The Church in Jerusalem (Acts 3:1-8:4)

For the first segment of the churches existence here on earth, it was wholly found in Jerusalem. During this time the church grew tremendously in an atmosphere that has never been seen elsewhere. It truly was the "fullness of time" The membership exploded to well over 10,000 members. This is the church in it's infancy. It has existed in prophecy for thousands of years, now it is here, guided by the Holy Spirit through twelve seemingly very common men.

  1. The Progress of the Church 3:1 - 8:4
    1. Peter Heals the Lame Man In Temple 3:1 -11
    2. Peter's Second Sermon 3:12 -26
    3. Peter and John Are Arrested 4:1 4
    4. Peter Preaches to the Sanhedrin 4:5 -12
    5. Sanhedrin Commands Them Not to Preach 4:13 -22
    6. Apostles' Pray for Boldness 4:23 -31
    7. Early Church Share Possessions 4:32 -37
    8. Ananias and Sapphira Lie and Die 5:1 -11
    9. Apostles' Miracles 5:12- 16
    10. Persecution Begins 5:17 -42
    11. First Deacons Are Appointed 6:1 8
    12. Stephen's Sermon 7:1 -7:53
    13. Stephen Is Killed 7:54 - 7:60
  2. At The Gate Called Beautiful. 3:1 -10
    1. The healing of the lame man. 1- 10
      1. This miracle was obviously not like the so called miracles of today. Here was a man who had lived his life as an undeniable cripple. Everyone around knew him as the beggar that lay at the gate Beautiful. Note that he was laid there "daily". It is very likely that he knew Peter and John (who had spent much time at the temple).
      2. "Fastening his eyes upon him" This is the very opposite reaction that most people give to a beggar, usually we look away as to avoid their eyes, yet this is the intentional looking of one who has something to give.
      3. Imagine his surprise when Peter reached out and took his hand No-one had even taken his hand to "help him up", only to "pick him up"
      4. Another thought, here in the Temple, the common atmosphere inside was that of prayerfulness and somberness. Suddenly the silence is broken by the shouting, and dancing of a beggar. How contradictory this must have seemed to "proper holiness"
  3. On Solomon's Porch. 3:11 -26
    1. Peter's second sermon. 3:11- 26
      1. Peter takes every opportunity (for which purpose this miracle was done) to preach Jesus.
      2. We learned in 2:46 that these NT Christians were in this very temple daily. What were they doing there? Praising God, yes, and the apostles were preaching. This was part of their every day. Preach, preach, preach. I am given to wonder how long after Pentecost did a day go by without Peter preaching to someone?
      3. This sermon covers basically the same territory as the first sermon in Acts 2. It is interesting to note the difference in wording of the invitation:
        1. Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins
        2. Repent ye therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out.
      4. Heavy on OT Prophesy, for two reasons I think:
        1. Prophesy is convincing. If something is truly prophesied hundreds of years before, with clarity and accuracy (as opposed to nebulous babblings i.e. Nostrodomos) the is something beyond normal human agency at work.
        2. We must remember that at this point the gospel was only being preached to Jews (and to this point, only those devout enough to come to the Temple). Those who were raised knowing, studying, and loving this OT.
  4. In The Prison. 4:1 4
    1. The arrest. 1
      1. Notice it is the Sadducees who arrest them, not the Pharisees
    2. The reason for the arrest. 2
      1. Their objection was a purely doctrinal one. Peter was preaching the resurrection of the dead, a doctrine they staunchly denied. This alone wouldn't have been sufficient for an arrest, but when you add to it the unparalleled success of their preaching, the Sadducees were concerned.
    3. They are put in jail. 3,4
      1. But the damage was already done, another 5000 men. The church is obviously pushing, if not past 10,000 members already.
  5. Before The Sanhedrin. 4:5 -22
    1. The council 5,6
      1. Here are all the important religious rulers of the day, gathered, not to examine or try them but to punish or at least intimidate them.
    2. The examination of the council and the defense of Peter. 7 -12
      1. Peter pulls no punches, they had learned from Jesus that when dealing with the corrupt religious leaders of the day, plain spoken boldness was called for.
      2. His words are guided by the Holy Spirit directly here.
    3. The results of Peter's defense. 13 -22
      1. The undeniability was in the miracle. Unlike "someone watching me from home right now has a cancer in their stomach it's been hurting and you were afraid to go to the doctor don't be afraid anymore, because Jesus has healed you." This miracle was a fact impossible to be denied even by the rankest enemies.
      2. Their dilemma, "how to keep this miracle quiet". Their boldness in hard-heartedness is amazing. They are as resolute in their error as Peter is in the truth.
  6. In The Upper Room. 4:23-5:11
    1. The praise and prayer of the disciples. 23 -31
      1. Look at the essence of how their prayer differs from ours today. If we were imprisoned and beaten for preaching we would cry out to God (just as they did), but we would cry "Please stop our tormentors. Please make them quit and leave us alone." And at the very least "Please help us endure" All fine prayers I'm sure, but listen to the apostle's prayer:
      2. "And now Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word"
    2. The unity of the believers. 32 -37
      1. Considerations on the communal life of the early church in Jerusalem.
        1. This was not the case with all churches that the apostles set up, for Paul gives Timothy instructions for the rich Christians (1 Tim.6:8ff).
        2. It was not even a requirement of the Christians in Jerusalem (5:4)
        3. Many of these new Christians did not live in Jerusalem, but had merely come here for Pentecost, intending to return home immediately. Instead, they found the salvation of their souls in the Kingdom of God, which at this time existed only in Jerusalem.
        4. They didn't return home, they had limited money with them, no homes or jobs locally, these circumstances all contributed to the decision to practice this communal living.
        5. The may also have been a sense of immediacy about the return of Christ, alluring them to all remain together.
    3. The first church discipline. 5:1 -11
      1. This story is quite fascinating in Luke's choice to include it. We know that many evil things were done by many who were called christians (Simon -Acts 8:18-22; Demas -2 Tim.4:10; Diotrephes -3 John) and they were not struck dead. God doesn't always take the life of one who disobeys. This was true even in the OT. Many disobeyed without immediate death, yet a few (Uzzah, Korah, Those at Sinai that the earth swallowed) were immediately executed.
  7. On Solomon's Porch. 5:12 -16
    1. Signs and wonders and the increase of the word. 12 -16
      1. Tremendous miracles continue, further accelerating the growth of the church. It has to number well over 10,000 by now. I have read some estimates that figure nearer 50,000. Notice that multitudes were added.
      2. One last thought about these miracles, I would challenge Benny Hinn, Oral Roberts, the Mormon Apostles, or any of the others who claim these miraculous powers to come to McKinney and walk through our hospital so that their healing shadows might relieve our suffering.
  8. In The Prison. 5:17 -20
    1. The second arrest. 17, 18
      1. This is just too much for the religious leaders. They are losing members by the thousands, and have to do whatever they can to preserve their places of prominence.
    2. The divine release. 19, 20
  9. On Solomon's Porch. 5:21a
    1. The apostles teach in the Temple in the early morning. 21a
      1. At this point there is no fear. They just walk out of the jail and begin preaching to the first people they meet.
  10. Before The Sanhedrin. 5:21 -41
    1. The assembling of the council and the apostles' trial. 21b- 28
      1. They arrest them without incident for fear of the people. How well they had perfected the clean outside and dirty inside. At least as efficiently as our politicians of today.
    2. The answer of the apostles. 29- 32
      1. Peter doesn't haggle, he get (and stays) on the issue. "It's you against God, and we must obey God, NOT YOU"
    3. The result of the defense and the advice of Gamaliel. The release. 33 -41
      1. There were, even in this pit of evil a few who had at least a measure of wisdom. One of these is Gamaliel. One wonders if he said anything at the beginning to discourage the arrests, or if he was touched or swayed in some way by Peter.
  11. The Spread Of The Word. 5:42
    1. They had one thing on their mind and one thing only spread the word, spread the word, spread the word
  12. On Solomon's Porch. 6:1 6
    1. The murmuring of the Grecian Jews. 1
      1. They have a legitimate complaint
      2. NOTE: This passage deals conclusively with the right of the church to spend "the Lord's money" on things as frivolous as food for church members. Everything that was purchased by anyone was purchased with the mystical "Lord's money". All money belonging to Christians is the Lord's money, whether it has laid in a communion plate or not. And if the church purchases food for the good of the church they are merely following the example set by the Jerusalem church.
    2. The action of the twelve and the church. 2 6
      1. We can hardly imagine elders so busy with the work of the word that they don't have time to feed hungry widows. What were they doing? Preach, preach, preach.
      2. They did not ignore these carnal needs, they delegated the authority to handle them to the first Deacons. Appointed here.
  13. The Increase Of The Word Of God. 6:7, 8
    1. Now we are no longer adding to the church, we're multiplying!
  14. At The Synagogue Of The Libertines. 6:9-12
    1. Not known if these were from Libertium or merely freemen. 9
    2. The evil means used by those who refused. 10 -12
      1. Suborning perjury is not a new tactic of corrupt leaders
  15. Stephen Before The Sanhedrin. 6:13 - 7:57
    1. The testimony of the false witnesses. 6:13, 14
      1. The perjury occurs, the charges are made before the council
    2. The face of Stephen. 15
      1. I don't know if it glowed, or what, but it was obviously, noticeably different than before. Why? I don't know, reminds me of Moses.
      2. It is telling about the council's mindset that this didn't stop the proceedings.
  16. Stephen's defense. 7:1- 53
    1. Abraham 7:2-8
    2. Patriarchs 7:9-14
    3. Egypt 7:15-19
    4. Moses 7:20-37
    5. The Exodus 7:38-41
    6. Idolatry 7:42-44
    7. David, Solomon, the Temple 7:45-50
    8. His application of the message to them 7:51-53
  17. The Result. 54 -57
    1. The message was effective. Why? Because Stephen made the application to them. He didn't talk about "principles of integrity and honor" and make no personal application to the audience. He said boldly (as Peter had been doing) YOU are the guilty one's.
    2. This stands in stark contrast to those who were pricked in the heart by Peter's message. When God's word is preached with boldness, love, and clarity, it will produce a result, sometimes welcomed, and sometimes hated. (Isa.55:11)
    3. He is granted the grace of God to see into heaven where he was headed in this awful hour of torment and death.
  18. Outside The City Wall. 7:58-60
    1. Stephen stoned to death. 58-60
    2. "Lay not this sin to their charge" Were there ever any more godly words spoken from the lips of a mere man?
    3. This man was truly a Christian in the sense of being like Christ, his savior (Lk. 23:34)
    4. I believe that the conversion of Saul may be directly attributable to this prayer.