ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
Sand Lake, Michigan
Acts chapter 4 – The First Persecution
Peter had the opportunity to preach to many people after the lame man was healed. The healing didn’t please everyone. The priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees same to question him. The Sadducees were one of the “religious” groups in Israel at that time. Sad to say, they didn’t believe in the resurrection – Mk. 12:18. It says in Acts 4:2 that they were “grieved” that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. Some leaders in Israel, especially the Pharisees, did believe in the resurrection, for the Old Testament prophets declared it – Job 19:25-26; Psalm 16:10; 49:14-15; Isa. 26:19; Dan. 12:2-3. Even those leaders didn’t want to hear that it was through Jesus that there would be a resurrection.
Why did Peter insist on preaching the resurrection? He speaks of the resurrection eleven times in the first five chapters of Acts. The reason is that without the resurrection of Jesus, there would be no salvation – I Cor. 15:17; Rom. 4:25.
The leaders put Peter and John in hold (prison) until the next day – V. 3. The witnessing did its desired work however, for many believed. Now their number was about five thousand – V. 4.
The next day a lot of people came to hear what these believers had to say. They asked them, “By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?” Peter was only too glad to tell them the answer. V. 8 says Peter was filled with the Holy Ghost. The lame man was healed by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom they crucified, and whom God raised from the dead – Vs. 9-10. He said Jesus was the STONE which the builders rejected, but now was the head of the corner. The Old Testament had many references to this stone or rock, such a Psa. 118:22; Ex. 17:6; Dan. 2:34-35. Then Peter went on to tell them that the only way they could be saved was through this Jesus, who they were now rejecting – V. 12.
They marveled when they saw the boldness of Peter and John. They perceived they were unlearned and ignorant men. It is great that they knew these two had been with Jesus – V. 13. What could they say against this healing, for the healed man stood right there before them? – V. 14. They conferred together. They knew they couldn’t deny the man had been healed, but they didn’t want them to keep preaching about Jesus. They told them not to speak anymore in Jesus’ name – V. 15-18. Peter never agreed to that – Vs. 19-20. Then all they could do was to threaten them and let them go – Vs. 21-22.
Where do you suppose Peter and John went? They went to where other believers were gathered, and told them all about what had taken place. They started praying, and quoting Scripture. They didn’t pray that the leaders would quit persecuting them. They didn’t ask that they would never again be put in jail. Instead they asked for boldness to keep right on witnessing. God answered by shaking that whole place and giving them a renewed filling with the Holy Ghost – Vs. 23-31.
The Lord wants to use everyone of us to witness for Jesus, to tell of what He has done for us, how He has saved us, and how He wants to save everyone who will believe. It is true that everyone won’t believe you. They may laugh at you, or choose not to listen or be with you. Regardless of this, we must keep right on telling others about Jesus. Like Peter and John, you will receive a great blessing afterward. They felt that they HAD to tell others. May the Lord show us that, also.
Chapter 5 – next issue