With Boldness

After healing a lame man, Peter and John were confronted by the priestly authorities. They were disturbed because the Apostles were “proclaiming the resurrection,” and the Sadducees among the priests rejected the resurrection of the dead. The Apostles claimed that the final resurrection began “in Jesus,” a teaching that made its doctrine distinct and placed the resurrection in the center of the Gospel.

The next day, the High Priest and his entourage interrogated Peter and John after they had spent the night in custody. “They inquired, by what power or in what name have you done this?” - (Acts 4:5-7).

Lighthouse storm - Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash
[Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash]

At that moment, Peter was “
filled with the Holy Spirit” and responded with a statement that recalled the words of Jesus – “When they bring you before the synagogues, and the rulers and the authorities be not anxious how or what you will answer, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say” – (Luke 11:10-12).

According to the passage in Acts, the lame man was “saved” (sozôAND “made whole” (hugies) in the “name of Jesus,” and the Greek term translated as “made whole” in English is significant. Peter and John were testifying before the priestly representatives of the Temple, and under the Levitical code, a “lame” person was prohibited from full participation in the Temple rituals - (Leviticus 21:17-21).

The “lame man” was not just healed but made “whole,” making him acceptable before God for participation in the worship rituals of the Temple, though he was “made whole” without any of the required rituals that would have “cleansed” him of ritual defilement and restored him to a ritually “clean” state.

Moreover, the lame man was healed “in the name of Jesus of Nazareth,” the very man crucified by the “rulers of the people.” The young Assembly was proclaiming that God “raised him from the dead,” vindicating him and his words:

  • The stone set aside by the builders has been made the head of the corner. And in no other is there salvation, for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, by which we must be saved.”

The High Priest and his associates took notice of the “boldness of Peter and John.” Unable to deny that a genuine miracle had occurred, they had no alternative but to release them, although not without making threats - (Acts 4:18-21).


In the passage, the term rendered “boldness” anticipates the prayer of the church in reaction to these events, and the response of the Holy Spirit (“Grant to your servants to speak your word WITH ALL BOLDNESS”). It translates the Greek noun parrésia, which had an original sense of “freedom of speech; boldness in speech” – (Strong’s Concordance - #G3954).

Peter and John related these events to the Assembly, and then the members prayed in unison for Divine assistance:

  • (Acts 4:23-31) – “And being let go, they came to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said unto them. And when they heard it, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, O Lord, You that made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and all that in them is: who by the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of our father David your servant, didst say, Why did the GENTILES rage, And the peoples imagine vain things? The KINGS OF THE EARTH set themselves in array, And THE RULERS WERE GATHERED TOGETHER, against the Lord, and against his anointed one. For of a truth in this city against your holy Servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel were gathered together to do whatsoever your hand and your council foreordained to come to pass. And now, Lord, look upon their threatenings, and grant to your servants to speak your word with ALL BOLDNESS, while you stretch forth your hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of thy holy Servant Jesus” - (Compare Psalm 2:2).

This prayer is the climax of the story, and it ties together the several terms that have figured in the passage – “rulers,” “gathered together,” “threatening,” and “boldness” - and links them to the Second Psalm  (“Wherefore have nations assembled in tumult, or should peoples mutter an empty thing? The kings of the earth take their station… against Yahweh and his Anointed One”).

The rulers who opposed the Messianic son in the Psalm are identified with the priestly leaders in Jerusalem who conspired to put Jesus to death, along with Herod, Pontius Pilate, the “Gentiles and the people of Israel.” The Holy Spirit responded immediately to the congregation:

  • (Acts 4:30-31) – “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were gathered together; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God WITH BOLDNESS.”

Storm Sea - Photo by Barth Bailey on Unsplash
[Photo by Barth Bailey on Unsplash]

This was not another baptism in the Spirit. They had received the Gift of the Spirit when it was poured on the Day of Pentecost. Instead, the Spirit empowered the Assembly to speak the Gospel “
boldly” amid adversity and despite any threats or hostile acts by the priestly rulers of the Temple.

It is noteworthy how the Book of Acts applies the Messianic prophecy from the Second Psalm to the death of Jesus and the opposition to the church by the leaders of Israel. That means its fulfillment began in the life, death, and resurrection of the man from the insignificant village of Nazareth who was put to death by the Temple and Roman authorities.

Moreover, the plot by the “Kings of the Earth” against Yahweh’s Anointed has continued ever since whenever the people of God face persecution. However, the Spirit responds by energizing the saint to “speak the Word of God with boldness.”

  • In Jerusalem - (Jesus commanded his disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until they received the Spirit, empowering them to be his witnesses on the earth- Acts 1:1-11)
  • The Final Harvest - (The outpouring of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost fulfilled what the feast symbolized and marked the start of the Final Harvest)
  • When Pentecost Arrived - (On the day of Pentecost, the long-anticipated time of fulfillment arrived when Jesus bestowed the Spirit on his church)

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