Acts 4:23

Barn on York property.

Tuesday, 25 January 2022

And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. Acts 4:23

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

With Peter and John officially released from the custody of the council, Luke records what immediately follows, saying, “And being let go, they went to their own companions.” The word “companions” is inserted. The Greek word, translated as “own,” can be a district, people, family, home, etc. It is a word designating something uniquely one’s own possession.

As such, a word like people, group, family, companion, or so on is appropriate. They were with an unfamiliar group, and they immediately returned to their own group. The lines are clearly drawn, and they show that even if all are of Israel, there is an unmistakable separation between the two. Once there, they “reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.”

In these words, there is a designation, chief priests, not noted in the earlier account. Instead, there it mentioned the rulers, elders, and scribes, as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander. The word has been used throughout the gospels, and it may be a way of referring to the priests who were serving or who had served as the high priest. The selection of high priests was as much of a political one as anything else. Rather than there being one high priest until his death, they were appointed by their rulers at this time.

Another possibility is that these were the leaders of the twenty-four courses of priests that were originally set up at the time of David to minister throughout the year in the temple complex. That division is found in 1 Chronicles 24.

Life application: The apostles have been commanded to not speak nor teach anymore in the name of Jesus. That is a part of what will be conveyed to the group that Peter and John have returned to. This is a time that probably caused them some consternation, and so the very first thing they have done is to gather with other believers and discuss what occurred.

There is a lesson for us in this, which is to seek the counsel of other believers when we are facing matters of great importance. In doing this, we can get a better sense of what to do because our own thoughts might be clouded by the events hemming us in. Others, however, can add in thoughts that have been unaffected by our own circumstances. This is stated early on in the book of Proverbs –

“A wise man will hear and increase learning,
And a man of understanding will attain wise counsel.” Proverbs 1:5

And again –

“Where there is no counsel, the people fall;
But in the multitude of counselors there is safety.” Proverbs 11:14

Let us take advantage of the wise counsel of others in order to make right decisions concerning the large and important matters we face. In doing so, we will surely avoid many pitfalls as we wind our way through life.

Lord God, may we be wise in how we conduct our affairs before You. When we face really important matters that can affect the direction of our lives, help us to use wisdom and seek out good advice when it is necessary. Lead us to do this. Your word shows that this is a good and proper path, and so may we take it and be spared the ills of going it alone! Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Acts 4:22

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Sgt York’s tractor for use on the home spread

Monday, 24 January 2022

For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed. Acts 4:22

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

In the previous verse, the council had found no way of punishing Peter and John, having been worried about the reaction of the people because they all understood that God was the source of the healing. The reason for this is now noted by Luke, saying, “For the man was over forty years old.”

In his usual meticulous fashion, the age of the man is carefully recorded by Luke. This, combined with Acts 3:2, shows the stunning nature of the miracle –

And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb … For the man was over forty years old.

He bore his defect even from before the day of his birth, he was now over forty years old, and he was instantaneously healed of his affliction. The impossibility of what occurred, apart from it being the work of God, was clearly evidenced and noted by the people. No other explanation would suffice. Hence, the next words of Luke are provided, which say, “on whom this miracle.”

As in verse 4:16, rather than the word “miracle,” it is the word sémeion, and is to be translated as “sign.” The event was miraculous, but it also carried with it the intent of identifying Israel’s Messiah. It is a sign because it points directly to this fact. It is a confirmation that Jesus is the Messiah to the house of Israel.

The beggar did not have faith to be healed. In fact, he did nothing. Peter simply saw him and healed him. It was a miracle that is a sign for all of Israel, including the council, to recognize and understand that Christ Jesus is the fulfillment of the prophetic utterances of Scripture, including the words of Isaiah 35 –

“Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
And the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.
Then the lame shall leap like a deer,
And the tongue of the dumb sing.” Isaiah 35:5, 6

With this understood, the sign is next described as one “of healing.” The word here, iasis, is the noun form – “a healing” – found only in Luke’s writings. It is seen in Luke 13:32, here, and once again in Acts 4:30. It is a word carrying the idea of supernatural healing.

The sign had been performed, and it was one of healing that pointed directly to the work of God in Christ Jesus because it was His name upon which it “had been performed.” There was no consultation with a group of doctors. There was no team of trained medical professionals. There was only the proclamation of the name and Peter extending his hand forth to raise the man. The work was immediate, it was effectual, and it was absolutely complete in its scope. Israel has been presented with the sign as a witness both to and against them.

Life application: As noted, the sign to Israel of the healing of this man is given as a witness that Jesus is the Messiah. But it may extend beyond the immediate application to be a witness of what will someday come to pass in Israel. Israel, as with all people, is a nation born with a defect – sin. It was in them before they were brought forth because of the sin of our first father, Adam.

The man was over forty years old at the time of his healing. The number forty is an important number in Scripture. Bullinger notes “its association with a period of probation, trial, and chastisement.” Further, he says, “It is the product of 5 and 8, and points to the action of grace (5), leading to and ending in revival and renewal (8).”

Israel did, in fact, reject Jesus. They went into a time of exile as was in accord with the words of Scripture that said it would come about for failing to adhere to the words set forth for them as a nation. However, someday Israel will be instantaneously healed when they recognize Jesus as their long-rejected Messiah. This man is given as an object lesson and a witness against them to know and understand their crippled state before God.

The coming words of Acts will show this, but they will include a note against the Gentiles as well (Acts 4:27). Jesus is the One whom the world came against, and it is up to each person to come to Him for healing and restoration. There is no other name given by which this can come about. Be sure to call out to God through the exalted Name above all names and be reconciled to Him. Call out today in the name of JESUS!

Lord God, help us to get out the wonderful word concerning the gospel of Jesus. It has the power to heal the troubled soul and bring man back to a right relationship with You. Give us the strong desire to be willing to speak, and the fortitude to follow through with that desire as well. May it be so, to Your glory. Amen.

 

 

 

 

Acts 4:21

Around the area of York’s residence, Pall Mall.

Sunday, 23 January 2022

So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. Acts 4:21

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

Peter and John have clearly stated their intentions to speak concerning what they had seen and heard. The council’s command found no footing in them, but there was nothing further that could be done other than bring more empty words of threat. This is seen now in verse 21, beginning with, “So when they had further threatened them.”

As just noted, Peter and John plainly stated that it was their intention to continue speaking out. They knew it was right, they had the authority of the Lord to do so, and those who administered the law had no justifiable reason to punish them. All they could do was threaten them some more and then “they let them go.”

Whether the beggar was there with them, or if he had already been excused, Luke’s words center on the apostles. Their words effectively communicated the events that occurred, the healing that had been performed stood as its own witness to the truth of their words, and thus their defense was valid. Those who wished to silence them had to release them, “finding no way of punishing them.”

Here is a new word that will only be seen again in 2 Peter 2:9, kolazó, to chastise. Vincent’s Word Studies says it was, “Originally, to curtail or dock; to prune as trees: thence to check, keep in bounds, punish.” The council was in a bind because they did not have the weight of the law behind them to support them and to legally keep the apostles curtailed. There was nothing to be found in Scripture that would justify one of the punishments authorized by Moses. In fact, just the opposite was true.

Luke, who carefully and meticulously provides every necessary detail, says nothing of witnesses – even false witnesses – that could testify against the apostles. But witnesses were required in order to render punishment upon offenders. Should they abuse their authority in such a way, it would cause real problems for them “because of the people.”

This was their main concern, not just at this time, but at other times as well. For example, when the leaders confronted Jesus about a matter, instead of directly responding to their question, knowing it was a trap, He asked them another question that put them in a bind. Their fear of the people’s reaction dictated their words and their judgments –

Now when He came into the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people confronted Him as He was teaching, and said, “By what authority are You doing these things? And who gave You this authority?”
24 But Jesus answered and said to them, “I also will ask you one thing, which if you tell Me, I likewise will tell you by what authority I do these things: 25 The baptism of John—where was it from? From heaven or from men?”
And they reasoned among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ 26 But if we say, ‘From men,’ we fear the multitude, for all count John as a prophet.” 27 So they answered Jesus and said, “We do not know.”
And He said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things.

The same state of fear concerning the people is seen in them now in Acts. They understood that they were limited by the constraints of the law, and the people were aware of what those constraints were. In this case, the apostles had the support of the people and therefore the council had to give up any intention of punishing them. If they did, it would have aroused the masses who had – only one day before – seen the sign of the healing “since they all glorified God for what had been done.”

These words follow directly upon what the beggar himself had done –

“So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God.” Acts 3:8, 9

When the man was healed, he gave God the praise. When Peter addressed the crowd, he then denied that he had accomplished the miracle, but instead said that it had been upon “the faith” in Jesus’ name that it had occurred. It was a demonstration of God’s approval of Christ Jesus.

Further, Peter indicated to the people that Jesus was the fulfillment of the words of Moses that God would raise up a Prophet like him. As this was accepted by the people, it meant that what was done was in accord with the law of Moses. Because of this, the people glorified God for the man’s healing. If the council were to punish the apostles, it would be taken as an act against the Law of Moses and against God who directed the issuance of that law. The consequences of that would be that the people would surely revolt.

Life application: In the US, there is a constitution that establishes the rule of law. The government, when run by miscreants, will do its best to work around the law, override the law, or simply suspend the law. But the constitution is the basis of the law. It is what gives them power in the first place. Because this is so, if the people are aware of what the constitution says, they will rightly revolt when the fundamental precepts found in this document are not adhered to.

For example, the Second Amendment to the US Constitution clearly and unambiguously provides for the bearing of arms by the citizens of the nation. When the government whittles away at this right, there will be blowback from the citizens through the legal process. If that is ignored, at some point the people will be (not may be) justified in taking action against the government because the fundamental right – set down in the nation’s founding document – has been violated.

The word of God is of far greater weight and importance than the US Constitution. It is the very source of humanity’s rights, responsibilities, and code of conduct before God. Man has no right to add to it or to take from it. It must be adhered to, in its proper context, and accurately explaining it is to be held as a sacred charge by those who preach it and teach it.

When this is not the case, the people should question on what authority the pastor, priest, preacher, teacher, church, or denomination thinks they stand. They should rightly revolt against any authority that does not align its teachings to be in accord with this word. Unfortunately, like the citizens of the nation in regard to their establishing documents, the people cannot do this if they do not know what the word of God says.

Therefore, it is incumbent upon you to read this word, to study this word, and to be able to defend a right interpretation of this word at all times – lest your life be led astray from what God intends for you by miscreants who enter the church in order to tear the people away from what is sound and proper.

Lord God, may we be sound in our doctrine because of our study of Your word. Keep us from being led astray by those who would curtail our freedoms in Christ, but also from those who would lead us to abusing our freedoms as well. May our walk before You be in accord with Your word at all times. Amen.

 

 

Acts 4:20

Neighborhood house, Pall Mall, Tennessee

Saturday, 22 January 2022

For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” Acts 4:20

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

Peter and John had just stated to the council, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge.” Now, they add on their note of intended non-compliance to the council’s determination, beginning with, “For.”

In essence, they are clearly justifying why they will not comply with the decision that has been rendered. They had said, “you judge.” As for them, they have already judged and if the two judgments do not align, it is theirs that will take the priority. That is unambiguously made known with the words, “we cannot but speak the things.”

They will speak, and there is a higher authority that requires them to do so. That thought is tied in with the idea of listening to God. If God has spoken, then it would be inappropriate to not heed the things that He has said. Again, as noted in the previous verse, this is a clear indication that the Law of Moses is now no longer in force.

The men who stood and commanded Peter and John to not speak in the name of Jesus were those who sat upon Moses’ seat. They bore the authority of Moses, and Moses has spoken for God. If Peter and John were disobedient to them, it was as if they were disobedient to God… unless they had proof that their conduct was validated by God.

As Moses had spoken of the coming Messiah, and as he had told them that He must be heard, then it is a poignant note that Messiah’s word would now be what held rule over the people of Israel. In essence, Moses, almost fifteen hundred years earlier, had talked himself out of a job at some point in future history. Time had met up with that point, and now a new order of things had come. That time is validated by their next words, which say, “which we have seen and heard.”

The council itself had noted that the healing was a sign. Added onto that were all of the doctrines of Christ that Peter and John had been taught, all of the miracles, signs, and wonders He had performed, the cross which had taken His life, and then the resurrection where He stood alive and whole before them.

They had the proofs needed to assure them of what was right and proper, and they would boldly proclaim those things no matter what. The decision was not a difficult one because it was fully supported by the hand of God upon the message they proclaimed.

Life application: Many people were raised in Christian homes, and what they believe is based upon what they were taught. That is a good thing. However, many people were brought up in Buddhist, Muslim, or Shinto homes, and they believe what they were taught. Someone could then say, “Well that is a good thing too.”

What is the difference? The answer depends on which God or “god” one is serving. That there is one God can be deduced in various ways. We do not need a book to determine this. Simply taking the time to think the matter through can bring the human mind to know this.

And more, there are certain things about this one God that can be known as well. These things take careful thought to deduce, but it can be done. Eventually, one can weed out all non-monotheistic religions, Hinduism, for example. And more, one can then weed out incorrect monotheistic religions, Islam, for example.

These things can be done. In the doing, one is left with actually only one possibility as to what God is like. But this does not prove that the God presented in Scripture is the one true God. However, there is such an abundance of evidence that He is – such as in fulfilled prophecy – that eventually a person must reasonably ask, “If there is a God, and if He has presented Himself to the world, is what I am reading about Him in the Bible true?”

One can say, “The fulfillment of these prophecies is interesting, but it is still just random chance. The descriptions are perfectly in accord with what I can know about God, but someone just figured out the same thing and wrote a book that matches what I know. I just cannot believe that God would make this effort.”

Or, one can say, “I have all the evidence I need to believe that the God presented in the Bible is the true God, and that He has actually communicated His message to mankind in a knowable, verifiable way. I accept this word, and I believe.”

In the end, it comes down to one word – faith. God asks us to simply believe that He has done it. The smartest biblical scholar on the planet is as far from God as is the vilest murderer if he will not believe. God has spoken, and He has presented His word to the people of the world. He asks you to have faith in what He says. Trust Him and believe.

Lord God, thank You for the Holy Bible that tells us of what You have done, are doing, and have yet to do for us in order to bring us back to You. It is a precious and sacred word that we possess. Help us to be responsible with it all the days of our lives. Amen.

 

 

 

Acts 4:19

Beautiful pond across from York residence. Pall Mall, Tennessee

Friday, 21 January 2022

But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. Acts 4:19

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

Peter and John have just been called in and commanded to not speak or teach upon the name of Jesus. Now they wisely choose to appeal to a higher authority. That begins with Luke recording, “But Peter and John.”

Although referring to both Peter and John in the same sentence is not unusual, it is of note that it is almost always Peter who is then noted as speaking. However, Luke specifically notes John and includes his voice in what is said, demonstrating that the matter is something they both agree to and openly avow. With this noted, Luke continues that it is both who “answered and said to them.”

John is not just a timid bystander allowing Peter to carry all the weight of what is spoken. He clearly has his priorities in line with what is right and is willing to speak out along with Peter, even against the entire council that has gathered to hear their words, and which has now commanded their silence about Jesus Christ. Their bold stand starts with, “Whether it is right in the sight of God.”

This is what is of paramount importance, and their words clearly indicate it as such. The highest human authorities in the land have gathered, those who sit on Moses’ seat, those who minister in the temple, the elders, and so on. They all have rendered a decision concerning a matter, but Peter and John together voice their minds, elevating the matter to one that must be pleasing to God, first and foremost.

The implication clearly is that they believe those in authority before them are – by default – not pleasing to God in their judgment. Their words want to know if it is right in God’s sight “to listen to you more than to God.”

How can this be? It comes back, once again, to Scripture. The words of the author of Hebrews clearly demonstrate that Moses was the highest authority in the land. As these men sat on Moses’ seat, they were sitting in the place of God concerning the law –

“Anyone who has rejected Moses’ law dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses.” Hebrews 10:28

This is why the author of the psalm (as agreed to by Jesus in John) uses the term elohim, or “gods,” to describe such men –

“I said, ‘You are gods,
And all of you are children of the Most High.’” Psalm 82:6

They were elevated to such a position that they were considered separate from the people in this regard, making decisions on behalf of God when in accord with the Law of Moses. However, the Psalm doesn’t end with that. In the next verse it says –

“But you shall die like men,
And fall like one of the princes.” Psalm 82:7

They were, in fact, men. Their position was to uphold Moses. But Moses wrote of one to come who would present words introducing a New and better Covenant. Jesus claimed, and then proved, to be that One –

“Jesus answered them, ‘Is it not written in your law, “I said, “You are gods”’? 35 If He called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken), 36 do you say of Him whom the Father sanctified and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? 37 If I do not do the works of My Father, do not believe Me; 38 but if I do, though you do not believe Me, believe the works, that you may know and believe that the Father is in Me, and I in Him.” John 10:34-38

This is then what the author of Hebrews tells the people in his next words of Hebrews 10 –

“Of how much worse punishment, do you suppose, will he be thought worthy who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, counted the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified a common thing, and insulted the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. And again, ‘The Lord will judge His people.’ 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.” Hebrews 10:29-31

The Son of God had come. He had demonstrated His position and authority, and He was now to be heard, confirming the very words of Moses that the council had rejected. So, who should the apostles listen to, God or these men? With this stated to them, they adamantly state, “you judge.”

The apostles had clearly presented their case to the council, proving that the same Jesus whom they had crucified had healed the man. The sign stood as confirmation of the claim that Jesus was the Christ (Messiah) and, as such, He was to be obeyed. If a right and honest decision was made concerning the matter by the council, it would be that He – rather than they – were to be obeyed concerning their decision.

Life application: The words of this verse are in accord with the words of Acts 5:29 –

“But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: ‘We ought to obey God rather than men.’”

Though the passage is descriptive in and of itself it states, they form a precept that still applies to all believers. We cannot disobey God, meaning what He has stated in Scripture, and rather obey a lesser authority. For example, though abortion is not directly addressed in Scripture, a moral precept concerning the matter is clearly defined in Scripture. If a society says that its people are to abort children, that must be disobeyed by believers. Abortion is a moral evil that is not to be allowed within the church, even if it is allowed within society.

All moral issues are first and foremost to be evaluated against Scripture. What man decides must be rejected when that decision does not align with the moral basis provided by God.

A second precept to be drawn, once again, from this verse is that the Law of Moses is now fulfilled and annulled in Christ. This is perfectly obvious from what has been stated, right in this verse, from Acts. Jesus had earlier said to the people –

“The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.” Matthew 23:2, 3

If the law were still in effect, Peter and John would be guilty of violating both the Law of Moses and Jesus’ instructions concerning it. But a New Covenant with a new Leader and direction had been instituted. In disobeying the leaders on what they decided, it is a clear indication that this New Covenant had superseded the old. The lesson is to stay away from any teacher who instructs you to obey any precept of the Law of Moses. Our doctrine is to be obtained solely from what is presented in the New Covenant.

Lord God, it is right and proper that we will obey You rather than men. When a law of the land in which we live is contrary to a precept that is clearly presented in Your word, give us the wisdom to recognize it, the voice to speak against it, and the willingness to disobey it rather than to be found disobedient to Your word. Give us both the wisdom and the desire to be obedient in this. To Your glory we pray. Amen.