The Early Church: Acts1-12
Beginning the Journey (for new Christians).
1, 2, and 3 John
1 & 2 Thessalonians
1 & 2 Timothy
2 Peter, Jude
7 Last Words of Christ
Christ Powered Life (Rom 5-8)
Conquering Lamb of Revelation
David, Life of
Glorious Kingdom, The
Early Church: Acts1-12
Holy Spirit, Disciple's Guide
Jesus and the Kingdom
Lamb of God
Listening for God's Voice
Names of God
Names of Jesus
Rebuild & Renew: Post-Exilic Books
Sermon on the Mount
Songs of Ascent (Ps 120-135)
Nicholas Poussin, detail of 'Saints Peter and John Healing the Lame Man' (1655), oil on canvas Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Original size 49.5 x 65 in.
The Spirit has fallen, the primitive Jerusalem church has been launched, and the believers in Jesus the Messiah are meeting together daily in homes and in the temple (Acts 2:46a). The effect of this movement is now being felt across the city.
We forget sometimes that the apostles and new believers are not "Christians" in the sense we use that term. The term "Christians" didn't come into use until fifteen years later (Acts 11:26).136 The apostolic band and their converts are fully active Jews. Perhaps we could use a term common in our day -- Messianic Jew, one who is an observant Jew, but worships Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah. Christians did not begin to be excommunicated from synagogues in Palestine until after 80 AD.
Thus it would be common in these early days to see the believers
"... attending the temple together" (Acts 2:46a),
They are popular with the people and the movement is growing. The apostles would teach in the temple, and the new believers would flock to the teaching, attended also by those curious about this new Messianic sect. These believers are seen,
"Praising God and having favor with all the
And the Lord added to their number day by day
those who were being saved." (Acts 2:47)
Back home in Galilee, each village of any size would have a synagogue for daily prayer and a more formal service of prayer and teaching on the Sabbath. In Jerusalem there were many synagogues. But in Jerusalem, these Jesus-following Galileans enjoy access to services in the grand Second Temple rebuilt by Herod the Great from 20 to about 10 BC. Probably additional repair and decoration extended much longer (John 2:20). It was magnificent! In the Temple there were two formal prayer services on normal weekdays adjacent to the morning and evening sacrifices.137 Unlike the synagogues, these services include Levitical singers accompanied by instruments.138 The morning and evening sacrifices were held daily -- the morning sacrifice about 9:00 am and a somewhat shorter evening sacrifice about 3:00 pm.139
We pick up the narrative here, when Peter and John are entering the Temple for the prayer following the evening sacrifice.
"1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer -- at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money." (Acts 3:1-3)
They enter at what is called the Beautiful Gate. Edersheim tells us that this gate
"... Formed the principal entrance into the Temple. The ascent to it was from the terrace by twelve easy steps. The gate itself was made of dazzling Corinthian brass, most richly ornamented; and so massive were its double doors that it needed the united strength of twenty men to open and close them."140
This is the traditional understanding -- from the Court of the Gentiles into the Court of the Women. More recently, scholars understand the Beautiful Gate as leading from the Court of the Gentiles into the Court of the Women. Whichever gate it was, it was beautiful!
Which of these gates is the Beautiful Gate of Acts 3:2 isn't certain. Probably it was the Nicanor Gate from the Court of the Women into the Court of the Israelites. (Larger chart)
Imagine being crippled141 all your life, even as a child -- never able to walk. You are ever dependent upon others, usually family members, to carry you on a stretcher. But even as a cripple, you would be expected to pay your fair share in a household, so your family would carry you to the gate of the temple each morning and bring you home each night. To those who attend the temple, you become a regular fixture at the gate. And you hope that the worshippers will take pity on you as you call out for alms.
Indeed, giving alms to the poor and less fortunate is an expected "good deed" of all devout Jews. Jesus comments on the spirit that should accompany almsgiving.
"When you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." (Matthew 6:3-4)
As Peter and John approach the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, the lame man calls out to them, "Alms, alms."142 He receives a response, but not the one he expects.
Some kind of spiritual discernment is going on here that reminds me of when Paul is speaking in Lystra and his eyes fasten on a man who also had been crippled from birth.
"Paul looked directly at him, saw that he had faith to be healed." (Acts 14:9)
Peter and John make sure that they have the lame man's full attention amidst the hubbub of hundreds of people entering the gate to attend evening prayers.
Peter and John know what they possess -- the power to heal, the gift of healing, granted to the apostles by Jesus himself (Matthew 10:1; Luke 9:1). This doesn't mean that they heal all the sick they see, but those whom God leads them to heal. The gift of healing didn't die out with the first-century apostles. The gift of healing is in the church today, granted to some to glorify God (1 Corinthians 12:9, 30). It is a gift we should nurture and value, for it has great power for evangelism and building faith.
Notice the importance given to healing "in the name of Jesus" in several passages in this chapter and the next. (I've put the Greek prepositions in parenthesis for your information.149) Indeed, throughout the Book of Acts there is a lot of emphasis about "in the name of Jesus." We need to spend some time to try to understand this.
"In (en) the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk" (Acts 3:6, ESV)
"And his name -- by (epi) faith in his name -- has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through (dia) Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all." (Acts 3:16, ESV)
"Let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by (en) 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." (Acts 4:10, ESV)
"Signs and wonders are performed through (dia) the name of your holy servant Jesus." (Acts 4:30, ESV)
"They beat [the apostles] and charged them not to speak in (epi) the name of Jesus, and let them go." (Acts 5:40, ESV)
"They had only been baptized in (eis) the name of the Lord Jesus." (Acts 8:16, ESV)
"[Paul] had preached boldly in (en) the name of Jesus." (Acts 9:27, ESV)
"And he commanded them to be baptized in (en) the name of Jesus Christ." (Acts 10:48, ESV)
"I command you in (en) the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her." (Acts 16:18, ESV)
"On hearing this, they were baptized in (eis) the name of the Lord Jesus." (Acts 19:5, ESV)
"Name" in all these passages is onoma, the "proper name of an entity."150 Pretty straightforward. But the idea of taking action "in the name" of someone has quite a history in the Old Testament -- and Old Testament usage will be a primary clue to how we understand uses of "in the name" among New Testament writers who are steeped in Old Testament thought.
1. Identifier. The primary usage "name" is as the proper name of a person, place or thing -- an identifier. My given name, for example, is "Ralph."
2. Renown. "Name" can also refer to one's reputation, fame, or renown. " We have that sense in English -- "to gain a name for oneself."
3. Person.151 "Name" can also represent the person himself. The technical word for this is to "hypostatize," that is, "to attribute real identity to (a concept)"152] or to "treat or represent (something abstract) as a concrete reality."
4. Authority. Flowing from name representing the named person, comes the idea of that person's authority and power represented by their name. For example:
"Save me, O God, by your name;
vindicate me by your might." (Psalm 54:1)
"They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: 'By what power or what name did you do this?'" (Acts 4:7)
Now we come to the passages in Acts that use the formula "in the name of..." or "by the name of...." We see this way back in the Pentateuch.
"I will raise up for them a prophet like you
from among their brothers;
I will put my words in his mouth,
and he will tell them everything I command him.
If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name,
I myself will call him to account." (Deuteronomy 18:18-19)
This future prophet will be obedient to Yahweh, speak what Yahweh commands, and thus speak with Yahweh's authority. Hans Bietenhard sees this as meaning "on my commission."153 Peter and John don't use "in the name of Jesus" as a magical formula (as we see in incantations by Jewish exorcists). Rather, "in the name of Jesus" means it is Jesus himself who heals. His own Power and Presence. Peter, or whoever is the instrument of healing, acts with the authority of Jesus' own Power and Presence.154
Peter and the apostles don't become independent of Jesus, healing on their own whim. Faith and obedience are necessary. Bietenhard goes on,
"In the light of Matthew 7:21-23 and Mark 9:38-39 one is forced to say that the name of Jesus shows its power only where a man joins Jesus in faith and obedience, and does the will of God. Use of the name of Jesus for independent ends is a misuse and condemns to failure. The New Testament knows no theurgy ["the operation or effect of a supernatural or divine agency in human affairs"] which forces God or Jesus. Jesus is the Kyiros [Lord]; He stands above all magical compulsion."155
Western law has a somewhat similar idea of "power of attorney," which is "a legal document giving one person (the agent or attorney-in-fact) the power to act for another person (the principal)." Jesus' authorization of his followers to act in his name and with his power does not end in the closing days of the first century or with the death of his original apostles. It continues on today. As we discern God's will and act for him here on earth "in his name," he will back us with his Presence and Power. We act for him and he confirms it (Mark 16:17-20).156
Q1. (Acts 3:6, 16; 4:10) What kind power do we possess
in the name of Jesus? Why do many believers conclude their prayers, "in Jesus'
name, Amen"? (John 14:14) How does praying in Jesus' name relate to praying in
God's will? Can we misuse praying in Jesus' name? If so, how?
Peter reaches out, takes the lame man's hand, and helps him to his feet. As this is happening, a miracle occurs.
"7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man's feet and ankles became strong.157 8 He jumped to his feet158 and began to walk.159 Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping,160 and praising161 God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him." (Acts 3:7-10)
When I think of viewing the man alongside Peter and John moving through the crowds in the temple, I can imagine seeing him leap, jump up, kind of like a rabbit or kangaroo bobbing up and hopping as it bounds away from danger. It makes me chuckle. The man -- lame from birth -- can't seem to get over what has happened and keeps leaping to try out his new ability. Praise God!
The jumping beggar shocks the crowds, and causes a mass rush inside the temple grounds to Peter and John, with the formerly-lame man steadfastly clinging to them.
"While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon's Colonnade." (Acts 3:11)
The destination is a structure called Solomon's Porch (or Portico or Colonnade, Greek stoa)162 just inside the Beautiful Gate on the east side of the Court of the Gentiles.
Solomon's porch or portico is adjacent to the wall surrounding the Court of the Gentiles. Larger diagram.
Josephus describes this structure thus:
"[Herod] encompassed the entire temple with very large cloisters, contriving them to be in a due proportion thereto....""163
Herod flattened the top of Mount Moriah, the hill we call the Temple Mount.
"This hill was walled all round ... but within this wall, and on the very top of all, there ran another wall of stone also, having, on the east quarter, a double cloister (stoa), of the same length with the wall; in the midst of which was the temple itself. This cloister looked to164 the gates of the temple."
This is where Jesus taught (John 10:23), and became the place where the Jerusalem church met regularly for public teaching in these early days (Acts 4:26; 5:12, 42).
As people rush to see what is happening, Peter begins to speak. I've briefly outlined the structure of his sermon below. This and Peter's message on Pentecost probably reflect the Scriptures concerning Jesus that the Master had unfolded to his disciples after his resurrection (Luke 24:27, 44-45, Acts 1:3).
- We didn't heal this man by our own power, rather in this healing God glorified his servant Jesus (verses 12-13a).
- You are responsible for killing God's Holy and Righteous one, the Author of Life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses to this fact (verses 13b-15).
- Faith in Jesus' name and power healed this man completely (verse 16).
- You acted in ignorance; however, Christ's sufferings were part of God's plan (verses 17-18).
- Nevertheless, now you must repent of your sins and be forgiven (verse 19a).
- Until the right time, the Messiah will be in heaven; at that time God will send the Messiah to restore everything (verses 19b-21).
- Jesus is the prophet whom Moses prophesied would come (verses 22-23).
- All the prophets have foretold Messiah's coming and you are heirs of this promise. In Jesus the Messiah, God fulfills his promise to Abraham to bless all peoples through his offspring (verses 24-25b).
- Thus, the Messiah is sent first to you Jews to bless you by turning you from your wicked ways (verse 26).
Peter's message here probably contains the elements of the church's early preaching to the Jewish community.
We've looked at the outline. Now let's dig deeper.
"12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: 'Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus." (Acts 3:12-13)
This is God's power, Peter declares, not based on his or John's own personal power165 or piety.166 What you see in this healing is God bringing glory167 to his Son or Servant (the Greek can be translated either way).168
Peter places direct blame for murdering God's glorious Servant on the Jews themselves, not the Romans.
"13b You handed him over169 to be killed, and you disowned170 him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go. 14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you." (Acts 3:13b-14)
Peter is relentless.
"You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this." (Acts 3:15)
Think about the ridiculous contradiction involved in the Jews' rejection. They put to death171 the Author172 of Life, the Prince of Life. Since he is the Life Giver, how could God not raise173 him from the dead?
This preaching is straight and true, one Jew to another. Unfortunately, these words have been weaponized by racists to justify their anti-Semitism.
The healing comes about through faith in Jesus' presence and power to heal -- the "name of Jesus" that we discussed above.
"By faith174 in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong.175 It is Jesus' name and the faith that comes through him176 that has given this complete healing177 to him, as you can all see." (Acts 3:16)
There are two pieces here. (1) Jesus' name is the source of power. And (2) faith connects humans to that power. Faith does build a bridge to God, but lest we get proud, we realize that ability to have this faith itself comes through him. It is part of the "gift of God" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
"17 Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. 18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold178 through all the prophets, saying that his Christ would suffer." (Acts 3:17)
Peter admits that they acted through ignorance -- lack of knowledge179 -- though that does not excuse them of this grave crime against God. Isaiah 53 clearly indicates that the Servant will suffer.180 Ignorance is no excuse, not in modern law or in ancient times. In the New Testament, ignorance itself is almost considered sin!181
Now that they know the truth, they must repent immediately!
Here Peter reveals a bit a God's plan for the future, which he calls "times of refreshing"186
20 ... That he may send the Christ, who has been appointed187 for you -- even Jesus. 21 He must remain in188 heaven until the time189 comes for God to restore190 everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets." (Acts 3:17-21)
Q2. (Acts 3:19-20) Why is repentance necessary to
experience personal "times of refreshing," peace, and renewal? According to
Acts 3:19-20, when does the ultimate "time of refreshing" come?
There was a popular expectation of the Messiah to come, who was also considered the Prophet that Moses predicted (Deuteronomy 8:15, 18, 19; John 1:21, 25). Jesus is this expected Prophet, says Peter.
"22 For Moses said, 'The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from among his people.' 24 Indeed, all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days." (Acts 3:22-23)
Peter also declares Jesus to be the Offspring of Abraham who is prophesied to bless all peoples (Genesis 22:18; 26:4).
"25 And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, 'Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.'191 26 When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless192 you by turning193 each of you from your wicked ways." (Acts 3:25-26)
Paul develops this theme of Jesus being the Seed of Abraham in Galatians 3:16, 29. Notice in Acts 3:26 that Jesus blesses us by "turning" us, but also demands that we must "repent" (verse 19) as part of the process. This is sometimes called "prevenient grace," God's grace that comes ahead of our salvation to make it possible for us to repent (Acts 11:28; 2 Timothy 2:25).
This miracle and Peter's message cause quite a stir, especially among the authorities who view this as a direct threat to their authority.
"1 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand." (Acts 4:1-4)
Most of the high priestly family and many of the priests were Sadducees, who didn't believe in the resurrection from the dead (Acts 5:17). Preaching about the resurrection undermined their theological position.194 So that was part of the motivation to arrest Peter and John.
Notice how Luke marks the rapid progression of the growth of Christian believers in Jerusalem:
- 120 (Acts 1:15),
- 3,000 (Acts 2:41),
- Daily additions (Acts 2:47),
- 5,000 males195 (Acts 4:4),
- "Increasing in number" (Acts 6:1), and
- "A great many of the priests" (Acts 6:7).
Whereas, the Jesus Movement has just been a small sect, now it is mushrooming, causing both concern (Acts 4:2; 5:17) and increasing persecution (Acts 5:18, 33, 40), finally exploding with Saul's persecution of the Church following the stoning of Stephen (Acts 8:1-3).
"5 The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest's family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: 'By what power or what name did you do this?'" (Acts 4:5-7)
In the first century AD, the Jewish high priests were appointed by Herod's family, and consisted of a small group of well-placed, wealthy priestly families being given the office on a regular basis. Annas had been appointed in 6 AD and served nine years, but he was the real power behind the throne, as five of his sons, one grandson, and one son-in-law served after him. Caiaphas served for 18 years and was in office at this time.196 At this point it isn't just the strict Pharisees against Jesus; but rather the full power of the Jewish government of Jerusalem and Judea against the new Church. They thought they had killed the movement when they had Jesus crucified, but now it is breaking out all over and increasing in size rapidly.
The question for Peter and John is: "'By what power or what name did you do this?'" (Acts 4:7).
"'8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: 'Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account197 today for an act of kindness198 shown to a cripple199 and are asked how he was healed,200 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: 'It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth...." (Acts 4:8-10)
Peter answers the high priest's question clearly and unequivocally! This instant healing took place "by201 the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth." We looked at the meaning of "the name" in Sec 3.2 above.
But Peter doesn't stop here. Though he is technically supposed to defend himself before the Sanhedrin, he goes on the attack. He indicts the very leaders and Sanhedrin responsible for putting Jesus to death -- publicly, out loud!
"... Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 He is
"the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the capstone." (Acts 4:10b-11)
Peter declares their wicked action and then God's response.
|"You crucified"||"God raised from the dead."|
|"You rejected"||"Has become the capstone/cornerstone"|
Peter is quoting Psalm 118:21-22, no doubt one of the Messianic passages Jesus had explained to his disciples after his resurrection.
thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone." (Psalm 118:21-22)
The builders, the Jewish leaders, have rejected this stone as being unworthy to be placed in the building, but God sees just the opposite. He places this Stone as the most important stone in the entire building. Jesus quoted this passage in connection with the Parable of the Tenants who had killed the Son sent to collect the owner's portion. The Jewish leaders correctly discerned that "he had spoken the parable against them" (Mark 12:12)
Isaiah brings us a similar messianic prophecy.
"See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone,
a precious cornerstone for a sure foundation;
the one who trusts will never be dismayed."
(Isaiah 28:16, quoted in Romans 9:33)
There is some confusion about whether this should be translated "cornerstone" or "capstone." In Hebrew it is two words: rōʾsh, "head" and pinna, "corner." I would guess that "cornerstone" is probably meant here.202
Now Peter brings up salvation, probably in his mind because it is prominent in the passage he quoted from Psalm 118:
thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone." (Psalm 118:21-22)
The word "men" here is the plural of anthropos, "human," not specifically male. The plural speaks of both men and women.207
This is a very bold statement if spoken anywhere! But here in the very heart of Judaism, Peter declares that Messianic Salvation, that is, the salvation that Messiah brings, will not be found nowhere else. If you reject the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, you refuse his salvation.
Jesus said something similar.
"I am the way and the truth and the life.
No one comes to the Father except through me." (John 14:6)
Other passages seem to indicate Jesus as the only way to God.208
But this is a hard saying. It sounds so exclusive and narrow to our tolerant, permissive Western culture. Is Jesus really the only way to God? What about those who have never heard -- the unevangelized? There have been various approaches to this question, outlined by John Sanders in No Other Name: An Investigation into the Destiny of the Unevangelized (Eerdmans, 1992). It's a big topic and this isn't the place to argue for or against each position. But I'll state the main views. First, the two ends of the spectrum.
- Restrictivismsm. All the unevangelized are damned (Augustine, Calvinism).
- Universalism. All the unevangelized are saved (Origin, John A. T. Robinson, Unitarian-Universalism). This seems contrary to Jesus' clear teaching (Matthew 7:13-14; Luke 13:23-24).
Beyond these are various approaches that would affirm that Jesus is the exclusive path to salvation, but indicate a means for the unevangelized lost to be saved.
- Universal evangelization before death. At death people have an opportunity to hear and respond to the gospel -- via human messengers or angelic messengers -- before death. After death the door closes.
- Eschatological evangelization. God will give people an opportunity to respond to the Gospel in the End Time. Dispensationalism, for example, sees the Jews being saved in the End Time. This view relies on the post-mortem evangelization hinted at in 1 Peter 3:18-20; 4:6 (Clement of Alexandria, Origen, etc.).
- Inclusivism. Universally accessible salvation apart from evangelism. The unevangelized are saved or lost based on their commitment, or lack thereof, to the God who saves through the work of Jesus (John Wesley, C. S. Lewis, etc.).
Personally, I don't think we have enough information to commit to a particular theory -- educated speculation is all we have. I know we serve a merciful God who sent Jesus to save the world. I also know that there is a hell for those who reject him, that the path is narrow that leads to life. For years, however, I have been intrigued by Paul's words about the Gentiles in Romans 2:14-16.
I believe that the Old Testament saints who trusted in the Lord are saved through the death of the Messiah on their behalf, even if they didn't know about Jesus -- or even the promises of the Messiah. All the bulls and goats offered as sacrifices for sin in the temple looked forward to Jesus, the ultimate sacrifice, who alone can atone for our sins (Hebrews 10:3, 14). Any salvation of the lost will depend upon Jesus' death for our sins -- of that we are sure!
Though we may ask questions we don't know the full answers to, for now, our marching orders are clear:
"Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation." (Mark 16:15)
"Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matthew 28:19-20)
We are to preach the Gospel with an earnestness based on the Bible truth that a person's eternal life depends upon putting trust in Jesus for salvation. Finally, however, we must leave their salvation in the hands of our loving and just God.
Q3. (Acts 4:12) What are the implications of believing
that Jesus Christ is the exclusive way to God? How does this conviction
energize evangelism? Why does our culture resist this belief so adamantly?
Peter and John are pulling no punches in blaming these very Jewish leaders for the unjust death of Christ -- and boldly declaring the resurrection to a Sanhedrin whose majority is Sadducees. They are fearless!
The Sanhedrin doesn't know how to respond.
"14 But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. 15 So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. 16 'What are we going to do with these men?' they asked. 'Everybody living in Jerusalem knows they have done an outstanding miracle,213 and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name.'" (Acts 4:14-17)
They are afraid to respond harshly since the miracle is so public and the movement encompasses so many people already. They want to keep the status quo, but things are spinning out of their control. They hope to stop this mushrooming Christian movement by commanding Peter and John to stop saying these things. Good luck!
"18 Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name214 of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John replied, 'Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. 20 For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.' 21 After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old." (Acts 4:18-22)
The issue for disciples today is how to respond to a culture that wants to silence Christian witness and preaching. Peter and John's response to the Sanhedrin needs to echo loudly in our hearts as we face cultural opposition and perhaps persecution for witnessing to the message of Christ.
"Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." (Acts 4:19-20)
We see a similar declaration of the apostles before the Sanhedrin a bit later.
"Peter and the other apostles replied: 'We must obey God rather than men!'" (Acts 5:29)
Q4. (Acts 4:19-20) We are told to submit to the civil
authorities God has placed over us (Romans 13:1). How are we to balance
submission to God with submission to parents and government? How can we be
faithful to God and still be humble?
A spontaneous healing in the temple puts in action a sequence of events that teach us about faith, about the authority of Jesus' name by which we minister, and the priority of our obedience to Jesus over any other government or authority.
- Peter and John are sensitive to the Holy Spirit concerning healing, and when the Spirit shows them, they are bold to proclaim healing in Jesus' name (Acts 3:1-6). We should become bold also!
- The phrase "in the name of Jesus" means "with the authority given to us by Jesus," a kind of power of attorney. It is effective so long as we discern that a particular action is God's plan for a particular situation; it does not function as personal authority to command anything we want on our own.
- Peter answers the Sanhedrin by the Holy Spirit, that the miracle was performed in Jesus' name, whom the Sanhedrin members crucified. That Jesus is the "stone you builders rejected," fulfilling Psalm 118:22 (Acts 4:10-11). The Holy Spirit gives us the words when called before such courts and monarchs (Mark 13:11).
- Peter declares that the name of Jesus the Messiah is the only name by which people may find salvation -- a very bold statement (Acts 4:12). Christianity is an exclusive faith that centers on Jesus and him alone as the source of salvation.
- Peter and John are commanded not to speak or teach in Jesus' name, to which they say they must obey God rather than men (Acts 4:18-20). Our first allegiance is to God, not to men, our culture, or government who would suppress Christianity.
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Lord, I'm inspired by the all-out boldness of Peter and John. Too often I am timid, but that doesn't move your Kingdom forward. Help me to be bold and obedient and see the glory of God. In Jesus' name, I pray. Amen.
"Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." (Acts 3:6, NIV)
"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you -- even Jesus." (Acts 3:19--20, NIV)
"Know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed." (Acts 4:10, NIV)
"Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved." (Acts 4:12, NIV)
"Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." (Acts 4:19--20, NIV)
 Christianos, one who is associated with Christ, Christ-partisan, Christian" (BDAG 1000). Also 1 Peter 4:16; Acts 26:28.
 Exodus 27:21; Leviticus 6:20; 24:3; 1 Chronicles 16:40; 23:30; 2 Chronicles 13:11; 31:3; Ezra 3:3.
 ""None other than Levites might act as choristers, while other distinguished Israelites were allowed to take part in the instrumental music.... On ordinary days the priests blew seven times, each time three blasts -- a short sound, an alarm, and again a sharp short sound... The first three blasts were blown when the great gates of the Temple -- especially that of Nicanor -- were opened. Then, when the drink-offering was poured out, the Levites sung the psalm of the day in three sections. After each section there was a pause, when the priests blew three blasts, and the people worshipped. This was the practice at the evening, as at the morning sacrifice" (Edersheim, The Temple, chapter 3).
 Edersheim, The Temple, chapter 7.
 Edersheim, The Temple, chapter 2. Josephus mentions a gate "of Corinthian bronze" outside the sanctuary (Wars of the Jews 5.5.3). The Mishnah (Middoth 2.3) mentions the Nicanor's Gate as the only gate not of gold, apparently leading from the west side of the Court of the Women into the Court of Israel. It is possible that the Mishnah is mistaken (D.F. Payne, "Gate, Beautiful," ISBE 2:409).
 "Crippled" (NIV), "lame" (ESV, NRSV, KJV) is chōlos, "lame, crippled" (also of the hand). Also at Acts 14:4; Matthew 11:5; 15:30-31; 21:14; Luke 14:13, 21; John 5:3. A similar word is kullos, of a limb of the human body that is in any way abnormal or incapable of being used; also of persons who have such limbs, "crippled, deformed" (Matthew 15:30f; 18:8; Mark 9:43).
 "Beg" (NIV), "ask alms" (ESV, NRSV, KJV) is two words: aiteō, "to ask for, with a claim on receipt of an answer, ask, ask for, demand" (BDAG 30); and eleēmosynē, "that which is benevolently given to meet a need, alms" (Acts 3:2, 3, 10) (BDAG 316, 2). Verse 2 has a similar idea, with the imperfect of erōtaō, "to ask for something, ask, request" (BDAG 395, 2), literally, "he began asking to receive alms" (NASB), which catches the incipient action sense of the imperfect tense. Maybe, "He was in the process of asking...."
 aorist participle of atenizō, "look intently at, stare at" something or someone (BDAG 148).
 "Gave his attention" (NIV), "fixed his attention" (ESV, NRSV), "gave heed unto" (KJV) is the imperfect of epechō, "hold fast," here, "to be mindful or especially observant, hold toward, aim at," "he fixed his attention on them" (BDAG 362, 2).
 "Expecting" is the present participle of prosdokaō, "to give thought to something that is viewed as lying in the future, wait for, look for, expect" (BDAG 877, e).
 "Have" in verse 6a is the present indicative of hyparchō, "to be present," here, "something is at my disposal, I have something" (BDAG 1029, 1). "Have" in verse 6b is the present indicative of the extremely common verb echo, "to possess, have, own," here, probably also in the sense of "to have at hand, have at one's disposal" (BDAG 420, 1c). There is little difference here between the two verbs, just variation, I believe.
 "In" is the Greek preposition en, here used in the instrumental sense, "by means of, with," a marker introducing means or instrument (BDAG 328, 5b).
 "Rise up and walk" (ESV, KJV), "stand up and walk" (NRSV), "walk" (NIV) is two words in the Greek text plus the conjunction "and" (kai). The first is the imperative of egeirō, here, "to move to a standing position, rise, get up" (BDAG 271, 4); the second is the imperative of paripateō, "walk, go" (BDAG 803, 1c).
 Several prepositions are used with the "name." En is used in the instrumental sense, "by means of, with," a marker introducing means or instrument (BDAG 328, 5b; Acts 3:6; 4:10; 9:27; 16:18). Epi is used as a "marker of basis for a state of being, action, or result, on." Philippians 3:9, "on the basis of faith" (BDAG 364, 6a; Acts 3:16; 5:40). Dia, "through," here, a "marker of instrumentality or circumstance whereby something is accomplished or effected, by, via, through," here, of efficient cause, "via" (BDAG 224, 3d; Acts 3:16; 4:30). Eis is often used in the context of baptism, where people are baptized "into" the name of Jesus, or into Jesus, being joined to him by baptism. (Acts 8:16; 19:5). In the contexts of baptism, eis is used "denoting entrance into or toward" (Thayer 183). "Extension involving a goal or place, 'into, in, toward, to' ... of presence in an area determined by other objects, especially after verbs of sending, moving, etc., including baptizō (BDAG 289, 1aε). Also Romans 6:3; 1 Corinthians 12:13 with the idea of incorporation. The exception is Acts 10:48, where en is used.
 Onoma, BDAG 713, 1dℵγג.
 Dynamis, "power, capability"
 Merriam Webster 11th Collegiate Dictionary.
 Hans Bietenhard, onoma, TDNT 5:260.
 Bietenhard, TDNT 5:277. He cites Acts 9:34 as an example: "Jesus Christ heals you. Get up and take care of your mat" (Acts 9:34).
 Bietnhard, onoma, TDNT 5:277-278.
 For more on this, see John Wimber and Kevin Springer, Power Evangelism (Harper Collins, 1986), and Charles H. Kraft, I Give You Authority (Chosen Books, 1997).
 "Became strong" (NIV), "were made strong" (ESV, NRSV), "received strength" (KJV) is the aorist passive of stereoō, "to render physically firm, make strong, make firm," literally of impotent limbs, passive, "be strengthened, become strong" (BDAG 943, 1). The word is see in the active voice in Acts 3:16.
 "Jumped to his feet" (NIV), "leaping up" (ESV, KJV), "jumping up" (NRSV) is the present participle of exallomai, "to spring up to a standing position, leap up" (BDAG 345, 2), a compound of the verb hallomai seen in Acts 3:8; 14:10, "leap." "Stood" (ESV, NRSV, KJV; untranslated in the NIV) is the aorist active of histēmi, "to render physically firm, make strong, make firm," literally of impotent limbs, also in Acts 3:16.
 "Began to walk" (NIV, ESV, NRSV, catching the "inceptive" sense of the imperfect), "walked" (KJV), is the imperfect active (and in verse 8b and 9 the present active participle) of peripateō, "to go here and there in walking, go about, walk around" (BDAG 803, 1c).
 "Jumping" (NIV), "leaping" (ESV, NRSV, KJV) is the present middle participle of hallomai, literally, "to make a quick leaping movement, leap, spring up" (BDAG 46, 1).
 "Praising" in verses 8 and 9 is the present active participle of aineō, "to praise" (BDAG 27).
 "Colonnade" (NIV), "portico" (ESV, NRSV), "porch" (KJV) is stoa, "a roofed colonnade open normally on one side, portico" (BDAG 945). Used in John 5:2; 10:23: here; and Acts 5:12. Also in Josephus's description of Herod's temple.
 Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 15.11.3.
 Aphoraō, of places, "look towards" with eis (Lidell-Scott, aphoraō, A1b).
 Dynamis, "power, capability."
 "Godliness" (NIV), "piety" (ESV, NRSV), "holiness" (KJV) is eusebeia, "awesome respect accorded to God, devoutness, piety, godliness" (BDAG 413).
 "Glorified" is the aorist indicative of doxazō, "to cause to have splendid greatness, clothe in splendor, glorify" (BDAG 258, 2).
 "Servant" (NIV, ESV, NRSV, NASB, NJB), "Son" (KJV) is pais, "boy," "one's own immediate offspring, child as 'son' or 'daughter'," then, "one who is committed in total obedience to another, slave, servant," as here (BDAG 751, 3bγ), probably a reference to Christ as the Suffering Servant of Isaiah 53. Also Acts 3:26; 4:27, 30.
 "Delivered over" is the aorist indicative of paradidōmi, "give over," here, "hand over, turn over, give up a person as a technical term of police and courts 'hand over into [the] custody [of]'" (BDAG 761, 1b).
 "Disowned" (NIV), "denied" (ESV, KJV), "rejected" (NRSV) in both verses 13 and 14 is the aorist indicative of arneomai, to disclaim association with a pers. or event, deny, repudiate, disown" (BDAG 133, 3b).
 "Killed" is the aorist indicative of apokteinō, literally, "to deprive of life, kill" (BDAG 114, 1a).
 "Author" is archēgos, "one who has a preeminent position, leader, ruler, prince" or "one who begins or originates," hence the recipient of special esteem in the Greco-Roman world, "originator, founder" (BDAG 138, 1 or 3).
 "Raised" is the aorist indicative of egeirō, "waken, arouse," here, "to cause to return to life, raise up" (BDAG 271, 6).
 "By faith" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "though faith" (KJV), "on the basis of faith" (NASB) is three words -- the preposition epi, "upon," the definite article, and the noun pistis, "faith." Epi here is a "marker of basis for a state of being, action, or result, on," here and Philippians 3:9, "on the basis of faith" (BDAG 364, 6a). "Faith" is pistis, "state of believing on the basis of the reliability of the one trusted, trust, confidence, faith" (BDAG 819, 2bβ).
 "Made strong" is the indicative aorist of stereoō, "to render physically firm, make strong, make firm," literally, of impotent limbs (BDAG 943, 1).
 "The faith that comes through him" (NIV, NASB), "the faith that is through Jesus" (ESV, NRSV), "the faith which is by him" (KJV) is a bit hard to translate. It uses the extremely common preposition dia, "through," here, "marker of instrumentality or circumstance whereby something is accomplished or effected, by, via, through," here, of efficient cause, "via" (BDAG 224, 3d). See also, "... Who through (dia) him are believers in God" (1 Peter 1:21). Because of the awkwardness of the sentence in Greek with the repetition of the name, there have been various proposed meanings. Bruce cites C. C. Torrey's 1916 reconstruction of the underlying Aramaic, with the meaning, "and by faith in his name he has made whole this man whom you see and know" (Bruce, Greek Acts, p. 110).
 "Complete healing" (NIV), "perfect health" (ESV, NRSV, NASB), "perfect soundness" (KJV) is the noun holoklēria, "state of soundness or well-being in all parts, wholeness, completeness" (BDAG 703), "used of an unimpaired condition of body, in which all its members are healthy and fit for use" (Thayer, p. 703).
 "Foretold" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "shewed" (KJV) is the aorist indicative of prokatangellō, "to announce beforehand, foretell," of prophetic utterance (BDAG 871).
 "Ignorance" is the noun agnoia, "ignorance," specifically, "lack of information that may result in reprehensible conduct, ignorance, unawareness, lack of discernment." "You acted in ignorance" = you were unaware of what you were doing (BDAG 13, b). In some contexts it almost equals "sin" (Acts 17:30; Ephesians 4:30; 1 Peter 1:14).
 "Suffer" is the aorist infinitive of paschō, generally, "to experience something," but usually in a negative sense, "suffer" (BDAG 785, 3aα).
 Acts 17:30; Eph 4:18; 1 Peter 1:14.
 "Repent" is the aorist imperative of metanoeō, which we saw in Acts 2:38, literally, "change one's mind," here, "feel remorse, repent, be converted" (BDAG 640, 2).
 "Turn to God" (NIV, NRSV), "turn back" (ESV), "be converted" (KJV) is the imperative aorist of epistrephō, "turn around, go back," here, "to change one's mind or course of action, for better or worse, turn, return" (BDAG 382, 4a). A compound verb from epi-, here, denoting "motion, approach, direction toward or to anything," + strephō, "turn, turn around."
 "Sins may be wiped out" (NIV, NRSV), "blotted out" (ESV, KJV) uses the aorist passive infinitive of exaleiphō, "to cause to disappear by wiping," here, more generally, "to remove so as to leave no trace, remove, destroy, obliterate" (BDAG 345, 2), from ex-, "from, removal" + aleiphō, "daub, besmear," then "anoint."
 The phrase is literally, "from the presence of the Lord" (ESV, NRSV, KJV), though the NIV renders it, "from the Lord" (NIV) presumably concluding that "presence" is implied and therefore redundant. "Presence" is prosopon, "face," then "personal presence" (BDAG 888, 1bβℵ).
 "Times of refreshing" is the plural of the noun kairos, "a moment or period as especially appropriate, the right, proper, favorable time," here, "a defined period for an event, definite, fixed time," one of the chief terms relating to the end time (BDAG 498, 3b). "Refreshing" is anapsyxis, "experience of relief from obligation or trouble, breathing space, relaxation, relief," figurative of the Messianic age (BDAG 75), from ana-, "repetition, renewal" + psychō, "to breath, blow."
 "Appointed" (NIV, ESV, NRSV, NASB), "which before was preached" (KJV), "predestined" (NJB) is perfect participle of procheirizō, "to express preference of someone for a task, choose for oneself, select, appoint" (BDAG 891), from procheiros, "at hand," from pro-, "in public view, openly" + cheir, "hand" (Thayer, p. 554).
 "Remain in" (NIV, NRSV), "receive" is dechomai, "take, receive," here in the sense of "to be receptive of someone, receive, welcome," often of hospitality, receive as a guest. (BDAG 221, 3).
 "Time" is the plural of chronos, "an indefinite period of time during which some activity or event takes place, time, period of time" (BDAG 1092, 1).
 "Restore/restoring/restoration" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "restitution" (KJV) is apokatastasis, "restoration." It is used in diplomatic documents of states restored by benefactors to normal conditions and stability (BDAG 112). The verb form appears earlier in Acts, "Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?" (Acts 1:6) Thayer sees this as "the restoration not only of the true theocracy but also of that more perfect state of (even physical) things which existed before the fall" (Thayer, p. 63).
 "Blessed" in verse 25 is the indicative future of eneulogeō, "to confer special benefits, act kindly, bless" (BDAG 336). This is a compound verb in which the preposition en- "seems to refer to the person on whom the blessing is conferred," thus, "to confer benefits on, to bless" (Thayer, p. 216).
 "Bless" in verse 26 is a very similar word, the present active participle of eulogeō, "speak well of," here, "to bestow a favor, provide with benefits" (BDAG 408, 3).
 "Turning" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "turning away" (KJV) is apostrephō, "turn away from," here, figuratively, "to cause change in belief or behavior, turn, turn away" (BDAG 123, 2).
 William J. Moulder, "Sadducees," ISBE 4:278.
 "Men" is specific, "males" (anēr).
 The identity of John or Jonathan is uncertain. Alexander is otherwise unknown. Bruce, Acts, p. 98, footnotes 11, 12, 14.
 "Called to account" (NIV), "examined" (ESV, KJV), "questioned" (NRSV) is the present passive of anakrinō, "to conduct a judicial hearing, hear a case, question," administrative term (BDAG 66, 2).
 "Act of kindness" (NIV), "good deed" (ESV, NRSV, KJV) is the noun euergesia, "the content of beneficial service, good deed, benefit, a kindness" (BDAG 405, 2).
 "Cripple" (NIV), "crippled man" (ESV), "someone who was sick" (NRSV), "the impotent man" (KJV) is two words: anthropos, "person, human being" and the adjective asthenēs, "weak, powerless," here, "pertaining to suffering from a debilitating illness, sick, ill" (BDAG 142, 1).
 "Healed" (NIV), "well" (ESV), "in good health" (NRSV), "whole" (KJV) is the adjective hygiēs, "pertaining to being physically well or sound, healthy, sound" (BDAG 1023, 1a).
 Twice in verse 10 -- "by the name of Jesus" and "by him" (ESV) -- we see the very common preposition en, here, as a marker introducing means or instrument, "with" (BDAG 328, 5b).
 "Capstone" (NIV), "cornerstone" (ESV, NRSV) is literally, "head of the corner" (KJV), two words: the noun gōnia, "corner, " here, the "cornerstone" or "keystone" (Mt 21:42; Mk 12:10; Lk 20:17; Ac 4:11; 1 Pt 2:7; BDAG 209). The noun kephalē, "head," here, "the uppermost part, extremity, end, point." (BDAG 542, 2b). In the Isaiah 28:16 passage it is associated with the foundation (cf. 1 Corinthians 3:11). In the Psalms 118:22 passage it may refer to a capstone or keystone of an arch (Victor P. Hamilton, rōʾsh, TWOT #1783a).
 "Salvation" is sōtēria, "salvation," with focus on transcendent aspects (BDAG 986, 2). "Is found" (NIV), "is" (ESV, NRSV, KJV) is the verb ēimi, "to be." "No one else" (NIV, ESV, NRSV), "no other" (KJV) is the negative particle oude, "and not, nor" (BDAG 734, 1), and pronoun oudeis, as a substantive, "no one, nobody" (BDAG 735, 2a), and the adjective allos, "pertaining to that which is other than some other entity, other" (BDAG 46, 1a).
 Oude, "not", the noun nomos, "name" (which we studied in Acts 3:6); and the adjective heteros, pertaining to being distinct from some other item implied or mentioned, "other" (used interchangeably with allos in the first part of the verse) (BDAG 399, 1bγ).
 "Given to" (NIV), "given among" (ESV, NRSV, KJV) is the perfect passive participle of didōmi, "give," here, "to grant by formal action, grant, allow," frequently of God (BDAG 243, 13). "To" (NIV), "among" (ESV, KJV, NRSV) is the preposition en, a marker of position defined as being in a location, "in, among," here, "among" (BDAG 326, 1d).
 "By which" uses the same preposition en as the previous clause," but here (as in verse 10 twice) with the meaning, "by means of, with," a marker introducing means or instrument (BDAG 328, 5b). "Must" is the verb dei, "to be under necessity of happening, it is necessary, one must, one has to," denoting compulsion of any kind (BDAG 214, 1a). "Be saved" is the aorist passive infinitive of sōzō, "save, rescue," here, "to save or preserve from transcendent danger or destruction, save/preserve from eternal death," or positively, "bring Messianic salvation, bring to salvation," endow with eternal life (BDAG 983, 2b).
 Anthropos, BDAG 81, 1c.
 John 10:9; Matthew 11:27; John 10:7, 9; 1 John 2:23; 2 John 9; Revelation 13:8; 20:15.
 "Courage" (NIV), "boldness" (ESV, NRSV, KJV), "confidence" (NASB), "fearlessness" (NJB) is parrēsia, "a state of boldness and confidence, courage, confidence, boldness, fearlessness," especially in the presence of persons of high rank (BDAG 731, 3a).
 "Unschooled" (NIV), "uneducated" (ESV, NRSV), "unlearned" (KJV) is agrammatos, "unable to write,' also "uneducated, illiterate" (BDAG 15). "Ordinary" (NIV, NRSV), "common" (ESV), "ignorant" (KJV), "untrained" (NASB) is idiōtēs, "a person who is relatively unskilled or inexperienced in some activity or field of knowledge, layperson, amateur," in contrast to an expert or specialist of any kind (BDAG 468, 1).
 "Took note" (NIV), "recognized" (ESV, NRSV), "took knowledge" (KJV) is the indicative imperfect of epiginōskō, "know," here, "to connect present information or awareness with what was known before, acknowledge acquaintance with, recognize, know again" (BDAG 369, 3).
 "Companions of" (NRSV), "associates of" (NJB) is literally "been with" (NIV, ESV, KJV), the imperfect of eimi, "to be" and the preposition syn, "with," here, a marker of accompaniment and association, here, the emphasis is purely on being together and sometimes upon accompaniment: "be with someone" (BDAG 961, 1aγ).
 "Outstanding miracle" (NIV), "notable sign" (ESV, NRSV), "notable miracle" (KJV), "noteworthy miracle" (NASB) is two words: gnōstos, "known," here, "a remarkable miracle" (BDAG 204, 1a); and semeion, "an event that is an indication or confirmation of intervention by transcendent powers, miracle, portent" (BDAG 920, 1aα).
 "In the name" here uses the very common preposition epi, "upon" with the genitive case, here as a marker in an idiom of authorization, in the formula "in the name of someone" (Acts 4:17; 5:40; BDAG 366, 17)
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