the weblog of Alan Knox

Church Meetings in Acts – Acts 4:31

Posted by on Feb 25, 2010 in gathering, scripture | 2 comments

The next verse in Acts which includes “gathering language” is found in Acts 4:31 –

And when they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31 ESV)

The “gathering language” in this verse is found in the Greek verb συνάγω (sunagō) which generally means “I gather” or “I bring together.” The ESV translated the verb as “gathered” in this verse because it is passive.

This verse functions as a transition between the prayer of Acts 4:23-30 and the summary statements of Acts 4:32-37.

For the first time in Acts, we see that prayer is an important aspect of the gathered church. In this case, the church was praying for boldness to continue to present the gospel in spite of growing persecution and for the ability to perform signs that would point people to the truth of the gospel. Apparently, God answered their prayer immediately, as they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and the very place in which they were gathered was shaken.

Interestingly, we again see the combination of the reliance on God and the work of people, and we see the gathering/going combination.

In Acts 4:31, almost all of the verbs are passive, indicating that God was doing the work: “they were gathered,” “it was shaken,” and “they were filled.” However, their response is an active verb: “they spoke.” Their reliance on God and the work of God through the Holy Spirit drove them toward action.

Similarly, while the passage begins with the believers gathered together, the phrase “they spoke the word of God with boldness”, points back to the “boldness” they prayed for in Acts 4:29, which would again indicate a proclamation of the good news to those who were not yet believers. This is confirmed when we see the apostles in particular (though not necessarily solely) telling about the resurrection of Jesus Christ in Acts 4:33.

If we continue reading the following passage (Acts 4:32-37), we can see how the concern for brothers and sisters is interlaced with the concern to proclaim the good news to unbelievers. In this case, the believers sold property and brought the proceeds to the apostles for the purpose of helping their brothers and sisters who were in need. In the middle of this description of their “sharing” (from the root word of “fellowship”) we see the continued proclamation of the good news.

It seems their “boldness to speak the word of God” included both their proclamation of good news to unbelievers and their care for brothers and sisters in Christ who were in need.


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  1. 2-25-2010

    These are great posts on Acts 4. Your thinking is clear, provocative and richly nuanced in a proper biblical way. I am grateful to discover your blog spot.

  2. 2-25-2010


    Thank you for your kind words. I’m enjoying your new book Your Church is Too Small.