The Council’s Response:
The members of the council were amazed when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, for they could see that they were ordinary men with no special training in the Scriptures. They also recognized them as men who had been with Jesus. But since they could see the man who had been healed standing right there among them, there was nothing the council could say. So they ordered Peter and John out of the council chamber and conferred among themselves. “What should we do with these men?” they asked each other. “We can’t deny that they have performed a miraculous sign, and everybody in Jerusalem knows about it. But to keep them from spreading their propaganda any further, we must warn them not to speak to anyone in Jesus’ name again.”Acts 4:13-17
Acts 4:13 – A Reminder
- (ASV) Now when they beheld the boldness of Peter and John, and had perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled;
- (CEV) The officials were amazed to see how brave Peter and John were, and they knew that these two apostles were only ordinary men and not well educated.
- (EMTV) Now when they observed the boldness of Peter and John, and understood that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marvelled.
- (MSG) They couldn’t take their eyes off them–Peter and John standing there so confident, so sure of themselves!Their fascination deepened when they realised these two were laymen with no training in Scripture or formal education.
- (YLT) And beholding the openness of Peter and John, and having perceived that they are men unlettered and plebeian, they were wondering . . .
Do you see the problem here? The problem is the heart of the members of this council. They don’t refute Peter and John on the basis of the facts they present. They don’t focus on the healing and the fact that they gave glory to the Name of Jesus. Neither do they take issue with the content of Peter’s theology as found in his sermon. Peter very clearly and cleverly set the happenings around the temple the day before, in the context of all God had promised in the Law and Prophets and the Writings. The members of the Council were the experts in the Word of God. So if there was a theological issue in what Peter had said, surely they would have addressed it. They didn’t. Their silence condemns them.
In the last Gem I listed the options I thought they had. They could continue with the approach they took with Peter and John’s teacher (Jesus) and have these two disciples condemned to death as well. They could confess they were wrong and let the two disciples go. Or they could respond to Peter’s sermon and repent, believe and be baptised for the forgiveness of their sins. But of course these illustrious leaders did none of the above. Instead they accuse Peter and John of propaganda. Excuse me, who is spreading the propaganda? But the real heart of the issue is the use of the words agrammatos and idiotes. These were derogatory terms when used in this context. They are calling Peter and John, ignorant, up-country people who are plebs, commoners who are rude, without formal learning, illiterate, unlettered, without grammar and without the ability to teach others. They had no right to teach because they did not have the rabbinical training necessary nor the letters after their name, i.e the right credentials to indicate they had been to an approved Rabbinical school. At the heart, this is all about intellectual or academic snobbery. They are playing intellectual games with Peter and John. You don’t belong because you haven’t received our training; you haven’t been to our rabbinic school. Excuse me, I think being trained for three years by the Messiah Himself trumps your rabbinical school any day. But yes, it is true these unlettered men don’t have the qualification letters from your school behind their names.
I have experience at spotting this kind of religious spirit and self-serving attitude. God set me on a course from the beginning of this work in which we are involved, where I would come face to face with this kind of heart attitude frequently. The reason is the way God predetermined my training for this work. When we knew what God wanted us to do, He told us very clearly that we needed training for work with Wycliffe Bible Translators. God spoke to me very clearly via a prophetic word delivered by one of my pastors, that I was to attend a conference I was questioning whether to attend or not, and there I would see the next step very clearly and would see the big picture ahead of us in overview. I laughed because it sounded so spiritual because in actual fact I was to attend a Geography Conference. However a series of events led me to attend the first morning of a missions conference. God spoke to me very clearly and then allowed me to meet David Cummings, the International Director of Wycliffe. David told me our next step was to go to Bible College for two years and study Hebrew and Greek and exegesis. Then he laid out the steps we would need to take over the next several years – yes it was a large big picture. After the Geography Conference I returned to Matamata determined to follow God’s input.
Many play the same games this Council (Sanhedrin) in Jerusalem were playing with Peter and John. It mattered not that they had walked with the Messiah Himself. It mattered not that Peter could put the big picture together for them of how the Law, the Prophets and the Writings all fitted together. No, the issue at heart was the fact that Peter and John had not been trained at the Rabbinic school. Even more so, at the correct rabbinic school. The Council could not refute what Peter had said at any meaningful or significant level of interpretation. Peter had the Messiah’s perspective on how it all fitted together but that wasn’t enough. The members of Council chose to play games of academic-one-upmanship. Their attitude of heart was the heart of the problem. They had studied the Scriptures all their lives and had missed the Coming of the Messiah. Now they were vigorously defending their faulty theological stand and refusing to back down despite the weak nature of their case against the disciples and their Leader for that matter. When they should have admitted they were wrong and backed down, knelt down, confessed the error of their ways and repented so that times of renewal and refreshing in Holy Spirit could come, they chose to defend their erroneous theological position. For that reason they resorted to intellectual name calling and protecting their position on the basis of the formal training they have. How sad.
It is important to realise who you are but it is more important to realise who you are not.Ian Vail
The trouble with many of us is that we would rather defend our training credentials than change to adopt new insights.Ian Vail
There is nothing noble in being superior to some person. The true nobility is in being superior to your previous self.Fred Allen
You don’t need people to validate your gift, you were gifted before they met you!T D Jakes
Happiness or contentment isn’t something that depends on our surroundings. It’s something we make inside ourselves.Corrie ten Boom
Humility is nothing else than having a right judgment of ourselves.William Law