Acts Part 9: Worthy of Suffering Disgrace

Acts 5:12-42 NIV

12 The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number.15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed.

17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people all about this new life.”

21 At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people.

When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin—the full assembly of the elders of Israel—and sent to the jail for the apostles. 22 But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss, wondering what this might lead to.

25 Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” 26 At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them.

27 The apostles were brought in and made to appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest.28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.”

29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

33 When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while. 35 Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men. 36 Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. 37 After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered. 38 Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

40 His speech persuaded them. They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.

41 The apostles left the Sanhedrin, rejoicing because they had been counted worthy of suffering disgrace for the Name. 42 Day after day, in the temple courts and from house to house, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.

A Spirit-filled Church is…

VV. 12-16: A Powerful Church

  1. Because the harmonious, generous church (4:32-37) was able to remove deception and vanity from its ranks (5:1-11), the power of God flowed freely in conjunction with the preaching of the Gospel (v. 12).
  2. The reputation of the church was taken seriously by outsiders and attracted them to the teaching about Christ (vv. 13-14)
  3. Miraculous healings, the volume and quality of which Jesus once performed, were now being performed among the apostles (vv. 15-16).

VV. 17-40: A Persecuted Church

  1. The High Priest and his entourage, filled with jealousy, had the apostles arrested, presumably for preaching in the Name of Jesus against their previous orders (4:17). But God brought help in the form of an angel, and explicitly charged them to keep preaching (vv. 17-26).
  2. Once again before the Sanhedrin, Peter had another opportunity to preach the Gospel, beginning defiantly, saying, “We must obey God rather than human beings!” Many of the elements of the apostolic kerygma (proclamation) are found in this short speech, (1) Jesus’ rejection by the Jews and death at their hands, (2) His resurrection and exaltation as the Lord and only source of salvation, and (3) the promise of the Holy Spirit (vv. 27-32).
  3. Gamaliel, an esteemed Rabbi, offers pragmatic advice that served to spare the apostles from further actions by the Sanhedrin. The Jews’ violent hatred for the early Christians had not dissipated, but they relented because it was politically expedient at the time (vv. 33-40).

VV. 41-42: A Persevering Church

  1. The apostles’ attitude, having been threatened and flogged, was not one of self-pity, but joy and gratitude (v. 41).
  2. They continued to preach and teach boldly in defiance of the Sanhedrin, but in obedience to God (v. 42).

Will you obey Jesus Christ no matter what it cost? Will you suffer and bear reproach for Jesus with joy?

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