Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 4:15-31
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 4:15-17
vs15-18: The council ordered the three men to leave the room so they could confer together in private. Their only concern was how to restrict the spread of faith in Jesus. There is not a trace of any serious reflection on the implications of such a healing. Instead of being thrilled that a miracle had been done in their midst, or honestly questioning whether or not their hostility toward Jesus was misguided, they only discuss what steps they must take to prevent this new faith from spreading. The plan they decided on was simple, “Let us threaten them to no longer speak upon this name to anyone” (literal). In other words, “Keep preaching and we’ll hurt you!”

Monday: Acts 4:18
v18: Then they called them back into the room to present their decision. They forbade them to teach others to call upon Jesus’ name, in fact, they forbade them to utter even a single word about Jesus. Before we move on to consider Peter and John’s response, we should remember what an intimidating environment this must have been for the apostles. First of all, the men issuing this order were the spiritual elders of Israel, and Peter and John were pious Jews, raised to respect religious authority. So we’d miss some of the internal pressure they must have been experiencing, if we ignore their natural desire to submit.

Tuesday: Acts 4:18-20
v18 (continued): And second, they were being threatened by the same group who, only months earlier, had been responsible for Jesus being savagely executed. There could have been no doubt in their minds that this council would carry out their threats, so they also had to overcome the fear of being tortured and possibly put to death. vs19-20: But Peter and John answered them with these words: “Whether or not it is right (righteous) for us to obey God rather than you is a question you must answer for yourselves, but as for us, we believe we have no choice but to speak what we saw and heard” (paraphrase). As much as Peter and John may have desired to submit to Israel’s religious leaders and avoid persecution, when forced to choose, they felt a much higher obligation to obey Jesus and He had commanded them to proclaim Him, beginning in Jerusalem (Lk 24:47).

Wednesday: Acts 4:21-24
vs21-22: Hearing this, the council warned them that they would be punished if they continued to preach, and then released them because they could not find a sufficient reason to hold them, particularly since the news of the healing had spread rapidly, and the entire city considered it a “sign” from God. The lame man was a highly recognizable figure. He was over forty years old, and for decades had begged at a location every pious Jew passed regularly. vs23-24: After being released, the three men reported to the church what the chief priest and elders had said. Their threats were intended to silence those who believed, but instead of responding with fear, the congregation joined together as one in unified prayer calling on God for boldness.

Thursday: Acts 4:24-26
v24 (continued): Their prayer began by recognizing God’s absolute power to rule over human events. The word translated here as “Lord,” is better rendered as “Master” (lit: “despot”). They acknowledged God as the rightful owner and powerful master of the universe. With these words they remind themselves that the authority of mortal humans is nothing when compared to God’s authority. Then they quoted a familiar Scriptural passage to declare Him to be the Creator of all things (Ex 20:11; Neh 9:6; Ps 146:6). vs25-26: Next, they quoted a portion of Psalm 2, which, interestingly, they attribute to David as its author. Psalm 2 is a very powerful Messianic psalm which pictures the arrival of the Messiah to rule the earth. Paul says the psalm describes the resurrection of Jesus (Ac 13:33, 34), and the author of Hebrews uses it to declare His divinity (Heb 1:5).

Friday: Acts 4:27
v27: The psalm goes on to say that God the Father will give the nations to His Messiah as a gift, along with the authority to “break them with a rod of iron” and “shatter them like earthenware” (v9). It warns earthly rulers to submit to the Messiah because “…His wrath may soon be kindled.” And the psalm ends by saying “How blessed are all who take refuge in Him.” So the reason the church quoted this psalm in their prayer is obvious. They recognized that it had already been partially fulfilled when their rulers (Herod and Pilate), along with Roman soldiers and the multitudes of Israel, banded together to oppose the Messiah Jesus. Now they were confessing that the remainder of the psalm would be fulfilled as well. God’s wrath is coming, and in light of that fact, they were not the ones who should be afraid, it was those who opposed His Messiah who should be afraid.

Saturday: Acts 4:28-31
v28: They told God that they understood that the crucifixion didn’t happen because He had been unable to protect His Son, but because the cross and all the events surrounding it were part of His great plan. His unseen “hand” had actively guided events so that everything that took place was done within the boundary of His will. v29: At this point the congregation called on God to “look upon” the threats that had been made against them, yet rather than asking Him to protect them they only asked Him for the power to be totally free to speak His word. By calling themselves His “slaves,” they made it absolutely clear who they intended to obey. v30: And finally, they asked God to continue “stretching forth” His hand to heal and cause signs and wonders to happen through the name of His holy servant (“child”) Jesus. They understood that they were now in a partnership with Him. He would do miracles and they would proclaim Jesus. v31: And while they were praying these things, God confirmed that He had heard them by shaking the place where they had assembled and filling them all with a fresh empowerment of the Spirit, to such a degree that they began to speak out prophetically with the freedom they had requested (Lk 1:46-55; 67-79; Ac 2:4, 8, 11).

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