Life-Study of Actsby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall consider 4:1-31. These verses describe the beginning of the persecution by the Jewish religionists. Acts 4:1-31 may be divided into six sections: arrest and inquiry by the Sanhedrin (vv. 1-7), Peter’s testimony (vv. 8-12), the Sanhedrin’s prohibition (vv. 13-18), Peter and John’s reply (vv. 19-20), the Sanhedrin’s release of Peter and John (vv. 21-22), and the church’s praise and prayer (vv. 23-31). Let us consider 4:1-31 in a general way and then go on to consider verses 11 and 12 in detail.
Verses 1 and 2 say, “And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, being greatly disturbed because of their teaching the people and announcing in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.” The “captain” here is the captain of the temple guard. The Sadducees were a sect within Judaism (5:17). They did not believe in the resurrection, nor in angels, nor in spirits (Matt. 22:23; Acts 23:8). Both the Pharisees and the Sadducees were denounced by John the Baptist and the Lord Jesus as a brood of vipers (Matt. 3:7; 12:34; 23:33). The Lord warned His disciples against their doctrines (Matt. 16:6-12).
The Sadducees were greatly disturbed that Peter and John were teaching the people and announcing in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. In 4:2 the preposition “in” denotes in the power of, and with the nature and character of.
Peter and John were placed in custody (v. 3). “And it came about on the next day that their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem, and Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of high-priestly descent” (vv. 5-6). This was a gathering of the Jewish Sanhedrin (v. 15). It was this Sanhedrin composed of the Jewish leaders that became the strongest opponent of the Lord Jesus and His ministry in the four Gospels and condemned Him to death (Matt. 26:59). Now it was the same Sanhedrin with its constituents that began the persecution of the apostles and their ministry in Acts (5:21; 6:12; 22:30). This indicates that Judaism had fallen into the hand of God’s enemy, Satan, the Devil, and was being used by him to frustrate and attempt to destroy God’s move in His New Testament economy for the carrying out of His eternal purpose, which is to bring His kingdom to the earth by the establishing and building up of the churches through the preaching of the gospel of Christ.
In addition to Annas the high priest, 4:6 mentions Caiaphas, John, and Alexander. Caiaphas was a high priest (Luke 3:2). John and Alexander may have been kindred of the high priest. In any case, they must have been dignitaries among the Jews, since they are named with the leaders of the Jewish Sanhedrin (Acts 4:15).
Acts 4:7 says, “And having stood them in the midst, they inquired, By what power or in what name did you do this?” Their question refers to the healing of the lame man in chapter three. Literally, the Greek words rendered “by what power or in what name” mean “by what sort of power and in what kind of name.”
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