1)Listen to Podcast
Fulfilling God’s Dream: The Company You Keep
1. By What Power : Acts 3 and 4 are linked together as a single unit. Recall the action from Acts 3 – the miracle
and its explanation (3:6, 12, 16). Now skim through Acts 4:1-31. What grabs your attention, strikes you as
important? Look especially for its focus on “the sign” (4:9, 14, 16, 22) and “the power” (4:7, 10) behind that
2. Persecution : This chapter marks a turning point in the book of Acts. From this moment on, every narrative will
involve not only the growth of the church, but the firm and consistent opposition to that growth.
Who are these first persecutors of the church (4:1, 5-6)? How do they compare in rank, class, and status to
those they are persecuting (4:13)? In terms of class only, which group do you more closely identify with?
Peter uses two psalms to describe his persecutors: Acts 4:11 // Psalm 118:22 and Acts 4:25-26 // Psalm 2:1-2.
Look carefully at the small details of each psalm. How do they reflect both the individual and the cosmic scope
of resistance to Jesus, the King of kings?
What are the demands of these persecutors (4:2, 10, 17-18)? And are their demands met (4:20, 29)? Does
Peter’s self-description of 4:20 apply to you too?
3. Response to Persecution : We have much to learn from how the early church responded to persecution. Acts 4
gives us a one-two-punch prescription for perseverance through persecution:
Look for the phrase “filled with the Holy Spirit” and the word “boldness” in this chapter. Notice how each of
these terms are found in the first section (4:1-22), describing the persecution itself, and the second section
(4:23-31), containing the church’s communal response to this persecution.
These two terms are enormously important for Luke. The word “boldness” appears 11 times in Acts, and
“Spirit” 70 times. Would you describe yourself as a bold person? Regardless of how you answered that
question, can you recall a time you acted in boldness? What promise does Jesus give to those who commit to
acting in boldness in the face of persecution (Luke 12:11-12)?
In our own personal experience, we may align more closely with the Peter who denied Jesus three times than
the Peter who stood up to his assailants, referring to Jesus as “he whom you crucified.” Do you think Peter
started his day in prison that morning in prayer? He certainly ended it that way (4:29-31). This prayer for
boldness was regularly on Paul’s lips too (Eph. 6:18-20). Craft a boldness-prayer which applies uniquely to
your situation and consider incorporating it into your regular Christian practice.