PETER AND JOHN BEFORE THE SANHEDRIN (AFTER JESUS' ASCENSION)
4 1 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people, proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John and, because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed; so the number of men who believed grew to about five thousand.
5 The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”
8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people!
9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is
“‘the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the cornerstone.’[a]
12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
Conclusion for commentary on persecution:
The dominant theme of this passage is one that is new to Acts, but not new to the Scriptures—the theme of persection. As we conclude, let me first of all attempt to summarize some of the “principles of persecution” which this text teaches us.
(1) PERSECUTION HAPPENS TO PIOUS PEOPLE. Even when we are “Spirit-filled” and doing the will of God, persecution will come. Any prosperity gospeler’s promise to the contrary flies in the face of the facts of Acts.
(2) PERSECUTION MAY WELL BE CARRIED OUT BY SEEMINLY PIOUS PEOPLE IN THE PRACTICE OF PURE RELIGION. Some of the most cruel and aggressive persecution that this world has seen has been carried out in the name of “religion,” often “orthodox” religion. We are surely taught to endure persection but never are we commanded to inflict it on others.
(3) PERSECUTION FOLLOWS THE PROCLAMATION OF THE GOSPEL. Men are naturally opposed to Christ and the gospel. When it is proclaimed, unbelieving man’s lifestyle and thinking is challenged. Persecution is often the result.
(4) PERSECUTION TEMPTS US TO PLAY DOWN THE PROCLAMATION OF THE GOSPEL. The Book of Hebrews, among others, is testimony to the fact that when the “heat is on,” the saints can be tempted to clam up. If persecution follows the proclamation of the gospel, then the saints may be tempted to be silenced.
(5) PERSECUTION MUST BE VIEWED FROM A BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE. That perspective will include the sovereignty of God (as evidenced by the fact that He is the Creator of all things). It should also be viewed from the perspective of the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who Himself was rejected and persecuted by His own people. In the final analysis, biblical suffering is suffering for His sake (cf. 1 Peter 2;18-25). Thus, experiencing persecution for His sake is a privilege that we can experience (cf. Colossians 1:24; Philippians 2:10).
(6) PERSECUTION IS TO BE FACED VICTORIOUSLY BY THE CHRISTIAN, THROUGH THE MEANS WHICH GOD HIMSELF PROVIDES US. By His grace, and through His Spirit, we can face persecution with boldness and confidence, looking to Him to bear witness to His Word in His own way. Three of the principle means which God has given us to deal with persecution are praise, petition, and proclamation.
(7) PERSECUTION CANNOT AND WILL NOT PREVAIL OVER THE GOSPEL—ULTIMATELY IT WILL ONLY PROMOTE IT. The disciples knew that men cannot resist the promises and purposes of God. Even their rebellion against Him will only further God’s purposes.
Thus, we can face persecution with confidence.
For some, like the apostles, persecution was a very typical experience. For others, like the Hebrew saints (to whom the Epistle to the Hebrews was written), it was a threat. The writer speaks of some losses (cf. Hebrews 10:32-34), but not of any bloodshed (12:4). But to us, the threat of persecution is merely theoretical. The most we have to fear (in most cases and for the present time) is an uplifted eyebrow. May God give us boldness to proclaim the gospel, even if persecution were a very real possibility. May God give us the kind of boldness which precipitates persecution!