Journey through the New TestamentBook of Acts with me. The plan is simple. Read ONE chapter a day. Blog or journal 5* things you learned that you previously didn't know and ask 5* questions about the chapter that you'll ponder all week. Let's go!
** You'll probably learn way more than 5 things and have more than 5 questions about each chapter. That's totally fine. The more the merrier!
QUESTION 1: The Sanhedrin was the rabbinical Supreme Court that consisted of 71 Pharisees and Sadducees (led by the High Priest). So, why were the Sadducees the only ones who came out for the arrest? Where were the Pharisees? Did the Pharisees stay back because they too believed in the resurrection of the dead (while the Sadducees denied it)?
QUESTION 2: Was this the first time the religious leaders had ever encountered a fisherman (“uneducated, common man”) explaining to them fulfillment of the scriptures they had supposedly spent their lives studying?
QUESTION 3: When verse 21 says, “…and when they had further threatened them…”, what was the exact nature of their threats? The disciples had already made clear that they had every intention of disobeying in light of the fact that God was the greater judge and “it is right in the sight of God to listen to God than to men.” So, what was it the religious leaders threatened the apostle with that they believed would shut them up?
QUESTION 4: How disappointing and frustrating must it have been for the Sadducees to see that they still had to deal with disciples of Jesus after “successfully” ridding themselves of Jesus who they spent the last three years combating (Luke 20:27-40; Luke 22:1-6, 52)?
QUESTION 5: Where were the other 10 apostles during Peter and John’s arrest and ordeal with the Sanhedrin?
QUESTION 6: Why were there three men referenced in the role of High Priest? “…Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family.” (Acts 4:6). Is the role of High Priest something God appoints people to or a family inheritance? How does one become High Priest? (Exodus 28:1; Numbers 18:7)
QUESTION 7: Peter’s claim in Acts 4:12, “And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men[c] by which we must be saved.” is quite outrageous because it means that the epicenter of spiritual power and infuence has now shifted from the Sanhedrin to Jesus (and His apostles). So, why were they not more outraged, but instead were more concerned about the poise and education of the apostles? (v.13)
WHAT I LEARNED:
INSIGHT 1: This miracle of the lame man being healed took place “at the gate of the temple that is called ‘the Beautiful Gate’”, so it was inevitable that it would draw the angered attention of “the priests, the captain of the Temple, and the Sadducees.
INSIGHT 2: Central to the Gospel presentation at the earlier stage of the Church was the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Every reference and quote from the Old Testament was connected to its fulfillment in the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 4:2; 3:15; 2:24, 32).
INSIGHT 3: The powerful preaching of the Gospel by Peter, along with a display of signs and wonders through the Holy Spirit led to the explosive growth at the onset of the Church. So much so that even when the apostle were put in prison, the Holy Spirit continued to draw to God lost people – verse 4, “the number of the men came to about five thousand” (not including women and children).
INSIGHT 4: Considering that a man who had been lame from birth was just healed, and his healing resulted in “all the people praising God”; it’s shocking to see that the main concern of the religious leaders is “by whose name” and “by what power” the spectacular miracle was performed. They KNEW the answer to those questions because it’s the very reason they arrested them in the first place (v.2). They simply chose to retain their hardened hearts.
INSIGHT 5: In Luke 12:11-12, Jesus prophesied that the apostles would face this moment in court when they would be “put on the spot” and how the Holy Spirit would give them the exact words to say; which then explains how Peter was suddenly “filled with the Holy Spirit” in verse 8, and why the resulting response among the religious leaders was astonishment (v.13)
INSIGHT 6: The miracle was undeniable. Its impact on the Jewish community was undeniable. What was most alarming to the religious leaders is that it’s source of power was “Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom they) crucified, (and) whom God had (now) raised from the dead.” (v.10)
INSIGHT 7: The boldest and clearest declaration of God’s truth in all of scripture is Peter’s words in Acts 4:12, “For there is no other name under heaven give among men by which we must be saved” (expect by the name of Jesus Christ). It’s a profound statement with far reaching implications. In its immediate context (Sanhedrin), it meant that ALL that the Jewish religious establishment had taught was now moot compared to what Christ had accomplished. For us today, it means that every world religion and self-help guru is false. Only faith in Jesus Christ grants one eternal life with God.
INSIGHT 8: No amount of threats could/would hinder the Gospel from being proclaimed. The disciples made it clear that once they stepped outside the temple, they were compelled by the Holy Spirit to continue doing exactly what they were being severely threatened not to do. Lord, grant your Church such filling of your Holy Spirit so it results in a bold and compelling presentation of the Gospel.
INSIGHT 9: TWOFOLD- PRAYER FOCUS OF EVERY CHURCH (Acts 4:29-30): “And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness, 30 while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” When we preach, we should ask God to grant us wisdom to present His truth in a compelling fashion that leads people to faith in Christ. We should also pray that as we speak (or before/after), God would work supernatural in the lives of our hearers so they would experience His power; be it through signs or wonders that leaves them in awe of God’s power! Most importantly, ALL of it should be done in the name of Jesus Christ!
INSIGHT 10: Being FILLED WITH THE HOLY SPIRIT is an ongoing experience for the believer (Ephesians 5:18). It is important, however, to make a distinction between what happened at the point of conversion and what happens throughout the life of the Christian. Followers of Jesus Christ are permanently indwelt/sealed by the Holy Spirit at the point of salvation (John 14:16; Ephesians 1:13). He remains in us from the day we are “saved” to the “day of redemption.” However, just like Peter’s experience (Acts 4:8; Acts 4:31) and as Paul counseled Christians in Ephesians 5:18, the Christian will experience many “fillings” of the Holy Spirit throughout their life. It is interesting to note that the Holy Spirit’s power came upon them in answer to their faith-filled, anticipatory prayer!
Husband. Dad. Pastor. Nigerian American. Storyteller. Aspiring Prayer Warrior. Steak Lover. Follower of Jesus Christ reminding you that God the Father still loves you.