Sunday, April 19, 2020

Acts Study | Session 11 | 4:1-18

Today we pick up in our study in Acts 4 after Peter and John had been arrested and were standing before the Sadducees. Their arrest was the direct result of their insistence that Jesus had risen from the dead. The problem was that the Sadducees did not believe in the possibility of a resurrection.
His message will be interrupted in the next verses because they had offended the Sadducees. 

Chapter 4
VERSE 1-2: And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. The Sadducees were offended because they did not believe in the resurrection, so as far as they were concerned, Peter was preaching heresy. They also rejected any idea of spirits or angels. The Sadducees were the liberals of the day in that they were much more concerned with material things such as politics and economics. They also served as the high priests as descendants of Aaron.  

Their opposites were the Pharisees, their name literally means the separated. They were much more focused on keeping the letter of the Law and naturally tended more toward legalism. That may be a little too simple, but that is basically it. Paul exploited their differences in regard to the resurrection in Act 23:6-9. 

VERSES 3-4: And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide. Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand. Notice that many of them which heard the word believed. What word? The Kingdom Gospel. 

VERSES 5-6: And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, 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. Some will point out at this point a possible historical error here in that it says Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas. Historically, Annas was a high priest but he was removed and replaced by his son-in-law, Caiaphas by the Roman Governor. So, it appears to have been a family deal or that Annas still wielded a lot of political clout in spite of having been replaced. As a matter of fact, five of his sons served as high priests later. 

VERSE 7: And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this? Notice that they are still transfixed on the healing of the lame begger in the previous chapter.

VERSE 8-10: Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; 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. Peter, of course, knew that the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection and made no bones about throwing it in their faces at this point. He has certainly come a long way from that guy who denied the Lord three times. 

VERSE 11: This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. This is a reference to Psa 118:22. There is a legend that says that when they were building Solomon's Temple, the quarry sent the chief cornerstone, but he builders either were not ready for it and mistook it for something else. As it lay in the field and became overgrown, it became a stumbling stone to everyone who walked by it. Either way, it is a great example of what Christ had become to the nation: a stone of stumbling because they were not ready for him or mistook him for someone else. Jesus referred to this as well in Mat 21:42. The Prophet Isaiah prophesied of this in Isa 8:11-14. Peter also refers to this later in 1Pe 2:6-8. 

Peter is clearly, unapologetically, telling them that Jesus was their Messiah and, whether they choose to believe it or not, he had risen from the dead. At this point, it would have been nice if the Sadducees had just taken the time to question their assumptions, but they did not, like so many today. I watched a video with Rodney Beaulieu explaining that it is really futile to attempt to explain right- division without first creating a dilemma, i.e., an apparent contradiction.  

We went over some of these in our earlier study in the introduction of the book. Compare Act 2:38 and Act 16:31; Act 2:45 and Act 11:29; Act 12:11 and Act 26:32; Act 2:4 and Act 28:25. Any attempt to force right-division on them would be a waste of time. It is hard to give something to someone who does not think they need it. 

And there are more "apparent" contradictions that create a dilemma. Compare Mat 20:28 and 1Ti 1:4-6; Rom 3:28; Gal 2:16; Act 13:39 and Jas 2:24. Again, until someone sees these things, they will see no need for what we are saying. 

VERSE 12: Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Everyone who claims today that there can be salvation outside of Christ has deceived themselves and possibly many others. Jesus told the nation of Israel that he was the only way to salvation in Mat 7:12-14. This is both true through the Kingdom Gospel and the Grace Gospel. In Christ Alone! 

VERSE 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. Notice how they believed that Peter and John were unlearned and ignorant. Note: the word ignorant in the Greek is idiotes. Why? Probably because they were teaching things that none of them had heard when they were in seminary. The same holds true today when we say something they didn't learn in their seminaries, e.g., the Body of Christ was not born in Acts 2. Yep, that will get an unlearned and ignorant look for sure. Why? Because it wasn't what they were taught, therefore, we must be unlearned and ignorant. 

But notice what they did realize about Peter and John: they had been with Jesus! They might be unlearned and ignorant, but they had been with Jesus. Randy White points out that this doesn't mean anything spiritual but that they, as determined by their teaching, had been with Jesus. Either way, may that forever be said of us! 

VERSE 14-17: And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. Yet, for all of the unlearnedness and ignorance that they believed Peter and John had, there was a man standing before them that had been obviously been healed, and they could say nothing against it. You would think that this would be the turning point! Nope. In spite of all that they had seen, they still conferred among themselves as to how they could do to stop it. Seriously? Sad, isn't it. That filthy man will go out of his way to destroy and deny the work of God. Why? Jesus said that it was because their father was the Devil (Joh 8:44). The same is true for you and me today in that we constantly, or at least we should be, dealing with men who simply know not God (1Th 4:5; 2Th 1:8), pure and simple. 

VERSE 18: And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? Mike Lindell, the My Pillow guy, said the other day at a Presidential Briefing, "God put Trump in the White House, we should be reading our Bibles", and the heathen left went crazy claiming violations of the separation of church and state. Mainstream media, like CNN immediately cut away when he mentioned the word, God, by the way. Why do you think that our society does not like the name Jesus? You can say "God", but not Jesus. Why? Because the name Jesus is divisive for good reason (Isa 45:23; Rom 14:11; Php 2:10).

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