Not everyone receives the Gospel with joy and happiness. Many, in fact, are negative and even retaliate with violence. This has been true since the Gospel was first preached and remains true today as well.
One needs to see and understand the enemy of God and the Gospel, who is our enemy too, is opposed to see God glorified and inspires his agents to reject the Gospel seeking to destroy it … if that was possible.
You might say as we study the Book of Acts that even though the Jewish authorities rejected the Gospel … “how can they be the enemy of God and how can they serve the devil?” A quick answer would be … “If they reject the Gospel, are they God’s friends?”
As always, we work our way slowly through chapters of the Book. For today, please read the following passage, even though we will not deal with it completely today:
Ac 4:1 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people. 2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day. 4 But many who heard the message believed, and the number of men grew to about five thousand.
5 The next day the rulers, elders and teachers of the law met in Jerusalem. 6 Annas the high priest was there, and so were Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men of the high priest’s family. 7 They had Peter and John brought before them and began to question them: “By what power or what name did you do this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10 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. 11 He is
“‘the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the capstone.’
12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
1) We need to start off asking who were the priests, captain of the temple, Sadducees (4:1) and the high priest Annas, also Caiaphas, John, Alexander and the other men from the high priest’s family (4:6)?
(1) Annas was the high priest from AD 6 to 15. He was removed from this office by the Romans. Even though officially “out of ministry”, he tended to exercise considerable power behind the scenes as we saw with Jesus trial. In actuality, he was the power behind the decisions made. Five of his sons succeeded him as high priest. At the time of Jesus and later the apostles, Caiaphas was the high priest from AD 18-36. He was Annas’ son-in-law.
(2) John and Alexander were together with “the other men”, part of the high priest’s family.
(3) The captain of the temple guard. There is no information or job description about his office. At best, he seems to be the one in charge of the security component of the Sanhedrin and its office bearers.
(4) The Sanhedrin had three components.
(a) The rulers in the shape of the high priests;
(b) The elders were high ranking men in the Jewish community. They were the Sadducees who came from the upper-class … wealthy Jewish aristocrats; and
(c) The teachers of the Law. Within this last group were the Pharisees and Scribes. The Pharisees came from all economic classes. The difference between the Sadducees and Pharisees were:
(i) The Sadducees believed people had total free will whilst the Pharisees believed that whilst people have free will, God also has foreknowledge of human destiny.
(ii) The Sadducees did not believe in the existence or influence of spirits and angels where the Pharisees believed they existed.
(iii) The Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection of the dead and life after death. They rejected the immortality of the soul whilst the Pharisees believed in these things.
(iv) The Pharisees promoted priestly purity for all Jews.
(v) They believed that apart from the Ten Commandments there was an oral law passed down from Moses. The Sadducees denied this. As you read the Gospel, you will see how Jesus responded to questions or theological positions of both the Sadducees and Pharisees based upon these first five matters. Paul also sided with the Pharisees based upon their doctrinal differences with the Sadducees. This saved his hide.
(vi) The great difference between Judaism as it was then and Christianity today is that in Jesus Christ we are all equal. Just because one might be a pastor teacher, another an evangelist, still another a musician, usher, etc. … we are all equal in God’s sight. Together, as each member of the Body exercises their spiritual gifts, they make the Church work in love, reflecting harmony and revealing an attractiveness to those outside of the Body.
(vii) The problem we have today is not so much the different denominations, federations and alliances, but what we believe being part of one of these groups. You see, Church Government, although important, might vary yet have little impact on the ministry of a Church; however, doctrinal differences will cause many problems. I would suggest the starting point is one’s belief or non-belief in the Bible as God’s inspired, inerrant, authoritative Word. If this be the case then all doctrines need to flow from the Bible … and doctrine must result in practical ministry. I subscribe to the Reformed Faith in the Anglican Fold. There are Reformed Baptists, Presbyterians, Independents, etc. We differ with Church Government but have the same doctrinal persuasion.
2) Part of the crowd who gathered around the crippled beggar who was healed were …
Ac 4:1 The priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to Peter and John while they were speaking to the people.
They obviously heard the commotion and saw the numbers at the temple dwindle, and ran to where the apostles were. They went to see what this was all about and heard what was preached—resulting in:
Ac 4:2 They were greatly disturbed because the apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.
The Gospel of Jesus angered them to the point where …
Ac 4:3 They seized Peter and John, and because it was evening, they put them in jail until the next day.
Father, grant us grace to share the Gospel even if we face hardship and imprisonment. We believe it is Your power to save souls. Amen.