signatures on the Declaration of Independence November 12 Chronological Bible Study

Timeline. Map. Go to today’s Bible reading (NIV) or alternate versions (use your browser arrow to return): Acts 3, 4, 5

What’s in a Name? What is so Special About Jesus' Name?

We name our children, pets, sports teams, businesses, churches, or other organizations and we use them in all types of advertising. We put names on T-shirts, ball caps and all kinds of clothing, and even automobiles. What’s in a name anyway? Sometimes nothing, but most of the time a name represents something.

A name can be very significant. For instance, when we say put your “John Hancock” on this piece of paper, we mean write your signature on an important document. We then remember that John Hancock was once a very famous person who penned his name in large letters on the Declaration of Independence. Billy Graham is a name known around the world, and with it we recognize his reputation as a great gospel preacher with integrity. There is, however, someone more famous. From the first century until today, Jesus Christ has been the name known around the world.

Common people loved Jesus. He was kind—he miraculously fed thousands of people, healed their sick and raised their dead. They loved his teaching and how he confounded the religious leaders by his wisdom and insight. He offered people forgiveness for their sins and spiritual life.

The Jewish leaders, however, hated him. He was a threat to their traditions and leadership of the Jewish nation. They thought when Jesus was crucified they were through with him, and his name would die with him. Much to their fear, confusion, and dismay, however, Jesus arose three days later. Then, after forty days of resurrection sightings, suddenly Jesus was gone. The religious leaders hoped that would be the end of it, but the Jesus movement continued. A strange working of the Spirit enabled men to speak in other languages, and Christianity spread. This was a greater threat than when Jesus was with them—now, Jesus' disciples were also doing miracles! More and more people joined his disciples; the number grew to over 5,000 in a very short time (Acts 4:4).

In today's Bible reading, the religious leaders try to stop the movement. They seek out Peter and John, the new leaders of the Christians, and ask by what power or authority they are doing these miracles. Peter said it is God who gives the power to heal. Peter is doing the miracles in the name of Jesus, whom they crucified, but whom God raised back to life. He further informs them that, “salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NIV).

The religious leaders do not listen to Peter and John but order them not to speak anymore in Jesus’ name. His disciples reply that they cannot stop—they are compelled to obey God rather than men (Acts 4:19-20; 5:29). After they are released, they keep witnessing of God's salvation and doing miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit and in the name of Jesus.

In Acts 3-4 we read how early Christians publicly and boldly proclaim the name of Jesus and heal in his name. But in chapter 5 we discover that God is just as concerned that his people honor it. Ananias and Sapphira are killed for lying to the Holy Spirit about their giving. They boast that they gave more than they did, and they do this just to look good in the eyes of their fellow believers. Have we ever misrepresented our gifts to the LORD and boasted about it? God is interested that truth be preserved in our private and public world so his name (reputation) is respected and honored, not sullied.

After this parenthesis about God’s discipline in the church, the history of the Acts of the Apostles continues. Once again the Jewish religious leaders are furious about the spreading of the gospel (Act 5:17-40). Their directives to Peter and John not to teach or preach in Jesus’ name are not obeyed. The high priests and Sadducees and their friends are filled with jealousy. They arrest them and put them in jail.

During the night, an angel of the Lord opens up the jail, and the disciples are found the next morning preaching in the temple courts! The religious leaders are shocked and dismayed. The captain of the guard brings the apostles to the Sanhedrin and High priest for questioning. After hearing their testimony, the religious leaders want to put Peter and John to death. One popular Pharisee, Gamaliel, calms them down and makes them listen to reason. Nevertheless, the religious leaders have Peter and John whipped and then warn them to stop speaking in Jesus’ name. Do the disciples listen? No, they rejoice because they are considered worthy to suffer for the name of Christ. “Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 5:42, NIV).

Lessons to Live By

  • The name of Jesus is connected with his character. We carry the name of Jesus if we are true Christians.
  • We should tell others about salvation in the name of Jesus. There is no other name by which they may be saved (more...).
  • Let us live for Christ in our private life and public life. We should bring honor to his name.
  • Let us not be dissuaded in our Christian service, even if we suffer for it. We should pray to do great things in Jesus name for his sake and for his honor and glory, but not for ourselves.

Focus Verse

Acts 4:12 (NIV) “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”

Watch a video of the Acts of the Apostles. Today's Bible lesson begins at 16:46 and ends at the 35:20 mark.

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A Look Ahead: Trouble can come within or outside a family or organization. The Next Lesson will help us in Handling Opposition.

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