Acts 4:29

ESV And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness,
NIV Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.
NASB And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant it to Your bond-servants to speak Your word with all confidence,
CSB And now, Lord, consider their threats, and grant that your servants may speak your word with all boldness,
NLT And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word.
KJV And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word,

What does Acts 4:29 mean?

The leaders of the early church in Jerusalem are asking God to equip them to face persecution from the Sanhedrin. The Sanhedrin was a council of chief priests, elders, and scribes who enforced Jewish laws on all Jews, whether they lived in Jerusalem, Judea, or in another country. The day prior, Peter and John had healed a man born lame (Acts 3:1–8). When a crowd gathered to find out how, they preached that the power came from Jesus of Nazareth who had been killed but rose again from the dead (Acts 3:9—4:2). Most of the members of the Sanhedrin followed the Jewish sect of the Sadducees who rejected the notion of resurrection and even of life after death. The Sanhedrin arrested Peter and John but had to release them because of the power of the healing miracle. Before Peter and John left, however, the Sanhedrin warned them not to preach in Jesus' name again (Acts 4:18–22).

The Jesus-followers know to expect persecution because Jesus told them it was coming (John 15:18–21). They also know God has a plan for them. Like Jesus (John 7:30), the group is protected while they fulfill God's mission (Acts 1:8). However, that protection does not mean they won't be beaten (Acts 5:40) or that they won't give their lives when their individual missions are complete (Acts 7:59–60; 12:1–2).

The group prays for boldness in spite of persecution, not to be rescued from persecution. Later, Paul will ask the Ephesians to pray he stays bold while he is in prison (Ephesians 6:18–20). Meanwhile, Paul's example emboldens others who are sharing the gospel; he rejoices that the persecution he suffers is causing even more people to come to Christ (Philippians 1:12–14).

The "word" they are to speak is the story of Jesus (Acts 1:8). Many in the core group of Jesus-followers had known and learned from Jesus during His ministry; they are His direct witnesses. The others "devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching" (Acts 2:42). When the persecution drives them out of Jerusalem, they will take that word to the world.
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