No Other Name

Posted: July 1, 2018 in Acts, Uncategorized

Acts 4:1-12, “No Other Name”

In the famous line from Romeo and Juliet, Juliet questions why Romeo’s family name matters, saying, “What’s in a name? that which we call a rose By any other name would smell as sweet;” (Romeo & Juliet, Act II, Scene II). With all due respect to William Shakespeare, sometimes names do matter, and they matter much. Having the wrong name on your boarding pass means you don’t get on your flight – knowing the right people (and thus the right name) can sometimes get you into special areas. Few people, for instance, have access to the residential wing at the White House, but if your last name happens to be “Trump,” you can walk right in.

Names matter in the Church, too. Not from an aspect of so-called celebrity pastors or wealthy-donors, but names matter for basic access. With faith in the right name, we have access to Almighty God; without that name, we don’t. No amount of money can purchase our way to heaven – no number of good deeds can work our way in – not even true sincerity in the faith of our choice matters. We need to know a certain name (meaning a certain Person), and without Him, we have nothing.

That name is Jesus. Specifically, it is Jesus of Nazareth, declared to be Christ the Lord through His resurrection after the cross. Hearkening back to Shakespeare, the language/translation in which we know the name doesn’t matter (be it “Jesus,” “Iesous,” “Yeshua,” “Yesu,” etc.), but the reality of the specific person does. To know Jesus is to know God – to know Jesus in faith is the only way to spend eternity with God. There simply is no other way. Jesus alone saves. We must have faith in His name.

This is the bold statement made by Peter to the priests. He knew the truth, and he wasn’t about to back down – no matter who it was that was questioning him.

Back up a bit: The Church had just begun. It was still in its infancy being only a few months removed from Jesus’ resurrection, and a few short weeks from the Holy Spirit’s baptism. 3000 people had been saved on the day of Pentecost, but due to God’s work among the fledgling church, people were getting saved on a daily basis. The believers in Jerusalem had quite an impact on the city around them, and the work & love of Jesus among them could not be denied.

It was during those days that Peter and John healed a paralyzed man who was begging alms at the temple. The man was simply doing what he had always done, and so were Peter & John. They had gone to the temple only to pray, but they were led by the Spirit to extend the grace of Jesus to this man, and he was led to respond.

The temple crowd quickly took notice, and Peter quickly took advantage of the opportunity to preach the gospel. It wasn’t Peter or John who had the power to make the lame man walk; it was Jesus. The same Jesus the Jews had rejected mere months earlier was risen from the dead in fulfillment of prophecy, and He offered not only healing to the man from his paralysis, but healing to all the people from their sin & iniquities. Every one of them could be saved!

Ideally, Peter and John would have been able to continue preaching at this point, perhaps extending an invitation while a choir sang “Just As I Am.” 😊 They didn’t get the chance. Peter’s message was interrupted by his arrest, and soon he and John would face their first courtroom trial as Christians. How would Peter answer? What would he say? He’d say the same thing to the Sanhedrin as he said to the temple crowd: Jesus saves, and He is the only one who can. Believe on the name of Jesus!

Acts 4:1–12

  • The apostles arrested (1-4)

1 Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

  1. Although Luke recorded only the words of Peter in Acts 3, it was both Peter and John that “spoke to the people” (3rd person plural pronoun, “they”). Luke likely provided only a summary of Peter’s main message, and it would have originally gone on much long – as would be necessary if the captain of the temple guard was to arrest Peter and John while they were still teaching. Keep in mind that (as with the four gospels) the book of Acts does not serve so much as an exhaustive courtroom transcript as it does a God-given summary of the events & teachings of the early church & apostles. And even here, two apostles in particular: Peter & Paul. In the first several chapters as the gospel is taken to Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, the primary actor is Peter. Once the gospel starts to go to the ends of the earth, the spotlight shifts to Paul. As a historian & writer, Luke probably spent the majority of his research time with the two of them, so his writing is based on their perspectives. Certainly neither John nor the other apostles were silent during these events; we just don’t have their words.
    1. That said, remember that the words we do have are words given by inspiration of God the Holy Spirit. They may be summaries of what was said, but they are divine The words we have are still the very words of God.
  2. The bottom line is that Peter & John were engaged in active ministry when they were arrested. The miracle granted by God did not guarantee them an easy time. The large audience available to them to preach the gospel at the temple did not guarantee that they would always have access to this audience. Peter & John were doing exactly what they needed to do to exactly the right people at exactly the right time – yet the apostles still faced persecution and trial.
    1. For some, they would assume that the arrival of the temple police meant that their opportunity had closed. For some, the arrival of any challenge would signify that God wasn’t in this, and they needed to do something else. Unless God makes it easy, then He isn’t providing for, or “blessing” the ministry. Newsflash: God rarely makes it easy! In fact, the arrival of hardship is very often one indication we’re doing things right. After all, the devil doesn’t have much reason to attack people who pose no threat. Sometimes he does, simply to keep them enslaved to lies, but other times he leaves them alone because they’re already lost & remaining lost. It is the active born-again obedient Christian that poses a threat to the devil, and that is the person who will most often come under attack.
    2. Besides, who is to say that the challenge faced is truly an “attack”? God is sovereign, and He uses even the fears of others for His glory. The fear of the Sadducees was the very thing that gave Peter and John a platform to speak to them of the gospel. What the Sadducees likely viewed as an assertion of their authority was them being used as tools in the hands of God. As for us, we need to trust God! Trust that He knows what He’s doing, and trust that He is always in control.
    3. BTW, If you never face challenges in your ministry/service to the Lord, you might want to ask why not. Of course we don’t seek out trouble, but for those who regularly share the gospel and actively serve Jesus, trouble is not often far behind. Jesus warned His disciples that the world would hate them, so that shouldn’t be a surprise. Even so, they could have hope, because Jesus is stronger. John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world.” Trust Christ!
  3. Luke also tells us who came & the reason they came. It was a combination of “the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees.” Actually, they were all Sadducees – some simply had specific titles. The priesthood was comprised of the Sadducee class, as was the captain of the temple guard. In fact, the captain was second in authority in the temple only to the chief priest. Being invested with so much authority at the temple, he needed to come from the same theological background and party. The fact they were Sadducees explains why they had problems with Peter & John. The two apostles “preached in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.” As a whole, the Sadducees did not believe in the resurrection (or angels, or demons, or even some of the books of the Hebrew Bible). So they had a situation where unauthorized teachers were preaching unauthorized doctrine. It’s no wonder they shut it down.
  4. Interestingly, Luke did not record this specific resurrection-teaching from Peter and John. Peter did preach that Jesus is risen from the dead (Acts 3:15, 26), but nothing is written in Peter’s message of how Jesus’ resurrection relates to our resurrection. Yet apparently Peter & John did preach this, and for good reason – it’s true! As Paul later wrote to the Corinthians, Jesus is the firstfruits of those risen from the dead (1 Cor 15:20). His resurrection proves the hope of our resurrection, which is the fullness of our hope in Christ. Our resurrection is part & parcel with our eternal life and the culmination of all things leading into eternity. After all, how do we have eternal life, apart from resurrected life? They go hand-in-hand. The guaranteed proof we have of any of the promises we have in God is the resurrection of Jesus. It ought to be no wonder that Peter & John taught it to the crowd – it is essential to Christianity itself!
    1. Do you have hope in the future resurrection? Do you have total confidence that you will be included with the saints when Jesus calls us home? If not, you can. If you are not absolutely certain, then you can be certain today. Trust Christ!

3 And they laid hands on them, and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening.

  1. Luke already told us that the original healing took place sometime around 3pm (the ninth hour, Acts 3:1). Apparently, the apostles had been able to preach and teach for quite some time before they were arrested. Even if they had been arrested relatively early (say around 4:30-5:00), there still was not time to gather the entire Sanhedrin council in order for a legal hearing to take place. Evening/night trials were illegal (although this was ignored in Jesus’ case). A proper official hearing had to wait until morning.
  2. That meant Peter and John spent the night in jail (or some form of custody). It was likely the first time they had been arrested – it wouldn’t be the last! Again, for the many TV preachers who claim that prosperity is a sign of God’s blessing, God’s word puts the lie to their false teaching. Peter and John were smack-dab in the middle of God’s will for them, and it’s unlikely that they felt very prosperous as they spent the night in their cell.
    1. Even so, don’t get the idea that Peter & John felt sad or troubled about all of this. Of course they had no idea what the morning would hold, but they had been arrested for the most glorious of reasons: they were witnesses of their Lord Jesus! Luke doesn’t write anything about that first night, but when they were released after a subsequent jailing, the apostles rejoiced “that they were counted worthy to suffer shame” for Jesus’ name (Acts 5:41). As Peter later wrote in his first epistle: 1 Peter 4:12–13, “(12) Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; (13) but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy.” It’s one thing to suffer for the consequences of sin. If our criminal actions land us in jail, we deserve the results. Yet if we suffer because of our faith in Christ, rejoice! Why? If nothing else, because enough evidence exists to others that they know you are a Christian!
  3. From the Sanhedrin’s perspective, they had addressed their “problem.” Those trouble-making teachers were arrested, so that would be the end of it. Right? Wrong!

4 However, many of those who heard the word believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand.

  1. Like rocks thrown into a pond, the gospel preached and demonstrated by the two apostles had a massive ripple effect. Even after they were taken away, the word that was preached to them rung in their ears & resonated in their hearts. “Many” believed & were saved! How many was “many”? We don’t know the exact amount from this one moment. Overall, the church was up 2000 from Pentecost. Probably, it was not all in this one day, as God was daily adding to the church (2:47). This is the grand total over the course of time to this point. Even so, there’s no doubt a great many of this new total was saved that very day.
    1. What hope this ought to give us! Sometimes it can be easy to get discouraged as we share the gospel. After all, we have no guarantee that anyone will respond in the moment, and sometimes it can seem like no one ever gets saved, no matter how often we tell people about Jesus. But some will! Maybe they come a few at a time – maybe they come all at once. Either way, they will come…in God’s time, according to God’s will. We do not determine who responds when – we can only be faithful in sharing the message of Jesus. Peter & John had no idea what the response to their message might have been, but it didn’t stop them from sharing it. Neither should it for us!
  2. So Peter and John are in jail overnight – their first time in a cell, awaiting for the next morning. What would happen? They soon found out!
  • The apostles’ answer (5-12)

5 And it came to pass, on the next day, that their rulers, elders, and scribes, 6 as well as Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the family of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.

  1. Notice that with the day, there was much more than only the Sadducees gathered for the trial/hearing. The mention of the “scribes,” along with the “rulers and elders,” meant that Pharisees were present as well. Although the priests and ruling caste was comprised of mostly Sadducees, the scribes were mainly of the Pharisee party. In that culture, a “scribe” wasn’t simply a human printer/Xerox machine; he was an expert in the law of Moses and traditions of the rabbis. If two disciples of Jesus were to be judged for what they taught, the priests could hardly do any better than to ensure they had several scribes present to be able to judge the teaching as Biblical (or not). Of course, scribes were regularly included within the Sanhedrin for this purpose, and the basic idea is that the whole group was present. They had a necessary quorum for a hearing, and they could proceed.
  2. Notice also some of the names that are mentioned, mostly those of “Annas the high priest,” and his family. From the gospels, we know that Caiaphas was actually high priest that particular year, but Annas was the patriarch of the family. He had also been high priest, and although he no longer served in the role, he maintained the title. (Much like retired presidents, governors, generals, etc., are still referred to by their previous title.) What makes this so interesting in this case is that many of these were the same people who delivered Jesus over to Pilate. They were the ones who set up Jesus for an illegal kangaroo court where they railroaded Him with false charges. They were central to Jesus’ execution, as they were the ones who specifically sought it out. They wanted Jesus dead, and they were willing to lie & cheat in order to see it done. We can only imagine what went ringing through their heads when they heard by what name Peter & John had done this miracle!

7 And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, “By what power or by what name have you done this?”

  1. Straightforward question. They were basically asking how the miracle was done. What power? What name? Different terms for the same idea: upon what authority had the miracle been done. Peter & John had been clear to the crowds that it wasn’t them who had any power to heal the lame, and as the Sanhedrin looked at them, the elite rulers probably realized quickly that these two men didn’t have a lot of authority inherent in themselves. Who had empowered them? Who authorized them for this work?
  2. There isn’t much here for which we can commend the Sanhedrin, but this much is good. They saw Peter & John & realized there was something else going on – something far more powerful. They recognized the supernatural hand of God, even if they weren’t yet willing to admit that God not only blessed the act, but was personally behind it. This is what we ought to want for us: that when people see us, they don’t see us; they see Jesus. Even if they don’t know it’s Jesus – even if they aren’t yet ready to give Him glory as God, how wonderful it is that they still see evidence of Him in our lives, to the point that we are transparent! 

8 Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, …

  1. Stop right there – notice the singular qualifying factor upon Peter before a single word of his is mentioned. Peter was “filled with the Holy Spirit.” To be “filled,” is just that: filled. Like a pitcher might be full of water, Peter was full of the 3rd Person of the Trinity, God the Holy Spirit. Keep in mind that “filled” is not “possessed.” When we think of evil demonic possession, we think of a person trapped – enslaved and fully controlled by a demon that has taken over the man or woman’s body and mental faculties. When Jesus spoke to the legion of demons, He did so because the demons had completely taken over the body and mouth of the man it/they possessed. That is not the way it works with the filling of the Holy Spirit. When God the Holy Spirit fills a person, that person retains full control of his/her mind and body. There is no enslavement of any kind – quite the contrary: it is an empowered freedom impossible to be experienced apart from the move of God. In this case, Peter was free to respond to the Jewish Sanhedrin the way he needed to respond, and that freedom was made possible by the power given him by the Holy Spirit. When the Old Testament prophets spoke, being temporarily filled with the Spirit, they had control over their bodies & minds – they were simply free to speak forth the words of God. Likewise here & elsewhere in the New Testament. To be filled with the Holy Spirit is to be empowered by the Holy Spirit – and if there’s one thing we know we need, it is the power of God. What a gift it is to be able to be filled with the Holy Spirit!
  2. This wasn’t the first time Peter was filled with the Spirit. On the day of Pentecost, when all the church was being baptized with the Holy Spirit, the Bible is clear that “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit,” (Acts 2:4). If Peter was filled again here in 4:8, was he rebaptized? The baptism of the Spirit happens once – as Paul wrote to the Ephesians, there is “one Lord, one faith, one baptism,” (Eph 4:5). There is a new birth given by the Holy Spirit (Jn 3:5), there is a single baptism given by the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8, Eph 4:5), but there are multiple fillings given by the Holy Spirit…exactly what is seen here with Peter. Peter had already been born again, having had Jesus breathe the Spirit upon him. Peter had already been spiritually baptized at Pentecost, at which point he received his first filling. And now, God the Holy Spirit filled him once again for the task at hand, granting him all the power (and more!) that was required.
    1. Keep in mind this isn’t just something observed among the apostles of the early church, being unique to them with no application to the rest of us as believers. What Peter and the others experienced in multiple fillings of the Spirit is something that is commanded to the rest of us. Ephesians 5:18, “And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit,” Grammatically speaking, Paul refers to this filling as an ongoing command – we might translate it “be continually filled with the Spirit.” God’s power is something we are to receive on a regular basis.
    2. Why? Because there’s never a moment we don’t need it! When you look back on your failures as a born-again Christian, how many of those times were due to you trying to walk in your own power? Probably 100%! The Spirit-filled life is not optional for Christians; it’s essential! Paul exhorted the Galatians to “walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh,” (Gal 5:16). There is only one way to walk in the Spirit: be filled with the Spirit!
    3. How is a Christian filled with the Spirit? Simple: ask to be filled! How does a Christian receive anything from God? Through faith. Our salvation is given to us by grace through faith. Our prayers are answered by God’s grace, and we understand it through faith. The promises of God listed for us in the Bible are appropriated by faith. Why would it be any different with God the Holy Spirit’s offer to continually fill us? Ask! Ask in faith, and receive. We have not, because we ask not – so ask! As Jesus said, fathers know how to give good gifts to their children, so how much more does the Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? (Lk 11:13) We don’t have to throw fits – we don’t have to go through special routines – we don’t have to get special people to anoint us with oil in special places…all of that stuff is the work of men. What we need is the work of God. Ask in faith, and trust that God gives in faith. God is good to His word!
  3. All of this is how Peter was able to answer. What did he actually say? The text goes on…

… said to them, “Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: 9 If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well,

  1. Gotta love how Peter reworded the charge. The high priest basically asked him, “What gave you the right to do this?” Peter turned it around, saying that it was right to do what they did! He asserted his & John’s innocence. This was a “good deed done to a helpless man,” and they were on trial?! How could Peter & John be judged for something like that?! On a non-miraculous level, it would be like an EMT brought before a judge and made to answer for his use of CPR to save a person’s life. “Who gave you the right to blow in that guy’s mouth?! — Umm, he’s alive, right? This was a good thing!”
  2. All in all, this was a pretext, and Peter knew it. Just like the healing of the lame man gave he & John the opportunity to preach Jesus, it gave the Sanhedrin the opportunity to question them about their doctrine of Jesus. So Peter responds, and he responds boldly! 

10 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole.

  1. To a straightforward question, Peter gave a straightforward answer. It was “by the name of Jesus Christ” that the man was healed. Note that Peter doesn’t hesitate in his answer. He doesn’t equivocate, water it down, or try to ‘ease’ into the subject. Right from the start (and as clear as a bell!) Peter said it was by the authority of Jesus Christ this man was healed. Peter was bold!
    1. Don’t miss the fact that Peter was ready to respond. Of course, Peter and John knew what was coming. Even if they had been initially shocked by their arrest (which is unlikely), they had all night to think and pray. Now that the time had come, Peter was ready with a clear answer. We should all be ready, and Peter would be the first one to say so! 1 Peter 3:15, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear;” Peter knew from personal experience how important it was to be ready to speak of Jesus Christ – but that’s something that applies to more than just apostles of the Lord. All of us ought to be ready at all times to tell someone else of Jesus. Not in an obnoxious way – we can be both bold and respectful at the same time. But we can only be bold when we are ready. (And how are we ready? When we are filled with the Spirit!)
    2. Keep in mind this doesn’t mean that we have to be walking encyclopedias, ready to give an answer for every possible objection to Christianity. Although this is a great verse to use in support of apologetics (knowing why we believe what we believe, and being able to explain it to others), that isn’t the primary context of Peter’s statement in his letter. Originally, it was to do exactly what Peter & John did here in Acts 4: when questioned about why we act the way we do, be ready & able to point someone to Jesus. It isn’t apologetics so much as evangelism. It’s like if you give loose change on the ground back to the person who dropped it – they ask, “Why did you do that?” You can tell them, “Because of Jesus.” Be ready to answer!
  2. In Peter’s case, he was ready, and he was bold. It was “Jesus Christ of Nazareth” who had done the work…and that needed little extra explanation (although Peter gave it to them anyway). The Sanhedrin ought to have known exactly who Jesus was: it was the Man of Nazareth that they crucified just a couple of months earlier! It was the same Man whom Annas and Caiaphas pressured Pilate to have illegally crucified. Again, imagine what would have shot through their brains the moment they heard this news! “That Jesus?! How could it be?! He has that much power, and I demanded that He be sent to the cross?!” Sobering, indeed! The Sanhedrin bore much guilt regarding Jesus, and despite their best efforts to do so, they hadn’t stopped Jesus at all. He became more powerful, and was able to empower His own disciples to keep doing the same thing He Himself had always done. In the process, Peter also answers the charge of teaching the resurrection. The resurrection is true because Jesus has current power to heal. Dead men don’t do anything; living men have power and authority. Jesus has authority to heal, deliver, and save.
  3. Put it all together, and Peter gave the Sanhedrin the gospel. He identifies Jesus, declares Him crucified & resurrected, and even points out their own need to be saved through their sin against Him. It didn’t take long – it was less than a few seconds and a single sentence, but it was enough to tell the Sanhedrin all they needed to know.
    1. We have a tendency make witnessing complicated. The various methods we have to share the gospel are wonderful, but sometimes we can get so caught up on the methods that we forget to actually share the message. Christians can get overwhelmed by the strategies – remembering to share ‘this’ opening, and ‘that’ transition, asking the ‘right’ questions, remembering the ‘right’ answers – all of that gets rather stressful and it can simply shut us down. It doesn’t need to be that way. If you have shared Jesus, the cross, and the resurrection, you have shared the gospel. The “gospel” is simply “good news” about Jesus. Just give them Jesus – He will do the rest!
  4. Peter not only gave the gospel, and pointed out the guilt of the rulers & elders of Israel concerning Jesus. He also told them that they ought not to be surprised. Their rejection of Jesus and His subsequent glorification was prophesied!

11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’

  1. Peter quotes a familiar psalm to the Sanhedrin: Psalm 118:22–24, “(22) The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. (23) This was the LORD’s doing; It is marvelous in our eyes. (24) This is the day the LORD has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it.” The whole psalm is a call to praise for the nation of Israel, sung from the perspective of someone who experienced the deliverance of the Lord God. God had become the salvation (the yeshua) of the writer, and this was marvelous. The way in which God delivered the writer was through this Messianic prophecy: a rejected stone was made by God to be the choice & chief cornerstone. The stone despised by the builders was actually the most important stone in the entire building – it was the foundation cornerstone upon which the whole structure rested.
  2. How did Peter know this was Messianic prophecy? (1) Because he was filled with the Holy Spirit, empowered for this moment of witnessing. (2) This exact line was quoted by Jesus directly to the Jewish rulers, in the parable of the wicked vinedressers. … Matthew 21:42–45, “(42) Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’? (43) “Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. (44) And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.” (45) Now when the chief priests and Pharisees heard His parables, they perceived that He was speaking of them.” Some of the same people in the room with Peter that morning would have heard the same words from Jesus, remembering how they burned with anger against Him ready to kill Him in that moment, if it weren’t for the crowds of people at the time (Mt 21:46). This time, they would have realized how Jesus’ words had been totally fulfilled. They had rejected Jesus, and God did make Him the chief cornerstone. How else would He be declared to be risen from the dead? How else would He be able to make a lame man walk? If the prophecy hadn’t spoken of Jesus of Nazareth, then these things would have been impossible to do in His name. If Jesus was a false prophet, wrongly appropriating Scripture to Himself, then Almighty God would have let Jesus’ words fall to the ground & be exposed as a false prophet. Instead, Jesus was proven true again & again & again. What Jesus said originally was true – what Peter now spoke was true – it was all true.
  3. If Jesus is the chief cornerstone, what does that make Him? The foundation of all of the promises of God & the only One who can save.

12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

  1. If there was one thing that ought to have been clear at this point, it was that the priests, elders, and other rulers of Israel needed to be saved! All people have rejected Jesus in the past – all of us have rebelled against God – all bear the guilt of being the reason Jesus went to the cross; few men actually participated in the specific act of doing so. These men did. The priests, elders, and rulers of Israel might have thought themselves ‘more holy’ than the fishermen standing in front of them, or the formerly paralyzed man who begged alms at the temple gate, but the reality was that they were terribly lost & in dire need of salvation. The psalm quoted by Peter goes on to cry out “Save now, I pray,” (Hosanna, Ps 118:25) – and that was exactly what these men needed to plead for themselves.
  2. It’s not just them – it’s all of us. Salvation is necessary. Peter says “we must be saved,” and that’s not merely a turn-of-phrase – the “must” is a tiny, but specific verb in the Greek speaking of necessity. The members of the Sanhedrin (and all of us) were destined for the judgment of God (despite whatever religious background they had), and they must be saved from it. They had sent Jesus to the cross, and Jesus was glorified in His resurrection. What hope did they have apart from God’s gracious salvation? Likewise, we must be saved! On our own, we are hopelessly lost, destined to face the wrathful judgment of God. The only hope we have is His gracious salvation. Unless He reaches out to us, like a lifeguard rescuing drowning men & women, we have no hope. 
  3. How are we saved? In the name of Jesus. The same name by which Peter had the authority to give life to lifeless legs in the paralyzed man is the same name that gives eternal life to lost souls. The name of Jesus brings life – the name of Jesus brings salvation – that is the name given unto us that we might find rest and deliverance in the Lord God. Remember it isn’t Jesus’ name as in the syllables of the right word spoken in the right language; it is Jesus’ name as in His person. When Peter says that salvation is in the name of Jesus, he’s saying that salvation is in the person of Jesus. Those who look for assurance of salvation in the right words that they say are going to be sadly (and profoundly) disappointed. No one is saved based off the number of times they say “Jesus,” or pray certain prayers. That’s not faith in the person of Christ; that’s faith in magic words & incantations. We must have faith in the person behind the name, which is Jesus Christ Himself.
  4. And we must have faith in no other, because Jesus alone saves! Peter again disclaims any credit for himself, putting all of the focus upon Jesus (where it should be!). There is no salvation in religious ritual – no faith in holy prophets or rabbis of old. Neither is there salvation in any other religion or supposed-saint. Mohammed cannot save, nor Buddha, nor Vishnu, nor Mary, nor the Pope, nor anyone but Jesus. Only Jesus saves! Jesus said it Himself: John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” ‘One way’ means ‘one way.’ There is no wiggle room here for special exceptions. Either we have faith in Jesus to be saved, or we are not saved at all. 


Peter couldn’t have been clearer if he tried. When arrested for doing a good deed, he gave the answer of how he & John were able to do what they did: it wasn’t them, it was Jesus. Jesus, being alive, has the power to save – and Jesus, being the Messiah, is the only one who can saved. All people must be saved, and Jesus alone saves.

Question: Did anyone among the Sanhedrin get saved? We don’t know. Luke doesn’t write of it, and Scripture doesn’t tell us at this time. Quite a few people who had heard Peter’s & John’s earlier teaching believed upon Jesus and were saved – but we don’t know anything about the Sanhedrin members themselves. If not, how tragic! They heard the gospel as clearly as it could be stated – they were convicted of their own sin in sending Jesus to the cross – they were convinced of the necessity of being saved, and told how Jesus offered even them their only hope. To know all of that & still turn away is nothing less than tragic. Words fail to describe the loss.

The men of the Sanhedrin might have missed their opportunity. Be careful that you don’t miss yours! If you know that Jesus alone saves, and that you need to be saved, then what are you waiting for?


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