In the face of threats and persecution the early church prayed not for safety and protection, but for boldness (Acts 4:29). The Greek word for boldness, parresia, didn’t mean rudeness, obnoxiousness, or arrogance like we sometimes think of today. Rather it meant a combination of courage, confidence, and clarity. This is what Peter displayed as he addressed the Jewish leaders, accusing them of killing the Messiah and asserting that Jesus was the only road to salvation. Like the early church, we need to be “bold” when it comes to sharing our faith. But what does boldness look like in our context?
Acts 4:29 -Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.
Sometimes what we think of as “boldness” can have disastrous or embarrassing consequences. Have you ever decided to just “tell someone what you really thought” and regretted it? Have you ever seen Christians decide to be “bold” with their faith, but seen it backfire? Share your stories as a group.
Looking at Scripture:
Both Peter and Paul were known for their “boldness.” Here we will compare two “bold” speeches/sermons they gave in two very different contexts.
First, read Peter’s speech to fellow Jews in Jerusalem in Acts 3:11-26.
What kind of people do you think Peter is talking to here? How does he build bridges to their experiences and perspectives? What might be a parallel group of people in our culture today?
How many times does Peter quote or refer to Scripture in this passage (direct quotes are indicated with footnotes in most Bibles)? How would these people react to his use of Scripture?
Summarize what Peter is trying to say in a sentence or two.
What parts of Christian belief did Peter leave out of his speech? Why do you think this is?
Now read Paul’s speech to the Areopagus (airy-AH-pa-gus, an educated, non-Jewish council) in Athens in Acts 17:16-34.
What kind of people is Paul talking to here? How does he build bridges to their experiences and perspectives? What might be a parallel group of people in our culture today?
How many times does Paul quote or refer to Scripture in this passage? Who does he quote (check the footnotes in your Bible)? Should he have used more Scripture in this speech?
Summarize what Paul is trying to say in a sentence or two.
What parts of Christian belief did Paul leave out of his speech? Why do you think this is?
Overall, what are your thoughts about the comparison between these two speeches and their two different contexts? What can we learn from them about how we can be “bold” with our faith today?
The “boldness” the believers prayed for consisted of clarity, confidence, and courage. When it comes to your own ability to talk about your faith, rate which of those three you are strongest in, and which you are weakest in. How do you think God is calling you to be more bold?
End by praying for boldness for our church, and for each individual in your group. Watch for opportunities to share your faith and practice boldness in the next few days.