The Church Grows

Acts 3:1 – 6:7

A. Healing and Homilies

1. The lame man 3:1-9

2. The puzzled crowd 3:10-11

3. The articulate preacher 3:12-26

  • Remember his audience: “men of Israel” ( Act_3:12 ); same basic knowledge base and Messianic hope as 6 hours earlier: “men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem” ( Act_2:14 ), “men of Israel” ( Act_2:22 ), “men and brethren” ( Act_2:29 ). He is continuing to address the “house of Israel” ( Act_2:36 )
  • the power of God vv.12-13
  • the deity of Christ

1. Servant v. 13, 26

2. Holy One v. 14

3. Just v.14

4. Prince of life v.15

5. Messiah v.18

6. Prophet vv.22-23

  • faith in Christ v.16

1. Elaborated: repentance, conversion, forgiveness v.19

B. Persecution and Prayer

1. Round 1 4:1-7

  • priests, commander of the temple guard, Saducees
  • strongly provoked ( διαπονέω , diaponeō) by Peter’s preaching v.2
  • seized and confined v.3
    compare εις τηρησιν, eis teresin, ( Act_4:3 ) with εν τηρησει δημοσια, en teresei demosia, ( Act_5:18 )
    probably in the custody of temple guards, not in the prison or jail intended for common criminals
  • Parenthesis – many believed v.4
  • challenged – by what authority?? v.7

2. Response 4:8-22

  • direct answer – that of the living resurrected Christ v.10

1. his authority

2. his power

3. you crucified him, yet he is your only hope – v.12

  • executive session

1. miracle is undeniable and well-known v.14, 16

2. spread of influence must be stopped v.17a

3. intimidation might work v.17b

  • open threat

1. no use of Jesus’ name in casual conversation v.18

2. no public teaching in Jesus’ name v.18

3. no hate speech!

4. presently reluctant to go against public opinion v.21

3. Reinforcement 4:23-31

  • progress report v.23
  • prayer and praise

1. sovereign creator and ruler v. 24-25

2. frustrating the plans of men, overruling for your purpose vv. 26-28

3. give us courage to speak vv.29-30

  • Affirmation v.31

1. sensory stimulus – shaking

2. actual visitation – filled and spoke

4. Round 2 5:17-40

  • strong word, indignation ζῆλος , zēlos , zeal v.17
  • not easy confinement, like the first, but the common prison v.18
  • released by the angel of the Lord, told to preach publicly “the words of life” vv.19-20
  • finally found by authorities and brought to the Sanhedrin vv.21-26
  • Q & A – Why did you use his name? We obey a higher authority vv.27-32
  • Reaction: “to be sawn through mentally, i.e. to be rent with vexation” Thayer, followed by determination to kill
  • Gamaliel’s wisdom vv.34-39
  • Beat and repeat, the warning not to speak in the name of Jesus v.40

5. Response 5:41-42

  • rejoiced – worthy to suffer v.41
  • continued teaching and preaching v.42

1. publicly

2. privately

  • message – Jesus is the Messiah

C. Humanitarianism and Hypocrisy

1. Caring for others 4:32-37

  • great power
  • great grace
  • great consideration

2. Caring for self 5:1-4; 5:7-9

  • it wasn’t just the keeping of the money, it was the deceit
  • image over integrity

3. Caring for the church 5:5-6; 5:10-11, 13

  • God guards his church from attack within

1. sin in the Garden – eat and you will die

2. sin in the tabernacle – Nadab and Abihu Lev_10:1-2

3. sin in the Promised Land – Achan Jos_7:18-26

  • fear (healthy) of doing wrong v.11
  • disincentive to casual Christians, those who only try it out v.13

4. Caring for the sick 5:12, 15-16

  • physical – ἀσθενής , asthenēs ; strengthless, weak, infirm, feeble
  • spiritual/emotional – ὀχλέω , ochleō ; harassed, vexed, molested, tormented
  • all were healed – cured, restored

D. Disciples and Deacons 6:1 – 6:7

1. Exponential growth 6:1a

see Act_1:15 (120) Act_2:41 (+3000) Act_4:4 (5000 men); see also Act_5:14

  • period of perhaps 6 years after Jesus’ ascension
  • even with the help of the seventy (speculation), still a 100:1 or more ratio
  • certainly would not have met corporately in any single building
  • ref. Act_5:42, preaching the gospel in dwellings, οἶκος , oikos , in addition to the temple

2. Overwhelming need 6:1b

  • obvious example of social responsibility neglected – widows
    see Isa_58:6-9 (pleasing fast)
  • pure religion is to care for widows and orphans – Jas_1:27
  • already neglected by society, believing widows would have been rejected by the official church
  • viewed as non-negotiable responsibility to “be a family” to one another
  • difference between “being the church” and “doing church”

3. Wise solution 6:2-7

  • division of labor

1. ministry of word and prayer

2. ministry to physical needs

  • spiritual ministry
  • result: multiplying ( Act_6:1 ) —>> multiplying greatly (violently) ( Act_6:7 )

God both guards his church and grows his church.

  • He guards it

1. from those influences and pressures without that would damage it – this guarding is not isolating, it is inoculating: giving the church resources to resist outside harm.

2. from influences and pressures (sinful behavior) within, establishing the mechanisms of plurality of elders coupled with church discipline, enabling her to resist harm from within the ranks.

3. from complacency – they were all scattered – Act_8:1

  • He, God, is the one who grows the church. Nowhere in discussing the growth does Luke use language that would indicate the church added to itself. In fact, he explicitly states that “the Lord added to the church daily” Act_2:47 the new converts.
  • We must pray that God guard it and grow it, we must do our part in bringing others in. All Jerusalem ( Act_4:16 ) and the cities surrounding Jerusalem ( Act_5:16 ) must have heard the news from someone!!

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