The church is growing in number and in excitement. People are flocking because of the convincing message of Jesus as Lord, because of the resurrection, and because of the signs and wonders shown through the apostles. Peter has preached publically on two occasions now, attracting great interest in Jesus Christ of Nazareth. He and John performed a miracle in Jesus’ name by instructing a lame man to walk. He showed his trust in the name of Jesus by jumping to his feet and walking. Peter told the crowd that Jesus is the prophet like Moses who everyone needs to listen to.
Peter and John had been preaching near the temple where the lame man was healed. The Priest, the Sadducees and the temple guards appear to have all come out of the temple area to hear the comotion and deal with what was troubling them. Ie, the events of Chapter 3 were all outside where they were.
What exactly disturbed them? Was it the teaching about the resurrection? Was it about Jesus being the source of the resurrection? Was it that the apostles were simply teaching anything? The rest of the story seems to show that it’s the name of Jesus that they are unhappy with.
It was evening. The healing of the lame man happened at about three in the afternoon. They’d been teaching around the temple for a number of hours. The events of that afternoon were not quiet and small and blown out of proportion over time – it was big and eventful and went on for a while. The lame man was still with them right to the end. Note 3:11, 4:14.
Another 2,000 people were added to the church that day.
Peter and John were placed in prison. It seems to be a Jewish prison instead of something organised by the Roman soldiers who are not present. When you collect all the details from this paragraph, it seems that Peter and John were still preaching and those in the temple who were not interested in becoming followers came out with security to see what was happening. They then heard what was being preached, didn’t like it and put the preachers in lock-up until they could work out what to do with them.
All the “kings horses and all the kings men” came to sort out what was happening! Anyone who was important in the Jewish hierarchy were gathered to discuss what to do.
Their issue: what name did you do this? They don’t debate what has been done, but they want to know where they got their power from. Not a completley stupid question. If they answered something like: the Dark Lord! then we’d happily see them be thrown back in prison or told to stop!
Their answer is: Jesus, Jesus, Jesus! The miracle was all Jesus. He is the foundation stone that has been rejected. He is the only name we need to bother with because salvation comes from him and him alone. Did I mention Jesus?!!
Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit. We might ask, wasn’t he already filled with the Spirit? Yes he was. This is an example of the Spirit enabling a servant for a specific task. The Spirit lead Peter’s speech to say exactly what he should say. Remember Luke 12:11-12!
What exactly is the church being singled out for? An act of kindness on a lame man? No! The problem the rulers have is with Jesus and the teaching about him.
Compare 4:10 with 3:15; 2:22-24 – Peter’s sermons have a very familiar focus and it is to do with Jesus Christ and the resurrection. It is very significant that the emphasis in all of this is the resurrection and not the cross itself. This is not that Peter thought nothing of the cross – no – he knows that the cross is significant (2:38, 3:19, 4:12). Peter knows and preaches that salvation from sin is what it’s all about – but the emphasis is on the resurrection because this is the proof that Jesus is Lord! Although the rulers rejected him, God raised him from the dead.
“No other name” – it may be obvious to us but there is no other religion or faith that people can rely on except the faith in Jesus. He is it!
The trouble is that Jesus can be rejected and this is what the Psalm 118:22 quote refers to and it is what is happening from the rulers. The name of Jesus is being dismissed and rejected.
This is an amazing paragraph. Look at what the rulers find astonishing and compare that with what they think is just notable! They were astonished that these “ordinary men” had such courage! But when they talk about the miracle of the lame man they simple “could see the man who had been healed…there was nothig they could say.” What about “Wow! How did you do that! That’s amazing!” And then they described the miracle as a “notable sign.”
They cannot deny that this miracle has happened but they are determined to stop it from spreading. If I was a lover of religious ceremony and that was the sole motivator of my participation with God then I might also think that we don’t want any more of this miracle business and certainly not entertain further conversation about resurrection in Jesus name. We’d definatley have to put an end to any further talk of restoration and blessings through the seed of Abraham so that our way of life was not interupted!
When Peter and John are released and tell the church what has happened this brings the church to pray. By “church” I mean the people who had joined with the apostles to follow Jesus. The count at the moment is 5000! So what we are getting from Luke is likely to be a snapshot of what people were saying. How Peter and John communicated with so many people is not clear – they may have gathered together at the temple courts, or in an open space, or communicating to groups through their networks. The specifics are not important, the key is how the followers responded to the threats – they prayed.
Their prayer acknowledges God as the creator of all and then continues to declare how foolish it is for people to try and rise against him.
The theme of the prayer is taken from scripture. I love how their prayers model for us how scripture guides and informs our requests to God.
Also, the theme of the prayer is about who’s the boss. God is referred to as Sovereign Lord – a double reference to God’s rule over everything. He is the boss and sovereign king. The prayer then engages with the challenge God has with the rulers of this world. And completes with the disciples asking God to show his power and might.
The quote from Psalm 2 is used to describe exactly what is happening now – the leaders banding together against the anointed one (Jesus) and it is used to reflect on how the rulers treated Jesus. What is happening to the disciples is reflective of how Jesus was treated (John 15:18-21).
Herod and Pilate and the people of Israel are a band of unlikely coworkers. But because of the name of Jesus, they worked together to conspire against Jesus.
The anointed one. This is the equivalent to “the Messiah” or “the CHRIST”. All have the same notion: God’s chosen king. All the rulers will band together to take down the one true king.
I love this bit! The prayer has moved from adoration (v24) to understanding (v25-28) and now to supplication – they come to request action from God.
What they ask for is twofold: 1) that God enable his people to speak with boldness and 2) that God continue to heal and show signs and wonders. They are calling on God to s how his strength and power against these puny kings and rulers! Bring it on God! Just notice that they pray for God to work more healings.
The prayer is immediately answered – but not quite what was asked for. Part A was granted in that they were aided by the Spirit to speak boldly the word of God. Part B however was answere by a sign that God is powerful – but more healings are not granted.
I love it because it points to God’s priority in having his word spoken and not for the church to grow through miraculous healings. He doesn’t remain silent in the powerful signs category though. The place where they were meeting was shaken. This was a sign directed at the prayers. It’s like God replied, yes, I am powerful and I want you to keep preaching the word. Keep speaking in the name of Jesus.
The name of Jesus is important to this whole section. It’s what got the disciples into trouble. It’s what they were threatened to stop preaching. It’s what God empowered them to continue to speak with boldness. It’s the name that the nations band together to reject and hate. It’s the name that is the only name by which all men can be saved.
The believers receive the same rejection that Jesus experienced. Teaching in the name of Jesus will result in those who believe (v4) and those who reject and refuse his kingship. People will see Jesus the King and people will see Jesus the problem.
- There’s no sure fire way of growing God’s Kingdom. The same technique will produce believers and unbelievers.
- At the root of sin is the rejection of the true King.
- A great response to persecutin is to pray.
- We pray for God’s help because it is his kingdom, his gospel and we depend on Him for growth and boldness.
- Religion in general is inoffensive. It may seem foolish (as the leaders of the temple showed with their response to the miracle) but it is often not offensive.
- It’s Jesus name that calls believers or calls persecution.
- Nothing has changed in this world. Persecution still exists. See opendoors.org.au for information about the persecuted church around the world.
- Clearly we can pray for boldness to talk about Jesus into our world.