The holy city of Jerusalem bustled with activity under the midday sun. Merchants hawked their wares in the crowded stalls of the marketplace while temple priests hurried about their duties. Peter and John made their way to the temple for afternoon prayers. As they approached the Beautiful Gate, a man crippled from birth called out, pleading for money. This pitiful scene was all too familiar – the man was a regular fixture at the temple, entirely dependent on the charity of others.
But on this day, no coins glinted in the sunlight as they passed his outstretched hand. Instead, Peter’s words rang out: “I have no silver or gold, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!” Then, grasping the man’s hand, Peter lifted him to his feet. Strength flooded the man’s limbs, and he stood upright for the first time in his life. In the name of faith, ordinary hands perform extraordinary miracles. Overjoyed, he followed Peter and John into the temple, leaping and shouting praises to God.
The spectacle drew crowds of astonished onlookers as they recognized the man – the same crippled beggar they had passed countless times before! Bewildered and amazed, they flocked around Peter and John seeking an explanation. Rather than take credit, Peter turned their focus to Jesus: “It is by faith in His name that this man stands healed before you today.”
This event and what follows marked a turning point for the early church. Despite growing opposition from the religious leaders, the apostles, with God’s with power and authority, pressed on to their calling to spread the gospel. And through these two men, God worked wonders through their hands, confirming the truth of their message. In Acts 4:1-14, Peter and John now find themselves before the Sanhedrin proclaiming the awe-inspiring power of Jesus’ name.
In the name of faith, ordinary hands perform extraordinary miracles.
A Miraculous Melody: E.P. Scott’s Rediscovery of Jesus’ Power
Centuries later, the power of Jesus’ name was rediscovered by missionary E.P. Scott during his ministry in India. Scott felt called to travel to a remote region of the country. After two days of arduous journeying, he was surrounded by an armed band of men. With spears pointed directly at him, Scott took out his violin and began to play the hymn “All Hail the Power of Jesus’ Name.” Amazingly, the men lowered their spears and were moved to tears by the song. Scott’s experience vividly illustrates the enduring power in the name of Jesus, echoing Peter’s proclamation of that name’s authority centuries earlier. This story resonates with Peter’s proclamation in the first church we will look at today.
Growth and Perseverance: The Apostles’ Bold Stand
The church has continued to grow, and the original disciples are demonstrating God’s power through signs and wonders. In Acts 3, Peter and John heal a man who had been unable to walk, drawing attention and leading to their arrest in chapter four. The next day, they are brought before the high priest and the Sanhedrin, the seventy-one-member body that ruled the temple. Despite the powerful families and influential former high priests, Peter courageously speaks to this body of ultimate power within Judaism. The chapter begins with Peter and John’s arrest by the Sadducees, who were disturbed by their teachings on Jesus’ resurrection. Despite being jailed, they remained steadfast, and their message reached over five thousand men. The gospel’s voice is not silenced by chains or threats but emboldened by truth and conviction. The religious leaders, although acknowledging the miracle, wanted to silence Peter and John with threats. However, the apostles refused to obey, stating they would continue speaking what they had seen and heard.
The gospel’s voice is not silenced by chains or threats but emboldened by truth and conviction.
A Cornerstone Rejected: Peter’s Defiant Proclamation
Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, proclaimed that the lame man was healed by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. He referred to Jesus as “the stone you masons threw out, which is now the cornerstone”. Their confidence fascinated the rulers, who recognized them as companions of Jesus.
One Path to Salvation: The Exclusivity of Jesus’ Name
Peter declares, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved”. This remarkable claim to religious experts emphasizes that salvation is found only in Jesus’ name. Peter’s proclamation focuses on God’s power in Christ. As the famous pastor Charles H. Spurgeon once said, ‘Look to Christ, and you shall be saved.' This simple yet profound statement encapsulates the essence of salvation in Acts 4, reminding us that faith in Christ is the sole path to redemption. Peter’s exclusive claim challenged religious authorities.
Peter declares, “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” This remarkable claim to religious experts emphasizes that salvation is found only in Jesus’ name.
A Challenge to Authority: The Sanhedrin’s Inquiry
The Sanhedrin summoned Peter and John, asking, “By what power or by what name did you do this?”. Peter turns their position upside down, painting them as opposed to a good deed done for a disabled person. He then informs them that the power of Jesus’ name did the miracle. The conversation can be summarized as follows:
Sanhedrin: “How are you able to do this?”
Peter: “If by ‘this,’ you mean ‘perform a good deed for someone sick,’ then we did it by the power of the name of Jesus!”
At that moment, you could probably hear a proverbial pin drop. The Sanhedrin’s question reveals their concern over Peter and John’s power source. In attributing the miracle to Jesus’ name, Peter’s response challenges their authority and emphasizes the supremacy of Christ’s power.
Ordinary Men, Extraordinary Faith: The Sanhedrin’s Astonishment
The Sanhedrin’s astonishment at John and Peter’s boldness, despite being ‘uneducated, common men', highlights the transformative power of faith and the gospel. Tim Keller’s explains how ordinary people, empowered by Christ, can make an extraordinary impact. He explains, “But the reason they were astonished was because they did not grasp the gospel. The gospel is that one’s past record is never pristine (it is full of selfishness, pride and sin) and that therefore ‘ordinary men’ can be saved and chosen and gifted by God for service. Peter and John have this confidence because they have received their position with God and their position in his service all by grace”.
Acts 4 makes some profound and powerful proclamations, miraculous healings, and bold testimonies. Tim Keller notes that faith empowers ordinary people to achieve the extraordinary. We have explored the early church’s miracles, bold words, and unwavering faith. Despite opposition, they spread the gospel, reminding us of Jesus’ mighty name. As Charles Spurgeon once said, ‘The way to be saved is to look to Christ on the cross, and as you look to Him, to understand these two things: that He is able to save, and that He is willing to save, and especially to understand that He is willing to save you.' May these timeless words guide us today.
Together, look back at Acts 4 and allow ourselves to be inspired to live out our faith with boldness and conviction. How can we apply these truths daily? Please share your thoughts.
Watch Pastor Paul’s August 13, 2023 Sermon on Acts 4.
- Duncan Morrison, The Great Hymns of the Church [Toronto: Hart & Company, 1890], 157–158.
- Acts 4:1-2, ; Acts 4:3
- William Barclay, The Acts of the Apostles, Daily Study Bible [Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1976], 38–39.
- Acts 4:4
- Acts 4:15-17
- Acts 4:19-20
- Acts 4:10
- Acts 4:11, MSG
- Acts 4:13
- Acts 4:12
- Charles H. Spurgeon, Sermon No. 1736, delivered on August 19, 1883. Available at The Spurgeon Center.
- Acts 4:7, NIV
- Acts 4:8–9, 10
- Acts 4:13, NIV
- Tim Keller, Evangelism: Studies in the Book of Acts [New York: Redeemer Presbyterian Church, 2005], 46.