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Galatians 5:16-23 teaches that at any moment we are either walking by the Holy Spirit or according to the sin nature. Walking by the Spirit, enjoying fellowship with God, walking in the light are virtually synonymous. During these times, the Holy Spirit is working in us to illuminate our minds to the truth of Scripture and to challenge us to apply what we learn. But when we sin, we begin to live based on the sin nature. Our works do not count for eternity. The only way to recover is to confess (admit, acknowledge) our sin to God the Father and we are instantly forgiven, cleansed, and recover our spiritual walk (1 John 1:9). Please make sure you are walking by the Spirit before you begin your Bible study, so it will be spiritually profitable.

Acts 4:25-28 by Robert Dean
Duration:1 hr 1 mins 29 secs

Prayer When Facing Opposition. Acts 4:25-28

Now they are going to lay the fouhndation for the petition that they are going to make in verse 29. This foundation is going to come from Psalm 2. Acts 4:25 NASB "who by the Holy Spirit, {through} the mouth of our father David Your servant, said, 'WHY DID THE GENTILES RAGE, AND THE PEOPLES DEVISE FUTILE THINGS?" They have talked about God who is the creator of everything and now they are going to refer to God as the one who is the source of Scripture. He is the one who spoke through David as His servant. What is interesting in the structure of the text on the Hebrew is that the emphasis is on the servant David. So the focus here is going to be on the act of inspiration. In this statement he is affirming both the divine authorship of Scripture—"who by the Holy Spirit"—and also that it was done by their forefather—"the mouth of David." There is an emphasis on both the divine author of Scripture and the human author of Scripture.

We need to think about the mechanics of how we received the Scriptures. There are several different views that we will hear about how we got the Bible. There is what we would refer to as the liberal man-centered views of how we got the Bible. There are those who in the most extreme form created a religious hoax: people who got together on a sort of religious power trip and decided to write down certain things, and knowingly made things up as they were attempting to develop a new religion. Then there are others who believed that the writers were godly men but they were just writing their own experiences with God and so there are still errors within the Scriptures. Others will says that it is just basically history and that that doesn't mean they are accurate, they have just been editorialized in terms of religion; but that is not what the Bible claims for itself. The Bible claims for itself, both the Hebrew Old Testament and the New Testament, that this is the very words of God that were given in some way to the writers of Scripture so that what they wrote was without error.

There were over forty different writers of Scripture over a period of time from 1400 BC all the way up to the last book of the New Testament in about 95 AD. So over a period of about 1500 years there were forty different people writing about some of the most controversial topics and issues in all of human history and they don't contradict each other. There are times when people say there seems to be differences between this and this but when the original languages are consulted and proper work is done it is usually pretty easily explained why there is an apparent contradiction. But throughout the Scriptures we have the statement that the origin of this material is from God. For example, in the Old Testament there are over 840 statements of "Thus said the Lord," or "So the Lord said," making the statement that what is said comes from the Lord. Beyond that there are statements within the Mosaic Law that are tests for a prophet, and  if they failed those tests it was a capital offense and they were to be executed if they were a false prophet.

Question: How did this happen? We don't know all of the different ways in which God worked through the writers of Scripture but we know that some Scripture was almost dictated by God. For example, much of the Mosaic Law from the Ten Commandments to all the different ordinances in Exodus from chapters 20-40, some of the different ordinances that are listed in terms of the Levitical offerings, are all stated as directly coming from God. God spoke to Moses and Moses wrote it down. But that doesn't cover all of Scripture. There are times when the writers of Scripture clearly used historical sources; they did research. "These are the generations of" in Genesis, which should be understood as "these are the records of" or "this is what happened to." These indicate that there were from the time of Adam records kept that were passed on and preserved from generation to generation. Then when Moses wrote Genesis he used that. The Holy Spirit oversaw the process, working through him so that it is not dictation, so that what Moses wrote was protected from error and was exactly what God wanted to have written.

1.  There is a scene in our passage where we have the two statements: "who by the Holy Spirit," using the Greek preposition dia [dia], indicating intermediate means (by or through), and then "from the mouth of our father David"—genitive there, no repetition of a preposition; that indicates it is the ultimately the Holy Spirit who is working through or is the source of "the mouth of our father David." There is the same kind of statement in Acts 28:25 NASB "…"The Holy Spirit rightly spoke through Isaiah the prophet to your fathers." Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount, speaking of the importance of the Word said, NASB "It is written, 'MAN SHALL NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT PROCEEDS OUT OF THE MOUTH OF GOD.'" Bread is a reference to the manna that God provided for the Israelites when they were in the wilderness. It is not just that God provides physical sustenance but that ultimately what is important is the spiritual sustenance which comes from the mouth of God, that which has been inspired, what God has breathed out in Scripture.

The two most important passages in the New Testament on the mechanics of how inspiration took place. In 2 Timothy 3:16, the phrase "all Scripture." It doesn't say "some Scripture." In context what Paul primarily has in mind is the Old Testament. When Timothy was growing up there was no New Testament and he was trained by his mother and his grandmother in the Old Testament Scriptures. That doesn't exclude the New Testament. The concept of "spiration" is the concept of breathing; it is a cognate of the word "spirit" or "breath." "Inspiration" has to do with something that is breathed in. The Greek word used here is theopneustos [qeopneustoj], which means God-breathed. God is the one who is performing the action of breathing something out, and the picture is that God exhales the content of Scripture and it goes in through the writer of the Scripture, and then he exhales it onto the paper as he writes under the guidance and direction of the Holy Spirit. 2 Timothy 3:16 also teaches us the sufficiency of Scripture; it is all that is needed in order to fully equip us for every issue in life.

That verse tells us the fact of inspiration, it doesn't tell us the how (mechanics) of inspiration. This is left to 2 Peter 1:20, 21. For the purpose of context, in verse 19 Peter writes NASB "{So} we have the prophetic word {made} more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts." Primarily he is talking about the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament. [20] "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is {a matter} of one's own interpretation." When we see that word "interpretation" we tend to think of what the pastor/teacher/instructor is doing in explaining the word. But that is not the focal point here; it is more on what the writer is writing down. [21] "for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." Prophecy doesn't originate because somebody deems himself to be a religious leader. There were many people like that in the Old Testament (false prophets) which is why God gave the two tests for evaluating what they said. The phrase "moved by the Holy Spirit" is the key for understanding how the Holy Spirit works.

In verse 20 "But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is…" "Is" is an important word; it is called an existential verb, which means it has to do with something being in existence or coming into existence. In Greek, as in English, we have the word "is" or "being," which implies something that is existing or continues to exist. Then we have the word "became" which implies something that wasn't existing that comes into existence. For example, in John chapter 1 John says, "In the beginning was the Word," and uses eimi [e)imi], the Greek verb for "is." But then in the English we have, "There was a man named John." But the word "was" isn't a translation of the same verb; it is ginomai [ginomai]. "there came in to existence a man named John." In the first three verses John is talking about the eternal, always existing Logos, the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Then in contrast to the one who always is/was there is John the Baptist who comes into existence. So the idea here is it is not eimi for any private interpretation, it has the idea of something coming into existence, something that is created, something that is brought into existence. So we can translate this, "no prophecy of Scripture comes into existence by one's own explanation." He states this as a gnomic or universal principle. The Greek word for "interpretation" is epilusis [e)pilusij], meaning explanation or interpretation. The word "own" is the Greek word idios [i)dioj] which originally meant something which was owned, and it eventually took on the tones of describing narcicism, somebody who was extremely self-absorbed, until eventually as it moved over into English it picked up the idea of somebody who is just an idiot. So he is saying that the prophets didn't generate this out of their own thinking.

[21] "for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God." The word "moved" here is a present passive participle of phero [ferw], which means to bring or to carry something from one place to another. We understand the significance of this word when we look at a passage in Acts when Paul was on a sailing ship on his way to Rome. The word is used in Acts 27:15, 17 just as we talk about a sailing vessel being on a certain bearing or course—that similar idea. The ship ran into a terrible storm and the winds were so strong that the sailors couldn't guide the ship and so it was moved along by these powerful winds completely out of control, and it was going to go wherever the winds blew it. That is the idea here: the real control over these men who were writing Scripture was the Holy Spirit who was the driving force behind what they were writing. So as the Holy Spirit moved them and directed them they wrote what they ought to have written.

The first thing we see in understanding the prayer in Acts 4:25 is that the verses they are quoting come from the Holy Spirit. Having said that they go to a passage in Scripture: Psalm 2.

Psalm 2:1 NASB "Why are the nations in an uproar And the peoples devising a vain thing?" Notice there is no superscript here. But Acts chapter four says that this was given through the mouth of David, so we know that this is a Davidic psalm.

Acts 4:26 NASB "THE KINGS OF THE EARTH TOOK THEIR STAND, AND THE RULERS WERE GATHERED TOGETHER AGAINST THE LORD AND AGAINST HIS CHRIST." When we turn to Psalm 2 we ought to understand it in its original context.Remember, there is only one single meaning of Scripture. David wrote this and he intended only one thing. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit the dual authors of Scripture intended to communicate one idea. Now there may be one interpretation but there may be a lot of different application. There are different ways in which we deal with applications. But we have to be very careful about how we interpret passages. When Psalm 2 was written it was written as a messianic prophecy. It is used numerous times in the New Testament, not only here in Acts 4:25, 26 but also in 13:33; Hebrews 1:5; 5:5; Revelation 2:27; 12:5; 19:15. This, along with Psalm 110, is one of the most quoted Old Testament passages in the New Testament.

Psalm 2:2 NASB "The kings of the earth take their stand And the rulers take counsel together Against the LORD and against His Anointed, saying, [3] 'Let us tear their fetters apart And cast away their cords from us!'" These first three verses are a description of the mentality of the nations, the Gentiles, the people of the earth. And in this sense when we get into the second clause, the people imagining a vain thing, the word there for people takes the meaning beyond the Gentile distinction and includes the Jewish people. They are pursuing an activity that is unprofitable. The kings of the earth "entrench themselves" is the idea there—hithpael stem (reflexive) and it means they caused themselves to be entrenched in this position: no matter what happens we are not going to accept God; we are set against Him. They conspire together against Yahweh and against His Mashiach, the word for Messiah. There are two personages here. We have the issue again of the authority of God and human rebellion, rejecting who God is.

 Revelation 6:15-17 NASB "Then the kings of the earth and the great men and the commanders and the rich and the strong and every slave and free man hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains; and they said to the mountains and to the rocks, 'Fall on us and hide us from the presence of Him who sits on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb; for the great day of their wrath has come, and who is able to stand?'" They recognize that the wrath of the Lamb has come. This is the raging that is prophesied in Psalm 2.

The kings of the earth are referred to again later in Revelation 16:13, 14 NASB "And I saw {coming} out of the mouth of the dragon and out of the mouth of the beast and out of the mouth of the false prophet, three unclean spirits like frogs; for they are spirits of demons, performing signs, which go out to the kings of the whole world, to gather them together for the war of the great day of God, the Almighty."

To understand these Revelation passages we have to go back to Psalm 2 and understand that this is the unification of the leaders of the human kingdoms and nations against God.

In the next three verses we see God's response to the human rulers who are in rebellion against Him.  Psalm 2:4 NASB "He who sits in the heavens laughs, The Lord scoffs at them." He scoffs at them in derision; God is not politically correct, He has no respect for leaders who are wrong, leaders who are out of line. [5] "Then He will speak to them in His anger And terrify them in His fury, saying, [6] 'But as for Me, I have installed My King Upon Zion, My holy mountain.'" This is when the Messsiah is depicted in Zechariah 10 and 11 when He returns to the earth at the Mount of Olives and to Jerusalem. David is looking into the future, looking ahead to the time when the Messiah will come to establish His kingdom and God says, "I have set Him on my holy hill of Zion [Jerusalem]."

Psalm 2:7 NASB "I will surely tell of the decree of the LORD: He said to Me, 'You are My Son, Today I have begotten You." The decree is something that has been made prior to this time, prior to Genesis chapter one, in eternity past. Who is the "Me"? He is the Messiah. The LORD refers to God the Father. The decree was: "You are My Son, Today I have begotten You." So in eternity past the Son is decreed as the Son. That is the relationship between these two members of the Trinity. "I have begotten You" – the sense there in the Hebrew is the realization of this decree that has been from all of eternity. [8] "Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance, And the {very} ends of the earth as Your possession." When does that occur? That is when in Revelation chapter five the Lamb comes forward to take the scroll from the one who sits on the throne and that scroll is the title deed for His kingdom on the planet. The seven years of Tribulation is the judgment that God brings upon the earth, just as He did upon Egypt in the Exodus period, so that that the earth will be cleansed of the rebels against God, and then the Messiah establishes His kingdom. [9] "You shall break them with a rod of iron, You shall shatter them like earthenware."

The question is: Why do they quote this in the prayer in Acts chapter four? Because that is the situation they are facing. They are facing an authority conflict where the rulers of Judea (the Sanhedrin) have ordered them to stop preaching in the name of Jesus and they have to decide what they are going to do. They recognize that this pattern is the same thing as is spoken of here. This is an application. Just as in the end of days the nations will rise up in opposition to the Messiah they are seeing a foreshadowing of this with the Sanhedrin which sets itself up in opposition against the Messiah.

So they quote this psalm to emphasize to God in their prayer that His revealed will, based on this psalm, is to put down the attack of the secular powers, the kings and rulers and religious authorities against the Messiah. It is the revealed will of God; He is going to put down the rebels. Ultimately God will have the victory. So in reciting this, in going to this psalm, they are reminding themselves that God will win. There will be conflict between the kings of the earth and God until it is resolved at the battle of Armageddon, and this gives them a sense of confidence in God's control over the situation.

AS they come to the conclusion here they recognize that in this time period in history there is going to be this ongoing conflict. They state the first two verses from Psalm 2 and then they say in Acts 4:27 NASB "For truly in this city there were gathered together against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, [28] to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose predestined to occur." Notice in verse 26, which quotes Psalm 2, that the rulers are "gathered together." So they are making application using the same verbiage. They understand, though, that there is ongoing suffering in this church age until the termination of this conflict.