Bible Study (Acts 4:23-35) – Wednesday November 1, 2023

After the Sanhedrin released Peter and John, the 2 apostles returned to a gathering of the other believers. There, Peter and John gave a full report of all that had transpired when they had been confronted by the Sanhedrin. When the multitude of believers heard this report, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. They are just as bold in prayer as they were in witness, and this particular prayer is an example of how to pray in time of crisis as well as what to do in times of persecution.

First, the believers cry out to God, acknowledging His sovereignty, a ruler of unchallengeable authority. This majestic prayer to God acknowledged Him as the God of Creation, the God of Revelation, and the God of History in view. In their prayer, they quoted Psalm 2:1-2, which cumulatively presents a rhetorical question asking why the nations of the world and their rulers make a hopeless attack on the Lord and His anointed king. Here, in the context of Acts 4, the full import of David’s words is prophetically applied to Christ, whose suffering fulfills the pattern of conflict between the sons of God and the sons of Satan.

To that end, these believers are sure that Psalm 2 was now fulfilled in the wrongful crucifixion of Jesus. Just several weeks ago, Herod and Pontus Pilate along with the Roman soldiers and the Jewish leaders had all aligned themselves together against Jesus, God’s Anointed King. Such a raging against Christ was ultimately a plot of futility, for it was a vain thing for them to imagine that Jesus could be held under the power of death. It was equally vain to think that disposing of Jesus would put an end to His teachings or that it would stop the growth of His kingdom. Nevertheless, the church is equally confident that these evil actions of the listed parties in the conspiracy to kill the Christ are actually part of God’s eternal determinate will. These evil ones did not upset God’s plans: they were actually doing as Scripture had foretold!

It is only now with their vision of God clarified, and having properly humbled themselves before Him, that the believers’ prayer now shifts from the historical events of Psalm 2 and the Crucifixion to the current circumstances of the believers. They are finally ready to ask God specific requests of supplication. While they do ask God to take note of the threats that have been levied against them by the Sanhedrin, they do NOT pray for relief from oppression or for immediate judgment upon their oppressors. Instead, they request God to strengthen the apostles and other ministers of the Word in the proclamation of Jesus and His gospel. And they ask God to accompany such boldness with His hand of power through His apostles in healing sickness, disease, and other infirmities … so that these healings would further confirm their message and give them greater gospel opportunities. They conclude their prayer by asking for signs and wonders to be performed through the name of Jesus.

Once their prayer concludes, they receive an immediate response from God. The place of their gathering is divinely shaken, an unmistakable sign that God has heard them and is present with them. They also receive a renewed awareness of the Spirit’s power and presence in their life and witness. Since they continued to speak the word of God with boldness, God has granted their request. Luke then described how this early church acted with a perfect harmony in their practice, with their souls knit to one another. Remarkably, they exposed their personal possessions to the free use of the whole body for their equal enjoyment.

And the apostles continued to give eyewitness testimony of the resurrected, exalted Christ with great fervency of spirit and with uncommon zeal. God’s grace was clearly poured out upon this body of believers! Their care for one another was so thorough that not 1 impoverished person could be found in their assembly. From time to time, those who owned land, vineyards, or houses sold them and gave the proceeds to the apostles, entrusting the money to the apostles’ discretion. The apostles then wisely apportioned these additional funds to those in the body who were in genuine need. In the face of tremendous persecution, the church responded in prayer and in increased dependence upon the sovereign God who was superintending all these events. Despite the oppression, all seemed well … but it would soon be revealed that not everyone’s generosity within the church came from a genuine care for the body.

You can listen to this teaching on Acts 4:23-35 by clicking on the following link: The Church Responds To Crisis