Being Bold

Posted: July 8, 2018 in Acts, Uncategorized

Acts 4:13-31, “Being Bold”

How do you define “bold”? It can be thought of as confidence & courageousness, or something that makes an impact. In print, “bold” typeface is a darker font, making it stand out from the rest. In person, someone who is bold is willing to stand out from the crowd, take calculated risks, and acts confidently, perhaps in spite of the opposition around him/her.

Boldness is often thought of as being the opposite of timidity, with “timidity” being fearful or weak. Between the two terms, which more accurately describes modern Christians? Hint: it isn’t often the more courageous option. Christians are often thought of as timid, and some Christians even believe they are supposed to be timid, because Jesus was meek & He said that the meek would inherit the earth (Mt 5:5). What is forgotten, however, is that “meek” is not “weak.” To be meek is not to be timid or fearful; Godly meekness is a humility of strength – it is strength under control. Ungodly meekness can turn into timid fear; godly meekness is quiet strength. It is the choice not to fight in retaliation, when one could easily fight.

All of that to say this: Christians can be both meek and bold. After all, Jesus was. Jesus was incredibly meek & gentle as He interacted with people, restraining His infinite power in the face of hatred. At the same time, He was also bold. Jesus never backed down from the truth of God’s word, and He never hesitated to confront religious hypocrisy where it was found – even (and especially) among the highest levels of Jewish leadership.

What Jesus did, so also did His apostles. Peter and John were meek when they needed to be meek, and bold when they needed to be bold. So should we all. The problem is that we are often lopsided. The humility & meekness we get; the boldness, not so much. There is a need for Christians to be bold, and our text demonstrates exactly how it can be done. The early church molded godly boldness at every turn, and we need to learn from their example.

Our text picks up as Part 3 to a larger series of events over the course of two days. The church was still in its infancy, recently receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit (which itself was only 50 days removed from Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection). As the fledgling church continued to grow by the hand of God, the men & women of the church continued to live their lives as they always had: as Jews – but now as Jews who believed that Jesus is the Messiah. As such, they continued to pray at the Jerusalem temple (in addition to all of the prayer & worship taking place within their homes). One day when entering the temple grounds for prayer, Peter & John healed a man who had been paralyzed from birth.

That healing, done in the name of Jesus & to the glory of Jesus, gave Peter & John the opportunity to preach the gospel of Jesus, and that was exactly what they did. As they boldly presented Jesus as the Christ (Messiah) of God crucified for our sins & raised from the dead (all according to prophecy), they were arrested by the temple police by orders of the priests. These priests, along with the rest of the Sanhedrin, put Peter & John on trial the next day, demanding an answer as to how the miracle took place. Peter told the Jewish rulers the same thing he told the Jewish crowd: it was by the name of the Risen Jesus that the lame man had been healed, and it is only by the name (the person) of the Risen Jesus that anyone can (and must) be saved.

At this point, the trial is still ongoing. Peter has given his testimony regarding the miracle, and now it was time for the Sanhedrin to return their judgment. What would they say? What could they say? And what would the apostles & the other believers do in response?

Their boldness in the gospel had led them to this point, and their boldness would only continue and grow. God had given them strength thus far – they could pray with confidence that He would keep doing so.

Christian, be bold! God gives us the strength to be bold for Jesus, so be bold – even in asking for more boldness!

Acts 4:13–31

  • Judgment of the Sanhedrin (13-22)

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.

  1. Because the word for “boldness” is used so often in this passage (it contains 3 out of the 5 uses of the word in the entire book of Acts), it’s worth examining a bit. It can refer to an outspokenness or plainness (such as clarity of speech), or it can refer to confidence & courage, which is surely the context here. Peter & John had been fearless in their response to the Sanhedrin, unafraid to teach these religious scholars of the fulfillment of prophecy, to convict these moral leaders of their open sin against God, and to exhort these self-righteous men of their own need to be saved. Peter & John were fearless indeed! The original Greek word (παρρησία) is derived from the words for “all,” “speech,” and “say,” and could be thought of as “freedom to say all,” (NIDNTT). No doubt, Peter & John had left nothing unsaid, and they entertained no limits on saying the things they did.
  2. Of course, this fearlessness did not originate in their trial. They expressed boldness when the Holy Spirit gave them the faith to tell a lame man to stand to his feet, declaring that Jesus had healed him. They demonstrated more boldness by preaching the gospel to a crowd of Jews at the temple. And yes, they had shown even more boldness when answering the Sanhedrin at their trial. Boldness had been all over them!
    1. Boldness leads to boldness, just like fear leads to fear. Once you start, it becomes easier and easier to take the next step. The first time you say “no” to the Lord, you might have your conscience struck, but it becomes progressively easier each time (and your heart becomes progressively harder in the process). If we always tell ourselves that our witnessing will be useless, then it ought to come as no surprise when we hesitate to do it. And we hesitate again & again until it becomes a habit. But the opposite is true, too! The first time we step out in faith & say “yes,” we might be nervous, but it becomes easier & easier the more we do it. Far better for courageous faith to become a habit than timid fear. Boldness leads to boldness!
  3. Regarding the trial of Peter & John, the members of the Sanhedrin “marveled” when they witnessed the apostles’ courage. Why? Because they “perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men,” or as the NIV puts it, they were “unschooled, ordinary men.” It was not that Peter & John were illiterate – to the contrary, they could easily read & write, demonstrated through their written contributions to the New Testament. The KJV translation of “unlearned and ignorant men,” conveys exactly the wrong meaning in today’s modern culture than it did in the 1600’s. If anything, one of the reasons the Sanhedrin marveled the way they did was because of the Scriptural knowledge displayed by Peter & John; not a lack of it. Peter & John could be bold in their response not only because they were filled with the Spirit (4:8), but because they had such a good command of the Scriptures. Surely this was also a work of the Spirit in their lives, but it was nonetheless true. What made it so amazing was that it was totally unexpected. These were fishermen from Galilee; not rabbis of Jerusalem. Peter & John had no formal religious training, no ancient equivalent of seminary degrees. Yet they had confidence to go toe-to-toe with the premier theological institution of the nation of Judea. How? Answer: the Sanhedrin “realized that they had been with Jesus.” Jesus made all the difference! Better than any seminary, rabbinical school, or Bible college, was a three-year apprenticeship with Jesus. Being with Jesus is the best training imaginable!
    1. It still is. We do not get the opportunity to follow Jesus during His historical three-year ministry, but we do get the opportunity to be with Jesus. Every day we can be with Jesus in prayer – every day we can be with Jesus in His word – every day we can spend time with Him & learn from Him. And there is no substitute! Other forms of training are good & edifying. One of the gifts God has given to the church are teachers (Eph 4:11), and we ought to learn from them. Yet even the best teacher is no substitute for Jesus. It doesn’t matter how many letters someone has after their name if he/she doesn’t know Jesus. His training is not only the best, but it is foundational to any other training we might receive.
  4. As for the Sanhedrin, this was one more piece of evidence proving Peter’s testimony true. After all, how else would these uneducated men be able to know the Bible as well as they did? How else could they answer with such confidence in the face of their accusers? Some of the man on the Sanhedrin had seen Peter & John before, especially on the night of Jesus’ arrest. It was at the home of Caiaphas that Peter’s fears took hold of him, and he vehemently denied even knowing Jesus. Now he stood in trial, openly proclaiming his faith with brave confidence. Such a transformation is impossible by natural means. Something super-natural must have happened. It did: Jesus rose from the dead, and Peter was filled with God the Holy Spirit!
    1. Don’t neglect the importance of being with Jesus! We can claim our Christianity till we’re blue in the face, but if we have no vibrant, evident relationship with Jesus, who will believe it? And why should they? If they see no evidence of Jesus among us, they don’t have any reason to think that Jesus is truly alive & able to transform anyone. Yet when we spend time with Jesus, His presence in our lives becomes undeniable – Jesus Himself becomes tangible. When we are with Jesus, it shows others that they can be with Jesus.
    2. How many times have you tried sharing Christ with someone & felt like you were coming up against a brick wall? Many things could be the reason why – but one potential reason is something totally under our control: whether or not people see Jesus within us. When Moses spent time with God on Mt. Sinai, his face came back glowing (literally! Exo 34:29). When the apostles spent time with Jesus, the proof was plain to those who witnessed. It’s no different with us. When we spend time with Jesus, people will see it & know it. It’s not something that can be faked – it’s either real, or it’s not. Make it real!
    3. How long has it been since you spent simple time with Jesus? Why? Even five minutes in undistracted prayer is enough to get started. Or two minutes – any time that is solely dedicated to the Lord Jesus is good time. You don’t need to put false legalistic goals upon yourself, but get started with something. You’ll see the benefits before anyone else (which isn’t a bad thing), but others will see it, too.
  5. So at this point, the priests, rulers, and scribes are marveling at the two apostles, yet they all still have to come up with some sort of response. If they can’t attack the men, maybe they can attack the miracle…

14 And seeing the man who had been healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.

  1. How can you deny a miracle when the proof is literally standing before your eyes? Everyone knew this man had been lame, yet now he was whole. No slight of hand had been done – no claim of healing some internal unseen disease. The man had gone from laying on the ground to leaping in the air, all instantaneously in response to this declaration of Jesus’ healing from Peter & John. The miracle could not be argued – there was irrefutable proof. Now what? Time to call a time-out! 

15 But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 16 saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.”

  1. No doubt, a private conference was needed! After all, it seemed like all their options were closed. They could not keep the apostles imprisoned, for they hadn’t broken any laws. They couldn’t dismiss the apostles as ignorant or crazy, because they were clearly competent – surprisingly so. Nor could they deny the miracle. Not only had they personally seen the proof, but so had the people in Jerusalem. They would risk a riot if they declared the miracle false, for it plainly was not. What to do?
  2. Notice one option that never came up for consideration: faith. They could have believed the testimony of Peter & John, repented from their sin of sending Jesus to the cross, place their own faith in Him & have been saved. The option of repentance was just as open to them as it was to anyone else in Jerusalem – they just didn’t take it. How sad! How tragic! They knew the truth and still they refused to repent. It’s bad enough not to hear the gospel, and worse not to believe it – but to hear the truth, be confronted with evidence of the truth, know it as the truth and still turn away…that’s tragic on a whole different level! Imagine what will ring through the minds of such men & women throughout eternity! To forever remember you had the opportunity, knowledge, and reason to believe, yet still turned away…the extent of such regret cannot be put into words!
    1. Don’t let that be you! If you know the truth of the gospel of Jesus, respond to it. Believe! No one who has truly known Jesus has ever regretted putting his/her faith in Him, but many have gone to their graves without Him with much regret.
  3. Instead of trusting Jesus by faith, the Sanhedrin turned to threats. Refusing to be won to Christ, they turned to warnings. The apostles had not broken any laws (yet), so the priests & others decided to make some laws, so to speak. Obviously they did not have the authority of Rome, but Rome gave the Sanhedrin a lot of room to govern the Jews in the way that they saw fit. By warning the disciples now, they set a precedent for anything that might happen later. When the council commanded the apostles to keep quiet about Jesus, that carried the weight of government authority. Since that was the only option left to the Sanhedrin, that’s what they did. Not even able to bring themselves to utter the name of Jesus, they forbade the disciples from speaking in His name.

18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

  1. Although Luke (as the writer) does not tell us a timeframe, there is no indication of any hesitation whatsoever from Peter & John. Faced with a command from the highest authorities in their own community (i.e., apart from Rome), they immediately knew that their previous orders outranked the Sanhedrin. They didn’t have to pray about it, think through a plan, or anything of the like. There was no question and no hesitation that they would follow the command of God. Jesus had personally commissioned them to make disciples of all the nations, and He was crystal clear as to how the apostles would be His witnesses to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and to the ends of the earth. Their orders had come from the Messiah, the King of Israel & King of the world. Their orders had come from none other than God the Son Himself. No restriction or gag-order from a human court could override the commands of Jesus!
  2. Question: Doesn’t the Bible tell us to obey the authorities over us? Yes – several times. (Mt 22:21, 1 Pet 2:13-14, Rom 13:1-2) But that is all under the assumption that the commands of the government do not conflict with the commands of God. Thus, even with pagan ungodly governments, Christians are still to obey & submit to the authorities. We still pay our taxes, we still obey the laws of our communities, we still abide by government regulations – be they fair or not, we obey. Paul could hardly have lived in a land more opposed to God than what he did in the Roman Empire, but he still obeyed. When Peter & Paul & others disobeyed the laws of the land was when those laws conflicted with the gospel. At that point, a higher-ranking authority rules: the word of God. Thought it is sin to willfully disobey the government, it is a greater sin to willfully disobey God.
    1. We’ve seen this play out in modern terms within our own nation. When faced with a choice between participating in a homosexual wedding ceremony, or taking a stand on the Biblical view of marriage, several Christian bakers have put their livelihoods and reputations on the line. Around the world, we see this true to far greater degree. Every day, Christians in Muslim-majority nations with Sharia law break the local laws when they tell people about Jesus, or when facilitate conversion out of Islam – and they often put their lives at risk for doing so. But what other choice is there? Between obeying God or men, God wins every time.
    2. No one knows the future, but this choice is a situation for which we must be prepared. If you were called to choose between God or men, which would you choose? And why? Choose Jesus! For all He has already done for you – for all that He has promised you – for simply the sake of the truth, choose Christ!
  3. Peter & John chose Christ, and they knew the reason why. They couldn’t help but speak of the things they had witnessed with Jesus. How could they pretend that the past three years never existed? They had seen lame men walk, lepers healed, demons cast out. They had seen bread & fish multiply, men walk on water, and people raised to life from the dead. They had heard the truth of God straight from the mouth of God, and they had experienced the love of God first-hand. And most importantly, there was the cross & empty tomb! They knew Jesus had died as a sacrifice for their (and our) sins, and they knew that Jesus was alive, being resurrected from the dead. Those are not things that are easily dismissed! Those are not things that can be casually ignored! Like the prophets of old, the gospel would burn in the hearts of the apostles, they would not be able to restrain themselves even if they desired to do so.
    1. Does the gospel burn in us the same way? Why not? Why should we have any less fervor than Peter or John to tell others of the things we know of Jesus? Have we experienced less? 

21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. 22 For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.

  1. At a certain point, the Sanhedrin had to throw in the towel. They had warned the two apostles, threatened them as much as they could, but the religious leaders simply did not have an option of punishing them. It was no problem to hold Peter & John overnight in jail in order to convene a hearing, but since that was now accomplished, nothing else could be done. Again, no law had been broken, and at this point, the apostles had the support of the people. Peter & John were not the only witnesses to the miracle on the previous day – there had been a large crowd at the temple, and everyone knew what had happened. The man who had been healed had been a regular fixture at the temple for decades. He was born lame, and was over 40 years old. That was not something that could be easily explained away.
  2. That said, don’t get the idea that everything was over. The Sanhedrin knew they couldn’t do anything now; the future was a different story. One reason the threats were so severe was to make it clear that future disobedience was law-breaking. They knew this would not be the last they heard from the apostles, and they were ready.
  3. The apostles knew it too, which was why they knew they needed divine assistance and prayed…
  • Prayer of the Church (23-31)

23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: “Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them,

  1. It had been quite a couple of days for Peter, John, and all the church in Jerusalem. Surely the rest of the church knew of the miracle in the temple gate – it had been the talk of the town. No doubt they also knew that Peter & John had been arrested – it was a very public action. What they didn’t know was what happened next. They probably hadn’t had any communication at all, and the Christians were likely anxious to hear the details. After all, the last time one of their number had been arrested and tried by the Sanhedrin, it was Jesus, and that led to the cross! This time, Peter & John were released (good news!), but the church needed to know what they knew, and needed to know what to expect in the future: persecution (bad news!). The apostles related the anti-gospel commands of the Sanhedrin, and it was clear that the message of salvation through Jesus as the Messiah was not welcome in Jerusalem.
  2. What did they do about it? Worry – fret – plan an escape – talk about going underground? They prayed. Faced with the threats of the legal authorities, the very first thing they did was pray. ‘Objection: Why didn’t they do something proactive?’ Answer: prayer is proactive! They very best action the church could have taken at this time was the action they did take. Prayer is not procrastination, at least, not when prayer is honest. True prayer is not putting off some more reasonable action. Prayer is action of the best sort, as we seek the face of God, desire His will be done, and submit our own plans to His. Prayer out not to be an ‘after-the-fact’ ritual; it is foundational to anything we do as Christians. How else are we to know the mind of God? How else do we understand the Scriptures? How else are we to appropriate His promises? It all happens through prayer – sincere prayer. If we treat prayer as an afterthought, it ought to be no surprise that we have difficulties seeing how God answers. As we’ve said before, it’s as if we expect our prayers to matter more to God than to us. But when we treat prayer with forethought, finding ourselves dependent upon prayer, we will find that God’s answers often become crystal clear.
  3. How did the church pray? “With one accord.” They prayed with one heart and one purpose to the one God they all worshipped. Prayer offered from a divided people is prayer not often answered. Why? Because division is a symptom of bigger problems. Jesus prayed that the church would be unified to the same extent as the Trinity (Jn 17:21). When there is internal conflict, God wants that to be resolved before moving to other things.
  4. What did they pray? Depending on how one counts, there are seven basic planks to this short prayer. First, they prayed to God as the sovereign Creator. God is the one “who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them.” God is the “Lord” or Master of all these things. The word choice is interesting, because it isn’t the usual word for Lord (κύριος – used in vs. 29, but not in vs. 24); this refers to a Master with authority (δεσπότης ~ “despot”). Considering that the apostles came from a hearing in which they were threatened by local rulers, the church called upon the God who rules all. There is none more powerful than God, none with more authority than Him. The kings of the earth might come against us, but we serve the King of all kings!

25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? 26 The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the LORD and against His Christ.’

  1. Quoting from Psalm 2:1-2, which they affirm was written under divine inspiration by David, the church secondly prays to God the all-knowing, ever-opposed King. God has the right to rule, being the Creator, but His creation has consistently opposed Him. Not that this was ever a surprise to God – He knows the hearts of even His enemies. Nations can rage & people can form conspiracies, but God knows them all.

27 “For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done.

  1. Third, the church saw the fulfillment of Psalm 2 in Jesus. David wrote how the kings, rulers, nations, and peoples would be united in their opposition “against the Lord and against His Christ,” and that exactly what happened with Jesus. God “anointed” Jesus as His “holy Servant,” the word for “anointed” being basically equivalent to “Christ.” Messiah = Anointed one = Christ. And all the people were truly against Him. Herod & Pontius Pilate were two of the kings of the earth – the Gentiles were the nations – the people of Israel were obvious – all of them opposed to Jesus. Those they often hated each other, their hatred of Jesus brought them together. It united them in the past, and it was uniting them in the present. That’s why the Sanhedrin was so opposed to the gospel. The gospel is They would always be opposed to Jesus as the Christ!
  2. Fourth, the church saw that the fulfillment of Psalm 2 was due to God’s purpose & sovereignty. Be careful not to get the wrong idea: simply because the kings, rulers, etc., were predetermined to oppose Jesus does not absolve them of their responsibility in opposing Jesus. Everyone, from Herod & Pilate to you & me, is responsible for our own choice regarding sin & our response to it. Herod, Pilate, the priests, etc., all made their choices regarding Jesus & their bore their guilt because of it. Even so, God in His sovereignty “determined before” that it was to be done. The Bible never shows God’s sovereignty as a contradiction to man’s freewill. It always upholds them both, and does so again here.
  3. Why should it matter that all these things were in the will of God? Because it affirms that God is always in control! Though life may seem to descend into chaos from our perspective, there is no such thing as chaos from God’s perspective. He sees all, knows all, and every thing that takes place in this universe has to pass through His hands. Every trial is overseen by God – every challenge has been filtered through God…even things like persecution. As awful as persecution is & as sinful as it is for those committing it, even persecution is something that is under the sovereignty of God. God knew what would happen to His Son, and He knows what would (and still does) happen to His church. What we endure, He allows – and that is something that ought to offer great comfort. Think of it: if God has allowed it, then God can be glorified through it. If God has allowed it, then God is available in it. If these things took place outside the reach & plans of God, then we could have no hope in the midst of them. Where would be our certainty? What promises could we affirm? We would know nothing & have nothing. Worse than that, it would mean God isn’t all-powerful, and that He could be outsmarted or out-maneuvered in some way. Perish the thought! Our God is all-powerful, and nothing takes place which is beyond His counsel or reach!
  4. So put it all together: God is the creator, the all-knowing king, the writer of accurate prophecy, and the all-powerful sovereign ruler that sees His will accomplished. Now that’s a God in whom we have confidence to pray!

29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”

  1. Fifth in the prayer, and first among the requests is for “” Remember that to this point, the apostles had already demonstrated much boldness. Surely this was something they already had. Why pray for it? Because more was needed! Courage to be bold might come once, but that doesn’t mean that we’ll act courageously a second time. The church wanted consistency in their courage. They wanted to be bold every time the need arose. They understood the danger of resting on their laurels, always looking back in nostalgia. I.e., “Wasn’t that time great? We were so bold – we could really feel God moving!” As great as those memories are, the danger is that they remain memories. Boldness isn’t needed only once, but time & time again!
    1. How might we as a church have fallen into the quicksand of nostalgia? Have we fallen into reminiscing rather than acting? We need current boldness!
  2. Boldness to do what? The church had a specific purpose for this God-given boldness: “they may speak Your word.” To be sure, we need boldness in all kinds of things: boldness in worship, that we give God more than the wimpy-whiny worship so often played on radio – boldness in love, that we would truly see beyond ourselves in order to be the hands & feet of Jesus – boldness in faith, that we would have the courage to step out in things that seem impossible, just to see what Jesus will do. All of these things are great & necessary, but in this situation, they weren’t of first importance. What the church needed at this time was boldness to speak – boldness to preach, proclaim, expound, and to declare the gospel of Jesus Christ. This was the one thing they were commanded by the Sanhedrin not to do, so they needed a divine gift of supernatural boldness to keep doing it.
    1. So do we! More & more these days, we hear that we have freedom of religion in terms of freedom of worship. What they mean is that we have freedom to worship as we see fit within the walls of a church building, but it needs to remain there. Don’t bring it into the public square, were someone else might hear & get offended. No thanks! Not only is that not at all what is guaranteed to American citizens in the 1st Amendment, it is not at all what we are commanded to do in the Great Commission (which has infinitely more importance!). We do need to take the gospel into the public square, among friends, family, coworkers, and total strangers. And for that, we need boldness
  3. Sixth, not only did they pray for boldness, but they prayed for miracles. This latest series of events had begun with a miraculous healing, so the church prayed for more. They asked God for healings, and for whatever “signs and wonders” He decided to give. These things provided amazing proof for the truth of their message, as friends & enemies alike could not argue against the evidence of God’s power right in front of them.
    1. Question: Do we still pray for miracles today? Absolutely! Why wouldn’t we? Every time we pray for the sick, we pray for healing, which is a miracle. Every time we pray for God’s intervention, we are pray for what is by definition a supernatural act. So yes, pray for miracles! But don’t pray for a miracle just for a miracle’s sake. The church prayed for “signs & wonders” – a sign points to something: in this case, the hand of God. At the heart of the church’s prayer was that God would make Himself known. Basically, they prayed, “Give us boldness & reveal Yourself.” That’s still a perfect prayer for the church!
  4. Seventh (and last), it was all to be done “through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” As God made Himself known, He would make Jesus known. The church did not ask for boldness in order that Peter, John, and others would become famous preachers. They had no thought or desire to elevate themselves as a church. All of the fame belonged to Jesus. When miracles were granted, it wasn’t to gain a reputation for the apostles as healers; it was to glorify and spread the reputation of Jesus.
    1. Lift up the name of Jesus! Do what you do in the name of Jesus! Love in His name, preach in His name, serve in His name, give in His name – whatever it is you do for the Lord, do it in the name of the Lord. Give Him the glory, for it is not to be shared!

31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.

  1. What was the result of this unified prayer for boldness in order to lift up the name of Jesus? There was an immediate answer. Some people wonder what kinds of prayers are those most desired by God – this was obviously one! Imagine pouring out your heart to God in prayer and receiving an immediate response in the form of a miniature earthquake. It might help you pray more often!
  2. The shaking of the building was visible, but there was another answer of better value: “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” What had happened on Pentecost for the entire church – what had happened for Peter & John as they answered the Sanhedrin – now came upon the entire church once again. And for good reason: the church had prayed for boldness to preach, and that boldness comes only from the power of the Holy Spirit. This is one of the primary purposes of the empowerment of the Spirit. When Jesus spoke to His disciples, He made it clear that the Spirit would come upon them first, and it was only after that when they would be ready witnesses (Acts 1:8). They were first empowered at their initial baptism, but they were repeatedly empowered with each additional filling. This time, they had not specifically prayed for the Spirit, but for boldness. But the prayer for boldness was answered through the filling of the Spirit. With one came the other.
  3. What was proof of their empowerment? Their bold proclamation of the gospel. They asked for boldness, and God gave it. The proof was in the pudding…or perhaps we should say that the proof was in the preaching. Interestingly, we’re not told exactly how the church knew that God had filled them anew with the Spirit, empowering them with boldness to preach. Certainly the shaking of the room was a clue, but it could have been only an acknowledgement from God that He heard them, and the answer would come later. How did the Christians know they had boldness to speak the word of God? They had to open their mouths and speak. They had to leave the confines and comforts of their room & go into the streets, stepping out in faith. If they never walked outside, they would never know if they had boldness.
    1. This is where too many Christians and churches fail. We pray for boldness, perhaps even using the same words as the church in Acts 4. We’ll be fervent, asking God for bold courage…but that’s where it ends. We don’t take the next step of taking it outside. We don’t open our mouths to see if God actually answered our prayer. Don’t stop short! Don’t let a prayer for boldness end in prayer. Go out and see if God answers. Hint: He will!


What a day it was for the church! Boldness on the part of Peter & John had led to a miracle, but it also led to their arrest. Boldness in front of the Sanhedrin left the priests & elders amazed, but not speechless. Yet faced with threats of future persecution, neither Peter nor John backed down. They responded boldly yet again, staking their future on the word of God. Neither did the church shrink back after the two were released – it led to a prayer for more boldness, which was immediately put into action as they all boldly preached the gospel of Jesus.

Oh, that we would be a church that did likewise! That we would spend so much time with Jesus, that boldness for Him would become second nature. That we would be so filled with the Spirit, that the good news of His salvation would bubble out our lips, no matter what we did.

Beloved, this isn’t wishful thinking – this is true possibility! If it happened with the early church, it can happen with this church! We can be those who spend such quality time with Jesus, that it’s obvious to others. We can be those who pray for boldness, and then actually act upon it. Nothing stops it, except ourselves.

If we want to see revival in our culture, then we need to have boldness in the church. And it starts with us. Be bold!


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