Summary: 1) Arrest for the Redeemer (Acts 4:1-4), 2) Accusation for the Redeemer (Acts 4:5-7), 3) Apologetic for the Redeemer (Acts 4:8-13)
"Resurrected Redeemer" Acts 4:1-13 (p.911)
Everton Community Church September 16, 2012.
Conflict began this week with an attack that killed four Americans in Libya, including the U.S. ambassador. It was an organized two-part operation by heavily armed militants that included a precisely timed raid on a supposedly secret safe house just as Libyan and U.S. security forces were arriving to rescue evacuated consulate staff, a senior Libyan security official said on Thursday. El-Sharef, eastern Libya’s deputy interior minister, said the attacks Tuesday night were suspected to have been timed to mark the 9-11 anniversary and that the militants used civilians protesting an anti-Islam film as cover for their action. Infiltrators within the security forces may have tipped off militants to the safe house location, he said. He said an unspecified number of militants suspected of taking part in the attack have been arrested and that others were being closely monitored by police to see whether they are linked to a group. Now anti-U.S. protests have spread to 20 countries as outraged Muslims storm embassies in places from Tunisia to Sudan. (http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/09/13/libya-makes-arrests-over-deadly-benghazi-attack-that-killed-u-s-ambassador-official/)
In the midst of being called to account for the events in their midst, Peter and John in Acts 4 respond to the charges. Standing before political and religious leaders, these unlearned, uneducated fishermen, filled with the Holy Spirit, boldly proclaim the truth of Jesus Christ and the resurrection. Instead of apoligizing for offending their audience, they put the blame for the death of Jesus squarely on the sholders of the political and religious leaders. Instead of avoiding confrontation, trying to overthow the powers with physical force or just give them an answer they want to hear, their response is direct and truthful.
An undeniable sign of the indwelling power of the Holy Spirit is boldness. It’s the inner delight of a liberated person expressed in daring. In the midst of human impotence and the timidity of institutionalized religion, the great need today is for boldness in loving, forgiving, speaking the truth in love, and obedience to the strategy of God revealed to us in prayer. (Ogilvie, L. J., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1983). Vol. 28: Acts. The Preacher’s Commentary Series (87–88). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc.).
The apostles had a holy boldness. They were possessed by a great affection, a passion motivated by their experience of Jesus, His Resurrection, and His return in power in the Holy Spirit. Thousands had responded to their preaching of the gospel; a lame man had been healed; and nothing was impossible now. In boldly proclaiming the message of the "Resurrected Redeemer", Peter and John fearlessly showed who He is as seen through the: 1) Arrest for the Redeemer (Acts 4:1-4), 2) Accusation for the Redeemer (Acts 4:5-7), 3) Apologetic for the Redeemer (Acts 4:8-13)
1) Arrest for the Redeemer (Acts 4:1-4)
Acts 4:1-4 [4:1]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. (ESV)
Luke’s use of the plural pronoun they suggests both Peter and John were speaking to the people. Perhaps in the aftermath of the healing and Peter’s sermon both apostles were dialoguing with the crowd. Before they were finished speaking, however, the temple authorities arrived on the scene to arrest them. The priests were the ordinary priests conducting the evening sacrifice. They were divided into twenty-four courses and were chosen by lot to serve at a given time. They had eagerly anticipated their week to minister and were no doubt upset at the disturbance Peter and John had caused. Such a crowd gathered around Peter and John while they addressed the people thus in Solomon’s Colonnade that the temple authorities intervened. The “captain of the temple,” the commander of the temple police, was responsible for maintaining order in the temple courts, and he may have had misgivings lest the obstruction caused by so large a crowd might lead to a riot (Bruce, F. F. (1988). The Book of the Acts. The New International Commentary on the New Testament (89). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.).
The Sadducees were one of the four sects that made up first-century Judaism, along with their archrivals the Pharisees, the Essenes, and the Zealots. Although small in number, they were highly influential. They were the dominant religious and political force in Israel, since the high priests through that period were all Sadducees. The Sadducees were mostly aristocratic, wealthy landowners. To protect their political position and wealth, they firmly opposed any overt opposition to Rome. The religion of the Sadducees was largely one of social custom. They believed only the written law, rejecting the oral tradition so vital to the Pharisees. They did not believe in the resurrection of the body, or in any future rewards or punishments. In contrast to the Pharisees, they denied the existence of angels and the spirit world (Acts 23:8). Finally, they rejected predestination and the sovereignty of God, believing people to be the master of his own destiny. These theological liberals were the first to persecute the church (Jn. 11:47-50). Messianic ideas among the Jews of that day meant revolt, overthrow of the foreign overlords, and restoration of the Davidic kingdom. There had been such movements before (cf. 5:36–37), and the Romans had put them down. There would be many more in the future. In fact, the worst fears of the Sadducees were indeed realized when war broke out with the Romans in A.D. 66, with terrible consequences for the Jews (F. J. Foakes-Jackson, The Acts of the Apostles, MNTC (New York: Harper, 1931), 32.).