1 While they were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple police, and the Sadducees confronted them, 2 because they were annoyed that they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 So they seized them and took them into custody until the next day since it was already evening. 4 But many of those who heard the message believed, and the number of the men came to about five thousand. 5 The next day, their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem 6 with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and all the members of the high-priestly family. 7 After they had Peter and John stand before them, they began to question them: “By what power or in what name have you done this?” 8 Then Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit and said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders: 9 If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a disabled man, by what means he was healed, 10 let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified and whom God raised from the dead — by him this man is standing here before you healthy. 11 This Jesus is the stone rejected by you builders, which has become the cornerstone. 12 There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to people by which we must be saved.” 13 When they observed the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and untrained men, they were amazed and recognized that they had been with Jesus. 14 And since they saw the man who had been healed standing with them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15 After they ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin, they conferred among themselves, 16 saying, “What should we do with these men? For an obvious sign has been done through them, clear to everyone living in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But so that this does not spread any further among the people, let’s threaten them against speaking to anyone in this name again.” 18 So they called for them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19 Peter and John answered them, “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to you rather than to God, you decide; 20 for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” 21 After threatening them further, they released them. They found no way to punish them because the people were all giving glory to God over what had been done. 22 For this sign of healing had been performed on a man over forty years old. — Acts 4:1-22
The Courage and Boldness of Peter and John
by Kevin Black
I remember the first time I ever met a persecuted Christian, a person truly persecuted for being a follower of Christ. Oh, I had read all the stories and thought I understood, but it wasn’t until I saw the face and heard the story from a persecuted believer that I begin to understand. In that situation, the young girl had been kicked out of her home and disowned by her family because she had declared her faith in Jesus Christ.
She had moved away from the village where she lived and moved to the city where we lived. She had been taken in by some other believers and given a small room. In the midst of her trials, she was still compelled to share the message of Jesus Christ. Was she heartbroken? Of course she was. She had lost her family, her friends and the people of her village. She wept, but in the middle of her heartbreak, she still spoke of the love of Christ.
In Acts 4:1-22, we see Peter and John proclaiming Jesus Christ in the face of persecution. They were held captive, but still they spoke. They were told not to say anything about Jesus, but they pressed on, giving a clear presentation of the gospel. People came to faith in Jesus. Their message was simple and powerful, even though their circumstances were very difficult.
Should we find ourselves facing persecution, here are some principles from this passage that will help us.
- In spite of the circumstances, we must proclaim the gospel. Nothing replaces the spoken message about Jesus Christ (verses 1, 8-12, 19-20).
- The Holy Spirit will lead us (verse 8).
- God will glorify Himself through us and through reclaimed lives (verses 4, 21-22).
- We don’t have to have all the education in the world. God uses the uneducated and the untrained (verse 13). He uses all people.
- Are we prepared to proclaim? We don’t have to know everything about the Bible, but we need to know our salvation story. Practice telling how God redeemed your life. Make it simple so anyone can understand it. Cut out all the “churchy” language. Make it short—2 to 3 minutes. Don’t make it about you—instead, focus on God.
- Pray for those who are being persecuted around the world, that they would persevere. To gain a better understanding, go to www.opendoorsusa.org.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 2017 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Christian Standard Bible® and CSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.