17 But the high priest rose up, and all who were with him (that is, the party of the Sadducees), and filled with jealousy 18 they arrested the apostles and put them in the public prison. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life.” 21 And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and began to teach.
Now when the high priest came, and those who were with him, they called together the council and all the senate of the people of Israel and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But when the officers came, they did not find them in the prison, so they returned and reported, 23 “We found the prison securely locked and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened them we found no one inside.” 24 Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to. 25 And someone came and told them, “Look! The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people.” 26 Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people.
27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, 28 saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honour by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36 For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, 40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
POINTS OF INTEREST
- As soon as the disciples started to spread the gospel, they immediately encountered persecution. Yet they were not at all afraid, but rejoiced in their hearts over this persecution, and even felt proud for being mocked for the name of Jesus. Why? Because they deeply believed that: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”
- So what about us? How should we feel when we are persecuted when spreading the gospel? Should we feel sad? Fearful? Lose heart? Or even blame God? When we are persecuted in this world for the righteousness’ sake (not as a punishment for our sins), we should be like them, not feeling sad, scared, disappointed or desiring to take revenge. Instead we should be delighted from the bottom of our hearts, because the kingdom of heaven is ours, and the reward from above is great.
- Verse 29, the disciples were persecuted and challenged when they were spreading the gospel. They were neither scared nor kept silent because of opposition. They also did not hate the people who persecuted them but continued to courageously share with them the truth and never ceased to declare Jesus’ gospel to them. This was because the disciples had decided to be obedient towards God and not men, and they took it as their responsibility to do so. When they had this firm determination and faith, the great work of God was revealed: God sent His angels to open the gates of the prison at night and led them out. The disciples obeyed God rather than the high priests and their followers, and when they spread the gospel of Jesus, the public was enraged and wanted to kill them. At that time, God used a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honour by all the people to protect and release them from the people. This tells us that everything is in the control of our God, even the heart of the king is a stream of water in the hand of the Lord, and He turns it wherever He will.
submitted by Li Qiang
PRAYING IN FAITH
Ask God to strengthen our faith – when we are persecuted and challenged in this world, we shall not fear or keep silent, but we shall be courageous in spreading the gospel, and be a testimony of God with a firm heart, and we will receive the gifts and blessings from heaven.
For your five
Ask God to help the five be obedient to Him rather than to men, and to Him be the glory.
For our church
Pray for God to lead our church in spreading the gospel of Jesus with one heart and mind, and to allow the great work of God to be revealed. Pray for His kingdom to come.