Our continued Tuesday morning study in Acts. We have reached chp 3. My notes are below.
Last week we settled into our regular routine, spending most of the time together on 2:42-47, and then on 3:1-11. Paul showed us how the early church began to function – devoted to the apostles teaching – fellowship, breaking of bread. Also, that many signs and wonders were done through the apostles, communal living, selling property and seeing their numbers increase.
We had a wonderful discussion on how we as a church today measure up to the fledging church of the first century.
Then we had an example of the signs and wonders that the apostles were doing – the healing of the crippled man at the Beautiful Gate. Begging for some money Peter and John looked at him and Peter sees something – or feels something which makes him go to the man and tell to stand up in the name of Jesus Christ – without fear of failure. And the man does.
At this point things begin to change rapidly for the Church. As John Stott has written, the good ship Christ-Church was ready to catch the wind of the spirit and to set sail on her voyage of spiritual conquest. But almost immediately a perilous storm blew up, a storm of such ferocity that the church’s very existence was threatened.
Let’s begin to examine what this storm was.
READ ACTS 3:11-26
What effect has this healing had on those in and around the temple?
Pandemonium! Imagine the scene – a crippled man who was as part of the landscape as the gate itself – so familiar to everyone, is all of a sudden standing on his own two feet! People must have been straining to see this sight – a crowd quickly gathering around this man and the two disciples. Notice Luke’s pastoral side here – he says that the man CLUNG to Peter and John – having never walked before; he may have felt a little unsteady despite being completely healed.
The crowd gives Peter an opportunity to preach. As Paul pointed out last week, this mirrors chapter 2 – a miracle and then a sermon.
Who does Peter say healed This Man!
OK, an obvious question but why is Peter quick to point this out? Peter IMMEDIATELY assigns the credit to Jesus Christ. It is easy to add 2 + 2 and reach 5. Peter and John take a crippled man’s hand and he walks – too easily could the miracle be attributed to Peter and John. How often do we, or have in the past, kept some of the credit for a work of God.
What is Ironic about v15 “and you killed the author of life whom God raised form the dead.”
A striking oxymoron from Luke – the author of life is himself subjected to death – and yet death could not hold him.
Does v17 excuse the actions of the people? What is Peter’s purpose in saying they acted ignorantly?
One of the things you learn when you study exegesis – the study of studying scripture, is that the Bible holds together – it never introduces a new topic without it having been spoken about before – Peter here is referring back to the Old Testament – and the difference between sins of ignorance – where forgiveness was available and sins of presumption, where forgiveness was not available – Numbers 15:27 .
What progression does the sermon take?
He tells them the bad news – they killed Jesus – despite the fact the OT foretold about Jesus coming – but the good news is that they can now repent! In order to appreciate the immense good news, you need to understand the depth of the bad news.
What three blessings would happen to those who repent?
Total forgiveness – v19b
Spiritual refreshment – v19c
Universal restoration – v20
How does Peter Present Christ in this sermon, as well as the Pentecost sermon?
Peter incredibly weaves a biblical tapestry which forms a thorough portrait of Christ – rejected by men but vindicated by God, as the fulfillment of all OT prophecy, as demanding repentance and promising blessing, and as the author and giver of life, physically to the healed cripple and spiritually to those who believe.
READ ACTS 4:1-22
The Pandemonium attracts some attention.
Who shows up to see what is going on?
All the important people – the Sadducees, and the captain of the temple guard, who actually had a priestly status second only to the high priest.
Why are the Sadducee’s Greatly Annoyed?
That the two disciples were preaching about the resurrection. Again and again the resurrection comes up – as Paul said a number of weeks ago, the resurrection is the key doctrine – Jesus was raised form the dead and the Sadducees rejected the resurrection as a doctrine. The Sadducees believed that the Messianic period had begun in the Maccabean period that was just before Jesus’ time. They were not looking for the Messiah. Therefore they see John and Peter as agitators and heretics.
Does Peter and John’s Arrest have any effect on suppressing the gospel?
Luke’s answer is of course not! 5000 men become believers despite Peter and John’s arrest. Luke emphasizes that the oppression of men does not hinder the word of God – some encouragement for us in our present situation.
Does the question that the elders as Peter and john in v7 sound familiar?
They had asked Jesus by what authority had he cleansed the temple. It all came down to authority. The ruling elders believed they had the monopoly on authority and unless they sanctioned it there was no other authority – or so they thought.
Do you see any irony in Peters opening remarks to the Ruling Elders?
Peter begins by saying how ludicrous it would be for such a court to have been gathered because of an act of kindness to a cripple. Peter is calling them out on the real reason for this court – preaching the resurrection in Jesus’ name.
Can you see a familiar formula he uses in his address to them?
For the third time he says “you killed him but God raised him up.” Rub it in peter!! It’s ALL about the resurrection.
What Do the Sadducees Notice About the Disciples?
They were unschooled. Does not mean stupid – but they had not been to rabbinic school – they were not ones taught in the law and yet – they speak authoritively about the law.
What dilemma do the Sadducees find themselves in?
Many witnesses have publicly attested to the miracle. The Sadducees are unable to reject the miracle – although they would have no problems rejecting it (even if they knew it to be true) if they could. This they have an impossible dilemma – they refuse to recognize truth – and that is a bad place to be. They can do nothing but let the disciples go.
See anything ironic or sad in v17?
They are unable to even say the name of Jesus.
What are these unschooled men who were with Jesus doing in v19?
They are teaching the ruling elders – it is better to obey God than man!!