What does Acts 4:1 mean?
ESV: And as they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees came upon them,
NIV: 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.
NASB: As they were speaking to the people, the priests and the captain of the temple guard and the Sadducees came up to them,
CSB: While they were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple police, and the Sadducees confronted them,
NLT: While Peter and John were speaking to the people, they were confronted by the priests, the captain of the Temple guard, and some of the Sadducees.
KJV: And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,
NKJV: Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them,
Verse Commentary:
One day, while going to the temple to pray, Peter and John came upon a lame man asking for alms. Instead of money, Peter gave him the ability to walk. The people on the Temple Mount, many of whom recognized the man now leaping about, swarmed Peter and John. Peter used the opportunity to tell them Jesus of Nazareth gave them the power to heal—the same Jesus the leadership and people of Jerusalem had killed. But this same Jesus rose from the grave and now provides a way of reconciliation with God (Acts 3).

Priests are descendants of Moses' brother Aaron and are responsible for the ceremonies within the temple. By this time, they make up a powerful political bloc. The temple guards are relatives of the chief priests and are responsible for keeping order on the Temple Mount. They are not the Roman soldiers stationed at Antonia Fortress on the northwest corner of the Mount. Sadducees are members of a Jewish sect. Unlike the Pharisees, Sadducees do not add extra rules to the Mosaic law, they like the Romans because of the business opportunities, and they don't believe in the resurrection. Most of the chief priests—and most of the Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council—consider themselves Sadducees.

Jesus didn't interact with the Sadducees as much as the Pharisees because the Sadducees tended to stay around Jerusalem. The week before the crucifixion, He did debate with them at the temple, proving from God's own words that the resurrection from the dead is true (Mark 12:18–27). Peter's teaching that Jesus rose from the grave catches their attention.
Verse Context:
Acts 4:1–4 records the reaction to Peter's bold claim that Jesus of Nazareth empowered him to heal a lame man (Acts 3). The Sadducees are less worried about the healing than they are Peter's insistence that Jesus rose from the grave, as Sadduceesdidn't believe in resurrection from the dead. The temple guards arrest Peter and John, but too late. Even more people decide to follow Jesus. The Sanhedrin should have taken this as a hint; the more you persecute the church, the more it spreads.
Chapter Summary:
Acts 4 continues the story started in Acts 3. Peter and John have healed a man born lame and preached that Jesus has risen from the dead. The Sanhedrin orders their arrest for teaching the resurrection. The Jewish officials warn Peter and John to stop speaking in Jesus' name. Peter and John refuse, but, since they have committed no crime, the Sanhedrin releases them. Peter and John return to their friends, and the Jesus-followers pray for boldness in the face of growing persecution. The church continues to grow, sharing all their possessions so that no one is in need.
Chapter Context:
Acts 4 gives the first hints of the persecution the church will face throughout its history. Peter and John attract attention when Peter heals a well-known lame beggar, and Peter uses the publicity to tell others about Christ. The Sanhedrin cannot allow the apostles to continue teaching Jesus rose from the dead. They arrest, warn, and free Peter and John, but it's just the beginning. Soon, they will arrest and beat all the apostles (Acts 5:17–42). Then a mob will stone Stephen (Acts 7:54–60). And Saul will persecute Jesus-followers in Jerusalem (Acts 8:1–3) and beyond (Acts 9:1–2). The Sanhedrin fails to realize—if you send Jesus-followers fleeing into the world, they will take Jesus' message with them.
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
Accessed 4/23/2024 8:01:32 PM
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