Acts 4

Greatly Annoyed

The uproar in the temple courtyard is observed by the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees who quickly respond. They are annoyed by Peter's sermon because he is proclaiming in Jesu the resurrection from the dead. The religious leaders were most likely no the only ones to observe the activity taking place in the courtyard. Antonia's Fortress is beside the temple, and Roman soldiers probably noticed the excitement as well. If there was a revolt, they were prepared to respond decisively. The religious leaders try to silence them by arresting them and placing them in custody until the next day when they could investigate. The church is experiencing tremendous growth and favor. Luke includes that many believed and the number of men came to approximately five thousand. The religious leaders including the entire high-priestly family gathered the following day to address the disturbance. They place Peter and John in their midst and begin to question them about the healing of the lame beggar. These leaders want to know by what power and what name they performed this miracle. Peter does not defend himself. Instead, he bears witness to Jesus Christ. He was filled with the Holy Spirit and begins his address by forcing the group to acknowledge what occurred. The question is somewhat rhetorical, but he seeks to clarify if the interrogation was due to a good deed done for a disabled man. Peter declares that the man stands before them well because of the power that is in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. He testifies that these leaders crucified him, but God raised him from the dead. Peter explains that Jesus is the stone that was rejected in Psalm 118 and then makes the exclusive claim that Jesus is the only way to salvation. These leaders are astonished at how well spoken these uneducated men are, but they recognized they had been with Jesus. They were speechless as this gathering was attended by the lame beggar who was standing as an undeniable witness to the healing that had taken place. The uneducated common men who were accused spoke with absolute liberty, while the educated religious leaders sat in stunned silence. They dismissed Peter and John in order to confer among themselves. They did not know how to respond to the miracle because it was done in plain view of the public and word had spread throughout Jerusalem. The leaders decide to contain the news as much as possible and conclude that the best course of action would be to warn these men not to speak in the name of Jesus. They bring Peter and John before the group once again, and they try to intimidate and bully them into silence. These men invite the court to decide whether they should obey them or God as Peter testifies that they must speak of the things they had seen and heard. They threatened them further, but there were no grounds for any real punishment, so they let them go. The people are praising God because the man was more than forty years old and he had been crippled from birth. 


When they were released, Peter and John reported what happened to their friends. The news prompted celebration for the work of the sovereign Lord. They see the work of God clearly through the scripture, and they quote from Psalm 2 acknowledging that what took place was God's predestined plan. In recognition of the threats made against them, they entreated the Lord to help them with a bold witness accompanied by signs and wonders. They did not ask the Lord to spare them from persecution; instead, they asked for his divine aid when they faced it. When they finish praying, the place where they had gathered was shaken as God answered their prayer and the bold witness continued in the power of the Holy Spirit. The church was unified, and the generosity of God was demonstrated by the way his followers loved and served one another gladly sharing in all things together. The apostles continued to bear witness to Jesus in power, and great grace was upon them all as the needy are well served. People sold their possessions and gave liberally to one another. As this passage draws to a close, we are introduced to Joseph, also called Barnabas, that sold a field and brought the money to the apostles. 

Things To Consider:

  • Why is Jesus so polarizing?
  • Why do you think the leaders were so curious about the power that accomplished the miracle?
  • How does Scripture inform us of Jesus and salvation?
  • Why are people so offended by the exclusive claim that Jesus is the only way of salvation?
  • If your friends were asked, would they recognize that you spend time with Jesus?
  • Where does the power for witnessing come from?
  • Why is it important to recognize that God saves?
  • How can suffering and celebration go together?
  • How does Scripture inform the circumstances of the church?
  • How should a Christian view persecution?
  • Why should the church serve the needy?
  • What are some ways that the church can encourage one another?
  • What does the introduction to Barnabas teach us about the way God uses people?