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God’s Word for You

Acts 4:13-17 The attributes of Christ

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, September 26, 2019

13 When they saw the bold confidence of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.

“Uneducated” here must refer to the usual school of learning which was given by the rabbis. Of course, they were really saying that these men were not Pharisees or Sadducees. They had in fact been trained by a rabbi for three years, since Jesus is often called “Rabbi” in the Gospels (Matthew 26:25, 26:49; Mark 9:5, 10:51; John 1:38, 1:49, 3:2, 4:31, 6:25, 9:2 and 11:8). In fact, Jesus is the first Rabbi mentioned in any historical document whose name is recorded for us.

14 But seeing the man who had been healed standing there with them, there was nothing they could say against it.

The problem with this miracle, of course, was that everybody could see the man who had been crippled, and that he was obviously cured, walking and jumping around. Peter and John insisted that the miracle was brought about by the power of Jesus’ name, and who could counter that? The Sanhedrin couldn’t really tell them that they were mistaken about where the power came from, since they were unable to perform the same miracle.

15 So they ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin and began to confer together. 16 “What are we going to do with these men?” they wondered. “It is a matter of public knowledge to all living in Jerusalem that they have done an outstanding miracle, and we cannot deny it. 17 But to stop this thing from spreading any further among the people, we need to threaten these men to speak no longer to anyone in this name.”

The tactic adopted by the Sanhedrin was the same one that unbelievers usually adopt. They dealt with it by trying to stop anybody from talking about it. Unbelief is the camel who puts his nose in the tent. At first he just wants his nose in the tent, but before you know it, his whole head is in, and then the whole camel, and once the whole camel is in, there isn’t room in the tent for anybody else. This is the way it is with unbelief. At first, it says, “You need to let me have my say, and equal time,” but pretty soon it says, “You can’t say anything at all. You can’t have equal time with me.” Unbelief is driven along by the devil, and the devil is good at making his own disciples into preachers who oppose the gospel.

The Sanhedrin decided to threaten the Apostles and order them not to talk about Jesus anymore. But they also betray their growing opposition to Jesus by being unable to speak his name even among themselves. They have to say, “in this name” (ἐπὶ τῶ ὀνόματι τούτῳ) instead of “in Jesus’ name.” They want “to kill the truth of Jesus with silence” (Franzmann) when even the demons could not be silent about Jesus’ name. Recall the demon-possessed man in Capernaum, who said, “I know who you are—the Holy One of God!” (Luke 4:34).

What are the divine attributes of Jesus Christ?

  • He is eternal. He was before Abraham (John 8:58) and before the world (John 17:5; John 1:1).
  • He is the Creator of all things. “All things were made by him” (John 1:3; Hebrews 1:10).
  • He sustains the world by his omnipotent presence. “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).
  • He is omniscient; he knows all things (John 21:17).
  • He is omnipotent with the Father (John 10:28-30).
  • He is omnipresent, filling “everything in every way” (Ephesians 1:23) and fills the whole universe (Ephesians 4:10), just as was said about God in a general way by the prophet: “Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD” (Jeremiah 23:24). Furthermore, the Scriptures testify that his omnipresent state of being was also in three modes: (1) Local, (2) Illocal, and (3) Repletive. Christ is locally omnipresent according to his human nature as well as his divine nature because God “raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms” (Ephesians 1:20). While a human king must reign over his kingdom in absentia, Christ reigns over his kingdom personally at all times. Christ is illocally present because he is able to be present or to vanish from sight (Luke 23:31) without opening any door. Luther: “For according to this mode, and angel or devil can occupy a whole house or city; on the other hand, he can be contained in a room, a drawer or box, yes, in a nutshell. The place indeed is corporeal…but that which occupies the space is not” (StL. XX:948). Thirdly, Christ is also omnipresent in a third mode, a repletive sense (“completely full”). This is how Christ, according to his human nature and divine nature, “fills all things” (Ephesians 4:10). We took time here to explain since there are so many who are misguided about the true, real, and actual presence of Christ in the Lord’s Supper.
  • He raises the dead as does the Father (John 5:21, 5:28-29).
  • He does miracles by his own power (John 2:11, 1:14).
  • He is to be adored by all creatures as their God and Lord (John 5:23; Philippians 2:9-11).

Jesus Christ is God and Lord. He is our Savior, and he is the one who made us righteous before the Father. What Jesus has done does not need to be completed or continued any further. It is all complete; all finished (John 19:30). He has filled up the requirements for each and every one of us all the way up to the very top, and we have been accepted by the Father as his dear children, able to come to him in prayer, and ready to come to him on the Last Day to receive our place with him forever, through the work of our Lord and Savior Jesus, the Holy One of God. Blessed be his name forever and ever.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.

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