Acts 5:17-42


Acts 5:17-33

Confrontation between Jewish authorities and the apostles

  1. The Sadducees are specifically mentioned in v 17 because they appeared to control the council and certainly occupied chief positions e.g. high priest.
  2. They arrested and imprisoned the apostles to try and stop the church growing. See Luke 3:20.
  3. God counteracted this by freeing the apostles because he wanted their ministry to continue.
  4. The “words of this life” are the whole counsel of God/the gospel.
  5. The purpose of calling together the council or Sanhedrin was to hear different views and make a combined decision about how to act.
  6. Upon discovering the prison shut but the apostles gone their concern was how the movement would grow.
  7. They really ought to have wondered how the apostles got out. See Luke 21:12 ans Acts 12:19.
  8. The authorities (Captain of temple guard and his officers) were afraid of being stoned because the apostles had such a following and even unbelievers esteemed them.
  9. Being accused of bringing Christ’s blood upon them, the authorities, because it was true must have had troubled consciences.
  10. It was the intention of the apostles to blame the unbelieving authorities for Christ’s death. See Acts 2:36.
  11. Peter emphasized the need to obey God rather than men to make clear their stance.
  12. Peter in v 30 did agree with the accusation of v 28.
  13. Peter emphasized the resurrection in v 30 because it is a gospel fundamental, it exposed the Jews’ impotence and the power of God to irresistibly fulfil his purposes.
  14. Mentioning the “God of our fathers” and “Israel” implies that the Jews ought to have known about the coming Messiah from the Pentateuch who was sent to bless Israel.
  15. Since he is divine the Spirit clearly witnessed, indeed decreed the death resurrection and exaltation of Christ but he also convinces the elect of all these truths.
  16. The Jews were enraged because they were being pronounced guilty, they hated Christ and wanted to silence the apostles and their consciences.
    • This reaction shows that sin:
    •  a)  Hates being exposed by the truth (John 3:19-21)
    • b) Hates repentance
    • c) Enslaves and holds people till irresistible grace frees them.

Acts 5:34-40

  1. Gamaliel was a revered Pharisee and teacher and member of the council who taught Saul of Tarsus (Acts 22:3).
  2. His advice was given without the apostles being present perhaps because the council would not want the apostles to know they had any support in the council.
  3. His warning was for the council to take care because two men who had caused previous insurrections namely Theudas and Judas had both been killed and their followers scattered.
  4. Gamaliel’s advice was just to leave the apostles alone because if the movement was of God it could not be successfully opposed but if it was not it would fizzle out.
  5. It seemed a principled suggestion and actually sensible and pragmatic.
  6. From the Jews’ viewpoint it may have appeared bad advice because their influence would wane if the apostles message spread.
  7. They beat the apostles because they were cruel and vindictive, wanted to assert their authority and try to deter them.

Acts 5:41-42

  1. The apostles rejoiced because they were counted worthy of suffering for Christ. (Matt.5:11,12, II Cor.1:7, I Pet.4:12,13, Rom.8:17, I Pet.2:20)
  2. They continued to teach and preach.
  3. Their attitude and action are examples for us to:

Obey the Lord by preaching and witnessing to the true Christ as opportunity presents and being ready to suffer for his sake.


Next study Acts 6:1-15 Saturday December 1st 8pm DV.


Please remember that we are all called to study Scripture to be approved by God and personal Bible Study is always blessed and remembered, so come prepared and recruit others!


Acts 5:1-16

Acts 5:1-10

The story of Ananias and Sapphira in contrast to Barnabas introduced appropriately by the word “but”.

  1. Perhaps Ananias and Sapphira wanted to be members of the church for the status or to appear righteous but they were hypocrites planted by Satan.
  2. They sold land or a house but kept back some of the proceeds but told the church they had brought all the proceeds as a gift.
  3. It was not wrong per se to give only part of the sale price because it was theirs.
  4. Their deception was to tell lies about how much the sale was perhaps wanting to appear righteous and generous.
  5. We guess the Spirit told Peter expressly what Ananias had done cf. Acts 8:29, 10:19, 16:7, I Sam. 9:15, 16:12, I Tim.4:1.
  6. Peter quizzed Sapphira and not Ananias perhaps in the hope she would repent and tell the truth. Ananias clearly as the head and leader bore ultimately the greater responsibility.
  7. Their sin was deceit/lying to God and men perhaps motivated by self-aggrandisement and the love of money. Satan moved them.
  8. They had lied to men but the greater sin was to lie to God and not only men.
  9. Ananias had conceived the pretence believing no one would know including God.
  10. The punishment was so swift and severe to make them an example to the early church and expose hypocrisy (bit like man gathering sticks on the Sabbath in Numbers 15:32). It was a major public sin (like Achan’s). The wages of sin is death and with some it does not tarry.
  11. God inflicted the punishment.
  12. They had tempted or tested the Spirit unaware of his omniscience and power.
  13. The great fear was reverence and awe tinged with alarm (Gr: for fear is PHOBOS).

Acts 5:12-16

  1. Signs in Scripture are supernatural pointers to spiritual reality i.e. have a deeper meaning. They are usually performed by God’s messengers e.g. Moses, Elijah/Elisha, Christ and the apostles and confined to certain times in history where God had to authenticate and show the authority of his messengers. They include miracles and can even be performed by the wicked e.g. magicians in Egypt and Antichrist ( II. Thess. 2:9). Also Belshazzar’s writing on the wall* and Hezekiah’s sundial. They may be a portent*
  2. Wonders are happenings that are strange, sometimes natural events or calamities (Joel 2:30,31) that make people seek a reason for them. They me be a vision e.g. Rev.12:1,3.
  3. These two are often mentioned or occur together. God causes both, one through his servants, the other directly.
  4. These two class of miracles are thus described as signifying something deeper and making people question why.
  5. Their purpose is to authenticate that the messenger is divinely appointed and authoritative (in the case of the apostles before the completion of the canon of Scripture I Cor.12, II Cor.12:12).
  6. The apostles healed many people and drove out demons. Paul also struck a man blind.
  7. Peter may be singled out for special privilege because he was the natural leader.
  8. Miracles done by his shadow seem even more amazing than Jesus’ miracles where he touched people, was touched or gave commandment.
  9. The miracles served to keep some people away (“the rest”) from the apostolic band perhaps because they were opponents.
  10. They dare not join the church probably because they were not true believers and would come with wrong motives.
  11. But many others thought highly of the apostles and the church and joined them.

Next study Acts 5:17-40 (bottom page 40) November 5th 8pm (DV).

Acts 4:23-37


Acts 4:23-31

  1. After they were let go by the Sanhedrin Peter and John went to the gathering of the disciples (possibly the 120) and related all that had happened.
  2. Their reaction was united prayer.
  3. They started their prayer with God as creator because this was the beginning of his decree and first revelation of almighty power.
  4. The church quoted David in Psalm 2:1 because what had happened was in direct fulfilment of this prophesy. It is notable that David is at least twice quoted in first books of Acts.
  5. They called Christ “thy holy child” which in the Greek is either boy or servant perhaps to emphasise his humanity, his human helplessness and the fact he was God’s child and servant in the same way we are God’s children (Gal.3:26, I Thess.5:5 and Heb.12:5).
  6. Four people/groups are mentioned.
  7. Herod represented the kings of the earth and the people of Israel even though he was an Edomite.
  8. Pilate and the gentiles represented the rulers and the heathen (Romans).The people of Israel represented themselves the Jews.
  9. The wicked deeds of all these were decreed and under the sovereign control of God and this also means nothing in our lives is outside his control, Fatherly care and love.
  10. God’s hand is his providence and power to act-note how our hands can do everything from wielding a heavy hammer to intricate microscopic operations (similarly his working). This ought to comfort us in relation to the details of our lives.
  11. In the face of these threats the church asked God for boldness and confirmatory miraculous signs because it would be natural to be intimidated.
  12. Healing and other miracles were important because the apostles needed authentication before the authoritative canon of Scripture was closed. (II Cor 12:12).
  13. The shaking of the building served as an encouragement to those inside and proves God is working. C.f. Isaiah 6, Acts 16, Elijah on the mount, Mount Sinai, many Psalms e.g. 77:18, and the time of Golgotha. This tells us of the almighty Spirit.                               Acts 4:32-37
  1. The unity of the early church was manifest in them sharing all they had.
  2. They had all things in common because they recognised God as the giver and their need to help the needy (II Cor.8:8-14, II Cor. 9:7 f. f). This was before the first deacons and the role of the widows.
  3. The power with which the apostles witnessed to the resurrection was the power of the Spirit.
  4. “Great grace” is God’s enabling to preach and witness boldly (
  5. I Tim.1:7), give generously and desire the means of grace. It was exhibited in the fruit of the Spirit and the ability to fulfil their callings.
  6. Their generous sharing is descriptive not prescriptive. In other words God recognises private property but also that giving be done freely without coercion. He does expect the rich to be rich in good deeds of sharing (I Tim.6:18).
  7. Barnabas (son of encouragement) was the nickname given to Joses, a Levite born in Cyprus who sold land and brought all the proceeds to the apostle as an example of generosity contrasted with events in the next chapter.

Next study Sat. October 6th on Acts 5:1-16

Covenant Baptism


So you call yourself a Reformed Baptist! Well you are a Baptist but not Reformed: hear Heidelberg Catechism Q. 74.  Are infants also to be baptized?
A.  Yes; for since they, as well as the adult, are included in the covenant and church of God; and since redemption from sin by the blood of Christ, and the Holy Ghost, the author of faith, is promised to them no less than to the adult; they must therefore by baptism, as a sign of the covenant, be also admitted into the Christian church, and be distinguished from the children of unbelievers as was done in the old covenant or testament by circumcision, instead of which baptism is instituted in the new covenant.


The proof for the baptism of NT believer’s children is overwhelming from Genesis to Revelation. Take the Psalms. Look at the promises of Psalms 18:50, 25:13, 37:26, 89:4,29,36, 102:28, 112:2. In all instances the seed of believers are blessed, endure forever or inherit so they must be believing!

When we come to the New Testament just a few verses from Acts and the epistles underline and bolster our doctrine, they can be classed like this: the elect children of believers (seed of the covenant) have:

1. The Promise of salvation (Acts 2:38) as in Gen.17:7.

2. Are addressed as church members (Eph. 6:4, Col.3:20) AND need to be fed (John 21:15).

3. Ought to have the covenant sign as they did in O.T. (because circumcision and baptism mean exactly the same namely are signs of true circumcision of the heart/spiritual baptism).

4. Family baptism was the norm ( Household of Stephanus, Lydia, Philippian jailer).

5. The signs of circumcision and water baptism are seals of the reality sealed by circumcision of the heart and Spirit baptism namely washing away of sin, imputed righteousness, regeneration (Rom.4:11, Eph.1:13, 4:30). Eph.4:4-6 speaks of one body (OT plus NT saints), ONE BAPTISM (not to be repeated). The real circumcision (Phil.3:3) are spiritual worshippers of all ages who are spiritually circumcised and hence should be physically baptised. Both circumcision and baptism are:

  • Initiation into God’s covenant people.
  • Washing away of sin.
  • Death to sin and justification.

Furthermore we see the generational principle promised in I Tim.1:5 and Timothy himself as a little child (Gr: BREPHOS, same as Matthew 18:6) knew the OT scriptures!

Another Reformed creed (The Belgic Confession) states: “therefore we detest the error of the Anabaptists, who are not content with the one only baptism they have once received, and moreover condemn the baptism of the infants of believers, whom we believe ought to be baptized and sealed with the sign of the covenant, as the children in Israel formerly were circumcised, upon the same promises which are made unto our children. And indeed Christ shed his blood no less for the washing of the children of the faithful, than for adult persons; and therefore they ought to receive the sign and sacrament of that, which Christ hath done for them; as the Lord commanded in the law, that they should be made partakers of the sacrament of Christ’s suffering and death, shortly after they were born, by offering for them a lamb, which was a sacrament of Jesus Christ. Moreover, what circumcision was to the Jews, that baptism is for our children. And for this reason Paul calls baptism the circumcision of Christ. ”

If this does not convince you, you are an Anabaptist who has not studied the Scriptures properly!

Seeking things above

Could be subtitled, ” Baptism in the Holy Spirit”.

Colossians 3:1-4

Sermon by Rev. Martyn McGeown of Limerick Reformed Fellowship Sept 2nd 2018 on occasion of baptisms of Chester and Dale Mansona.

Christians are to seek things above because they are united to Christ in his death and resurrection. We use earthly things to further the kingdom. David Livingstone said, “I place no value on anything I have except in relation to the kingdom of Christ.” We died to the rule of sin and to the world. Spirit baptism just described, is signified by water baptism.


Practical applications-JK

  • Find and join a true church.
  • Live close enough to attend all services and BS/catechism
  • Serve in that church using all your gifts
  • Make daily personal and family devotions a priority
  • Raise your children in the fear of God
  • Witness as opportunity presents
  • Pray without ceasing
  • Be a faithful steward of all you have-body, possessions. money and give generously.


Are Christians correct in thinking the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948 is prophecy fulfilled?

Who are Biblical Israel?

Has the church replaced Israel?

Where is the real Jerusalem?

This study will help you get the answers:


The Bible and Israel (7)

BLOG POST | August 31, 2018


Our last blog post on this subject was May 25, 2018. We have proven from scripture that the New Testament church is the fulfilment of—not the replacement for—Israel. One final chapter requires out attention: it is the greatest chapter in the New Testament dealing with God’s purposes with Israel in the New Testament age, Romans 11. Since Romans 9–11 constitute a unit in the epistle, we summarize the contents of those three chapters of God’s word to demonstrate yet again that the Bible promises salvation only to those who believe in Jesus Christ.

Chapters 9–11 then begin a new section of the epistle in which Paul focuses on God’s sovereign purposes with the Jews and Gentiles.

In Romans 9:1–3 Paul expresses his sorrow at the perishing of so many of his countrymen who are his “kinsmen according to the flesh” (9:3). He lists their many advantages (adoption, glory, covenants, law, service, promises, etc.), chief among which is that Christ was born of them, who is God blessed, forever (9:5).

This leads to a possible objection: if God promised salvation to the Jews, has his promise failed? Is it “of none effect”? Paul answers in the negative—”Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect” (9:6). Paul explains this by means of a very important principle: not all physical descendants of Abraham are true Jews; not all who are outwardly “of Israel” are truly “Israel.” The apostle demonstrates this point by appealing first to Isaac and Ishmael, and second to Jacob and Esau. The difference, says Paul, is in God’s sovereign election. Not only did God elect the nation of Israel, but he also elected within the nation certain individuals.

Paul answers an objection in 9:14: “Is there unrighteousness with God?” After vehemently rejecting the inference with “God forbid,” Paul proves the sovereignty of God in showing mercy to some (9:15) and in hardening others (9:18), illustrating his doctrine with an appeal to Moses and to Pharaoh. A second objection arises in 9:19: “Thou wilt say then unto me, why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will?” Paul cuts off the objector by reminding him of his place before God as a creature before the Creator (9:20). Paul illustrates the absolute sovereignty of God with the potter and his clay. The potter owns the clay and has power (authority) over the clay. Out of “one lump” (humanity) the potter makes some vessels (vessels of mercy) unto honor, while he makes other vessels (vessels of wrath) unto dishonor. Some vessels are prepared for glory, while others are fitted to destruction. The potter (God) does this because he “is willing to show his wrath and to make his power known” (9:22) and so that he “might make known the riches of his glory” (9:23). To accomplish this twofold purpose of magnifying his wrath and mercy, God endures the reprobate in longsuffering toward the elect (9:22–23).

This is not abstract, because Paul immediately applies it to the reader: “even us, whom he hath called” (9:24), appealing to Hosea 1:10 and 2:23 as proof that the calling of the Gentiles was prophesied in the Old Testament (9:25–26). Peter cites the same passage for the same purpose in 1 Peter 2:10. After quoting some texts from Isaiah as proof that God saves a remnant, Paul concludes that Israel has not attained to righteousness because she sought it “as it were by the works of the law” (9:32). The Gentiles, who did not seek righteousness, have obtained righteousness, “the righteousness which is of faith” (9:30). This was Israel’s fatal stumbling, as they tripped over Christ and perished, as God purposed and as the scriptures foretold (9:32–33; see also 1 Peter 2:6–8).

Paul begins chapter 9 expressing his heartfelt sorrow over Israel’s perishing (9:1–5). He begins chapter 10 in a similar fashion, by expressing his desire for Israel’s salvation (10:1). However, Paul does not excuse Israel for her sin of stumbling at Christ. She has not submitted to God’s righteousness and by seeking salvation in works has missed the goal of the law, which is Christ (10:3–4). This is all the more inexcusable because Moses made it clear that righteousness was not found in the law (10:5). To seek righteousness in the law is, says Paul, to deny the incarnation, death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ, for “it is to bring up Christ again from the dead” or “to bring Christ down from above” (10:6–7). Righteousness then is found only in Christ, and it is through faith in Christ and confession of his name that believers are saved (10:9–10). Paul then explains the necessity of preaching.

If salvation is found only in calling upon the name of the Lord (10:13; Joel 2:32), then a series of questions must be asked. How shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? How shall they believe in him of whom (or whom) they have not heard? How shall they hear without a preacher? How shall they preach, except they are sent? (10:14–15). Thus, Paul sets forth the necessity of preaching for the salvation of the elect. The rest of chapter 10 deals with the unbelieving response of Israel to the preaching: “But they have not all obeyed the gospel? Have they not heard? Did not Israel know?” (10:16–19). Israel did hear and know, but Israel refused (“a disobedient and gainsaying [contradictory] people”) (10:21) and God even prophesied his turning to the Gentiles: “I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you” (10:19). This is just judgment upon Israel and it is good news for the Gentiles.

In chapter 11 Paul addresses an objection: if the nation of Israel has been rejected with the result that God also saves the Gentiles in one church, has God cast away his people? Chapter 11 is pivotal to understanding God’s purposes with the Jews in the New Testament age. Both premillennial dispensationalism and postmillennialism appeal to this chapter in defense of their doctrine of a future, national conversion of Israel. Although the chapter does not teach that, it does teach that God has promised to save ethnic Israelites in every age of New Testament history until the return of Christ. That promise is quite remarkable because it pertains to no other nation: God does not save Irishmen, Germans, Filipinos, or Americans in every age. While many of the proud nations of the Old Testament (the Philistines, Moabites, Edomites, etc.) have ceased to exist and (very likely) New Testament nations will cease to exist, God has preserved a remnant of ethnic Jews in the world. This does not mean that God will save all or even all ethnic Israelites, but he will save a remnant in every age, a remnant “according to the election of grace” (11:5) until the fullness of Israel is brought in, so that “all Israel shall be saved” (11:25).

However, he will save ethnic Jews in exactly the same way in which he saves ethnic Gentiles—by faith in Jesus Christ.

Paul answers the initial objection (“Hath God cast away his people?”) with a firm “God forbid” (11:1), illustrating the faithfulness of God’s promises to his foreknown people in his own (Paul’s) case (“I also am an Israelite”) and in the case of the remnant preserved in Elijah’s day (11:4; I Kings 19), and concluding that “at this present time also there is a remnant [of ethnic Israelites] according to the election of grace” (11:5). Gracious election and righteous reprobation operate in Israel as well as in other nations. Thus even within Israel, “the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded” (or hardened) (11:7). Paul proves that God hardens some (even the majority of) Israelites from Psalm 69, which Psalm even teaches the fearful truth that God hardens the reprobate by means of their earthly prosperity (“Let their table be made a snare,” etc.).

This leads to another objection concerning God’s hardening of the reprobate: “Have they stumbled that they should fall?” (11:11). Paul’s answer is “God forbid,” for God’s purpose in reprobation is much greater than merely the damnation of the wicked. In inscrutable wisdom and awesome power, God ordains the hardening of the [reprobate] Jews for the salvation of the [elect] Gentiles.

…to be continued

This post was written by Rev. Martyn McGeown, missionary-pastor of the Covenant Protestant Reformed Church in Northern Ireland stationed in Limerick, Republic of Ireland. 

Other articles:

The Bible and Israel (1)

The Bible and Israel (2)

The Bible and Israel (3)

The Bible and Israel (4)

The Bible and Israel (5)

The Bible and Israel (6)


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Acts 4:1-22

Acts 4:1-22


  1. The priests, temple captain and Sadducees interrupted Peter’s speaking. The priests were Levites, descendants of Aaron, the temple captain was head of the temple guard (police), there to keep order, and the Sadducees were an aristocratic political/religious group who were the majority in the Sanhedrin and of which the High Priest and chief priests were a part.
  2. They were upset because of the apostle’s preaching Christ.
  3. The Sadducees significantly would object to any mention of resurrection because they were materialists, believers in free-will, keepers of the Pentateuch, who did not believe in angels, resurrection or spirits (Acts 23:8).
  4. Because it was late, they arrested and put in prison the apostles with the plan to put them on trial the next day.
  5. Many thousands of the people (5,000) were converted.
  6. The church was growing explosively after the 3,000 converted at Pentecost




The trial of Peter and John.

  1. The elders/rulers would have been heads of families/communities and magistrates who judged, the scribes or lawyers whose job was knowledge of the law (written and oral), transcribing and teaching it. The scribes instituted synagogues and some were in Sanhedrin. See Matt.26:59, Luke 22:66, John 11:47 and 18:13.
  2. Annas was the former High Priest (AD6-15) father-in-law to Caiaphas (High Priest AD 18-36). They appeared to rule together and were present to persecute Christ and the early apostles.

3, 4. The kindred of the high priest who were part of the Sanhedrin were relatives which is evidence of nepotism (favouritism) and corruption.

  1. These groups make up the Sanhedrin of whom there were 71, who all had to be men over 30 and married. It was the highest religious and administrative court/parliament of the Jews with a wide jurisdiction (see Acts 9:2) which rules AD6-66.
  2. Their question assumed that some power, not divine, had accomplished this miracle though deep down they most likely knew it was of God.

7.Peter spoke by the power of the Holy Spirit (II Timothy 1:7) which teaches that he is the source of holy boldness.

  1. According to Peter what was done was a good deed.
  2. Peter emphasized their guilt in crucifying Christ because they were guilty and under God’s judgment and needed to hear and be confronted with their sin so they could repent and believe.
  3. The resurrection is emphasized because it was the proof of Christ’s Messiahship, proof Christ’s persecutors had failed and underlay the power devolved to the apostles by him. The resurrection was the ultimate demonstration of the almighty power of God, central in all history (Eph.1:19-20, 3:20).
  4. Peter proved the resurrection by appealing to fulfilled prophecy in Psalm 118 where the rejected stone is made the headstone. (He could also have mentioned Psalm 16:10).
  5. Salvation was explained in terms of the “name” because in Hebrew the name stands for the person and he was asked in whose name the healing was accomplished. The name of Jesus means Jehovah Salvation. His name is powerful, baptism and prayer are in his name. God is his name.

Vv 13-22

  1. Ignorant and unlearned meant they had no formal education and perhaps their accents and clothes showed they were Galilean fishermen.
  2. Their lack of education would have meant they naturally would have been unable to speak so boldly, quoting Scripture in public in court.
  3. The council acknowledged the important fact these men had been with Jesus for three years.
  4. The council could not deny the fact of the miracle.
  5. They wanted to condemn them or shut them up but had no good reason to do so.
  6. They decided to command them to keep quiet but were worried more people would follow them, or perhaps that they would riot if they were locked up and yet they wanted them at the very least, to stop their activities.
  7. As a civil court they did have authority to command but not to override a command of God.
  8. Peter and John said they must obey God rather than men.
  9. The circumstances under which we must obey God rather than men is when men are being used to make us compromise or sin.
  10. Peter and John were compelled to speak because the Lord had commanded them (Matt.28:19-20, Acts 1:8).
  11. Scripture mentions the lame man was over 40 because the longevity of the infirmity and it’s seeming irreversibility makes the miracle even more remarkable (similarly lame man 38 years at pool of Siloam)

Next study (DV) Sat. Sept 15th   to finish Acts 4.


Peter, the Papacy, and the Keys of the Kingdom

New LRF Blog Post

Rev. Martyn McGeown

Peter, the Papacy, and the Keys of the Kingdom

Posted: 18 Aug 2018 04:40 AM PDT

On the occasion of the visit of pope Francis to Ireland, it is time to re-examine papal claims. The pope claims that he alone is the true successor of Peter, prince of the apostles, and the head of the church, gifted with supreme authority to define, with the gift of infallibility, matters of faith and morals.

Did Jesus not say to Peter: “Thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church” (Matt. 16:18)? He did, but He did not mean, “You are Peter and upon YOU I will build my church.” He meant, “You are Peter (a little stone) and upon this rock (your confession that I am the Christ) I will build my church.” Peter is too weak a foundation on which to build the church. Peter himself writes later about Jesus Christ that he is “chief cornerstone” and that “he that believeth on him (Jesus) shall not be confounded” (1 Peter 2:6).

Moreover, there is no evidence in the New Testament that Peter is the prince of the apostles. Although he is usually named first in the list, he is not accorded special titles or privileges: in Galatians 2:9 he is named with James and John as one of those who “seemed to be pillars” in Jerusalem; in 1 Peter 5:1 he calls himself “also an elder” and warns against being “lords over God’s heritage” (v. 3); he did not even preside at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15; and he is not even mentioned in Paul’s epistle to the Romans despite the papal claim that he was the bishop of Rome! Moreover, Paul  boldly “withstood [Peter] to his face” for the sake of the integrity of the gospel in Galatians 2:11.

But what about the keys of the kingdom—did Jesus not give them to Peter in Matthew 16:19? He did, and he repeats it in Matthew 18:18, where he gives the keys of the kingdom to the other disciples, and to the whole church. But those keys do not give Peter—or the pope, or any bishop or priest—the power to forgive sins, or to admit people to or exclude people from heaven. Jesus retains those keys in Revelation 1:18 and 3:7. The keys of the kingdom are declarative, that is, when the gospel is preached (by Peter or by another faithful preacher), God declares that believers in Christ are forgiven and saved (the kingdom is opened to believers) and God declares that unbelievers are not forgiven, but condemned (the kingdom is closed against unbelievers).

Besides this, the idea that Pope Francis is the successor of Peter is indefensible, biblically, theologically, and historically.

Read through the book of the Acts of the Apostles and you will see Peter and the other apostles using the keys—by preaching the Word of God. Nowhere does Peter determine for himself who is saved and who is lost. Nowhere does Peter himself forgive sins. The keys of the kingdom are used, therefore, not where popes sit, but where the Bible is open, explained, and applied by a man sent by Jesus Christ through the church institute. Sadly, the keys of the kingdom are rusty in many churches: there is little to no preaching, but a few minutes of cute stories and moral platitudes. Are you hearing the gospel in the church where you attend? We invite you to hear the gospel in the Limerick Reformed Fellowship.

Acts 3:1-26

CPRC Men’s Bible Study

Acts 3:1-11             The first miracle in early church.

  • Peter and John went to the temple at hour of prayer because they knew there would be many people there, “the hour of prayer; being the ninth hour”, or three o’clock in the afternoon. It was customary with the Jews to pray three times a day, Daniel 6:10 which, according to the Psalmist in Psalm 55:17 were evening, morning, and at noon; in the morning was at the third hour, as in Acts 2:15 or nine o’clock in the morning; that at noon was at the sixth hour, as in Acts 10:9 or twelve o’clock at noon; and that in the evening at the ninth hour, as here, or three o’clock in the afternoon. (John Gill). The Christians may well have continued this custom.
  • The lame man is described as handicapped from birth to emphasise his hopelessness and the seriousness and longevity of his handicap.
  • The “Beautiful gate” was the east gate where all the people would access the inner court and so the lame man would have the greatest exposure and presumably he would be known to all the people.
  • The man could neither stand nor walk. (He likely had bilateral club feet-see pic JK)Lameness is one of many pictures of sin’s infirmity (Lev.21:28-exclusion from priesthood) precluding walking with God (as Enoch did). Healing would be a proof of Christ’s Messiahship (Matt.11:5, Is.35:6).
  • Congenital club feet
  • The apostles wanted his full attention, perhaps they could tell if he had faith and they certainly wanted him to know the source of his healing.
  • Peter lifted him up because he had never, by himself, done this before.
  • He leaped, proving the “perfect soundness” (v16) in his limbs.
  • Solomon’s porch was the long portico around the perimeter of the temple where the disciples often met (Acts 5:12)
  • The people wondered and were amazed and would pay attention to the apostles, having been made receptive.
  • The man was very thankful, praising God, believing in Messiah and leaping for joy.
  • The miracle was to authenticate the apostles’ authority and their message. The miracle typified the work of the Spirit in conversion and the redemption of Christ which will one day include our bodies.
  • Acts 3:12-26     Peter’s sermon
  • Peter spoke to the crowd that had gathered, mainly Jews.
  • Peter was answering the question on many lips, “How did this happen?”His answer was that faith in the power of Jesus Christ had caused this miracle.
  • Peter cited the patriarchs because they were revered, the ones given covenant promises about Christ of which this was a fulfilment and they were in the sphere of God’s covenant.
  • Peter emphasised the denial and murder of Jesus so they would be convicted of that great sin.
  • The names Peter used namely Just, Holy One and of life undeniably pointed to Christ’s messiahship and each name they had explicitly denied calling him a blasphemer and unrighteous.
  • Jesus was the one through whom the lame man believed and by whom he was healed.
  • The Jews were spiritually ignorant of Christ’s identity (c.f. Luke 24, Acts 13:27, 17:30) but this was no excuse.
  • Peter explained their action was necessarily part of God’s plan (decree) c.f. Gen.50:20.
  • Repentance means turning from sin to God. Refreshing conjures up pictures of coolness, water and washing. Times of refreshing are the pouring out of the Spirit granting repentance and faith and all spiritual blessings (Jesus’ wells of water in John 8).
  • God will send Jesus by the Spirit to regenerate people. He was preached before by all the prophets and John.
  • The times (KAIROS=proper or due time) of restitution are the end of the age (world) when this one is dissolved, and God makes new heavens and earth.
  • Moses reference to the Prophet in Deuteronomy 18 is to Christ (note that to ignore or disobey him meant destruction).
  • This Prophet would be like Moses in being a human being, mediator, spokesman, leader and redeemer.
  • All the other prophets speak of Christ typically or prophetically, of his work and end times.
  • The audience of Jews were descended from the patriarchs and prophets.
  • The order of the proclamation of the gospel is Jew first (Rom.1:16) then Greek (Gentiles).
  • Jesus was and is sent to bless by turning away people from their sins by granting repentance and faith thus breaking the curse.
  • The “every one” who repent are the elect who will do so by irresistible grace so no implication of universal atonement.


Next study (DV) on Acts 4:1-22 will be August 25th 8pm.





Acts 2:37-47

CPRC Men’s Bible Study

Acts 2:37-40   The response to Peter’s sermon

  1. Pricked in heart means their consciences were disturbed and they were convinced of their sin either in general or specifically in relation to the crucifixion. They were convinced of sin and Christ’s divinity by the Spirit (John 16:8).
  2. They asked what they must do because true repentance includes action (the fruit of repentance called for by John with the pharisees) and seen in Nicodemus’ reparations and the Ephesians burning their occult books.
  3. Repentance is a deep sorrow for sin against God that issues in turning from all known sin to obey God (II Cor.7:10).
  4. Baptism was necessary because it was the New Covenant sign that would replace circumcision and was already enjoined by John.
  5. Repentance is a grace granted by the Spirit (II Tim.2:24,25) and baptism is the sign commanded that signifies regeneration. They are the result of unconditional election (Rom.5:8, Titus 3:5).
  6. The promise of salvation (v38) through Messiah is to all the elect alone and also the ability to obey the command to repent and believe.
  7. The promise is the unconditional, multigenerational covenant that includes believers and their seed as per Abraham, David and Isaiah’s promise in 44:3).

Acts 2:41-47   The life of the early church

  1. Receiving the word meant it produced repentance and faith which in turn would prompt obedience to the outward sign of baptism.
  2. The number is recorded, as were the thousands miraculously fed by Christ, to show the size of the miracle and was the proof that Pentecost had really come and that the apostles would do greater things.
  3. The breaking of bread, we believe, was firstly the Lord’s Supper partaken either in temple or house churches but also fellowship meals together.
  4. Fear coming on every soul means a respect for the Christians because of events.
  5. Signs and wonders proved the apostles were divinely appointed.
  6. What we see is not imposed “communism” but rather a willing generous sharing as each had ability and as need was perceived. It continued the sharing between the apostles they had experienced on the road with Christ, showed they understood it is more blessed to give and what John and Jesus had taught about almsgiving.
  7. As a body they wanted they wanted to express unity and love.
  8. They continued in the temple because it was the natural meeting place, it would take time for the sacrificial system to be replaced and it was a witness to unconverted Jews.
  9. They had the fruit of the Spirit, joy and were sincere.
  10. We suspect it was friends and relatives of the believing community who held them in favour who were added to the church by coming under the preaching


Next BS (DV) Saturday August 4th 8pm on Acts 3