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Acts 4
Acts 4:1-4
While they were still speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple guard, and the
Sadducees 1 confronted them,
disturbed that they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead.
They laid hands on them and put them in custody until the next day, since it was already evening.
But many of those who heard the word came to believe and (the) number of men grew to (about) five

In this chapter, we see the New Church represented by its Leaders, The Apostles; in its First
Conflict with the Jerusalem authorities!

Again, we see St. Peter emerging as The Head of The Apostles - Leader of The Church which
Christ Founded on him. (Matthew 16:18-19)
Mat 16:18  And so I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church, and the gates of
the netherworld shall not prevail against it.
Mat 16:19  I will give you the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you bind on earth shall be bound
in heaven; and whatever you loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."
We see this in the fact that he is the one preaching to the people. Also, because when St. Peter
preached, people listened - (never mind E. F. Hutton!); the numbers of people who came into the new
Church through the preaching of St. Peter were much greater than the numbers of people who came
into the Church because of any other Apostle! Here we see, through St. Peter FIVE THOUSAND SOULS
were added that day!

God through St. Peter worked the First Miracle of the newly formed Church! (Acts 3)
The healing of the lame man took place in one of the busiest parts of The Temple.  The Beautiful Gate, where God healed the cripple through St. Peter, led from The Court of the Gentiles. The Court of the
Gentiles was the largest and busiest of all the Temple Courts. Anyone, from any nation could enter
through it.
The money changers had their stalls there.
A large crowd had gathered around St. Peter after the healing of the lame man. Which brings in "the
captain of the temple guard". The captain of the temple guard, is a priest who is second in line to the
High Priest. His function is to maintain order in The Temple.

With him came the Sadducees, who were the wealth aristocratic class. They were few in number
but had great influence.
They were upset for Two Reasons:
The Sadducees did not believe in 'life after death'...they did not believe in "the resurrection of the dead".
A good way to remember this is: They didn't believe in "life after death" so they were "Sad" "U" "See"!
Because of their wealth, they stuck together and tried to stay on friendly terms with the Roman authority.
They curried their favor to maintain their wealth and power. The Roman government was very tolerant,
but on public disorder they were without mercy! The Sadducees surmised that if The Apostles continued
to preach, there might be riots and they could loose their prosperous positions.
In an attempt to nip this in the bud, they had Sts. Peter and John arrested.

It is a terrible example of a group of men who, in order to retain their own interests, would not
listen to the truth or allow anyone else to hear it!!! (Does this cause you to think of any group?)

Question? How often do we turn from the Truth because it might change our lives?
Acts 4:5-12
On the next day, their leaders, elders, and scribes were assembled in Jerusalem,
with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly class.
They brought them into their presence and questioned them, "By what power or by what name have
you done this?"
Then Peter, filled with the holy Spirit, answered them, "Leaders of the people and elders:
If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was
then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the
Nazarean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you
He is 'the stone rejected by you,  the builders, which has become the cornerstone.'
There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the
human race by which we are to be saved."

These three groups - "leaders, elders, and scribes", made up the Sanhedrin. The same tribunal that
judged and condemned Our Lord.
Jesus' Words are already being fulfilled; "If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you." (John 15:

The court before which Sts. Peter and John were brought was the Sanhedrin. The "Supreme
Court" of the Jews. Even in the time of the Romans it had the right to arrest someone.
The great council of seventy elders among the Jews, whose jurisdiction extended to all important
affairs. They received appeals from inferior tribunals, and had power of life and death. [
Their primary desire was to keep the "status quo", to keep things just the way they were!

The Scribes were experts in the Traditional Law.
The Pharisees were fanatics for the Law.
The Elders were respected men in the community.
 The High-Priestly Class were the same people who were sometimes called "Chief Priests".

Note: One reason The New Testament does not use the word for the leaders of Christ's Church as "Priests" is that the authors, of The New Testament; did not want the Priests of the New Church to be
confused with the Temple Priests.
Until the Fall of The Temple in 70A.D. the word Priest is not used often to describe the Elders or
Presbyters of Christ's Church. Which by 110A.D. was being called The Catholic Church and its leaders;
Priests, Bishops and Pope. (e.g. - The Epistle of Ignatius to the Smyrnaeans - 110A.D.)[

In St. Peter's Speech we see the leader and head of the newly formed Church standing out, again! His
speech is a demonstration of great courage! He is leading by example.
He is speaking to the wealthiest, the most powerful and the most intellectual men in the land.
Remember, St. Peter is a fisherman from Galilee. He is an uneducated man... a common man (vs. 13).
He knows first-hand of their deadly power, these very men judged and tried His Leader, Lord and
Savior... Jesus! He stands before these powerful and deadly men, not cowed by them, rather "filled with
The Holy Spirit" as above them! Even though St. Peter is uneducated he is given the words to say,
perhaps even remembering the Words of Christ; (Luke 12:11) "When they take you before synagogues
and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what
you are to say."

Christians have a duty to confess their Faith if their silence would mean its denial, disrespect for
religion, an offense against God or scandal to their neighbor.
Vatican II; "Christians should approach those who are outside wisely, "in The Holy Spirit, genuine love,
truthful speech" (2 Corinthians 6:6-7) , and should strive even to the shedding of their blood, to spread
the light of life with all confidence (Acts 4:29) and Apostolic Courage.
OUTSIDE: In the "Decree on Ecumenism" by Pope Paul VI, we are told, to know our Faith first and then
to make the first approach to those of our separated brethren "outside" the communion of The Catholic
Church. (p. 7)
TRUTHFUL SPEECH: We are also told, on page 12, it is a "false ecumenism" to water down or change
our beliefs to get along. "It is, of course, essential that the doctrine should be clearly presented in its
When defending the Faith, remember St. Peter's words; "Always be prepared to make a defense to
anyone who calls you to account for the hope that is within you, yet do it with gentleness and
reverence. " (1 Peter 3:15)

The disciple has a grave obligation to Christ, his Master, to grow daily in his knowledge of the
truth he has received from Him, to be faithful in announcing it and vigorous in defending it".
(Dignitatis Humanae , 14)

CCC 1303 By virtue of our Confirmation we receive a special grace of
The Holy Spirit to spread and defend the Faith by word and action as true witnesses of Christ, to
confess the Name of Christ boldly, and never to be ashamed of the Cross.

Question? Think of a time when God called on you to defend the Faith.
Acts 4:13-22

Observing the boldness of Peter and John and perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men, they
were amazed, and they recognized them as the companions of Jesus.
Then when they saw the man who had been cured standing there with them, they could say nothing in
So they ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin, and conferred with one another, saying,
"What are we to do with these men? Everyone living in Jerusalem knows that a remarkable sign was
done through them, and we cannot deny it.
But so that it may not be spread any further among the people, let us give them a stern warning never
again to speak to anyone in this name."
So they called them back and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus.
Peter and John, however, said to them in reply, "Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey
you rather than God, you be the judges.
It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard."
After threatening them further, they released them, finding no way to punish them, on account of the
people who were all praising God for what had happened.
For the man on whom this sign of healing had been done was over forty years old.

We see that the Sanhedrin had contempt for The Apostles, calling St. Peter and St. John;
"uneducated, ordinary men"!
By "uneducated" they meant they had no technical knowledge of The Law.
This fact, caused some astonishment, among the Jewish leaders! St. Peter who is not well versed in
The Law had such a command of The Sacred Scripture.

There were threats; however, the Christian knows that anything man does to him is but a
moment in time...whereas, the things of God... are eternal. Matthew 10:28  And do not be afraid
of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy
both soul and body in Gehenna.

They had the Fact of the cure of the cripple through St. Peter by God, for their defense! vs. 16; talks
about a Sign which they "cannot deny". The Early Church was built in The Power of The Holy Spirit, as
documented in the New Testament. Research of the "post-apostolic' writings has also revealed that
The Gifts of The Holy Spirit were a common part of everyday life in The Catholic Church until as late as
the 8th century.
They had their total and complete loyalty to God. (For The Apostles there was no other choice.)
Their greatest defense was their personal experience of Jesus Christ. They knew, at first hand, that it
was true and they were so sure of what they were saying that they were willing to stake their life on it!

Each of us need a real dynamic relationship where Jesus is truly The Lord of our lives!

Question? Have you ever experienced Jesus in a Special way?
Acts 4:23-31
After their release they went back to their own people and reported what the chief priests and elders
had told them.
And when they heard it, they raised their voices to God with one accord and said, "Sovereign Lord,
maker of heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them,
you said by the holy Spirit through the mouth of our father David, your servant: 'Why did the Gentiles
rage and the peoples entertain folly?
The kings of the earth took their stand and the princes gathered together against the Lord and against
his anointed.'
Indeed they gathered in this city against your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed, Herod 4 and
Pontius Pilate, together with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,
to do what your hand and (your) will had long ago planned to take place.
And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and enable your servants to speak your word with all
as you stretch forth (your) hand to heal, and signs and wonders are done through the name of your
holy servant Jesus."
5 As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the holy Spirit
and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.

We see here how the early Church handled a potentially deadly situation! This is the beginning
of the persecution of the new Church. Empowered by The Holy Spirit and the firm conviction of
their beliefs they had no time for fear or sadness! They never even considered following the
orders of the Sanhedrin. The Holy Spirit gave them the words to say and filled them with courage
and strength in the face of persecution.

At the end of this section something takes place that is know, at times, as the "Little Pentecost"!
God meant Christians to experience Pentecost over and over again!
  1. We receive the Holy Spirit when we are Baptized. (CCC1266)
  2. Then our experience of the Holy Spirit is deepened in the Sacrament of Confirmation. (CCC1303)
  3. At any time in our Christian walk the Gift of the Holy Spirit can be stirred anew (2 Timothy 2:6);
    such as "The Baptism of the Holy Spirit", which is not to be confused with The Sacrament of

Question? Have you ever rejoiced in a situation in which it seems that God had abandoned
Acts 4:32-37

The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions
was his own, but they had everything in common.
With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was
accorded them all.
There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them,
bring the proceeds of the sale,
and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need.
Thus Joseph, also named by the apostles Barnabas (which is translated "son of encouragement"), a
Levite, a Cypriot by birth,
sold a piece of property that he owned, then brought the money and put it at the feet of the apostles.

We see the budding of Christ's prayer for "
unity of the believers" (John 17:21-22)! The greatest unity
that exists among Christianity today is found in The Catholic Church, where we have unity of Doctrine.
We have one Head which is Christ, guiding His Church, through His Vicar on earth, The Pope.

(TR,14, March '95)
"One of the most remarkable things recorded in The Acts of The Apostles concerns what happened to
those who responded to the call issued by St. Peter, underwent Baptism, had their sins forgiven,
received the Holy Spirit, were thereby incorporated into The Church, and then partook of the
consecrated bread that was really the flesh of Christ Himself. What happened is that they became
changed, just as The Apostles themselves had become changed at Pentecost; they no longer acted or
reacted entirely as human nature would have led one to expect.
They distributed their goods "to each according to need" vs. 35.
The company of those who believed were of " one heart and mind" vs. 32.
Their new ideal of conduct was no longer that of mere human nature, but was based upon the words
and example of their risen Lord, who had taught them that "by this all men will know that you are My
disciples, if you have love for one another" (John 13:35)

The Lord Himself had been known for "going about doing good" (Acts 10:28), and so the TEST and
PROOF of authentic Christianity was to be from then on, nothing more than "going about doing good"
The Catholic Church of today is based on the perfect model of the early Christian Church found
here in Acts.
Each Parish shares with The Diocese
Each Diocese shares with The Vatican - which then turns around
The Vatican shares with each Diocese
Each Diocese share with each Parish
Each Parish sees to the needs of the individual parishioners

Question? Have you ever shared your Faith with anyone?