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Summary: It was with great joy that Peter and John (and in all likelihood the lame man was with them) went to the place where “their own company” of fellow believers (the whole church) had assembled—and I am sure they were received with great joy.

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October 21, 2013

By: Tom Lowe

Series: The Early Church

Title: The Prayer for Boldness (4.23-31)

Acts 4.23-31 (KJV)

23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.

24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. "Sovereign Lord," they said, "you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.

25 You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:" 'Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain?

26 The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.'

27Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed.

28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen.

29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.

30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus."

31 After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

Commentary

23 On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.

I can imagine the excitement that prevailed among the Christians in Jerusalem when they heard that Peter and John had been arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin. The news must have traveled rapidly and the devotion and fervor of these early Christians would have brought them together to pray for the two apostles, just as they had prayed for Peter when Herod imprisoned him. (In Acts 12.5 we read that “Prayer was made without ceasing of the Church unto God for him”—and God answered their prayers by sending an angel to set Peter free. Read the account in Chapter 12, verses 1 through 19.) In all probability they had prayed for Peter and John throughout the long hours they had been imprisoned, perhaps with a great deal of fear in their hearts. To this company of believers, and in this atmosphere of spirituality, Peter and John told their story.

It was with great joy that Peter and John (and in all likelihood the lame man was with them) went to the place where “their own company” of fellow believers (the whole church) had assembled—and I am sure they were received with great joy. We can be sure they gave their Christian brethren a full report of “all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.” They knew that the hostility that was stirred-up against them was determined, confident, and daring; that it had stopped at nothing to silence the voice of the supreme Teacher, so now it would stop at nothing in order to silence the voices of those who were repeating what He had said, with the added argument and force of their declaration of His resurrection. The question is, how would the community respond to the threat of the council? The believers could have taken a defeatist attitude and knuckled under in the face of danger. Yet they did not react in this manner. They prayed to God for strength to meet the crises. On this day, and within this prayer meeting was concentrated the greatest power in Jerusalem. The prayer, which begins in the next verse is truly one of the greatest prayers recorded in the Bible, and it is a good example for us to follow.

The “chief priests” were a small group within the Sanhedrin, composed of former high priests and members of influential priestly families.

24 When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. "Sovereign Lord," they said, "you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them.

Please make a note that there was no idle talk following the apostle’s report of their appearance before the Sanhedrin, and there were no plans or schemes worked out to deal with the situation. No committees were formed to decide what the next move should be. No vote was taken to determine whether or not they should continue to use the name of Jesus in their ministry. This little band of Christians wasted no time, but “when they heard” the report of Peter and John, they immediately “lifted up their voice to God.” They turned at once to the Christ in whose name they had been forbidden to speak.

If you will study 2 Kings, chapter 19, you will notice the interesting account of Hezekiah’s response to the very serious threat made by Rabshakeh (mouthpiece for Sennacherib, king of Assyria) against the people of Israel. When good king Hezekiah received Rabshakiah’s letter, by hand of messengers, he read it—and then “went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord” (2 Kings 19.14).

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