In Acts Chapter 3, Peter and John had been teaching and preaching in and around the area called Solomon’s porch or Solomon’s portico. (See Jesus heals the Man on the Porch)
There is a pool in Israel, called Bethesda, with five roofed colonnades (or porches), where the sick and the lame used to go and wait for this “movement or stirring of the waters”. Tradition held that when the waters stirred, then the first person to get wet from the water was healed. Back in Acts Chapter 3, Peter and John heal a lame man and then teach about Jesus’ resurrection and that we also can be saved by faith in Christ.
7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.
9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God.
10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
11 Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed.
This place of teaching and healing is where we find Peter and John as we start Acts chapter 4.
1 Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them,
2 being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.
4 However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.
The captain of the temple was the second in command (under the High Priest) of what were effectively the “temple police”. The group called the Sadducees were in the majority on the Jewish High Court and the Sadducees did not believe in a resurrection of any kind for anyone. The Sadducees are disturbed, or upset, that Peter and John are teaching what they thought to be heresy; so they have them arrested.
In spite of opposition and persecution, we see the new church growing! “Many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.” The Lord has continued to grow the early church through the first 3 chapters of the book of Acts:
And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty)
Acts 2:41, 47b
Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them….And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.
God continues to grow the church through persecution to this very day. I love the story of the persecution and deliverance of Brother Yun. There is an excellent autobiography on him, and here is a great book review on it.
Peter and John are put on trial the very next day.
5 And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes,
6 as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.
7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”
Peter responds by making the case that they simply did a good deed by healing, and in fact the healing is from Jesus Himself. This opportunity to respond also gives Peter a wide open door to begin to teach!
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel:
9 “If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well,
10 “let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.
11 “This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’
Peter is saying this lame man was healed by Jesus (through His Apostles), the same Jesus that all of you killed and God resurrected. It’s the same Messiah that you rejected. Verse 11 is a direct quote from the Psalms to remind us that Jesus Christ is the Messiah that was promised to us and that would be denied and shunned by the Jews.
Psalm 118:22 “The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone.”
Then Peter finishes his response with a simple truth:
12 “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
There is no other name but Jesus that can save us! Jesus told us this Himself in
John 14:6 “Jesus said to him, ‘I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.'”
From David Guzik:
“Does this mean that everyone must make a personal decision for Jesus Christ? What about the infant who dies? What about the person who has never heard about Jesus? God will deal with them fairly and justly, and those who are saved will be saved by the work of Jesus done on their behalf, even if they lacked a full knowledge of Jesus. But what about you?
If you wish to believe that all are saved or that there are many roads to heaven or that you can take the best of all faiths and blend them into one, fine, believe so and bear the consequences; but please do not claim this is the teaching of the Bible.”
The Bible is incredibly clear and specific: There is one way to God – it’s through Jesus Christ and Him alone. It’s not through Buddha, Joseph Smith, Muhammad, and it’s not through our own “enlightenment”.
13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.
14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.
When we have accepted the free gift of salvation from Jesus and we become followers of Christ, the world knows we are different. Jesus told us that would happen:
Matthew 5:14-16 14 “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do they light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.”
Now the council is trying to figure out what to do. The plan they come up with is persecution and force. But they don’t know that God grows the church through persecution!
15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves,
16 saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it.
17 “But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.”
18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
The Plan: beat the Apostles and then command them not to teach of Jesus anymore.
19 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.
20 “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”
They’re saying “Do whatever you decide to do to us, but we cannot help but teach the Truth.”
21 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.
22 For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.
They felt the pressure of the will of the crowd, in addition to the plain evidence that a 40 year old crippled man had just been miraculously healed.
23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them.
24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them,
25 “who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things?
26 The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the LORD and against His Christ.’
27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together
28 “to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.
29 “Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word,
30 “by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”
31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
Now, in spite of the persecution and the ruling by the court, these saints whole desire is to go out and teach the Good News – that Jesus Christ has been raised from the dead and He offers that life to us today! Lord let that be my own desire.
Jesus even instructs us to do go out and teach:
“And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”