There is salvation in no one else
Acts 4:12 Only belief in Jesus Christ can bring salvation
Saints Peter and John Healing the Lame Man, Nicolas Poussin (French), 1655. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art Collection. Public Domain.
“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.”
Acts 4:12 NASB1995
Let’s start with a little bit of background regarding this verse. Peter and John have walked into the temple in Jerusalem, where a beggar who had been unable to walk since birth asks them for a handout. Peter responds that he has neither silver nor gold, but he will give the man what he has. At this point, he says to the man “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk,” and the man is immediately healed.
In the time of the Sanhedrin (the Jewish tribunal judging all things dealing with religious law), no good deed went unpunished. After Peter and John are surrounded by a crowd amazed at the healing, the Apostles take the opportunity to evangelize and affirm that they have seen the risen Christ. That gets Peter, John, and the healed man sent to jail by the authorities and they must stand trial the next day in front of the “rulers, and elders, and scribes”; in other words, a hearing at which the religious elite would probably like to have the two apostles sentenced to death for blasphemy.
In the trial, Peter is asked by the tribunal about the healing of the man who had never walked — “By what power, or in what name, have you done this?” (Acts 4:7) — and he responds truthfully “let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by this name this man stands here before you in good health” (Acts 4:10).
Per the Old Testament law outlined in Deuteronomy 13, if a prophet gave a sign or wonder that came to pass and if that prophet encouraged others to go after another god, the prophet was to be put to death. Peter and John definitely performed a “wonder” in healing the man, and they attributed it to another god — in this case, the Son of God. The Sanhedrin were aghast at their claims and were most likely clamoring for their deaths by stoning!
Peter, with the boldness that comes with being filled with the Holy Spirit, then goes on to exclaim today’s verse. Now, I won’t spoil the fun, but Peter, John and the unnamed healed man are eventually released from jail after the Sanhedrin realize that a) there was a miracle that took place and all in Jerusalem had heard about it, and b) the people of Jerusalem were praising God for what had happened.
With that back story out of the way, let’s look at the verse in a bit more detail. Jesus Himself had made the claim of being the only path to salvation in John 14:6 — “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” The Apostle Paul reiterated this in 1 Timothy 2:5, when he said “For there is one God, and one mediator also between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”
Now, as in the time of the Apostles, this claim angers most non-Christians who believe their religion is the only true religion and wish to convert others to their religion or belief. This includes atheism, the belief that no God exists.
These non-Christians believe that everyone has a right to believe what they want, thinking that Christians are bigots (defined as “stubborn and complete intolerance of any creed, belief, or opinion that differs from one's own”1) and stating that there are many roads to heaven. Jesus essentially threw that argument into the trash when he said “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter by the door into the fold of the sheep, but climbs up some other way, he is a thief and a robber.” (John 10:1) Jesus, being the Good Shepherd, is making it plainly clear that He is the only way to salvation.
Peter then explains to the religious elite of his time exactly what He learned from Jesus — that there is no other road to salvation. This means:
Being a “good person” doesn’t get you to heaven
Keeping the laws of your religion won’t save you
Being religious (repeating sacred rituals or observing a liturgical calendar) doesn’t bring salvation
You can’t be saved by being a sincere person
Money can’t buy salvation (one of the key points brought up by Martin Luther in reference to indulgences)
What is the way to salvation? Belief in Jesus Christ. I’ll end today’s rather lengthy lesson with some commentary from Pastor Chuck Smith through Blue Letter Bible:
That brings it down to the big question, are you trusting in Jesus Christ for your salvation?
1. It is interesting how that in the death of a loved one, we do not want to think that they have ceased existing, we desire to believe in life after death is some form or other.
2. We somehow want to think of them as being in heaven, we do not want to think of them as lost. Even people who were very wicked, they will sometimes say of them, "Well, they had a good heart." Good intentions do not save, neither a good heart, not even good works."
3. Only Jesus Christ can save you from your sin. "Who for the joy that was set before endured the cross, despising the shame." What joy? The joy of saying to you as He did to so many, "Your sins are forgiven you."
G. God has made only one way for salvation, and there are no short-cuts. Jesus is that way whereby you must be saved.
Heaven On Wheels Daily Prayer:
Thank You, God, for my Savior Jesus Christ and for Your gift of salvation, given to me through Christ alone. Thank You that my salvation is assured through my belief in the Risen Christ and that my sins are forgiven. AMEN.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995, 2020 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. lockman.org.
Collins English Dictionary, © 2005, 1997, 1991 by Penguin Random House LLC.