Acts 4 Bible Study
Who are "they" (Acts 4:1) and where were they?
It's Peter and John. Acts chapter 4 is the continuation from chapter 3, in which Peter and John healed a lame man in the name of Jesus, and then preached the Gospel to the people who gathered at Solomon's Porch, the wood-roofed, double columned area that runs along the eastern edge of the temple area.
Who is the "captain of the temple" (Acts 4:1)?
The captain of the temple guards. Most likely, he would have brought some of his guards with him.
Who are the "Sadducees" (Acts 4:1)?
Sadducees were another ruling religious sect in Israel. The chief priests were Sadducees, as were many members of the Sanhedrin. Sadducees were wealthy, powerful and collaborated with the Romans to retain their wealth and power. And unlike the Pharisees, Sadducees only believed in the first five books of the Old Testament, and didn't believe there was life after death.
Why would they be "greatly disturbed" (Acts 4:2) with Peter's message?
"Resurrection of the dead" (Acts 4:2) would have been disturbing to those who denied life after death, and the rest of Peter's message, preached in their temple precinct, wouldn't have been any more pleasing to their ears.
What was the result of Peter's message?
"Many of those who heard the word believed" (Acts 4:4). Acts chapter 2 records the number of men who believed after Peter's first sermon at three thousand. Now it was up to "about five thousand" (Acts 4:4), which means the total number of believers, including women and children would have been in the five figures.
What happened to Peter and John?
They were arrested and put "in custody until the next day" (Acts 4:3).
Who had gathered "on the next day" (Acts 4:5)?
Wasn't Caiaphas the high priest?
Please read the discussion in John 18 about who between Annas and Caiaphas was the real high priest.
Who are "John and Alexander" (Acts 4:6)?
The "John" named in this passage is most likely Annas' son who succeeded Caiaphas as the "official" high priest in 37 AD. Not much is known about Alexander.
What were they asking with, "By what power or by what name have you done this (Acts 4:7)?"
They may have been asking by what power or authority they had taught the people or healed the lame man, or both.
Did Peter and John have cause for concern?
The last time these same people had gathered for something to do with Jesus, they had committed murder. We know that Peter and John lived on, but standing before the Sanhedrin at this moment, they could well have thought that they would be killed as well because of what Peter was about to tell them.
Does Peter mince words or try to sugarcoat his response?
No, he confronts them straight on, even mentioning, "Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead."
Can we be saved by someone other than Jesus?
No, "Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved."
Who really spoke here?
Since Peter was "filled with the Holy Spirit", the Holy Spirit was speaking through Peter.
Could the Holy Spirit speak likewise today or is such speech confined to this case above?
He speaks likewise today as well: "And Jesus, answering them, began to say: “Take heed that no one deceives you. For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am He,’ and will deceive many. But when you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be troubled; for such things must happen, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be earthquakes in various places, and there will be famines and troubles. These are the beginnings of sorrows. “But watch out for yourselves, for they will deliver you up to councils, and you will be beaten in the synagogues. You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit." (Mark 13:5-11)
What is meant by Acts 4:11?
Jesus, who "was rejected by you builders" is the "chief cornerstone", which is the first stone placed on the ground to build the foundation for a building.
How important is the chief cornerstone?
If the chief cornerstone is laid at even a slightly erroneous angle, the rest of the foundation and everything built on top of it ends up angled erroneously. Likewise, if the chief cornerstone of someone's faith is something other than Jesus Christ, the Word of God, that person's faith is angled erroneously at best.
How did they know that Peter and John "had been with Jesus"?
The high priest already knew John - "Then the other disciple, who was known to the high priest" (John 18:16) - and Peter had followed John into the high priest's house as well and made known by famously denying Jesus three times.
Who stood with Peter and John?
The lame "man who had been healed."
Where had he spent the night?
Either he spent the night in custody with Peter and John, or he had gone home and returned to the temple precinct the next morning. Either way, he presented himself as a testimony of what God had done for him.
What example does he set?
When God does anything for us - healing us, calling us to be part of his kingdom, etc. - we shouldn't walk away from God. Instead, we should stand up for God, even in harm’s way, to be used by Him.
What's wrong with the Sanhedrin members' statement in Acts 4:16-17?
If they "cannot deny it", they should accept it and listen to Peter and John instead of trying to shut them up.
What do the companions of Peter and John acknowledge to open this prayer?
God as the divine Creator of "heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them."
What do they refer to next in Acts 4:25-26?
The prophetic words of King David from 1000 years earlier and recorded in Psalm 2:1-2, which they quote.
And what do they indicate in Acts 4:27?The fulfillment of that prophecy.
What is reaffirmed in Acts 4:28?
That Jesus sacrificed Himself according to His "purpose" as "determined before to be done."
What don't they ask for in Acts 4:29-30?
They don't ask for the persecution - "threats" - to decrease. Instead, they ask for God's empowerment to increase so that "with all boldness they may speak Your word."
How soon did God answer their prayer?
Pretty much right away, as indicated in Acts 4:31.
How realistic is it for us to declare today that our possession aren't our own?
It is the reality. Everything in the world, even our next breath, is God's possession.
Are Christians really meant to share "all things in common"?
Jesus commanded, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." (John 13:34-35) Loving someone as yourself includes meeting their needs with what you have.
What is the result of disobeying this commandment?
Millions of Christians continue to live in poverty today, particularly in the developing world, and those who hold onto their wealth, particularly in the developed world, disqualify themselves as "disciples" of Jesus as He defined it above.
Where did they bring the proceeds from the sale of their possessions?
They "laid them at the apostles’ feet."
Did the apostles use it to enrich themselves?
No, "They distributed to each as anyone had need", and this is an example to be heeded today by anyone who wishes to qualify himself as a "disciple" of Jesus, let alone a Christian leader.