It wasn’t long after the church in Jerusalem got started that opposition arose against it. Peter and John were arrested shortly after healing a man that had been crippled his entire life (Acts 3:7). It says in Acts 4:1-3, “And as they spake unto the people, the priests, and the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees, came upon them, being grieved that they taught the people, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And they laid hands on them, and put them in hold unto the next day: for it was now eventide.” Peter and John were not discouraged by the opposition they received. In fact, Peter seemed to gain confidence in the fact that they were being treated like criminals. When he was asked how he was able to perform the miracle, Peter gave all the credit to Jesus and declared that the power of his name was responsible for the lame man’s healing (Acts 4:10).
Peter’s boldness didn’t stop with his proclamation of Jesus as Israel’s Messiah. Peter went on to say there was no other name under heaven by which men could be saved (Acts 4:12). The religious leaders’ reaction is recorded in Acts 4:13-16 where it states:
Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, 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.
The problem the religious leaders faced was that word had already gotten out about what had happened at the temple that day. In fact it says in Acts 4:4, “Howbeit many of them which heard the word believed; and the number of the men was about five thousand.” As a result of the Holy Spirit’s involvement in what was going on, things were happening very quickly and there didn’t seem to be any way to stop the church’s rapid growth. The religious leaders decided the best thing they could do at that point was to threaten Peter and John and hope they would take their warning seriously (Acts 4:17).
Unfortunately, Peter and John paid no heed to the warning they were given. It says in Acts 4:19-20, “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, for we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” In other words, Peter and John felt obligated to tell people about Jesus. Their experience was so important to them that these two men were willing to risk being barred from the temple in Jerusalem. After they were released, Peter and John went back to their congregation and shared what happened to them. Then they prayed to God, “And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, by stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus” (Acts 4:29-30).