Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, December 7th, 2023
the First Week of Advent
StudyLight.org has pledged to help build churches in Uganda. Help us with that pledge and support pastors in the heart of Africa.
Click here to join the effort!

Bible Commentaries
Acts 4

Bell's Commentary on the BibleBell's Commentary

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Verses 1-22

  1. Intro:
    1. Here we find the 1st collision of the church & the world.
      1. This was the beginning of the official persecution of Christians.
      2. So far it’s been that of general acceptance & favor.
      3. It was the officials who are about to turn against them.[Primarily/Sadducees]
      4. This was the 1st of 10 persecutions directed against Christianity during the 1st 3 centuries.
      5. In one way or another, the Christian Church has suffered persecution ever since.
      6. I hope before service you take a moment to pray for our persecuted brothers & sisters you see on the Power Point.
    2. (1) Peter’s sermon on the temple mount was suddenly interrupted.
      1. It’s getting close to nightfall now (3:1 said 3pm).
    3. (1b) It was an official group: priests; the temple guard; & the Sadducees.
      1. The Sadducees had vested interest here (didn’t believe in the Res)
    4. (2) Greatly disturbed that they taught the people – Christianity always brings teaching directly to the people! (i.e. it doesn’t have to go through a intermediary)
    5. (3) Arrested & placed in jail overnight.
      1. What exactly was the cause of arrest? – Resurrection teaching.
      2. It was a collision between the new faith & the old.
    6. (4) Isn’t it great that even though Peter & John are being dragged off to jail, we still have many getting saved. (not fearful of the persecution)
      1. Here is the progress report on the spread of the gospel.
      2. Note: 5000 men (so at least 15,000+ w/women & children).
      3. Persecution always makes for growth.
    7. Illustration: When the Emperor Valens threatened Eusebius with confiscation of all his goods, torture, banishment, or even death, the courageous Christian replied, “He needs not fear confiscation, who has nothing to lose; nor banishment, to whom heaven is his country; nor torments, when his body can be destroyed at one blow; nor death, which is the only way to set him at liberty from sin and sorrow.”
    8. THE INTERROGATION! (5-12)
    9. (5-7) Ordered to appear before the Sanhedrin (highest Jewish council; 71 members, made up of both the main Jewish parties)
      1. Probably in as much trouble for his message in the temple as his healing the lame man.
    10. (7) What power? What name?
      1. Note: This is admission of existence of “power” & “name”.
    11. (8) Peter answers them in the power of the H.S.
      1. This is a fresh filling of the Holy Spirit.
      2. Peter probably remembered his Masters promise, “Now when they bring you to the synagogues & magistrates & authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, or what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say, But it will turn out for you as an occasion for testimony. (Luke 12:11-13.)
    12. (8b) Notice a very respectful salutation. Yet, boldness as he implies it’s a very strange reason for their inquiry, did they disapprove of “good deeds”?(9)
    13. (10) The power & name?Jesus Christ of Nazareth!
      1. Peter also accused the Sanhedrin of responsibility for rejecting & killing Christ.
      2. He also proclaimed God’s power in raising Jesus from the dead.
    14. What verbal & visible evidence did Peter offer in their defense?
      1. Verbal – The name of Jesus; & the power of God.
      2. Visible – The man standing before them.
    15. (11) He uses their own scriptures to point to his message.
      1. I wonder if any of the members of the Sanhedrin remember this was the same Psalm Jesus used(& applied to Himself) only a few months earlier
    16. (12) Salvation – Needed by all; Offered to many; Supplied by One! (Griffith Thomas; pg.86)
    17. We must be saved - Jesus is the only person by whom we (both individually and collectively) must (there is no alternative) be saved (from eternal destruction and God’s fury due us for our sins).
    18. The Great Necessity – we must be saved. (Griffith Thomas; pg.89,90)
      1. Why must we be saved?
      2. We are lost(sheep); We are helpless(coin); We are hopeless(prodigal son)
    19. The Great Possibility – salvation.
      1. What are its characteristics?
      2. Pardon for past(son); Power for present(coin); Peace for future(sheep).
    20. The Great Provision – Name.
      1. Who has supplied salvation & how?
      2. Christ’s death for pardon; Christ’s life for power; Christ’s presence for peace.
    21. The Great Opportunity – under heaven.
      1. Who may receive this salvation?
      2. It’s offered to all; It’s available for all peoples; It’s sufficient for all.
    22. The Great Limitation – none other.
      1. How is that indicated?
      2. Only one source of information(Bible); Only one plea (the person of Christ); Only one way(new birth through grace); Only one means(faith in Christ).
      3. He is The Alone Savior”!
    23. All the sinner’s good works, prayers, tears, beliefs, ordinances, good resolves & religious professions will avail him nothing.
      1. He must realize that Christ is the only Door & the only Way into God’s acceptance, forgiveness blessing; & apart from faith in Christ there is no salvation!
    24. Pause: Good News is for Sharing! And you need to Share your faith your way!
      1. Sharing The faith is about communicating a body of facts about God, Sin, and Salvation.
      2. Sharing your faith is about sharing your story, in your style.
      3. God has given each of us unique personalities, yet each of us are supposed to share our faith.
        1. Let’s quickly look at 6 different approaches to evangelism. Which fits your personality/style?
    25. 6 Different approaches: [each is good, not one better than the other]
    26. [1] Confrontational Style - Example: Peter (Acts 2 & 4)
      1. In conversations you like to approach topics directly. No small talk, No beating around the bush.
      2. You’re bold, confident,…just remember to be tactful.
    27. [2] Intellectual Style - Example: Paul (Acts 17 Athens, a Greek city full of philosophers & deep thinkers)
      1. You are very logical & analytical as you lay out your case for faith in Christ. You love to read & be up on what’s being debated in society.
      2. You enjoy discussion & debates. You get frustrated w/people who are illogical or have weak arguments.
    28. [3] Testimonial Style - Example: Telling your own story (like Blind man in Jn. 9)
      1. You often tell personal stories to illustrate a point.
      2. People are interested in hearing stories about things that have happened in your life.
      3. Use your story telling abilities to share the greatest story of all.
    29. [4] Interpersonal Style - Example: Matthew (Luke 5, Matthew invites all his unbelieving friends to a party to meet Jesus too)
      1. This is a highly relational person, outgoing, and friendly, knows lots of people, makes friends easily & connects with them.
      2. As you build relationships, share the source of your joy & life & love.
    30. [5] Invitational Style - Example: Samaritan woman (John 4, she met Jesus at well & immediately went to the city & brought back many to meet Jesus)
      1. You love to include people in activities you’re involved in.
      2. Sometimes you’re more comfortable letting others answer questions, even if you know the answers.
      3. Continue to look for opportunities to bring friends to. (watch bulletin)
    31. [6] Serving Style - Example: Tabitha/Dorcas (Acts 9:36, she was full of good works & charitable deeds – She helped people everywhere, making them clothes, huge impact on Joppa because of how she served)
      1. You see needs in people that others often overlook.
      2. You find fulfillment in helping others behind the scenes.
      3. You prefer to show love through action rather than words.
      4. Look for ways to ensure that people understand that your service to them is because of your love for God.
    32. Share your faith your way! – Good News is for sharing!
    33. THE WARNING! (13-18)
    34. (13) Uneducated – unable to write. [If taken literally “w/o letters”, not knowing the ABC’s]
      1. Here it denotes the lack of rabbinic teaching. (F.B.Meyer.)
      2. But what a “private education” they had had!
    35. Untrained – [ διώτης idiotes] A layman, one who is not an expert, unskilled, commoner. (Bruce)
      1. An unlearned, illiterate man; as opposed to the learned & educated.
      2. Literally, “people of the land,” ordinary folks, not systematically educated in the Bible and the traditions of either the Pharisees or the Sadducees.
      3. Thus they’d have low social status, & little would be expected of him.
      4. The members of the Sanhedrin could easily spot these Galileans by their up-country accents as persons unlikely to be delivering religious truth.
    36. They had been with Jesus – Evidently an impression had been made upon them!
      1. The best understanding of Christ’s living biography should be written out in the words & actions of His people!
      2. Illustration: A Persian Proverb says “a lump of clay emitted a beautiful odor, & on being asked for explanation, replied, “I have been near a rose!”
      3. Illustration: On one Sunday morn after service a friend gave me a hug & was wearing great cologne. Next person I hugged said, “you smell great!” I said, “thanks, but that’s not my cologne, I’ve been near so & so”
    37. Others realized that they had been with Jesus Have you been near The Rose?
    38. (14) The miracle had actually been done.
      1. The man wasn’t in prison with them, but here he is standing right by their side during their trial!
    39. (16-18) Although they were unable to deny the apostolic miracle, they felt compelled to curtail the apostolic preaching. (Shepherd’s Notes; pg.16)
      1. Here was “the Israeli Supreme court”, 71 learned, bearded, cold-eyed, scowling rabbis calling in 2 hillbilly fishermen. (Peter Wagner; pg.106.)
      2. No one would have thought they’d win this showdown!
      3. But…their bluff had been called!
    41. (19) We must obey God, not men - These verses constitute a solid basis for civil disobedience, but no rationalization at all for illegal behavior grounded in selfishness.
    42. (20) We cannot but speak – can’t help speaking about the things we’ve seen/heard
      1. They were so filled with their message & with the love of Christ that they could not stop telling people about Him!
    43. John Bunyan after he had been in prison many years simply for preaching the gospel, was promised to be set free if he’d only promise not to preach again.
      1. He could have said, “The gospel has not been helpful. It has only brought me & my family harm. I’ve left my wife to fend on her own, & what kind of witness is this for my blind son? I better get out of this place so I can get back to my trade of tinkering(mending pots & pans)”
      2. Instead he said, “If you let me out of prison today, I will preach again tomorrow, by the grace of God.” He also bravely told them, “If I lie in jail till the moss grows on my eyelids, I will never conceal the truth which God has taught me.”
    44. (21,22) The council had no alternative but to threaten & release them.
      1. What exactly was the cause of their release? – The people.
      2. Threatening – that’s all they could do.
    45. End: A Christians 3-fold secret:
      1. [1] For testimony we must be filled with the Holy Spirit.
      2. [2] For character we must be always with Jesus.
      3. [3] For work we must do everything “in the name” that is, by the authority of Jesus Christ.
      4. Thus, Grace can transform weak, ordinary people into strong, noble, courageous witnesses & workers for Christ.
    46. A small boy was consistently late coming home from school. His parents warned him that he must be home on time that afternoon, but nevertheless he arrived later than ever. His mother met him at the door and said nothing. His father met him in the living room and said nothing. At dinner that night, the boy looked at his plate. There was a slice of bread and a glass of water. He looked at his father’s full plate and then at his father, but his father remained silent. The boy was crushed. The father waited for the full impact to sink in, then quietly took the boy’s plate and placed it in front of himself. He took his own plate of meat and potatoes, put it in front of the boy, and smiled at his son. When that boy grew to be a man, he said, “All my life I’ve known what God is like by what my father did that night.”
      1. God loved you enough to send Christ to die in your place—He did not give you what you deserved; He gave you what you did not deserve.

Verses 23-37

  1. Intro:
    1. Communion(Read 4:23) What peace for Peter/John in returning to their own companions
      1. ​​​​​​​Everyone ought to belong to the best possible company…and that is the Church! - For we are the only society that… Has God as Founder; Christ as Savior; has a qualification for entrance (blood bought); real human fellowship; reputation for best work done worldwide; & a guarantee that it will last forever!
      2. It’s a blessing this morning to gather with my own companions.
        1. There are many things that unite us humans: some are united by music, art, literature, similar political views, ideas, principles,
        2. It’s “birds of a feather flocking together”; it’s like chemical affinities where particles attract to each other(bond).
        3. On the spiritual plane, communion is: a gravitation of the godly, a communion in Christ, a band of brothers, a return to our own companions!
    2. Harvest Festival: (very nice, very intimate, thanks helpers)
      1. ​​​​​​​Rose Starr’s Blog regarding Halloween - I think of all the "holidays" that we Americans celebrate, Halloween is the most community centered. When else are most people's porch lights on and doors open with a smiling face behind it? Hope you enjoyed last night too!
    3. We read now a report of the church’s prayer of gratitude for God’s deliverance of Peter & John from the Jewish Authorities.
      1. Peter & John just freed from an overnighter in jail.
      2. Released because of the people (& healing).
      3. Warned not to preach again. They said they must!
    4. Outline: Great Prayer; Great Power; Great Grace; Great Fear; Great Giving.
    5. Note a number of 1st: 1st mention of “church”(ekklesia); 1st mention of the detailed account of the inner life of the church; 1st mention of a member to be renamed; 1st mention of a burial in the Christian community.
  2. GREAT PRAYER! (4:23-31)
    1. ​​​​​​​They depended on prayer & directed it towards a Sovereign God who made everything & can do anything!
    2. 3-Fold REASON! (23-28)
    3. God as Creator; God as “Anointer” of Jesus; God as One who Determines.
    4. Based it on Ps.2, which is a wonderful song when you are being attacked!
    5. 3-Fold REQUEST! (29,30)
    6. Boldness(not for protection); Healings; Signs & Wonders.
    7. 3-Fold RESULT! (31)
    8. The assembly was Shaken; they all were Filled; Boldness was granted.
    9. Now that’s a prayer meeting! – But do you desire to feel things shake down here, or isn’t it better to shake things up there?
    10. Their prayer was immediate, united, unselfish, undaunted, & Scriptural.
  3. GREAT POWER! (4:32-33a)
    1. ​​​​​​​Here we have a concept that was brought up in 2:45, now amplified.
      1. The early believers were living in harmony & unity. [1 heart, 1 soul]
      2. Proof of this was expressed in the sharing of their resources with one another.
      3. Through the charity of the wealthier members, like Barnabas, the poor received enough.
        1. Result: none among them was in need!
        2. “The Lord is my Shepherd I shall not lack/be in want.”
    2. Illustration: A Locomotive is a wonderful piece of machinery, but it must have 3 components: Steam; Rails; & an Engineer.
      1. Steam for Power; Rails for Direction; Engineer for Control[rightly handle]
      2. And so with Christianity: we need…
      3. The H.S. for Power; we must go in God’s way for Direction; and be filled with Grace for Control.
  4. GREAT GRACE! (4:33b-37)
    1. ​​​​​​​The sincere self-sacrifice of Barnabas is compared with the hypocrisy & greed of Ananias & Sapphira. (see “but” in 5:1)
      1. His gift exposed the sin of Ananias & Sapphira, just as Mary’s gift (bottle of perfume) exposed Judas’ sin(Jn.12, this could have been sold for…)
    2. Story: I met a man in Kosovo(not a bel.) who understood this concept of “meeting needs” better than I. – He had 26 in his household. 2 other brothers & their families & his own. He explained, “we pool all our resources & finances together so all will have.” I ignorantly responded, “well that works well if your brothers are hard workers!” He said, “No, both of them were w/o work for a while, & I supported all 26 of us…(& then the clincher) because that’s what families do!”
    3. John Stott said, “Although in fact & in law they continued to own their goods, yet in heart & mind they cultivated an attitude so radical that they thought of their possessions as being available to help needy sisters & brothers”.
      1. Result? No poverty existed in the church!
      2. Peter Wagner, “Nothing is wrong with having rich people in the church, but something is wrong about having poor people in the church!”
    4. Maybe John was remembering Barnabas when he later wrote “If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth.” 1 Jn.3:17,18
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Acts 4". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/acts-4.html. 2017.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile