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Wednesday, July 24th, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
Acts 4

Gray's Concise Bible CommentaryGray's Concise Commentary

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Verses 1-30


The disciples are still in Jerusalem, and the preaching is still limited to Jewish hearers. In a sense we are still on Old Testament ground. An illustration of this is found in the previous lesson, for example, in Acts 2:38 to “repent and be baptized” was essential “for the remission of sins” and to “receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” But this is no longer so when the Gentiles are approached (Acts 10:44-48 ). The Jews who had openly rejected Jesus must openly accept Him in order to receive the blessing, but with the others grace deals in a different way. That is not to say that repentance and baptism are not necessary; repentance is always involved in saving faith; but baptism now follows the gift of the Spirit as a sign of it, rather than precedes it as a condition.

As a further illustration of Old Testament conditions the disciples are still worshipping in the Temple (Acts 3:1 ), at one of whose gates this miracle occurs in the Name of the rejected and now risen One (Acts 3:2-11 ). It is Peter’s discourse in this case that justifies the title of this lesson, especially verses 19-26. This work had not been wrought in the names of the apostles but in Christ’s Name, Whom they had crucified (Acts 3:12-16 ). This fulfilled prophecy (Acts 3:17-18 ). Let them now repent that the Lord may “send the Messiah who hath been appointed for you” (Acts 3:20 RV). The inference from all this to the end of the chapter is that had they as a nation repented, the Messiah would have returned at that time to set up His kingdom in Israel.

But the opposite took place as indicated in the next chapter, the facts of which are (1) the arrest of Peter and John (Acts 4:1-3 ); (2) their defense (Acts 4:5-12 ); (3) their threatening and their deliverance (Acts 4:13-22 ); and (4) their return “to their own company” with the spiritual quickening that followed (Acts 4:23-30 ).


1. What is to be remembered in the study of this part of the Acts?

2. Give an illustration of this from the preceding chapter.

3. Also from this lesson.

4. What justifies the title of this lesson?

5. What inference is deducible from this?

Verses 21-37


UNITY OF LOVE (Acts 4:31-37 )

The quickening in the last lesson was associated with another outpouring of the Holy Spirit but not another “baptism,” and some who had been filled before were refilled, with results following: (1) courage in preaching (Acts 4:31 ); (2) unity of soul (Acts 4:32 ); (3) power in testimony (Acts 4:33 ); and (4) love in practical conduct (Acts 4:34-37 ). This last result has sometimes been quoted as favoring Christian communism, but it is to be remembered that it was voluntary in origin, temporary in duration, and limited in its application. Where such communism is the result of the work of the Holy Spirit on regenerated hearts, and accompanied by such fruit as it here revealed, no one need have any apprehension in regard to it.


But there is mildew in every garden, and the opening of the next chapter shows its presence here. Notice in verse three the testimony to the personality and power of Satan, and the personality and Deity of the Holy Spirit. One cannot “lie” to an “influence” or a mere “principle of good.” Moreover, in verse five the Holy Spirit is identified as God. The penalty on Ananias and Sapphira does not necessarily involve eternal retribution, inasmuch as, notwithstanding their sin, they may have been in vital relationship to God through faith in Christ (1 John 1:8 ). But it is an illustration of God’s chastening His people on earth, paralleled by the cases of Nadab and Abihu and Achan in the Old Testament (Leviticus 10:0 ; Joshua 7:0 ), and the Corinthians in the New Testament (1 Corinthians 11:30-32 ). (Compare here 1 John 5:16 .)


Note in passing, the continued growth of the church (Acts 5:14 ); the unusual nature of the signs wrought by Peter (Acts 5:15 ); the continued enmity of the Sadducees because the apostles preached the resurrection (Acts 5:17-18 ); the supernatural deliverance (Acts 5:19-24 ); the defense before the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:25-32 ); the unexpected advocate (Acts 5:33-39 ); the penalty (Acts 5:40 ); the effect on the apostles and the church (Acts 5:41-42 ).


1. What were the results of the filling with the Holy Ghost?

2. What are the distinctions between the charity of the early church and the modern communism?

3. What sin in the heart led to the open hypocrisy of Ananias and Sapphira?

4. How is the Deity of the Holy Spirit proven in this lesson?

5. Is there a distinction between the Divine retribution of the unbelieving and the Divine chastening of the followers of Christ?

6. Give some Old and New Testament illustrations of the latter.

7. Give in your own words the story told above under the head of “Power and Persecution.”

Bibliographical Information
Gray, James. "Commentary on Acts 4". Gray's Concise Bible Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jgc/acts-4.html. 1897-1910.
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