Saturday, April 6, 2013

Acts 4 - Proclamation Leads to Persecution

LINK: Acts 4


BACKGROUND


There is another pattern you will see throughout the book of Acts: 


Proclamation (Acts 3) leads to persecution (Acts 4)!  

Of course the Sadducees did not want Peter preaching about the resurrection from the dead because they did not believe in it! 



In spite of the opposition, God's Word went forth and 5,000 believed! This led to an assembly of "Who's Who?" Jewish leaders some of whom we have already heard about in our gospel reading. Annas, high priest from A.D. 6 to 15 was there. In addition, Caiaphas, high priest from A.D. 18 to 36 and son-in-law of Annas was there. The Sanhedrin (ruling council of Jews) and various rulers, elders, and teachers of the Law who had been part of Jesus' trial were also there. 

The persecution of Peter and John led to further bold witness as Peter, "filled with the Holy Spirit," proclaimed Jesus to these religious leaders. He referred back to the Old Testament (Psalm 118:22) by claiming that Jesus, as the Stone that the builder rejected, had become the cornerstone/capstone of the church (1 Peter 2:7; Isaiah 8:14; 28:16), and there was no other name by which they could be saved!



The learned Jewish leaders were amazed at the confidence (2:29; 4:13, 29, 31; 9:27-28; 13:46; 14:3; 18:26; 19:8; 26:26; and 28:31) of such uneducated and unlearned men (the Greek word is IDIŌTĒS where we get our English word "idiot")! 

The leaders could not deny that a miracle had occurred but released Peter and John with a stern warning to do no more in the "name of Jesus."  Of course, Peter and John could not do this because they were only testifying to what they had seen and heard. They went out glorifying God that rulers had gathered against them just as the Old Testament had proclaimed (Psalm 2:1-2) and praying for more boldness to continue in the work God had for them!



I am going to include Acts 4:32-37 in the Acts 5 post because they are more closely related. 


REFLECTION


Recently, I found some handwriting practice papers that my son, Michael, did when he was in the fourth grade with some very appropriate quotes for today's post:
"The door to the room of success swings on the hinges of opposition." 
"The test of your character is what it takes to stop you." 
"You can do anything you ought to do."
"Blessed is the man who knows how to make stepping stones out of stumbling stones."
These quotations and today's Bible Book Club reading have blessed me as I have faced some opposition in the ministry that God has given me to do!  I want to have the confidence and courage that Peter and John had. 


APPLICATION


Are you experiencing opposition in the ministry that God has given you to do? Let today's reading encourage you too! Look up all the references in the background post related to the confidence and courage of the early disciples.


PRAYER


Lord, help us to not let our hearts be troubled but trust in You because You have overcome the world (John 16:33). Help us to move forward with courage. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen. 
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