Acts~5:12-42

Verses 12-16 of this section are another summary of the church, as we have seen through Acts. This one seems placed to explain the reasons for the jealousy of the high priest which is the back drop of the rest of the chapter. The apostles were “regularly” doing “many” miracles in Jesus’ name. It seems the fear of God at the deaths of Ananias and Sapphira had spread to non-believers who would not join them in the temple, yet they were held in high esteem. Their numbers were growing. And certainly, the power of the miracles drew many people to the apostles so that they could be healed. It is no surprise that the religious establishment were jealous of the attention that was being taken from them to these new messengers of God and new workers of his power.

The religious leaders moved in quickly to break up what the apostles were doing and threw them in prison. After a very embarassing incident for them which showed God’s power and caused the minimum delay to teaching about “the words of this Life”, they brought the apostles before the council. They reminded the apostles of the charge they made to stop teaching about Jesus, and added that they are being blamed for the death of Jesus. That seems like an odd complaint, since it’s true, but it’s easy to see why they weren’t happy about it.

Peter reiterated that they must obey God, not men, that God raised Jesus and that these leaders killed him. He repeated that repentance and forgiveness of sins was now possible, and that the apostles werewitnesses to all these things. For the first time he said that the Holy Spirit is also a witness, and that God gave him to those that obey him. Whether it was this ‘blasphemy’ that God lives inside people which finally enraged the council is uncertain, but they were certainly livid that these men would not stop talking about Jesus.

Gamaliel – the saviour of the apostles – spoke wisely and also correctly. The fact that the church is still alive today is, as he said, evidence that it is from God and not a human invention. The council agreed to let the apostles go so that they wouldn’t find themselves fighting a losing war against God. First they beat them – which only seems to have delighted the apostles who would have remembered Jesus’ beatings – and again told them not to talk about Jesus – but they did not cease to teach or preach him. The clear presence of God and fresh filling of his Spirit which accompanied the first arrest of the apostles did not occur here (see comment on 4:31), but they remembered that event and knew God was the same.

Heavenly Father, it shouldn’t be surprising that the authorities relentlessly hounded your church because that’s what Jesus said would happen. There will always be those who see your power and yet deny you but I pray that like the apostles I would never give up on anyone or ever give up teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ. Amen.

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