The Council of Intimidation: Acts 4:5-7
“5) On the next day, their rulers and elders and scribes were gathered together in Jerusalem; 6) and Annas the high priest was there, and Caiaphas and John and Alexander, and all who were of high-priestly descent. 7) When they had placed them in the center, they began to inquire, “By what power, or in what name, have you done this?”” Acts 4:5-7
This reads like the guest list to the Emmy Awards. They took their time, waited until the next day and assemble with pomp and confidence. There may have even been some formal protocol to celebrate Annas, Caiaphas, John and Alexander as they entered the counsel chambers. This was the same Sanhedrin that had assembled and conspired to crucify Jesus a few months earlier.
But there was a growing rift among them. Joseph, a member of the Council prepared the body of Jesus for burial. (Luke 23:50-54) Nicodemus “the ruler of the Jews” had become a secret follower of Jesus and even helped prepare His body for burial. He personally contributed a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes to wrap the body. (John 19:39) Even Gamaliel “the teacher of the Law” was beginning to suspect much deeper significance to what God was doing through Jesus Christ and His followers. ( Acts 5:33-40) The seeds of the gospel were beginning to take root and sprout even in a growing number of the priests. (Acts 6:7) The Holy Spirit was at work even among their ranks.
It was in this assembly that Peter and John were ushered in and placed in the center for interrogation. Jesus Himself stood in that very spot during His trial. What a prolific reminder that we are called to share in the sufferings of Christ. (Philippians 3:10)
Their questioning was aimed at intimidation. They demanded to know “by what power or in what name have you done this?” (Vs 7) They were referring to the healing of the lame beggar.
The question was actually profound, because what had happened was beyond the scope of their authority and power. They could not perform miracles, signs or wonders. It was like the magicians of Egypt standing before Pharaoh and concluding that “this is the finger of God.” (Exodus 8:18-19) Biblical history has a way of repeating itself. Unfortunately, a number of the religious leaders were as blind and hard as Pharaoh.
We are now beginning to see one of the purposes for signs and wonders accompanying the preaching of the gospel. I point you once more to Hebrews 2:4. Throughout biblical history God has always filled the role of bearing witness of Himself through the use of signs and wonders. He alone sits in the seat of “God.” He judges and humiliates all challengers and skeptics of His glory, majesty and power.
The context of Hebrews 2:1-4 changed me from a skeptic to a believer of signs and wonders accompanying the spread of the gospel. I cannot deny the clear teaching of the Word of God! I now expect God to work and validate the gospel. My personal faith and motto has become; “It is our job to tell the story, it is Gods job to move the mountain.”
I no longer quench the Spirit nor do I put God in the small box of my theological bias. He is sovereign and powerful to do whatever, wherever and whenever He wants within the boundaries of His own moral character. The Bible puts no limits on His will, power, sovereignty or timing. However, He defines Himself as holy, righteous and pure. There is no sin or compromise in Him. He is the measure of truth, justice and morality. He is the Judge.
This text contains an eerie shadow of many scholars, theologians, seminaries and denominations today. They celebrate themselves while falsely thinking that God bends to their rationalism, ideologies, theological bias, morals and control. Like many of the religious Jewish leaders of first century Judaism, they merely exempt themselves from the glory and power of what God is doing all around them.
They are blind guides of the blind dressed in religious garb while having no presence or power of the Holy Spirit in their own lives. They willingly twist scripture to embrace anti-Christ morals and values. They fail to measure themselves by texts like 1 Corinthians 2:4-5.
The spokesman for the Sanhedrin was throwing the best pitch he had! Peter through the filling of the Holy Spirit was about to knock it out of the ball park. Stay tuned for the third message from Peter recorded in the Acts 2-3.
Daily Bible Commentary By Terry Baxter: Cofounder of GoServ Global
The Council of Intimidation: Acts 4:5-7