Bible Society of South Africa

Day 72 – Growth and Persecution

Read about the growth and persecution of the Church.

Bible text(s)

A Lame Man is Healed

1One day Peter and John went to the Temple at three o'clock in the afternoon, the hour for prayer. 2There at the Beautiful Gate, as it was called, was a man who had been lame all his life. Every day he was carried to the gate to beg for money from the people who were going into the Temple. 3When he saw Peter and John going in, he begged them to give him something. 4They looked straight at him, and Peter said, “Look at us!” 5So he looked at them, expecting to get something from them. 6But Peter said to him, “I have no money at all, but I give you what I have: in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth I order you to get up and walk!” 7Then he took him by his right hand and helped him up. At once the man's feet and ankles became strong; 8he jumped up, stood on his feet, and started walking around. Then he went into the Temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God. 9The people there saw him walking and praising God, 10and when they recognized him as the beggar who had sat at the Beautiful Gate, they were all surprised and amazed at what had happened to him.

Peter's Message in the Temple

11As the man held on to Peter and John in Solomon's Porch, as it was called, the people were amazed and ran to them. 12When Peter saw the people, he said to them, “Fellow-Israelites, why are you surprised at this, and why do you stare at us? Do you think that it was by means of our own power or godliness that we made this man walk? 13The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has given divine glory to his Servant Jesus. But you handed him over to the authorities, and you rejected him in Pilate's presence, even after Pilate had decided to set him free. 14He was holy and good, but you rejected him, and instead you asked Pilate to do you the favour of turning loose a murderer. 15You killed the one who leads to life, but God raised him from death — and we are witnesses to this. 16It was the power of his name that gave strength to this lame man. What you see and know was done by faith in his name; it was faith in Jesus that has made him well, as you can all see.

17“And now, my fellow-Israelites, I know that what you and your leaders did to Jesus was due to your ignorance. 18God announced long ago through all the prophets that his Messiah had to suffer; and he made it come true in this way. 19Repent, then, and turn to God, so that he will forgive your sins. If you do, 20times of spiritual strength will come from the Lord, and he will send Jesus, who is the Messiah he has already chosen for you. 21He must remain in heaven until the time comes for all things to be made new, as God announced through his holy prophets who lived long ago. 22For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will send you a prophet, just as he sent me, and he will be one of your own people. You are to obey everything that he tells you to do. 23Anyone who does not obey that prophet shall be separated from God's people and destroyed.’ 24And all the prophets who had a message, including Samuel and those who came after him, also announced what has been happening these days. 25The promises of God through his prophets are for you, and you share in the covenant which God made with your ancestors. As he said to Abraham, ‘Through your descendants I will bless all the people on earth.’ 26And so God chose his Servant and sent him first to you, to bless you by making every one of you turn away from your wicked ways.”

Peter and John before the Council

1Peter and John were still speaking to the people when some priests, the officer in charge of the temple guards, and some Sadducees arrived. 2They were annoyed because the two apostles were teaching the people that Jesus had risen from death, which proved that the dead will rise to life. 3So they arrested them and put them in jail until the next day, since it was already late. 4But many who heard the message believed; and the number of men grew to about 5,000.

5The next day the Jewish leaders, the elders, and the teachers of the Law gathered in Jerusalem. 6They met with the High Priest Annas and with Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and the others who belonged to the High Priest's family. 7They made the apostles stand before them and asked them, “How did you do this? What power have you got or whose name did you use?”

8Peter, full of the Holy Spirit, answered them, “Leaders of the people and elders: 9if we are being questioned today about the good deed done to the lame man and how he was healed, 10then you should all know, and all the people of Israel should know, that this man stands here before you completely well through the power of the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth — whom you crucified and whom God raised from death. 11Jesus is the one of whom the scripture says:

‘The stone that you the builders despised

turned out to be the most important of all.’

12Salvation is to be found through him alone; in all the world there is no one else whom God has given who can save us.”

13The members of the Council were amazed to see how bold Peter and John were and to learn that they were ordinary men of no education. They realized then that they had been companions of Jesus. 14But there was nothing that they could say, because they saw the man who had been healed standing there with Peter and John. 15So they told them to leave the Council room, and then they started discussing among themselves. 16“What shall we do with these men?” they asked. “Everyone in Jerusalem knows that this extraordinary miracle has been performed by them, and we cannot deny it. 17But to keep this matter from spreading any further among the people, let us warn these men never again to speak to anyone in the name of Jesus.”

18So they called them back in and told them that on no condition were they to speak or to teach in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John answered them, “You yourselves judge which is right in God's sight — to obey you or to obey God. 20For we cannot stop speaking of what we ourselves have seen and heard.” 21So the Council warned them even more strongly and then set them free. They saw that it was impossible to punish them, because the people were all praising God for what had happened. 22The man on whom this miracle of healing had been performed was over forty years old.

The Believers Pray for Boldness

23As soon as Peter and John were set free, they returned to their group and told them what the chief priests and the elders had said. 24When the believers heard it, they all joined together in prayer to God: “Master and Creator of heaven, earth, and sea, and all that is in them! 25By means of the Holy Spirit you spoke through our ancestor David, your servant, when he said:

‘Why were the Gentiles furious;

why did people make their useless plots?

26The kings of the earth prepared themselves,

and the rulers met together

against the Lord and his Messiah.’

27For indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together in this city with the Gentiles and the people of Israel against Jesus, your holy Servant, whom you made Messiah. 28They gathered to do everything that you by your power and will had already decided would happen. 29And now, Lord, take notice of the threats they have made, and allow us, your servants, to speak your message with all boldness. 30Stretch out your hand to heal, and grant that wonders and miracles may be performed through the name of your holy Servant Jesus.”

31When they finished praying, the place where they were meeting was shaken. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to proclaim God's message with boldness.

The Believers Share their Possessions

32The group of believers was one in mind and heart. None of them said that any of their belongings were their own, but they all shared with one another everything they had. 33With great power the apostles gave witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and God poured rich blessings on them all. 34There was no one in the group who was in need. Those who owned fields or houses would sell them, bring the money received from the sale, 35and hand it over to the apostles; and the money was distributed to each one according to his need.

36And so it was that Joseph, a Levite born in Cyprus, whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means “One who Encourages”), 37sold a field he owned, brought the money, and handed it over to the apostles.

Acts 3:1-4:37GNBOpen in Bible reader

PRAY before you read, asking God to help you understand.
READ the Bible passage for the day – preferably more than once.
REFLECT on the passage. Write your thoughts in a journal.
APPLY what God teaches you from His Word to your life.
PRAY again, asking God to live out His Word.

Bible Society of South Africav.4.20.14
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