Please read Acts 2:42-47 in the King James Version.
Thesis = Our awesome God has proven Himself worthy of respect and holy fear.
43 = AND FEAR CAME UPON EVERY SOUL: AND MANY WONDERS AND SIGNS WERE DONE BY THE APOSTLES.
Stand in AWE of God.
Because AWE, WONDERS, and SIGNS are all mentioned in the same verse, it would be easy to think that the First Church’s AWE of God was motivated by the miracles they Apostles wrought. But note that AWE comes first and is in a clause all its own. There was already a sense of AWE among the people and in that context miracles were done!
The word AWE takes in a full range of human emotions.
- “Respect” = MRK 4:41, the disciples’ reaction when Jesus calmed the storm. AND THEY FEARED EXCEEDINGLY, AND SAID TO ONE ANOTHER, “WHAT MANNER OF MAN IS THIS, THAT EVEN THE WIND AND SEA OBEY HIM?”
- “Admiration” = MTW 17:4, Peter’s excitement at seeing Moses and Elijah with Jesus who was transfigured. THEN ANSWERED PETER, AND SAID UNTO JESUS, LORD, IT IS GOOD FOR US TO BE HER: IF THOU WILT, LET US MAKE HERE THREE TABERNACLES; ONE FOR THEE, AND ONE FOR MOSES, AND ONE FOR ELIAS.
- “Amazement” = LKE 7:16 = The crowd’s reaction to Jesus raising the widow’s son from the dead. AND THERE CAME A FEAR ON ALL: AND THEY GLORIFIED GOD, SAYING, “THAT A GREAT PROPHET IS RISEN UP AMONG US; AND, THAT GOD HATH VISITED HIS PEOPLE.”
- Although some interpreters are too wimpy to admit, it means as the KJV translates it, “fear, terror, alarm, fright.” For example, see Acts 5:11, the First Church’s reaction to the deaths of Ananias & Sapphira; Luke 8:37, the people’s reaction when Jesus had cast the demons from the Gadarene; Matthew 10:28, where Jesus taught to fear Him who can destroy both body and soul in hell; Isaiah 6:5, fear is a proper reaction for sinners facing a just & holy God; Acts 9:31 describes the First Church as having lived “in fear of the Lord.”
Why did the First Church feel AWE? Consider all they’d experienced by this point.
- Jesus’ death, Resurrection & Ascension.
- The miracles of Pentecost – the wind sound, tongues of fire, speaking in “tongues.”
- The sudden change in the character & spirit of the Apostles.
- The warning in Peter’s sermon (2:40)
- Three thousand new members in the first day!
What do you think YOUR reaction would be?
What difference does a feeling of AWE make? How does it change us?
- Jeremiah 33:9 = it brings God’s blessing to us = AND IT SHALL BE TO ME A NAME OF JOY, A PRAISE AND AN HONOUR BEFORE ALL THE NATIONS OF THE EARTH, WHICH SHALL HEAR ALL THE GOOD THAT I DO TO THEM: AND THEY SHALL FEAR AND TREMBLE FOR ALL THE GOODNESS AND FOR ALL THE PROSPERITY THAT I PROCURE UNTO IT.
- Proverbs 1:7 = THE FEAR OF THE LORD IS THE BEGINNING OF KNOWLEDGE: BUT FOOLS DESPISE WISDOM AND INSTRUCTION.
- It’s reasonable to say that AWE should motivate us to lead a holy life. Both gratitude and fear can motivate us. Think about it – we must want to please God.
I know some of you are thinking, “What about 1JN 4:18, which says “PERFECT LOVE CASTETH OUT FEAR?” Well, you’re very smart and that is a very good question!
John makes it clear what kind of fear he is writing about – fear of punishment
Of course the believer, the recipient of God’s perfect love, no longer has reason to fear punishment, for he is forgiven. So John is writing about anxiety, a different form of fear. The Apostle Paul expressed similar teaching in Philippians 4:6 where it is written; DO NOT BE ANXIOUS ABOUT ANYTHING (NIV). Instead, he suggested we make it a matter of prayer; trust it to God.
Anxiety is the form of fear that deals with things that aren’t real or aren’t present; things that might happen. That form of fear is cast out by perfect love because we know that we can trust all things to God in prayer. Anxious fear is wrong, but respectful, awestruck fear is right.
Do not miss the key word: SIGNS.
We tend to focus on the WONDERS and MIRACLES and miss the world SIGNS. God does WONDERS and MIRACLES as SIGNS. Here’s what they signify:
- The Filling of the Holy Spirit. MIRACLES is a Spiritual Gift in 1 Corinthians 12:10.
- Apostleship – see 2 Corinthians 12:2; Hebrews 2:4.
- The fulfillment of God’s promises. God’s promise of the Holy Spirit made by the Old Testament prophet Joel (see Joel 2:28-30). Jesus’ promise that we’d do “GREATER THINGS” in Mark 16:17.
- God’s approval of the proceedings.
Biblically, a SIGN is something physical that points to, and/or defines a greater spiritual reality. In this case, the SIGNS pointed to the reality that God had endowed the Apostles with the Spirit in order to make known the truth about Jesus Christ. They were His messengers. This is similar to what their Lord taught them: Jesus Himself urged people to believe He was who He claimed to be on the basis of the miracles alone, if need be (see John 14:11). Peter referred to these in his sermon (2:22).
Here are some examples of the SIGNS wrought by the Apostles in Acts.
- Peter healed a crippled beggar (3:1-10).
- The deaths of Ananias & Sapphira (5:1-11).
- Healings in the temple courtyards (5:12-16)
- Peter raised Tabitha from the dead (9:39-43).
- Peter’s escape from prison (12:1-19).
- Paul raised Eutychicus from the dead (20:7-12).
- Paul healed a man lame from birth (14:8-10).
- Paul & Silas’ release from prison (16:16-40).
- Paul’s healing handkerchiefs (19:11-12).
- Paul survives the viper’s bite (28:1-6).