ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
Sand Lake, Michigan
Chapter 5:17-42 -The Second Persecution
The church of the Lord Jesus Christ had become a real threat to the Jewish leaders. They didn’t want to believe that Jesus had raised from the dead and had given power to those who preached about Him. They wouldn’t accept the fact that through Jesus’ name mighty healings had taken place. The only way they could come up with to stop all that, was to put these men in prison – 5:18. The Lord didn’t let them stay in prison. He sent an angel by night to open the prison doors. The angel brought them forth and told them to go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life – V. 20.
No threat of man was enough to keep them from doing the will of the Lord. The High Priest called the council together, and a lot of others, and sent to the prison to bring the apostles before them to be tried. When they returned with the news that the prison was safely shut, and even the keepers were standing where they were supposed to be, but there were no prisoners, it made the High Priest, the Captain of the temple, and the Chief Priests all pretty nervous. They wondered how far this would grow – Vs. 21-24. Then they found out that the men were standing in the temple teaching the people – V. 25.
Of course they went and brought them before the council, and they were asked, “Didn’t we command you not to teach in this (Jesus) name?” They said that the apostles had filled Jerusalem with their doctrine (teaching) and intended to bring Jesus’ blood on the people. Did even all this make the apostles back down? No, they became very bold. Peter and others of the apostles answered and said, “We ought to obey God rather than man” – V. 29. Again Peter took this opportunity to give a gospel message about the Lord Jesus, and again he spoke of His resurrection. He said they were witnesses of these things and so was the Holy Ghost. They were cut to the heart with Peter’s message, and decided to kill the apostles. It wasn’t enough they had killed the Lord Jesus, now they wanted to kill His followers who stood up for Him and taught of Him.
God had a man on the scene who had real wisdom. He was a Pharisee and was a member of the council. His advice was that there had been two “troublemakers” before and those men influenced many people, but both of them died, so nothing came of it. This man’s name was Gamaliel, a great teacher of the Law. He advised that if this work (the work of teaching about Jesus) were false, it would come to nothing, but if true, they couldn’t overthrow it. He said they might be fighting against God. The result of all this was that they beat them and commanded them not to speak any more in the name of Jesus. Then they let them go. None of this stopped them from their love for Jesus nor work for Him. They just went away rejoicing and kept right on teaching daily in the temple and in every house. The Lord wants us to keep right on witnessing for Jesus everywhere we go. We will also rejoice if we suffer when we testify for our Lord. It will be well worth it.
Chapters 6-7 – next issue