Summary of Acts 4:1-22
Peter and John, apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ, were publicly speaking to the people, proclaiming Jesus Christ crucified and having risen from the dead. But, the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead, and the priests, and the captain of the temple were annoyed with the apostles because of what they were proclaiming in the name of Jesus.
So, they arrested them, and they put them into custody until the next day. But, many of those who had heard the word of the Lord believed, and just the number of the men alone came to about 5,000. Amen!
The next day their rulers, the elders, and the scribes gathered together with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. And, they inquired of the apostles by what power and by what name they did that – and the “that” could have also included the healing of a man handicapped since birth (see Acts 3).
So, Peter responded by telling them that it was by the name and the power of Jesus Christ whom they had crucified, but whom God had raised from the dead, that the man was healed. But, the leaders of the people didn’t want them spreading that message about Jesus, and about him being their Savior (their Messiah), so they ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
But Peter and John answered them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge, for we cannot but speak of what we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20).
Acts 4:23-26 NIV
On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:
“‘Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
The kings of the earth rise up
and the rulers band together
against the Lord
and against his anointed one.’”
So, why do they? And, how do they? And, why is it in vain?
Well, with regard to Jesus Christ, they continually hounded him, and they aggressively worked at trying to trick him and to trip him up with his words so that they could accuse him. They chided him often for not following their traditions and for what they considered to be the breaking of the Sabbath. But, their charges were hypocritical, for they would save an animal on the Sabbath, and they would circumcise a child on the Sabbath.
So, they lied, and they deceived, and they used all kinds of trickery in hopes that they could bring Jesus down. And, when that didn’t work, they plotted how they might put him to death on a cross. And, they even engaged one of his own disciples in betraying him into their hands. And, then they arrested him under false pretenses, gave him a mock trial, beat him beyond recognition, and then they had him hung on a cross to die.
Well, that was the “how,” but what about the “why”? It was because Jesus’ deeds were righteous but theirs were evil, and because they were jealous of him, and they were threatened by him and his influence over the people. And, they feared losing their own positions of authority, power, and control over the people. And, it was because he didn’t kowtow to them, and he didn’t follow all their rules, and because he exposed them for the hypocrites which they were, which took a big hit to their pride.
So, really it was all about their pride, their positions of prominence and importance, and it was about power and authority and control over the people which they feared losing because of Jesus.
And, why was it in vain? Because they were messing with God, and God overrules and he overpowers any man or woman, or any earthly kingdoms, no matter how powerful or controlling they may appear. In fact, they have no power but what God allows, and only for the time God allows it, and only within the limitations God puts upon it or on them, too. For, no man can thwart God’s purposes. His purposes will prevail!
Acts 4:27-31 NIV
“’Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.’
“After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.”
The key sentence here is:
“They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.”
The rulers in the temple and in the government had no power over Jesus but that which was within God’s perfect will and purposes, and which God allowed. And, Satan and his minions have no power over us but what God allows, and which fits with his perfect plan and purposes for our lives, too.
But, that doesn’t mean we will always be protected from harm, or from false accusations, or from false imprisonment, or even from death at the hands of those who wish to eliminate us. For, Jesus warned us ahead of time that we should anticipate that we will be treated just like he was treated. So, it should come as no surprise to us when we are persecuted for righteousness’ sake. For, this is part of God’s plan and purpose for our lives.
But, look at the results. Look at the vast numbers of people who were turning away from their lifestyles of sin to follow Jesus Christ in obedience to his commands because of the persecution of Christians, and because of the preaching of the true gospel. Look at the church under persecution throughout our history, and at the ensuing results of changed lives and people on fire for Jesus Christ and for his gospel and for holy living.
Trials and Tribulations
When things are going smoothly for us, as believers in Jesus, and we don’t face much in the way of persecutions, and the world has slowly crept into the fellowships of the church, largely unnoticed, then that also often results in complacency, spiritual apathy, self-centeredness, and fleshliness.
But, trials and tribulations which test our faith, and opposition from enemy forces, and persecution against us as followers of Christ has a way of drawing us closer to our Lord and moving us to be more serious about our walks of faith and obedience to our Lord. So, divine discipline and correction are for our good, that we might share in our Lord’s holiness, and that we might grow to maturity in our walks of faith.
And, included in that is that more and more of us will be exalting our Lord by our lives and with the words that we speak, especially to others. We will want to glorify the Lord in all that we do, think and say. And, we will want to share Christ with the world around us, so that they can come to know our Savior, too, very intimately, in total surrender to his will for their lives.
And, we will stand strong on our faith in Jesus Christ, and we will be bold in our witness for His Name and for the gospel of our salvation. And, we will obey the Lord above all else, and we will even go against the laws of men if they conflict with the laws of God, for the sake of Jesus and his gospel, and as we are empowered by the Holy Spirit of God.
So, this is for our good that we should go through these trials, and that the ungodly will rise up against us. But, God is still on the throne, and so their assaults against us are in vain. God always wins! And, we are mighty conquerors through HIM who loves us!
Writer(s): C. E. Couchman, M. W. Bassford
Scorned by those who watched;
Mocked by all the wise;
Loved within belief;
Son of God.
Born to take my death;
Slain to give me life;
Jesus Son of God.
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