Term 3 – Week 3
Big Idea – The proclamation of the gospel brings opposition, but the Holy Spirit gives God’s people boldness.
See that even in the face of opposition Peter & John still witnessed boldly through the power of the Spirit because they knew God was boss over everything.
- Belief – Telling people about Jesus will cause opposition because people don’t believe
- Behaviour – Keep speaking about Jesus with boldness because ‘salvation is found in no one else’
In Acts 2-3 we see that the restoration of Israel had begun in Jerusalem, as many people responded in faith to the preaching of Jesus (Acts 1:8). Acts 3 begins with an example of a gospel-testifying sign – as an older paralysed man was healed instantly ‘in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.’ This sign caused a great stir in Jerusalem, but Peter is at pains to point out that it is in the name of Jesus this has happened. He starkly points out that this Jesus is the one they killed, but who has been raised. Faith in Jesus is what healed him. Peter calls them to repent from their ignorance and sin, and to turn back to the God of their ‘fathers’. He is speaking to Jewish people, explaining that Jesus is the fulfilment of their religion.
Now, however, we aren’t just met with widespread repentance (as in 2:41 and 2:47). As well as repentance and belief (4:4), we see opposition, just as Jesus faced. The leaders of the Old Israel (the Pharisees & Sadducees) stood in opposition to the gospel. There problem was two-fold; they had a problem with the authority of the apostles teaching ‘the people’ in the name of Jesus, and they proclaim in Jesus the resurrection of the dead (Acts 4:2). So they arrest Peter & John and put them in prison. They want to know how the apostles will respond to the ‘what power’ question (4:7) – so Peter responds (through the Holy Spirit) in a similar fashion to 3:12-16. The healing was done in the power of Jesus. This Jesus is the capstone, the Messiah to whom rejection was predicted by the prophets but who is ultimately glorified. What is the conclusion of the bold speech? Not self-defence but a proclamation of salvation: ‘Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved’. The healing points to the name by which salvation is found.
The leaders are astonished at the courage and clarity of the apostles – we know this is the Holy Spirit working in these ‘unschooled men.’ What an encouragement this is for us! The Sanhedrin are astonished and realise that while they can’t hide this sign, they can ask them to be silent (4:16-27). However, Peter and John refuse to be silent, God is their authority (Matt 28:19), and they cannot help being witnesses to ‘what we have seen and heard.’ They are let go (this time).
How will this young and fragile early church respond to this first sign of opposition? Will they shrink back and be disheartened? No! As they join in prayer together they remind themselves:
a) God is the sovereign Lord, nothing happens apart from his control (4:24),
b) opposition to the Lord and his Messiah is to be expected by the apostles and predited by the Old Testament (4:26) – notice how the early church see Jesus as the ultimate ‘anointed one’ in Psalm 2, helping shape how we read the Old Testament
c) they ask for boldness to continue proclaiming the gospel in spite of opposition. The Holy Spirit makes his presence felt – enabling them to speak boldly.
8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”Acts 1v8
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