Acts 4:23-31 (TPT)
Peter and John have an astounding influence upon people simply because of the time they have spent with Jesus—the Living Word. Since Christ’s ascension and the impartation of the Spirit these men are bold in their witness, they operate in divine Wisdom, and they have the power to heal broken lives. So, in order to control Peter and John, the council threatens them with harm if they speak further about the goodness of God or the righteous name of Jesus. Here is Peter and James’ fearless response to the council’s threats, “You can judge for yourselves—is it better to listen to you or to God? It’s impossible for us to stop speaking about all the things we’ve seen and heard!” [Acts 4:19-20]. The council had to release them, because they could not diminish the power of Christ in these men. Let’s read on…
The Church Prays
23 As soon as they were released from custody, Peter and John went to the other believers and explained all that had happened with the high priest and the elders. 24 When the believers heard their report, they raised their voices in unity and prayed, “Lord Yahweh, you are the Lord of all! You created the universe—the earth, the sky, the sea, and everything that is in them. 25 And you spoke by the Holy Spirit through your servant David, our forefather, saying:
‘How dare the nations plan a rebellion,
ranting and raging against the Lord Most High?
Their foolish plots are futile!
Look at how the kings of the earth take their stand,
with the rulers scheming and conspiring together
against God [the Lord] and his anointed Messiah!’
27 “In fact, Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with Jews and non-Jews, met together to take their stand against your holy servant, Jesus the Messiah. 28 They did to him all that your purpose and will had determined, according to the destiny you had marked out for him. 29 So now, Lord, listen to their threats to harm us. Empower us, as your servants, to speak the word of God freely and courageously. 30 Stretch out your hand of power through us to heal, and to move in signs and wonders by the name of your holy Son, Jesus!”[servant]
31 As they prayed the earth shook beneath them, causing the building they were in to tremble [an earthquake]. Each one of them was filled with the Holy Spirit, and they proclaimed the word of God with unrestrained boldness [freedom of speech/Gk word used is Parresia].
Think about this amazing prayer that was offered by the Church—a people devoted to God. Essentially, in the power of the Spirit, they pray to receive the ability to speak what is on their minds without restraint and with great confidence. They desire to be honest—hiding nothing—so they can speak directly to the hearts of other people. The Greeks put into place what is known as the Parresiastic Contract: “If you tell me the truth no matter what that truth turns out to be, I will not punish you.” This contract was an essential part of Athenian democracy. It is a proclamation of boldness that is not tailored to make everyone happy but to speak the truth in spite of what it may cost. Speaking truth was to be protected.
Therefore, these believers pray for God to empower them to speak the truth about the love and goodness of God, as well as the power that flows from his name. Jesus prayed for the disciples before he died, “Your Word is truth! So make them holy by the truth” (John 17:17). If God’s Word says something that you or I do not want to hear, we may criticize the biblical version, interpretation, or decide it is archaic and no longer valid. However, I want you to think about God and how strongly he feels about the Truth. Jesus identified himself, “I am the Way, I am the Truth, and I am the Life. No one comes next to the Father [our destination] except through union with me [faith in me]. To know me is to know my Father, too [John 14:6]. To understand the Word of God properly, we must know Jesus. When we come across those passages in Scripture that cause us to question a further meaning, may we pray and thank the Father for giving us Jesus and then ask the Spirit to make us holy by the truth.
Prayer: Lord, thank you for setting me free to speak the truth. Open hearts to receive it and make us holy. In Jesus’ name. Amen.