This study is one of several in part 3 of the three-part series, Witnesses to Jesus, exploring “witness” in Luke and Acts.
This study highlights the power and advantages of a group of Christians as a witnessing community.
In the section leading up to this (Acts 3–4:22), Peter and John had been brought before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish council of priests and elders. After considerable debate, they were released but sternly charged not to continue to preach the gospel. Yet Peter tells them, ". . . we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard" (Acts 4:20). Act 4:23–37 gives us an inside look at a community of witnesses to Jesus.
Think of a group of people—a community (Christian or non-Christian)—of which you are a member. What defines your community? How do its members relate to one another? How does the community relate to those outside it?
- Get someone with a keen sense of drama to read Acts 4:23–37. After Peter and John are released, what is the first thing they do? How does the community respond to the situation? How does your Christian community respond to opposition?
- Look for a moment at verses 24–28. How is God described? What do these different descriptions tell us about him?
- As they pray, the community quotes from Psalm 2, a prophetic psalm referring to the coming kingship of Christ. Turn for a minute to Psalm 2:1–9, but don't lose your place in Acts. How are the events recounted in this psalm similar to the events recounted in Acts 4:27–28?
- In each case, who is standing in opposition to God? How does God respond? Why is this opposition "in vain"?
- How would recalling God's past dealing with those who conspire against him be an encouragement to this fledgling community?
- Now look at the rest of the prayer in Acts 4:29–30. In light of what God has done in the past, what do they ask him to do for them? How does he respond to them in verse 31?
- Verses 32–37 give us a closer look at the Christian community. What are some specific ways they lived out their "one heart and soul [or mind]"? What does this tell us about their priorities?
- Verse 33 tells about their "witness" or "testimony." What adjectives are used to describe their witness?
- Put yourself in the story. If you were on the outside looking in, what might be going through your mind as you observe these Christians interacting with each other and with others?
What does it mean to be "one in heart and soul?" What doesn't it mean? What would your fellowship on campus look like if it really was of "one heart and soul?" What would your witness be like? What are some things you can do to strengthen your community?
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