“Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus.” (Acts 4:13, AV)
Often in the church, many have the view that ministry is for the professional ministers, that is those who have gone to Bible college or seminary. This view has hindered the church from being powerful in fulfilling its mission in the world. It has weakened the church in its work. So, can those who have not been formerly educated be effective witnesses for Jesus? This passage answers that question.
After the healing of the lame beggar, the Jewish religious authorities observe Peter and John preaching. Here we see that they made three key observations. They were bold. They were uneducated and common men. They had been with Jesus.
The authorities were astonished, more literally translated, it indicates they marveled at what they observed. These men could not comprehend how anyone who had not been through the rabbinical schools and educated in the Law, could have such boldness in their teaching. The word boldness, parrhesia, refers to freedom in speaking or unreservedness in speech.
The interesting thing is that they arrive at a revealing conclusion. They conclude that Peter and John have been with Jesus. While Peter and John had not been to the accepted rabbinical schools of the day, they had spent three years under the teaching of the greatest teacher who ever walked on the face of the earth. Frankly, you cannot top sitting under the teaching of the incarnate God, Jesus Christ.
While they sat under the teaching of the greatest theological and ministry teacher who ever lived, there is an unseen power that brought all of Jesus’ lessons together. We see a hint of this earlier in verse 8, “Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them.” Therefore, we see that God the Spirit worked in these men in such a way as to proclaim the teaching of God the Son with power. Peter and John had been with Jesus and the authorities understood this as they observed their bold and confident teaching. Their boldness and confidence was not from their own fleshly devises, but from the manifestation of power by the Holy Spirit.
The question for us today is this. Have we been to the school of Jesus? Today, we put a lot of credence in formal Bible teaching, and we should. However, only teaching firmly established in the Word of God, the accurate message of Christ, has any real value. Confident communication comes when believers learn the Word of God and then communicate by the power of God. When others see this type of teaching, they will conclude just like the Jewish religious authorities, that the teacher has been with Jesus.
Have you been with Jesus? If so, people will sense this. Seek Him in the Scriptures and proclaim the truth with confidence as you walk by the Spirit. People will see that you have been with Jesus.