Acts: For the Cause of Christ #7

Acts: For the Cause of Christ #7

Title: Arrest and Indictment

Acts 4:1-12

Prayer: Lord, as we come to this passage, help us to grow bold in Your Gospel. Help us to say as song says, “Christ we proclaim, the Name above every name; For all creation, every nation, God’s salvation through the Son.”


Last week we saw the healing of a man crippled from from birth. vv 1-10. This healing was not through Peter or John’s own power. This was done by Jesus’ power. We then saw Peter’s second recorded sermon in Acts vv 11-26. Peter address the crowd and explains that the miracle was done by Jesus of Nazareth. Peter used the Old Testament to prove Jesus is the Messiah. What happened next? This week will start chapter 4 and see what happened next. We start to see Jewish resistance to the new community in formal way.

  1. Annoyance and Arrested vv 1-4

Temple officials break up this impromptu teaching session. Who was there?

Priests – these men were part of whichever group or division was serving in the temple during this rotation. The priests were divided into 24 sections and rotated weekly for service in the Temple (Lk 1:5,8).

Temple Captain – This man was the head of the levitical police or temple guards. The Romans allowed the Jews to police the Temple themselves. The Captain was a member of the High Priest’s family and his authority was 2nd only to the High Priest in the Temple complex.

Sadducees – They were one of the Jewish religious parties. This group was very rationalistic, they denied supernatural concepts of angels or other spiritual beings as well as future bodily resurrection (Acts 23:8, Mt 22:23; Mk 12:18; Lk 20:27). At this time the High Priest and his family were part of the Sadduce party, so they had a lot of influence at the Temple.

Why arrest Peter and John? Peter and John were teaching and proclaim the resurrection. Whether this just about Jesus’ resurrection or that the resurrection will came because of Jesus we don’t know for sure; it depends on how a preposition is interpreted from the Greek. Jesus’ resurrection alone would validate the idea and undermine the Sadducees philosophy and standing. Christ’s resurrection was key to the apostolic teaching and foundational to Christian doctrine (1 Cor 15:12-19). This large crowd created a disturbance or a commotion. This teaching session was large, unannounced, presumptuous and led by two unknown men. They were arrested and held overnight. Not sure where they were held, if there was some area in or near the temple to hold them or if there was a public jail to hold them overnight. It was too late to bring them to trial. It was too late to bring them before the whole Sanhedrin. It was illegal to hold a judicial meeting during the night, though this law was blatantly ignored when they tried Jesus.

What was the result of the sermon? Though they could bind the Apostles, God’s Word cannot be bound by men. Many of the crowd heard and believed in Jesus as the Messiah. This increased the Church’s number to 5000 men. The wording here is only referring to men and not the people in general. This is also the last time Luke gives a specific number for the church.

Preaching the Gospel can ruffle feathers, but the Word of the Lord will not return void. You may only succeed in planting or watering the seed. The Lord knows who, how and when someone will accept salvation, He gives the increase. Our job is proclaim the gospel.

2. Apostles on Trial before the Sanhedrin vv 5-12

Who was there? The following morning Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin. This may have been the whole Council of 71 men. The council served essentially as the Jewish Supreme Court. This was a mix of Sadducees and Pharisees. Though at this time a lot of the power resided with the Sadducees. Their council room was probably in the temple complex.

Rulers – these were religious figures or priests with seniority

Elders – these were civic leaders, Tribal chiefs or family heads

Scribes – these were the men who studied and interpreted the Law.

Other specific people that were there were:

Caiaphas – He was the current High Priest officially during this time and was the High Priest the entire rule of Pilate in Judea (14-36 AD).

Annas – He was the previous High Priest and the father-in-law of Caiaphas. He was the patriarch of the High Priestly family and so was still called the High Priest.

John – This might be the son of Annas knows as Jonathan in history, he would become High Priest after Caiaphas.

Alexander – We do not know who this is, but it is likely he is part of this High Priestly family.

They had to examine ant teacher after a miracle to validate if the teacher and teaching were of God or leading the people away from God. This is based on Deuteronomy 13:1-5. They ask Peter and John to explain. This question, however, suggests that the leaders of the temple knew they had not given their approval to Peter and John to act or teach in the Temple. The literal translation of the question would be, “What power and authority gave this right to you?” With greater emphasis at the end with “to you”. They knew they hadn’t given Peter or John the authority, and in their view it was theirs to give or not to give.

The Spirit enabled the testimony of Peter. Peter’s answer comes from the power and authority of God, as the Holy Spirit again fills him. He will declare what and by Whom they did what they did. Peter’s remarks summarizes the themes of Chapters 2 and 3. He starts by reminding them that a “good deed” had been done to a crippled man. The term good deed refers to a service that is generally met with a reward instead of a court case.Peter takes the opportunity, led by the Holy Spirit, to declare Jesus before the leaders of the Nation. He knows that this is important if they give a verdict. The verdict would be on behalf of the whole nation It would influence the nation’s view of Jesus. Peter makes it clear that Jesus of Nazareth, whom this body of leaders condemned and had crucified was vindicated by God’s raising Him from the dead. The healing work was done through God’s Chosen One. They brought Peter and John into court and then Peter tells them that there is an indictment against them in God’s court. There is a cost for rejecting God’s Chosen One.

On a side note one wonders where is Joseph of Arimathea (Lk 23:50-51) and Nicodemus (Jn 7:50-51; 19:39-40) during this trial?

Peter uses Psalm 118:22 to make his point about the rejection of Jesus and God’s vindication of Jesus as Divine Design. Jesus used this verse in reference to Himself in Mark 12:10. Jesus was rejected by the same council of men. Peter is not quoting directly, as he added a few terms.

“By all of you” or “‘you builders” – this makes the leaders responsible for the rejection of Jesus as the Messiah.

The term used for “rejection” is not the term used in other NT quotes of this Psalm. This term literally means “scorned”. God used the what was rejected and vindicated it. God then used the rejected stone as a key part of His building. Peter is showing Jesus as the Living Stone as he uses the same verse in 1 Peter 2:4-8 where he explains Christians as holy people. Eph 2:11-22 Paul uses similar language to explain the universal church to the Ephesian believers.

The basis in the Psalm is the righteous rejected king. In Psalm 118 the enemy was nations opposing Israel. Here Peter shows the opponent is the Jewish Leadership

Peter is showing that Jesus is the only way, the only means of obtaining salvation. No one had better access to God’s way and revelation than the Nation of Israel. He goes on to say that there is no other name under Heaven with this power. Jesus is “the” name for salvation. There is no other person or god to turn too. The term salvation here in verse 12 is used in the full, spiritual sense. The visual illustration of the healed man supports the term salvation as a picture of deliverance. The healing points to the deeper reality.

The nation of Israel had the opportunity to accept their Messiah, but the Leadership rejected Jesus. God still wanted His chosen people to accept Jesus as the Messiah. That hasn’t changed in 2000 years. Though now the Gospel is open to every person, Jewish or not, Jesus is the only way to be saved.


Christian remember, preaching the Gospel can ruffle feathers, but the Word of the Lord will not return void. You may only succeed in planting or watering the seed. The Lord knows who, how and when someone will accept salvation, He gives the increase. Our job is proclaim the gospel.

God sent the Gospel to the Jew first, then to the rest of the world. Jesus was and is the only way to God. The only way, the only name by which we must be saved.

If you have questions, or the Holy Spirit is burdening you with something, or you have any other decisions please don’t wait, find me afterward if you need too.

“Lord as we now turn our focus to the Lord’s Table, help us to come away from this passage able to say, “Let it be my life’s refrain: to live is Christ, to die is gain; deny myself, take up my cross and follow the Son.”

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