Bible Study (Acts 4:1-22) – Wednesday October 25, 2023

While Peter and John were speaking to the people, there was a sudden, violent appearance from a combination of priests, the captain of the temple, and some Sadducees who had come both to interrupt and to confront the apostles. They were filled with indignation at what was going on in “their” temple because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming a resurrection from the dead in Jesus. Peter and John (and perhaps the healed man) are arrested and placed in priestly custody overnight. However, Luke informs his readers that this priestly opposition could not stop the free course of the gospel, and many of the people who had heard Peter’s sermon believed, and the young church now had 5,000+ men who had been converted to Christ. Human opposition does not stop God’s saving work!

On the following day, the Sanhedrin gathered to complete a formal Sanhedrin inquiry, led by Annas, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander. They demanded that Peter and John answer by what kind of power and in whose name they had healed this man. Peter began to respond to such a formidable, hostile audience through an outburst of spiritual power from the Holy Spirit (just as Jesus had promised!). Peter pointed out the clear goodness of the act and then declared to these 71 men and to all of Israel that this man who was standing before them well had been healed in the name of the same Jesus of Nazareth that these men had maliciously condemned to death. But the One whom they had condemned had been raised from the dead by God, vindicating Him! Further, Peter declared that this Jesus was the prophetic stone of Psalm 118:22-24. He had been foolishly cast aside by these men, the builders, as a stone to be rejected; but God had reversed such a terrible decision, vindicating and exalting Jesus, making Him the cornerstone of the new spiritual temple, in which all the elect of God are united together. Peter emphatically concluded by proclaiming that spiritual salvation could only be found in Jesus, that salvation can only be found in His name: He is the only Savior!

When the gathered Sanhedrin observed the steadfast conviction of Peter and John and realized they were unschooled laymen, they marveled. How was it possible for them to speak to the Sanhedrin in such a bold, composed way? But they also recognized that these men were disciples of Jesus who have clearly taken up His mantle. Yet as the healed man also stood there with Peter and John, the Sanhedrin was reduced to stony silence: they could not respond. So, they dismissed these 3 men in order to internally deliberate to try to develop a plan for political damage control. After deliberating, they then resummoned the men and commanded a total prohibition of speaking in the name of Jesus. Peter and John responded in a Spirit-led chorus of confidence, stating that this order stepped in between the conscience and God, that such a judgment was directly opposed to God. They simply would NOT stop testifying of the resurrected Christ!

Still unable to reason with Peter and John, the Sanhedrin resorted to additional threats and then dismissed them (not an acquittal). They simply could not find a plausible reason to punish them because the people were so effusively praising (and continuing to praise) God for such a miraculous act. And what made it even more stunning was that this man had been crippled from birth for over 40 years! The apostles boldly refute these evil religious leaders, escaping physical persecution this time; but further confrontations would surely come. You can listen to this teaching on Acts 4:1-22 by clicking on the following link: Peter and John In the Face of Opposition