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Acts 4:1-22

The Book of Acts  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Just a quick review. The Holy Spirit had come upon the group of believers in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost. They went out and started witnessing to the Jewish people gathering in Jerusalem in their own language. Many people believed and were added to their number. They began to meet together regularly and enjoyed the favor of the people. One day Peter and John were headed to the Temple to pray where they encountered a blind man. God healed the blind man through Peter and John. Peter used the opportunity to share the gospel message with all who were present.
Not everyone was thrilled about what Peter and John were doing. marks the beginning of the resistance against the church. This resistance has continued all the way to today. Jesus predicted it would be so. The message of the gospel is revolutionary and upset the social orders and power structures.

1. Peter and John are arrested ()

The people liked and respected what Peter and John were doing. They liked the new church and generally viewed it positively. The authorities were a different story. They were not so fond of the new developing sect and waited for the right opportunity to take action, just as they had done with Jesus.

A. The temple police and Sadducees confronted Peter and John because of their teachings. ()

Acts 4:1–2 CSB
1 While they were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple police, and the Sadducees confronted them, 2 because they were annoyed that they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.
In the Judaism, in Peter and John’s day, there were two sects: the Pharisees and the Sadducees. One of the difference between the two sects was their view of the concept of resurrection from the dead. The Pharisees believed in a resurrection from the dead and the Sadducees did not. Notice, the Sadducees were particularly disturbed at Peter and John’s teaching on the resurrection. They were teaching that Jesus rose from the dead.

B. Peter and John are arrested and held for trial. ()

Acts 4:3 CSB
3 So they seized them and took them into custody until the next day since it was already evening.
Acts 4:3–4 CSB
3 So they seized them and took them into custody until the next day since it was already evening. 4 But many of those who heard the message believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.
The trial would consist of both sects which would make the resurrection of Jesus a central issue.

C. Many more people believed. ()

Acts 4:4 CSB
4 But many of those who heard the message believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.
The sect is growing and that concerned the Sadducees. The growth was phenomenal. It is likely the accounting did not include women and children. This is one of those times I laugh because people tell me that numbers don’t matter. Apparently, they do to some degree because God put in his word. Numbers aren’t a badge of success to be worn, but numbers are people. God is interested in numbers because numbers are people who have been rescued from sin and death.

A minister, visiting a family in his congregation, noticed many children in the house. He asked the mother, “How many children do you have?” She began to count off on her fingers, “John, Mary, Lucy, David.…” The minister interrupted, “I don’t want their names, I just asked for the number.” The mother responded, “They have names, not numbers.”10 Numbers are important because they represent people.

2. Peter and John appeared before the Sanhedrin. ()

A. The Sanhedrin assembled and began to question them. ()

Acts 4:5–7 CSB
5 The next day, their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem 6 with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and all the members of the high-priestly family. 7 After they had Peter and John stand before them, they began to question them: “By what power or in what name have you done this?”
Annas was actually the ex-high priest. His son-in-law Caiaphas was the one in the current high priest role. The priestly line and succession had become highly corrupted. No longer were they following the way God had set-up things. It was like a rotation, a high priest for the year kind of thing. This would have been the same group who had participated in the trial of Jesus just a few weeks prior.
They wanted to know who had given them the power to heal the lame man. Who was the source of the miracle?

B. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, boldly answered the question. ()

Acts 4:8–12 CSB
8 Then Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders: 9 If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a disabled man, by what means he was healed, 10 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 and whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing here before you healthy. 11 This Jesus is the stone rejected by you builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.”

i. This is one of several times in Acts where people are filled with the Holy Spirit for a special purpose.

Today, we would call this a special anointing of the Holy Spirit. These are times where people are anointed at special times to speak or do specific things to advance the kingdom of God. Does this happen today? Absolutely! There is no doubt that the Holy Spirit anoints people to accomplish specific things at specific times. All believers are indwelled by the Holy Spirt, but an anointing from God is different. It is not prayer that accomplishes the anointing of the Holy Spirit. It is obedience. When we obey the will of God and sin is not hindering our relationship with God, we give the Holy Spirit the freedom to work in us and through us in special ways.

ii. Peter identified the source of the miracle to be Jesus Christ.

He left no ambiguity about who had worked the miracle. It was Jesus the Messiah from Nazareth.

iii. Peter accused them of rejecting the Messiah.

Peter goes from defense to offense. He cites .
Psalm 118:22 CSB
22 The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

iv. Peter identified Jesus as the only source of salvation.

Peter was not talking about being saved in a physical sense. He is speaking of the deliverance from sin and being changed from an enemy of God to a child of God. Verse 12 is a central theme verse for the New Testament.

3. Peter and John are warned and released. ()

A. The Sanhedrin was “astonished” by “illiterate” men. ()

Acts 4:13 CSB
13 When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus.
They didn’t have training. They didn’t have good learnin’. They were redneck Galilean fisherman. They were just blue collar workers. They were not seminary trained scholars. I love the fact they were amazed and attributed it to being with Jesus. They could teach and discuss things they should not be able to teach and discuss. They were rank amateurs, but not anymore. The time they had with Jesus and the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit had changed them.
Before we go thinking that theological education is not important, let me remind you, these men had been with Jesus for 3 1/2 years. They had more “study hours” than any basic seminary degree. Paul did the same with those he discipled. When people tell me this verse proves they don’t need seminary education, I just ask them if they have been personally discipled by Jesus for 3 1/2 years.

B. The man who was healed was with them and silenced the opposition. ()

Acts 4:14 CSB
14 And since they saw the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in opposition.
They couldn’t deny the miracle had happened. They could say nothing against them.

C. The Sanhedrin debated on how to handle the situation. ()

Acts 4:15–17 CSB
15 After they ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin, they conferred among themselves, 16 saying, “What should we do with these men? For an obvious sign has been done through them, clear to everyone living in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But so that this does not spread any further among the people, let’s threaten them against speaking to anyone in this name again.”
The miracle was obvious. Everyone knew it and even if they wanted to, they couldn’t deny it. They tried to preserve their position and authority by threatening Peter and John. It is Jesus the Messiah who was the threat to their position and authority.

D. Peter and John responded to the Sanhedrin. ()

Acts 4:18–19 CSB
18 So they called for them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 Peter and John answered them, “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide;
Acts 4:18–20 CSB
18 So they called for them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 Peter and John answered them, “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; 20 for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
They couldn’t stop speaking about what had happened. They had been changed. They had been transformed. They had the good news. Salvation has come. The Messiah had accomplished his mission. They could be free from the bondage of sin.
Have you ever had really good news? Do you remember how hard it was to keep it to yourself? Jesus was risen and they had seen it. How could they keep such good news to themselves?
The cure for the coronavirus...
I have been recently asked about civil disobedience in light of the church’s situation and the virus. People have asked if they should disobey the order of local, state, and federal officials preventing them from gathering for worship. In short, no, we should not because they orders are not directed just at us. They are for the good of the public health. The orders are not focused on religious groups. The orders are aimed at any large gathering of people. We should obey and respect the orders and our elected representatives.
What we should be doing is publically supporting, affirming, and praying for our representatives. Could you imagine what our representatives are going through right now as they make their decisions for the good of the community? None of them wanted to deal with this on their watch. None of them want to see people suffer and die. They are doing what they think is wise for our good. Don’t tare down these people. Support them. Pray for them. When others are tearing them down, you stand up and support them. Let the church be known for being community and cvic minded. How can we be a witness for the gospel if we are sniping, complaining, and tearing into those God has appointed for this very time?

E. Peter and John were released with a warning. ()

Acts 4:21–22 CSB
21 After threatening them further, they released them. They found no way to punish them because the people were all giving glory to God over what had been done. 22 For this sign of healing had been performed on a man over forty years old.
God was getting the glory and that silenced the opposition. Nothing like this had happened before. God was at work in a powerful way and no one could deny it.
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