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The Boldness of the Early Church 

Are we too easily frightened?

Acts 4

Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • February 19, In the year of our Lord, 2017

Song Leader and Song Suggestions: Larry Amberg – Songs on boldness, Soldiers of Christ Arise, We’re Marching to Zion, and similar songs


  1. Peter and John had gone to the temple, and 
    1. as they entered a gate named Beautiful,
    2. they met a lame man,
      1. lame from his mother’s womb, and
      2. he asked for alms, but
        1. Peter and John healed the man, and
        2. for the first time in his life,
          1. he started walking and leaping,
          2. praising God as he then entered the temple with the two apostles.
  2. Acts 3.15 recorded Peter preaching to the people 
    1. who went to Peter and John because of the miracle.
    2. Peter declared the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
      1. whom the Jews had crucified by the hands of the Romans.
      2. Yet, Peter showed how God worked it all for the forgiveness of their sins.
  3. Unfortunately, the Jewish leaders did not like 
    1. the apostles preaching the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
    2. Therefore, the Jewish leaders arrested the apostles.


  1. Acts 4.1–3 | The Apostles Spoke Boldly to the People

    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.

    1. It disturbed the leaders greatly that Peter and John preached to the people
      1. in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
      2. The Sadducees did not like hearing that taught and preached, because
        1. they did not believe in the resurrection.
        2. They did not believe that our natural bodies will be raised.
    2. Then just like people today who disagree with political issues,
      1. the Sadducees, priests, and captain of the temple,
      2. who could not refute the apostles by sound arguments,
        1. became violent and laid hands on the apostles, and
        2. arrested them, holding them in custody!
  2. Acts 4.4 | About 5,000 Believers!

    4 However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.

    1. Arresting the two apostles did not stop the growth of the church, for
    2. they kept listening to the word,
      1. not only from Peter and John, but
      2. also from the other apostles, and
        1. what the people heard,
        2. sounded reasonable and biblical,
          1. so they believed what the apostles taught and preached.
          2. Fighting the truth with violence never works.
    3. Just how many people believed to this point?
      1. The number of the disciples numbered about 5,000, and
      2. that number only included the men!
  3. Acts 4.5–7 | What Is Your Authority?

    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?”

    1. The Sadducees, priests, and captain of the temple
      1. did some talking and they got
      2. rulers, elders, scribes, Annas, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and
        1. other members of the family of the high priest
        2. to attend a confrontation against the two apostles.
    2. This same Annas and Caiaphas had conspired to kill Jesus.
      1. What did they think that His followers were preaching in His name, and
      2. their group, the church, was growing quickly?
        1. They thought they had squashed the whole thing by killing Jesus.
        2. They may have also remembered
          1. that the apostles did not stand up so bravely for Jesus at His trials.
          2. Perhaps warning the apostles not to teach and not to preach
            1. in the name of Jesus frighten the apostles.
            2. Those leaders did not know those men had changed.
    3. The rulers questioned their power and authority for healing the lame man.
      1. Does it seem wise to you to confront and interrogate
      2. men who have miraculous powers?
        1. If the men had gone around using their power to hurt people,
        2. that would be one thing, but
          1. the apostles were helping people, and
          2. the apostles were not starting a rebellion.
  4. Acts 4.8–12 | The Apostles Speak Boldly to the Rulers

    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.’ 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.”

    1. The same power that enabled them to heal a man who had never walked,
      1. empowered Peter to speak before these murderous men.
    2. Did you hear the boldness of Peter?
      1. Without fear he addressed them.
      2. Without fear he revealed to them why they were judging him and John.
      3. Without fear he let them know that in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth the man stood there before the leaders.
      4. Without fear Peter accused them of crucifying Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
      5. Without fear Peter preached that God raised Jesus from the dead.
      6. Without fear Peter quoted Psalm 118.22 and declared that they had fulfilled the prophecy that the builders would reject the chief cornerstone.
      7. Finally, without fear he told them that the only name under Heaven that can save us is the name of Jesus Christ.
    3. What did the enemies of Jesus and of the apostles think of Peter’s words?
      1. They knew that at least some of what he said was true.
        1. They knew that the lame man was now whole.
        2. They knew that they had crucified Jesus of Nazareth.
        3. They knew that Jesus had been raised from the dead.
      2. How could they not see that they fulfilled the prophecy of Psalm 118.22
        1. by rejecting the Messiah?
        2. Jesus had done the same thing with this prophecy to the same men.
          1. [Mark 12.1–12]
          2. The truth sliced open their hearts and found no place to live.
  5. Acts 4.13–14 | They Had Been with Jesus

    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.

    1. What marveled all these leaders confronting the apostles?
      1. That though uneducated and untrained, the apostles spoke boldly, and
      2. they realized that the two men had been with Jesus.
    2. Verse 14 got me:
      1. They saw the man, whom they knew was the lame man, and
      2. they saw him standing with the apostles.
        1. How are you going to speak against such an obvious miracle?
        2. Are you going to accuse him of faking it?
  6. Acts 4.15–17 | Witnesses to Miracles Could Not Deny Them

    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.”

    1. That said it all.
      1. They confessed that a “notable miracle” had happened.
      2. They even added that they could not deny it!
    2. Rather than joining the apostles,
      1. rather than seeking sincerely to learn more,
      2. rather than asking the apostles to heal someone they knew,
        1. they decided to threaten the apostles severely,
        2. telling them not to speak to anyone in the name of Jesus.
    3. What was their problem?
      1. How could they acknowledge a miracle, but
      2. still fight the apostles?
        1. The same way they explained Jesus;
        2. they attributed the power of Jesus to cast out demons to Satan.
  7. Acts 4.18–20 | The Apostles Spoke Boldly to the Rulers Again

    18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 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.”

    1. They brought the apostles back in and
      1. commanded them to quit teaching and preaching in the name of Jesus.
      2. After all that had happened in the past 3 ½ years, and
        1. after witnessing the resurrection of Jesus,
        2. did the leaders believe commanding the apostles to stop would work?
    2. Which one would you follow?
      1. The one who raised someone from the dead? Or,
      2. A group of men who tell you to quit teaching and preaching?
    3. Did you hear Peter?
      1. He compared the words of those men with the words of God, and
      2. asked them to judge what they should do.
    4. Peter declared their decision:
      1. They had seen and heard things
      2. that compelled them to speak.
  8. Acts 4.21–22 | Everyone Glorified God

    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.

    1. The rulers added a second threat, and
      1. let them go, because
      2. they could not find a way to punish them,
        1. especially since all the people glorified God for the miracle.
        2. They did not want to tell their own people to quit glorifying God!
    2. Then Luke provided one more detail about the healed man.
      1. He was over 40 years old.
      2. In 40 years, this man had never walked.
  9. Acts 4.23–30 | Prayer for Boldness

    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.”

    1. The apostles reported everything to their companions,
      1. which would include the double-threat of the Jewish leaders.
      2. The apostles and everyone at that meeting
        1. might be tempted to become timid, and quit teaching and preaching.
        2. They knew what those men had done to Jesus.
          1. They might be next.
          2. Were they ready to die for preaching the name of Jesus?
    2. Therefore, they prayed to God.
      1. They acknowledged Him as the Maker of all things.
      2. They quoted Psalm 2 to God.
      3. They explained how they saw Psalm 2 fulfilled.
        1. They saw the rage of the leaders against Jesus.
        2. They knew the leaders plotted vain things against Christ.
          1. Now they saw that the same rage and that the same plotting
          2. directed against the apostles.
    3. They asked the Lord to do two things for them:
      1. First, that they would continue to speak the Lord’s word with all boldness.
      2. Second, that they would still do miracles in the name Jesus.
        1. Does God answer prayers for boldness?
        2. Does God answer prayers for doing good works?
    4. Let’s find out.
  10. Acts 4.31 | God Answers Prayers for Boldness

    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.

    1. Right on the spot, God gave them boldness,
      1. causing an earthquake, because
      2. the whole reason for the Earth continuing to exist,
        1. is for the preaching of the Good News of salvation through Jesus,
        2. that we have forgiveness of sins through Him, and
        3. salvation from eternal condemnation.
    2. The Earth shuddered when men crucified the Son of God, but
      1. here the Earth quakes out of excitement
      2. that the message that purifies the sins of the creatures living on its back,
        1. would now go out, and
        2. that its Owner had filled them with the Holy Spirit.
  11. Acts 4.32–37 | A Community of Love

    32 Now the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common. 33 And with great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all. 34 Nor was there anyone among them who lacked; for all who were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the proceeds of the things that were sold, 35 and laid them at the apostles’ feet; and they distributed to each as anyone had need. 36 And Joses, who was also named Barnabas by the apostles (which is translated Son of Encouragement), a Levite of the country of Cyprus, 37 having land, sold it, and brought the money and laid it at the apostles’ feet.

    1. Yes, God also answers prayers for doing good works.
      1. They so unified among themselves
      2. that they shared freely whatever they had with one another, because
        1. many of these people were from out of town,
        2. having gone to Jerusalem for their feast day, Pentecost, and
          1. then were converted and decided to stay longer.
          2. They would thus be in need of daily items.
    2. The apostles went on powerfully giving their testimony of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus.
    3. As the crowd sold things,
      1. they brought the money to the apostles,
      2. who distributed the funds to those in need of them.
    4. Then we learn of a new man,
      1. who so worked at encouraging others,
      2. that the apostles rename Joses, Barnabas, meaning Son of Encouragement.


  1. God has not changed the truth of Acts 4.12
    1. The name of Jesus still stands as the only name under heaven that saves.
    2. The name of Jesus saves us from what?
      1. Save us our sins.
      2. Save us from the consequence of sin.
        1. The consequence of sin is eternal condemnation, eternal separation from God, and all that is good.
        2. Sin is any violation of God’s law.