Lesson 15: Enter the Big Shots – Acts 4:1-12

by Pastor Ricky Kurth

You're listening to Lesson 15 from the sermon series "Acts" by Pastor Ricky Kurth. When you're done, explore more sermons from this series.



It was the job of the priests (4:1) to teach the people (Lev. 10:8-11), so they didn’t like it when the apostles taught them.  “The captain of the temple” (4:1) was supposed to keep everyone but priests out of the temple (II Chron. 23:1-9), but the leaders in Israel used them and their weapons as “muscle” to arrest the Lord (Lu. 22:52) and the apostles here (4:2).  So the captain didn’t like the apostles preaching Christ, for it made him look bad for arresting Him.  And “the Sadducees” didn’t like it when they preached “the resurrect-tion” (4:2) because they didn’t believe in the resurrection (Acts 23:8).

When the Lord was here on earth, most of His grief came from the Pharisees, because they sat in Moses’ seat (Mt. 23:2), and they preferred Moses to the Lord (Jo. 9:16,28).  So the Pharisees led the way in arresting the Lord (Jo. 18:3).  But when the apostles preached the resurrection of Christ, the Sadducees took over as God’s chief opponents.

Resurrection “from” the dead (4:1) is when one is raised from among the dead and the rest of the dead stayed dead (Jo. 12:1).  Resurrection “of” the dead comes when a whole group of people are raised (Jo. 5:29).  That shows how carefully and accurately the Bible is written.  By the way, men don’t like to believe in resurrection, for it means they’ll be judged (Acts 10:40-42; 17:30,31).

The arrest of the apostles was the response of Israel’s leaders to Peter’s offer of the kingdom (Acts 3:19-21).  But the apostles weren’t surprised, for the Lord had warned them this would happen (Jo. 15:20), unless they could figure out a way to preach the truth without making men mad.  But that would have made them greater than the Lord, for He couldn’t figure that out, for it can’t be done!  Men hate the truth!

But I’m sure the apostles didn’t care they were arrested after they heard 5,000 men alone believed (4:4).  That large group, plus the 3,000 that believed earlier (2:41), means they were getting way more results than the Lord got (1:15), something the Lord also predicted (Jo. 12:24).

This is just a sample of the awesome victory God will win over the devil because of what Christ did. He will “spoil” the devil (Isa. 53:11) of his captives (49:24,25 cf. Mt. 12:28,29).

Annas and Caiaphas (Acts 4:5,6) were both high priest at that time (Lu. 3:2), perhaps because they were related (Jo. 18:12) and the office was in transition.  When they asked the apostles by what “power” and “name” they healed the lame man, that shows the word power here means authority (cf. Ro. 13:1).  They were the authority in Israel, and they knew they hadn’t given the apostles authority to heal anyone.

You’ll notice they asked by what authority the apostles did “this” (4:7), afraid to charge them with healing a man!  But Peter called them on it (Acts 5:8,9)!  He was filled with the Spirit when he spoke (5:8) just as the Lord promised (Lu. 12:11,12).  We can’t speak with the Spirit inspiring our every word as he did, but we can speak graciously (Col. 4:6) which is just as important as speaking accurately. 

Peter knew they didn’t like hearing that their Messiah was from Nazareth (4:10 cf. Jo. 1:46), and that they had killed Him, and that God had raised Him, but he said all those things anyway (4:10) to bring them under conviction.  He then quoted Psalm 118 (4:11), the same verse the Lord quoted when they asked Him by what authority He did what He did (Mt. 21:23-42).  The Jews knew God promised to send a foundation stone that they were supposed to build the kingdom on (Isa. 28:16).  They refused Him, but God made Him the cornerstone of the kingdom church anyway.

Now when Peter concluded his message by saying that the name of Jesus was the only name by which men could be saved (4:12), we use that verse to say men can’t be saved by Buddha or Mohammed, etc.  But the Jews wouldn’t have thought salvation was in the name of Zeus or any of the other false gods of the day.  No, the leaders had asked the apostles by what “name” they’d healed the lame man, so they responded by saying the name of Jesus healed him and saved him.  The Lord did what they could see (heal his lameness) to prove He could do what they couldn’t see (save him) as He did in Matthew 9:5,6.

Video of this sermon is available on YouTube: Enter the Big Shots – Acts 4:1-12

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