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Summary: Peter & John were simple fishermen. When they gathered a following by preaching Jesus, the Jewish leaders judged them to be "unlearned & ignorant." Far from it! They were wise and learned in the most important things to know, the subject of this sermon.

The Smartest Unlearned and Ignorant Men in Town!

Series: Acts

Chuck Sligh

September 21, 2014

This sermon was inspired by and adapted from a skeleton outline in “The Most Valuable Men in Town” on page 71 of Preach for a Year.

(NOTE: There is a PowerPoint presentation for this sermon available upon request by emailing me at chucksligh@hotmail.com.)

TEXT: Acts 4:8-14 – “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, 9 If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; 10 Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11 This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12 Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. 13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. 14 And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.”


The title of today’s message is “The Smartest Unlearned and Ignorant Men in Town!” In our text we see that the priests and scribes had witnessed the miracle that Peter and John had wrought on the lame man in chapter 3. So verses 1-7 record how the Jewish leaders took Peter and John into custody, and the next day they questioned them about the healing of the lame man and their preaching of Jesus and His resurrection.

And what was their evaluation of Peter and John? Look with me again at verse 13. It says that they marveled, because they “perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men.”

That was their evaluation, but the truth of the matter is that these men, along with the other apostles, could do more to change the world than anybody in the world at that time! These apostles were twelve men who LITERALLY turned the world upside down!

One of them, LUKE, was an educated doctor. Another one, MATTHEW, was an intellectual. But the rest were not trained in the refined skills of the priests and the scribes.

Now, that doesn’t mean they had no education or that they were ignorant about life in general. Probably all of them received the standard schooling given all Jewish boys to teach them to read the Old Testament and to get about in life with life skills, including the Torah and basic science and arithmetic.

But they were not what people expected of religious leaders. They had not spent years in seminary—training and preparation for the ministry. They were, for the most part, simple, everyday, ordinary people with average gifts and abilities—and yet they turned the world upside down.

Why were they “the smartest unlearned and ignorant men in town?” The answer lies in the fact that their knowledge was in the things that really matter. There IS a place for scholarship and study and preparation and education. But the Bible also says, “knowledge puffs up.” You see, the important thing in life is not HOW MUCH you know, but WHO you know and WHAT you know best.

So today let’s take a look at these apostles and learn some things from these supposedly unlearned and ignorant men.

I. FIRST, NOTE THAT THEY WERE NOT UNLEARNED AND IGNORANT OF THE SAVIOR – Verse 10 – “Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.”

These men had been with JESUS!

Note the end of verse 13 – “…and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.”

They had known and walked with and talked with and learned from Jesus.

The world needs people who have been with Jesus.

• Many people know about SCIENCE, but few know the SAVIOR.

• Many know about MATHEMATICS, but not enough know the MASTER.

• Many know all about the MILITARY, but don’t know their MAKER.

• Many know POLITICS, but few know PEACE.

• Many know about SPACE, but few know about GRACE.

You know, it must have been a baffling mystery for these priests and scribes. The educational background of these fishermen was minimal at best—but suddenly they were public speakers and theologians who drew crowds many times the size of the priests and scribes. And what was even more confounding was that their preaching produced real and definite CHANGE in the lives of their listeners!

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