WWI Medal of Honor recipient, Sgt. Alvin C. York
Friday, 4 February 2022
And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. Acts 4:33
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The previous verse noted the state of the believers as all being of one heart and soul, and that they held all things in common. Luke next records, “And with great power.”
The word translated as “power” is often translated as “miracles,” “mighty works,” and so on. In this case the idea is probably to be taken as the preaching itself and not as any demonstrations that went along with it. The word was preached, and the power of the word is what is being referred to. That seems both reasonable and correct when considering the rest of the words of the verse, beginning with, “the apostles gave witness.”
The word, as it is translated “gave,” is insufficient for two reasons. First, it is an indefinite verb. Secondly, the word itself means more than “gave,” but it more rightly signifies “to return,” “restore,” “give back,” and so on. In other words, the seemingly abrupt change from the previous verse is only so because the faulty rendering of this word now –
“Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33 And with great power the apostles gave [lit: were returning] witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.”
The people had decided to give up on claims to personal possessions, but what was to be gained from that? The answer is that they lived in such a way that they were the recipients of the preaching of the apostles. This wasn’t just a group of people benefitting off the converted masses, but there was a yielding of the people to the whole, and there was a returning by the apostles to the people, through the preaching of the word, a great and powerful understanding of what God had done in Christ, pointing “to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.”
This is the central point of everything that mattered. If Jesus was crucified and did not resurrect, that would be as common as raindrops in a monsoon. But the apostles had walked with the Lord, they had participated in His life and seen the power of His miracles. And then, they saw Him taken away under guard and they had seen Him crucified. And yet, they saw Him alive again.
They were able to bear witness to the resurrection because they had borne witness to it. With this knowledge, they could then tie all of Scripture into a book with meaning never even imagined before. Everything fits from the word when the resurrection of the Lord Jesus is properly understood. With that in mind, the verse finishes with, “And great grace was upon them all.”
The translation of these words is not complicated, but the meaning is somewhat difficult to determine. There can be one of several meanings, but the two most likely will be considered. The first is that the grace of God rested upon the disciples. If this is correct, it would be in accord with Luke 2:40 –
“And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.” Luke 2:40
The second possibility is that it speaks of the favor of the people resting upon the disciples. A parallel to this would be Acts 2 where the same Greek word is translated as “favor” –
“So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:46, 47
Either way, there was a state of grace which existed because of the situation.
Life application: The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus is the central point of our faith, because without these occurring there is nothing to have faith in. There have been innumerable spiritual leaders over the span of man’s existence, but their teachings are simply various aspects about what is right or wrong, what is morally acceptable or objectionable, and so on.
However, in the cross and resurrection of Jesus there is the indisputable evidence that God has favored His ministry, accepting it as the way to reconciliation with Him. Anyone can speak eloquently and with convincing arguments, but upon the death of that person, the stream of his knowledge and wisdom ends. This is not so with Christ Jesus. Rather, because of the resurrection, we know that His infinite knowledge continues on and will continue to do so for all eternity.
Let us hold fast to the glory that is found in Christ Jesus. May our lives be witnesses to others of what God has done, and what God is still doing, among the sons of men.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the surety we possess in our faith. It is backed up by the greatest event in all of human history, because You have so ordained it. May we be willing to share the knowledge of this wondrous story to any and all we encounter. To Your glory! Amen.