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Bible Commentaries
Acts 4

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

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Verses 1-22

Peter’s Testimony to the Sanhedrin In Acts 4:1-22 we have the story of Peter and John being arrested and standing before the Sanhedrin. In this first incident of Peter and John standing before the Jewish leaders, they were simply given warnings. However, then they were arrested the second time (Acts 5:17-42), they were imprisoned and then beaten. Richard Longenecker quotes Jeremias as saying the Jewish law of this day required that “a person be made aware of the consequences of his crime before being punished for it.” That means a legal warning was given before witnesses for the first offense before the punishment was given for the second offence. [130]

[130] Richard N. Longenecker, in Acts, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 9, eds. Frank E. Gaebelien, J. D. Douglas, Dick Polcyn (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Pub. House, 1976-1992), in Zondervan Reference Software, v. 2.8 [CD-ROM] (Grand Rapids, MI: The Zondervan Corp., 1989-2001), comments on Section C. Peter and John Before the Sanhedrin (4:1-31).

Acts 4:13 “and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled” Comments - Tradition suggests that these Jewish rabbis considered anyone who had not gone through their rabbinical schools to be “unlearned and ignorant” of the Scriptures. This was the reason why they marveled at the wisdom and anointing that they saw from these two apostles. However, we know that Peter and John were brilliant and literate to have accomplished what they did for Christ.

Acts 4:13 Comments - Peter and John did not have to try to convince the Sanhedrin of Jesus being in the lives of the apostles, because God’s power was testimony enough. They had been in the presence of Jesus until the anointing was upon them everywhere they went.

Acts 4:14 Comments - They had nothing with which to reply (Psalms 107:41-42).

Psalms 107:41-42, “Yet setteth he the poor on high from affliction, and maketh him families like a flock. The righteous shall see it, and rejoice: and all iniquity shall stop her mouth.”

Verses 1-31

Peter’s Sermon in the Temple and Persecution Acts 3:1 to Acts 4:31 gives us the testimony of Peter during the birth of the early Church in Jerusalem as his sermon in the Temple stirs up persecution from the Jewish leaders. This passage will be followed by the testimony of the growth of the church in Jerusalem (Acts 4:32 to Acts 5:42).

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. The Healing of the Man at Gate Beautiful Acts 3:1-10

2. Peter’s Sermon in the Temple Acts 3:11-26

3. Peter’s Testimony to the Sanhedrin Acts 4:1-22

4. The Church Prays for Boldness Acts 4:23-31

Verses 1-37

The Church’s Power (Justification and Indoctrination): The Witness of the Church in Jerusalem In Acts 2:1 to Acts 5:42 we have the witness of the church in Jerusalem of how the disciples testified of the Lord Jesus under the power of the Holy Spirit. The New Testament Church receives witness to their genuine faith in Christ on the day of Pentecost as they are filled and empowered with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1-41). They progress by the indoctrination of the Scriptures (Acts 2:42-47), and begin to minister in power that brings many others to salvation while their faith is tested by persecutions (Acts 3:1 to Acts 5:42). Under the conditions of men getting saved in the midst of signs and wonders and persecution, the genuine believers stand out as distinct among those who are false.

Outline - Here is a proposed outline:

A. Peter’s Sermon on the Day of Pentecost Acts 2:1-47

B. Peter’s Sermon in the Temple & Persecution Acts 3:1 to Acts 4:31

C. Witness of Church Growth Acts 4:32 to Acts 5:42

A Promise, a Prayer, and the Power In the first two chapters of the book of Acts, we see that there was a promise (Acts 1:8), followed by prayer (Acts 1:14), then the power was released (Acts 2:1-4). We must be people of prayer in order to receive God’s power, even though it is promised to us.

Old Testament References Used by Peter the Apostle In the first two chapters of the book of Acts, Peter the apostle quotes from various Old Testament passages in relation to the fulfillment of prophecy. Perhaps Jesus had taught His disciples using these same passages during His 40-day visit after the Resurrection. This would explain Peter's insight into otherwise difficult interpretations. Or, Peter was speaking by the Holy Spirit, giving him the interpretation.

Verses 23-31

The Church Prays for Boldness In Acts 4:23-31 the believers in the early Church pray for boldness after the arrest of Peter and John.

Acts 4:24 “they lifted up their voice to God with one accord” Comments Romans 4:24 does not say the exact same word together. Rather, they all prayed in agreement with the moving of the Holy Spirit. Their words were in unity of the Spirit, and God heard it as one big prayer of agreement. [131]

[131] Kenneth Hagin, Plans Purposes and Pursuits (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Faith Library Publications, c1988, 1993), 57-8.

Acts 4:29 Comments - Note how the early Church knew their authority in Christ and were not afraid to face persecution and punishment for the sake of the Gospel. As they continued to preach the Word of God, the unbelievers were afraid of them because of the mighty signs and wonders that were performed by their hands (Acts 5:12-16).

Note that the Lord answered their prayers:

Acts 5:12, “And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch.”

Scripture Reference - Note a similar verse:

Ephesians 6:19, “And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,”

Acts 4:31 “when they had prayed…they were all filled with the Holy Ghost” Comments - Acts 4:31 tells us that one way to stayed filled with the Holy Spirit is to stay before the Lord in prayer. These believers had been filled with the Spirit in Acts chapter 2, but they needed to stay filled.

Acts 4:31 “the place was shaken where they were assembled together” Scripture References - Note similar verses:

Exodus 19:18, “And mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire: and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mount quaked greatly.”

Judges 5:5, “The mountains melted from before the LORD, even that Sinai from before the LORD God of Israel.”

1 Kings 19:11, “And he said, Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake:”

Isaiah 6:4, “And the posts of the door moved at the voice of him that cried, and the house was filled with smoke.”

Nahum 1:5, “The mountains quake at him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at his presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein.”

Hebrews 12:26, “Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven.”

Acts 4:31 Comments (1) - I had a dream one night in which I was told that in each of Paul's imprisonments, he received a greater anointing of the Spirit in which to walk (May 2001). This principle seems to be confirmed by the second outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the early church, which followed the first persecutions when Peter and John were arrested by the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:31).

Acts 4:31 Comments (2) - Benny Hinn teaches that there are three levels of anointing in Scripture. He says that there is the infilling of the Holy Spirit at the time of salvation; a second anointing on the day of Pentecost was to empower the Church for divine service; the third anointing in Acts 4:31 was to empower the Church to take dominion. The first anointing is for fellowship with God the Father, but the second and third anointings are to empower the Church for war, to fulfill the Great Commission.

First Anointing - Hinn refers John 14:17 to explain the first anointing, when Jesus said the Holy Spirit “dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.” Every believer has the Holy Spirit living inside them. An Old Testament figure of this anointing would be Moses spending forty days in the presence of God so that his face shone (Exodus 34:29).

Second Anointing The second anointing is called the baptism of the Holy Spirit, seen on the day of Pentecost. An Old Testament figure of this anointing would be Aaron being anointed to serve as the high priest (Exodus 30:30).

Third Anointing Hinn teaches that the third and most powerful anointing is seen in Acts 4:31. Perhaps the Scriptural support for this view comes from the two experiences in the book of Acts when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the Church (Acts 2:1-4; Acts 4:31). There is obviously a greater anointing upon the Church after the second outpouring than the first. After the day of Pentecost, eight thousand souls were saved, and one lame man was healed; but after the second outpouring “great power” came upon the apostles. Peter judged Ananias and Sapphira so that they died (Acts 5:1-11), many signs and wonders were performed by the hands of the apostles (Acts 5:12), and the shadow of Peter healed the sick (Acts 5:15), and multitudes were added to the Church (Acts 5:14). There was clearly a greater anointing manifesting after the second outpouring. The church was persecuted after the first and second anointings; but with the third anointing the people feared the believers.

The Three Anointings in the Life of King David - Hinn believes the story of David being anointed with the horn of oil by Samuel (1 Samuel 16:13). He believes David’s anointing to be king over Judah is figurative of this second level of anointing (2 Samuel 2:4). He believes King David’s third anointing as king over Israel is figurative of this third level of anointing (2 Samuel 5:3). Hinn suggests that David was around seventeen years old at his first anointing, and according to 2 Samuel 5:4, David was twenty-three at his second anointing, and thirty at his third and final anointing. With his first anointing he defeated Goliath, anointing that lasted about six years. With his second anointing he defeated the house of Saul, an anointing that lasted seven years. With his third anointing David performed his greatest exploits, taking the city of Jerusalem from the Jebusites and defeating the Philistines, which anointing lasted the rest of his life. [132]

[132] Benny Hinn, “Fire Conference,” 5-6 June 2009, Miracle Center Cathedral, Kampala, Uganda.

Verses 32-37

Witness of Church Growth and Persecution In Acts 4:32 to Acts 5:42 Luke records testimonies of the unity, power, miracles, and persecutions of the early Church.

Outline Here is a proposed outline:

1. The Witness of the Unity of the Church Acts 4:32-37

2. The Witness of the Power of the Church Acts 5:1-11

3. The Witness of the Miracles of the Church Acts 5:12-16

4. The Witness of Persecution of the Church Acts 5:17-42

Acts 4:32-37 The Witness of the Unity of the Church: Daily Life Among the Believers In Acts 4:32-37 we have the testimony of the daily life of the early Church as they shared all things in common.

Acts 4:36 “And Joses” - Comments Scholars say a number of ancient manuscripts have “Joseph” in the place of “Joses.” (See Adam Clarke, Albert Barnes)

Acts 4:36 who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas” Comments Strong says the name “Barnabas” is derived from two Hebrew words בַּר (H1247) (son) and נְבִיא (H5029) (a prophet). His name means “the son of consolation, or comfort,” or, in the Greek “ παρακλήσεως .” Evidently, Barnabas comforted others, especially with the gifts of utterance. Jerome (A.D. 342 to 420) tells us a little about this man.

“Barnabas the Cyprian, also called Joseph the Levite, ordained apostle to the Gentiles with Paul, wrote one Epistle, valuable for the edification of the church, which is reckoned among the apocryphal writings. He afterwards separated from Paul on account of John, a disciple also called Mark, none the less exercised the work laid upon him of preaching the Gospel.” ( Lives of Illustrious Men 6)

Acts 4:37 Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles' feet.

Acts 4:36-37 Comments The Gift of Barnabas - This sacrificial giving by Barnabas was recognized above many givers. His giving was such a blow to the kingdom of darkness that it stirred Satan up to corrupt the Church offerings by using Ananias and Sapphira. His gift brought Barnabas into recognition, and positioned him to become a great servant in the mission field.

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Acts 4". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/acts-4.html. 2013.
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