TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Acts 4 – Peter and John Arrested and Peter Speaks before the council
- Peter and John Arrested
- Reasons for Arresting Peter and John
- The Growth of the Church
- The Trial before the Council
- What Could the Rulers do?
- The Apostles pray for Boldness
Acts 4 – Peter and John Arrested and Peter Speaks before the council
In the third chapter of Acts, we saw how Peter delivered his second sermon after healing the lame beggar at the gate of the temple. This beggar who was lame from birth was now walking and leaping for joy, leaving the Jewish people astonished and the high priests and Sadducees disconcerted. They had to do something about it.
Let’s look into the details of chapter 4.
Peter and John Arrested
We can tell we live in a dark world when we do good but get persecuted or punished for it. This happened to Jesus at the beginning of His ministry when He healed the man with the withered hand. Here it is happening again but this time with the apostles Peter and John because they healed a man lame from birth.
This is not a surprise since Jesus Himself said this would happen. He said:
John 16:33- In the world ye shall have tribulation
Mark 13:13 – ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.
He also said:
11 And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say:
12 For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.
Jesus knew what was coming.
The rulers of the Jewish people go on and arrest Peter and John. Peter was to be tested again but this time before the council after Jesus resurrected.
Let’s examine why they were arrested first.
Reasons for Arresting Peter and John
Disturbing the “peace” at the temple
One of the reasons the priests, the captain of the temple and the Sadducees (Acts 4:1) arrested Peter and John was because they were disturbing the peace. People were gathering around two men who had just healed a lame beggar from birth. Not only did they heal, but were preaching in the name of Jesus Christ.
Christians always appear as disturbing the peace when they spread the gospel of Christ. Mentioning the name of Jesus has become offensive. People rather hide their dark ways because facing the cross brings them shame. If we stand on the streets and preach His name or if we speak out against sin and evil, we are the ones who are disturbing the “peace”. But we have to live up to that name now, we have to accept it. We will always be seen as disturbing the peace of the world, not because we are criminals, but because we speak against evil and sin by proclaiming the good news of Christ. We have to disturb that “peace” which, in reality, is false peace leading people to an eternal separation from God.
Peter and John were disturbing the peace. The captain of the temple was in charge of keeping that peace so his solution was to arrest them.
Undermining the monopoly of the Jewish rulers
Another reason Peter and John were arrested is that they undermined the monopoly and authority of these Jewish rulers and elders. I mean, how can these two unlearned fishermen challenge their authority? They are the true teachers, they are the leaders and rulers of the people, at least in their own mind.
This is not new, Jesus Christ was crucified because He also undermined their rule. We see this in the gospel of John:
John 11:47-50 (KJV)
47 Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.
48 If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.
49 And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all,
50 Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not.
Now the leaders had to find a way to get rid of these two apostles. These are the same rulers who were there:
Acts 4:6 – And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.
They thought they had gotten rid of Jesus but these men were saying that He is still alive. This makes me smile. He is back. In fact, He never really left :)))
Undermining the theology of the Jewish rulers
One last reason for arresting them is what Peter and John were claiming. These two men were not only disturbing the peace at the temple, they were disturbing their theology. They were claiming supernatural, healing miracles. They were claiming that a man resurrected from the dead. These were Sadducees who did not believe in the supernatural and certainly not in the resurrection of the dead. They will not let these two fishermen teach another theology.
The Growth of the Church
And so the priests and rulers of the Jewish people go on to arrest Peter and John. However, in the midst of all this persecution, we read this verse:
Acts 4:4 – Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.
So maybe the body of Christ is not growing nowadays because we are not being persecuted enough, we are not being thrown in prison for the name of Jesus Christ. We are not disturbing the “peace” of the world and getting arrested more often. The blood of the martyrs will always be the seed for growth. It is by going out against the flow that we shine as lights in the darkness. If the world is going more and more in the direction of its evil inclination if we are not going to stand against it, WHO WILL dear brothers and sisters?
The churches today are sleeping. Where is the fire for Jesus? Where is the true faith of the believers? May God forgive me, I am not claiming to be better. May God give us the courage to be half as bold as the disciples of the New Testament were.
The Trial before the Council
The next day after the arrest, Peter and John are brought before the council. This was the same identical court where Jesus has stood 3 months before. These were the same judges who cruelly put Jesus to death and the scene is strangely being relived. Annas and Caiphas are there among the judges and they didn’t change.
The two fishermen Peter and John are now standing alone against the most educated and most influential rulers and elders among the Jewish people. But they were not truly alone, they had the same Holy Spirit that was in Jesus also in them and the Holy Spirit will be their advocate during the trial.
Peter speaks before the council
Peter who was tested by denying Jesus three times before His crucifixion, is not going to be tested again. But now He is a changed man, He has seen the Lord Jesus, He has seen Him alive. He knows that he does not have to defend himself and he knows that the best form of defence is to attack. Strangely enough, John and Peter reverse the situation. They become the judges.
Jesus did this miracle
Acts 4:8-10 (KJV)
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel,
9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole;
10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.
First, Peter asks if John and himself are charged with a crime of helping a cripple. Second, Peter tells them that it is by the name of Jesus Christ who stood there 3 months before that this cripple is standing before them. This probably a nightmare being relived by Annas and Caiphas.
Peter was telling them that this Jesus whom they crucified did not go away. It is He who healed this man today. Peter is telling them that even though they crucified the Lord, they didn’t succeed because God raised Him from the dead.
Jesus is the cornerstone
Peter then quotes:
Psalm 118:22 – The stone which the builders refused is become the head stone of the corner.
Peter is saying to them: “This was about the Messiah; He is the cornerstone; you could not fit Him into your religion and your system; but He is the foundation, He is everything”.
The same happens today, Jesus Christ cannot fit into man’s systems. He can’t be built on man’s religion. He is not a system, He is a person, God, the foundation and the cornerstone.
Peter is saying to them: “If you couldn’t fit Him into your religion, it doesn’t mean He was wrong. It is you who are wrong and God is building the whole new temple on this cornerstone: Jesus Christ”.
Incidentally, Jesus said He will raise up a new temple (I want to give credit to a sister of mine who received this revelation from the Lord, thank you):
John 2:19 – Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up
The spiritual temple is built on the cornerstone who is Jesus Christ Himself.
Preaching Jesus Christ cannot fit into any religious system. Not Islam, nor Hinduism nor Buddhism. They reject Him because He doesn’t fit. In reality, He is the only one that works, all other systems don’t work and no other religion works. This is why Christianity is an exclusive faith. It includes anyone whoever calls on the name of the Lord Jesus and it excludes all other names. Any other name won’t save.
That is why any ecumenical movement and joining of religions will not work because Jesus would have to be rejected. This should be a stern warning to churches today. It is the name of Jesus that provides forgiveness. Forgiveness is through Jesus and we can KNOW we are saved. All other religions don’t offer any guarantee.
The Evidence that Peter spoke the Truth
At hearing this, the rulers and judges marvelled at Peter and John and recognized them. These two men were with Jesus.
Acts 4:13 – Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
Maybe one of the judges remembered that Peter denied Him and ran away. How can Peter change and become this bold? He is standing here before judges, the same judges and rulers who could crucify him as they crucified Jesus. But he is not afraid anymore. The rulers were astonished at Peter and John’s boldness.
This is the evidence of changed lives which is proof of Jesus’ resurrection. This happens today where Jesus can turn sinners into saints and cowards into bold martyrs.
A cripple man standing
Another piece of evidence: a cripple man STANDING beside them. This man never stood for 40 years. The rulers couldn’t do anything because of this man who was a living testimony without uttering one word.
Acts 4:14 – And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.
The new testament church always had signs and wonders as miracles confirming the truth of the gospel. I pray to God that He gives us more of these miracles today to accompany His saints.
What Could the Rulers do?
When seeing that they couldn’t do anything because of the cripple man, the rulers didn’t know what to do about these two fishermen. They could have repented, they could have accepted that maybe Jesus was more than they thought He was. His tomb is empty, they can’t produce the body 3 months after His death.
Of course, they refused to believe. They could not deny the miracle but they can deny the cause behind the miracle. They denied Jesus again and deny that is Jesus who did this.
They also decided to forbid Peter and John to speak in His name:
17 But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.
18 And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
This is what happens today, we arrest Christians, find out they are not criminals, then we create laws to make them criminals.
But Peter answers: “it is true that you are the judges, but I appeal from you to a higher court, the court of God”. These judges and rulers will have to answer to the judge of all men and His Son. They will have to decide for themselves as they will one day appear before Him.
Peter and John refused to suppress the truth. They will continue to speak publicly.
This should tell us something: we have to obey authorities today and the laws of men AS LONG as these laws are not against God’s laws. It is God’s commandments that we should obey above any other law given by man.
The Apostles pray for Boldness
After Peter and John are released. They go back and join the other apostles and report what has happened. We would expect in the world of today that they would ask God for vengeance or for safety. They did not even ask God if they should stop preaching but they asked only for two things:
29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,
30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.
31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
God joins their prayer meeting by shaking the building as if saying: “you are in My hand”. Another fresh Pentecost happens and they are filled with the Spirit. They begin to speak with boldness.
My friend, what about us? Are we going to speak out in Jesus name? Are we going to stay silent? Are we going to pray to God for boldness and for miracles to continue in the name of our Lord?
Are we willing to disturb this false peace of the world? Are we going to put ourselves on the line for Jesus? Are we going to care about others and their souls?
May the Lord grant us boldness too to speak out in that name, the name of our Lord Jesus Christ!