Acts 4:23–37

"Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against Your holy servant Jesus, whom You anointed" (v. 27).

After Peter and John had been threatened by the Sanhedrin, they went back to the church and reported what happened to them. Then they all joined in prayer and committed themselves anew to the Lord.

In this prayer, they quoted from Psalm 2, which refers to the conspiracy of all men against God. In Psalm 2, David reflected on the fact that the nations around Israel were in rebellion against God. "The nations rage, and the peoples plot," he said. The leaders of these nations fought among themselves, but were united in their opposition to God. These leaders "took their stand" against Him, and conspired together against His anointed one, the king. In David's day, he was the anointed one (in Hebrew, messiah). The conspiracy was against David because he stood for God.

Peter and the disciples applied Psalm 2 to their own situation. The conspiracy was against God's anointed servant, Jesus. Those who conspired were the nations and the peoples, in this case "the Gentiles and the people of Israel." The leaders who conspired were Herod and Pontius Pilate, who had been adversaries until they came to agree on putting Jesus to death (Luke 23:12).

Psalm 2 goes on to give God's response to the conspiracies of men. "He that sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord has them in derision" (Psalm 2:4). In the psalm, God laughs because He is in total control. In Acts 4, God laughs even more because of the irony of the situation. The conspirators who slew Jesus were doing exactly what God wanted them to do, what He had predestined them to do (Acts 4:28). The death of Jesus was God's victory over His enemies, because in Jesus' death, the power of sin was destroyed.

In Psalm 2:5–6, David said that God rebukes the conspirators in His anger and terrifies them in His wrath, proclaiming that He has installed His holy king over them all. This thought is picked up in Acts 4:29–31. The disciples prayed for great boldness in the face of persecution. They asked God to make visible, through miracles and signs, the fact that Jesus had ascended and become King of Kings. In response, God filled them with the Spirit and caused the building to shake.

Coram Deo

Satan did not stop conspiring against God and His Anointed after the work of Herod and Pilate. He is continually at work. C. S. Lewis said that we often err either by ascribing too much or too little power to the father of lies. Pray that you would not take him too lightly, but that you would have confidence in God’s ultimate sovereignty.

For Further Study