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
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?” (Acts 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
Did you notice some things when you concentrated on the details and the differences between the two encounters with the Sanhedrin? The Sanhedrin repeated their injunction to the apostles but did you notice the differences? The Chief Priest says, “Didn’t we tell you never again to teach in this man’s name?” The language is very strong. The language is repetitive but also it contains a Hebraism or a very Jewish way of saying something very strongly. Literally it is, “with a charge we charged you”. The use of a noun (or participle) in series with the verb is a way of intensifying the action of the verb. It is a very strong way of saying “we strictly charged you”. [Paraggelia] “to charge” has a range of meanings in the full sense of its usage, including to order, command, advise. But in terms of the negative sense of the word, the idea is to warn or to prohibit or to serve an injunction in a court setting. The prohibition or injunction was meant to be binding and irrevocable.
The way the words are phrased has the sense – We charged you not to speak or teach in this name ever again. But what did you do? You dared to fill Jerusalem with your teaching about that name. (literally “in the name”). [Once more they deliberately avoid saying Jesus name.] And not only that but you hold us responsible for His death.
Notice the differences to the first time around. There is a repeat comment on the ban related to using the name of Jesus, again without mentioning His Name themselves. But this time the context is framed in the notion of their shock that not only did the Apostles not obey the injunction which was binding by an edict of religious law, but the breadth of their comments on what these apostles have done. Not only have they been speaking and teaching the name, it is the scale on which they have been doing it. Filling Jerusalem infers the message has gone out far and wide over the city. People everywhere are relaying the message. It is not necessarily that the apostles have travelled all over the city themselves. In point of fact, they are not likely to have done that because they have been tied up with the confrontations with the Council. But effectively their message has spread throughout the city. Likely as not others have been “gossiping the Gospel”. They, the apostles, can’t help themselves and neither can those who hear, even more so, those who experience the miracle that comes in His Name. It’s infectious, contagious and impossible to limit.
These are all witnesses. The Apostles themselves were eyewitnesses who saw first hand the events behind what is described here. Those who have relayed their message have also become witnesses themselves in their own right. They too have experienced the miracles and have come to know firsthand the touch of this Jesus who was raised from the dead. Note what Peter says in 5:33 – We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey Him.” We are witnesses and the Holy Spirit also testifies in those He indwells. To what purpose? To give a witness to the truth of what we are saying. The inference is that it would be inconceivable for these disciples (learners) not to become apostles (those invested with the task andsentout to be messengers or witnesses of this wonderful news). That is what an apostle is – a sent one; one commissioned to do a certain task. To be a witness! How could they be expected to NOT WITNESS? They are just being true to their calling.
Notice how Peter reminds the Sanhedrin of what he had already said. Only this time he does it with an economy of words, namely: “We must obey God rather than any human authority.” They recognised the Sanhedrin had authority but it’s earthly and limited. They will obey God, not human authorities. They made that clear last time in case there was any doubt. Peter opened by stating the eternal principle – verse 29. He then links it to the Jewish traditions by evoking “our ancestors”. Verse 30. He states the facts to his audience without regard as to who they are and then explains clearly those facts so they are left in no doubt as to the significance. We will deal with the significance in the next Gems.
Notice too that this time around, the Chief Priest brings up the matter of the apostles holding them (the Sanhedrin) accountable for Christ’s death. Peter didn’t only mention that this time around. It was a major part of the first time he made the statement to the Council. (Acts 4:10-11) Peter’s accusation of them being responsible for killing the Messiah is a pretty heavy accusation but seemingly first time around they totally ignored it. However this time it becomes something which irks them. Clearly, Peter’s first comments on the matter struck home with impact. Enough for the high priest to bring it up this time around. However by the end of the encounter, the Council (Sanhedrin) are riled enough to want to kill them and eventually to have them flogged to make them conform to their edict. Why is that? That is what the topic of our next investigation will be if you care to seek out the answer before the next Gem.
If God can turn night into day, He can certainly turn the threat against you into a blessing.Ian Vail
If He has kept the universe in place for a million years or so, I think I’ll let God be God. (from the song Let God Be God)Phillips, Craig & Dean
Be thankful for the bad things in life. They open your eyes to the good things you were not paying attention to.Ian Vail
Fear is stupid, so are regrets.Winston Churchill