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Bailey Sadler Class



Study Theme: Game Changer: How to Impact Your World

What This Study Is About:

Week of:

Lesson Title:

The focus for this week’s study is on the early church’s need to turn to prayer as they faced opposition to the spread of Christianity.




Oct. 18

Develop Conviction


Oct. 25

Pray Fervently


Nov. 01

Stand Courageously


Nov. 08

Live Humbly


Nov. 15

Confront Sin


Nov. 22

Act Faithfully


Nov. 29

When Opposition Strikes



We can boldly face any opposition because God is in charge.


Acts 4:23-31




Place Your Confidence In The Sovereign God (Acts 4:23-28)

Ask God For Boldness (Acts 4:29-31)


The Day of Pentecost came with a roar.  The Holy Spirit poured out His power on the apostles who proclaimed the gospel, speaking in tongues.  Then Peter addressed the Jewish crowd and spoke boldly about the death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah and Son of God.  He declared that everyone should repent and receive forgiveness of their sins through the work of Christ.  As a result, about 3,000 people were saved that day (Acts 2).

But Satan was not going to sit idly by and watch the church expand unabated, and the Jewish leaders were his initial instrument of persecution.  After Peter healed a lame man, he proclaimed the gospel once again and many others were converted to Christ, the total number of believers in the infant church now reaching 5,000 (4:4).  The Jewish leaders interrupted this great work by having Peter and John arrested, and when called upon to give an account of their actions, Peter proclaimed the gospel once again.  The paradox was amazing: Peter, the one who had denied Jesus three times, was boldly proclaiming that salvation is found in no one else but Jesus (v. 12)—and he was speaking to the Jewish leaders who had taken a leading role in having Jesus executed just a few weeks earlier.

After realizing that they couldn’t deny the miracle and that these uneducated men were basically harmless, the members of the Sanhedrin decided to release Peter and John with a warning that they had to stop preaching about Jesus.  In another act of boldness on their part, the apostles refused with a resolve every follower of Jesus should have: “Whether it’s right in the sight of God for us to listen to your rather than to God, you decide; for we are unable to stop speaking about what we have seen and heard” (vv. 19-20).  Finally, after threatening Peter and John once again, the Sanhedrin released them.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.


  At one time Christians in America only knew about opposition to Christianity from what they heard was happening in other countries.  No longer is that the case.  Increasingly, American culture has allowed—even supported—opposition to Christian faith.  How we respond to such spiritual opposition says as much about our faith as our beliefs do.  However, opposition to Christianity is nothing new.  From the very beginning the early church experienced opposition from the leaders of the established religion of the day—Judaism!  The response of the early church provides a model for how we, too, can stand strong for Christ during those times of persecutions we may be called upon to endure.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.









Place Your Confidence In The Sovereign God (Acts 4:23-28)

23 After they were released, they went to their own people and reported everything the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 When they heard this, they all raised their voices to God and said, “Master, You are the One who made the heaven, the earth, and the sea, and everything in them. 25 You said through the Holy Spirit, by the mouth of our father David Your servant: “Why did the Gentiles rage and the peoples plot futile things? 26 The kings of the earth took their stand and the rulers assembled together against the Lord and against His Messiah.” 27 “For, in fact, in this city both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, assembled together against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your plan had predestined to take place.

1.   When have you felt outnumbered?

2.   What series of events took place that let up to verse 23? (See Acts 3:1—4:22.)

1.   What actions of Peter and John had been so upsetting to the Jewish leaders?

2.   Who or what was the Sanhedrin?  (See Digging Deeper.)

3.   What happened earlier in chapter 4 that caused the Sanhedrin to have Peter and John taken into custody?

4.   According to Acts 4:5-12, what happened when they faced the Jewish council?

5.   Based on Acts 4:13-18, what was the response of the Sanhedrin?

6.   Using Acts 4:19-22, how would you summarize what led to Peter and John’s release?

7.   After their release, to whom did Peter and John go to report their situation (v. 23)?

8.   Why do you think they went there first?

9.   What did they and the others join together to do?

10.   Why do you think the disciples turned to God in prayer (v. 24)?

11.   What are some highlights of the prayer they prayed described in these verses?

12.   What is the significance of the declaration Lord, thou art God, and of identifying Him as creator?

13.   What would you have prayed about in this situation?

14.   How does this compare to what the people in the early church at that time prayed about?

15.   What Old Testament quotation did they include in their prayer? (See Psalm 2:1-2.)

16.   What was its significance in light of the current circumstances?

17.   How do you explain the concepts of human responsibility and divine sovereignty in the crucifixion of Christ?

18.   What are some benefits of incorporating praise into our prayers?

19.   How did the early church respond to the threats of the Jewish leaders (v. 29)? (See Acts 4:1-3 for actions of the Jewish leaders.)

20.   In the face of persecution if God chooses to not deliver us, how do you think we should respond?


Lasting Lessons in Acts 4:23-28:

1.  God is able to protect us in dangerous situations when we serve Him, but He doesn’t always choose to do so.

2.  We need to turn to God in prayer in times of great joy as well as in times of great struggle.

3.  God’s will in bringing salvation to the world through the death and resurrection of Jesus occurred just as He had planned in eternity past.



Ask God For Boldness (Acts 4:29-31)

29 And now, Lord, consider their threats, and grant that Your slaves may speak Your message with complete boldness, 30 while You stretch out Your hand for healing, signs, and wonders to be performed through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” 31 When they had prayed, the place where they were assembled was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak God’s message with boldness.

1.   What indicates they expected God to be at work to validate their witness (v. 29)?

2.   In light of their brush with the Jewish authorities, what did Peter and John and the early church pray that God would give them (v. 29)?

3.   Why do you think the church didn’t ask God to stop the threats or pleaded with Him to prevent the threats from coming to pass?

4.   What do you think is significant about the use of the word “consider” in their prayer (v. 29)?

5.   Why do you think they prayed for healing, signs, and wonders to be performed (v. 30)?

6.   Based on verse 30, how were signs and wonders to be accomplished?

7.   Why do you think they wanted to power to heal and to perform signs and wonders (v. 30)?

8.   What strikes you about what the people did and did not ask God to do for them?

9.   What was God’s response to their prayer (v. 31)?

10.   Who is the authority behind the witness of the word (v. 31)?  Why?

11.   What do you think it means to be filled with the Holy Spirit (v. 31)?

12.   How do you think the Holy Spirit gave them boldness to speak God’s message to those assembled around Peter and John?

13.   What does it look like to demonstrate spiritual boldness in today’s world?

14.   How can we strive for unity in the presence of opposition?

15.   How do you think your understanding of God shapes the way you pray?

16.   Do you think the gospel is not advancing in our culture because we lack spiritual boldness?  Why, or why not?

17.   What do you think your witness would look like if you prayed for spiritual boldness each day?


Lasting Lessons in Acts 4:29-31:

1.  We need to pray for each other to have boldness in telling others about Jesus, even in situations that could be dangerous.

2.  Miracles authenticated the gospel message that the apostles and the early church proclaimed.

3.  The filling of the Spirit results in bold proclamation of the gospel.



  The news almost daily includes some story wherein Christian values and convictions are being criticized and challenged.  In some places around the world the numbers of lives lost on account of the stand of people for their Christian faith is shocking.  In the United States, the challenges to faith come primarily in the form of laws and policies that promote values and lifestyles that stand in opposition to Christian truth as taught in Scripture.  So what are believers to do?  At times we need to engage in the political processes that are available to us to elect leaders and endorse laws and policies that support our convictions.  At other times we may need to stand strong even when it means facing threats and loss.  To do so will require a boldness beyond what we can muster up for ourselves.  It comes from the indwelling of the Holy Spirit?

So, when it comes to boldness in standing for Christian principles, how do you stand?  On a scale of 1 (weak) to 10 (very bold), how would you rate the boldness you demonstrate in standing for Christian principles?  Does you boldness need the strengthening hand of the indwelling Holy Spirit applied to your boldness rating?  God’s indwelling Holy Spirit stands ready to be applied to each of our lives, when we truly want and ask for it?

What are the implications of these truths for your life?  THE CHOICE IS YOURS, ISN’T IT!

REMEMBER, the safest place for a believer is in the center of God’s will.


Lesson Outline, Introduction, Discussion Questions, and Conclusion adapted from the following sources:

SOURCE: Life Ventures-Bible Studies for Life; Leader Guide; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

SOURCE: Advanced Bible Study; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; One LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.



Focal Passage from three different translations of God’s Word:

New King James Version:  Acts 4:23-31

23 And being let go, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24 So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: "Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, 25 who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: 'Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? 26 The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the LORD and against His Christ.' 27 "For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. 29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus." 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.  (NKJV)

New American Standard Version:  Acts 4:23-31

23 When they had been released, they went to their own companions and reported all that the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24 And when they heard this, they lifted their voices to God with one accord and said, "O Lord, it is You who MADE THE HEAVEN AND THE EARTH AND THE SEA, AND ALL THAT IS IN THEM, 25 who by the Holy Spirit, through the mouth of our father David Your servant, said, 'WHY DID THE GENTILES RAGE, AND THE PEOPLES DEVISE FUTILE THINGS? 26 'THE KINGS OF THE EARTH TOOK THEIR STAND, AND THE RULERS WERE GATHERED TOGETHER AGAINST THE LORD AND AGAINST HIS CHRIST.' 27 "For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur. 29 "And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and grant that Your bond-servants may speak Your word with all confidence, 30 while You extend Your hand to heal, and signs and wonders take place through the name of Your holy servant Jesus." 31 And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness.   (NASV)


New Living Translation:  Acts 4:23-31

23 As soon as they were freed, Peter and John returned to the other believers and told them what the leading priests and elders had said. 24 When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God: “O Sovereign Lord, Creator of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them—25 you spoke long ago by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant, saying, ‘Why were the nations so angry? Why did they waste their time with futile plans? 26 The kings of the earth prepared for battle; the rulers gathered together against the LORD and against his Messiah.’ 27 “In fact, this has happened here in this very city! For Herod Antipas, Pontius Pilate the governor, the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were all united against Jesus, your holy servant, whom you anointed. 28 But everything they did was determined beforehand according to your will. 29 And now, O Lord, hear their threats, and give us, your servants, great boldness in preaching your word. 30 Stretch out your hand with healing power; may miraculous signs and wonders be done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 After this prayer, the meeting place shook, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. Then they preached the word of God with boldness. 32 All the believers were united in heart and mind. And they felt that what they owned was not their own, so they shared everything they had.  (NLT)


Lesson Outline — “When Opposition Strikes” — Acts 4:23-31



Place Your Confidence In The Sovereign God (Acts 4:23-28)

Ask God For Boldness (Acts 4:29-31)


(NOTE:  Commentary for the focal passage comes from three sources: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary New Testament,Believer's Bible Commentary,” andThe Complete Biblical Library Commentary,” and is provided for your study.)

The Expositor’s Bible Commentary New Testament: Acts 4:23-31

The church’s praise and petition (4:23-31)

4:23-30.  The church’s response to the apostles’ release was a spontaneous outburst of praise, psalmody, and petition. It begins (v. 24) by addressing God as Despota (“Sovereign Lord”). This was a common title in the Greek world for rulers, and it appears occasionally in Jewish circles as a form of address to God (cf. 3Macc 2:2; Luke 2:29; Rev 6:10). It is especially appropriate here in conjunction with the servant names used of David (v. 25, pais sou, “your servant”), Jesus (vv. 27, 30, ho hagios pais sou, “your holy servant”), and believers themselves (v. 29, hoi douloi sou, “your servants”). Structurally, the church’s response includes an ascription to God drawn from Hezekiah’s prayer in Isaiah 37:16-20 (v. 24b), a quotation of Psalm 2:1-2 (vv. 25-26), the reference to Jesus’ passion in terms of the psalm just cited (vv. 27-28), and a petition for divine enablement in the Christians’ present circumstances (vv. 29-30).

In the prayer of the church two matters of theological interest stand out. First, there is a “pesher” treatment (cf. comments on Psalm 2:16 in which the groups enumerated in the psalm are equated with the various persons and groups involved in Jesus’ crucifixion: “the kings of the earth” with King Herod; “the rulers” with the Roman governor Pontius Pilate; “the nations” with the Gentile authorities; and “the people” with “the people of Israel.” The earliest extant suggestion that Psalm 2 had any messianic import in Jewish thinking is Psalms of Solomon 17:26, where “the Son of David,” who is also spoken of as “the Lord’s Anointed” (ho Christos kyriou, v. 36), is presented as acting in terms of Psalm 2:9: “He shall destroy the pride of the sinners as a potter’s vessel. With a rod of iron he shall break in pieces all their substance.” Of late, and more explicitly, Psalm 2:1-2 has been found as a messianic testimonia portion in the DSS 4QFlorilegium, in connection with 2 Samuel 7:10-14 and Psalm 1:1. It seems, therefore, that sometime just prior to the Christian period, Psalm 2 was beginning to be used within Jewish nonconformist circles as a messianic psalm and that the early Jewish Christians knew of this usage and approved it—though, of course, in its application to Jesus of Nazareth (cf. also the use of Ps 2:7 in 13:33; Heb 1:5; 5:5; and Ps 2:9 in Rev 2:27; 12:5; 19:15).

Second, in the church’s prayer the sufferings of Christian believers are related directly to the sufferings of Christ and inferentially to the sufferings of God’s righteous servants in the OT. This theme of the union of the sufferings of Christ and those of his own is a theme that is developed in many ways throughout the NT (cf. esp. Mark 8-10; Rom 8:17; Col 1:24; 1 Peter 2:20-25; 3:14-4:2; 4:12-13). It reaches its loftiest expression in Paul’s metaphor of the body of Christ.

Most significant is the fact that these early Christians were not praying for relief from oppression or judgment on their oppressors but for enablement “to speak your word with great boldness” amid oppressions and for God to act in mighty power “through the name of your holy servant Jesus” (v. 30). Their concern was for God’s word to go forth and for Christ’s name to be glorified, leaving to God himself their own circumstances. With such prayer surely God is well pleased. Luke has evidently taken pains to give us this prayer so that it might serve as something of a pattern to be followed in our own praying.

4:31.  As a sign of God’s approval, Luke tells us that “the place where they were meeting was shaken” (cf. Exod 19:18; Isa 6:4) and “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (cf. comments on v. 8). And with such motivation and divine enablement, their prayer was answered; and they “spoke the word of God boldly” (parresias, “with confidence,” “forthrightly”).

Christian Concern Expressed in Sharing (4:32)

Going back to one of the themes in his thesis paragraph of 2:42-47, Luke now illustrates the nature and extent of the early believers’ commitment to one another in social concern. This he does by a summary statement, then by an example of genuine Christian concern, and finally by an example of disastrous deceit. The subject of Christian social concern, which appears in 2:42-47 quite naturally along with matters of fellowship and worship in the context of the believing community, also appears here by juxtaposition with the vignettes in 3:1-4:31 and the inclusion of v. 33 in the context of the apostles’ proclamation of Jesus’ resurrection. For Luke as well as for the early Christians, being filled with the Holy Spirit not only concerned proclaiming the Word of God but also sharing possessions with the needy because of believers’ oneness in Christ.

Believers share their possessions (4:32)

4:32.  The designation to plethos ton pisteusanton (lit., “the multitude of believers”) means the whole congregation or, as in NIV, “all the believers” (cf. 6:2, 5; 15:12, 30), whose united allegiance to Jesus and one another is described by the common Hebraic idiom “one in heart and mind” (kardia kai psyche mia, lit., “one in heart and soul”; cf. Deut 6:5; 10:12; 11:13; 26:16;  30:2,  6, 10;  passim). This sense of oneness extended to sharing their personal possessions with others in need (cf. 2:45).

Theologically, the early believers considered themselves the righteous remnant within Israel. So Deuteronomy 15:4 was undoubtedly in their mind: “There should be no poor among you, for in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess as your inheritance, he will richly bless you.” Other Jewish groups that thought of themselves in terms of a remnant theology expressed their spiritual oneness by sharing their goods, and the Jerusalem church seems to have done likewise. Practically, they had many occasions for such sharing. With the economic situation in Palestine steadily deteriorating because of famine and political unrest (cf. Jeremias, Jerusalem, pp. 121-22), employment was limited—not only for Galileans and others who had left their fishing and farming for living in the city, but also for the regular residents of Jerusalem who now faced economic and social sanctions because of their new messianic faith. Experientially, the spiritual oneness the believers found to be a living reality through their common allegiance to Jesus must, they realized, be expressed in caring for the physical needs of their Christian brothers and sisters. Indeed, their integrity as a community of faith depended on their doing this.

Here in v. 32 we have, therefore, Luke’s illustration of his thesis statement in 2:44-45 regarding the way the believers practiced communal living. They were not monastics, for the Jerusalem apostles and brothers of Jesus were married (cf. 1Cor 9:5), and so were many of the other believers (e.g., Ananias and Sapphira, 5:1-11). Nor did the believers form a closed society like Qumran. They lived in their own homes (cf. 2:46; 12:12) and had their own possessions as any household would. In these ways the communal life of the early Christians differed from that of the Qumran covenanters. But though the Christians had personal possessions, they did not consider them private possessions (idion einai, “was his own,” NIV) to be held exclusively for their own use and enjoyment. Rather, they shared what they had and so expressed their corporate life.

SOURCE: The Expositor’s Bible Commentary New Testament; Frank E. Gaebelein; General Editor; Zondervan Publishing House; A Division of Harper Collins Publishers


The New American Commentary: Acts 4:23-31

The Prayer of the Community (4:23–31)

23On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. 24When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 25You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? 26The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One.’ 27Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30Stretch out your hand to heal and perform miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31After they prayed, the place where they were meeting was shaken. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God boldly. (NIV)

Peter’s first sermon, at Pentecost, was followed by a glimpse into the common life of the Christians in Jerusalem (2:42–47). Here, after Peter’s witness before the crowd in the temple square and before the Sanhedrin, we are again given a glimpse into the life of the Christian community. Just as chap. 2 spoke of their common prayer life (2:42), here again the prayer of the Christians is emphasized, with the major difference being that what was mentioned in summary fashion in the former passage is here related concretely with an example of their prayers.

4:23 Verse 23 provides the setting and the linkage with the preceding narrative. After their release Peter and John returned “to their own people.” Many interpreters see this as referring only to the other apostles, viewing vv. 24–30 as the apostles’ prayer for boldness in their witness. The apostles, however, were not the only bold witnesses in Acts. Note Stephen (6:10) and Philip (8:5), to mention only the next two major witnesses in Acts. The whole community was involved in the proclamation of the word, and the community gathered for prayer when the apostles were in difficulty (cf. 12:12). That is the picture here—the Christians gathered to pray for the deliverance of the two apostles from the Sanhedrin. When Peter and John arrived on the scene, they informed them of the warning given by “the chief priest and elders.” The fellowship responded with praise to God for delivering the apostles (vv. 24–28) and a petition for courage to continue their bold witness in the face of such opposition (vv. 29–30).

4:24–28 Together they lifted their voices in praise to God. That they offered an occasional prayer of this nature in unison is unlikely. Luke was simply expressing that the whole community joined together in this prayer.  God was addressed as “Sovereign Lord,” a common designation for God in the Old Testament and appropriate to this gathering of Jewish Christians. God was further addressed as Creator, Maker of heaven, earth, the seas and all that dwell in them, again in language thoroughly steeped in Old Testament phraseology (cf. Exod 20:11). More than that the whole form of the prayer has Old Testament precedents. Compare Hezekiah’s prayer in Isa 37:16–20, where the same elements appear: God was addressed as Lord and Creator, there followed a reference to the threat of Israel’s enemies, and the prayer concluded with a petition. It is in the petition that the major difference from the Christians’ prayer appears. Hezekiah prayed for deliverance. The Christians prayed for courage.

In the community’s prayer the reference to the threat of enemies is given in the form of a scriptural proof. The Scripture is in the exact Septuagintal rendering of Ps 2:1–2 and is presented as a prophecy, spoken by God through David under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Most likely originally relating to God’s triumph over Israel’s enemies through the anointed king, the Christians came to see it as in a real sense prophetic of Christ. All the details of these first verses of the psalm were applicable to the passion of Christ, and the Christians did so in their prayer (v. 27). The raging nations represented the Gentile rulers and their cohorts, the soldiers who executed Jesus. The people of Israel were those who plotted in vain. Herod represented the “kings of the earth”; Pilate, the “rulers”; and Christ, the “anointed” of God. Here again as in chap. 3 the title “servant” is applied to Jesus. Here in a prayer the term is primarily liturgical and is applied to David as well in v. 25. The theme of v. 28 is by now familiar. All the plotting against God’s anointed is in vain because God has already predetermined the outcome (cf. 2:23; 3:18). In the paradox of human freedom and divine sovereignty, despite all the raging of humanity, God’s purposes prevail. They did so in Christ. They did so with the apostles before the Sanhedrin.

4:29–30 The community turned to its petition: “Now, Lord, consider their threats.” Whose threats? The Sanhedrin’s, of course. Just like the threats, plots, and rages against Jesus, the community viewed itself in much the situation he had experienced. The authorities had raged against him, and God made him to triumph in the power of his resurrection. So now the same temporal powers had raged and plotted against the apostles. Like Christ, God had delivered them. The Christians realized that the opposition was not over. The Sanhedrin continued to threaten them. One would expect them to ask God for further deliverance. They did not. Instead, they asked for more of the same, requesting of him boldness in witness and further miraculous signs. The request for miracle was not a request for power over their enemies. It was closely related to the request for boldness in witness.

In Acts the miracles are always in the service of the word. They are “signs” in the sense that they point beyond themselves to the ultimate power of the gospel message of Christ’s resurrection and the salvation that is in him (4:12). That was amply illustrated in the miracle they experienced. The healing of the lame man started the whole train of events that took them before the Sanhedrin. The healing did not deliver them from danger; if anything, it provoked it. On the other hand, the healing first attracted those who listened to Peter’s sermon in Solomon’s Colonnade and responded to the word in faith. This is what the community prayed for—more signs to undergird the word, more boldness to proclaim it. They surely knew what the result would be—more persecution.

4:31 Their prayer was answered by the shaking of the house. Perhaps a shaking from thunder or a quaking of the earth, it gave them a tangible sense of God’s presence and his response to their prayer. And their prayer was fulfilled at once. Immediately they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word with boldness, just as they had petitioned. This was not a “second Pentecost.” They had already received the Spirit. The Spirit had helped Peter and John in a mighty way before the Sanhedrin. It was a fresh filling, a renewed awareness of the Spirit’s power and presence in their life and witness. This was not an ephemeral ecstatic manifestation but a fresh endowment of power for witness that would continue (cf. 4:33).

5. The Common Life of the Community (4:32–37)

32All the believers were one in heart and mind. No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had. 33With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all. (NIV)

The previous episode exemplified the prayer life of the community with an actual incident. Luke returned to his summary style to further picture the life together, much as he did in 2:42–47. Many of the themes are the same, but there is considerable development of one theme in particular, the sharing of goods within the fellowship.

4:32–33 The opening two verses are almost identical with 2:43–44, only in reverse order. Together they characterize the community life as marked by four things: their unity in mind and heart (v. 32a), their sharing of their possessions (v. 32b), the power and witness of the apostles (v. 33a), and the grace of God, which rested upon them (v. 33b). The overarching concept was their unity, their being “one in heart and mind,” their fellowship in the Spirit (cf. koinōnia in 2:42). This served as the basis of their sharing of their possessions. The latter is described in two ways. First, “no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own.” The picture is one of unqualified sharing, of not claiming owner’s rights, of saying “what’s mine is yours.” The second expression is “they shared everything they had.” The Greek literally reads “everything was in common with them.” Taken by itself, this could refer to shared ownership; but in conjunction with the first expression, it also refers to a practice of freely sharing one’s goods with another.

SOURCE: The New American Commentary; Volume 26; Acts; John B. Polhill; Broadman Press; Nashville, Tennessee.


The Complete Biblical Library Commentary: Acts 4:23-31

4:23. As soon as they were released, Peter and John went back to their own company, their own people. The Greek expression used here could mean to the people of their own nation or tribe, or it could mean to their own family. In this case it meant the body of believers who had become the true family of God. It corresponds to what Ephesians 2:19 calls the household of God, the family that belongs to God.

From what Luke records on other occasions, it seems certain these believers were gathered together to pray for Peter and John, and that they rejoiced and gave God praise for their release. Then the apostles reported all the high priest and elders had said to them, holding nothing back.

4:24. The warnings and threats of the Jewish leaders did not frighten the believers. Neither did they ignore them. They took them to God. The word "voice" is in the singular here, which means they all joined together and prayed in unison. They prayed also in one accord, that is, with one purpose. Probably, however, the prayer which the Bible records here was given by one of them who became the spokesman for them all.

Much can be learned from this prayer. First, as in the case of most of the prayers in the Bible, they recognized who God is. They addressed Him as Lord (a different word from that used elsewhere in the Bible, this one meaning Master, Owner, Sovereign) and thus presented themselves before Him as His servants, even as His slaves. They were not making demands on Him. They were throwing themselves on His mercy, looking for His grace, His unmerited favor.

Then they recognized that He alone is God, the God of all power, for He is the Creator of the universe and all that is in every part of it. He is Sovereign over the universe, the true King of the universe, by right of creation.

4:25. Second, they based their petition on the inspired Word of God, spoken by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of King David. Again, most of the prayers of the Bible are based on the Word of God already given. Psalm 2:1, 2 was a word from the Lord that fitted their situation and made them feel God knew in advance what their situation was and how to deal with it.

Psalm 2 speaks of an opposition like that of the Jewish leaders. It asks why the heathen (the nations, the Gentiles) were raging (with a general hostility against God). It emphasizes the question by repeating it in a little different way and asking why the peoples (plural) imagined (planned, were devising) a vain (empty, foolish, ineffective) thing.

This psalm was, of course, speaking first of all of the Gentiles, the nations who were enemies of God and His people. It tells believers that all the plans men try to devise, hoping to hinder or stop the plan of God, are doomed to failure. God is still in control, but He is also patient.

4:26. David further identified this raging, foolish planning as the kings of the earth standing by each other, trying to support each other against God. This idea is repeated for emphasis by saying that the rulers "were gathered together against the Lord (that is, against the divine Lord, 'Lord' standing for the personal name of God, the Hebrew YHWH), and against his Christ," that is, against His Messiah, His Anointed One, God's anointed Prophet, Priest, and King.

This prayer, inspired by the Spirit, recognized that the Jewish leaders were in the same class as the outside nations who were always conspiring against God and His Anointed, in this case, against Jesus. There is precedent for this in that the Old Testament prophets sometimes used the word gôyim (usually translated "Gentiles") for Israel because Israel had turned from God.

4:27. This prayer then specifically identifies Psalm 2 with those who were gathered together (with hostile purpose) against God's holy child Jesus. Herod here is Herod Antipas, the tetrarch of Galilee and Peraea, the same ruler who put John the Baptist to death. In his Gospel, Luke records how Herod and his soldiers mocked Jesus, threw a brightly colored robe around Him, and sent Him back to Pilate (Luke 23:11). The same day Herod and Pilate were made friends. Their treatment of Jesus caused them to be among those who were gathered together against God and His Son, Jesus.

These enemies of God and Christ also included the Gentiles, in this case the Roman soldiers and the peoples of Israel. People is a word ordinarily used of Israel as God's chosen people. The Greek is in the plural here, possibly because the 12 tribes were all represented in Israel, but more probably because the Israelites were divided into various sects, such as the Pharisees and Sadducees. It may also be a recognition that they were in the same category as the Gentiles (literally, nations, also in the plural).

As before, Luke used the word "child" (Greek, paida) in the sense of "servant." "Holy child" thus means the dedicated, consecrated Servant of the Lord, the same Suffering Servant prophesied in Isaiah 52:13-53:12.

4:28. Yet they could do only what God's hand (that is, God's power) and God's will had determined before (decided beforehand) to be done. They were, however, responsible for their deeds, for they chose freely to do them.

The believers based their petition on what God did through Jesus. God's hand was in control when He permitted the death of Jesus; Jesus was indeed God's Servant who accomplished God's will in their behalf. They could come to God on the basis of what was fully accomplished through the death and resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 1:23, 24; 3:11; 2 Corinthians 1:20).

4:29. Their petition was that the Lord would now look on the threatenings of the Sanhedrin and give His servants (slaves) opportunities to keep on speaking the Word with all boldness (and freedom of speech). Perhaps they felt less confident after they left the courtroom than while they were in it. Even after a spiritual victory Satan may suggest that believers have acted foolishly, so they must pray for continued boldness. Abraham also became afraid after boldly testifying before the king of Sodom, but God reassured him (Genesis 15:1).

4:30. What would provide new opportunities for the apostles to speak boldly and freely for their Lord? They knew how the Lord had used the healing of the lame man to spread the gospel and add new believers to the Church. But the healing of the lame man was just a beginning. There would be more such opportunities provided by God's stretching out His hand (extending through them His power) for healing and for signs and wonders to be done through the name of His holy child (Servant) Jesus. Here the word "holy" means separated to God and His service and emphasizes the consecration and dedication of Jesus to the work His Heavenly Father gave Him to do. Jesus made it clear He was sanctified (made holy, set apart, consecrated, dedicated) by the Father and sent by the Father into the world (John 10:36). He finished the work His Father gave Him to do (John 17:4).

The entire company of believers joined in with this prayer for boldness to keep on doing the same thing that had brought the arrest of Peter and John and the threats of the Sanhedrin. They did not want miracles for miracles' sake, however. Rather, they were opportunities to preach the gospel and signs to help the people recognize that Jesus was indeed risen from the dead and is truly the Christ, the Son of God.

4:31. After they prayed, the place where they were gathered was shaken, not by an earthquake but by the Spirit, indicating a mighty move of God. It is probably true that the people were shaken as well. As they felt this shaking, the whole company of believers were all filled with the Holy Spirit; and in His power they all continued speaking the Word of God with boldness (and freedom of speech). This was as great a work of the Spirit as the miracles.

The Greek indicates again a new, fresh filling of the Spirit. Some writers contend that only the new people (the 5,000 mentioned in 4:4) were filled at this time. But the Greek does not uphold this. All the believers, including the apostles, received the fresh filling to meet the continued need and to withstand the pressures upon them. New, fresh fillings of the Holy Spirit are part of God's wonderful provision for all believers.

4:32. The increasing number of believers continued in one heart and one soul. They formed a community of believers who were in one accord, with a unity of mind, purpose, and desire. None of them said, "What I have is mine and I am afraid I might need it all myself." Instead, they felt a love and responsibility for each other. They recognized they were all partners in the work of God, so all things were shared. God was supplying their needs, and they believed He would continue to provide. The same attitude that sprang up after they were first filled on the Day of Pentecost still prevailed (2:4, 5). Again, there was no compulsion. Their sharing was simply an expression of their love and their unity of mind and heart.

This does not mean they turned away from unbelievers who were in need. The Bible urges Christians to be considerate of the poor and to do good to all men, "especially unto them who are of the household of faith," that is, the believers who are in the family of God (Galatians 6:10). Christians have a special responsibility to help fellow believers who are in need.

SOURCE: The Complete Biblical Library Commentary – Acts.  Database © 2009 WORDsearch Corp.; World Library Press, Inc.



Herod (v. 27)—There are several Herods mentioned in the New Testament. The Herod in Acts 4 was Herod Antipas, governor of Galilee, the same Herod Jesus was sent to during His trial. He was the son of Herod the Great, ruler at the time of Jesus’ birth.

Predestined (v. 28)—The word means “to decide upon or determine beforehand.” The crucifixion of Jesus was part of the pre-determined plan of God to accomplish His saving purpose.

SOURCE: The Herschel Hobbs Commentary; Family Bible Study; by Robert J. Dean; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; 1 LifeWay Plaza, Nashville, TN.

PREDESTINATION: God’s work in ordaining salvation for people without their prior knowledge.

Biblical Materials:  The English noun, predestination, does not occur in the Bible. The Greek verb translated predestinate occurs only four times in two passages of the Bible (Rom. 8:29,30; Eph. 1:5,11). It is used in Acts 4:28 of human determination. The word means to determine before or ordain. On these minimal facts entire systems of doctrine have been built.

The word predestinate (proorizo) is closely related to three other more frequently used biblical words: 1. to determine; 2. to elect; 3. to foreknow. Each of these represents several Greek and Hebrew words. Study of these words shows that for a study of predestination the key passages are Romans 8; Ephesians 1; and 1 Peter 1. One of the appropriate things to notice in this biblical survey is that Acts refers to the purpose of God as determined (Acts 2:23; 11:29; 17:26); refers to Jesus as God’s previously chosen One (2:23; 10:41-42); to the early church as those previously taken in hand by God (Acts 22:14). A wise plan is to examine the major passages keeping the verses in Acts in mind.

Romans 8:  Although the word predestinate is used only in verses 29 and 30 of this chapter, we must explore the entire chapter to understand the use of the word. Romans 7-8 form Paul’s famous battle of the flesh and of the spirit. Romans 7 speaks of the place of law in shaping life. Law makes requirements, but it has no power to help people keep them. Sin is a constant struggle and an overwhelming experience (7:23-24). Romans 8 is life in the Spirit. God’s Spirit aids our spirit in the struggles of life and helps us to conquer all things through His Spirit. God purposes for His people a victorious, overcoming life. Such a life is not possible when we go it alone. God chooses and determines that it will be otherwise for His people.

The references to predestination in verses 29 and 30 come in the midst of a section of Scripture on salvation and spiritual struggle. Was Paul saying that all of his experience, before becoming a Christian and after, God decided in such a way that Paul had nothing to do with it and no decision in it? These passages could be seen that way, but they need not be. They also can be seen as the struggle of human willfulness and divine purpose and guidance. I see these passages, especially in the light of Paul’s other writings, as a real struggle in which Paul realized that God’s purpose for us is good and that God’s determination to help us is prior to all of our struggles. In Jesus Christ, God has set the pattern. Believers are to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ. God’s determination is particularly and eternally expressed in what Christ is. He is like what we are supposed to be like. God’s Spirit will help us to be like Jesus.

In a discussion of election and predestination, questions about Jacob and Esau (Rom. 9:13) arise, as do questions about God “hardening Pharaoh’s heart” (Rom. 9:17-18). These verses could be interpreted to mean that God beforehand had planned things out without any regard for human response. The worst scenario would suggest that God had taken a nice young Egyptian prince and turned him into a monster. Romans 9:13 could mean that God really hated Esau and played favorites among His children. I do not believe this is the proper way to understand these passages. Paul, their human author, is looking back. Interpretations are easier after the fact. Whereas God is no respecter of persons whom He has created, He does not violate the free will He gave to humankind. God works with it. A better interpretation of these passages is to say that God used what Esau and Pharaoh had become. Esau, a compulsive man who sought instant gratification of his desires, would not be the kind of person who becomes a patriarch. Pharaoh, a ruthless man, God confirmed and judged as an oppressor; Pharaoh’s harsh and cruel acts were punished. In that punishment God received glory to Himself, even out of Pharaoh’s disobedience.

Ephesians 1:  The first chapter of Ephesians is first and foremost about Jesus Christ. Christ contains, expresses, and effects God’s purpose. When people hear the gospel message and believe that message (vv. 13,15), they live on earth under the leadership of Jesus Christ as Head of the body.

Such believers are sealed by the Spirit (v. 13); therefore, the power of God working in us can enlarge us, open our eyes, increase our faith, and enable us to believe. Does God do this without our own willing and cooperation, or are we free participants in what God is doing through the believing community under the headship of Christ and in the power of the Spirit? It seems to me that the believers addressed are welcomed to faith and encouraged to believe and enlarge their lives in Christ’s church. The specific references in verses 5 and 11 fit in this context if we do not draw them out of place and ask first what it means that we were predestined before the foundation of the world according to God’s will. Jesus Christ is first and foremost God’s chosen. He is the agent of God’s redemptive plan from eternity. Jesus Christ embodies the way, the will, and the good pleasure of God. By Jesus we know the Father; in Him God’s will is effected in history. We are included as we are included in Jesus. We are included, predestined, and elected as we believe in Him by the power of the Spirit. God, working His way through us, determines us. Apparently, part of God’s determination is that the Ephesians and ourselves should be participants in our limited human way with God in doing God’s will. God’s will is that people should have a will to exercise toward God. The painful personal experience reflected in Romans 7 and the sinful corporate experiences of human divisions spoken of in the remainder of Ephesians lead us to believe that we can also exercise our wills in refusing to believe in God and in disobeying God. Predestination never eliminates human will.

1 Peter:  First Peter 1:2 is a part of the greeting of the author to the readers. He greets them and us in the name of the foreknowing Father, the sanctifying Spirit, and the sacrifice of the Son. The greeting is a kind of prelude under which exhortations to Christian living are given. The entire epistle presupposes both the guidance of God and the ability of people to cooperate with God in living the Christian life.

Other Passages:  Luke 22:22 declares that Jesus died according to the plan of God in which He freely participated. So does Acts 2:23, which adds human wickedness also entered into the betrayal of Jesus. Acts 10:41 assures us that the eyewitness apostles were especially chosen of God. The disciples determined they would provide help to the needy (Acts 11:29). God determined the basic parameters of humanity (Acts 17:26). The gist of these references is that God works according to a plan and purpose and so should we, especially as we determine to do His will.

Two special problems that arise in relation to predestination are the place of Judaism (Rom. 9-11) and of Judas (John 6:70-71) in the determination of God. Paul said that Judaism is God’s preparation for the fulness of Christ, that they rejected God’s fullest revelation of God in Christ, and that God confronts them with Christ inevitably and ultimately. Meanwhile, the task of the church is to confront all persons with Christ. The purpose of predestination is to be conformed to goodness and to bear witness to God in Christ. Judas was chosen by Jesus as were all of the disciples. As all disciples of Jesus, Judas had the capacity for betrayal—so did Peter. Judas exercised his will to betray. The evil one found in Judas a willing instrument (John 13:27). Jesus had to be betrayed. Judas did not have to do it, but he did.

Later Questions:  The above basic biblical facts were used to construct later doctrinal systems. Human logic and the desire for systematic conclusions and neat, packaged answers lead to hard solutions about freedom and destiny. Questions which lead to this development were: If God is sovereign, how can humans be free? If God knows about everything in advance, does that mean that He forces things to be the way they are? Does not God give grace to those who are to be saved and withhold it from those who are not? If God decreed that some are to be saved, does this not mean He has predestined others to be damned?

The problem with these later questions is that they go beyond Scripture in their desire to figure everything out. They ignore large portions of Scripture and Christian experience which assume human choice and the integrity of human freedom. In the last analysis, the way in which God’s guidance of His creation interfaces with human freedom is unknown to us. I am convinced that God who made us with will and freedom woos us by His grace and condemns people only because of their own willfulness and unbelief. The only alternatives are to suppose that God is going to force all to be saved, whether they want to be or not; or that God, in a choosey way, is going to save some favorites but deliberately withhold salvation from others. I cannot find either of these views consistent with the full range of biblical teaching. Predestination is an assurance of God’s redemptive love. There has never been a time, not even before creation, when God has not shown redemptive love for His creation. Whatever else predestination means, it assures us that God takes the initiative in relation to creation and that God pursues us with redemptive love.

SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.

SANHEDRIN (Ssan hee’ drihn): The highest Jewish council in the first century. The council had 71 members and was presided over by the high priest. The Sanhedrin included both of the main Jewish parties among its membership. Since the high priest presided, the Sadducean priestly party seems to have predominated; but some leading Pharisees also were members (Acts 5:34; 23:1-9).

The word Sanhedrin is usually translated “council” in the English translations of the Bible. Because of the predominance of the chief priests in the Sanhedrin, at times the words chief priests seem to refer to the action of the Sanhedrin, even though the name itself is not used.

According to Jewish tradition, the Sanhedrin began with the 70 elders appointed by Moses in Numbers 11:16 and was reorganized by Ezra after the Exile. However, the Old Testament provides no evidence of a council that functioned like the Sanhedrin of later times. Thus, the Sanhedrin had its origin sometime during the centuries between the Testaments.

During the first century, the Sanhedrin exerted authority under the watchful eye of the Romans. Generally, the Roman governor allowed the Sanhedrin considerable autonomy and authority. The trial of Jesus, however, shows that the Sanhedrin did not have the authority to condemn people to death (John 18:31). Later, Stephen was stoned to death after a hearing before the Sanhedrin, but this may have been more a mob action than a legal execution authorized by the Sanhedrin (Acts 6:12-15; 7:54-60).

The Gospels describe the role of the Sanhedrin in the arrest, trials, and condemnation of Jesus. The Sanhedrin, under the leadership of Caiaphas the high priest, plotted to have Jesus killed (John 11:47-53). The chief priests conspired with Judas to betray Jesus (Matt. 26:14-16). After His arrest they brought Jesus into the council (Luke 22:66). They used false witnesses to condemn Jesus (Matt. 26:59-60; Mark 14:55-56). They sent Him to Pilate and pressured Pilate into pronouncing the death sentence (Mark 15:1-15).

The Book of Acts describes how the Sanhedrin harassed and threatened the apostles. The healing of the man at the Temple and Peter’s sermon attracted the attention of the chief priests. Peter and John were called before the council and warned not to preach anymore in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:5-21). When the apostles continued to preach, the council had them arrested (Acts 5:21,27). The wise counsel of Gamaliel caused the council to release the apostles with a beating and a warning (Acts 5:34-42). Stephen had to appear before the Sanhedrin on charges that sounded like the false charges against Jesus (Acts 6:12-15).

After Paul was arrested in Jerusalem, the Roman commander asked the council to examine Paul to decide what was Paul’s crime (Acts 22:30; 23:28). Paul identified himself as a Pharisee who was on trial for his hope of resurrection. This involved the council in a debate of the divisive issue of the resurrection (Acts 23:1-9). The chief priests and elders were part of a plot to have Paul assassinated as he was led to another hearing before the council (Acts 23:13-15,20).

SOURCE: Holman Bible Dictionary; General Editor, David S. Dockery; Holman Bible Publishers; Nashville, Tennessee.




The Sanhedrin Their History and Function

By Steve Lemke

Steve Lemke is provost and professor of philosophy, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, New Orleans, Louisiana.


OT UNLIKE BEING CALLED for an audit with the IRS, being summoned before the Sanhedrin usually did not portend a positive experience in the New Testament era.  This negative implication is clearly the case when early church leaders such as Peter, James, Stephen, and Paul were brought before the Sanhedrin (Acts 4—7; 22—24).  What was the Sanhedrin, its history and makeup, and what were its responsibilities?

The Sanhedrin was the supreme council of New Testament Judaism, conducting judicial and legislative functions related to a wide range of political and religious affairs.  The word “Sanhedrin” comes from the Greek word synedrion, which means “place of those who sit together,” “council,” or “assembly.”  In the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament, Proverbs 24:7 and 26:26 use the word synedrion in the general sense of an assembly or council.1

Origin and History

The council of 70 elders Moses appointed (Num. 11:16), later reorganized by Ezra after the Babylonian exile, provided a model for the Sanhedrin and other leadership groups within Jerusalem.  Some Jews pointed back to Moses’ 70 elders as the first Sanhedrin, but this early group’s role and function were quite different from the Sanhedrin in the New Testament era.  The first appearance of an organization similar to the Sanhedrin of the New Testament came about 200 BC during the reign of Syria’s King Antiochus III, who created a Senate (Greek: gerousia ) in Jerusalem.2  This group originally consisted only of aristocratic priests and elders (who favored the Sadducees), but Queen Alexandra (76-67 BC) added the scribes (who favored the Pharisees) to the Senate.  The Greek New Testament uses this word gerousia in describing “the Sanhedrin—the full Senate of the sons of Israel” (Acts 5:21, HCSB).  Some suggest this verse could refer to two separate groups (the Sanhedrin and the Senate), but the better evidence suggests the Sanhedrin functioned as the Senate of Israel.

In Josephus’s writings, the Sanhedrin makes its first appearance in the form known also in the New Testament.  He described when Gabinius, the Roman governor of Syria, created five Sanhedrins in Israel in 57 BC.  Josephus also relayed that during the Hasmonean era (165-63 BC), the Sanhedrin became involved in a political dispute between King Herod and Hyrcanus, the ethnarch of Judea.3 

The Sanhedrin reached the pinnacle of its power during later second temple Judaism, which would have included the New Testament era.  After the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple in AD 70, the Sanhedrin reconstituted in Jamnia and then migrated to several other locations.  The body had lost its political authority and could determine only religious matters.  When the Romans abolished the office of president of the Sanhedrin in the fifth century, the Sanhedrin came to an end.  Although some persons later attempted to reconstitute the Sanhedrin, these efforts never gained a strong following in Judaism.4 

In The New Testament

The Greek word for “Sanhedrin” appears 22 times in the New Testament, including 5 references in the Gospels and 14 references in the Book of Acts (although some English translations sometimes translate synedrion differently, such as “council”).  Many additional New Testament verses reference members of the Sanhedrin by the subgroup of the Sanhedrin with which they were aligned—the chief priests, scribes, and elders.

The New Testament usually presents the Sanhedrin in a negative light.  For instance, Jesus warned His disciples they would experience persecution at the hands of the Sanhedrin (Matt. 10:17; Mark 13:9).  Additionally, the Sanhedrin was concerned about Jesus’ miracles, both because these signs attested to His divinity and because the Sanhedrin feared that the Roman government would kill many of the people of Jerusalem if their excitement about Jesus’ miracles led them to talk of crowning Jesus as king.  Following the leadership of the high priest Caiaphas, the Sanhedrin saw Jesus’ popularity as a dangerous menace and actively began seeking ways to kill Jesus (Luke 11:49-54; John 11:47-53).  Jesus was led, therefore, before members of the Sanhedrin after His arrest in Gethsemane.  The Sanhedrin attempted to solicit false witnesses against Jesus to trump up charges against Him (Matt. 26:57-66; Mark 14:53-64).  The Sanhedrin handed Jesus over to Pilate to get his approval to crucify Him (15:1).

The Sanhedrin typically held their meetings in the chamber of hewed stone, which was on the western side of the temple mount.5  The Sanhedrin never met on Sabbath days or feast days.  Sentencing in capital cases could not be done on the same day as the trial or on the eve of a Sabbath or festival.  Meetings were normally held during the daytime, and capital cases in particular could not be tried at night.  The New Testament highlights that each of these procedural steps was violated in Jesus’ trial.  The Sanhedrin met at the high priest’s house rather than the temple; the trial took place during the Passover observance; the trial took place at night; and the death sentence was determined the same night.6 

The Sanhedrin was also involved in trials of several leaders of the early church.  Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin and instructed not to preach or do miracles in Christ’s name (Acts 4:5-22; 5:17-41).  The apostles refused to do what the Sanhedrin asked.  Stephen was also hauled before the Sanhedrin.  Angered by Stephen’s sermon to them, the religious leaders stoned him to death (6:11-7:60).  Paul was also brought before the Sanhedrin, beginning the legal proceedings that ultimately led to his Roman imprisonment (22:30—23:35).  In each of these cases, the Sanhedrin functioned as a judicial body to render judgment.

Although the Sanhedrin usually played a negative role with regard to Jesus and the early church, in a few instances we see some Sanhedrin members in a more favorable light.  Jesus said anyone who calls a person “Raca” is guilty of a crime just as serious as the murder cases the Sanhedrin heard (Matt. 5:21-22).  Also, two Sanhedrin members became advocates of Jesus and the church—or at least were more moderate in their attitudes than their colleagues.  Joseph of Arimathea, who offered his cave as a burial place for Jesus, was a member of the Sanhedrin (Matt. 17:57-60; Mark 15:43-46).  Further, when apostles were brought before the court, Sanhedrin member Gamaliel advised the council not to oppose the early church (Acts 5:34-39). 

Organization and Membership

The Mishnah prescribed that the Sanhedrin was to have 71 members—70 members plus the high priest, who served as president and convener of the group (Mark 14:53; Acts 24:1).  All members were to be of pure Israelite descent.  Membership appears to have been gained by appointment rather than election, perhaps by the chief priest.  History offers no details, however, about the precise process of how Sanhedrin vacancies were filled.  Further, we know of no special training for membership in the Sanhedrin beyond the requirement that the Sanhedrin be made up of the leading Jews in Jerusalem, men who would have had access to the best rabbinical training available.  “Actual admission was through the laying on of hands.”7

The Sanhedrin in the New Testament era consisted of three distinct subgroups—the chief priests, the scribes, and the elders (Matt. 27:41; Mark 11:27; 14:43).  The chief priests (note the plural) were of priestly lineage and aristocratic in heritage.  The New Testament almost invariably lists them first, indicating their leadership role.  The chief priests were affiliated with the Sadducees.  The elders were either priests or wealthy lay leaders who also were of aristocratic heritage and Sadducean learning.  The scribes favored the Pharisees.

Paul exploited the division between Sadducees and Pharisees to avoid being sentenced during his trial before the Sanhedrin (Acts 22:29—23:10).  When Paul identified himself with the Pharisees and stated he was being tried for believing in the resurrection (affirmed by the Pharisees but rejected by the Sadducees), the Sanhedrin was thrown into such conflict that they could take no further action (23:6-10). 

History clearly distinguishes the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem from the lesser Sanhedrins in many cities.  The Mishnah prescribed that each town with at least 120 Jewish men should have a local Sanhedrin of 23 members.  Perhaps these numerous Sanhedrins were the ones that Jesus referred to as agents of persecution of His disciples (Matt. 10:17; Mark 13:9).8  The Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, however, was the single final authority in Jewish life.  While moat sources identify the high priest as the one who presided over the Sanhedrin, some rabbinical and Talmudic sources describe the Sanhedrin as an assembly of sages headed by two Pharisaic scholars, a president and a vice-president (or chancellor).  Biblical scholars have attempted to reconcile these two depictions of the Sanhedrin.  Some have suggested that there were actually three Sanhedrins of 23 members—a priestly, Pharisaic, and aristocratic Sanhedrin—that occasionally met together to form the Great Sanhedrin.  Others propose that two Sanhedrins existed—one political and one religious.  The majority of scholars believe, however, the one Great Sanhedrin performed political, religious, and judicial functions.9

Function and Duties

The Sanhedrin’s structure and function evolved over the years as the council adapted to changing political realities.  However, at its height of power in later second-temple Judaism, the Sanhedrin had judicial, legislative, political, and religious functions.  The judicial functions seemed to be the Sanhedrin’s predominant role.  The Great Sanhedrin was the final court of appeals and thus rendered a final opinion on all matters of interpretation of the Law as it related to daily life.

The Sanhedrin in its judicial role could try a whole tribe, a false prophet, or even national figures such as the high priest.  In much of its history, the Sanhedrin had the power to try and execute cases involving sentences of capital punishment.  The power was taken away, however, during the period of the Roman procurators (John 18:31).  This is why the Sanhedrin took Jesus to Pilate; they could not give Him the death sentence by stoning.  So they sought crucifixion from the Roman authorities.  In the case of Stephen, the Sanhedrin actually did carry out a death sentence by stoning, although the text is not clear whether this was a deliberate action of a court or that of a frenzied mob (Acts 6:8—7:60).

In its legislative role, the Sanhedrin could issue decrees and proclaim ordinances.  In its political role, the Sanhedrin could approve a king’s appointment, sanction an offensive war, and perform other administrative matters.  In its religious role, the Sanhedrin could appoint a high priest and was the final court of appeals for all religious matters.  The Sanhedrin was responsible for determining the religious calendar that dictated many details of Levitical worship, a role that allowed the Jews of the Diaspora to worship in coordination with Jews in Jerusalem.

The Sanhedrin was the central authority of Jewish life.  The wisdom of its members provided guidance and direction for Jews around the world for centuries.  For Christians, however, the Sanhedrin was usually a vehicle of persecution and torment.           Bi

1.  Eduard Lohse, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, ed. Gerhard Kittel and Gerhard Friedrich, trans. and ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley, vol. 7 (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1971), 861.

2.  The Antiquities of the Jews in The Works of Josephus: Complete and Unabridged, trans. William Whiston (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 1987), 12.3.3 (p. 317); 2 Macc. 11:27-33.

3.  Hugo Mantel, “Sanhedrin” in Encyclopaedia Judaica, 2nd ed., ed. in chief Fred Skolnik, vol. 18 (New York: Macmillan Reference USA, 2007), 21; Antiquities 14.5.4 (p. 371), 14.9.3-4 (pp. 376-77), 15.6.2 (p. 408), 16.11.1 (p. 447-48).

4.  See “Sanhedrin” in The Encyclopedia of Judaism, ed. in chief Geoffrey Wigoder (New York: Macmillan Pub. Co., 1989), 624.

5.  Avraham Walfish, “Sanhedrin” in The Oxford Dictionary of the Jewish Religion, ed. in chief R. J. Zwi Werblowsky and Geoffrey Wigoder (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 607.

6.  Lohse, 868.

7.  Graham H. Twelftree, “Sanhedrin” in Dictionary of New Testament Background, ed. Graig A. Evans and Stanley E. Porter (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 1063-64.

8.  Lohse, 866; see Sanhedrin 1.1, 6, in The Mishna, trans. Herbert Danby (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1933), 382-83.

9.  Walfish, 607; Mantel, 22-23; “Sanhedrin” in The Encyclopedia of Judaism, 624.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Summer 2008.


HEROD ANTIPAS  The Builder and Ruler

By Timothy N. Boyd

Timothy N. Boyd is pastor, First Baptist Church, Mulvane, Kansas.


EROD ANTIPAS was the son of Herod the Great and his Samaritan wife, Malthace.  He was born in approximately 20 BC.  Fortunately for Antipas, his father, who had already killed some of Antipas’s siblings, died before Antipas could become a perceived threat.  Educated in Rome, he grew up associating with Roman nobility.

In making his fifth will, Herod appointed Antipas to be his sole successor.  Before his death, however, he had waffled on what his surviving sons should inherit.  In his sixth and final will (five days before his death), Herod appointed Archelaus as the sole ruler.  At Herod’s death a dispute between the brothers ensued, so Archelaus and Antipas went to Rome, where Augustus eventually decided to uphold Herod’s final testament.  The territory was divided into several districts.1 Antipas received the regions of Galilee and Perea. Archelaus, his full brother, received Judea, Samaria, and Idumea; and Philip, his half brother, received Iturea, Gaulinitis, Batania, Trachonitis, and Auranitis.2 Archelaus also received the title “ethnarch” or “ruler of a people” while Antipas was given the lesser title, “tetrarch” (literally, “ruler of a fourth”).  Augustus’s decision “prevented either Antipas or Archelaus from being given the coveted title king.”3


Galilee was the northernmost of the three sections of western Palestine, the other two being Judea and Samaria.  Galilee was bordered on the west by the Phoenician plain; on the northeast by Gaulanitis, on the east by the Jordan Valley, which ran both above and below the Sea of Galilee; on the southeast by Decapolis; and on the south by Samaria.

The population of Galilee was primarily Jewish, but Greeks, Itureans, Arameans, and Phoenicians also lived there.  As a result, the Judeans viewed the Galileans as second-class Jews.  This mixture of ethnic groups may explain the distinctive speech of the Galileans (see Acts 2:7).  Jewish religion and custom dominated the region, although the Galileans were probably not as strict in their observance of the law as the Judeans were.  In political terms the Galileans tended to be Jewish patriots.4


Perea was the land “beyond the Jordan” (see Matt. 4:25; 19:1).  Perea was bordered on the west by the Jordan River, on the north by Pella, on the east by the desert, and on the south by Machaerus. 

Although Perea had a mixed population, by New Testament times it was predominantly Jewish—since the Maccabees had brought the territory under Jewish control in the intertestamental period.  To avoid Samaria, the Jews went through Perea when traveling between Galilee and Judea.  John the Baptist baptized in this area, and this may  have been the region where he baptized Christ (see John 3:26).5

Political Success

As with many of the descendants of Herod the Great, Antipas modeled himself after his father.  He was not as cruel as his father in spite of his treatment of John the Baptist and Jesus.  He was the ablest ruler of all of Herod’s sons.  The Romans deposed Archelaus 10 years into his rule of Judea because his harsh rule had provoked a great deal of unrest.  The province was turned over to a Roman governor.  Philip’s territory was less wealthy and influential, and he did not play a very large role on the larger political scene.  Antipas, on the other hand, ruled for a lengthy period over a potentially contentious region and kept it generally well ordered.

Part of Antipas’s success was based on his relationship with the Roman imperial family, a relationship he developed during his youth.  His relationship with Augustus, however, is not clear, since Augustus did not favor him in settling the testament of Herod the Great.  Antipas did have, however, a better relationship with Tiberius, who was more of a peer. He fostered that relationship in many ways including later naming his newly built city, Tiberias, his capital, after the Roman emperor.6

Another key to Herod Antipas’s success was that he, like his father, Herod the Great, was a builder—though on a much smaller scale.  Like his father, Antipas focused on building cities, even though the region in which he lived was primarily rural and agricultural.  He improved many of the region’s towns and cities, but he actually built two significant cities.  Sepphoris was rebuilt after having been destroyed a few years earlier, and Tiberias was a new city entirely.

Sepphoris had been an important city in the region of Galilee until it was destroyed because of opposition to the Romans following the death of Herod the Great.  In all likelihood, Antipas began rebuilding this city immediately upon taking power.  It was a fortress city and became the capital of the region once it was rebuilt.  Of particular interest to biblical students is the proximity of the city to Nazareth (about four miles away).  In all probability Joseph worked at various times in the rebuilding of the city, and perhaps the young Jesus even accompanied him there.

Antipas renamed the city Autocratoris in honor of the emperor, Augustus, but the name did not take hold.  The city was patterned along Greek lines and contained a theater, elaborate water works, and fortification walls.  The city was granted a certain amount of autonomy by Antipas and eventually minted its own coins, including that it was a substantial commercial center for the region.7

Antipas built Tiberias about AD 26.  It became his crowning achievement and his final capital city.  The city was impressive from its inception, as its designers established it completely along Greek lines.  It had its own government based on the Greek concept of a city with a council and a chief official called “archon.”  The city boasted a palace, a stadium, public baths, a great assembly hall, and a synagogue of significant size.

Early during construction at Tiberias, builders discovered an old cemetery on the site.  Devout Jews would not work around a cemetery for fear of becoming unclean.  In spite of this opposition, Antipas was able to complete the city and populate it.  In time, the inhabitants were predominantly Jewish.

One of Antipas’s interesting ambiguities is evidenced in the founding of these cities.  Antipas, in some ways, demonstrated his awareness of Jewish sensitivities.  For example, the coins Antipas minted did not have his image on them.  Yet, in the palace at Tiberias and other public buildings, he decorated the walls with paintings of animals, which violated the Second Commandment in the eyes of observant Jews.  He built a large synagogue in Tiberias, but the stadium would have been unpopular with the Jews.8

Banishment and Disgrace

Antipas’s downfall came with his relationship with Herodias.  Antipas, like many of the local rulers the Romans appointed, had married for political purposes.  His first wife was the daughter of Aretas, the Nabataean king.  The Nabataeans were a kingdom bordering Palestine outside the Roman Empire, and the marriage was designed to foster peace in the region.  However, on a trip to Rome, Antipas became infatuated with Herodias, who was his niece and who also was married to another half brother, Philip (not the other tetrarch mentioned above).

Antipas persuaded Herodias to leave her husband and to go with him to Galilee.  A part of the arrangement called for Antipas to divorce his first wife.  Antipas’s wife learned about his intention and made arrangements to flee and to return to her father.  Antipas’s rejection of his first wife (Aretas’s daughter) as well as some unsolved boundary disputes, created a period of hostility between Aretas and Antipas.

Eventually Aretas declared was against Antipas.  Aretas soundly defeated Antipas’s army.  Many Jews saw this a God’s punishing Antipas because he executed John the Baptist.  To restore order, Tiberius commanded Vitellius, the governor of Syria, to intervene on the side of Antipas.  However, before that could occur, Tiberius died.  Caligula came to the throne and Roman support for Antipas waned.9

Caligula had a friendly relationship with Herod Agrippa I, the brother of Herodias, who was a rival of Antipas.  Agrippa had lived with Antipas earlier and had developed an active dislike for him.  Caligula appointed Agrippa to take over the territories of his uncle Philip and gave him the title of “king.”  Herodias was upset that her brother had received these honors while her husband, Antipas, remained a mere “tetrarch.”  She convinced Antipas to go to Rome and petition Caligula for honors similar to those of Agrippa.

Meanwhile, Agrippa had suggested through a messenger to Caligula that Antipas was plotting against the emperor and had been amassing weapons.  In fact, Antipas did have a large horde of weapons, but it is unlikely that he was involved in any treasonous activity.

This charge gave Caligula an excuse to depose Antipas and give his territory to Agrippa.  Caligula ordered Antipas into exile in Lugdunum (Lyons) in Gaul.  Herodias was offered the opportunity to retain her personal properties and not go into exile with Antipas.  She, however, was genuinely loyal to Antipas and chose to go into exile with him.  Antipas, the strong leader and impressive builder, died dishonorably in this exile.10                                                                                                                                                                             Bi

1.    Harold W. Hoener, “Herod” in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (ISBE),  vol. 2 (Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Eerdmans 1982), 692.

2.    Holman Bible Atlas (Nashville: Broadman and Holman Publishers, 1998), 102.

3.    “Herod” in ISBE,  vol. 2, 694.

4.    W. Ewing, “Galilee” in ISBE,  vol. 2 (Cedar Rapids, Iowa: Eerdmans 1982), 1163-1164.

5.    Charles H. Miller, “Perea,” Harper Bible Dictionary, (San Francisco, Harper & Row, 1985).  Electronic version in Livronix.

6.    A. H. M. Jones, The Herods of Judaea  (Oxford, University Press, 1938), 176.

7.    Jones, 178-79; and Howard W. Hoehner, Herod Antipas  (Cambridge: University Press, 1972), 84-87.

8.    Jones, 178-79;  and Hoehner, 96-100.

9.    Flavius Josephus, The Works  of the Jews, The Antiquities of the Jews  (Hiawatha, Iowa: Parsons Technology, 1998), 18.5.1-3.

10.   Jones, 195-96; and Josephus, “Antiquities,” 18.7.1-2; and “Herod” in ISBE, vol. 2, 696.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Winter 2004-05.



Pontius Pilate

By Shawn L. Buice

Shawn L. Buice is assistant professor of New Testament and Greek, Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary, Northeast Branch, Schenectady, New York.


NE OF THE MORE POPULAR SHOWS on American TV today is “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”  Suppose you are the contestant in the hot seat and the million dollar question is “Who was the Roman governor who presided over the trial that led to the crucifixion and death of Jesus?”  Will you answer Herod the Great, Herod Antipas, Tiberius Caesar, or Pontius Pilate?  If you choose Pontius Pilate, then you win!

Pontius Pilate was the governor of Judea at one of the most crucial moments in Christian history.  Yet strangely enough, we know very little about him because there exists little historical information that mentions him.  For example, the four Gospels, the Book of Acts, and 1 Timothy are the only books in which biblical authors mention Pilate.  Outside of the Bible, we learn about him from ancient writers like Josephus, and Philo.  Furthermore, in 1961 in Caesarea Maritima, an inscription was discovered that shows Pilate’s name and gives his title, prefect (Latin, praefectus Iudaeae).  Beyond these sources, however, there exists practically no other primary information.

Does this scarcity of firsthand information mean that we cannot know anything about Pontius Pilate?  Or does it suggest that we cannot make reasonable conclusions about him?  The answer to both of these questions in no.  Just as we solve a puzzle by joining all the pieces together, so too can we connect the available bits of historical information about Pilate to gain a fair understanding of who he was and how he ruled over Judea.  Taking into account all the available information, we develop the following picture of Pilate.

Pontius Pilate’s Administration as Governor

Luke 3:1 reads, “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, when Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea.”1 At this point in Luke’s Gospel, he introduced the beginning of the ministries of both John the Baptist and Jesus.  In laying the foundation for this introduction, Luke built on specific events to help us determine the historical context.  For example, he included the information that Pontius Pilate had included the information that Pontius Pilate had already taken office when both John and Jesus began their ministries.

Because of the lack of information in Luke 3, several questions arise: When did Pilate become governor?  What were his duties as a governor?  And How long did he remain in office?  In an attempt to answer the first question, we may briefly trace the terms of the governors who preceded him in office.  For instance, we know that Herod the Great was ruler of Judea from 37 B.C. until 4 B.C.2 This is the same King Herod mentioned in Matthew 2 who ruled at the time of Jesus’ birth and who ordered the deaths  of the male babies two years old and younger (Matt. 2:1 – 3, 16).

Shortly after Jesus was born, Herod the Great died, and his kingdom was divided into three parts.  Each of the three parts went to one of his sons.  One of his sons, Archelaus, became the ruler of Judea and Samaria.3 Unfortunately, he was not well liked by the Jewish people.  Because of this, his tenure in office was relatively short.  Archelaus served as governor from roughly 4 B.C. to after A.D. 6.  After the Roman emperor removed him from office due to the complaints of the people, Judea was briefly a Roman colony.  During this period of time, no governor ruled Judea.  Twelve years later, by A.D. 18, Valerius Gratus govered as prefect over Judea.  At the end of his term, Pontius Pilate began his tenure as governor or perfect over Judea in A.D. 26.4

Having determined that Pontius Pilate became prefect of Judea in A.D. 26, we can now consider what Pilate’s duties were as the ruler of Judea.  Some uncertainty exists over the precise title that applied to Pilate.  For example, was he procurator, governor, or prefect?  After examining all the historical evidence, especially the inscription from Caesarea, you discover that the title prefect more precisely describes Pilate’s role that other designations.5 As the prefect of Judea, Pilate fulfilled the duties as the Roman administrator of the province.  This included acting as head of the judicial system and tax colliction.6  In addition to these tasks, Pilate was also in charge of a small military force.  This group would have typically included several units of infantry and cavalry.7

Having considered the beginning of Pilate’s reign as prefect and his duties while in office, we now turn to the final question: How long was Pilate’s term?  While there exists some uncertainty about the exact date in which Pilate left office, most scholars agree that Pilate remained roughly 10 years in office.  The basis for this time frame is a reference in which Josephus explicitly noted that Pilate remained 10 years in Judea.8 

Based on the conclusion that Pilate began his term as perfect of Judea in A.D. 26, we can determine that he left office in A.D. 36.  The length of his tenure indicates that his service must have satisfied the Roman emperor Tiberius, because he was known to keep prefects in office for only 3 or 4 years before terminating them.  The fact that Pilate remained in Judea for 10 years implies that he must have served well.9

Pontius Pilate’s Relationship with the Jews

While Tiberius considered Pilate a faithful prefect, this does not necessarily mean that the Jews felt the same way.  The evidence indicates, however, that Pilate enjoyed fairly good relations with the Jews during his tenure.  In fact, Josephus records only two major conflicts between Pilate and the Jews during his time in office.

The first conflict involved a transgression of Jewish law.  On this particular occasion, Pilate ordered a military unity from Caesarea to Jerusalem with the intention of abolishing the Jewish laws.  This unit carried ensigns bearing the image of the emperor into the city of Jerusalem.  Since Jewish law prohibited the making of images, the Jews were  incensed and consequently made two appeals to Pilate to remove the images.  After the first appeal, Pilate refused to have the ensigns removed.  After the second appeal, under the threat of execution, the Jews remained firm, showing their willingness to die.  This demonstration caused Pilate to change his mind, and he removed the images from the city.10

The second conflict arose due to Pilate’s attempt to help the Jews.  In order to increase the Jews’ water supply, Pilate planned to build an aqueduct.  To finance the project, however, he used money from the temple treasury.  Because of this act, thousands of people demonstrated against Pilate.  On this occasion, instead of yielding to the demands of the people, Pilate chose to use force to quiet the uprising, and many Jews lost their lives.11

Pilate’s Role in Jesus’ Trial

As we study John 18 and 19, an interesting scene unfolds before us.  Apparently, no one wanted to handle Jesus’ case personally, In Fact, John minutely described how Jesus was moved from place to place after His arrest.  After Judas betrayed Jesus in the garden, John related that Jesus was first taken to Annas (John 18:12-13).  Next, we see that Annas sent Jesus to Caiaphas, the high priest (18:24).  Having remained with Caiaphas a short time, Jesus finally appeared before Pilate (18:28-40).  There Jesus’ appointment with death was carried out.

In the initial meeting, Pilate attempted to return Jesus to the Jews so they could deal with Him as their law mandated (18:31-32).  The Jews persuaded Pilate to continue to preside over the case because their law did not permit the death penalty.  On three separate occasions, Pilate pronounced Jesus innocent (18:38; 19:4, 6).  Again Pilate tried to release Jesus (19:12).  This last attempt also failed; and Pilate agreed to hand Jesus over to the Jews to be crucified in order to avoid a riot (19:13-16; Matt. 27:24).

History is silent about Pontius Pilate’s life after his reign over Judea.  Eusebius, an early church historian, claimed that Pilate committed suicide in A.D. 39.12 Other historians dispute this claim.  Even though uncertainty exists regarding the final years of Pilate’s life, one factor remains clear. Pontius Pilate, about whom very little is recorded, impacted both history and eternity as the prefect of Judea.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               Bi

1.  All Scripture quotes are from the New American Standard Bible, 1995.  Update, unless otherwise indicated.

2.  Thomas D. Lea, The New Testament: Its Background and Message (Nashville: Broadman & Holman, 1996), 20.

3.  Ibid., 20-22.

4.  Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 18.2.2.

5.  Harold H. Hoehner, “Pontius Pilate” in the Dictionary of Jesus and the Gospels. Joel B. Green and Scot McKnight, eds.  (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press. 1992), 615.

6.  Daniel R. Schwartz, “Pontius Pilate” in The Anchor Bible Dictionary, David Noel Freedman, gen. ed. , vol. 5(New York: Doubleday, 1992) 397-98.

7.  Josephus, Antiquities, 18.4.1.

8.  Josephus, Antiquities, 18.4.2.

9.  Gary A. Lee, “Pontius Pilate” in The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

10. Josephus, Antiquities, 18:3.1.

11. Josephus, Antiquities  18.3.2.  Many believe this incident is the same incident described briefly in Luke inn Luke 13:1-2.

12. Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, 2.7.

SOURCE: Biblical Illustrator; LifeWay Christian Resources of the Southern Baptist Convention; Nashville, TN 37234; Winter 2002-03.




(11.11)  What Is The Answer To & Where In The Bible Is This Week’s Trivia Question Found? (11/29/15)  What was the first instance of book burning?   Answer Next Week:

The answer to last week’s question:  (11/22/15) According to the Book of Genesis, who wore the first ring?  Answer: Pharaoh, Genesis 41:42.