We’re going through the New Testament and trying to come to a deeper understanding of the doctrine of the Trinity. Tonight, we’re going to be continuing our walk through the book of Acts. The reference tonight will be Acts 4:12. However, I am going to begin at verse 8 so all can be sure I do have the proper context to the passage.
8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them: “Rulers and elders of the people!9If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a cripple and are asked how he was healed, 10then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11He is
” ‘the stone you builders rejected,
which has become the capstone. 12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”
The scene is that Peter and James and John are brought before the Jewish authorities after the healing of the cripple in Acts 4. Why didn’t this happen when Jesus was on the Earth? It’s happening afterwards because Jesus had been condemned by these same authorities as a blasphemer to the God of Israel. To be healing in his name after such an event is seen as to be a supporter of one who had gone against the grain already and something that needed to be dealt with, especially since the Jews did not want trouble with Rome or an uprising involving an attempt to make Jesus the king of Israel and challenge Rome.
We’ve all heard Acts 4:12 numerous times and know how politically incorrect it is in our world. However, do we consider why Peter quoted the verse that he did before he made that statement about Jesus being the capstone and the one that the builders rejected? Peter is talking about salvation through the God of Israel and is saying that the stone the builders rejected is Jesus and in rejecting Jesus, they are rejecting salvation. Then comes the logical conclusion that there is no other name given under Heaven by which we must be saved.
Let’s clear something up first. When I see “name” there, I don’t take it to mean the phonetic name. Jesus is called “Jesus” here in America in English. In other languages, they’d use different letters to say his name, but it would point to the same person. I don’t think there’s anything in the letters that make up the name “Jesus” or the word “Jesus.”
What I do believe is that this is referring to the authority behind that name. Without the blessing of Christ, there is no way anyone will be saved. You cannot turn to anyone for salvation. This is quite astounding since a passage like Isaiah 43:11 says:
I, even I, am the LORD,
and apart from me there is no savior.
Jews all their lives had known that YHWH was the savior. Now Peter is standing up and pointing to Jesus as the one by whose name we must be saved. Peter certainly had a high view of Jesus where he was definitely seen as equal to YHWH in some way. Now when I make these statements, I don’t mean to say that Peter and the others quoted the Nicene Creed, but I do believe they had a concept that was Trinitarian in mind and would later be developed throughout the centuries as Jesus was immediately seen as included in the divine identity.
Some of you might be wondering about the politically incorrect aspects of this verse. Those wondering about that can see my blog earlier on a most hated verse, John 14:6, located here: http://deeperwaters.wordpress.com/2009/06/03/a-most-hated-verse/
The same concepts would apply. For us tonight, let us consider the high view of Jesus. What does it mean when a Jew says that this person who came to reveal YHWH is actually the only name by whose authority we must be saved? While Jews had a veneration for Moses, it did not reach the level that Peter had here. Peter had a high Christology early on. Maybe the reason for this is given in Acts 4:13.
13When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
After living with Jesus as his disciples for three years, these men knew their Scriptures and knew the identity of Christ. Do we owe Jesus any less today?