Series 45


STUDIES IN ACTS (Chapters 4 – 7)
by Francis Dixon
Study verses: Acts 5:40-42

The standing commission of the Risen Lord Jesus to all His people is that they should be on the job every day, witnessing to His grace and power; we only have to refer to Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:46-49; John 20:19-23; Acts 1:8, to be assured of this. The reason why the early Church grew so rapidly was that these first Christians propagated the gospel; they were ready to tell others of their Lord. In the verses before us we have an example of this. Notice that once again the pressure of the Enemy, resulting in fierce persecution of the apostles, led to the spread of the gospel. The apostles were beaten and forbidden to speak in the name of Jesus and then “they left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name”. Immediately follow the words, “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news…” What holy determination gripped them and what a passion for souls they had! They got on with the job of obeying God’s command to preach the gospel wherever they went! Notice verse 42:-


1. “Day after day…they never stopped…”

These few words tell us that they were on the job every day because they recognised that everyone they met was a potential Christian, one for whom Christ had died, and one to whom the gospel should be preached. D.L. Moody vowed that every day he would witness to at least one person, and there are wonderful stories on record of the fruit which resulted from his faithfulness. It was like that with the apostles: every day they witnessed, “they never stopped”. The authorities could not stop them, nor could the threat of imprisonment or of being beaten. How little it sometimes takes to stop us, and how much it takes to start us witnessing for the Lord Jesus! If only we were all getting on with the job, like Peter and John, a multitude of precious souls would be won for the Saviour.


2. “In the temple courts and from house to house…”

Their witnessing was in two spheres – in public and in private. It was to the crowds and to individuals, where people gathered together to worship and where they lived in their homes. There is no place where we cannot engage in soul-winning work. Presumably Peter and John preached in the temple to groups of people gathered there, then afterwards would go from house to house (“every house”, KJV). C.T. Studd caught the spirit of this when he issued an order to all his missionaries that they were to preach the gospel so fully in the areas where they were working that not one person could say that he or she had not heard or did not understand the way of salvation. That is exactly how it should be. At the end of Acts 7 and the beginning of Acts 8 we read of the persecution and death of Stephen, his burial and the consequent scattering of the Christians who for seven years had been in Jerusalem. But look at Acts 8:4, and then turn to Acts 11:19-21. The persecution and martyrdom of Stephen and the scattering led to the spread of the gospel. God’s servants went far and wide, always on the job of speaking about their Lord and commending Him. They were gripped by a holy passion to declare His message to as many people as possible, and to do it as quickly as possible (John 9:4).


3. “Teaching and proclaiming…”

This is significant. They not only preached, but they taught. They exercised a teaching ministry. The word ‘preach’ means to proclaim or to tell forth the message of the gospel; the word ‘teach’ contains in it the idea of instruction and counselling. There is no greater need in our world today than for teaching evangelism. It is not enough to say to the modern generation, ‘Come to Jesus!’ They must be told who Jesus is, what He has done, what He is able to do, what it means to come to Him, and what the result of coming to Him will be. The Lord Himself made it clear that His servants were not only to preach but to teach (Matthew 28:18-20) – notice particularly verse 20. This preaching and teaching does not call for special gifts. Many people are puzzled and confused and need help, and one of the best ways of giving it is to talk to them individually, privately, and to explain the gospel (Acts 18:26). The final thing to notice is the message these men proclaimed, summed up in four words:


4. “Jesus is the Christ”

They did not preach religion or church affiliation. They certainly did not preach politics. Notice what they proclaimed: (1) Christ, the loving, living, powerful, saving Son of God (Acts 8:5 and Acts 8:35); (2) the saving name of the Lord (Matthew 1:21); (3) the name which secures us (Proverbs 18:10); (4) the name which is like a sweet perfume (Song of Solomon 1:3) – and this name was always on their lips. What fired them was His love for them (2 Corinthians 5:14) and they had that holy determination to be obedient to His command (John 14:15); compare Mark 5:19.

As you conclude this study look up the following references, all of which speak of Christians getting on with the job!

  1. (1) ANDREW (John 1:41-42);
  2. (2) PHILIP (John 1:43-45);
  3. (3) THE SAMARITAN WOMAN (John 4:25-30);
  4. (4) THE MAN AT BETHESDA (John 5:9-15);
  5. (5) THE MAN BORN BLIND (John 9:9-25);
  6. (6) THE MAN AT THE GATE (Acts 3:1-11)
  7. (7) THE FIRST CHRISTIANS (Acts 4:33);
  8. (8) SAUL OF TARSUS (Acts 9:18-20);
  9. (9) PAUL AND BARNABAS (Acts 14:1);
  10. (10) PAUL AT CORINTH (Acts 18:4);
  11. (11) PAUL AT EPHESUS (Acts 19:8-10);
  12. (12) PAUL BEFORE THE ELDERS (Acts 20:17-27).