Lesson: The Spirit gives boldness to Peter & John

This lesson is based on Acts chapter 4 and teaches children about the Spirits role in empowering their Christian witness for Christ. It was originally prepared for an upper elementary Sunday School lesson, but you can modify it for children’s church or younger kids. Be sure to check out the additional learning activities and teaching resources linked at the end of this page.

Bible Story: The Spirit Gives Boldness to Peter & John
Scripture: Acts 4:1-31
Target Age Group: Age 9 – 11 (U.S. 3rd – 5th Grade)
Learning Context: Sunday School
Target Time Frame: 60 minutes
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Supply List: Baby Name book, Name tags, strips of paper with phrases from the passage of Scripture.

Learning Goal: Students will learn that the Holy Spirit gives courage to every believer so they can witness for Jesus.

Learning Indicator: Students will be able to identify key events and characters from the passage by answering review questions.  They will be able to put scripture phrases together in the order in which they occur in the chapter.

Learning Activity #1: While waiting for students to arrive have them look up the meaning of their name in the Baby Name Book.  On their name tag have them write their name and under it the meaning.

Learning Activity #2: Scripture phrase ordering.  After the Bible Lesson have the students work together to put the phrases in order of when they occurred in the passage.

Learning Activity #3: Choose some volunteers to perform a brief skit of the healing of the crippled man as review from last week’s lesson.

Test: Review Questions and Scripture phrase activity

Memory Verse: 2 Timothy 1:7:  “For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

Teaching the Memory Verse: Write the verse on the board.  Have a strip of construction paper with fear on one side and courage on the other (Explain that fear is another word for timidity).  On another piece have power on one side and weakness on the other.  Love and hate, and faithfulness/unfaithfulness (another way to describe self-discipline).  After saying the verse together erase the words timidity, power, love and self-discipline.  You could use symbols on the strips of paper that represent fear/courage etc.  Have the students choose a word strip and let them decide which word belongs in the spots that have been erased.  For fun put all the opposites of the correct words in the spaces and read it together.  Encourage the students that when ever we feel the opposites we can know that it is not the Holy Spirit that is causing us to feel that way.  Memorizing this verse helps us to trust God to give us His courage, power, love and faithfulness.

Bible Lesson:  The Holy Spirit Gives Boldness

(Give any student a Bible who did not bring one.  It is important for each student to be able to see with their own eyes the passage of Scripture being taught to them.  By instilling this each week we are praying that the students will not just accept what people say about God and His Word, but they are given the tools to see for themselves exactly what God’s Word says.)

Have the students perform the brief skit about the healing of the crippled man.

Let’s open our Bibles to Acts 4. Chapter four is a continuation of the story we learned about last week.  The people are gathered around in awe at the miracle that had taken place.  Peter and John told the people that it was by faith in Jesus’ Name that this man was healed.

Whenever God is at work in the hearts of people God’s enemy doesn’t like it.  Who is God’s enemy? (Satan/devil) We are about to see God’s enemy at work in chapter four.  Let’s read Acts 4:1-3.  What do we know about the religious leaders?  (They did not believe that Jesus was the Son of God and they had Him crucified.)  In this group of leaders that are included in verse 1 are the Sadducees.  An easy way to remember who the Sadducees are is that they did not believe that people could be resurrected from the dead.

Whenever God’s Word is being taught there will be some kind of reaction.  Let’s look to see what the religious’ leaders’ reaction to what they saw and heard.  Have volunteer read Acts 4:2. They were disturbed.  Why do you think they were disturbed?  (Allow students to respond and remind them ‘why do you think’ questions are not right or wrong answers…they are what we think.) One reason they might be disturbed is because they thought when they put Jesus to death that would be the end of Him.  Obviously it was not and would not be the end of the Lord Jesus!

God’s enemy Satan would try to use these religious leaders to silence the Good News that the Lord Jesus died on the cross, was buried and three days later was raised from the dead.  Satan knew that if people put their faith in the Name of Jesus they would be saved and he doesn’t want that.

Since it was evening time the religious leaders decided to put Peter and John in jail until the next day.  Then they would decide what to do to have these men stop teaching in the Name of Jesus.

Another response to the teaching of God’s Word is seen by the reaction of the crowd.  The crowd at the temple courts that day witnessed an amazing miracle and they heard Peter preach in the power of the Holy Spirit.  The Holy Spirit gave Peter the words to share the Good News that if the people would repent from their sins and believe in Jesus they could be saved.  Let’s read verse four and see how many people believed that day.  (The number grew to five thousand.)  In order to get an idea of how many people believed let’s look back at Acts 2:41.  3,000 were saved at Pentecost and Acts 4:4 implies that the number grew to 5,000.  2,000 were saved that day.) This crowds’ reaction to the teaching of God’s Word was belief.

Peter and John were obeying Jesus’ command to tell others the Good News about Jesus and found themselves in jail for a night.  Believers will face difficulties for obeying Jesus but God’s Holy Spirit lives inside our hearts and He will give us the power and courage to be obedient even in difficult times. (John 15:20, 1 Peter 4:12-16, 2 Timothy 3:12)

The next day Peter and John are brought before the religious leaders.  They asked them questions.  What question did they ask in Acts 4:7? (“By what power or what name did you do this?”)

When each of you came in today you made a name tag with your name and what your name means.  Names are important because they represent who you are.  A name identifies you.  When your name is called you will become attentive.  When your name is spoken to others you know your character traits will come to their mind.

Names have always been important in the Bible.  People in Jesus’ day believed names were powerful and took them very seriously.  That’s possibly why the religious leaders asked Peter and John this question.

Peter could not have answered the religious leaders with courage or boldness unless he was filled with the Holy Spirit.  It wasn’t long ago that he saw the Lord Jesus crucified by the religious leaders who hated Him. Without the Holy Spirit Peter would have been afraid for his very own life.

Let’s read Peter’s response in Acts 4:8-12.

Many of you have memorized verse 12.  There is no other Name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.  What Name is Peter referring to?  (Jesus)

Why is the Name of Jesus so important and why is His Name the only way a person can be saved?  If we had time to look throughout the Bible we would see many references to the Name of the LORD.  While my name and your name might only have one meaning, the Name of the LORD is filled with many.  Just a few words that represent what the Name of the LORD means are:  Holy, Creator, Powerful, Most High, Strong Tower, Eternal, Love, Salvation and Good. When Jesus’ Name is mentioned His many character traits come to mind.  When I say the Name Jesus to you does liar come to mind?  Cheater? Disobedient to authority? None of these character traits are part of who Jesus is.  Jesus is God and all the character traits of God are found in Him.

As the Son of God Jesus alone can save a man, woman, boy or girl from sin.  There is power in the Name of Jesus.  The crippled man was healed by faith in the Name of Jesus.  That is One Powerful Name!

While Peter was speaking to the religious leaders they saw the courage that Peter and John had.  They knew these men were just ordinary men.  Because Peter and John had the power of the Holy Spirit living inside of them it was hard for others not to notice something was different about them.  They were astonished and they took note that Peter and John had been with Jesus.

Do others see that about you and me?  Can people see that we have courage that only the Holy Spirit can give us and that it is very obvious that we have spent time with Jesus?  Do people think of us as more different than others?  If we are believers people should be able to see that we are different because we follow Jesus.  They should see Jesus’ character traits in us.

The religious leaders didn’t like what they heard.  They went off by themselves without Peter and John to figure out what they should do. They had to be careful how they went about doing this.  They didn’t want to upset the crowd because they understood that everyone in Jerusalem knew that a miracle had taken place and that couldn’t be denied.  They wanted to put a stop to people spreading the Good News about Jesus to anyone else.

They brought Peter and John back in before them.  This is what they came up with:  “We command you not to speak or teach at all in the Name of Jesus.”

Let’s read what Peter and John said in Acts 4:19-20. Because the Holy Spirit lived inside of them Peter and John knew that they could not obey the religious leaders’ command because they would be disobeying Jesus’ command to go into the world and make disciples.

The religious leaders threatened Peter and John a bit more and then released them.

While God’s enemy is at work through the religious leaders trying to stop Peter and John from sharing the Good News let’s look at what the people what the people are doing that witnessed the miracle.  Read Acts 4:21-22.

Something very important to take note of in these verses:  The Holy Spirit empowered Peter and John and the results caused the people to praise God not Peter and John.  It was God who had shown His power through Peter and John.  It would have been terribly wrong for the crowd to praise Peter and John for the healing of the crippled man. Followers of Jesus should always give God the credit for the miracles He performs.

When Peter and John left they went back to the place where the believers met and shared with them what had happened with the religious leaders.  Do you think when the believers heard what happened to Peter and John, they whined and complained about how terrible they were treated and how unfair it was that they had to spend the night in jail?  Without the Power of the Holy Spirit inside of them they might have done that.  Believers act differently when the Holy Spirit controls them. Let’s read what they did do in Acts 4:24.  They went to God in prayer and praised Him.

If you had spent the night in jail for sharing the Good News what do you think your prayer request might be?  We might pray for protection from God’s enemies.  There’s nothing wrong with that prayer it is just amazing that we don’t see that in the hearts of these believers in this passage.  The Holy Spirit has filled them with power and their request was to be able to speak God’s Word with boldness and that He would continue to heal others in the Name of Jesus.  The believers wanted to be obedient to what Jesus told them to do and they would need courage to continue to do so.

God heard the believers’ prayer and something amazing happened.  Read Acts 4:31.  There was an earthquake and the Holy Spirit gave them the power to speak God’s Word with power.

This is an amazing story of how the Holy Spirit gave believers the courage to share the Good News.  Today if you have believed in the Name of Jesus you have the same Holy Spirit living inside you so you can have courage to follow Jesus and share the Good News with others.

Next week we will continue to take our journey through the Book of Acts.  As we go through the week let’s spend time each day in God’s Word and praying that He will give us the courage to be obedient to what He wants us to do each day.  His Holy Spirit will give us power to live a life that pleases God and points others to Jesus.

Close in prayer.  Pray for those who have not yet believed in Jesus.  Pray for the children who have been saved to allow the Holy Spirit to give them power to live a life that pleases God.

Review Questions: (You can combine the review questions with the Scripture phrase activity.  Put the phrases in random order on a table or the floor and when the student gets the answer correct he/she can choose the phrase that they believe comes first.  Allow them to put them in the order they think.  After the review questions have been answered look at the ordering together and if necessary look at the passage together if there are any discrepancies.)

  1. Who doesn’t like it when God is working in peoples’ hearts?  (Satan)
  2. Who was disturbed by what they were hearing and seeing? (Religious leaders)
  3. Where did they put Peter and John for the night? (Jail)
  4. How many people believed the message of the Good News? (2,000)
  5. What Name did Peter and John tell the religious leaders they healed the man with? (Jesus)
  6. What did the religious leaders command Peter and John? (Not to speak or teach at all in Jesus’ Name)
  7. Who did Peter and John say they would obey?
  8. What did the believers pray about after Peter and John were released? (For the Holy Spirit to help them to speak God’s Word with boldness.)
  9. How did God answer their prayer?  (Earthquake and gave them boldness to speak God’s Word)

Additional Resources:

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