In Acts 4, Peter and John were brought before the Sanhedrin (the council of supreme Jewish authority) to be reprimanded for the lame man being healed (Acts 3:1-9). The now completely healed “lame” man was standing alongside of Peter and John.
Acts 4:13-16 states: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.”
To say that the religious leadership hated Jesus Christ, is an understatement. They were the ones who instigated Christ’s death by handing Him over to Pilate as a criminal, not only against God, but against Rome as well. Because the Roman authorities scourged and crucified Jesus, the guilt of Christ’s death fell upon both Jew and Gentile. In other words, all of mankind is guilty of Christ’s death because all have sinned (Rom. 3:23), but in this case with the lame being healed, the Sanhedrin were handling it themselves. They still hated Jesus.
The fact that the apostles were declaring that Jesus rose from the dead, and that through faith in Him one would be saved from their sin (Acts 4:12) absolutely infuriated the religious leaders. The fact that there was real power operating through Peter and John, and that the lame man truly was healed created a huge problem for the unbelieving Sanhedrin. Both were irrefutable evidence of the reality that Jesus truly was the Son of God, died for our sins, rose from the dead, and was the only Saviour of our sins.
First, the Sanhedrin realized that Peter and John were nothing special in themselves, “unlearned and ignorant men,” but that “they had been with Jesus.” The power of the Spirit that was operating through Peter and John was irrefutable evidence that Jesus was real. This was a fulfillment of what Jesus told them (and us) in Acts 1:8: “But you shall receive power after that Holy Ghost is come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the uttermost part of the earth.”
This was and is the main purpose of the baptism with the Spirit (Matt. 3:11; Lk. 24:49), to be a witness to Jesus reality. In the Greek, the word witness is martus and literally means “an eye or ear witness of something or someone.” It was used often in a legal sense of one who had firsthand knowledge of the credibility, or lack thereof, of an individual’s court case. The “witness” can be irrefutable evidence. The more witnesses, the more irrefutable it is.
In the case of Christ, Jesus had many witnesses of His resurrection (I Cor. 15:1-9). Sometimes ministers will claim that the “witness” in Acts 1:8 actually means “martyr” and not a witness in its practical definition. Personally, I believe when martyrdom is emphasized, the meaning and purpose of the baptism with the Spirit is lost. It’s true that the word martus can be translated as “martyr”; and it’s true that we need to die to self, but the context determines whether it’s referring to a martyr or witness.
Acts 4 is a perfect example of what Jesus meant by “witness.” Jesus said, “You shall be witnesses to Me.” That’s exactly what Peter and John were. It wasn’t just their doing, but the power that changed their being that was irrefutable evidence that Jesus was real. They told the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:20, “For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” That ought to be our witness. That’s what the purpose of being filled, and continually filled, with the Spirit is then and today. That the power of the Spirit that flows through our lives in our everyday lives is an irrefutable witness of the reality of Jesus Christ.
Second, none could doubt that the lame man was healed. The religious leaders even said, “We cannot deny it.” Today, Jesus is still the healer of sick, lame, and broken bodies. He’s the healer of broken, wounded hearts. We need to believe for the healing power of Christ to be manifested. Jesus said, “These signs will follow those who believe: in My name…they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover” (Mk. 16:17-18).
Do we believe that in reality and practice? The power of the Spirit that fills us is for the purpose that we would be irrefutable evidence of the reality of Jesus Christ—in both our lives and our words—to a lost and dying world.