Online Bible Commentary
The Disciples’ Prayer
Acts 4:23 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)
Peter and John had been arrested and held overnight for trial the next day. The rulers and religious leaders did not like them preaching, and healing, in the name of Jesus. Still they could find no wrong with the disciples and let them off with a warning to stop their preaching.
Upon release, Peter and John returned to the fellowship and comfort of their “companions”, their fellow disciples (v. 23a). They reported to the other disciples all that had been said to them (v. 23b).
In response, the disciples, “with one accord”, all went to the Lord in prayer (v. 24a). They cited Psalm 2:1-2 in their prayer, attesting to the fact that it was God’s will that Jesus and His followers would face persecution at the hands of the world (vv. 25-26).
The disciples identified their enemies, as “Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel” (v. 27). Herod represented the Jewish religious leaders, Pilate acted for the Gentiles, and the people of Israel represented the Jews. All of these people would be used by God “to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done” (v. 28). God uses all kinds of people, the good and the bad, to accomplish His will.
In their prayer, the disciples then turned to petitions. They did not ask the Lord to take away the persecution. Instead, they asked the Lord to “look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word” (v. 29). In this way, the disciples acknowledged the character of God, not to take away our opposition but to give us the boldness to walk with the Lord through our opposition.
The disciples ended their prayer by asking for the hand of Jesus to be upon them, enabling them to perform healings and miracles in His name (v. 30). The Lord immediately answered their prayer. His spiritual presence was exhibited by the shaking of the building where they were meeting (v. 31a). Then all the disciples were “filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (v. 31b).
Christians will face persecution in this world. It has already been ordained by God. But God does not leave us alone, to fend for ourselves. He gives us the strength, the boldness, to confront persecution.
Jesus is greater than the world. He has already won the war, on the cross. Knowing this, we should be willing and able to fight the skirmishes that will continue to annoy us until He returns to set up His Kingdom.
The good thing is that we do not have to do it on our own. As we yield to the Lord, He is able to fill us with His strength, the Holy Spirit. But, we must first yield, emptying ourselves of self, so that He can then fill us. This is a progressive, continuing, process that continues throughout our spiritual walk with the Lord. We must always be in the process of yielding ourselves to Him. With His power we can resist sin.
The disciples’ prayer was for the boldness to continue speaking in the name of the Lord, despite persecution. The Lord’s answer was to fill them with the Holy Spirit. They were already yielding all things to Him, and He was, therefore, able to fill them. We Christians of today should follow their example.