Before the Council Again for More of the Same:
The captain went with his Temple guards and arrested the apostles, but without violence, for they were afraid the people would stone them. Then they brought the apostles before the high council, where the high priest confronted them. “Didn’t we tell you never again to teach in this man’s name?” he demanded. “Instead, you have filled all Jerusalem with your teaching about Him, and you want to make us responsible for His death!” But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed Him by hanging Him on a cross. Then God put Him in the place of honour at his right hand as Prince and Saviour. He did this so the people of Israel would repent of their sins and be forgiven. We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey Him.” When they heard this, the high council was furious and decided to kill them.Acts 5:26-33
Do you see how the people are set over against the leaders? The Captain of the Guard is more concerned about the people’s reaction than he is about the reaction of the Leaders. The leaders could have been the cause of his demise, even his death. The person in charge when a prison escape occurred generally lost his life. But this Captain of the Guard is fearful of the people’s reaction rather than that of the Leaders. It makes me wonder if the people themselves have had enough of the excesses of their religious leaders over their reactions to this Messiah Jesus and His followers. It does all seem over-the-top.
Did you have the feeling when you read through this segment that we have been in this position before – another deja vu moment? The Temple Guard bring the apostles and literally stand them in place in the middle of the Sanhedrin. The Council were seated in a semi-circle and the apostles were placed literally “in” or “within the Sanhedrin”. The accused or the witnesses were always made to stand for the duration of the trial or the testimony. The intention was to keep them ill-at-ease, standing before the Council. Talk about playing power games.
Now notice the chain of events on this occasion.
The High Priest confronts the apostles: “Didn’t we tell you never again to teach in this man’s name?” he demanded. “Instead, you have filled all Jerusalem with your teaching about Him, and you want to make us responsible for His death!”
Peter again represents the Apostles and gives their response: “We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed Him by hanging Him on a cross. Then God put Him in the place of honour at his right hand as Prince and Saviour. He did this so the people of Israel would repent of their sins and be forgiven. We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey Him.”
Compare this with the last time these two parties met
They brought in the two disciples and demanded, “By what power, or in whose name, have you done this?” Act 4:7
Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, “Rulers and elders of our people:- are we being questioned today because we’ve done a good deed for a crippled man? Do you want to know how he was healed? Let me clearly state to all of you and to all the people of Israel that he was healed by the powerful name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, the man you crucified but whom God raised from the dead. For Jesus is the one referred to in the Scriptures, where it says, ‘The stone that you builders rejected has now become the cornerstone.’ There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:8-12
“What should we do with these men?” they asked each other. “We can’t deny that they have performed a miraculous sign, and everybody in Jerusalem knows about it. But to keep them from spreading their propaganda any further, we must warn them not to speak to anyone in Jesus’ name again.” So they called the apostles back in and commanded them never again to speak or teach in the name of Jesus.Acts 4:16-18
But Peter and John replied, “Do you think God wants us to obey you rather than Him? We cannot stop telling about everything we have seen and heard.”Acts 4:19-20
The council then threatened them further, but they finally let them go because they didn’t know how to punish them without starting a riot.Acts 4:21
Take time to compare the two different encounters. This time Peter’s defence is brief and concise. It seems to be a case of going over the same old ground. We have the injunction from the Sanhedrin repeated again and Peter’s reply is practically the same as what he stated the first time in 4:19 and 20, but there are differences. And once again Peter’s response includes the reference to the death and resurrection but there are differences. There is a different tone about this encounter on both sides of the fence. Pay attention to the details and take time to analyse them. There are some important differences which appear to push the Sanhedrin over the edge to the point where they wanted to have the apostles killed. Remember, the Guards are standing right there at hand. Both the Temple Guard and the Sanhedrin would dearly love to deal violently with these men. Find out why the tension continues to escalate and why it doesn’t end with the apostles death.
Don’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe even if it means you may be killed. There are worse things that could happen to you.Ian Vail
Make your CAN larger than your CAN”T and your dreams bigger than your fears.Ian Vail
If you don’t develop faith you’re just warming up a pew!Anon
Epitaph for a dead believer: Always challenged but never changed.Ian Vail