Praise Prayer in Acts, Chapter 4

INTRODUCTION: Peter and John were preaching Jesus Christ in the temple courts, after the power of God through Peter had healed a man lame from birth. They were apprehended by officers of the high priest and held overnight. The officials questioned them and ordered them not to preach in the name of Jesus any more, but they said they had to obey God rather than men. Since the miraculous healing of the lame man could not be denied, the officials did not take more severe action, but gave another strong warning not to preach in the name of Jesus, and then they released Peter and John. When Peter and John gathered with their own friends and related the incident, a spontaneous prayer ensued. The passage that contains that prayer is the subject of this study.

NOTE: All Bible passages are from the 1769 King James Version.


A - Peter and John were released

Acts 4 "23 And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. 24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:"

COMMENTS: The text says they reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them, rather than specifically stating that they reported all that had happened. This phraseology may not exclude the possibility that the detail was given of Peter and John's actions and words. The emphasis though in the passage, seems to be on requesting that God provide boldness against the actions and words of the Jewish leaders, as they continued to reject Jesus as the Christ, and made threats in an attempt to stop the spread of the gospel. And when the friends of Peter and John heard the report, they raised their voices to God with one accord.

The Online Bible Greek lexicon provided some interesting information about the compound Greek word "homothumadon": "AV-with one accord 11, with one mind 1; 12 1) with one mind, with one accord, with one passion.
A unique Greek word, used 10 of its 12 New Testament occurrences in the Book of Acts, helps us understand the uniqueness of the Christian community. Homothumadon is a compound of two words meaning to "rush along" and "in unison." "The image is almost musical; a number of notes are sounded which, while different, harmonize in pitch and tone. As the instruments of a great concert under the direction of a concert master, so the Holy Spirit blends together the lives of members of Christ's church."

There are sufficient Biblical references to model the opening words of the prayer, and those references would have been familiar to the Jews and proselytes to Judaism, who were the base composition of the Jerusalem church at this time. This scriptural background would facilitate bringing them to be of one mind as they began to pray. The theme of God as creator of all begins in the very opening of Genesis.

Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." And Genesis records how this affected Abraham's (Abram's) faith. Genesis 14:22-23 "And Abram said to the king of Sodom, I have lift up mine hand unto the LORD, the most high God, the possessor of heaven and earth, that I will not take from a thread even to a shoelatchet, and that I will not take any thing that is thine, lest thou shouldest say, I have made Abram rich:"

Even before Abraham had received the promise of special blessing from God, he affirmed with a vow, that all things come from God because the Creator alone possesses all things, and alone deserves the glory. The fact that God is the creator/owner of heaven and earth was established in the law to be kept in the forefront of faith for all of Israel.
Exodus 20:11 "For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it." Exodus 31:16-17 "Wherefore the children of Israel shall keep the sabbath, to observe the sabbath throughout their generations, for a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between me and the children of Israel for ever: for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day he rested, and was refreshed."
Deuteronomy 10:14 "Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD'S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is."

The book of Psalms, as the corporate praise book for Israel, provides evidence that this theme continued to be a focal point for those who loved and worshipped the Lord God even centuries after it was recorded in the law.
Psalms 115:15 "Ye are blessed of the LORD which made heaven and earth." Psalms 121:2 "My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth." Psalms 124:8 "Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth." Psalms 134:3 "The LORD that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion."

With this last entry all ten verses framed the target phrase so well, that I included the entire psalm.
Psalms 146:1-10 "Praise ye the LORD. Praise the LORD, O my soul. While I live will I praise the LORD: I will sing praises unto my God while I have any being. Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish. Happy is he that hath the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the LORD his God: WHICH MADE HEAVEN, AND EARTH, THE SEA, AND ALL THAT THEREIN IS: which keepeth truth for ever: Which executeth judgment for the oppressed: which giveth food to the hungry. The LORD looseth the prisoners: The LORD openeth the eyes of the blind: the LORD raiseth them that are bowed down: the LORD loveth the righteous: The LORD preserveth the strangers; he relieveth the fatherless and widow: but the way of the wicked he turneth upside down. The LORD shall reign for ever, even thy God, O Zion, unto all generations. Praise ye the LORD."

The disciples of Jesus were in troubled times as they began their praise prayer with a phrase very similar to that found in Genesis, the law, and the psalms; but also similar to passages in troubled times for Israel some centuries after the writing of those first references.
2 Kings 19:15-16 "And Hezekiah prayed before the LORD, and said, O LORD God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth. LORD, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, LORD, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God."
Isaiah 42:5 "Thus saith God the LORD, he that created the heavens, and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein:"
Jeremiah 32:17 "Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:"

Israel went into captivity and the temple of the Lord was destroyed, but after seventy years began a period of return from captivity and a rebuilding of the temple. Nehemiah praised the Lord with similar wording as with the previously noted verses.
Nehemiah 9:6 "Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee."

Even our Lord Jesus modeled for us the recognition that God is the ruler of heaven and earth, and he also declared that he himself had all power in heaven and earth.
Matthew 11:25 "At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes."
Matthew 28:18 "And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth." Paul directed men to turn to the creator. Acts 14:15 "And saying, Sirs, why do ye these things? We also are men of like passions with you, and preach unto you that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein:"

Paul continued to declare in his letters that Jesus is God, the creator and ruler of all things.
Philippians 2:10 "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;"
Colossians 1:16 "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:",/p>

The book of the Bible that tells of events yet future, assures us that we will not stop worshipping the Creator.
Revelation 14:7 "Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters."


B - Psalms 2 as it applies to Jesus

Acts 4 "25 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? 26 The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. 27 For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, 28 For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done.

COMMENTS: The phrase "who by the mouth of thy servant David" tells us that it was God speaking through David, and the portion of Psalm 2 that is referenced is applied directly to the rejection and mistreatment of Jesus who is the Christ (the anointed, the Messiah). The crucifixion of Jesus was actually "to do whatsoever thy {God's} hand and thy {God's} counsel determined before to be done" because God's plans cannot be thwarted. God in heaven will simply laugh at those who think they are in control. Verses 3 and 4 of Psalm 2 say, "3 Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. 4 He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision."

The next verses show Psalms, Proverbs, and Isaiah in agreement about God's power and plans.
Psalms 33:11 "The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever, the thoughts of his heart to all generations."
Proverbs 19:21 "There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand."
Isaiah 46:10 "Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:"

Paul further affirms the fulfillment of God's will.
Ephesians 1:11 "In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will:"


C - A prayer made in confidence

Acts 4 "29 And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, 30 By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus. 31 And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness."

COMMENTS: This portion of the prayer is actually a request that the Lord allow the whole company to continue to do the very thing that Peter and John had already done to bring them to the point of this prayer. They recognize that their earlier boldness was not of themselves, any more than future boldness for the Lord would be of themselves. This also provides a strong statement that the healings and other miraculous signs were performed by the power of God, in the name of Jesus, for the purpose of causing His word to go forth. The text indicates an immediate response to that prayer as the place where they were was shaken and they were filled with the Holy Ghost, enabling them to preach the Word with BOLDNESS!

The following references are indicative of God's plan to give the gift of the Holy Spirit to believers, so that all that is accomplished in and through them gives glory to God.
John 14:17 "Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you."
Acts 2:4 "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."
Acts 4:8-11 "Then Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them, Ye rulers of the people, and elders of Israel, if we this day be examined of the good deed done to the impotent man, by what means he is made whole; be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole."
Acts 9:17 "And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost."
Acts 13:9-11 "Then Saul, (who also is called Paul,) filled with the Holy Ghost, set his eyes on him, and said, O full of all subtilty and all mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon thee, and thou shalt be blind, not seeing the sun for a season. And immediately there fell on him a mist and a darkness; and he went about seeking some to lead him by the hand."

Acts 13:52 "And the disciples were filled with joy, and with the Holy Ghost."
Ephesians 5:18 "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit;"
Galatians 3:14 "That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith."


--- Reflections in prayer ---

Lord Jesus, I praise you as the Creator of heaven and earth, and all that is therein. As I have reviewed the firmness of this principal preserved from the opening of Genesis up to our present time, I am well pleased to be among those over the centuries who have accepted your word regarding six days for your work of creation. I believe that by you Lord, all things were created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they are thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by the Lord, and for the Lord.. Keep this central in my thoughts as I praise you for many other incomparable aspects of your holy attributes. Thank you Lord for your Holy Spirit that will enable me to be your witness, just as it was the enabling power for all your followers as recorded in the New Testament scriptures. May I have boldness and confidence as I fully trust in your finished work in my behalf, through your death, burial, and resurrection. May the work of your Spirit active within me encourage others, as I have been encouraged by the faith and actions of disciples in the early church. Amen.

Published 14 July 2006 revisions 31 jan 2017