While God continued to work mightily to expand the church, the forces of evil also worked fiercely to oppose God’s work. Seeing that the apostles still preached the name of Jesus Christ despite the council’s earlier threat and how they had drawn a great multitude by the signs and wonders that had been done, the high priest and the Sadducees came and arrested the apostles for the second time. But with God’s help, the apostles stood dauntless against the council’s futile efforts to intimidate them.
Did You Know...?
1. Gamaliel (5:34) “was the most distinguished Jewish rabbi of this time. His fame is preserved in the Talmud. He was a grandson of Hillel, a still more famous teacher. Paul was his pupil (Acts 22:3).”
2. Theudas (5:36) was probably one of the rebel leaders who caused disorder in Palestine after the death of King Herod in A.D. 4.
3. Judas of Galilee (5:37): According to Josephus (Antiq. XVIII c. 1. sect. 1), Judas led a rebellion against the Roman government in A.D. 6 when Judah became a province of Rome. At that time, the governor of Syria, Quirinius, conducted a census (Lk 2:2) for the purpose of assessing tax, and Judas, claiming that this would lead to the enslavement of the Jews, started the rebellion. The rebels were quickly subdued by the Romans and their followers scattered.
- The Apostles Imprisoned (5:17-18)
- The Apostles Freed by An Angel (5:19-21)
- The Apostles on Trial again (5:22-33)
- Gamaliel’s Advice to the Sanhedrin (5:34-40)
- The Apostles Persecuted and Released (5:41-42)
Record what we can learn about God’s will from this passage.Hide Answer
1. God’s will is for us to preach the words of life (20) and to witness for the Lord (29-32).
2. God’s will cannot be frustrated by men’s opposition (19, 39).
3. We need to discern God’s will and be careful not to stand in opposition to it (39).
What was the reaction of the high priest and the Sadducees to the works of the apostles?Hide Answer
They were filled with indignation.
Why did they react this way?Hide Answer
1. They were furious because the apostles did not heed their threat but still preached Jesus Christ.
2. For the apostles to preach that Jesus was the Christ was to condemn the high priest and his men for murdering the Messiah (cf. 5:28).
How did the Lord deliver the apostles from prison?Hide Answer
At night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out (19).
What was the angel’s instruction to the apostles?Hide Answer
“Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life” (20).
If you were thrown into prison for sharing your faith, how would you feel? Would you continue to share your faith after your release?
How strongly do you believe that the gospel message we preach is the “word of life” (20)? How does this belief motivate you to preach the gospel?
What was it that angered the high priest the most?Hide Answer
He was angry that he and his men had been considered as the murders of Jesus (28).
What were the main points of the apostles’ response to the council’s question?Hide Answer
1. God has raised up and exalted Jesus to be Prince and Savior to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins
2. The apostles and the Holy Spirit are witnesses to the risen Christ. Therefore, they must obey God rather than men by proclaiming the message of Jesus Christ.
What did “obeying God” mean for the apostles?Hide Answer
For the apostles, obedience to God meant witnessing for the Lord Jesus.
To whom does God give His Holy Spirit (32)? Why?Hide Answer
God gives His Holy Spirit to those who obey God. Unlike evil spirits, the Spirit of God does not possess a person and force him to do what he does not want to do. In order for the Holy Spirit to help us, we need to yield to His guidance and walk by the Spirit. That is why God gives the Holy Spirit only to those who are submissive to Him.
How does this fact apply to us today when we pray for the fullness of the Holy Spirit?Hide Answer
While we pray for the fullness of the Holy Spirit, we need to also determine to surrender our lives to the Spirit’s will.
What was the result of the apostles’ words? What does this tell us about the men in the council?Hide Answer
The men in the council were furious and plotted to kill the apostles. This goes to show that they were unrepentant of their sins. In fact, they were bent on multiplying their sin by plotting to murder Jesus’ followers also.
Have you ever succumbed to men’s demands and gone against God’s command? Give an example.
Why is it often difficult to obey God rather than men? What consequences do you need to be ready for if you decide to obey God rather than men?Hide Answer
When God’s word contradicts men’s views, we would face criticisms, pressure, isolation, and even persecution from men when we carry out God’s word. Because the consequences of offending men are much more immediate, it is easy to yield to men so as to avoid hardship. But if we have true faith in God and want to obey Him, we need to have the courage, readiness, and perseverance to meet the opposition of men.
What was Gamaliel’s advice to the council?Hide Answer
Gamaliel advised them to leave the apostles alone because if the apostles’ work was of men, it would come to nothing. He quoted two contemporary examples to illustrate his point. On the contrary, Gamaliel stated, if the apostles’ work was from God, they would be unable to stop them and even be found to fight against God.
How is this advice applicable today?Hide Answer
Sometimes, like the high priest and his men, we may oppose other people’s work because we think they are wrong. On the surface, we seem to be upholding truth and justice, but we may actually be doing it because our own interests are at stake. So before we make a judgment about something, we need to first make sure that we are not blinded by our prejudice and emotions. Only then can we clearly discern what God’s will is.
God’s work cannot be frustrated, whereas man’s work will surely come to nothing. When we are not certain whether something is from God, we need not take immediate actions to stop it because we may run the risk of opposing God. Instead, we can carefully observe its outcome and let God Himself reveal to us what is right and wrong.
What was the outcome of the trial?Hide Answer
The council heeded the advice of Gamaliel. They released the apostles after beating them and commanding them again not to preach in the name of Jesus.
How did the apostles respond to the threat and beating? Why?Hide Answer
They rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for Jesus’ name. They remembered what the Lord Jesus had taught them. They rejoiced because they knew that their reward in heaven was great and that they were considered worthy to take part in the same kind of sufferings that the prophets before them had also undergone (Mt 5:10-12). Upon their release, the apostles continued to preach Jesus Christ daily in the temple and in every house. The beatings and threats from the council could not stop them from witnessing for Christ because they chose to obey God rather than men.
What does verse 42 say about the frequency and duration of the apostle’s preaching?Hide Answer
They preached “daily” and “did not cease.”
What can we learn from the apostles?Hide Answer
We need to imitate their spirit in serving God. They carried on their duty even in the face of great sufferings and opposition. They never gave themselves any excuses for not witnessing for the Lord. In fact, they felt honored to suffer for Christ. In the same way, we ought to consider obeying God our most noble goal in life and determine to carry out our mission regardless of the cost. When we suffer as a result of our service, we should rejoice that we are worthy of suffering for Christ.
The fact that the apostles preached daily in the temple and in every house shows us the importance of meeting together with believers regularly as well as preaching constantly. In addition to the evangelistic services at church, the church can also conduct door-to-door outreach or family services in order to spread the good news of Jesus Christ.
What difficulties have you encountered in preaching about Jesus Christ? How do you deal with these difficulties?