This is Episode #318 and today we’ll read Acts chapters 4-6 together. For if this work is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even be found fighting against God.
Joy: You’re listening to Season 2 of the Lifting Her Voice podcast. This is Episode #318 and today we’ll read Acts chapters 4-6 together. For if this work is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even be found fighting against God.
Welcome to the Lifting Her Voice podcast, Season 2! I’m your host, Joy Miller, and I invite you to grab your Bible and join me – from the beginning – simply reading God’s word together. We built some spiritual muscles in 2020 with just the New Testament. But this year we’re going all out, cover-to-cover, Old Testament and New. So, whether with your first cup in the morning, your commute to work, or as the last thing on your mind before sleep, God’s Word will equip you for every good work. I’m really glad you’re here!
Acts Chapter 4
Peter and John Arrested
While they were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple police, and the Sadducees confronted them, because they were annoyed that they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. So they seized them and took them into custody until the next day since it was already evening. But many of those who heard the message believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.
Peter and John Face the Jewish Leadership
The next day, their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and all the members of the high-priestly family. After they had Peter and John stand before them, they began to question them: “By what power or in what name have you done this?”
Then Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders: If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a disabled man, by what means he was healed, 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 and whom God raised from the dead — by him this man is standing here before you healthy. This Jesus is
the stone rejected by you builders,
which has become the cornerstone.
There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.”
The Boldness of the Disciples
When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus. And since they saw the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in opposition. After they ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin, they conferred among themselves, saying, “What should we do with these men? For an obvious sign has been done through them, clear to everyone living in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. But so that this does not spread any further among the people, let’s threaten them against speaking to anyone in this name again.” So they called for them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
Peter and John answered them, “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.”
After threatening them further, they released them. They found no way to punish them because the people were all giving glory to God over what had been done. For this sign of healing had been performed on a man over forty years old.
Prayer for Boldness
After they were released, they went to their own people and reported everything the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together to God and said, “Master, you are the one who made the heaven, the earth, and the sea, and everything in them. You said through the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of our father David your servant:
Why do the Gentiles rage
and the peoples plot futile things?
The kings of the earth take their stand
and the rulers assemble together
against the Lord and against his Messiah.
“For, in fact, in this city both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, to do whatever your hand and your will had predestined to take place. And now, Lord, consider their threats, and grant that your servants may speak your word with all boldness, while you stretch out your hand for healing, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God boldly.
All Things in Common
Now the entire group of those who believed were of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but instead they held everything in common. With great power the apostles were giving testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great grace was on all of them. For there was not a needy person among them because all those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the proceeds of what was sold, and laid them at the apostles’ feet. This was then distributed to each person as any had need.
Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus by birth, the one the apostles called Barnabas (which is translated Son of Encouragement), sold a field he owned, brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
Acts Chapter 5
Lying to the Holy Spirit
But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira,sold a piece of property. However, he kept back part of the proceeds with his wife’s knowledge, and brought a portion of it and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
“Ananias,” Peter asked, “why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the proceeds of the land? Wasn’t it yours while you possessed it? And after it was sold, wasn’t it at your disposal? Why is it that you planned this thing in your heart? You have not lied to people but to God.” When he heard these words, Ananias dropped dead, and a great fear came on all who heard. The young men got up, wrapped his body, carried him out, and buried him.
About three hours later, his wife came in, not knowing what had happened. “Tell me,” Peter asked her, “did you sell the land for this price?”
“Yes,” she said, “for that price.”
Then Peter said to her, “Why did you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Look, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.”
Instantly she dropped dead at his feet. When the young men came in, they found her dead, carried her out, and buried her beside her husband. Then great fear came on the whole church and on all who heard these things.
Apostolic Signs and Wonders
Many signs and wonders were being done among the people through the hands of the apostles. They were all together in Solomon’s Colonnade. No one else dared to join them, but the people spoke well of them. Believers were added to the Lord in increasing numbers — multitudes of both men and women. As a result, they would carry the sick out into the streets and lay them on cots and mats so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on some of them. In addition, a multitude came together from the towns surrounding Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those who were tormented by unclean spirits, and they were all healed.
In and out of Prison
Then the high priest rose up. He and all who were with him, who belonged to the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. So they arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. But an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail during the night, brought them out, and said, “Go and stand in the temple, and tell the people all about this life.” Hearing this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach.
The Apostles on Trial Again
When the high priest and those who were with him arrived, they convened the Sanhedrin — the full council of the Israelites — and sent orders to the jail to have them brought. But when the servants got there, they did not find them in the jail; so they returned and reported, “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing in front of the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” As the captain of the temple police and the chief priests heard these things, they were baffled about them, wondering what would come of this.
Someone came and reported to them, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple and teaching the people.”Then the commander went with the servants and brought them in without force, because they were afraid the people might stone them. After they brought them in, they had them stand before the Sanhedrin, and the high priest asked, “Didn’t we strictly order you not to teach in this name? Look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”
Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than people. The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had murdered by hanging him on a tree. God exalted this man to his right hand as ruler and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.”
When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law who was respected by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered the men to be taken outside for a little while. He said to them, “Men of Israel, be careful about what you’re about to do to these men. Some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, and all his followers were dispersed and came to nothing.
“After this man, Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and attracted a following. He also perished, and all his followers were scattered. So in the present case, I tell you, stay away from these men and leave them alone. For if this plan or this work is of human origin, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even be found fighting against God.”
They were persuaded by him. After they called in the apostles and had them flogged, they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. Then they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be treated shamefully on behalf of the Name. Every day in the temple, and in various homes, they continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
Acts Chapter 6
Seven Chosen to Serve
In those days, as the disciples were increasing in number, there arose a complaint by the Hellenistic Jews against the Hebraic Jews that their widows were being overlooked in the daily distribution. The Twelve summoned the whole company of the disciples and said, “It would not be right for us to give up preaching the word of God to wait on tables. Brothers and sisters, select from among you seven men of good reputation, full of the Spirit and wisdom, whom we can appoint to this duty. But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” This proposal pleased the whole company. So they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a convert from Antioch. They had them stand before the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them.
So the word of God spread, the disciples in Jerusalem increased greatly in number, and a large group of priests became obedient to the faith.
Stephen Accused of Blasphemy
Now Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. Opposition arose, however, from some members of the Freedmen’s Synagogue, composed of both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, and they began to argue with Stephen. But they were unable to stand up against his wisdom and the Spirit by whom he was speaking.
Then they secretly persuaded some men to say, “We heard him speaking blasphemous words against Moses and God.” They stirred up the people, the elders, and the scribes; so they came, seized him, and took him to the Sanhedrin. They also presented false witnesses who said, “This man never stops speaking against this holy place and the law. For we heard him say that this Jesus of Nazareth will destroy this place and change the customs that Moses handed down to us.” And all who were sitting in the Sanhedrin looked intently at him and saw that his face was like the face of an angel.
Without question, the standout for me in these chapters is Gamaliel’s short but wise admonition to the Sanhedrin. Sidebar: Later, in Acts 22:3, we will read that Paul himself was “brought up at the feet of Gamaliel” to give punch to his history as a Pharisee.
When Gamaliel stood to speak in Acts 5:34-39, he had the rapt attention of the Sanhedrin. It seemed none of them wanted to be found to be fighting against God. Wise choice.
I would be remiss, I think, to skip mentioning the importance of the unsettling story of Ananias and Sapphira, also in chapter 5. The church was new, and it was critical that it started with a solid foundation of integrity. It is not that they did not give all the money they obtained from selling their piece of property. It was that they pretended to give all the money. And God was having none of it. A cautionary tale for all of us perhaps?
Let’s pray. Father God, You are awesome and holy. Help us never to take Your concerns too lightly. Give us hearts that line up with Yours, even if it costs us. Help us to see the bigger picture of eternity. Thank You for Gamaliel’s advice. Indeed, Your church has not been overthrown and won’t be. I thank You that this may have given the disciples just that much more confidence and boldness in giving glory to Jesus. As we read Your Word each day, Lord, I pray that it gives us that same boldness. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible(r), Copyright (c) 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible(r) and CSB(r) are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
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