Acts 4:1-12 Devotional Commentary

Mighty Name: Devotional Commentary for June 13-19

Acts 4:1–12 (NASB)

This is the Word of God. May the Spirit of Truth give us wisdom and insight to receive what has been conveyed through His Word by His Inspiration.

4:1-4
1As they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to them,
2being greatly disturbed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
3And they laid hands on them and put them in jail until the next day, for it was already evening.
4But many of those who had heard the message believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.

Peter's preaching about the Life, Sacrifice, and Resurrection of Jesus Christ, and the overwhelming response of the people did not please the Jewish authorities. They were indignant. They were upset that the Gospel was being preached and the truth about the Resurrection of Jesus Christ was openly proclaimed. They were agitated because the people believed Peter's message and turned to Jesus Christ in repentance.

Led by the captain of the Temple guards, the Jewish authorities laid hands on Peter and John and arrested them. These religious authorities did not like what Jesus taught in the Temple. They felt the same way toward His Disciples. They had Jesus executed and arrested His Disciples. They did everything they could to stop the Gospel. So they seized and detained them and set a time to convene court on the next day because it was already the end of the day when they apprehended them.

Even though the messengers of the Gospel were imprisoned, the Gospel itself could not be restrained. When the people saw the crippled man healed and heard Peter’s explanation of what happened and how, the Holy Spirit moved among the people and the number of the faithful grew to about five thousand men. They repented of their sins and believed. They were added to the number of the faithful.

We should note that women were also added to the group of believers. The Jewish custom was to count the men as heads of households. Thus, we can safely assume that the whole gathering of the redeemed community was much larger than just five thousand individual men.

4:5-7
5On the next day, their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem;
6and Annas the high priest was there, and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of high-priestly descent.
7When they had placed them in the center, they began to inquire, "By what power, or in what name, have you done this?"

Annas the high Priest, Caiaphas, and the Sanhedrin, being the highest Jewish authority in the land, convened court on the following morning to hear the matter and adjudicate the case. This is the same ruling body which put Jesus on trial, found Him guilty of blasphemy, and had Him put to death by Pilate. In addition to the regular members of the Sanhedrin; the rulers, the elders, the theologians, the rationalists of the day, and all their relatives and descendants were gathered at the session to lend some semblance of credence to the proceedings.

Peter and John were brought before this august body of powerful and angry men. Historians tell us that the seats of the rulers were arranged in a semi-circle on a raised dais, a raised platform looking down at the accused; and the accused were positioned in the center in everyone's direct view. The authorities began to inquire. Neither the commission of any crime nor the violation of any law was alleged. They simply asked how and by whose name or by what power were they able to heal this crippled man. They could not deny the miracle. The once crippled man was standing in front of them right next to the apostles. The authorities just wondered how! They knew, but wondered still!

4:8-12
8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers and elders of the people,
9if we are on trial today for a benefit done to a sick man, as to how this man has been made well,
10let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead--by this name this man stands here before you in good health.
11"He is the STONE WHICH WAS REJECTED by you, THE BUILDERS, but WHICH BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone.
12"And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved."

Peter, the man who once denied his Lord because he was terribly afraid of this same body of Jewish authorities, now, filled with the Holy Spirit, stood boldly before the Sanhedrin and explained what was going on. He addressed them respectfully even though they had cruelly executed his Lord.

Peter was well aware that the assembly wanted to know how this crippled man was healed. Since this crippled man had been lame from birth and was often brought to the temple to beg for charity from passersby, each one of these leaders probably knew this man. Maybe some of them on occasion had even dropped a coin in his hands. They were absolutely sure of the irreversible condition of this poor man’s life. Nevertheless, he now stood before them with Peter and John, perfectly healthy.

Unashamedly and with towering courage, Peter told the Sanhedrin that There is only one reason why and how this former cripple stood before them in perfect health; he had been healed by the power of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Peter and John took no credit for healing the man. All the credit belonged to the risen Jesus. This is the same Jesus Whom they put to death. This wasn’t some other person who acted like Jesus. It is Jesus! God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, brought Jesus back to life. Jesus is alive again and still able to heal and bless through His servants whom He commissioned and empowered.

The efforts of the Sanhedrin to silence Jesus had failed to accomplish their objectives concerning Him. Peter pointed to the resurrected Jesus as the Cornerstone Whom the builders rejected.” The expression “Builders” in this context refers to the Sanhedrin as the moral and civil rulers, leaders, and teachers of the people, and the expression Cornerstone, as the sacred designation for Jesus Christ, the uniting Head of the children of God.

Peter added the weight of prophecy to publicly indicate how the Sanhedrin rejected Jesus Christ the Messiah, even though He is risen after being crucified, dead, and buried. Members of the Sanhedrin asked: by what power or in whose name did you do this? Peter unequivocally affirmed to them that it is only in the Name of Jesus that anyone can be saved or healed. There is no one else who could possibly heal this man. He spoke of Jesus’ exclusive power to save and to heal. There is no other way. He is the only Way. Instead of defending himself as the accused, Peter chose to continue preaching the Word and offered his accusers the Way to salvation by Grace through faith upon the Son of God Whom they crucified. For there is no other name given to us by which we must be saved.

Notes/Applications

Who are these men, so bold and courageous speaking the truth without fear? We recall how Peter, John, and the rest of the Disciples were distraught by the prospect of Jesus' demise as He was telling them about His forthcoming crucifixion. They were consumed by fear. They were dismayed that Jesus was not going to satisfy their expectations about Israel. They were scattered when Jesus was put on the Cross at Calvary. Even Peter, the now courageous Peter, was drawn so deep into the clutches of his own fear that he denied the Lord whom he sought to defend.

Who are these men? Do we recognize Peter and John? They were arrested by the same men who had Jesus put to death. They were in the custody of the same body of rulers which convinced Rome to crucify Jesus. It is hard to believe that the men arrested here are the same men we just described.

What happened to them? What caused this dynamic reversal in their personalities? Previously, they cringed in fear, sunk into despair, and altogether gave up. Now it seems they feared nothing or no one.

Two major events explain the dramatic change in these men: Their encounter with the risen Lord, and, the descent of the Holy Spirit upon them.

First, they saw the resurrected Jesus of Nazareth. They knew with absolute certainty that Jesus died. They knew exactly where He was buried. They knew with equal certainty that Jesus is alive again. They ate with Him and talked with Him. He explained the Scriptures to them, revealing how everything that happened to Him had been foretold by Moses, David, and the Prophets. They stood in speechless wonder as he ascended into heaven. Their hopes and dreams were resurrected when Jesus came back to life and shared with them the riches of His suffering and His Resurrection.

Second, the Disciples were filled with the power of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. On that day, they spoke to a host of people in Jerusalem in their native tongues, providing unquestionable testimony to the power of God. Peter stood along with the other Disciples and told the people the good news of Jesus’ Resurrection. On that day, three thousand souls were added to the church.

Since Jesus was now alive, since they touched His scarred hands and His wounded side, since they ate with Him, since they realized that death could not keep Jesus, since they were witnesses of the resurrected Jesus of Nazareth, and since they received the Holy Spirit and through Him, the Power, wisdom, and truth of God, they feared nothing or no one. They knew that death was no longer something to be feared. Instead of huddling in some remote room, they now boldly went to the Temple every day at the time of prayer. They invoked the Name of Jesus for the healing of a crippled man at the Beautiful Gate in front of a host of witnesses; and Jesus affirmed their words of faith and granted healing.

Seeing the resurrected Christ and being filled with the Holy Spirit are two events that can change the character of any fearful, sin-burdened soul into a passionate, dynamic, and fearless servant of the living Lord. And those of us who are born again by hearing and believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ through the testimony of these dynamic Disciples, have also met the risen Christ and are filled by the Holy Spirit.

Jesus knew that there would be many who would come to Him through the testimony of these eyewitnesses. Before His arrest and in the presence of His Disciples, Jesus prayed: “I’m not praying only for them. I’m also praying for those who will believe in me through their message.” After His resurrection, Jesus told Thomas: “You believe because you’ve seen me. Blessed are those who haven’t seen me but believe.” Paul, who was not one of the Twelve, but met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus, asserted that we now walk by faith, not by sight.

As believers, we state emphatically that we also have seen the risen Christ, not physically, but with hearts that have been opened to the truth of the Scriptures by the Work and Power of the Holy Spirit. This is the testimony that we declare to the world. We have been made alive in Christ, and we live each day in the context of that glorious redemption that he has so freely given to us. Like the Sanhedrin to Peter and John, the world will reject our testimony. But we will not relent from declaring the truth, in words spoken and lives lived faithfully, that there is no other Name than Jesus Christ given to us by Which we might be saved.

Here at Practical Christianity Foundation we believe that God has mercifully extended His Grace toward us and has given us His living and Holy Word to guide us in our journey in this world. We count it privilege to come alongside you and minister to you through prayer and the sharing of God's living and holy Word. Please contact us if you have any questions concerning your faith and journey as a Christian.

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