Daily Devotional

September 26, 2019

Daybreak: Acts 4:1-31

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

Many times when we need to make a decision, there are a number of possible options. A while back, my wife and I decided we needed a newer vehicle. We went to a used car lot where there were four or five hundred cars on display, and gave the salesman who approached us a general description of what we were looking for and our approximate price range. He directed us to an aisle of cars, and we started working our way along, looking at various makes and models. We discussed color and style, studied documentation, compared prices, and sat in a number of them. About halfway down the aisle, I asked my wife what she thought so far. She said, “I don’t know. They are all running together!” There were just too many choices.

Sometimes, however, our options are limited. A few years ago, my wife and I were getting ready to go on a vacation out of the country. About two weeks before we were scheduled to leave, I was examining our paperwork and suddenly realized that my passport had expired. We had paid for most of the trip in advance, and many of those payments were non-refundable, including our plane tickets and hotel. I had a sinking, desperate feeling that our money would be wasted because I would not be able to travel with an expired passport!

Thankfully, a bit of online research revealed that others have faced a similar dilemma, and the United States government has an option for people who need a quick passport renewal. For an extra fee, travelers can get their passports renewed in a single day. I made an appointment at the nearest U.S. Consulate in Seattle, Washington, took a day off work, and made the three-hour drive to Seattle. It was the only good option, and I was thankful to have it.

When it comes to salvation from sin, there are not multiple options. In today’s focus verse, Peter said that there is only one Name under Heaven through which we can be saved. He was speaking to the Jewish leaders, and they did not want to believe that Jesus was the way to salvation. Today people may suggest there are many religions and ways to Heaven, but the Bible is clear that salvation comes through Jesus Christ. He who was sinless became the sacrifice for our sins, paying the price for our redemption. His option is the only option, and it is a good one. Over the centuries, it has proved true and reliable for those who have taken advantage of it.

Today, we can rejoice that God has made a way for any person to be saved. And once we are forgiven, we want others to know about this way of salvation as well. We want them to find the only option for receiving everlasting life.

Background

In the previous chapter, a lame man had been healed and Peter had preached his second sermon recorded in Acts. This chapter describes the reaction of the religious leaders and their efforts to stop the Apostles. Christ’s followers responded by praying for boldness to preach the Gospel (verses 23-31).

In verse 1, those who “came upon” Peter and John were the chief priests, the Temple guard captain (who was also a priest and responsible for maintaining order around the Temple), and the Sadducees. Many scholars conclude that most of the priests were Sadducees, a political and religious sect which did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. Therefore, they were particularly indignant that Peter and John “preached through Jesus the resurrection.”

Jewish law stipulated that judgments involving life or death matters had to begin and conclude during daylight hours. Temple sacrifices ended at about 4:00 p.m. and since no judgment had been rendered, Peter and John were incarcerated for the night.

The next day Peter and John were brought before the “rulers, and elders, and scribes” (verses 5-7). These included the Sanhedrin, which was the highest Jewish court. It consisted of seventy members and the high priest. Annas previously had been the high priest from approximately A.D. 6-15. At this time, his son-in-law, Caiaphas (who served from A.D. 18-36) held the title. Even though Annas was no longer the high priest, he had placed relatives in key positions, and continued to play an important role in the Temple.

The Sanhedrin felt they alone had the authority to decide what could be taught to the people. When they asked Peter and John the name by which they had preached, they may have been questioning the disciples’ authority. Peter began his response with, “Ye rulers of the people and elders of Israel,” which was a respectful way to address them. He proceeded to boldly attribute the healing to Jesus, and to reference Christ’s death and resurrection. In verse 11, Peter spoke of Psalm 118:22. Then in verse 12, he made the important declaration that salvation can only be obtained through Jesus Christ.

The words “unlearned and ignorant” in verse 13 referred to the fact that the Apostles had not received formal training as rabbis. “Unlearned” (in the Greek, agrammatos) has the literal meaning of “unlettered.” The members of the Sanhedrin — teachers who were well educated in Rabbinic schools — marveled that Peter and John could so confidently and aptly present their theology.

These Jewish leaders faced a dilemma. The man who had been healed was standing there, so the “notable miracle” (literally, “known sign”) mentioned in verse 16 could not be denied. In an effort to stop the spread of the belief in Jesus, they threatened the Apostles, commanding them not to teach in the Name of Jesus. Peter and John refused to acquiesce, and boldly declared their determination to “speak the things which we have seen and heard.” The only response the Sanhedrin could give was further threats.

When Peter and John were allowed to go, they met with believers to give a report, to praise God, and to pray for courage (verses 23-31). They began their prayer by acknowledging that God is the Creator, and therefore sovereign in every situation.

Verses 25-26 are a quote from Psalm 2:1-2. The believers’ petition was not for protection, but rather that they would have boldness to speak and work for God. The place where they were praying was shaken, and they received an assurance that their prayers were answered. 

Amplified Outline

(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)

II.    The witness in Jerusalem
    B.    The witness by Peter and John
        3.    The result of the message (4:1-31)
            a.    The imprisonment of Peter and John (4:1-4)
            b.    The interrogation of Peter and John (4:5-12)
                (1)    The inquiry concerning their power (4:5-7)
                (2)    The explanation by Peter (4:8-12)
            c.    The deliberation over Peter and John (4:13-22)
                (1)    The debate over punishment (4:13-18)
                (2)    The reply of Peter and John (4:19-20)
                (3)    The release of Peter and John (4:21-22)
            d.    The prayer for guidance (4:23-31)

A Closer Look

  1. How old was the man who was healed (see verse 22) and why was his age significant?

  2. The Jewish rulers were afraid that this notable miracle would cause the Gospel message of Jesus to spread. Why do you think that would be a concern to them?

  3. How can we have boldness to proclaim that Jesus is the way to salvation?

Conclusion

Salvation comes only through Jesus Christ. We want to embrace that truth and share it with others.

Reference Materials