By Daniel L. Holloway
In Acts 4, we find the apostles Peter and John being tried by the Jewish council. Verse 13 says that the council “took note that these men had been with Jesus.” Now let us ask ourselves how the council recognized this. First of all, when they questioned the apostles, Peter proclaimed that he was acting under the authority of Jesus whom, he affirmed, was the Christ. Also, from the wording of verse 13, it seems that some of the council remembered seeing Peter and John with Jesus. Finally, it is very likely that the Jewish authorities saw the parallel between the apostles’ bold manner of teaching and their miracle, and the teaching and miracles of Jesus. It is this last factor upon which we will focus our attention.
The apostle Paul was never a companion of our Lord and yet it can be said that he “had been with Jesus.” In Galatians 2:20, Paul declares, “Christ lives in me” and, in 1 Corinthians 11:1, he explains, “I follow the example of Christ.” This should be the case with us as well. Jesus charged the twelve apostles, who had literally been with Him (Acts 1:21,22), “Go and make disciples of all nations” (Matt. 28:19). Since a disciple is a follower of a teacher, our conduct should be like those of whom it was observed “they had been with Jesus.”
How then did the apostles and other New Testament disciples conduct themselves?
(1) They “all with one accord continued steadfastly in prayer” (Acts 1:13,14). They “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, in the breaking of bread and the prayers” (Acts 2:41,42). “Day by day,” they continued “steadfastly with one accord” (Acts 2:47). Here we have a beautiful picture of real fellowship with God and brethren – a deep abiding devotion to God unspoiled by faction and strife.
(2) They preached whenever they had an opportunity. When a miracle drew a crowd, Peter preached to them (Acts 3), and when the council questioned the apostles’ authority, Peter preached to them also (Acts 4:5-12). When persecution scattered Christians, they “went about preaching the word” (Acts 8:1-4). Too often today, we do not even recognize our opportunities, much less use them.
(3) They gave God the kind of respect He deserves as God. When the very men who had Christ crucified commanded the apostles not to preach in the name of Jesus and threatened them, they responded with, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:28,29) and “We cannot but speak the things which we saw and heard” (Acts 4:18-21). When Ananias and Sapphira died for their hypocrisy, “great fear came upon the whole church.” The brethren in Jerusalem took God seriously.
(4) They prayed fervently, fully aware of their dependence on God. When persecuted, they asked God to take note of their enemies and to enable them to boldly proclaim His word (Acts 4:21,23-30).
Let us examine ourselves. Do we live like that? If we were carried back in time and placed alongside Peter and John before the Jewish council, would they think that we “had been with Jesus”? Paul says that “the hope of glory” is Christ in you” (Col. 1:27).
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 11, pp. 340-341
June 7, 1984