The Trouble With Preachers

“The Trouble With Preachers”
Acts 4:1-4


  • After chapter 3, where the Pharisees threatened Peter and his followers of Jesus Christ to not preach the gospel anymore…the Pharisees made good on their threat.
  • The trouble with preachers is this… they don’t know when to shut up. When we come to know the truth of God’s word and the message of Jesus Christ, we cannot be silenced.
  • Preachers are commanded by God to preach the Word! We are commanded to preach the truth and not to be of any private interpretation but rather a studious sermon preparation that will be preached from the convictions of the Holy Spirit of God.
  • I never sit down to prepare any Sunday School lesson, or sermon without going to the Lord in prayer and asking for the Holy Spirit’s guidance in my study.
  • Let us get into chapter 4 and look at a great preacher’s trouble.

I. Peter and John Arrested

  A) Arrested by the church leaders

  • Read verses 1…And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them,
  • As I have said and taught many times, the church laws and officials operate differently than the world laws and officials.
  • Peter and John were not arrested by the Roman soldiers or centurions. They were arrested by the “church police” if you will. What would happen is that the priests would give the order if necessary to the captain of the temple (usher) and the captain would either get involved or appoint other men who were members of the church to carry out the order.
  • These temple guards were mostly made up of Levites.
  • Rome had delegated the temple policing responsibility to the Jews (Sadducees Matt. 3:7).
  • We must remember that before the cross, the “priests” were the mediators between God and man. Since Jesus died on the cross for our sins, God purchased us with the blood of Jesus and now Jesus Christ is our mediator between God and man.

B) Preaching the resurrection

  • Verse 2) Being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead.
  • This was truly hard for the Jewish leaders to swallow. They crucified Jesus for blasphemy, and now Peter and John are preaching the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
  • Being grieved that they taught the people” Meaning that the leaders were really ticked off (mad, or very upset) at what they were teaching their people.
  • They did not want Peter and John adding fuel to the fire that Jesus started. They thought they had snuffed out the resurrection fire when they hung Jesus on the cross. And now they are opening up a whole new can of gas.
  • If you want to get a preacher fired up…oppose his preaching, act like you know more that the man of God and that will get him fired up. If it doesn’t get him fired up…his wood may be wet.

C) Put in hold

  • Verse 3) And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide.
  • Jewish laws did not allow trials to be held at night. This is why they were put into a room somewhere in the temple overnight so that they could be tried the following day.
  • The word “eventide” means “evening.”
  • There was not enough time in the afternoon to get everyone collected that made up the Sanhedrin. Remember they didn’t have cell phones or cars. Things operated at a much slower pace back then.
  • I believe this was also a benefit to the council in order to gather their thoughts and ideas of how to go about trying these guys.

D) The hardest part about these two men

  • Verse 4) Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.
  • The hardest part about this arrest and the decision to make as to “What should we do with them?” was the fact that there were too many witnesses… 5000 plus.
  • The other problem was that “many of them which heard (Peter and John preaching) the word believed.”
  • Doubt is very easy to overrule, but belief is a much bigger task. Satan loves to plant doubt in people’s mind and especially God’s people.

II. Addressing the Sanhedrin

  A) Who were they?

  • Read verses 5… And it came to pass on the morrow, that their rulers, and elders, and scribes, 6) And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred of the high priest, were gathered together at Jerusalem.
  • Here in this verse describes the governing body (the Sanhedrin) of the church. They included the rulers, elders, Annas (The High priest), Caiaphas (High Priest), John (High Priest), and Alexander (also a high priest.)

B) Being the center of attention

  • 7) And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?
  • Some preachers are preachers because they like the attention of people, or they enjoy ruling over others. God forbid we become prideful in the pulpit of God.
  • If there is any part of me that may be sinful in my attitude towards being in the pulpit of God it would be that I enjoy entertaining people by seeing them laugh and have a good time. I do want to do that from time to time.
  • However, it is far more important that the people of God is delivered the word of God in such a manner that it causes the Holy Spirit of God to convict the hearts of the sinners to stir up and bring repentance.
  • I find it interesting the question posed by this so-called intelligent group of men that made up the Sanhedrin. Especially when they already knew the answer.
  • The question posed was this… “…By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?” They wanted the people (5000) to hear the testimony of these men so that they would look foolish.
  • The Sanhedrin’s point of all this trial was to humiliate and discredit the teachings of these Jesus educated men, these Galileans.
  • Remember that the Galileans were the “hobos” or “uneducated folk” of Judea. Everyone would have claimed them to be “Dumber than a rock.”

C) The hot sermon begins, the tables turn

  • Right now the Sanhedrin was pretty proud of themselves for putting Peter and John of trial. But now, the table is turned in verse 8 as to where Peter is putting the Sanhedrin on trial.
  • In a real court of law, a person is put on trial by the judge that is enforced by the city, the state, or the government.
  • In this case, Peter is the acting judge that God has chosen to try the Sanhedrin and the Holy Spirit is the enforcer.
  • Look now at Peter’s sermon in Acts 4:8…Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, 9) If we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; 10) Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. 11) This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. 12) Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.
  • What a mouth full! To separate this message, check it out…
  1. He addresses the rulers of the people, and elders of Israel.”
  2. Tells them how they ought to be judged “If we this day be examined”
  3. Explains the truth “Be it known unto you all.”
  4. Gives the name of the person responsible (Jesus Christ of Nazareth) for the healing of the impotent man.
  5. Tells the Sanhedrin that they are guilty for murdering an innocent man.
  6. Advises them that they have killed the only opportunity that man has for salvation…. “for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”


III. The Name of Jesus Forbidden

  A) Boldness often associated with stupidity

  • Another problem with preachers is… boldness. Most pastors/preachers care not who they are speaking to so long as the truth is told.
  • This is the boldness brought on by the Holy Spirit of God. Many times this “boldness” to speak what others think as foolish is often mistaken for being “unlearned and ignorant.”
  • Read now verse 13… Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.
  • The group that was judging Peter and John were the very ones that followed Jesus from time to time. They weren’t followers of Christ but rather “kill joys,” or “back stabbers.” They were “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
  • The Sanhedrin had followed Jesus enough to know that these men were teaching, acting, emphasizing, and sharing the same manner as Jesus.

B) The proof was right before their eyes

  • 14) And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it.
  • When everybody (5000 plus) was staring at the proof of the power that Jesus name brings… it brought silence to their lips, a muzzle to their mouth.

C) What shall we do to these men?

  • 15) But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 16) Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. 17) But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.
  • The sum of these three verses is this… It would be foolish and risky for the Sanhedrin to punish Peter and John when they had not broken any laws. It would further be risky when they in fact performed a great deed (a miracle) to a man very deserving of it and had 5000 witnesses. The entire city was on the side of the apostles peter and John.
  • So the only thing that as really on the table of decision making was the fact of shutting the apostle’s mouths in speaking of this anymore.

D) The idiotic decision of the Sanhedrin

  • It truly shows the reasoning of the Sanhedrin to be foolish and childish.
  • Look at verse 18) And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.
  • Come on… REALLY? Commanding a preacher to be quiet is like asking a hungry lion not to roar before eating his prey.
  • You cannot ask a preacher to be quiet when the Holy Spirit of God has convicted him to “…open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it.” (Psalm 81:10)
  • God gave preachers a mouth made for opening to dispense the truth. 

E) The Rebuke of Peter and John

  • Look at verse 19) But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. 20) For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. 21) So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done. 22) For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.
  • Christians are to obey governmental authority (Look at Romans 13:1-7, and I Peter 2:13, 17)
  • When government laws and orders are given that go against God’s laws (The word of God), then God must be obeyed.
  • Look into Exodus 1:15-17…
  • Mid-wives were older women who feared God by being obedient to Him and not obedient to men’s laws that contradicted the laws of God.
  • These brave midwives understood that children were a gift from God.
  • They also understood that murder was against God’s law.
  • Man of that time had created a law requiring the midwives to murder the baby boys to keep the population growth under control.
  • The Egyptians saw the population of Jews being larger than their own and therefore were afraid of of an overthrow of their government.
  • The Egyptians had heard of a rumor going around about a ‘Deliverer” of the children of Israel coming soon.
  • So in Exodus we can see that Man’s law to kill these babies was against the law of God and therefore should be disregarded.
  • And look also at Daniel 6:4-10…
  • In this story we can see where some men were expecting to be exalted but rather a man of God (Daniel) was instead. Jealousy set in and Satan ruled their hearts.
  • Daniel in verse 3 was preferred above presidents and princes.
  • In verse 4, these men were trying to figure out a way to ruin Daniel’s credibility.
  • Daniel had followed the letter of the law daily. Now they try to figure out laws that Daniel may be breaking according to his God in verse 5.
  • Ancient kings often demanded worship as gods. So now these jealous men decide to help stroke the ego of the king by demanding worship by all people to him. (verses 7-9)
  • For Daniel to obey this law that was set by man, He would have to dishonor God’s law, the first of the 10 Commandments… “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”
  • Now you can read verse 10… Daniel continued his worship to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob daily. He disobeyed the laws of man, and honored God’s laws.
  • We remember the rest of the story where as a result of Daniel’s disobedience to man’s law he was cast into the lion’s den. And God shut the mouths of the lions and made them as tame as a kitten.
  • Now back to our study of Acts 4, let us look again at the disobedience of the laws of man by Peter and John in verse 21) So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done.
  • The church leaders threatened the apostles and the apostles disregarded the order. In fact, it says that “…all men glorified God for that which was done.”
  • How do you suppose they “Glorified God?” Let us discuss it.


IV. Prayer For Boldness

  A) The prisoners (Peter and John) are released

  • Read verses 23…And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them.
  • I wonder…do you think that Peter and John may have embellished a bit? Do you think that they may have laughed and carried on with stuff like… “Did you get a load of that one elder who was big eyed when I started telling them about Jesus raising from the dead? I thought his eyeballs were going to pop right out of his head.”
  • When you are with friends and family, conversations get radical at times don’t they. I mean these guys were in a party of 5000 people. Break out the party hearty hats.

A) Time to praise God

  • Look at verse 24) And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: 25) Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? 26) The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.
  • 27) For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 28) For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. 29) And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, 30) By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.
  • Peter and John’s experience here did not discourage the other apostles.
  • In fact, it probably enhanced their boldness to preach Jesus Christ.
  • I remember going to a monthly preachers meeting with my father in the 70’s and it was called The Baptist Bible Fellowship meeting. It was a group of preachers from their Baptist churches in Kansas grouping together to share sermons with one another. After the revival of the hearts they had a discussion time for pastors to present a particular need of a member in their church.
  • What a blessing it is for the brethren to come together and glorify God in their meeting.

B) The result Of God’s people coming together to pray

  • Look now at our text of Acts 4, and verse 31) And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
  • Wouldn’t it be totally COOL if our church would building would start shaking because of a heartfelt worship of God was taking place inside?
  • To be filled with the Holy Ghost this much would be AWESOME!


V. Sharing In All Things

  A) Unity

  • Now let us start to finish our study in Acts 4 with verse 32…And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common.
  • This is UNITY. The unity that God desires and demands of His people, His children.
  • When a group (Church) believes in God, and His Son Jesus Christ they will all be of “…one heart,” and “one soul.”
  • You will not find them arguing and fighting over the petty stuff. They come together to worship God and edify (lift up) the brethren.

B) Grace to all

  • Look at this folks… let us examine verse 33) And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all.
  • The term “great grace” here is better rendered “great favor.”
  • Great favor or “great grace” means two things here in verse 33…
  1. Favor from the people outside the church. Because of the believers (members of the church) strong desire for love and unity, it caused the people outside to be impressed.
  2. Favor that God gives by granting them blessings (happiness) with in their hearts.
  • When your heart and church is on fire and doing what God requires…check this out….34a) Neither was there any among them that lacked:
  • This means that not one person in the church lacked anything. In other words, they had no need of anything. They had everything they wanted or needed.
  • Look at this…34b…for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, 35) And laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need.
  • I could not imagine the people in our church coming up to Betty and I and handing me the keys to a new house and say… “It’s yours pastor!”
  • This is exactly what they did to Peter and John.
  • I can’t imagine all of our people pooling our resources (Possessions) and giving to one another that has need.
  • Luke introduces this man for the specific reason of making him a “role model” for Christians to come. Look at verse 36) And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, 37) Having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet.
  • Barnabas was a member of the priestly tribe of Levites. His native land was Cyprus. He becomes an associate to Paul and an important figure later.
  • This is strange about Barnabas here in Acts, because in the O.T. Levites were prohibited from owning land in Israel. ( 18:20, 24; Deut 10:9)
  • It is presumed that the law was no longer enforced. It is probable that the land was also in Cyprus.
  • Whatever the case… it showed God the heart of the people who celebrated and rejoiced after the great sermon delivered by Peter and John.
  • What’s the problem with preachers? Nothing!