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Friday, November 07, 2008

Acts 4 - Peter's Defense of the Healing

Acts 4.

This chapter continues with the results of the lame man’s healing and Peter’s subsequent sermon to the crowd.

1 & 2. Sadducees: the Sadducees along with the Pharisees were the two primary religious parties that made up the Jewish ruling assembly—the Sanhedrin. The Sadducees only accepted the Torah/Pentateuch authoritative Scripture. They also rejected the idea of resurrection, angels and an after-life. This caused conflict earlier during the ministry of Jesus, but now because Resurrection was a central factor in the Apostolic preaching, they were more disturbed.

4. By this point 5000 Christian men….another way of saying families.

5. Ananias & Caiaphas were the same priests that condemned Jesus. It is important to remember that this may have been within two to three months of the Crucifixion of Jesus. It would have been fresh on the minds of the Sanhedrin.

8-12. Peter is more direct about their role in the Crucifixion of Christ to the rulers of the people than he had been with the people. He immediately proclaims that they crucified the Messiah. But he does not do so to condemn but to bring them to salvation in Christ.

11. As part of his response he quotes from the Psalm 117:22 The stone which the builders rejected, the same has become the head of the corner. 23 This has been done of the Lord; and it is wonderful in our eyes. (EOB). This is sung as one of the refrains during Matins. The idea of the cornerstone is followed throughout the pages of the OT and Jesus uses it of himself in the Gospels. The idea is that the perfectly crafted and ultimately necessary cornerstone is required for a building to be supported. Without the cornerstone, the building does not exist. To reject the corner is to deny what God has built. In Is. 28:16 it says, Therefore thus says the Lord, even the Lord, Behold, I lay for the foundations of Zion a costly stone, a choice, a cornerstone, a precious stone, for its foundations; He that believes on him shall by no means be ashamed.(EOB) Once again this follows the line of thought in the Psalm and is a prophesy of the Messiah, and upon Him is the salvation of mankind. The prophet Daniel interprets Nebuchadnezzer’s dream and the Church sees the stone in the dream as a prophecy of Christ and the Theotokos. Daniel 2:45 Whereas you saw that a stone was cut out of a mountain without hands and it beat to pieces the earthenware, the iron, the brass, the silver, the gold; the great God has made known to the king what must happen hereafter: and the dream is true and its interpretation is sure. (EOB)

In the Gospels, Jesus quotes the passage from the Psalms, Mt 21:42-44 Jesus said to them, Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the LORD's doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes' ? Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. And whoever falls on this stone will be broken; but on whomever it falls, it will grind him to powder.

Paul uses the same image in Eph 2:19-22 Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief corner stone,
in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.

Finally, Peter repeats this idea again in his epistle. 1 Pet 2:4-8 “Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Therefore it is also contained in the Scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion A chief cornerstone, elect, precious, And he who believes on Him will by no means be put to shame. Therefore, to you who believe, He is precious; but to those who are disobedient, The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone, and A stone of stumbling And a rock of offense. They stumble, being disobedient to the word, to which they also were appointed”

13. Uneducated & untrained: refers to specific religious education, in contrast to the Sanhedrin who had formal education at the hands of famous Rabbis. In reality, the mere fact of being Jewish meant that Peter and John would have had whole portions of the OT memorized especially the Psalms along with portions of the Torah. Part of this came from the standard religious education in the lives of Jewish youth and some came from the liturgical worship they would have experienced in the Synagogue.

25-26. Psalm 2:1,2 “Why then did the heathen rage, and the nations imagine vain things? 2 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers have gathered themselves against the Lord and against his Christ (from the EOB)”

32. Monastics continue to uphold this Apostolic example of commonality

36. Actions of Barnabas. Laid at the feet of the apostles during liturgical service. Also the meaning of his name, Son of Encouragement, becomes increasingly apparent as the book of Acts continues.

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