Acts 3:11 - 4:12 The Book of Acts - Day 4

Acts 3:11-4:12

11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon's. 12 And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him.  14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.  17 “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But what God foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ would suffer, he thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore, and turn back, that your sins may be blotted out, 20 that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Christ appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the time for restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago. 

As we see in chapter 2 Peter seizes the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel of Christ to his people.  During the Gospel narrative we see Peters impetuous behavior which had a tendency to get him into trouble.  Now this behavior, under the direction of the Holy Spirit, is used to reach people for the cause of Christ.  It is possible that which got us into trouble as a sinner can be used to bring glory to God?

Peter makes it clear that neither he nor John did this on their own power.  They are quick to give credit where credit is due.  We can understand the reason for this as we have seen people quickly engulfed by the praises and adoration of others.  Humility goes a long way to protecting ones heart and soul from the world.  

Remember that Peter is speaking to Jews. (They are in the court of women at the temple and only jewish believers were allowed in there.)  So he gives credit to them in a verbiage that they will understand.  You see, they were there to worship the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob and the God of their fathers.  Remember when you speak to people about God - say it in a way that they will understand.  Speaking "christianize" never helps.  

Now Peters dissertation brings to light the truth of the matter.  Jesus, whom the Father sent, was the Messiah.  You traded him for a murderer and then killed Him but God raised Him from the dead.  It is the next phrase that you need to pay attention to.  "To this we are witnesses."  

It's hard for people to deny what you believe.  Even if they don't agree, they know that you believe.  Peter and John are willing to tell people that they have seen, spoken to, had dinner with and walked with a man who was dead for 3 days straight.  True, it sounds like something that should have you locked up.  But there is something you have forgotten.  A lame man is walking.  So in the grand scheme of things - on this day - someone proclaiming that they have seen the Messiah rise from the dead might not be that big of a stretch.  

Now Peter links the teachings of the Old Testament prophets (which these Jews would have been well acquainted with) with Jesus.  (Again speaking their language) Then tells them the promise that awaits them.  What is the old saying, "You can attract more flies with honey than vinegar "  Well, the same is true of the Gospel.  While there is nothing wrong with pointing out that salvation in Christ will deliver you from an eternity in hell.  It is just as powerful to tell people that their sins will be forgiven and that they can have an exciting and powerful relationship with Christ.  

22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’ 24 And all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and those who came after him, also proclaimed these days. 25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your offspring shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ 26 God, having raised up his servant, sent him to you first, to bless you by turning every one of you from your wickedness.”

Now Peter takes a bold step and links Moses to Jesus.  To the Jews, Moses is the greatest.  No one was a better Jew than Moses.  Now Peter challenges that line of thinking.  (If you want to know why read up on his experience with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration)  God used Moses to bring in the Old Covenant (Testament).  God used Jesus to bring in the New Covenant.  Moses gave Israel the command to sacrifice a Lamb for the atonement of their sins.  Jesus came as the Lamb of God who gave up His life for the forgiveness of our sins.  

Chapter  And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.

Aaaaannnnnnnd, no good deed goes unpunished.  Peter and John go to jail for the night.  Why?  The Sadducees were a group of priests who did not consider the prophetic books on the same level as the Torah (Genesis through Deuteronomy.)  They denied the existence of angels and spirits.  They did not believe in the resurrection.  So you can now see why they have such a problem with these followers of Jesus and Peter.  

Now it is too late to convene the priests to confront Peter and John.  But it wasn't to late for Peters sermon to take effect.  5,000.  They way that the number is used here indicates that the number was so large that they counted men.  

Someone is always trying silence the Gospel.  Someone who doesn't believe as Jesus teaches, someone who doesn't believe what the church teaches and someone who doesn't want to practice what Jesus directs.  It is easier to silence someone than to allow them to be a part of the conversation. Hell knows this.  If a Spirit filled believer is allowed to speak - the Holy Spirit will always win. 

On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem,with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, “By what power or by what name did you do this?” Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by 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. 11 This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

So the next day everyone gathers together to address the "situation".  There is no doubt in these priests mind that the people of Jerusalem hold these apostles in high esteem.  So they much be careful lest they start a riot against themselves. 

They ask, "By what power or by what name did you do this?" (As if they don't know the answer.)  Peter is now being influence by the Holy Spirit through the gift of prophecy (as he was in chapter 2).  He speaks up and tells them that it was the name of Jesus, whom they killed but God brought back from the dead.  Remember that this was the same man who earlier in the courtyard denied Jesus three times.  Well there is no problem here.  

Peter then tells them that they rejected the cornerstone that God gave them.  For these priests, Moses is their cornerstone and the law is their salvation.  Peter challenges their beliefs clearly by saying that "... salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."

Challenge peoples Godless or worthless religion is a dangerous thing to do at best.  To tell someone that what they believe is wrong and unacceptable to God will come across as a threat.  That is why I suggest that you build a relationship of trust with the person first before you have the conversation.  But in this case, Peter is justified to say and do what he did.  Remember that Jesus called this group a pit of snakes.  That they only kept the law for appearances  that they actually didn't keep the law at all.  And that it was this group who conspired to have Jesus murdered.  If the law of Moses really meant anything to them, they wouldn't have done that.  

Bible references from the (ESV)

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