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Acts 4

Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NTLuscombe's NT Commentary

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Verse 1

1 Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them,

1. Priests - At the time of Christ the tribe of Levi was large. It was decided that each would serve in a rotation ( Luk_1:9 ). They studied the Law of Moses in detail so they could follow every particular.

2. Captain of the temple - This was the commander of the guard stationed chiefly in the tower Antonia, especially during the great feasts; and it was his duty to preserve order and prevent any tumult. (Albert Barnes)

3. Sadducee - This sect of the Judaism denied the resurrection of the dead. They also denied that man had a soul or the existence of angels or spirit beings. See Act_23:8 .

Verse 2

2 being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

1. Why were the Sadducees greatly disturbed?

2. The preaching about the resurrection of Jesus was a severe challenge to their belief system. With every convert to Christianity, the Sadducees were losing credibility.

Verse 3

3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.

1. "Laid hands on them" has three meanings in the New Testament.

1. To impart spiritual gifts

2. To bestow blessing, authority or approval

3. To grab, arrest, or treat roughly

2. The third meaning is used here. They were placed in custody. They were arrested, put in jail and chained to the floor.

Verse 4

4 However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.

1. Here was the problem for the Sadducees. Many were converted. Many believed.

2. They were rapidly losing their following and their influence.

3. The number is about 5,000 men. Typically this number could be doubled to get a rough estimate of the size of the Jerusalem church.

4. Today, we can not name one congregation of the church with 10,000 members.

Verses 5-6

5 And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes,

6 as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.

1. A high level meeting was called. Included in this meeting were:

1. Rulers (Sanhedrin)

2. Elders (men of wisdom)

3. Scribes (those who copied the law)

4. Annas (Jewish recognized High Priest)

5. Caiaphas (Roman appointed high priest)

6. All the family of the high priest

Verse 7

7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, " By what power or by what name have you done this? "

1. How did he do this miracle? By what power? By what name have you done this?

2. "In the name" is a common phrase that means by the power or authority

1. We are not commanded to SAY the words

2. We are commanded to "do all in the name of the Lord"

Verse 8

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, " Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:

1. I thought Peter was filled with Holy Spirit in Act_2:1-47 . Did he need filling again?

1. There is a general "filling" - Men full of the Holy Spirit as a way of life

2. Then there is the specific "filling" - Power to meet a specific need.

2. What did this "filling" do for Peter?

1. Gave him the wisdom to know how to answer (revelation)

2. Gave him the words to say (inspiration)

1. Mat_10:19-20 "how (words) or what (ideas)"

2. Luk_12:11 "how or what"

3. Luk_21:14-15 "mouth (words) and wisdom (ideas)"

4. Jer_36:6 "which thou hast written from my mouth"

3. Study 1Co_2:9-13 .

Verse 9

9 If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well,

1. Christians are often "judged" for good being done. The apostles helped a man who was lame. Is that a crime? Did we not do something good? A lame beggar is now an able productive citizen. He can work rather than beg for support. That is a good thing.

2. The real issue for the Jewish leaders is: Where did the power come from?

Verse 10

10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.

1. Here is the same sermon outline that Peter preached in Act_2:1-47 .

1. Jesus (savior) Christ (anointed) of Nazareth (city he grew up in).

2. You killed him.

3. God raised Him.

2. It is because of Jesus that this man stands here WHOLE.

Verse 11

11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone. '

1. The corner stone we talk about today is a stone near one front corner of a building to identify when the building was built.

2. In the first century the corner stone was a small stone not useful for building a large building, so it was tossed aside.

3. To construct an archway or gate, they would build 2 pillars. Then they would start curving from each pillar to meet at the center top.

4. One small stone was needed to "wedge" in, bind it all together without mortar.

5. This small stone used at the top of the arch was called the chief corner stone.

Verse 12

12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved. "

1. No salvation is available anywhere else, by any other person.

1. Buddha?

2. Muhammad?

3. Judaism?

4. Pagan deities?

5. Reformation leaders (Calvin, Luther, etc.)?

6. Restoration leaders (Campbell, Stone, etc.)?

2. Many today think that any good, kind person can be saved. Read what Jesus said in Joh_14:6 .

Verse 13

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.

1. What does "boldness" look like? They were able to see the boldness. It was evident to all in Jerusalem.

2. By the standards of the Jewish leaders, these men were uneducated.

3. These men did not behave according to proper etiquette and manners. They were untrained in elite social skills, manners, and speech.

4. All who saw the marveled. There was great amazement.

5. They had been with Jesus. While they did not have the proper manners of the socially elite. But they had learned from Jesus. They walked and talked Jesus. They were personally schooled in the teaching of Jesus.

Verse 14

14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.

1. What can you say? The healed man is standing there.

2. They could not deny the healing event.

3. They had to come up with some other way to attack the apostles.

Verse 15

15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,

1. They needed to have a private "strategy" session. In politics today, this is called a caucus. A meeting to discuss strategy.

2. How are we going to handle the "fall out" from this miracle?

Verse 16

16 saying, " What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.

1. A notable miracle has been done.

2. Everybody knows about it.

3. We can't deny the miracle.

Verse 17

17 But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name. "

1. Since they could not deny the event. It was necessary to contain it. They were trying to put their "spin" on it.

2. All they could do was threaten them.

3. They commanded them not speak this name to anyone.

Verse 18

18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

1. Commanded not to teach or speak in the name of Jesus.

2. This is from the Jewish rulers AND Roman army. Who would dare to violate this order with both Jewish and Roman powers behind it?

Verse 19

19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, " Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.

1. Be careful here:

1. We often apply this to anything that we don't like. If one does not like the speed limit or a seat belt law, we say that we must obey God rather than men.

2. This passage is often used as an excuse for NOT obeying some law of man with which we disagree.

2. Most laws do not violate the will of God.

1. We may not like them - seat belt, speed limit, stop sign, child restraint seats - but they do not come under the umbrella of this verse.

2. But these laws do not violate any command of God.

3. Are there any situations where we MUST violate the law of man to obey God?

Verse 20

20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. "

1. Here is the truth of the matter. These are things they witnessed themselves.

2. Peter was only telling what he saw, heard, and witnessed.

Verse 21

21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done.

1. What were the "threats" given? Prison, death, exile?

2. Finding no way (legally) to punish them, they are released.

3. They glorified God. They were not blaspheming God.

Verse 22

22 For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.

1. New information - He was over 40 years old.

2. He had been known as "the lame man" for 40 years.

Verse 23

23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.

1. Peter and John went to the brethren and reported what was done. They told about the threats and warnings.

2. There was no hand wringing. No one asked, "What are we going to do now?"

Verses 24-26

24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: " Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them,

25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things?

26 The kings of the earth took their stand,And the rulers were gathered together Against the Lord and against His Christ. '

1. They took time to praise God. He is our Creator. God is in control.

2. They quoted from Psa_2:1-2

1. Why did the nations rage? Why are these people plotting against God?

2. Kings and rulers gather together against God and Christ.

3. The word "Rage" describes the disorderly conduct of a mob.

Verse 27

27 " For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together

1. This passage had come to pass. The statement of David was true.

1. Herod, Pilate, Gentiles, and the Jews - gathered together - united against Christ.

2. They were all in on the plot to kill Jesus.

Verse 28

28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.

1. God is still in charge. God remains in control of His world.

2. Song: "This is our Father's world, He is ruler yet"

3. Dan_4:17 - "In order that the living may know that the Most High rules in the kingdoms of men, gives it to whomever He will, and sets over it the lowest of men."

Verse 29

29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,

1. They did NOT pray a prayer of imprecation. They did not ask that these men be destroyed or punished in some way.

2. They did NOT pray that the threats would be removed, or the danger to go away.

3. They DID pray - for BOLDNESS, to speak God's word.

4. They planned to continue "in spite of" the threats.

Verse 30

30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus. "

1. Let all see Your power - signs, wonders.

2. Let all know of Jesus.

Verse 31

31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

1. Place was shaken like trees shaken in the wind, or an earthquake.

2. Was this restricted to this one place OR an area wide quake?

3. They were filled ( again - See 2:4 and 4:8) with the Holy Spirit

4. They spoke the word with BOLDNESS. God answered their prayer!

Verse 32

32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.

1. The multitude of believers were united. All the Christians in Jerusalem:

1. Believed.

2. Were of one heart and one soul.

3. Not selfish, but willing to share.

2. Everything was to be shared with all others. All were equal partners. All were in the fellowship together. The early church showed equality.

Verse 33

33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.

1. They had boldness. They had a sharing spirit. They also had great power to perform miracles, signs, and wonders.

2. Apostles kept on teaching the resurrection of Jesus. Threats, prison, beatings to the contrary. They kept teaching about Jesus.

3. Great grace -

1. Grace = favor, undeserved or unmerited favor

2. Great = numerous, large, abundant

Verse 34

34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold,

1. No one lacked. If there was a need; it was met.

2. Those who had possessions (land or houses) sold them.

3. They brought the proceeds to the church (to the apostles) so they cold be shared with their fellow Christians. The apostles would oversee the distribution.

Verse 35

35 and laid them at the apostles ' feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.

1. All available funds were placed in the control of the apostles. The apostles were the ones to manage the distribution.

2. Given out according to NEED.

Verse 36

36 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus,

1. Joses (Joseph) is also called by a nickname given by the apostles, Barnabas.

2. He was known as an encouragement to those who were down, depressed, sad, lonely, in grief, or in distrss. We all need someone to encourage us. Who has been your encourager?

3. He was a Levite, of the tribe of Levi, the priestly tribe of Israel.

1. At this time there were three classes within the tribe of Levi.

1. High Priest (house of Aaron)

2. Priests - enter Temple to work

3. Levites - study law, served in the synagogues, led prayers, read Scripture

4. He was from the island nation of Cyprus.

1. Cyprus is the largest island in the Mediterranean Sea.

2. A large Jewish population lived on this island.

3. Paul visited Cyprus - Act_13:4 . It was the first stop when Paul and Barnabas left on the first missionary journey.

4. When Paul and Barnabas disagreed ( Act_15:39 ), Barnabas took Mark and went back to Cyprus to preach.

5. Most believe that he was the other man considered to replace Judas - Act_1:23 .

Verse 37

37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles ' feet.

1. Here is a specific example of this "fellowship" in the first century church. Here is a example of sharing, selling and giving.

2. The next word in the Bible, BUT ( Act_5:1 ), shows that not all were willing to make the major sacrifice. Even Christians are sometimes selfish.

Bibliographical Information
Luscombe, Manly. "Commentary on Acts 4". Luscombe's Commentary on Selected Books of the NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mlc/acts-4.html. 2021.
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