Acts of the Apostles: The First Thirty Years
Essay based on Acts 4:5-22
Read Part 1 & Part 2
Our text today has Peter and John standing before the same Sanhedrin that crucified Jesus in hot water because they healed a man at the Temple gate, brought him in, and then used the situation to preach the resurrection of Jesus. Their arrest is for proclaiming the resurrection.
And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. 3 And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.
Peter and John spent the night in jail. Now they find themselves standing before the Sanhedrin for working a miracle. The miracle they performed has been verified. Acts 4:22 says, “the man on whom this sign of healing was performed was more than forty years old.” Two weeks ago we were told in Acts 3:2 that he was “laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple.” The Sanhedrin is in a tight spot. The miracle Peter performed is not refutable. There are no grounds to call them charlatans. After Peter gives his account of what happened, the council places them outside. Luke, the author of Acts, reports the council’s deliberations in Acts 4:16. “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.” That report likely comes to Luke through Nicodemus, as he is a follower of Christ and a council member. With the understanding that the Sanhedrin knows the miracle is real, let’s read Peter’s response to the council’s question. It is stated in Acts 4:7, “And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?”
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, 9 if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you 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 is standing before you well. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Peter is experiencing the words Jesus spoke to the apostles during his earthly ministry. Luke 12:11-12 says, “11 And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” Peter here is “filled with the Holy Spirit.” He’s not preaching from prepared notes. The Holy Spirit inspires his witness. Since the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Wisdom he wisely starts with what they can neither refute or explain, which is the miracle. Then, without skipping a beat, Peter goes directly from the good work done to the lame beggar to the crucifixion. Listen to Acts 4: 9-10, “if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified… by him this man is standing before you well. “ This is Peter’s third public sermon. They share several elements in common. For instance, In all of them, Peter preaches Jesus as crucified in a very personal way. He does so here and also in Acts 2-3..
(T)his Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men.
Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him.14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life,
“let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified.”
Look for Part 4 tomorrow.
May the Lord richly bless you in Christ,