Summary: Peter and John are emboldened by the Spirit to defend themselves before the Sanhedrin.

These Are not Idiots

Acts 4:5-22

Peter and John had been under great pressure before when Jesus was arrested by both the Temple guard and Roman soldiers. Peter made a temporary and futile attempt at bravado before he caved miserably. The two of them followed at a distance and came into the courtyard outside. John remained silent, while Peter, when confronted, denied Jesus three times. After this, Peter ran out and hid with bitter tears. John remained silent. He had failed also. Jesus called them to be bold witnesses. It looked as though all was lost.

But nothing is lost with God.After the resurrection, Jesus came to the disciples who had, as predicted, utterly failed with craven fear. they had locked the doors for fear of the Jews. But Jesus would not be stopped by the locked door. He needed to come to them. Over a forty day period, He convinced them that He had indeed bodily risen from the dead (Acts 1:3). He told them that they were to be witnesses, first in Jerusalem, then in Judaea and Samaria, and then to the uttermost parts of the earth. But they still were not ready. They needed to wait for the descent of the promised Holy Spirit. This happened on Pentecost. what a difference that would make!

Not long after Pentecost, Peter and John were coming to the Temple to pray, as was their custom. A lame man who had never walked was carried and set before the gate called “beautiful.” Peter and John commanded that in the name of Jesus, this man should rise and walk. The first thing the man did was to do what no lame man could ever do. He entered into the Temple. And he did not do this silently. He was leaping for joy and making quite a ruckus. He was shouting out God’s praise.

This provided an opportunity for the gospel. Everyone wanted to know what was going on. they knew that the man could not walk. One can just look at the deformity of his feet and know that he was not putting on a show in order to get donations. The people gathered together at Solomon’s Porch where the Rabbis taught. Peter and John had no rabbinic credentials to preach there. To the Jewish leaders, they were “agrammatoi” and “idiotai” in Greek. The first word means “without letters” or “having no credentials.” The second Greek word needs no definition. The only credentials they possessed was that an undeniable miracle had happened to the lame man.

Peter and John did not brag about their own power as some “Pentecostal” and “Charismatic” preachers do today on television. they centered everything on Jesus. This is how we know they had the Holy Spirit, as the Gospel of John quotes Jesus as saying that the Holy Spirit would not center upon Himself, but would rather lift up Jesus and make His deeds and teachings understandable. Even though we rightly assert that the Holy Spirit is equally God with the Father and the Son, the Spirit subordinates His role to that of Jesus, just as Jesus subordinated His role to the Father. Jesus did not come to speak His own words, but the words the Father had given Him.

Peter and John waxed bold. They told the crowd to stop marvelling at them and instead fix their attention upon the message. This was not their doing but God’s. Peter told them that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, their God, had glorified Jesus. They had betrayed the One whom the Father had glorified. The Greek verb translated “handed over” is the same one which is used for Judas’ betrayal. They betrayed a brother to a Gentile ruler, Pilate. They were responsible of killing the author of life itself. They commanded the people to repent as they had done this ignorantly in unbelief. (For more information, read “They Don’t Preach like this Anymore” in this archive.

The net result of this preaching was that Peter, John, and apparently the man who had been healed were thrown into a holding cell. They would be kept until the High Priest, some of his family and leaders could be assembled to try this matter. Peter and John were in considerable danger. The Sanhedrin did not think of betraying Jesus to Roman authority, contrary to the Torah. They would think no less about having them put to death.

It must have been a long night. Some people call jail “the cooler.” It serves as a time of reflection as well as a means of intimidation. Was it worth the trouble that they had gotten into to preach and teach boldly in the name of Jesus. The leaders hoped that Peter and John would repent of their actions and leave off teaching and preaching in Jesus’ name. they hoped that they would recant their error and receive the admonition of the leaders not to repeat such a folly. the leaders feared the wrath of the people, so to hope the fervor would die down seemed like a pragmatic approach.

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