Peter and John Arrested and Released – Acts 4-5

In chapter 4, Luke tells us that the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees “came upon them.” The “captain” of the temple was not a military figure , but someone in a supervisory role to the priests and Levites in the temple. The text says that they were greatly annoyed because Peter and John “were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” This would be particularly annoying to the Sadducees, who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead (Acts 23:8). So they arrested the two apostles, and kept them for the night, as it was already late in the day.

But it was too late to stop what had obviously been God’s purpose that day. Verse 4 makes it pretty clear that the two apostles had not simply drawn the attention of a couple of dozen of temple-goers. Luke says that many believed as a result of their preaching and the miracle, and that the number of men came to about five thousand. So we can assume that upwards of 10,000 men and women had been persuaded in the gospel by that incident. Jesus’ church was growing very quickly indeed.

 

Peter and John were arrested. When they were released by the council, they went to their friends and told them all that had happened. What followed was what had to have been an incredibly uplifting experience, to say the very least. They start by praising God in a beautiful prayer, much of which is a wonderful model of prayer for us today as well.

 

The Death of Ananias, by Raphael

The Death of Ananias, by Raphael (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

When they finished, Luke tells us that the place where they were assembled actually shook! And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. God was giving His people everything they needed to move forward with the Lord’s church – knowledge, the Holy Spirit, and the confidence of knowing that He was with them.

 

In chapter 5, Ananias and Sapphira were telling everyone that they were putting all of the proceeds of the sale of their property to use for the Lord’s church. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, knew what had actually transpired, and rebuked Ananias for the lie, pointing out that it was all unnecessary in the first place. It was his house and his money, and he could have done with it as he pleased. Ananias collapsed and breathed his last breath upon hearing Peter’s words.

It was about three hours later when his wife Sapphira arrived, and Peter asked her whether they had sold the house for “so much” (Luke uses those words there because the actual amount was not important to the scripture). When she lied, saying that was the case, Peter rebuked her as well, and she also breathed her last breath.

The problem was not just with the lie itself, but with the intent behind it that showed an insincere heart when it came to what they were doing. God would have no such hypocrisy tarnish the unity and momentum that the Lord’s church had at that time.

 

/Bob’s boy

 

Bible Reading Schedule for this month
Click links below to read or listen to audio of one of this week’s chapters in Colossians and Luke

 

Acts 3, Acts 4, Acts 5, Acts 6, Acts 7

 

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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

 

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All of my comments in this blog are solely my responsibility. When reading any commentary, you should always refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Peter Doesn’t Hold Back – Acts 4

Luke says that the morning after Peter and John were arrested, the rulers, elders and scribes met together. This refers to the Sanhedrin council, of course.He mentions Annas as high priest, Caiaphas, John and Alexander. Annas was actually deposed in 15 A. D. by the Roman Prefect, Valerius Gratus, and Caiaphas his son-in-law, held the official position. But that seemed top mean little to the Jews, and so the two served together basically, with Annas still being deferred to behind the scenes as though nothing had happened in 15 A. D.

Wenceslas Hollar - Jesus before Annas 2

Wenceslas Hollar – Jesus before Annas 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

There are some who believe that the John mentioned here was Annas’ son, Jonathan, who was successor to Caiaphas. Others think that it was a famous priest of that day named Jochanan ben Zaccai. Alexander may have been Alexander the Alabarch, whose son married Berenice, the daughter of Herod Agrippa [1].

They brought Peter and John before them, and the lame man, who they had healed, was present as well. The council asked them “by what power or by what name” they had done this. Luke tells us that Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit when he answered. And in 8-12 he spoke in detail of Jesus’ death,  the fact that God raised Him from the dead, and how there is no other name by which we can be saved. Notice that he quoted Psalms 118:22, as Jesus did in Matthew 21:42::

…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. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. 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.

It is important to notice as well that this same Peter, who denied Jesus three times, boldly tells this same council that condemned the Lord to death that they themselves were culpable for the miscarriage of justice done to the Son of God. Peter was indeed feeding the Lord’s sheep; and he was attempting to feed the “goats” as well (Matthew 25:32).

 

[1] Flavius Josephus, Jewish antiquities 20.100-103

Schedule for this week
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from Acts here
Read or listen to audio of today’s selection from 2 Chronicles here

/Bob’s boy
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  

The Friends Greet You – 3 John

English: St. Jean'ın mezarı, the Tomb of St. J...

English: St. Jean’ın mezarı, the Tomb of St. John the Apostle, in St. John’s Basilica, Ephesus, near modern day Selçuk, Turkey. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

John’s 3rd epistle consists of only one chapter and a total of 15 verses. He opens the letter by affectionately addressing someone named Gaius. Nothing at all is known about him. Most scholars believe that John wrote this letter from Ephesus sometime after 70 A.D.

John again calls himself “the elder” in this letter – an appropriate title for one who may be at the time the last remaining apostle. The purpose of the letter seems to be first to ask that Gaius and the brethren there extend the best welcome and send-off possible to the brethren accompanying Demetrius, who delivered the letter. The other main purpose appears to be to give Gaius encouragement and advice, and to let him know what he has been doing on behalf of the brethren.

He mentions one who is causing trouble in the church, Diotrephes, and encourages Gaius to take heart and not to allow himself or others to either imitate or to return evil with evil. “Whoever does good is from God; whoever does evil has not seen God,” he tells his friend and brother. John indicates he has more to say, but hopes to be there for a visit soon. He closes by referring to himself and the brethren as “the friends.”

Perhaps that is the most important lesson from this epistle. Our brethren in the church should be our best friends – the most important to us.

(This year’s reading plan for Luke, Acts, and 1 and 2 Chronicles averages just 15 verses per day – 5 days per week!)
Schedule for this week

/Bob’s boy
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some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.

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Acts 4 – Peter and John Before the Council

While Peter and John were still speaking to the people who had flocked to hear, the priests and the Sadducees became “greatly annoyed” (verse 2).  There were several reasons for them to be disturbed over this sermon.  To begin with, the Sadducees did not believe in resurrection at all (Acts 23:8).  Secondly, they had themselves condemned Jesus to death.  As Campbell wrote in his commentary: “the great popularity of the gospel message threatened their political base, promised to hold them up before the people as murderers, as ignoramuses concerning the Holy Scriptures, and as deserving of universal contempt.”  Peter and John were arrested and put into custody until the next day.  But verse 5 says that many more who had heard “the word” believed. “The word” was the same as it is today: Jesus, the Son of God, has risen from the dead, and it is only through Him “by which we must be saved!”  The number of men alone in the Lord’s church now came to about 5,000.

Sanhedrin, Jewish high council chambers.

The next day, Peter and John faced Annas the high priest, Caiaphas and the rest of the Sadducees, and the elders and scribes, who asked them by what power or what name they had acted. Peter, who had earlier feared these men enough to deny that he even knew the Lord, was now filled with the Holy Spirit.  In verses 8-11, with respect but also with boldness of conviction, he eloquently told them that the lame man had been healed by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom they crucified. The reference to Jesus being the cornerstone, rejected by the builders (them) was from Psalm 118:22 and Isaiah 28:16.

After deliberating, the council knew they had no just charge to bring against them, but they warned them not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus any more.  The truth still meant nothing to the Sanhedrin.  But Peter and John would only say that they would have to judge whether it is right to listen to God or the council.  They would speak the truth.  The council gave them another warning before releasing them.  God, through Peter and John, had given these men the chance to repent and they chose to reject the Lord again.

Back with their friends they lifted their voices in prayer to God, quoting Psalm 2:1-2 in verses 25-26 and asking God to “look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.”  In verse 31, when they finished praying “the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.”  God had given His response.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Luke 9 – The Transfiguration

Mount Hermon is one possible location for the Transfiguration. Caesarea Philippi is near the base of it.

The first 27 verses of this chapter consist of details told in Mark 6 (sending out the Apostles, and the feeding of the five thousand) and Matthew 16 (Peter’s confession, and Jesus’ foretelling of His death and resurrection.   Jesus took Peter, John, and James with Him in verse 28 to pray on the mountain where they witnessed an unforgettable sight, as His appearance and even His clothing are transformed; and Moses and Elijah (representing the Law and the Prophets) appeared and spoke of Jesus departure “he was about to accomplish at Jerusalem.”  This of course , refers to what follows His coming crucifixion and resurrection.  Just as Peter speaks hastily again (verse 33), they hear the voice of God declaring what Peter had said – that Jesus is the son of God.   Peter assumed that Moses and Elijah would stay with them, but they were gone after God spoke, saying “Listen to Him.”  The presence and removal of those two seems significant, as well understand the scriptures today.

As Jesus foretells His death and resurrection in verse 44, verse 45 is one of a few verses that tell us how understanding and recognition was concealed from the disciples at various times until after Jesus departed following His resurrection (see also Luke 18:34 and Luke 24:16).  It is no small wonder then, that they began debating their own importance over each other.  Jesus settles the dispute with another statement in verse 48 that they would not yet understand  – “he who is least among you all is the one who is great.”  He would have more to say about this in Luke 22:26.

The lessons of verses 57-62 are in light of the urgency of the moment at which Jesus encounters them.  Two say that they want to follow Him, and He tells another to follow Him.  He tells one that he will have to make sacrifices in order to do so (verse 58).  The other two speak of matters important to them at the time that they want to take care of first (59, 61).  This was no time for other priorities; and though these instances refer to a more physical following, the application for us is the same – that following Jesus must take first priority in our lives.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.