Read Acts 4:1-22
· V. 2 – “Proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection from the dead” – most of the rulers didn’t have a problem with the teaching that there is a resurrection. In fact, most of them believed that there would be a resurrection of the just and the unjust at the end of time. What they found upsetting was the idea that by Jesus’ resurrection, that end time event had begun. In other words, when the stone rolled away the end of history had commenced and the new creation begun!
· V. 7 – “By what power or what name” – what is there in the Church today that would provoke a similar question? What about us is obviously empowered by God? “Revive us again”!
· V. 13 – List some things that the rulers observed in Peter & John.
· Vv. 19-20 – Now this really was the “soft answer that turns away wrath,” right?
Read Acts 4:23-31
· Here the church is facing increasing pressure from the authorities, and they pray. A sound and practical response? Or are they being overly pious?
· We’re four chapters into a selected history of the early church, and already we’ve been shown two prayer meetings. Keep the tradition going, and plan to come to our prayer meeting the first Sunday of February.
· V. 24 – “Sovereign Lord” – with these two words the ESV translates the one Greek word “despota”… that is, “Despot.” The word “Despot” means a ruler who holds absolute power. Let that sink in.
· V. 24 – And then “who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and everything in them.” So in the forefront of the early Church’s view of God was that He was Creator of every part of the world, that He was a Ruler of unlimited authority, and (v.27) that Jesus was His holy servant. And also, even though they were an insignificant group, they thought that they were this God’s people.
· V. 28 – Interesting!
Read Acts 4:32-5:11
· V. 34 – “there was not a needy person among them” – what does this mean?
· V. 36 – Nickname “son of encouragement” – do you have someone like this in your life? Or perhaps some role to which you could aspire?
· Ananias & Sapphira is a first in the history of the church. First of what?
· V. 3, V. 9 – “lie to the Holy Spirit”…”Test the Spirit of the Lord” – God’s Holy Spirit is not an impersonal force, but a Person who acts and who can be acted against. Are you and the Spirit on good terms at the moment?
Read Acts 5:12-16
· The earliest Church witnessed many miracles. And yet I don’t think we’re supposed to expect the same. Thoughts?
· What was the purpose of these miracles?
· V. 14 – “Believers were added to the Lord.” Not trying to be pedantic, but what exactly were they believing to be added to the Lord?
· Even though there were miracles – plenty, front, and center – not everyone joined the Church. Does this mean that eyewitness- evidence- that- amounts- to- something- very- close- to- proof isn’t enough to make someone a Christian?
Read Acts 5:17-42
· V. 20 – “the words of this Life” – what an interesting and instructive phrase.
· V. 19 “An angel of the Lord…said, ‘Go’” – After many repudiations, Heaven keeps holding out mercy. The mercy comes in the form of ______________. So, how can people around you experience God’s mercy?
· V. 28 – The apostles were charged with “Fill[ing] Jerusalem with your _______________.
· V. 29 – A foundational rule
· V. 34ff – Was Gamaliel a Christian? If not, what does he example?
· V. 41 – This initial reaction to beating and intimidation is remarkable. But perhaps the long-term response v. 42 is even more impressive.
Read Acts 6:1-7
· Another first in the history of the Church here. This is the first what?
· Without naming them as such, this passage seems to be the beginning of the role of the ______________ (rhymes with “beacon”).
· On a scale of 1-10, how significant was the problem that gave rise to this role? Why would the apostles not want to be involved in meeting this real need?
· To what activities did the apostles wish to dedicate themselves?
· V. 3 - So the Church’s food distributors/ problem solvers needed to have qualities merely of a practical bent, right? (Hint: wrong)
Read Acts 6:8-15
· God’s hand was on Stephen, and he was doing extra-ordinarily productive things by the power of God. And yet some people reacted aggressively against him. Or looked at another way, God allowed him to be set up and killed. What do you think about this?
· “Freedmen” were former slaves or descendants of the same. Such were they who plotted to have Stephen seized. Thoughts?
· V. 10 – Words can carry wisdom and the Spirit – wow. And these words can render their hearers convicted and exposed and without a fitting response. But just because the argument is carried doesn’t mean the battle is over!
· Were the false charges brought against Stephen utterly false?
· What might that look like, “like the face of an angel.” What does this imply about the potential communicative power of the face?