In Acts 4:13-22, the Apostle Paul’s friend and physician, Luke, says this:
“Now when they beheld the boldness of Peter and John, and had perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And seeing the man that was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, saying, ‘What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been wrought through them, is manifest to all that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. But that it spread no further among the people, let us threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.’ And they called them, and charged them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to [give heed] unto you rather than unto God, judge ye: for we cannot but speak the things which we saw and heard.’ And they, when they had further threatened them, let them go, finding nothing [for which] they might punish them, because of the people; for all men glorified God for that which was done. For the man was more than forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was wrought.”
In this passage, Luke records for us the results of the Jewish rulers’ trial for the Apostles Peter and John, including the results of Peter’s sermon for them. Using the rulers as the main subject of this passage, we may divide it into 6 sections:
- The Rulers’ Surprise at Jesus’s Disciples
- The Rulers’ Speechlessness from Jesus’s Divinity
- The Rulers’ Scheme against Jesus’s Doctrine
- The Rulers’ Strike against Jesus’s Discourse
- The Rulers’ Scolding from Jesus’s Disciples
- The Rulers’ Shortcoming against Jesus’s Divinity.
In verse 13, Luke records the rulers’ surprise at Jesus’s disciples. He says that, as they observed the confidence, boldness, or outspokenness of Peter and John, and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed, surprised, or marveled, and started to recognize them as men who had been with Jesus throughout His approximately 3-year public ministry in Israel and surrounding areas. Notice why they began to recognize them as having been with Jesus:
- They were confident in their preaching to them about their authority, Jesus, their admonition, or warning, for the rulers, and their appeal to the rulers to be saved by Jesus, and no one else, nor anything but His trustworthy reputation.
- Although they were confident, they were also uneducated, or without educations from Jewish rabbinic schools, and untrained, or ignorant of the teaching that was communicated in those schools.
The only explanation to these two conflicting realities was that they had been with Jesus, and had therefore been taught by Him.
In verse 14, Luke records the rulers’ speechlessness from Jesus’s divinity. To the aforementioned facts, he adds that, since the rulers also saw the man who had been a cripple from his mother’s womb standing with them in a completely healed condition, they had nothing to say in reply to Peter’s sermon. How had this man been healed? By the divine authority and power of Jesus. Peter, who was the man through whom the cripple was healed, said before he healed him that he was about to do it by the authority of Jesus, and he told the rulers in his recent sermon that the healing had been performed by the divine authority of Jesus, the God-man.
In verses 15-17, Luke records the rulers’ scheme against Jesus’s doctrine, or teaching. He begins by saying that, when the rulers had ordered Peter and John to leave their council, they begin to have a discussion, and ask themselves what they should do with Peter and John. Why do they want to do something to them? Because, they say, the fact that a noteworthy miracle has taken place through Peter and John is apparent to all who live in Jerusalem, so they cannot deny that it has happened. Nevertheless, they decide to warn them to no longer speak by the authority of Jesus to anyone, so that the news about the miracle done to the crippled beggar will not spread any further. Why don’t they want this to happen? Because they know that Jesus is the Christ, or Supreme Prophet, Priest, and King, which is why His authority is able to be used to heal people, and this fact of His identity is the central teaching of the Apostles, but the Jewish rulers hate this teaching, since they don’t want to depend upon the One who prophesied against their reign, who put an end to their priesthood, and who is their rightful King with a law that they hate.
In verse 18, Luke records the rulers’ strike against Jesus’s discourse. Having decided upon their course of action, Luke says that they summoned Peter and John to come back to the center of their council meeting, and then commanded them to not speak or teach by the authority of Jesus in any way. This was a sinful misuse of governmental authority, and was therefore another sin to add to their record of rebellion against Jesus.
In verses 19-20, Luke records the rulers’ scolding from Jesus’s disciples. Even though the rulers commanded John and Peter to not speak or teach at all by the authority of Jesus, Luke implies, they answer the rulers by telling them to judge whether or not God considers it right for Peter and John to obey them rather than God, which is obviously a chastening remark that shows the utter sinfulness of the Jewish rulers who commanded the Apostles to cease from speaking by the authority of the God-man. And why is it that Peter and John believe that it is right to speak by the authority of Jesus? Because it is simply impossible for them to stop speaking about what they have seen and heard. That is, it is impossible for them to stop speaking about Jesus’s life, death, and bodily resurrection from the dead, having experienced the fact that He is God Himself in truly human form, and is the One who will judge the world in righteousness, and who knows every sinful action, thought, and feeling done by everyone, but who died to be punished by God the Father for people’s sins, and proved it by rising from the dead in the same body in which He had died. Furthermore, He Himself taught that all who will change the way they think about Him, His Father, themselves, and their sins, and will depend only upon Him, His death for their sins, and resurrection for His forgiveness of their sins will be forgiven and granted eternal life. Having heard and seen this One, they cannot stop speaking about Him.
In verses 21-22, Luke records the rulers’ shortcoming against Jesus’s divinity. Although they had tried to get Peter and John to stop speaking by the authority of Jesus, and when they had threatened them even more to that end, Luke says, they let them go because they found no reason to punish them, but also because of the people of Jerusalem who were glorifying, or praising, God for the miracle done to the man crippled from his mother’s womb. Why? Because the man was more than forty years old. In other words, he had been crippled for more than forty years, but in an instant, by the authority and power of Jesus, and through the prayer, speech, and touch of the Apostle Peter, the man was completely healed, jumped for joy, and followed Peter and John in the sight of the people of Jerusalem, and then stood in perfect health with Peter and John in the sight of the Jewish rulers. So, his crippled condition was clearly permanent, but the healing was clearly miraculous, instantaneous, complete, and just as permanent. As a result, the people of Jerusalem praised God for the miracle that had been done by the authority of Jesus, making the rulers afraid to punish the Apostles, for fear that the people would rise up against them to defend the ones who had a part in the power that could perfectly heal such a cripple.
So, do you have confidence when you are speaking to people about the authority of Jesus, warning people about their sin against Him, and appealing to them to depend only upon Him for their salvation?
Do you make up for your lack of biblical education and training because you have been with Jesus by praying to Him or His Father and in dwelling upon words of His Word, the Bible?
Do you speak and teach by the authority of Jesus, and by no other authority?
Do you give heed to God rather than to people if what people tell you to do would be disobedience to God?
Do you speak about what you have seen and heard of Jesus from the Bible?
Do you praise God for healing spiritual cripples of their disease of spiritual death in sin by the authority of Jesus, and through the communication of the gospel?
Do you realize that the duration of a person’s spiritual death has no impact whatsoever in any way on the power of Jesus to heal that person of their spiritual death?
Do you understand why, if you are not already, you need to be healed of your spiritual death? The Apostle Paul wrote about it this way:
“. . . I make known unto you brethren, the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye received, wherein also ye stand, by which also ye are saved, if ye hold fast the word which I preached unto you, except ye believed in vain. For I delivered unto you first of all that which also I received: that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; and that he was buried; and that he hath been raised on the third day according to the scriptures; and that he appeared to Cephas; then to the twelve; then he appeared to above five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain until now, but some are fallen asleep; then he appeared to James; then to all the apostles; and last of all, as to the child untimely born, he appeared to me also. For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.” 1 Corinthians 15:1-9
This is what the Apostle John said about the gospel in John 1:1-18:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in the darkness; and the darkness apprehended it not. There came a man, sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for witness, that he might bear witness of the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came that he might bear witness of the light. There was the true light, even the light which lighteth every man, coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and they that were his own received him not. But as many as received him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on his name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father), full of grace and truth. John beareth witness of him, and crieth, saying, This was he of whom I said, He that cometh after me is become before me: for he was before me. For of his fulness we all received, and grace for grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”
This is what Christ Himself said about the gospel:
“. . . God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved. He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.” John 3:16-20
John the Baptist said this: “. . . he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on [stays directed toward] him.” – John 3:36
The Apostle Paul said this in Romans 2:4-16 and 1:18-32:
“. . . despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? but after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up for thyself wrath in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; who will render to every man according to his works: to them that by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and incorruption, eternal life: but unto them that are factious, and obey not the truth, but obey unrighteousness, shall be wrath and indignation, tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that worketh evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Greek; but glory and honor and peace to every man that worketh good, to the Jew first, and also to the Greek: for there is no respect of persons with God. For as many as have sinned without the law shall also perish without the law: and as many as have sinned under the law shall be judged by the law; for not the hearers of the law are just before God, but the doers of the law shall be justified; (for when Gentiles that have not the law do by nature the things of the law, these, not having the law, are the law unto themselves; in that they show the work of the law written in their hearts, their conscience bearing witness therewith, and their thoughts one with another accusing or else excusing them); in the day when God shall judge the secrets of men, according to my gospel, by Jesus Christ.”
“. . . the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousnessof men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness; because that which is known of God is manifest in them; for God manifested it unto them. For the invisible things of him since the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived through the things that are made, even his everlasting power and divinity; that they may be without excuse: because that, knowing God, they glorified him not as God, neither gave thanks; but became vain in their reasonings, and their senseless heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the incorruptible God for the likeness of an image of corruptible man, and of birds, and four-footed beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts unto uncleanness, that their bodies should be dishonored among themselves: for that they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshipped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature: and likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another, men with men working unseemliness, and receiving in themselves that recompense of their error which was due. And even as they refused to have God in their knowledge, God gave them up unto a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not fitting; being filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, malignity; whisperers, backbiters, hateful to God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant-breakers, without natural affection, unmerciful: who, knowing the ordinance of God, that they that practise such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but also consent with them that practise them.”
Speaking of those that practice sin, the Apostle Paul uses this quote:
“. . . There is none righteous, no, not one; There is none that understandeth, There is none that seeketh after God; They have all turned aside, they are together become unprofitable; There is none that doeth good, no, not so much as one: Their throat is an open sepulchre; With their tongues they have used deceit: The poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness . . .” – Romans 3:10-14
This is my appeal to you, as written by the Apostle Paul:
“. . . we beseech you on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God. Him who knew no sin he made to be sin on our behalf; that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20b-21
This is how you become reconciled to God:
“. . . if thou shalt confess [acknowledge] with thy mouth Jesus as Lord [Greek: kurios, or Supreme in Authority], and shalt believe in thy heart that God raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved: for with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be put to shame. For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek: for the same Lord is Lord of all, and is rich unto all that call upon him [depend upon Him]: for, Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord [who He is, what He has done, and what He can do] shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-13