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Realizing the presence, promise, and power of the Kingdom of God.
The Scriptorium

As If

Did they really think they could stop them?

Acts (4)

Be sure to view the video introducing our study of Acts 4 (Lesson 4) by clicking here.

Read and meditate on Acts 4.5-12.
The religious leaders decided to let Peter and John think it over for an evening in the local jail. As if that was going to affect their testimony the next day.

For reflection
1.  Following “due process,” the judge invited the apostles to explain their behavior – as if they didn’t know exactly what had happened. Was this the apostles’ chance to maneuver a bit, to oil their way around the name of Jesus and attribute this miracle somehow vaguely to God, which the Pharisees would probably have accepted? Many Christians feel comfortable talking about God, but not nearly so comfortable talking about Jesus. Why do you think that’s so?

2.  Peter and John, however, were filled with the Spirit, and the Spirit’s work is to testify about Jesus in and through the followers of Jesus (cf. Jn. 15.26, 27). Undoubtedly Peter and John recalled Jesus’ words in Luke 12.11, 12. Does this mean they hadn’t prepared for this situation at all? Put yourself in Peter’s place. What would you be thinking as the judge spoke to you?

3.  Note Peter’s emphasis: a good deed has been done to a crippled man (v. 9). Isn’t that kind of important to keep in the purview here? We need always to make sure that good deeds back up our proclamation of the Gospel. But this fact didn’t cut any ice with the Pharisees, who were bent on squelching this Jesus thing. The apostles could have healed every man, woman, and child in Jerusalem that afternoon, and these religious leaders would still have been after them because of the name of Jesus. Why?

4.  Peter puts it right in their faces: “the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.” Then the indictment: “whom you crucified…” Peter turns the tables of the trial and makes God, not men, the Judge: “whom God raised from the dead…” This is really skillful, bold defending of the faith. Then the Gospel: only in the name of Jesus must (note that, Greek: dei, literally,“it is necessary that”) men be saved. Using these phrases from Peter, outline the Gospel as you might share it with an unsaved friend or neighbor:



5.  Imagine the shock those religious leaders must have felt. I wonder if any of them began to have second thoughts about what they’d done, or what they thought they’d done. Mere human power has no defense for the proclamation of the Gospel supported by the evidence of the Kingdom’s presence and progress – healing, conversions, bold witnesses, undeniable and irrefutable facts, conviction of sin. The religious leaders had erected strong walls against the Name of Jesus, and these walls would need a bit more battering, but soon enough, they would come down as well (cf. Acts 6.7). Here the highest court of the culture of Judaism is bearing down on the faith of Christ. Do we need to fear any attempts on the part of our culture to silence the Good News? Explain.

The entrenched cultural powers of the day were no match for one man, filled with the Spirit of God. Meditate on Ephesians 5.18-21. What does it mean to be filled with the Spirit? How does one become filled with the Spirit?

Closing Prayer
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from Your presence,
And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
And sinners shall be converted to You.

Psalm 51.10-13

T. M. Moore

Each week’s studies in Acts are bound together into a free PDF that you can download for personal or group use (click here). Each week also features a video related to the studies of the week, which you may find helpful as you work through our studies Acts.

Acts is the record of Christ’s ongoing work as King and Lord. For more insight to His work in our here and now, order the book,
The Kingship of Jesus, from our online store by clicking here.

Please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 19 Tyler Drive, Essex Junction, VT 05452. Or, you can click here to donate online through credit card or PayPal.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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