Acts 4:13-22 Devotional Commentary

Faithful: Devotional Commentary for June 20-26

Acts 4:13-22 (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.

4:13-14
13Now as they observed the confidence of Peter and John and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, and began to recognize them as having been with Jesus.
14And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in reply.

Two major factors hampered the hostile efforts of the Jewish authorities against Peter and John: The unperturbed composure of Peter and John and the revelation of the Power of Jesus' Name in the healing of a crippled adult. The men who were seated at court observed these factors and recognized that the matter at hand was beyond these two simple Galileans.

The assembled members of the Sanhedrin were surprised by how these uneducated men presented their defense with such calm confidence and certainty. They certainly had never attended any rabbinical school. Peter and John were simple fishermen from Galilee. However, the Council knew quite well that they were the Disciples of Jesus Christ. Furthermore, they could not discard the hard evidence of the physically healed adult standing right in front of them. Their hostile hearts and lying minds were confronted by the truth.

4:15-18
15But when they had ordered them to leave the Council, they began to confer with one another,
16saying, "What shall we do with these men? For the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through them is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.
17"But so that it will not spread any further among the people, let us warn them to speak no longer to any man in this name."
18And when they had summoned them, they commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.

The Council had sufficiently interrogated Peter and John. They heard Peter's scathing indictment concerning their evil deeds against Jesus the Prince of Life. They saw the healing of the crippled man with their own eyes. They could not figure out what to do with them or the hard evidence. Their evil intentions were stifled by a favorable public disposition. The public witnessed the miracle and glorified God. The Sanhedrin knew the truth but opted to flounder in a senseless denial. So they asked them to leave the room to discuss their options.

Privately, they voiced their frustrations with the situation. They did not know what they could or should do to Peter and John. The healing took place in public within the courtyard of the Temple. They cannot deny the truth. But they wanted to disavow the miracle and punish the messengers of Jesus Christ.

The Sanhedrin did not like what happened and they were determined to control the situation as best they could. But they were frustrated because they did not have any grounds to punish Peter and John for what they did or said. So they decided to warn them against speaking about Jesus. They threatened them with unspecified severe consequences. They feverishly sought to intimidate them with an empty threat.

The Council summoned Peter and John back into the courtroom and gave them strict instructions to stop speaking about Jesus or teaching in His Name. The Council hoped that silencing the Disciples would stop any preaching or teaching about Jesus and His miracles. They knew they could not erase the evidence nor retract the truth that has been declared. They wanted to stop the advancement of the Gospel at any cost.

4:19-20
19But Peter and John answered and said to them, "Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge;
20for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard."

Peter and John answered the Sanhedrin with courage and reason. They stirred up their hearts to ponder for themselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey their words in lieu of God. As for them, Peter and John said they cannot stop proclaiming what they have heard and seen. Note that they did not say they will not. They said they cannot because they are commissioned to do exactly that in Jerusalem, Samaria, and the uttermost part of the world.

They are no longer the simple Galilean fishermen the Jewish authorities knew. They were the commissioned servants of the Most High God and of Jesus Christ. They take their orders from Jesus Christ; not from anyone else, not from the Sanhedrin.

Peter and John effectively told the Council that they will not submit to the court's authority. Its self-assigned prerogatives are trumped by Christ's sovereign Authority. They disregarded the court's verdict and urged the members to respond to the salvation God offered to them through Jesus Christ. Peter and John chose to obey the Lord's commission instead of cowering under the verdict of men.

4:21-22
21When they had threatened them further, they let them go (finding no basis on which to punish them) on account of the people, because they were all glorifying God for what had happened;
22for the man was more than forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.

Obviously, the Sanhedrin did not like being the recipients of such an indictment especially from a couple of unlearned fishermen from Galilee. So they raised the level of their threats against Peter and John. We do not know the nature of these threats, but we can safely assume that their lives were at stake. Despite its threats, the court was powerless to do anything that could hinder the advancement of the Gospel. The Council had no choice but to release them, having no grounds for punishment or extended imprisonment.

The healed man had been crippled from the time of his birth. People knew him in and around Jerusalem. They knew his story well. They were eyewitnesses to the miracle. In the four decades of his life, he had never walked. For years he had been brought to the Temple to beg, completely dependent on the compassion of those who passed by. He had become a fixture on the Temple scene. And when he entered the Temple walking, jumping, and praising the Lord, the people glorified God but the Sanhedrin remained lost in denial.

Notes/Applications

Peter’s response to the Sanhedrin was more of an indictment against his accusers than a genuine defense of his actions. Both Peter and John were not guilty of any wrongdoing except that they were charged with calling upon the Name of Jesus to heal a man crippled from birth. Consequently, the Council had no clear direction on how to adjudicate a vacuous case, an empty accusation.

But that was not of any concern to Peter and John. Their minds and hearts were preoccupied with the commission they received from Jesus. To Peter and John, the members of the Sanhedrin were lost souls who needed to hear the Good News of God's redemption. They needed to hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ as did the crippled man.

So the Disciples proceeded to remind them of their wicked ways because they rejected the Messiah. They told them that the One they put on the Cross actually died to save them from their sins. The time for repentance and redemption was now.

But the Council was consumed by a passionate hatred toward Jesus, His Gospel, and His Disciples. They were hellbent on silencing the Disciples, stopping the Gospel, and destroying everything that had anything to do with Jesus and His Name. But Peter and John were not intimidated by anything the Council sought to impose upon them. They were empowered by the Holy Spirit and were set free from cringing in fear. They became bolder in proclaiming the Gospel and continuing His work in the Power of the Name of the risen Lord.

Peter and John were not merely resisting the authority of the Sanhedrin. They were not belligerent toward their orders. Instead, they were well-anchored in the truth. They were secure and confident In Jesus Christ. Consequently, they were compassionate and caring toward their accusers. They stood before the Council as intercessors, not as accusers or defendants. They showed them the Way to salvation. They exposed the wickedness in them and urged them to repent and receive forgiveness.

The truth was directly and unequivocally delivered to these men of authority. Peter and John reminded them that there is a sovereign Lord in heaven to Whom they have committed their allegiance. They cannot and will not disobey God in order to heed the Council's mandate.

The Disciples' firm disposition set the challenge to each member of the Council to consider whether to submit to God or pursue their own corrupt ways. In their confession of faith in God and submission to His sovereign Authority, Peter and John still presented the Gospel to their accusers: repent and accept Jesus as the Messiah Who came from God. That was the testimony of Peter and John. What witness does our own life bear for Jesus Christ?

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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Acts 4:13-22
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