Reflections From Acts 4: PERSECUTION BECAUSE OF THE NAME—Part One


The healing of this lame man who was more than forty caused a raucous among the authorities in Jerusalem.  The priests, temple guard and the Sadducees opposed the apostles because they preached Jesus’ resurrection from the dead and thus jailed them (vv.1-3).

Here, the first account of persecution because of the name of Jesus (c.f., Mt.5:9-16) and assuredly the apostles demonstrate what it means to be salt and light in the world.  Noteworthy are the following observations:

First, as already mentioned persecution breaks out because of the word—of Jesus Christ.  It’s this word that accounts for the power to heal the lame man.

Second, the word that’s preached is the resurrection of Christ from the dead and this miracle performed is what gets the apostles incarcerated.

Third, Peter preaches his fourth sermon to the elite of Jerusalem which is an apologetic sermon based on the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—“whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead…”  The name is what healed the lame man (v.10).  The name reveals the attributes of the person.  In this case, Jesus is both the Lord of Life—because the grave was conquered—and thus he is also the Lord our healer—Jehovah Raphe.  Moreover, because of the above, he is also the Lord our Savior—there is salvation in no one else, for there’s no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.”

By the way, in this section Peter refers to more fulfilled prophecy the fifth time by my count where Christ being rejected is actually the chief cornerstone.  There’s so much Bible in Peter that it’s overwhelming.

Fourth, the rulers note because of Peter and John’s confidence that they had been with Jesus even though they lacked education and training (v.13).  Something happens when we immerse ourselves in the word of the WORD and commune with him.  Too often seminarians be astute but not in the word of life and while I believe in the value of Biblical education and all it entails (E.g., Biblical Languages, Church History, Logic, etc.), it’s no substitute for individual immersion in the Scriptures bathed in a life of prayer.  It’s what Jesus modeled and certainly habits the apostles practiced.

Fifth, persecution came because of the word but so did civil disobedience.  Peter’s response to the threats breathed against him and John were God-centered and rested on being eyewitnesses of Christ’s life and deeds (Vv.17-23).  And while they were bold they were also mindful of god’s sovereignty in creation and again recall fulfilled prophecy the sixth one where God’s predestined purposes prevailed, even though they felt intimidated (vv.24-28).

When they were threatened they did not cower, but cried out to the God of heaven for boldness to speak faithfully Christ’s message (vv.28-31).  What an amazing example of God-focused devotion in the midst of the pressure to comply to cultural norms at odds with the gospel.

Lastly, these events continued to catapult the churches growth through acts of power which attested to the resurrection of Christ from the tomb and an amazing outpouring of grace manifested in the community.

Conclusion: the word of God brings the mixed bag of blessing and persecution, his ministers require boldness to walk in this way, his Word provides the power of the resurrection to see us through any circumstances.


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