Proclaim With Boldness

After their release Peter and John went back to their own people
and reported what the chief priests and elders had told them.
And when they heard it,
they raised their voices to God with one accord
and said, “Sovereign Lord, maker of heaven and earth
and the sea and all that is in them,
you said by the Holy Spirit
through the mouth of our father David, your servant:

Why did the Gentiles rage
and the peoples entertain folly?
The kings of the earth took their stand
and the princes gathered together
against the Lord and against his anointed.

Indeed they gathered in this city
against your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed,
Herod and Pontius Pilate,
together with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel,
to do what your hand and your will
had long ago planned to take place.
And now, Lord, take note of their threats,
and enable your servants to speak your word
with all boldness, as you stretch forth your hand to heal,
and signs and wonders are done
through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook,
and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit
and continued to speak the word of God with boldness.
(Acts 4:23-31)

Scripture Study

4:25–26 At the center of the community’s prayer (4:24–30) stands a citation from Ps 2:1–2. ● The Psalmist wonders at the conspiracy of rebel nations plotting against Yahweh and the anointed king of Israel, knowing that God’s plans cannot be frustrated by earthly princes (Ps 2:4–9). Read as a prophecy, the psalm envisions the collaboration of Jewish and Roman authorities in executing Jesus, the anointed Messiah. Mention of rulers being gathered together also echoes the statement in 4:5, where the leadership of Jerusalem is conspiring against the apostles.

4:27 whom you anointed: The Spirit anointed Jesus at his Baptism (10:38; Lk 3:22).

4:29 with all boldness: The believers pray, not for an end to persecution, but for evangelical courage in the face of opposition (Eph 6:18–20; 1 Thess 2:2).

4:31 filled with the Holy Spirit: The apostolic community relives the experience of Pentecost and is renewed in the grace and encouragement of the Spirit (2:1–4).

Scripture Reflection

This prayer of the apostles and the community provides Christians with a model of reliance on God’s help. They ask God to give them the strength they need to continue to proclaim the Word boldly and not be intimidated by persecution, and they also entreat him to accredit their preaching by enabling them to work signs and wonders.

The prayer includes some prophetic verses of Psalm 2 which find their fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Jesus himself experienced this opposition, as the apostles do now and as the Church does throughout history. When we hear the clamor of the forces of evil, still striving to “burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us” (v. 3), we should put our trust in the Lord, who “has them in derision. […] He will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury” (vv. 4–5); in this way we make it possible for God’s message to be heard by everyone: “Now, therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. Serve the Lord with fear, with trembling kiss his feet … Blessed are all who take refuge in him” (vv. 10–12).

Meditation on this psalm has been a source of comfort to Christians in all ages, filling them with confidence in the Lord’s help: “Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession” (v. 8).

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.