection.  But Peter is telling them no more than what he has preached already and that they have heard is he?

            Peter had told the man what?

 

Acts 3:6  THEN PETER SAID, SILVER AND GOLD HAVE I NONE; BUT SUCH AS I HAVE GIVE I THEE:  IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH RISE UP AND WALK.”

 

            So Peter had proclaimed at the time his authority for his act.  “IN THE NAME OF JESUS  He had already told them not very many days prior in his sermon at Pentecost the rest of what he repeats for them now:

 

Acts 2:23-24  HIM, BEING DELIVERED BY THE DETERMINATE COUNSEL AND FOREKNOWLEDGE FO GOD, YE HAVE TAKEN, AND BY WICKED HANDS HAVE CRUCIFIED AND SLAIN: WHOM GOD HATH RAISED UP, HAVING LOOSED THE PAINS OF DEATH: BECAUSE IT WAS NOT POSSIBLE THAT HE SHOULD BE HOLDEN OF IT.”

 

v11.  “THIS IS THE STONE WHICH WAS SET AT NOUGHT OF YOU BUILDERS, WHICH IS BECOME THE HEAD OF THE CORNER.”

 

            Now Peter refers them back to the prophecy concerning their actions; verifying what he says from a source that they recognized as the word of God.

 

Isaiah 28:16  “THEREFORE THUS SAITH THE LORD GOD, BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION FOR A FOUNDATION A STONE, A TRIED STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone, A SURE FOUNDATION: HE THAT BELIEVETH SHALL NOT MAKE HASTE.”

 

Psalms 118:22  THE STONE which THE BUILDERS REFUSED IS BECOME THE HEAD stone OF THE CORNER.”

 

            Jesus referred to these same scriptures and this can be identified as part of what he promised his apostles that they would remember.  In one of his parables he had used the same analogy speaking to these same people:

 

Matthew 21:42  JESUS SAITH UNTO THEM, DID YE NEVER READ IN THE SCRIPTURES, THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THE SAME IS BECOME THE HEAD OF THE CORNER: THIS IS THE LORD’S DOING, AND IT IS MARVELLOUS IN OUR EYES?”

 

v12.  “NEITHER IS THERE SALVATION IN ANY OTHER: FOR THERE IS NONE OTHER NAME UNDER HEAVEN GIVEN AMONG MEN, WHEREBY WE MUST BE SAVED.”

 

            The Jews were looking forward to the day when the Messiah would come and salvation would be theirs weren’t they?  Peter refers to this same thing later in his epistles doesn’t he?  See I Peter 1:10.  They also claimed certain privileges and rights by virtue of their ancestry didn’t they?  But Peter lets them know that this Jesus, the Christ, of Nazareth is the one, and the only one that would ever be given through which salvation would come.  Peter told Cornelius the same:

 

Acts 10:43  TO HIM GIVE ALL THE PROPHETS WITNESS, THAT THROUGH HIS NAME WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH IN HIM SHALL RECEIVE REMISSION OF SINS.”

 

            Paul emphasized this to Timothy in his writing to him:

 

I Timothy 2:5-6  “FOR there is ONE GOD, AND ONE MEDIATOR BETWEEN GOD AND MEN, THE MAN CHRIST JESUS; WHO GAVE HIMSELF A RANSOM FOR ALL, TO BE TESTIFIED IN DUE TIME.”

 

Read Acts 4:13-23

 

v13  NOW THEN 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.”

 

            Four things Luke tells us about the council:  They were impressed with the boldness of Peter and John’s response to their question.  They knew them to be, at least in man’s view, unlearned and ignorant, just Galilean fishermen.  They were amazed and filled with wonder at what they heard, and they noted that they had been with Jesus.  But then it won’t be the high minded, educated and wise in man’s wisdom that will accept God’s word; will it?  Isn’t that a major source of the problems in our Lord’s church today?

 

Matthew 11:25  “AT THAT TIME JESUS ANSWERED AND SAID, I THANK THEE, O FATHER, LORD OF HEAVEN AND EARTH, BECAUSE THOU HAST HID THESE THINGS FROM THE WISE AND PRUDENT, AND HAS REVEALED THEM UNTO BABES.”

 

I Corinthians 1:27  BUT GOD HATH CHOSEN THE FOOLISH THINGS OF THE WORLD TO CONFOUND THE WISE; AND GOD HATH CHOSEN THE WEAK THINGS OF THE WORLD TO CONFOUND THE THINGS WHICH ARE MIGHTY;”

 

v14.  “AND BEHOLDING THE MAN WHICH WAS HEALED STANDING WITH THEM, THEY COULD SAY NOTHING AGAINST IT.”

 

            The lame man who had never walked was standing before them as living proof that a miracle had occurred, they could not deny it.  To condemn these men for doing a good work would be political disaster.

 

v15.  “BUT WHEN THEY HAD COMMANDED THEM TO GO ASIDE OUT OF THE COUNCIL, THEY CONFERRED AMONG THEMSELVES.”

 

            They had to have a closed door session.  They were in a dilemma and they knew it.

 

v16.  “SAYING, WHAT SHALL WE DO TO THESE MEN?  FOR THAT INDEED A NOTABLE MIRACLE HATH BEEN DONE BY THEM is MANIFESTED TO ALL THEM THAT DWELL IN JERUSALEM; AND WE CANNOT DENY it.”

 

            This council, these same men, have been in this dilemma before haven’t they?

 

John 11:47  THEN GATHERED THE CHIEF PRIESTS AND THE PHARISEES A COUNCIL, AND SAID, WHAT DO WE?  FOR THIS MAN DOETH MANY MIRACLES.”

 

            A miracle has occurred, not just your everyday, average miracle but something that is significant, important and known to the entire city of Jerusalem. It’s been less than 24 hours. They didn’t need radio, newspapers, or other mass media to communicate, did they?  We’re already told that:

 

Acts 3:9-10  AND ALL THE PEOPLE SAW HIM WALKING AND PRAISING GOD: AND THEY KNEW THAT IT WAS HE WHICH SAT FOR ALMS AT THE BEAUTIFUL GATE OF THE TEMPLE: AND THEY WERE FILLED WITH WONDER AND AMAZEMENT AT THAT WHICH HAD HAPPENED UNTO HIM.”

 

 

v17.  “BUT THAT IT SPREAD NO FURTHER AMONG THE PEOPLE, LET US STRAITLY THREATEN THEM; THAT THEY SPEAK HENCEFORTH TO NO MAN IN THIS NAME.”

 

            They can’t deny the happening; they can’t support it either, so they do what politicians have done since time began.  They implement damage control.  They try to squelch the truth, bury it and make it not so obvious.

 

v18.  “AND THEY CALLED THEM, AND COMMANDED THEM NOT TO SPEAK AT ALL NOR TEACH IN THE NAME OF JESUS.”

 

            They were not only not to teach in the name of Jesus, they were forbidden to even mention his name weren’t they?  And what was their reaction?

 

v19.  “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.”

 

            Peter says you be the judge.  You claim to be men of God; would it be right for us to listen to you or to God?  We all know the answer don’t we?  They did too.

 

v20.  “FOR WE CANNOT BUT SPEAK THE THINGS WHICH WE HAVE SEEN AND HEARD.”

 

            The apostles say they just can’t hold back.  They’re driven, compelled, bubbling over and have to speak the things they have seen and heard.  They are to be witnesses as Jesus told them:

 

Acts 1:8  BUT YE SHALL RECEIVE POWER, AFTER THAT THE HOLY GHOST IS COME UPON YOU: AND YE SHALL BE WITNESSES UNTO ME BOTH IN JERUSALEM, AND IN ALL JUDAEA, AND IN SAMARIA, AND UNTO THE UTTERMOST PART OF THE EARTH.”

 

            Paul said that this was the same thing Ananias told him isn’t it?

 

Acts 22:15  FOR THOU SHALT BE HIS WITNESS UNTO ALL MEN OF WHAT THOU HAST SEEN AND HEARD.”

 

            John declared the same thing is his later writing:

 

I John 1:1-3  THAT WHICH WAS FROM THE BEGINNING, WHICH WE HAVE HEARD, WHICH WE HAVE SEEN WITH OUR EYES, WHICH WE HAVE LOOKED UPON, AND OUR HANDS HAVE HANDLED, OF THE WORD OF LIFE; (FOR THE LIFE WAS MANIFESTED, AND WE HAVE SEEN it, AND BEAR WITNESS, AND SHOW UNTO YOU THAT ETERNAL LIFE, WHICH WAS WITH THE FATHER, AND WAS MANIFESTED UNTO US;) THAT WHICH WE HAVE SEEN AND HEARD DECLARE WE UNTO YOU, THAT YE ALSO MAY HAVE FELLOWSHIP WITH US: AND TRULY OUR FELLOWSHIP is WITH THE FATHER, AND WITH HIS SON JESUS CHRIST.”

 

v21.  “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.”

 

            They can’t do anything else so they threaten them further to quit preaching and teaching and let them go.  God is being glorified by the whole city because this man was healed, the people recognized the source of this miracle, the Sanhedrin recognized the source of this miracle and they just can’t do anything about it except try to stifle it’s spreading any further.  As we have noted several times these men were politicians, much as ours are today, and they feared the opinions of men.  We have ample evidence of this in other places as well.  They had the same problem with the preaching of John the Baptist.

 

Matthew 21:26  BUT IF WE SAY, OF MEN; WE FEAR THE PEOPLE; FOR ALL HOLD JOHN AS A PROPHET.”  see also Luke 20:6

 

v22.  “FOR THE MAN WAS ABOVE FORTY YEARS OLD, ON WHEM THIS MIRACLE OF HEALING WAS SHOWED.”

 

            The man who had not walked from birth was over 40 years old.  He had probably been at the gate of the temple for years and many, many people knew him.  No wonder the council couldn’t dispute that a miracle had been performed.

 

Read Acts 4:23-30

 

v23.  “AND BEING LET GO, THEY WENT TO THEIR OWN COMPANY, AND REPORTED ALL THAT THE CHIEF PRIESTS AND ELDERS HAD SAID UNTO THEM.”

 

            When Peter and John were let go Luke says that they returned to their own company; that is, the people that they normally spent their time with, and reported all that had happened.  They had been tried by the Jewish Sanhedrin and released without punishment.  This had to be an encouragement to the Christians in Jerusalem at this time.

 

v24.  “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 IS IN THEM IS:”

 

            What did the disciples do when they heard Peter and John’s story?  They with one accord raised their voices in a prayer of rejoicing to God.  They begin their prayer with praise to God, much the same as Hezekiah prayed before God, giving God praise and honor, much the same as Jesus taught us (Matthew 6:9):

 

II Kings 19:15  “AND HEZEKIAH PRAYED BEFORE THE LORD, AND SAID, O LORD GOD OF ISRAEL, WHICH DWELLEST between THE CHERUBIMS, THOU ART THE GOD, even THOU ALONE, OF ALL THE KINGDOMS OF THE EARTH; THOU HAS MADE HEAVEN AND EARTH.”

 

v25.  “WHO BY THE MOUTH OF THY SERVANT DAVID HAST SAID, WHY DID THE HEATHERN RAGE, AND THE PEOPLE IMAGINE VAIN THINGS?”

 

            Their words are taken from the words of David in the Psalms:

 

Psalm 2:1  WHY DO THE HEATHEN RAGE, AND THE PEOPLE IMAGINE A VAIN THING?”

 

v26.  “THE KINGS OF EARTH STOOD UP, AND THE RULERS WERE GATHERED TOGETHER AGAINST THE LORD, AND AGAINST HIS CHRIST.”

 

            Again David:

 

Psalms 2:2  THE KINGS OF THE EARTH SET THEMSELVES, AND THE RULERS TAKE COUNSEL TOGETHER, AGAINST THE LORD, AND AGAINST HIS ANOINTED, saying,”

 

v27.  “FOR OF A TRUTH AGAINST THY HOLY CHILD JESUS, WHOM THOU HAST ANOINTED, BOTH HEROD, PONTIUS PILATE, WITH THE GENTILES, AND THE PEOPLE OF ISRAEL, WERE GATHERED TOGETHER,”

 

            In their prayer they remember that many people have opposed Jesus even when he was but a baby.  He was the anointed of God and had told them that from the beginning.  Just after being tempted by Satan, Jesus had opportunity to read in the synagogue of Nazareth:

 

Luke 4:18  “THE SPIRIT OF THE LORD is UPON ME, BECAUSE HE HATH ANOINTED ME TO PREACH THE GOSPEL TO THE POOR; HE HATH SENT ME TO HEAL THE BROKENHEARTED, TO PREACH DELIVERANCE TO THE CAPTIVES, AND RECOVERING OF SIGHT TO THE BLIND, TO SET AT LIBERTY THEM THAT ARE BRUISED.”

 

            As a result of his teaching we remember that this council had sought to kill Jesus on numerous occasions:

 

Luke 22:2  AND THE CHIEF PRIESTS AND SCRIBES SOUGHT HOW THEY MIGHT KILL HIM; FOR THEY FEARED THE PEOPLE.”

 

Matthew 26:3-4  THEN ASSEMBLED TOGETHER THE CHIEF PRIESTS, AND THE SCRIBES, AND THE ELDERS OF THE PEOPLE, UNTO THE PALACE OF THE HIGH PRIEST, WHO WAS CALLED CAIAPHAS.  AND CONSULTED THAT THEY MIGHT TAKE JESUS BY SUBLETY, AND KILL him.”

 

v28.  “FOR TO DO WHATSOEVER THY HAND AND THY COUNSEL DETERMINED BEFORE TO BE DONE.”

 

            They stood together to do whatsoever the hand and counsel of God would direct them to do.  They also understood that whatever things happened, happened because it was the will of God.

 

v29.  “AND NOW, LORD, BEHOLD THEIR THREATENINGS: AND GRANT UNTO THY SERVANTS, THAT WITH ALL BOLDNESS THEY MAY SPEAK THY WORD.”

 

            They prayed for strength that they might speak the word of God with boldness, even in the face of the threatening of the council.  Is there a lesson in this for us today?  Absolutely!  We have several examples to follow, Paul at Damascus:

 

Acts 9:27  “BUT BARNABAS TOOK HIM, AND BROUGHT him TO THE APOSTLES, AND DECLARED UNTO THEM HOW HE HAD SEEN THE LORD IN THE WAY AND THAT HE HAD SPOKEN TO HIM, AND HOW HE HAD PREACHED BOLDLY AT DAMASCUS IN THE NAME OF JESUS.”

 

            Paul and Barnabas together in Antioch of Pisidia:

 

Acts 13:46  THEN PAUL AND BARNABAS WAXED BOLD, AND SAID, IT WAS NECESSARY THAT THE WORD OF GOD SHOULD FIRST HAVE BEEN SPOKEN TO YOU: BUT SEEING YE PUT IT FROM YOU, AND JUDGE YOURSELVES UNWORTHY OF EVERLASTING LIFE, LO, WE TURN TO THE GENTILES.”

 

v30.  “BY STRETCHING FORTH THINE HAND TO HEAL; AND THAT SIGNS AND WONDERS BE DONE BY THE NAME OF THY HOLY CHILD JESUS.”

 

            In their prayer as they continue they refer to the miracles that Jesus had wrought:

 

Read Acts 4:31-37

 

v31.  “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.”

 

            Back at the beginning of this series we observed that they prayed.  When they were troubled, when they had something to be thankful for they went to God with their troubles or thanksgiving.  God manifested his presence and the fact that he heard their supplication with a physical sign.  He did the same thing at the Philippian prison didn’t he?

 

Acts 16:26  AND SUDDENLY THERE WAS A GREAT EARTHQUAKE, SO THAT THE FOUNDATIONS OF THE PRISON WERE SHAKEN: AND IMMEDIATELY ALL THE DOORS WERE OPENED, AND EVERY ONE’S BANDS WERE LOOSED.”

 

v32.  “AND THE MULTITUDE OF THEM THAT BELIEVED WERE OF ONE HEART AND 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 disciples or followers of the teaching; or doctrine of the apostles of Jesus have grown to a multitude, they actually are several thousand in number now.  They were totally united, of “ONE HEART AND ONE SOUL.”  Paul encourages the Corinthians to be likewise:

 

II Corinthians 13:11  FINALLY, BRETHREN, FAREWELL.  BE PERFECT, BE OF GOOD COMFORT, BE OF ONE MIND, LIVE IN PEACE; AND THE GOD OF LOVE AND PEACE SHALL BE WITH YOU.”

           

            As did Peter in his epistle:

 

I Peter 3:8  FINALLY, be ye LIKE MINDED, COMPASSIONATE, LOVING AS BRETHREN, TENDERHEARTED, HUMBLEMINDED:”  (ASV)

 

v33.  “AND WITH GREAT POWER GAVE THE APOSTLES WITNESS OF THE RESURRECTION OF THE LORD JESUS: AND GREAT GRACE WAS UPON THEM ALL.”

 

            There is probably nothing more powerful than a good public speaker preaching or teaching something that he believes with all his heart.  The power and boldness of their speech is something to behold and something we don’t hear very often any more.  (Andrew Connelly, James Watkins, James Barnes are examples.) They were eye witness, they were sent to be eye witnesses,

 

Acts 1:8  BUT YE SHALL RECEIVE POWER, AFTER THAT THE HOLY GHOST IS COME UPON YOU: AND YE SHALL BE WITNESSES UNTO ME BOTH IN JERUSALEM, AND IN ALL JUDAEA, AND IN SAMARIA, AND UNTO THE UTTERMOST PART OF THE EARTH.”

 

            They also had all things common; this is described in the second chapter as:

 

Acts 2:45  AND SOLD THEIR POSSESSIONS AND GOODS, AND PARTED THEM TO ALL men, AS EVERY MAN HAD NEED.”

 

            And great grace or favor was upon them all, the people around them looked with favor upon them, their reputation was without spot or blemish, they were welcomed and admired by the all people.

 

v34.  “NEITHER WAS THERE ANY AMONG THEM THAT LACKED: FOR AS MANY AS WERE POSSESSORS OF LANDS OR HOUSES SOLD THEM, AND BROUGHT THE PRICE OF THE THINGS THAT WERE SOLD.”

 

            Not one of the brethren was allowed to suffer from an unfilled need.  The people that had traveled from other countries, some for very long distances, probably had brought only enough to get them through the Passover and Pentecost period of time.  When they stayed over in this city, understandably they would run out of food, money, etc. and become in need.  In order to prevent their new brethren from suffering, people who had these things sold possessions, even lands and houses, we’re told, and used the proceeds to care for their brethren.

 

v35.  “AND LAID them DOWN AT THE APOSTLES’ FEET: AND DISTRIBUTION WAS MADE UNTO EVERY MAN ACCORDING AS HE HAD NEED.”

 

            They brought their gifts to the apostles.  Apparently at this point in the history of the church of Christ they were taking care of just about everything that needed attention, we don’t have record of them getting help with these good works until chapter 6.

 

v36. “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.”

 

            This is the same Barnabas that was Paul’s companion on the first missionary journey, the uncle of Mark, who traveled with them at least part of the way and who Paul and Barnabas had disagreed about.  He was both a Cypriot and a Jew, a Levite born in the island nation of Cyprus.  He apparently owned land in Judaea, perhaps through his original family.  As we should remember land, buildings, etc. when sold reverted back to the original owner at the year of Jubilee.

 

Leviticus 25:10  AND YE SHALL HALLOW THE FIFTIETH YEAR, AND PROCLAIM LIBERTY THROUGHOUT all THE LAND UNTO ALL THE INHABITANTS THEREOF: IT SHALL BE A JUBILEE UNTO YOU; AND YE SHALL RETURN EVERY MAN UNTO HIS POSSESSION, AND YE SHALL RETURN EVERY MAN UNTO HIS FAMILY.”

 

v37.  “HAVING LAND, SOLD it, AND BROUGHT THE MONEY, AND LAID it AT THE APOSTLES’ FEET.”

 

            Barnabas, a land owner, which probably made him wealthy in the eyes of many in that day; sold his holdings and brought the proceeds to the apostles.