Acts: The Apostles Before the Council

Sermon & Small Group Resources

This is the fifth sermon in our series on the book of Acts on “The Apostles in Before the Council”. Preacher: The Rev’d David Browne. Bible Reading: Acts 4:5-31.

Download the Small Group Questions, Going Deeper, and Sermon Transcript (PDF).

Next Steps this Week

BIBLE READING: Acts 4:5-31

The next day the rulers, the elders and the teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and others of the high priest’s family. They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?”

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 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, 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. Jesus is

“ ‘the stone you builders rejected,

which has become the cornerstone.’

Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say. So they ordered them to withdraw from the Sanhedrin and then conferred together. “What are we going to do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone living in Jerusalem knows they have performed a notable sign, and we cannot deny it. But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we must warn them to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”

Then they called them in again and commanded them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John replied, “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.”

After further threats they let them go. They could not decide how to punish them, because all the people were praising God for what had happened. For the man who was miraculously healed was over forty years old.

On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David:

“ ‘Why do the nations rage

and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth rise up

and the rulers band together

against the Lord

and against his anointed one. ’

Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”

After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly.

SMALL GROUP QUESTIONS

Download in PDF format.

CONNECT: What might it look like for your ‘one person’ to turn to Jesus? Pray each day this week (at a set time) for that to become a reality.

WARM-UP Questions

  1. Have you ever come across someone who tried to punish you for doing something good? Why do you think they behaved this way? 

READ Acts 4:5-10

  1. How do you think the apostles would have felt after a night in jail, knowing they were fronting up to the same court that called for Jesus’ crucifixion?

  2. Why are Peter and John questioned about the power and name by which they healed the man? 

  3. What can we learn from the way in which the apostles interact with such hostile authorities?

READ Acts 4:11-15

  1. In v.11 Peter quotes from Psalm 118:22 which appears 5 times in the New Testament. Why do you think this is such a commonly quoted passage? 

  2. Why might people today react to the claim that ‘there is no other name … by which we must be saved? How can Christians convey the significance of this truth in order to help people understand it?

  3. Why are the priests so surprised by Peter and John? Why was it so difficult for them to believe?

  4. What principles and qualities are important for Christians to adopt in order for their gospel witness to be sensitive and effective at the same time?

READ Acts 4:16-20

  1. Why did the Sanhedrin find it so difficult to deal with Peter and John?

  2. How do Peter and John respond to the authorities? What does this show us about who they fear most?

  3. How can Christians today balance the need to obey human authorities (Romans 13:1-7) whilst remaining faithful to God? 

APPLY This Week: Think about ways you can encourage those who are discouraged to keep sharing the gospel.

PRAYER

Dear God, thank you that you that you are a loving and healing God. Please help me to be a faithful witness of your power and authority in my life whilst loving those around me and submitting to those you have put over me. Help me to clearly and effectively share your unstoppable gospel everyday! Amen! 

GOING DEEPER

WITH CHILDREN