Bible Study from Calvary Chapel Newberg

with Tom Fuller

Perplexed or Empowered

Acts 4

Supreme Court - intimidating, mandating, all powerful, majestic. Sanhedrin was all that and more. This text contains another first - the first arrest.

Study points

o Vs 2 - This was the supreme court of Israel. 71 members. Rulers - vested with authority, Elders - who provided counsel, Teachers - who formulated doctrine. It was headed by Sadducees - a party of extreme political power in Israel, by the way, who deny anything spiritual, including angels and miracles. The same family, by the way, that condemned Jesus to die.
o The priests were upset because someone else was teaching. Then they were upset that it was Jesus that they were preaching about.
o Vs 7 - They can't deny the miracle, instead they question the source - quibbling over details they miss the big picture.
o Vs 9 - Peter puts it right - how can you say anything bad about "an act of kindness" It is like when Jesus said you would rescue your ox from a pit on the Sabbath.
o Vs 10-12 - Peter uses the opportunity to preach the gospel. Do we use every opportunity to do the same?
o Vs 13 - They were ordinary unschooled men, yet they spoke with "courage". It's the same with us - though we are ordinary, when filled with the Holy Spirit we can do mighty things. It doesn't take a degree in Exegetical Theology to do great things for God.
o Vs 16-17 - I find it interesting the conversation that takes place when the Sanhedrin is alone. Instead of reveling in God's miracle and coming to Jesus, they weigh the popular vote, then just do damage control, thinking that God can be stopped by simply telling these guys to shut up.
o Vs 19 - This is one of my favorites in Scripture. Peter turns the conversation right around on the Pharisees - and I think if given a chance to answer those men might have said it was right to obey them rather than God!
o Vs 20 - Peter says he can't help speaking about "what we have seen and heard." What have you seen and heard Jesus do? You should speak about that to those around you.
o Vs 21 - The threats might have been excommunication from the Temple, or physical punishment - but it is again interesting that punishment wasn't determined by what was right, but the mood of the people.
o Vs 24-30 - The prayer (from Psalm 2)
Recognizes God's sovereignty (power to decide)
Man's depravity (in fighting against God's sovereignty)
God's foreknowledge that this would happen

Knowing this: consider their threats - enable us to speak boldly. They didn't ask that the leaders be destroyed or anything like that, but that they would not be affected. And they asked that more miracles happen through them. They probably knew full well that persecutions would follow. But even as the "anointed one" went through suffering at the hand of man, so too would these, His servants.
o Vs 31 - Wouldn't it be great if after we prayed the place we were in was shaken? These folks received an immediate answer to their prayers - not only by a visible miracle and sign from God, but the very thing they asked for happened - they started speaking "the word of God boldly." Oh, but would we pray that prayer and speak that Word as well.

Application Notes

o Those that fight against God do not understand His ways nor His power
o The work of God is always a "kindness shown to a cripple" in some way or another - we are just privileged to be a part of that work.
o We are ordinary men, just like Peter and John. Obvious to the elite and powerful, we are nobody. Yet God chooses to use us, if we will but have courage.
o We need to free up our mouths to speak what we have seen and heard God do in our lives.
o We need to pray as the disciples prayed - knowing that the world will not understand, but never-the-less asking for boldness in speaking God's Word (which will never come back void)
Isa 55:11
"So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it."

What Peter did before the Sanhedrin and what we can do too:
o Re-direct the Nature. Peter re-focused the proceeding from a possible criminal trial to an inquiry about an act of mercy.
o Re-focus the Subject. Peter turned the focus away from himself and John doing the healing and on to Jesus.
o Re-Introduce the Savior. Peter takes the story of healing a lame man in Jesus' name, and broadens it to tell of the story of healing humanity by Jesus' name.
o Reveal The Need for Personal Commitment. Peter made it personal. It wasn't merely a legal or philosophical argument. He said "you guys put Him to death," now you must be saved in His name.