In chapter four, there is a noticeable transformation of the disciples. As Luke ended, the disciples were afraid of the Jewish leadership. When Acts opens, there still appears to be little courage. But after reception of the Holy Spirit, the disciples are unstoppable and as bold as the Lord in the face of opposition.
Chapter four references the healing story in chapter three. It was an amazing miracle. A man born lame, who had lived lame for thirty years, was instantly made to walk. All Jerusalem was abuzz with the story and the number of Christians in the city grew to five thousand.
In the face of such growth, the Jewish aristocracy determined to clamp down in the fledgling movement. But what to do? It was an amazing miracle. It had been performed by Jesus’ followers. Everyone knew about it. How could they deny it?
The apostles, brought to religious trial are threatened with the charge of heresy. That’s what the leaders mean when they say: “By what power did you do this?” The implication was: It’s not God’s power. But the apostles throw it right back at them, give credit to Jesus, and accuse the leaders of murder.
In the end, and for the moment, the disciples are freed. Though forbidden to preach in Jesus’ name, they defiantly proclaim they will not obey such an order.
Tremendous courage indeed.
But will it last?
The disciples wonder that too. Satan intends to see that faithfulness is always hard, and just because faith is strong one day, doesn’t mean it will be the next. And so, the disciples pray. They pray for continued boldness, continued courage. And their prayers are answered.
No matter how mature we might be, Satan is determined to trip us up. Spiritual vigilance requires dependence on God, and even when things are going well, prayer for strength to continue.