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1 Now as they spoke to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came upon them, 2 being greatly disturbed that they taught the people and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

 

The first four verses of chapter four report on Peter and John’s arrest by religious leaders because they spoke of Jesus’ resurrection (Acts 3:12-26). There was no formal resistance to the gospel to this point in Acts. But now, the scene changes to hostility against the apostles. It was not the general population but the religious leaders who took offense to the gospel message. This persecution is the first recorded in the book of Acts.

4:1

Now as they [Peter and John] spoke to the people,

While Peter and John spoke to the people, religious authorities put them under arrest.

the priests,

Priests, Sadducees, and Pharisees usually had the role of teaching religion to Israelites. The priests here were those who had the responsibility that day for conducting the evening sacrifice.

the captain of the temple,

The captain of the temple was the chief police officer for the temple. He had the responsibility of maintaining order in the temple precincts. Israel chose this person from the Levitical priestly order.

and the Sadducees

The Sadducees rejected the idea of a resurrection, especially the resurrection of Jesus (Lu 20:27). There was no life beyond present life for them. This group was one of three leading schools of thought during the Roman era. The high priests of the New Testament period were Sadducees. They were wealthy autocrats. They were the nihilists of that day rejecting the spirit world. They rejected the sovereignty of God and asserted the centrality of man. They were the skeptics of their day. They did not know the Scripture or the power of God (Mt 22:22, 33).

came upon them,

Religious leaders interrupted the sermon in Solomon’s Colonnade in the temple suddenly while they delivered the heart of the message of Christianity — the resurrection. 

4:2

being greatly disturbed

In the view of the priests and Sadducees, Peter and John had usurped their roles. The Sadducees were particularly hostile to the apostles because they taught that Jesus rose from the dead. The apostle proclaimed the very doctrine they opposed.

that they taught the people

In the view of the Sadducees, these men had no authorized credentials from religious authorities of that day. They had no rabbinic training. Religious leaders thought they had exclusive rights to speak about God and were offended that two fishermen like Peter and John would attempt to preach to the people (Acts 4:13).

and preached in Jesus the resurrection from the dead.

The resurrection of Jesus from the dead was a threat to religious leaders because it undermined their proclamations about who He was.

PRINCIPLE:

Religion is the prime opponent of Christianity.

APPLICATION:

It was the religion of the Pharisees that opposed our Lord. The Sadducees in Jerusalem were dead set against the apostles. In our day, a hybrid of Christianity called emergent or progressive Christianity attempts to contradict extant statements of the Word of God. There will always be opposition to the clear statements of Scripture; it is the nature of man to do this. This hybrid Christianity of our day puts authority in the self (solipsism) and is skeptical of the Bible, where authority should rest. It is a new form of liberalism that believed in the presupposition of German rationalism. We live in a day that has rejected the rationalism of modernism; we live in the assumption of postmodernism. There is no truth except what one finds in the self for these people. The presupposition where one begins to believe is at the heart of the truth issue.

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