13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were uneducated and untrained men, they marveled. And they realized that they had been with Jesus.
Acts 4:13 NKJV
Our reference verse has been plucked out of the middle of a very important account in the book of Acts that covers the whole of chapter three and most of chapter four down to 4:22. We need then, to put the verse into the context of the story. Peter and John had gone to the temple to pray and as they entered they saw a lame beggar asking for money. This man had been lame from birth and his friends or family laid him at this particular gate to the temple every day to ask for alms. Getting the man’s full attention Peter spoke those famous words: –
Acts 3:6 (NKJV)
6 Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
The scripture then continues with the result of this command: –
Acts 3:7–10 (NKJV)
7 And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. 8 So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God. 10 Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
As a crowd gathered around them Peter used the opportunity to preach and we later read that around 5,000 men were saved as a result of this miracle. The incident drew so much attention that the Jewish authorities got involved. Because Peter had preached on the resurrection, the ruling Sadducees and Priests, had summoned the temple guard and seized Peter and John and had them imprisoned overnight to face a trial the next day. It’s hard to imagine a more intimidating setting than a hearing in front of the Sanhedrin the Jewish ruling council together with the high priest’s family and the greatest scholars in Jerusalem at that time. Many of these same people would have been present on the night that Jesus was betrayed and would have been amongst those who condemned him to death.
The question was put. “By what power or by what name have you done this?” Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit the scripture says, turned the question right back on them and demonstrated an amazing authority and knowledge of scripture to remind them that the miracle was genuine and done in a very public space. He then reminded them that they had crucified Jesus but that God had raised Him from the dead and it was by His authority and His name that the miracle was done.
As the court retired to consider the evidence they were clearly shocked at the defense that Peter had mounted. Given the obvious background of the accused the best explanation that they could come up with was that these men had been with Jesus. How wonderful to live a life that somehow or another calls attention to Jesus.
Of course, these two apostles did not do this in their own strength, they were filled with the Holy Spirit. The whole church was praying for them. Despite the threats of violence against them they returned to their church family and told the story. Then they prayed. They had been with Jesus they knew that Jesus did not give in to threats of violence but faced them head-on. This is their prayer: –
Acts 4:29–31 (NKJV)
29 Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, 30 by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”
31 And when they had prayed, the place where they were assembled together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.
I guess we should now look at what this passage means to us today. Peter and John had spent years in daily contact and fellowship with Jesus. Nevertheless, even after the resurrection, we don’t see any great changes in their character or ministry potential. They were still just fishermen who had been a part of Jesus’ ministry team. It is after Pentecost that we see the amazing transformations, especially in Peter who is now empowered to preach and teach to enormous crowds of people. As our reference text demonstrates, we see that he was also able to perform mighty miracles.
The takeaway for us is that we also need to be filled with the Holy Spirit. In some ways, the indwelling Spirit is the same as if Jesus is living on the inside of you.
John 14:15–18 (NKJV)
15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever—17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. 18 I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
As Christians, we can have a close and intimate relationship with Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Wouldn’t it be great if people could see Jesus in us and recognise us in the same way that they noted about Peter and John on that day so long ago?
13 When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus.
The Last Word by Bob Gass
To these New Testament Christians, it wasn’t a language, it was their lifestyle! They were ordinary, and they were unschooled, but they all had their B.W.J.—Been With Jesus! They acted like Him, they talked like Him, and they did the works He did. (See John 14:12.) Daniel said, “The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” What does it mean to know God? It means to know His Word and what He has to say on the subject. It means to know His character because that never changes. It means to know your authority as a believer because you are living in fellowship with the One who gave it to you.
Jesus said, “I have given you authority … to overcome all the power of the enemy; nothing will harm you” (Luke 10:19, NIV). Paul said we should reign in life through Jesus Christ. (See Romans 5:17.) These disciples were not waiting to reign, they were demonstrating the Kingdom everywhere they went. A man who had been paralyzed for 38 years was dancing in the Temple. 5,000 men had been won to Christ in a single day. The religious authorities feared them, the people loved them, and everywhere they went they brought the presence of God. What was their secret? B.W.J! They’d Been With Jesus!
Today, make that the prayer and the passion of your life.
 Bob Gass, A Fresh Word For Today : 365 Insights For Daily Living (Alachua, FL: Bridge-Logos Publishers, 1998), 340.