Acts 04

Acts 4:1-10 Commentary

Acts 4:11-12 Chief Cornerstone

Acts 4:13 Peter and John

Acts 4:14-22 Lame Man

Acts 4:23-31 You are God

Acts 4:32-35 One Heart One Soul

Acts 4:36-37 Barnabas

Acts 4 Bible Study Questions 

In chapters 1-3 where are the scribes and Pharisees?

While Pentecost was going on did they hear the gospel?

Was the message from the disciples political, anti-Rome?

Was it new to the people?

What was the response?

ACTS 4:1-2  1 Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

Who are "they" (Acts 4:1) and where were they?

Acts 4 continues Acts 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.

Who is the "captain of the temple" (Acts 4:1)?

The captain of the Jewish temple guards. Most likely, he would have brought some of his guards with him.

Who are the "Sadducees" (Acts 4:1)?

Why would they be "greatly disturbed" (Acts 4:2) by Peter's message?

They considered the temple to be their turf, and "resurrection from the dead" (Acts 4:2) would have been particularly disturbing to the Sadducees, who deny life after death. (Acts 23:8)

ACTS 4:3-4  3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4 However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.

What was the result of Peter's message?

"Many of those who heard the word believed" (Acts 4:4). Acts 2:41 records the number of men who believed after Peter's first sermon as three thousand. Now it was "about five thousand" (Acts 4:4), which means the total number of Christians 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).

ACTS 4:5-7  5 And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes, 6 as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem. 7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”

Who had gathered "on the next day" (Acts 4:5)?

Wasn't Caiaphas the high priest?

See Annas and Caiaphas. Alternated as High Priest; Caiaphas when Jesus brought in.

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.

Why did they ask, "By what power or by what name have you done this (Acts 4:7)?"

They were asking at least about the power or authority by which the lame man had been healed. In addition, they could have been asking also about the power or authority by which the people in the temple had been taught.

Did Peter and John have cause for concern? 

The last time this group had gathered for something to do with Jesus, they had committed murder. We know that Peter and John lived past this confrontation, but standing before the Sanhedrin at this moment, the apostles could well have thought that they would be murdered as well because of what Peter was about to tell them.

They were arraigned the “next day”. What’s the hurry?

What did Jesus tell them to expect? (Matthew 24:9,  John 16:3, Mark 13:19)

Who were the judges? They were educated, but were they unbiassed?

Why ask the question? (Acts 3:6. Compare with Matthew 21:23)

ACTS 4:8-10  8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: 9 If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, 10 let it be known to you all, 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 stands here before you whole.

Does Peter mince words or try to sugarcoat his response?

No, he confronts them head on, even mentioning, "Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead" (Acts 4:10).

Who is empowering Peter? Wasn’t he already filled with the Holy Spirit?

"The Holy Spirit" (Acts 4:8). Power surge!?

What answer could the judges give to Verse 9? What sort of a crime are they charged with?

What was the answer? (V10) How does this make the judges look foolish? 

Did they give a retraction, excuse, explanation, rationalisation - or stick to the gospel?

What is their “proof”, authority, power all based on? (Resurrection)

ACTS 4:11  11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’

What is "the chief cornerstone" (Acts 4:11. Matthew 21:42-46)?

A building typically has four corners, and buildings back then were built with stones. The chief cornerstone was the first stone laid down on the ground at one corner of the building, which was then built by adding stones next to and on top of the chief cornerstone.

How important was the chief cornerstone?

If the chief cornerstone was laid even slightly angled, the whole building ended up at least slightly rotated on its own axis. If the chief cornerstone was laid even slightly slanted, the whole building ended up tilted and risked collapse.

Who is the "stone ... which has become the chief cornerstone"?

Jesus, who is the chief cornerstone of our faith, "for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:11).

Is this analogy appropriate?

If what you believe about Jesus is set correctly, the rest of the building blocks of your faith will work themselves out and your faith will endure. If you what you believe about Jesus is incorrect, nothing you add to it will correct the error and your 'faith' will risk collapse. How so?

Who are the "builders" (Acts 4:11), and why did they reject the chief cornerstone?

The religious leaders and teachers, who wanted themselves to be the chief cornerstone of what their hearers believe.

Does this still happen today?

ACTS 4:12  12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

Why isn't "there salvation in any other" (Acts 4:12) person than Jesus?

Nobody else died for your sins, and nobody else could die for your sins.

Why not? (No one else pure enough)

What alternatives do people come up with? Why do people believe such falsehoods?

ACTS 4:13  13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.

Who were "uneducated" (idiots) (Acts 4:13)?

Who were "untrained" (Acts 4:13) in religious matters?

So what right did they have to challenge the most educated and the best trained religious leaders in their nation? 

Who was educating, training and empowering them?

What hope is there in this for us?

Did Jesus get any credit?

ACTS 4:14  14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.

Who stood with Peter and John?

The lame "man who had been healed" (Acts 4:14)

What effect did the healed lame man standing with them have?

It validated their words, protected them against false accusations, and attested to God's grace and power.

Where had the healed lame man spent the night?

Either "in custody" (see Acts 4) with Peter and John, or he had gone home and returned the next morning.

What example does the healed lame man set?

When God does anything for us - healing us, calling us into His kingdom, etc. - we shouldn't walk away from Him. Instead, we should stand up for Christ, even against opposition, to both glorify and serve Him.

ACTS 4:15-16  15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 16 saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.

What should they do?

If they "cannot deny it," they should accept it and listen to what Peter and John have to say instead of trying to shut them up.

Is it common for people to reject truth because they don’t like it? Where does this lead them?

ACTS 4:17-22  17 But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.” 18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” 21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. 22 For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.

Did the Jewish religious leaders claim to speak for or against God?

Who claims to speak for God today?

Is it "right in the sight of God to listen to" them "more than to God" (Acts 4:19)?

Have you ever had to put V19 into practice?

What must every Christian read for themselves to know whether something contradicts God?

Why didn’t they punish them rather than let them go with a warning? (Healed man, crowds)

Are Christians told to keep quiet nowadays? Are people asking us to lie or be hypocrites?

Did they expect the crowds to keep quiet, too? Even the 40 year-old man?

ACTS 4:23-24  23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them,

What did the companions of Peter and John first acknowledge?

That the God of the Bible is God the Creator: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them.”  Note: “One accord”

ACTS 4:25-28  25 “who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, and the people plot vain things? 26 The kings of the earth took their stand, and the rulers were gathered together against the LORD and against His Christ.’ 27 For truly against Your holy Son Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.

What do they cite next in Acts 4:25-26?

The prophetic words of King David from a thousand years earlier and recorded in Psalm 2:1-2

And what do they indicate in Acts 4:27?

The fulfillment of that prophecy

What is reaffirmed in Acts 4:28?

That Jesus' sacrifice on the cross for our sins was according to His "purpose" as "determined before to be done.”

ACTS 4:29-31  29 "Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Son Jesus.” 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

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" and for more "signs and wonders" to "be done through the name of Your holy Son Jesus.”

How soon did God answer their prayer?

Pretty much right away, as indicated in Acts 4:31

Should we ask for God’s power to increase?  What if we do?

When facing persecution, do you pray for it to decrease or for the Lord to empower you to serve Him through it?

ACTS 4:32-35  32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common.  33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for (NIV: from time to time) all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need.

36Joseph, a Levite from Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means ‘son of encouragement’), 37sold a field he owned and brought the money and put it at the apostles’ feet.

How united were the thousands of new Christian converts?

So much so that they are described as being "of one heart and one soul" (Acts 4:32)

Were they of one heart and one soul only in words?

None of them said "that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common" (Acts 4:32).

Who prayed for them to have one heart and one soul?

Jesus, and that unity lent credibility to their message about Jesus: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me" (John 17:20).

Were they selling off things that they didn't really need?

, they were selling their own homes.

Who was doing that?

Christian homeowners: "all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them" (Acts 4:34).

Where did they bring the proceeds?

They "laid them at the apostles’ feet" (Acts 4:35).

Did the apostles keep the proceeds for themselves?

No, they distributed it to people who had more pressing needs than homeownership: "They distributed to each as anyone had need" (Acts 4:35).

Is this a passage that teaches socialism or communism or living in communes?

Was this at a state or nation level?

Did they sell everything they had? Were they expected to do so? (Example Acts 5:1-11)

It may have been in a year of Jubilee.  

Historically there are no other examples of this. 

We don’t follow most of the other events in Acts

Acts does not teach doctrine.

It may not have happened all at once but rather an attitude was set.  NIV says “from time to time” (V34)

Barnabas - companion of Paul’s

What lessons do we learn and apply from this? 

2 Corinthians 9:7

James 1:2-18, 27; 2:1-14; 5:1-6


1396 Modified: 31-08-2022
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