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Are you Filtering God Out? (Hearing God’s Voice 2)

May 15, 2020

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Bible Gemz 1415 - Peter¹s Bold Response and the Questions it Raises (+ a cameo appearance of John McEnroe) (Acts 4:7-13)

January 23, 2019


New Living Translation (NLT)

They brought in the two disciples and demanded, "By what power, or in whose name, have you done this?" 

Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, "Rulers and elders of our people, 

are we being questioned today because we've done a good deed for a crippled man? Do you want to know how he was healed? 

Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. 

For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, 'The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.' 

There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.”  

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. (Acts 4:7-13) 


The Literal Version of the Bible (LITV)

And standing them in the midst, they were inquiring, By what sort of power, or by what sort of name did you do this? 

Then being filled of the Holy Spirit, Peter said to them, Rulers of the people and elders of Israel, 

if we are being examined today on a good work of an infirm man, by what this one has been healed, 

let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, in this name this one stands before you whole. 

This One is the Stone counted worthless by you the builders, the One who has come to be into the Head of the Corner; Psa. 118:22 

and there is salvation in no other One, for neither is there any other name under Heaven having been given among men by which we must be saved. 

But beholding the boldness of Peter and John, and having perceived that they are untaught and uneducated men, they marveled. And they recognized them, that they were with Jesus. (Acts 4:7-13)



I am almost overwhelmed with where to start and what elements to comment on. There are just too many things going on in this short segment. It is deep, deep, deep. I have given you the passage in two versions for contrast and comparison: both the NLT and the LITV.


Here are SOME of my questions:


What is the power behind this action?

What is the name or authority behind this action?

Why is the previous derisive “you” in the emphatic position at the close of the accusation, inquiry?

Why is the “we” of verse 9 a similar grammatical construction? Is there something to this? Is there a balance or a polemic here?

To what degree is Peter “filled with the Spirit”? And what does it mean?

Is Peter’s use of "Rulers and Elders of our people” sincere or does it have a barb to it? Is it used ironically or sincerely?

I think I will take the words right out of John McEnroe’s mouth here. "You can’t be serious that we are on trial for doing good to a crippled man.”

Do you want to know how he was healed or is there something else meant by the literal “by what this one has been healed?”


Is healing in focus or is something more at stake?

What was it that highlighted Peter’s boldness? 

What was he bold about?

Why is John still silent?


Why is the corner stone saying used here?

It seems there is something going on here that is more than just a healing. 

Was the man healed or saved?


Why don’t the Rulers and Elders respond to Peter’s boldness in other ways? Why do they just marvel?

Why is the lame man (the one who has been healed) not questioned as he would be in any normal investigation into a healing case?

Is there anything to the fact that there are two references to "this one” in this passage? Are they contrastive? 


Is there any significance to the closing statement of this segment by Luke? "And they recognized them, that they were with Jesus."

Does it contrast with the reference to “untaught" or “uneducated” or is it used in another way? 


The focus for us here is one question and Peter’s answer to it. 

Take time to consider the questions you need to ask in order to put all the pieces together. 


Here is a little taster of what is to come in this section: 


From Gemz 1411 we looked at:

ἐν ποίᾳ δυνάμει ἢ ἐν ποίῳ ὀνόματι ἐποιήσατε τοῦτο ὑμεῖς 

In  what power    or in  what  name     you did        this     you 


Notice the emphatic use and placement of the second “you” in verse 7.


Compare that with Peter’s response in verse 9:


εἰ ἡμεῖς σήμερον ἀνακρινόμεθα     ἐπὶ    εὐεργεσίᾳ    ἀνθρώπου ἀσθενοῦς,

If      we    today    we are examined  over   a good deed  (for) a man   crippled


ἐν      τίνι  οὗτος    σέσωσται

in/by  what   this       healed / saved / judged / investigated


Peter’s response is structured in the same way. Their use of the emphatic pronoun (ὑμεῖς ) is derisive or scornful and dismissive. Peter’s use of (ἡμεῖς) has mirrored their structure but it’s not derisive or a put down. It’s matching theirs but has the sense “we on the other hand”. It contrasts John and Peter over against the members of the council. The use of “if" [ei] is skillful as well. It contains the sense of doubt as if this is a supposition. But it’s far from a supposition. It is provable fact. You have the healed man right over there. The fact of the matter of whether this man was healed or not is not able to be challenged. Go ask him if you wish. The issue is not if it happened, the issue is doing a good deed for a lame man. Is that a crime? Hence my John McEnroe approach to "You can’t be serious that we are on trial for doing good to a crippled man.” The whole beginning to Peter’s speech is poignant, purposeful and in your face.  


One more little thing to comment on before I leave today is the use of the “we" pronoun. This “we" replaces "Peter and John". Again I ask, where are the other disciples and why doesn't John say anything? He appears to be the silent partner. Curious.   


These are the little things. There are more important issues for us to look at in the Gemz to follow. But even the little things are worth mentioning and have special little touches about them. So much is packed into these few verses.  But as I have said before, now is the time to ponder this passage and come up with your own questions. The above questions are mine. If you add questions worth pondering to the mix I will include them in the following Gemz as well. The ball is in your court. Worth the effort when you see John McEnroe is involved.   



Always forgive your enemies, nothing annoys them more.  Oscar Wilde


If you can’t control what you think you won't be able to control what you do.  Ian


Expect the best, prepare for the worst and forget what others think.


A bad past experience is never a good reason to close your mind to positive future possibilities.  Ian (with apologies to Rick Godwin)   


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