The DEEP

The Overconfidence of Authority

We know where the real power is.

Acts 4:13-22 (ESV)

Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men, they were astonished. And they recognized that they had been with Jesus. But seeing the man who was healed standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. But when they had commanded them to leave the council, they conferred with one another, saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” So they called them and charged them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them, because of the people, for all were praising God for what had happened. For the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.

The council’s charge not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus is so silly it needs an explanation. Peter and John have done mighty miracles in the name of Jesus and have seen thousands of new converts. Now the council simply tells them not to do that anymore – without saying why. Why would they do that?

The problem is that one guy might say something that stupid in the heat of the moment, but this was a group decision that they had deliberated over. Something doesn’t add up.

And of course, Peter and John don’t buy it saying, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.

So, what does the council do next? And when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way to punish them. Given that they had no way to punish them, you have to wonder how they further threatened them. It must have been hard for Peter and John not to bust out laughing.

The only way this makes sense is if the council is just used to people bowing to their every command. They don’t have any real power, but as long as everyone sucks up to them it’s just as good.

That explains why they were astonished that these two could even stand before them, especially when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated, common men.

The council is getting schooled in one of the great truths of Christianity. While we are cordial with the authority figures of this world, we’re not impressed by them.


Speaking of authority figures, let’s pray for the US Supreme Court. God has put them in a position of significance. Their decisions have an impact on every aspect of life, even the gospel. They need our prayers.

May God grant them wisdom.


The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

https://www.ailbe.org/resources/itemlist/category/91-deep-studies

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.