Video Transcript: Acts 3-4

Announcer - This is Dr. Craig Keener. In his teaching on the book of Acts, this is session number 8, on Acts chapters 3 through 5.  

Dr. Keener - In the introduction, I spent a lot of time talking about historical issues. And in the Acts chapters 1 and 2, I got kind of the preaching. So I like to do all of those things. But in most of the book of Acts, I'm going to try to focus, particularly, although not exclusively, I am giving you some ancient background, that helps you understand the text better. And the main reason for that is  because that's the part you wouldn't get on your own. I'm assuming if you're  committed enough to, to watch this video, you also committed enough that you already read the book of Acts on your own. But I do want to also commend you,  because if you've gotten this far, in the video, you're a very committed person. 

So Acts chapter 3, deals with healing in Jesus name, starting with verses 1  through 10. And it basically gives us an example of what we have in 2:43, 44, 46 and 47 where silver and gold have they none they've been giving the  resources, signs and wonders like 2:43, 46 and 47 times of prayer together. And what this miracle leads to, as we mentioned earlier, signs often they do this, it leads to a preaching opportunity. So looking at some of the background, they find this man at the gate of the temple, or one of the gates of the temple, the gate beautiful. Some think that the disabled were barred from the Court of Israel. They couldn't be couldn't go any further than the court of women. Whether that's true or not, there is there is some evidence for it. It depends on how rigorous the keepers of the temple were on those things. If it were the people that wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls, they would have been barred for sure. But in any case, this was a profitable place to beg, because people were always going  by the gate. People were wanting to be pious, as they entered the temple,  Judaism had a very high work ethic as well as a high charity ethic. So it was understood. People wouldn't go through the the shame, in a sense, well, yeah, it was considered that the shame of begging unless they really had to do it. And  people tended to be very charitable to those who were begging. Well, he asked them for money, they don't have money. But what they have, they give him  something much more important, something much more valuable than money.  They said in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise and walk. 

Now, in Jesus  name, what does that mean? There have been various proposals, but the, the likeliest proposal that catches kind of the best of each is probably as Jesus  authorized agents. They're acting on Jesus authority. They're acting for Jesus.  Acts 1:1, says that the first volume was about all that Jesus began to do and teach. Now it could be a Semitism, meaning just all that Jesus was doing in  teaching, but given Luke's uses out elsewhere, and given its position at Acts 1:1, my suspicion is that probably what it means is, Volume 1 was what Jesus began to do and teach. Volume 2, is how Jesus continued to act and teach through the disciples. So it's not so much the Acts of the Apostles, which actually was a later title anyway. But the Acts of Jesus continuing through some of his followers. In  Acts 9, Jesus is acting when Peter wants somebody to be healed. Peter says, Aeneas, Jesus heals you. So there's a recognition that it's Jesus doing the work. And here, Peter is going to ultimately give credit to Jesus and Jesus name for healing this man. That's why in chapter 3:12, when, when they're saying, the  crowds are looking at them. Peter says, Why do you look at us, as if by our own power or holiness this man has been made whole. It's by the name of Jesus of Nazareth, whom you crucified, that Jesus has made this man whole. If God works through us, let's give him the credit. If we take the credit for ourselves and we look to ourselves, chances are we're not going to keep being able to do  those things because it doesn't come from us. It comes from from him. 

Now,  we're going to look at some notes on Peter's message. Peter preaches to them  the name of Jesus whom you crucified. Speaking of corporate guilt, most of the  most of his hearers were not actually there, but Jerusalemite crowds were the  ones who cried out for Jesus execution in Luke chapter 22. So, Peter's message, he speaks of how, okay, Jesus was crucified. But God has glorified His servant Jesus, chapter 3:13. And that language of glorifying the servant  echoes Isaiah 52:13, in the Greek translation, where the servant was exalted and lifted up. He was glorified. In the Gospel of John that's used a number of  times with reference to the cross. And here it seems to apply especially the  exultation. And it also, Peter also speaks of Jesus as the Holy and Righteous  One. Well, if he's thinking at all of the context of Isaiah 52:13, and Isaiah 53:11, it speaks of the righteous servant. He was not condemned for his own sins,  even though Israel earlier in Isaiah 40, was receiving double payments for their sins. 

Chapter 3:15. Peter speaks of the archegos, but the language was often used  for heroes, pioneers, founders of cities. Jesus is certainly the founder of the  movement. But he's also like a pioneer who has cut the way for those who follow him. He's made the way for those who follow Him is the first to rise from the dead. The term can mean any of those kinds of things. And here it probably is  some sort of combination of those. That's where you see it translated so many  different ways and different translations. That was used actually in the  Septuagint for leaders of clans. So it's somebody who is a leader, and  somebody who's making a new way. For his followers. Peter uses the same  language and 5:31. It's also used a couple times in the book of Hebrews 2:10, 12:2. 

Here's the irony, in 3:14 they, they accepted a murderer when they when  they said, we want Barabbas not this man. They accepted a murderer. And then  they killed the author of life, the founder, the pioneer of life. That's the irony. And  then the further irony, he didn't stay dead. In 3:17, Peter says, “I knew it was  because of ignorance, you did this?” Well, ignorance doesn't eliminate  culpability in ancient law and ancient thought, but it does reduce it.  And so he's saying, I know, you didn't know what you were doing. As Jesus says in the cross in Luke chapter 23. Father, forgive them, they don't know what they're doing. 

Also, Peter speaks of how the Messianic, the promised messianic restoration has come. Something that was spoken out by all the prophets. When 3:18 the language that's used there, later Jewish teachers said that all the  message of the prophets dealt with this subject or that subject. And one of the subjects that they talked about that the prophets dealt with throughout was the Messianic era, where Jerusalem is restoration. And Peter is about to talk with  them about this era of restoration. In 3:19, he speaks of the restoration of all things that God had promised, well, what is the restoration of all things that God  had promised? God had promised a new creation. But they also had said, in the prophets, that repentance would precede this, Israel's repentance would  precede this. That's what Peter is calling for. And there would be a period of  restoration when Israel would turn to God. Hosea 14:1-7, Joel 2:18-3:1. That's an English translation. It's even implied in Deuteronomy 4:30-31. Jewish teachers recognize that repentance by Israel would precede the restoration.  Some thought, well, we can hasten the time of restoration by repenting. Sometimes later rabbis would say if all of Israel would just all keep the Sabbath  together on one day, or if all of Israel would would do this, or all of Israel would  do that. But ultimately, if all of Israel would repent, then God would bring in the  time of restoration. Other rabbis said, Well, you know, the time is predestined, we can't hasten it. But still, it could be both. It could be connected with a time of restoration and repentance. In other words, that God had predestined the time of restoration, but He also predestined it in conjunction with Israel's repentance. 

Whatever the case, here, Peter, calls on them to repent, and says  that the time of restoration will come. Well, what was it that was going to be restored the time of the restoration of all things. Some Gentiles talked about the  universe of cycles, especially stoics. They believe that the universe was  periodically destroyed by fire, and reborn as a new universe. And that only, only the ultimate deity would would remain everything else was going to be dissolved in fire, and then be repeated over again. But it wasn't really eternal. It was just being started again. That's a bit different than what's in view here. Here, he's Peter speaking to a Jewish audience. The Jewish expectation of restoration involve the restoration of creation, peace and prosperity in the earth, Isaiah 11.  With the Lion and the Lamb together, and also a new heavens and a new earth, Isaiah 65:17. Also, there will be a new Jerusalem, Isaiah 65:18-19, and 66:8-11. But ultimately, probably the primary thoughts here is related to the way that the  term restoration or related term for restoration has already been used in the book of Acts, and Acts 1:7, remember the disciples asked Jesus, is this the time  that you're going to restore the kingdom of Israel? Well, the disciples still care about that naturally, I mean, they're going to be sitting on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes of Israel, right? So this is important to them. And it's important to the  people to whom they're preaching. The restoration of God's people was a central message of the Israelite prophets in the Old Testament. 

Well, he's calling them to repent so that those times of refreshing may come that had been  promised by the prophets. Even by Acts 28, Israel as a whole is not turned.  Sometimes we think that it looks like Well, none of the Jewish people turn but  that's not true. Throughout the book of Acts, many of the Jewish people turned, but it wasn't the Jewish people as a whole. Therefore, it wasn't what would bring in this this promised time of restoration. We see Paul saying something similar to this in Romans 11. In fact, Paul believed that his ministry to the Gentiles was actually part of the part of the divine plan, because Isaiah had talked about the  bringing in of the Gentiles. And when Gentiles turn to Israel's God, well, it's  coming through faith in Jesus, Israel should look at that and say, Wow, Jesus must be the Promised Messiah, because look, even the Gentiles are turning to  the one true God now. And Paul believe that by provoking his people to jealousy, to recognize it's through Jesus that these Gentiles are coming in, these people  would turn to faith in the Messiah. After the fullness of the Gentiles had come in,  after enough time had been given, so the good news have gone to all the nations that Israel would see this, and the Jewish people would turn to faith in God as a whole. The language of all Israel shall be saved in Romans 11:26  Actually, is very similar to what you have in Mishnah Sanhedrin 10:1, where later rabbis talked about how all Israel would be saved and then went on to list exceptions. So in other words, it means Israel as a whole the Jewish people as  a whole turning to faith in the Messiah. 

It didn't work out the way Paul  envisioned, at least not very quickly, because the Gentiles, the Gentile Christians didn't pay attention to what Paul also said to the Gentile Christians in that context. Don't look down on the fallen branches. Don't boast yourself  against them, as they wont boast themselves against you. But in fact, through  much of history, the Gentile church said, no, we've replaced Israel. And what  what, where God is really working now is in the Gentile church, and God doesn't really care about the Jewish people. And that was not balanced either. And so in more recent times, however, there's been a turning of many Jewish people to faith in Christ, some estimate 100,000, some estimate, many more than that. That is still a very small proportion of the Jewish people in the world. It's larger  than it's ever been in history since maybe the first or second or third century. But it was probably a higher percentage in the first century. 

So when when we think of the remnant, the the issue with the remnant isn't that it has to be very small. The issue with the remnant is that it's not the Jewish people as a whole. And so some of the things Paul envisioned, and what Peter was hoping for here, haven't happened yet. But Peter was working for it. And it's a good thing to work for.  Acts, emphasis is on the good news going out to all peoples, but it doesn't mean that the heritage is forsaken, or the interest in the Jewish people from whom the message came to begin with is forgotten. The good news of God's love is for all people. And that love of God is expressed, especially in Christ. 

Well, he says that God had promised that he would raise up a prophet like Moses. And in this, he's citing Deuteronomy 18:15,18. This was a hope that was celebrated not only by the Jewish people, later, later, rabbis even spoke of a hidden Messiah, who would be like Moses would be hidden before he was revealed. But it was something that was also celebrated by the Samaritans. It's also celebrated in the Dead Sea Scrolls. So this was something that was very emphasized in Peter's day. There were in fact, some people who tried to duplicate miracles of Moses or Joshua, but failed to do so. But people were expecting a new Moses, and Jesus  who fed the 5000 in the wilderness. Jesus ultimately was that ultimate prophet.  When I say ultimate prophets, some people say, well, was Jesus, the last  prophet? And, you know, some other religions say, No, we have prophets after  that. It's not that Jesus is the last prophet, but he's the ultimate prophet. You  know, there were prophets in the book of Acts, but Jesus is the ultimate Prophet, him, you shall heed. Moses says.

In 3:24-26, Peter speaks in verse 24, of  prophecies from Samuel onward. They, the prophets gave prophecies about Jesus death. Well, what does that mean? Well, he's just talked about  being a prophet, like Moses, and Moses was a rejected deliver, we find out about that more clearly in Acts 7, where, where that connection seems to be made. Also, we see how the leaders that God raised up normally suffered before they were exalted. So there's a pattern there that we see throughout the prophets. And we also have texts about the righteous suffer, of whom the most righteous would be the righteous suffer par excellence. And we also have Isaiah  53, that we've talked about before, and, and other passages. 

So also, the  prophets from Samuel onward, Jewish people understood that they prophesied  the Messianic era, we don't have a whole lot of texts in the Old Testament, that  talk about the reigning Son of David. When I say you don't have a whole lot, it's  not as many as you might expect, from what Peter says here, if you're looking specifically exclusively for texts that talk about the reigning Son of David. Of those texts about the reigning Son of David, the ones that are clear that it's a  descendant of David not David himself. There are, there's one of those that  seems clear that he's divine, and another in Jeremiah 23 that probably implies that at least taken in conjunction with the earlier prophecy in Isaiah. But these, these prophecies about the the new Moses, the one who would suffer, and then he would be exalted is it includes the promise of the Messianic era, the promise of restoration, all the things the Messiah came to do. 

And so it's offered first to the people to whom the Messiah first came. He says, You are children or heirs  of the prophets, which is rather nice considering how Jesus addressed  some of his interlocutors and in Luke 11:47, you know, you Are children of those  who killed the prophets and again in Acts 7:52, how Stephen puts it. But Peter is being very gracious because he's speaking to those who acted in ignorance. And this is corporate guilt. And he's offering them a chance to turn, and many of his heroes do so. He speaks of the blessing of Abraham. Well, this blessing of  Abraham, that he talks about coming to them, this blessing of Abraham, according to Genesis 12:3, was also to be a blessing to all people, so blessing to the nations, but it was to come through them. And that's why he says that the servant, whom he's already mentioned back in 3:13, was sent to be a blessing to them first. And of course, first, Luke is implying the Gentile mission that  comes afterwards. 

In Acts 4, they are arraigned by the temple authorities.  Well, why are they arraigned by the temple authorities? Because 4:2 says they are preaching in Jesus, the resurrection from the dead. The Pharisees talked about resurrection, they in the Sadducees disagreed vehemently about the resurrection. That may have bothered the the Sadducees. But it didn't really threaten them. But the preaching of the resurrection in Jesus was different, because it was not merely a theoretical hope for the future. But it was empirical evidence that that future had already broken into history. The time had come. And God was laying his demands on his people, and the leaders of his people who were illegitimate, were going to be displaced from their position of power. The apostles, those who would be sitting on 12 thrones, judging the 12 tribes, were going to be the new leaders and the Sadducees obviously, we're not pleased with that. 

The Sadducees control the temple  hierarchy, and most of the resident priesthood, says that the captain of the  temple guard came, and the Temple Guard was a local police force permitted by the Romans made up of Levites. Well, they had come up for the hour of prayer,  somewhere around 3 in the afternoon, we would say. So sundown would be approaching. And that's why they have to put them in. They have to detain them overnight, they can't. The evening is coming and people were supposed to stop working. And they're not going to call night meeting like they did with the emergency meeting with with Jesus. And the names of of these high priests  Annas and Caiaphas, we've already talked about Annas being the the father in law of Caiaphas, Joseph Caiaphas. Annas had been the high priest he still controlled a lot of things behind the scenes. He was succeeded not only by his  son in law, but by five of his sons. So he was in a position of great power. Caiaphas was the official high priest from 18 to 36. So these are people who are accustomed to power. 

According to all of our other Jewish sources, they were  ruthless. Sometimes they would beat people with clubs. The they were disliked  in the Dead Sea Scrolls, they were disliked by the Pharisees. And Josephus  reports all sorts of bad things about how some of these high priests were exploiting people. Luke can use the the plural for high priests because the aristocratic priesthood in the spirit that the high priestly families, they were all called High Priests in the idiom of this period, as opposed to archiereus when  the the, the chief priest in the Old Testament you had in the hope, Josephus speaks of a whole high priestly family in this way. 

Well, we also see here, God's  hierarchy, rather than God's authority, rather than the hierarchy's authority, the challenge the hierarchy here, and what when they're arraigned for this man  arraigned for preaching in the temple, and basically because they're challenging the authority of the Sadducees, they're talking about, you know, you crucified this man, you executed this man. Well, if this man was executed for treason, then it's treason to stick up for him, and to challenge those who pronounces  judgment on him. But it was considered very rude. In the ancient world, it was considered the epitome of ingratitude. With some considered the quintessential sin in Greco Roman society, to repay a benefaction to repay a good deed with  evil, you were supposed to repay a benefaction with gratitude, with honor. And the language that Peter uses here. He says, Well, if we are called here to give  account, because of a benefaction given to this man. Benefaction was a major  issue. In the Greco Roman world, you have inscription celebrating all over the place, where donors would, would put up buildings are or sometimes people were kind of drafted to provide civic support and so on. If somebody was a  benefactor, you were supposed to honor them. Luke 22 talks about that, where  the the greatest among the Gentiles are the benefactors, 

Jesus came to  suffer and serve. But Jesus also came and functioned as a your, evergétis as a benefactor, so that it speaks of how Jesus of Nazareth, in Luke Acts Jesus of Nazareth went about doing good Acts 10:38, giving, giving benefaction. Well, now the disciples are acting in Jesus name, and in a benefaction has been done through the name of Jesus to this man. And the disciples are being being  arraigned for this. Now, this man, he says, If you want to know by how this man was made whole, the language for being made whole here is the same Greek  word for save. So that's going to be very significant as Peter goes on, because  as they're arraigned, what's demanded of them is, in whose name by whose authority have you done this, you know, who gave you the right to speak in these temple courts and draw this crowd and challenge our authority. And Peter says, If really, what you want to know is, by whose name was this man made whole, by whose name was this man saved from his sickness, by whose  name was this benefaction done. It's by the name of Jesus of Nazareth, whom  you crucified. In fact, there's no other name given under heaven, which was a good Old Testament idiom, no, no other name among humanity by which a  person may be saved, by which salvation may come than the name of Jesus of  Nazareth. So he moves quickly from the physical healing to salvation, the promised salvation Israel, and to the individuals who would would call upon the  name of the Lord and be saved according to Acts 2:21, citing Joel, this  man was saved. Now you can be saved if you call on Jesus name, to be saved. 

This brings out a point that we have often elsewhere in the New Testament, certainly you have it in John 14:6, there's, there's no other way to the Father except through Jesus. It's not to say nobody has some other truth, or some other good things. But humanity situation is so desperate, that it's only through  Jesus, that we can be fully reconciled to God. Now, this is not just a point that's made only here. You read the preaching of the Gospel throughout the book of  Acts. The preaching of the Gospel assumes that people need Jesus and it's through Jesus that they can be saved. You have the same thing in Paul's letters. And throughout the throughout the New Testament, this idea, it's put in  different ways you can be justified by faith, you can be born again are born from  above born of the Spirit, Paul says, is well as John, you, you are transferred  from the kingdom of the authority of darkness to the kingdom of light, you were  moved from, from death to life. It's put in all sorts of different ways delivered from cosmic bondage to evil powers. There are all sorts of different aspects of this deliverance. But in every case, the assumption is that people move from  one state to another, people were lost, and then they're found. That doesn't mean everybody knows exactly what had happened. I mean, if you grew up in a Christian home, you know, may have dawned on you gradually, you may have you may have been accepting it from from very early on. But for somebody like me, who didn't grew up in a Christian home and was converted later, it was it was a very dramatic and drastic change. I can give you the date when it's happened. And, and the approximate time in the afternoon when it happened. But the point in any case says that Jesus is the savior. And he's the only Savior. 

Now, that was just as offensive in that culture is it is to many people today. It was already offensive in the Greco Roman world. The Jewish people were considered exclusive. And they were very looked down on because they were  monotheistic. Other people like what's your problem? We worship all the  gods, including yours, we don't have a problem with you having a god, why do  you have a problem with our gods? What's wrong with you? You're very rude. And they, they they looked down and many people look down on the Jewish  people for that some other some other Gentiles did say, Well, you know, they worship the highest God. That's not a bad idea. But how much more exclusive  mystic was it to say, this God is only followed through Jesus, there was a price that the Apostolic Church had to pay for this. And if we want to be like them,  we're going to have to be willing to pay that price today as well. In cultures that say, Well, that's very rude of you to believe that your God is the only way. We  don't have to be personally rude. This is just what we believe. 

At the same time in believing this, we need to be gracious. Remember, Jesus said to the Pharisees, I didn't come for the righteous, Jesus ate with sinners, he reached out to those who are outsiders who are marginalized, those who knew they were lost. Those who knew their need, he reached out to them. And we we don't  reach out to people from a position of superiority like, well, we are saved, and you are not. Because we were saved totally by grace. And that's what God offers to do for them as well. So when we reach out to people, we reach out to  people as those who are broken, but have been welcomed by God. And we  have found something wonderful that we want to share with other people  because we care about them. But the temple authorities were not being the  temple authorities were working from a position, the power to try to suppress the truth. And they expected people to line up and shut up, when they said to shut up. They normally got their way. Because they could enforce their way. They had political power. They weren't expecting Peter, and John, to speak back to them. Because they were considered unlearned. That may have meant that they couldn't read, they couldn't write, if the very least means that they didn't have  the kind of high level elite rhetorical training, Greek education and so on that many of the Sadducees and priests would have had. But Peter and John, answer them boldly. The Greek word there is parrésia and many people in antiquity respected somebody who would speak with parrésia, which was kind of boldness, forthrightness. You weren't flattering people you were speaking the truth to those in power, doesn't mean we go around provoking people. Paul was very respectful to Roman officials and so on. But here were people who claim to speak for God. And they were usurping the rightful authority that belonged to the true King of Israel, Jesus the Messiah. And so the disciples spoke very  forthrightly. 

They are sent away with a threat, which was normally considered the right way to do it. And they they go to the other disciples, the other believers  from there are quite a large number. Now, not all of the converts from the day of Pentecost are still there, because remember, some of them are Diaspora Jews probably visiting for the feast. Others are Diaspora Jews who who already live in  Jerusalem. But also remember that the number of disciples has been growing  through the witness of the church before it comes to this point. So there are a lot of people together. They could be gathering in the temple. If it's actually the the group as a whole, this could then be a public meeting. But in any case, they go back, and they lift their voices in prayer, with one voice with one accord. It doesn't mean that they all simultaneously prayed exactly the same prayer. This was not a liturgical prayer that everybody knew this was this was a  spontaneous prayer for the occasion, although people would have known some  of the wording from the psalms of the God who made heaven and earth in the sea for example, which is also used later in Acts even preaching to Gentiles who didn't know of how was from scripture. But as they are, is they're going back and and they gather the believers for prayer and they lead in this prayer They say that the nations have gathered together against the Lord, and against his  anointed Psalm 2, which was understood in the spirit as messianic, it addresses  the Davidic line, and ultimately the epitome of the Davidic line, the one in whom the restoration would come, who was this, this time understood to be the Promised Messiah, Messiah, mashiach in Hebrew, simply means the anointed one, while the people were anointed in the Old Testament, that when Jewish people in this period spoke of the Anointed One, are thinking of the Anointed  King, especially Dead Sea Scrolls, speaks of an anointed king, and an anointed  priest. But the Anointed King was what other Jewish people thought of when  they thought of this, this Messiah, the Son of David. 

So the son of David, others  had gathered against him. And so they, they named the kind of leaders who had  gathered against him, Pilate, and these these chief priests, but the Lord would put to shame his enemies. And so they praise God, and they pray that God will continue to grant them boldness parrésia the same kind of boldness they had before and that he will continue to stretch forth his hand to heal, that signs and wonders might be done by the name of His holy servant, Jesus, servant, Jesus. He's just mentioned the suffering servant. In Acts 3. Where he  preached at length, we have a summary of that speech. And, you know, in other  words, what he what had just happened where this this man had been healed. And because the man was there, in the court of the Sanhedrin, they couldn't really say anything. You know, that it hadn't happened, because clearly it had. Everybody knew that this man hadn't been able to walk in. And now he was able to walk, walking and leaping and praising God, in fact. So they were asking for more of those things. So they would have more opportunities for public  preaching, they don't want to be silenced. They want to continue to be bold, and  continue to speak, and trust God to continue to work through them. And so God  answers the prayer. 

And in 4:31, it says, The place was shaken, where they were assembled, they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and spoke the word of God with boldness. Remember, not exclusively, but especially the Spirit’s power  and inspiration, and Luke Acts, you can see it already with Zechariah. In Luke 1, John the Baptist being filled the spirit from his mother's womb, and so on. The Spirit was associated specially with prophecy, or with speaking for God. And so  they're going to speak the word of God with boldness, they're going to continue to speak for God to speak his message. Sometimes it's also show associated with other kinds of prophetic actions like, like miracles, and sometimes, occasionally  with other things, but especially with with being able to speak for God. The language of filling seems to be associated with that too. You can think of in Luke 4 in a negative way, when the crowd was filled with with anger, and acted  against against Jesus. But here, they have continuing revival, the Spirit is poured out, the place being shaken. 

It's very interesting. We don't expect that to happen  very often. But it's reported sometimes in some revivals in history, God does some of these things. Again, there was a 20th century revival, mid 20th century revival in the Hebrides, mainly Presbyterian revival. And in when the when the  Spirit fell, initially, the place was shaking, people felt the houses shaking in more than one location. But in any case, as as the Spirit was poured out, the ensuing revival that's described in verses 32 through 37. It's interesting, because this speaks, especially of them, sharing possessions, giving to those who are in need, selling, selling whatever they had, when when people were need. Same thing we see in Acts 2:44-45. So this is radical. There are some people today who want to speak of the Spirit, just in terms of the power the Spirit gives us to  get things, but actually in Acts, the Spirit goes deeper than that. The Spirit transforms us from the inside, so that we say that we serve God gladly. So we  we're devoted to God and to one another. So we seek to meet one another's needs. There were a lot of very poor people in Jerusalem. And they wanted to make sure everybody was taken care of. 

Well, looking at some of these things in more detail. In chapter 4:4, the number of believers in Jerusalem is Peter was  preaching came to 5000 men, that's not including women and children, it's not Luke's fault that he doesn't have the total number, because people back then  often just counted by, by the number of men. So Luke has to give the the only  figure that he has, if Peter and John are depending on where they're preaching,  you know, they might be preaching just in the court of men, but chances are, they're they're preaching beyond that, beyond the Court of Israel, the preaching, not necessarily in the outer court, but in the, in the court of women, which is, before you get to the Court of Israel, and, and beyond that was the priestly sanctuary, none of them could have gone unless they were Levites. So probably a lot of women also had become believers and children had become believers. 5000 men, you know, let's, let's just say for the sake of argument, it  was like 10,000 people altogether, who were believers in Jerusalem. 

Now, in  most settings in history, actually women have outnumbered men in the church. That seems to have been the case in the first century, following what happened  with you had a lot more women converting to Judaism than men. Now, that was  obvious, because circumcision is painful for men and women didn't have to be circumcised. But even among God fearers the women outnumber the men,  partly because in ancient Mediterranean society, the men had social reasons not to convert, there were, they would lose social status in society, where whereas it wasn't as much of an issue for the women. That may or may not have been the  case in Jerusalem, but let's just say maybe about 10,000 believers in Jerusalem. People used to say, this isn't possible, because look, Jerusalem's population  was only about 25,000 in this period. But newer estimates based on  archaeology, have placed the population probably closer to about 85,000. So 10,000 is a very sizable number. But it's not like over half the population. What's interesting, though, when we compare it, probably the majority of Pharisees were centered in Jerusalem. And there were only according to Josephus never want to underestimate numbers, there were only about 6000 Pharisees altogether. There were only about 4000 Essenes. As far as I can recall, he  doesn't number the Sadducees. But my guess is they would not have outnumbered the Pharisees they would have been fewer, and maybe fewer than the Essenes. So already the number of believers in Jerusalem, out numbers, probably the entire number of Sadducees. 

Some people have said, well, these, these figures in the book of Acts can't be realistic. And especially when you get  to Acts 21:20, where it says that there were Myrioi 10s of 1000s of believers in Judea, that's not limited to Jerusalem, it's in Judea. Who are  zealous for the law. So 10s of 1000s of Judean believers, that means at the minimum 20,000 and maybe more than that. Some people have said that's not possible, because they calculate Well, you know, if the growth was steady, up  until the time of Constantine, you couldn't have started with this many people already in Jerusalem, who were believers. But who says that the growth was steady. If you look at various revival movements in history, often in the initial revival, there's a there's a massive spread. For example, in the United States, there was a revival here. The second Great Awakening that the Methodist Church in the United States, very much profited from. During that, during that  movement from the time that Francis Asbury arrived here. There were already  some Methodists for both from the time that he arrived here from from England  and began preaching to the time of his death. The Methodist Church grew about 1000 times over. Baptists grew hundreds of times over in roughly the same period. And you look at at some of the revivals and some other places that the Neoss revival and Indonesia huge growth of the church In that period, I believe that was like over 100 times over. You look at the Pentecostal revival in the early 20th century, starting from 1906. Now there were other people who were, you know, well, even even some who prayed in tongues. But there were other people who were Pentecostal like before that, and a lot of people were came into this  movement from other movements, the holiness, movement, and so on. But starting from 1906, where the movement really took off, we could say, really spread very quickly, till 2000, 2006. There are estimates, while these estimates don't include just denominational Pentecostals, they also include those who are  identified as charismatic. And there, there are reasons to well, the reasons why people are giving different estimates. But we may be talking about half a billion  people in one century, where if it's just classical denominational Pentecostals, at least a couple 100 million people. Now, that's phenomenal growth. 

Revival movements often begin with a spurt of massive growth. And there's there's no reason therefore, to doubt these kinds of figures that we have in the book of  Acts, when you compare sociological parallels today. In any case, chapter 4:6,Annas is called the High Priest even though officially Caiaphas was at the time, both named as High priest in Luke 3:2, because again, high priest could be used in the plural in this period, but they were both members of the high priestly  family, they both exerted a lot of power. And other sources view them negatively. I talked about this, this issue of playing on on the Greek word for salvation sozo, and sotiría, the non cognate. Peter also quotes here in chapter 4:11, Psalm 118:22, that Jesus had also cited back in Luke 20:17. The real cornerstone, on which the real temple of God is going to be built is not the temple establishment. But it's the stone that the builders themselves rejected, Jesus of Nazareth. Interestingly, even the place where he was rejected, the site of his crucifixion  was built near a stone quarry. So there are a lot of rejected stones there literally as well.

In terms of God's authority, rather than the hierarchy, when they when  they speak with boldness, to their challengers, philosophers often stressed obeying God rather than people Socrates was known for that. And so actually, some of the language that's used when Peter says something like that, again in chapter 5 is fairly close to Socrates. But it doesn't mean that Peter and John would have had to have known that, or the Sadducees, having more access to  Greek education, probably would have recognized an illusion that Peter didn't intend. But also this kind of boldness is modeled by the Old Testament prophets. Nathan, you are the man who king, or Elijah who confronts Ahab, and thereby Jezebel or Jeremiah, they confronted kings, they confronted authorities. Uriah did that. And he suffered martyrdom, Jeremiah 26.

Praising God in the face  of persecution. Remember what Jesus said in Luke 6, Luke's first volume,  rejoice leap for joy, when they persecute you, when they when they call you  false prophets, because it's the same way that their ancestors treated the  prophets who were before you. Paul rejoices in the same way. Paul and Silas when they're beaten, in Acts 16:25. They're praising God at midnight, like Psalm 119 talks about they're praising God at midnight, and the other prisoners are listening to them. And as they're as they're praising God, what happens?  Well, here in chapter 4, the place is shaken where they're assembled. There in chapter 16:26, the place is shaken to they have a literal earthquake and their bonds are loosed. In 4:24, they may be echoing Psalm 146:6, God made  heaven, earth, the sea, and all that's in them. Verses 25 and 26, as we mentioned, echo, Psalm 2:1-2, where the anointed applies to the Messiah. And  in verse 28, God, you determined this in advance. Just as in the Old Testament, God can even use the wicked to execute his own plan. The cross was his plan. The rulers meant it for evil, but God meant it for good. To use language for Joseph, or you think of how in Isaiah 10, Assyria was the rod of God's anger to  discipline the northern kingdom of Israel. But when God was done using them, because of their arrogance, thinking they were doing it on their own, God was  going to judge them too. God can use even the wicked as part of his plan to achieve his purposes, even though that's not their intention. God has His you  look at the sovereignty of God. And there are different ways of looking at it, my way of understanding this, that God is so sovereign, that he's able to accomplish His will, even by allowing people a measure of free choice, so that people have responsibility for what they do within the sphere. But God still accomplish his ultimate purpose as he for knows what they're going to do and works things  together. That's how sovereign and mighty God is and at one point, I just worked through the entire Bible, taking notes on this theme, and I was just astonished  at, especially the emphasis on God's sovereignty, because that's the part we need to be confronted with the most. Because that's the part we, you know,  living our ordinary daily lives don't take into account, but not not a hair from our head falls apart from God's will. People may do evil to us. But ultimately, God's  purposes will prevail for his church and eternally for each of us. 

Prayer for  boldness. Some people in the Old Testament when they were persecuted, they  prayed for vengeance. II Chronicles 24, Psalm 137, and Jeremiah 15. With here  the prayers for boldness and for signs. Just as in in verse 9, God had had granted boldness. Remember, Luke 11:13, Jesus promised that God would give the Holy Spirit to those who ask, here they ask, here it comes, the Holy Spirit  gives boldness. And in verse 33, it says, The apostles continue to give witness with power, presumably, given the way that language is used means signs continued to take place. 

And then, in the rest of this chapter, we have contrasting examples. We have Joseph Barnabas, who sold a field. That doesn't mean you know, people gave up their sandals and their cloaks and things like  that, necessarily, but he sold the field and gave the money to the apostles, the  apostles had oversight over the, the gifts to the poor. It just is more efficient if  you have somebody giving oversight. So people were contributing to this work, they knew that the apostles were trustworthy people of integrity, people following Jesus teaching and living according to Jesus teaching. So Jesus had talked a lot about caring for the poor. So the leaders are able to distribute the money, that's gonna become an issue in chapter 6, when they get to the point where they can't do it well enough, and they have to delegate. But in any case, Joseph is a  good example here. Joseph is called by them Barnabas nicknames were common. Joseph was a common name, you need another name to go with it to specify which Joseph this is. So it's not Joseph Barsabas, for example, who probably was born in the Sabbath, that's why it's called Barsabas, son of the Sabbath. But here we have Joseph Barnabas. And he's a Levite. from Cyprus. There was a significant Jewish community in Cyprus. And in chapter 11:20,  we're going to read that Cypriot and Cyrenian Jews began to spread the message to Gentiles. Well, you know, they had been scattered from Jerusalem. Barnabas may well have been one of them, who was first spreading this message to Gentiles, even though Luke is going to focus more on Paul, probably because Paul is his main source as well. 

But also that Joseph  Barnabas was a person with means we can gather from something that Luke doesn't tell us, because Mark was his cousin, or his relative, we read in Colossians 4. So when we read about John Mark's mother's house in Acts 12:12-13. She has a servant, she has an outer gate. Probably that means she lives in the upper city. She has a fairly well to do home. So Joseph, he is a  diaspora Jew. Originally he's he's from he's from the diaspora. But he's one who  has means and is settled in Jerusalem. But this is contrasted with another  example, in 4:36-37. The positive example is Joseph Barnabas. But in 5:1-11, we have a negative example. And that example is the example of Ananias and Sapphira. We don't know much extra biblically about them. But we do know that Sapphira was a name that meant beautiful it was especially common among the priestly elite. So people normally a men normally didn't marry above them  socially, in terms of wealth, sometimes they did, but not usually. So probably  they they were fairly well to do. Chapter 5:1-11 gives us a negative example of  people who said they were completely committed, who said they were part of this revival. But it was only on the surface, it was only for pretend.

In times of  revival, when people are devoting themselves to God. You don't want to fake it, you want to be part of the real thing. So the apostles have to address sin in the  camp. And here we have an issue of judgment. And some of the language here  in Greek echoes the Greek translation of Joshua 7, where we read about Achan, from the tribe of Judah, who had kept some of the spoils of Jericho for himself. They weren't to be kept for oneself. These were holy things set apart for Karem. They were devoted to destruction. They were to be destroyed because they  were so contaminated with the sin of Jericho. And by keeping this for himself, he brought judgment on the entire community. Sometimes we don't take sin very seriously today. 

For example, in I Corinthians 11, it's around verse 30. Paul  says, This is why there are many weak and sick among you and some have  died, because they weren't rightly discerning the body of Christ. And that seems to have inhibited the free flowing of gifts of healings among them. And Paul, you know, that's not the only reason that people can get sick and die. But the  community had sin in its midst. Sometimes passages in the Old Testament talk  about rooting that out, rooting that sin out. I Corinthians 5, uses language from Deuteronomy for executing, executing the sinner to root out evil from the from the midst of the community, for the church doesn't execute people, obviously, but for putting somebody out of the church who was committing very public and  and known sin. In this case, in the midst of this revival, it was even a private sin.  Well, it was public, but I mean, it wasn't known to be sin. The action was public,  but people didn't know. But we don't we don't always take sin seriously today.  And we, we want God's blessing on the community. 

Acts 5:1-4, the Dead Sea  Scrolls. In the Dead Sea scrolls that they required members to turn over their possessions after a trial period. The Pythagorians, which is a Greek philosophic sect, also required members to turn over their their possessions after a period of of testing to make sure they really wanted to join the community. The early Christians, however, didn't have a rule. That's why why Peter says to them, Wasn't this your own? You did this voluntarily. So the early Christians didn't have a rule, you have to give all your money to us, you have to give your possessions to us. It was because of love. And judgment is more serious here. Not because of what  they didn't give, but because of their pretense of commitment. Hypocrites didn't look very good in the Gospel of Luke. And it doesn't matter whether the hypocrite belongs to the sect of the Pharisees. Whether the hypocrite claims to  be a Christian. God does not like hypocrites. It hurts the spreading of the gospel. 

Well, the Dead Sea Scrolls excluded such an offender from the communal meal  for a year. And eventually, if they if they were caught a second time, they'd be excluded permanently from the community. Normally, that might be what the church would have done, but in this case, they're struck dead. Just like the two  sons of Aaron, who played with holy fire, the fire came out and struck them dead. That sometimes God enacts judgment. When people are treating his profane what is holy. Revival is holy, when God is pouring out the spirit. And we  don't want to fake it, we want to submit to the work of the Spirit during those times. And we thank God for that. But there's also a price to revival to. And  holiness is something that that is important in times of revival. 

We also see that  miracles increase. They had prayed for boldness, they prayed that God would continue to heal. And that happens, people are afraid to join the community  lightly after this. It doesn't mean that people were afraid to become believers. But they were afraid to become believers and join join the church, after they heard we happen to Ananias and Sapphira if they weren't really going to commit themselves to Christ. This, it says it brought fear upon upon the people. The same as when somebody was executed in the Old Testament, the purpose of it  was to make people afraid to commit the sin again. Now miracles increase, beyond this act of judgment. Most of the miracles are healings people bring the sick into the streets so that as Peter is passing by maybe on his way to prayer in the temple, even his shadow might touch them. People thought that the shadow  was attached to the person. That's why the many Jewish people thought you know, if your shadow touches a corpse, or your shadow touches a tomb, you become unclean. And so you know, this is what people were thinking. But the  power of the Spirit was so strong through Peter that people were being touched through this. Remember, in II Kings 13, I believe it is where Elijah was sick of a  sickness with which he died. And yet, he was so full of the power of God, that  when they threw a corpse in on top of his bones, the corpse came back to life. Remember, Jesus, in Luke 8, the woman reaches out and touches his clothing. And he says, I felt the power go out from me. In in Acts 19, cloths are taken from Paul. And people are miraculously healed through those cloths and demons are  cast out that way. We don't see this happening all the time. Often it's you know,  them saying, like, Paul perceive that somebody has faith to be healed and says in the name of Jesus be healed, and so on. But sometimes, the Spirit of God was being poured out so dramatically, that we have it even on this level of intensity. 

Now, the problem that this brought is that when you have miracles, a lot of people are, are more likely to pay attention. That's great. That means a lot of people will turn to God. But it also means the people who aren't going to turn to God can't ignore you either. And so in the next lesson, we're going to see that they get in trouble with the Sadducees again.  

Announcer - This is Dr. Craig Keener, in his teaching on the book of Acts. This is session number 8 on Acts chapters 3 through 5

Last modified: Tuesday, May 9, 2023, 8:20 AM