Study Notes on Acts 4:1 – 12
Under Pressure For Believing In Christ

A) The Arrest (Acts 4:1 – 4)

“​ And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them, greatly annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. But many of those who had heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand.” Acts 4:1 – 4

The Sadducees Had Control over the Temple:

They were distinguished by several characteristics:

  • a disbelief in a bodily resurrection and a denial of the existence of angels or spirits – they believed in only the Pentateuch (first 5 books of Moses)
  • loyal to the Roman government, and a desire to maintain the status quo;
  • an association with the wealthy class;

Peter and John were directly challenging the Sadducees authority and doctrine:

  • Caiaphas had called for Christ’s death
  • They were now saying the resurrected Jesus had healed the man

Christ gives the strength to stand under persecution

“But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name’s sake. This will be your opportunity to bear witness. Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer, for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.” Luke 12:12 – 15

Peter and John were chained, but the word of God was not

B) The Trial (Acts 4: 5 – 7)

“On the next day their rulers and elders and scribes gathered together in Jerusalem, with Annas the high priest and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. And when they had set them in the midst, they inquired, ‘By what power or by what name did you do this?’” Acts 4:5 – 7

The Family of Annas

  • Annas had been high priest from AD 6 – 15, but had been deposed by the Roman governor Valerius
  • The next 7 high priests were 5  of Annas’ sons, his son in law Caiaphas and his grandson (John and Alexander were sons of Annas)

Healing through any other power than the true Lord

“If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams. For the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear him and keep his commandments and obey his voice, and you shall serve him and hold fast to him. But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God” Deuteronomy 13:1 –  5a

  • This court was the Sanhedrin, they previously condemned Christ to death, and would condemn Stephen to death (Acts 7:54 – 60)
  • If they thought the miracle was not from God, it could get difficult for Peter and John …

Powerful people who benefit from the secular powers and want to maintain the status quo, who believe only part of God’s word denying much of His truth and persecuting those who take God at His word – are nothing new!

C) The Defence (Acts 4:8 – 12)

“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been 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, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.’” Acts 4: 8 – 12

  • Compare with Peter originally denying Christ – the difference is the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit!
  • All Israel should know that this man has been healed by the power of the crucified and resurrected Jesus Christ of Nazareth

Salvation is Jesus name alone:

“All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.” Matt. 11:27

“Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:18

“Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

“Whoever has the Son has life; whoever does not have the Son of God does not have life.” 1 John 5:12

God will be our help and strength when we need it most, especially when defending our faith in Christ

The builders rejected the capstone

19Open to me the gates of righteousness, that I may enter through them and give thanks to the Lord.
20This is the gate of the Lord; the righteous shall enter through it.
21I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation.
22The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.
23This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes.
24This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it.”

Psalm 118:19 – 24

  • Psalm 118 was sung at the Passover, and the last psalm Jesus sang at the Last Supper with His disciples before they left for Gethsemane (Mt 26:30)
  • The people approach the God of righteousness who answers their request for salvation, but why was the rejected stone marvellous in their eyes?
  • The rejected stone could not be ignored, it was the only path to blessing
  • Had Israel, including its leaders accepted Christ, then they may have avoided the destruction Rome brought on Jerusalem.

“But when covetousness, pride, or any corrupt passion, rules within, men shut their eyes, and close their hearts, in enmity against the light; considering all as ignorant and unlearned, who desire to know nothing in comparison with Christ crucified.” Matthew Henry

Christ is the core of our salvation – without Him there is no salvation at all

D) Summary of Main Lessons

  1. Peter and John were chained, but the word of God was not
  2. Powerful people who benefit from the secular powers and want to maintain the status quo, who believe only part of God’s word denying much of His truth and persecuting those who take God at His word – are nothing new!
  3. God will be our help and strength when we need it most, especially when defending our faith in Christ
  4. Christ is the core of our salvation – without Him there is no salvation at all