Is the bible simply a series of well written stories or is it historical? This question surfaces because we, the church of bible believers keep reinforcing the facts of the bible as “stories.” In our study of the Book of Acts we do find archaeological and written records that verify its actuality; not someone’s misgiven perception.
The Book of Acts has three messages:
- The original church and its way of conducting worship and taking a stand for Jesus Christ plus the warning of those who wish traditional Judaism.
- The influence of Peter on the Jews and their Messianic or Judaism worship. NOTE: Messianic simply means “of or following the Messiah;” i.e. Jews for Jesus.
- The Apostle Paul and his missionary travels addressing both the Jew and the Gentile building assemblies of believers throughout the Near East.
In Acts chapter 4, we continue this study of the book of Acts and the original church body. Keep in mind that the Book of Acts is the book of the original church or believers. The body of believers is not a building. It is the believers that make up what Peter and Paul refer to as The Church. Just like the opening paragraph points out that we as believers must understand when one refers to the Bible Stories it is real events. However, the word “story” might suggest to the unbeliever “lie, fib, untruth, falsehood, tale, yarn, legend, fairy-tale, rumor, gossip, hearsay, unsupported or documented, one’s perception adjusted for inflation;” all synonyms to the phrase we recklessly use as Bible story.” By the way, are we unequally yoked in church with religious non-believers?
The Merriam-Webster, Oxford, Britannica, Americana, and American Collegiate dictionaries list more negative synonyms than positives in reference to the word “stories.” Yet from childhood it is kids Bible Stories. No wonder they don’t have a strong faith as they get older. They don’t see the bible as historical fact so when they get older, what is there to help them understand that these stories are facts of history.
Archaeological inscriptions and other independent sources show that Acts contains accurate details of 1st century society, specifically with regard to titles of officials, administrative divisions, town assemblies, and rules of the Jewish temple in Jerusalem. (Acts of the Apostles)
The Free Encyclopedia Wikipedia has not helped even though it is a popular research web site. They have continually “adjusted” their so-called facts by adding statements like: most theologians now believe, records seem to be in conflict with each other in the bible, however recent beliefs have changed… all adding doubt to the unrelenting accuracy of bible facts. What once was a fairly reliable research tool has become more like the fake news. They add undocumented comments which lead the learning researcher to conclude it may only be an unfounded story.
If you wish to read it for yourself and feel well founded in bible history, go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historical_reliability_of_the_Acts_of_the_Apostles#Acts_10:1:_Roman_troops_in_Caesarea and read how slanted or the raising of doubt is being done in what was once a fairly unbiased web site account of history and the bible facts. I do NOT RECOMMEND anyone who is in doubt of the infallibility of the bible to go there. If one does not know the truth, how will s/he distinguish mining the facts or undermining them? (Rev. Dr. Jstark)
This portion of Acts shows the hatred of the Jewish establishment for those who were by now called “The Way.” These are followers of the resurrected Jesus. This is of particular concern per the Sadducees. Most Jewish Chief Priests were Sadducees. As opposed to the Pharisees, the Sadducees did not then and nor do they today believe in an afterlife or a resurrection. They fell upon Apostle Peter and John tossing them into jail.
JIV NOTE: Don’t confuse Acts chapter 2 where about 3,000 men accepted Christ as their Savior and future messiah with Acts 4 that now states 5,000. This is the accumulated total; not a new bunch of believers meaning 3,000 plus 5,000.
John and Peter are brought before the Jewish ruling court called the Sanhedrin. Accused of what; healing a life-long cripple? Talk about putting legs to the gospel! Shy Peter, the one who denied he was a follower of Jesus during Jesus trial before the courts, was now a bold speaker. He even accused, no, pointed out the fact that it was many of these very same Sanhedrin people who but a few years earlier had crucified Jesus Christ. The real question here is “who is actually on trial.” Is it Peter and John or the Sanhedrin?
The Sanhedrin demands to know “by what power have they healed this lame man and given the message of salvation/resurrection to the Jews.” This is an early example of what happens when one is “filled with the Holy Spirit.” Even the Sanhedrin realized that these Jesus witnesses were mere Galileans. They were mere fishermen. From where might come their eloquence of tongue? They even prophecy about a future yet to happen and accuse the Sanhedrin of crimes against God.
To find this answer we must turn to Mark 13:5-11… (Begin at verse 9)
“…You will be brought before rulers and kings for My sake, for a testimony to them. And the gospel must first be preached to all the nations. But when they arrest you and deliver you up, do not worry beforehand, *or premeditate what you will speak. But whatever is given you in that hour, speak that; for it is not you who speak, but the Holy Spirit.” It is by the power given to them through the Holy Spirit. This is the power through which healing, ministry, witness, and seeing scripture clearly from which understanding must come.
*JIV: Sadly, this is too often the approach thousands of ministers, youth leaders, bible studies leaders and Sunday school teachers use in delivering their weekly message or lesson to a given congregation, youth group or study group. This verse is NOT AN EXCUSE to be unprepared. Yes, these very same congregants and youth will, in their heart, cast a judgment upon you, but this verse in Mark is court time; not lesson time.
It must be pointed out for those who wish to believe that upon Peter the rock was the church to be built (Matthew 16:18). It is plainly stated in Acts 4:11 that JESUS is the corner stone that the builders (Jews) rejected. In a sense this is what the Catholic Church has done. They have rejected Jesus as the chief cornerstone and substituted Peter in its stead. Be aware, gain knowledge, then seek understanding (2 Timothy 3:7).
So what about the end results per chapter 4 of Acts? The Sanhedrin realized according to verses 13-22 that these men were uneducated yet spoke with such power. Besides this, the man who had been a cripple from birth was standing next to them praising the resurrected Jesus. When the elephant in the room is too obvious to dismiss, they could only warn these Apostle to knock it off and stop with this preaching stuff. It undermined the authority of the Jewish leadership.
PS: Acts 4:23-31 is the only prayer the bible states was recited in unison.