This study on Acts 4:13-31 focuses on the boldness of the Apostles as they faced the Sanhedrin. Reading Acts 4 shows that boldness serves as the theme of the chapter.
Boldness after walking with Jesus
In verses 13 – 17 the disciples were told to leave the council of the Sanhedrin while they considered the case. They were impressed with the boldness of the apostles. This is significant inasmuch as Peter had denied his Lord in fear just a few weeks before. The phrase “unschooled and ordinary” (verse 13) literally means “untaught and unlettered”. That is, the apostles had not been instructed in the official schools of the rabbis. Yet, they knew so much more about the Scriptures than did the religious leaders. The leaders also realized that these men “had been with Jesus” (verse 13) in the Garden and during His last week in Jerusalem before His death. However, they faced an even greater problem: how could they explain the healing of the beggar? They could not deny the miracle, so they decided to silence the messengers.
Boldness in loyalty to Jesus
The apostles did not accept this verdict of the opposition. Their loyalty to Jesus, their Lord meant more than any protection from the government. The judges finally had to let them go. The boldness of the disciples, the power of the Word, and the testimony of the healed beggar were too good a “case” and the judges had no answer.
Boldness through corporate prayer (4:23 – 31)
True believers always return “to their own people” (1 John 2:19). The assembly did not lament because persecution had begun. Rather, the believers rejoiced and prayed! Note that in verses 25 – 26 they referred to Psalm 2, which is a Messianic Psalm, speaking about the day when the Messiah shall return to rule with power. Believers today ought to imitate the first believers in their praying, for they tied their praying to the Word of God (John 15:7).
They prayed for boldness, and God answered by filling them with the Spirit. This was not a “second Pentecost,” for the Spirit came to fill with power and not to baptize the believers. The Holy Spirit also gave them a wonderful unity, so much so that they sold their goods and shared with those in need. This “believers’ communal living” was another proof of the presence of the Spirit, a sample of what will happen in the Kingdom age when all nations have the Spirit and unselfishly love one another. This “communal living” has no relation to Marxist communism. Please note that this sharing of goods was a temporary occurrence and is not required by the church of Jesus today.
While believers today are to have the same spirit of love, they are not expected to sell their goods and form a separate community. In 11:27 – 30, the believers at Antioch sent an offering to the Jerusalem believers (Romans 15:26,
1 Corinthians 16:1 – 3, 2 Corinthians 8:1 – 4 and 9:2). When Israel rejected the message, this gracious working of the Spirit gradually disappeared. The pattern for New Testament church giving is found in 2 Corinthians 8 – 9, 1 Timothy 5:8 and
2 Thessalonians 3:7 – 13.
“Boldness” seems to be a key thought in this study. The early believers received this boldness as they were filled with the Spirit (verses 8 and 31), prayed and were loyal to Jesus by relying on the word of God. You and I may have boldness in our walk and witness if we feed on the Word, pray and surrender to the Spirit. We may have boldness on earth because Jesus gives us boldness in heaven (Hebrews 4:16 and 10:19).