Acts 3:1 - 4:22This section deals with the healing of a lame man by the Lord through the prayer of the apostle Peter. First there is the record of the healing itself, then of the uproar it caused among the people and Peter's address to them. Finally, the first half of chapter 4 deals with the consequence... the apostles being brought before the Sanhedrin. The entire story is pretty straight forward and we shall do little more than note the sequence of events here.
At three in the afternoon, a man in his 40's (Acts 4:22) was being brought to the temple gate to beg at the time when people would be entering for prayer. The man had been crippled from birth. When Peter and John entered he asked them for money. Peter looked at the man and got his attention. Then he spoke. "Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk." and he helped him get up.
The healing was instantaneous and as he began to walk and jump about he praised God. Of course others recognized him and were likewise amazed. This caused a great commotion.
As people gathered in the place called Solomon's Colonnade or Solomon's porch Peter spoke to the crowd. The outer courtyard of the temple was completely surrounded by pillared balconies which created an upper and a lower level. These areas were apparently roofed and provided covered areas on the upper and lower levels. Along the Eastern wall these covered balcony areas were called Solomon's porch. They overlooked the entrance to the inner courts at the beautiful gate. That would have been the best place to look through and over the gates of the temple in order to get a straight-on view of the Holy place in the midst of the temple.
Peter's sermon is focused on these points:
This message is more complex than the one given on the morning of Pentecost. Just as then, the message is initiated in order to explain a phenomenon which has occurred by the power of God. Having briefly addressed the healing, (noting that it was not through his power, but in the name of Jesus), Peter Goes on to explain who Jesus is. Jesus is the one you crucified, but whom God has Glorified... this is the heart of both messages. Peter allows that they had "acted in ignorance," but calls on them to "Repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord."
Remember that Peter's audience is still all Jewish. The church was still made up of Israelites. There had not been an opening to the Gentiles yet. So his next statement is significant. "Repent... so that your sins may be wiped out... times of refreshing may come... and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you-- Even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything." Christ will return only after the Jews turn to him. He must remain in heaven until that time. Remember that Jesus said. "You will not see me again until you say 'Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord'"(Luke 13:35)
Peter appeals to the prophets, saying "all the prophets from Samuel on, as many as have spoken, have foretold these days." (Isaiah 35:6 says: "Then will the lame leap like a deer...") But he reminds them as well, of the consequence of unbelief. "Anyone who does not listen... will be cut off from among his people.
Deuteronomy 18:15-19 says:"The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Herob on the day of the assembly when you said, 'Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.' The Lord said to me: 'What they say is good. I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth and he will tell them everything I command him. If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account."
As Peter was speaking, the temple guard came to them and seized Peter and John and put them in jail until they could be brought before the Sanhedrin the next day. In the meantime, many who had heard Peter speak believed his message and were converted.
The Sanhedrin was the highest ruling tribunal of the Jews. Traditionally it originated with the 70 elders who assisted Moses, which was reorganized after the exile by Ezra. Under the Romans it had wide powers throughout Judea, though there were also local councils composed of 7 to 23 elders. Members were made so by appointment. Such appointments were passed along within prominent families of the Jews, both Saducees(Conservatives) and Pharisees (liberals), both priests (Sacrificial experts) and Scribes (Legal experts). This is the council before whom Christ was tried, and they were now met together to examine these two apostles, Peter and John.
The council asked "By what power or what name did you do this?" And Peter answered boldly in the Spirit. "If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, but who God raised from the dead... Salvation is found in no one else." Peter did not shrink from them as they probably expected. Since they had not intimidated him and they dare not punish him for a good deed which was so widely observed and reported, they could do nothing but release them. So they warned them to speak to no one else in the name of Jesus.
Peter and John replied "Judge for yourselves whether it is right in God's sight to obey you rather than God. For we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard." And so they went on their way. They were not inhibited by the threats of the Sanhedrin as we will see tomorrow when we finish our study of Chapter 4 and begin on Chapter 5.
God bless us all.
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© 1998 Susan Kliebenstein