#14 (Acts 5:17-42) Second Encounter With Temple Authorities

In this study we will pick up where the peoples wanted to have Peter's shadow pass over them. The sick, the afflicted, and those with unclean spirits were crowding into the temple area. It says, "And they were ALL being healed." Once again we see the kingdom power that was resident in the apostles.

Let's see what happens next.

This is Acts Study #14 (Acts 5:17-42) A Second Encounter With Temple Authorities.

Vss17,18: "But the high priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy. They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail."

In another study we will look at the various sects of Israel more closely. For now let's follow the story.

Notice that the driving force is jealousy. The writer of old said, "For jealousy enrages a man, and he will not spare in the day of vengeance." (Prov6:34) The Greek term for 'filled' (pletho) gives a picture of a sponge bursting with liquid. Jealousy was overflowing every fiber of their being. They were fully saturated.

Also notice who it is that is filled with jealousy. Not the Sanhedrin council at large. It is the high priest and his associates. This group was use to receiving honor as the highest authorities in Israel. Now the honor is passing to the apostles. You see, jealousy is never rational. It is a consuming power that destroys anything that gets in its path.

In the all this we need to remember the Lord's special promise for His servants. He said, "'No weapon that is formed against you will prosper; and every tongue that accuses you in judgment you will condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their vindication is from Me,' declares the LORD." (Isaiah 54:17)

Angels Watching Over You

Vss19,20: "But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, 'Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.'"

This is the first mention of an angel since the garden of Gethsemane. Nonetheless, we can know that angels are quite active in the lives of believers. They are servants of the kingdom. And they have special concern for those who are to inherit salvation. (Cf. Heb1:14)

This might be a good place to share a bit on angels. The ancients believed that God had a special class of angels who watched over the lives of His people. These angels were nearest to the throne of God. They were called 'malachi panim,' or, 'angels of the face', or, 'angels of the presence.'

Do we have reason to believe there is such a class of angels? Yes, we do. When Jesus gave His warning to the world regarding stumbling blocks, He said, "See that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that their angels in heaven continually see the face of My Father who is in heaven." (Matt18:10 - The term 'little one' is applicable to all believers.)

You can be sure that the angel who was set to release the apostles, came directly from the throne of God. What was the message to be given? The angel said, "Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life."

And so the apostles head right back to the temple. The message of eternal life in Jesus Christ be spoken to the heart of the Jewish nation.

Let's put the following Scriptures together:

Vss21-26: "Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple about daybreak and began to teach. Now when the high priest and his associates came, they called the Council together, even all the Senate of the sons of Israel, and sent orders to the prison house for them to be brought.

"But the officers who came did not find them in the prison; and they returned and reported back, saying, 'We found the prison house locked quite securely and the guards standing at the doors; but when we had opened up, we found no one inside.'

"Now when the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them as to what would come of this. But someone came and reported to them, 'The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!'"

"Then the captain went along with the officers and proceeded to bring them back without violence (for they were afraid of the people, that they might be stoned)."

And so the apostles are right back in the temple proclaiming Jesus as Messiah of Israel. The problem now is how to apprehend the apostles without causing a riot. The temple guard knew full well that they would be stoned if the apostles were mistreated in any way.

This Man's Blood

Vss27,28: "When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, saying, 'We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.'"

Finally it comes out. The high priest and his associates cannot avoid their role in the crucifixion of Jesus. The only way to have their guilt removed would be to accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah of Israel, and to acknowledge their part in having Him put to death. But that's not going to happen. These men have no intention of relinquishing their position. Their hearts are filled with both hate and jealousy.

Once again the threatenings. But the apostles are not going to let them off the hook.

Vss29-32: "But Peter and the apostles answered, 'We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him."

Notice carefully how each statement the apostles make is a concise stand-alone statement. Think about their words:

(1) We must obey God rather than men.

(2) The God of our fathers raised up Jesus.

(3) Whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross.

(4) He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior.

(5) To grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

(6) We are witnesses of these things.

(7) So is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.

Vs33: "But when they heard this, they were cut to the quick and intended to kill them."

Murder had filled their hearts. They were guilty before the judgment seat of God. Rather than admit their guilt and make amends, they seethed with rage.

This is a difficult thing for us to imagine. But you have to remember that Satan is the master power behind the throne. These men were usurpers. They really had no right to the positions they held. Their offices were bought from the Romans.

Gamaliel Defends the Apostles

But here we will see something quite interesting.

Vss34-39 "But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. And he said to them, 'Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God."

Who was this Gamaliel? Why would he seemingly stand in defense of the apostles.

This is what we know -- Gamaliel was one of the most respected teachers in Israel. He later became the president of the Sanhedrin. He was also the grandson of Hillel. (Paul trained at the feet of this man.)

Ancient Christian history says that Gamaliel became a believer. Whether this is true cannot be said for certain. We do know that Galamiel was later ostracized by the Jewish leaders for some of his beliefs. (According to early Jewish writings.)

But God uses Gamaliel to defuse the rage of the high priests. The Lord is not through with Jerusalem.

Vss40-42: "They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name."

This pattern of rejoicing over suffering was common to the early believers. Nothing needs to be added to this.

The study is open.

Previous: #13a A synopsis on Study #13 - The Shadow of Peter
#15 (Acts 6:1-7) Providing for the Widows

This study on Acts was originally part of a series on the book of Acts given to members of Hebraic Foundations from July 10, 2002 through January 19, 2003. They were written by Pastor Buddy Martin, Founder and Senior Pastor of Christian Challenge International.

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