One thing strikes us as we read Acts 4:1-22, and that is the transformation of Peter. Gone was the disciple who denied Christ three times (John 19). Now we see a confident witness, able to offer healing to a crippled man, preach before the crowds, explain himself before religious authorities and stand up to intimidation, threat and opposition. That’s the difference the Holy Spirit can make to a person!
We may well feel we can never have the confidence of Peter or Paul in witnessing, asserting that they were more outgoing than we are or had more training and education. But this passage reminds us forcibly that Peter and John were ‘ordinary, unschooled men’ (Acts 4:13) and that it was the fact they had been with Jesus which made the difference. Peter was filled with the Holy Spirit as he spoke. (Acts 4:8) This made the difference. If we want to be confident witnesses, we need to understand that these two factors are more important than our temperament, personality, education or anything else. As we spend time with Jesus and are filled with the Holy Spirit, we too can know the confidence, boldness and courage that Peter and John displayed.
In our witness, we need to know whom we have believed and be clear about what we have witnessed in God (‘we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard’ Acts 4:20) Peter spoke fervently about the death and resurrection of Jesus at every opportunity (Acts 2:22-24, Acts 3:13-16, Acts 4:10-12) and was given words by the Holy Spirit as Jesus has promised. (Luke 21:12-19)
How gripped are we by the story of Jesus? How grateful are we for His life, death and resurrection? How much do we long to be with Him and to be filled with His Spirit? These are key questions which can open the door to a transformed life for us even as we are studying the transformed lives of the early apostles.