Summary of Acts 5:17-42:
The Sadducees (the Jewish elite and law-makers) arrested the Apostles for what they were doing. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and told them to go to the temple courts and keep proclaiming the Good News.
The next morning, the guards seized the Apostles again, baffled by how they escaped. The Sanhedrin questioned them thoroughly, asking why they violated their order not to teach in Jesus’ name. Peter and the others reply, “We must obey God rather than men!…We are witnesses and so is the Holy Spirit.”
The Pharisees wanted to put the men to death but one named Gamaliel spoke wisdom, saying if these men are from God, you will not be able to stop them because then you would be fighting God himself.
Still, the Apostles were flogged and ordered to not speak in the name of Jesus. Shockingly, the Apostles left rejoicing for their suffering because it was for God. Day after day, they never stopped teaching and proclaiming the Good News that Jesus is the Christ.
BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 4, Day 4: Acts 5:17-42
8 ) God at work. It should have been obvious when the apostles somehow got out of jail and the doors were still locked that a miracle was at play. Instead, like we all do, we miss the signs from God, ignore them, and then interpret them as we please.
9a) They disobedy clear orders to quite preached about Jesus and salvation. Peter said he obeys God, not men. Even after being flogged, the apostles rejoiced in their suffering and went on preaching about Jesus, in his name, as if nothing had happened. They had faith God would protect them, and He did.
b) Personal Question. My answer: Suffering is expected since Jesus suffered. When you suffer, it is for God, and it is for a purpose that we can’t see and sometimes can’t know. It will only make you stronger, and not weaker.
10) Personal Question. My answer: Don’t take the easy way. Speak up as you are led. Defend those who can’t defend themselves. Stand up for what is right. God will reward you for it.
Conclusions BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 4, Day 4: Acts 5:17-42
Great passage of faith and following God no matter the personal consequences. Many of us think we are suffering, but when you compare it to the act of physical torture, we don’t have any idea of what suffering is. Still, we suffer for God. How are you suffering?
End Notes BSF Study Questions Acts Lesson 4, Day 4: Acts 5:17-42
Peter and John had met with the religious leaders in Acts 4:5-22 where they were commanded not to speak or teach in the name of Jesus, which they ignored, and this time were punished for.
They were persecuted because their good works and popularity were a threat to those who had an interest in the status quo of the religious establishment. Sadly, the religious establishment of that day left the people worse off, not better.
Peter and John had been imprisoned before (Acts 4:3).
Who are the Angels?
Angels are all ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation (Hebrews 1:14).
Possibly, the Israelites may have only understood this was an angel in retrospect. Angels often come in human appearance, and it may not always be easy to recognize an angel (Luke 24:3-7, Hebrews 13:2).
“There is some divine humor here, too, because the Sadducees [Acts 5:17] did not believe in angels.” (Hughes)
Why Did God Free the Apostles?
God had a purpose for the apostles: to continue to spread the Good News.
God Does Not Always Deliver:
- Matthew was beheaded with a sword.
- Mark died in Alexandria after being dragged through the streets of the city.
- Luke was hanged on an olive tree in Greece.
- John died a natural death, but they unsuccessfully tried to boil him in oil.
- Peter was crucified upside-down in Rome.
- James was beheaded in Jerusalem.
- James the Less was thrown from a height then beaten with clubs.
- Philip was hanged.
- Bartholomew was whipped and beaten until death.
- Andrew was crucified and preached at the top of his voice to his persecutors until he died.
- Thomas was run through with a spear.
- Jude was killed with the arrows of an executioner.
- Matthias was stoned and then beheaded – as was Barnabas.
- Paul was beheaded in Rome.
We all have a purpose here on earth like the Apostles.
Can you imagine the shock from the religious leaders when they discovered the Apostles were missing?
Significantly, the apostles did not appeal to the crowd to let them go. They fully trusted in God alone.
The religious leaders did not fear God; they feared the people.
By calling Jesus this Man, (verse 28) the religious leaders were obviously avoiding the name Jesus, but they could not avoid the power of Jesus.
Obey God, Not Man
The New Testament teaches that we should submit to those in authority over us. Yet submission on the human level is never absolute, and never is more important than submission to God.
Thus, we should obey rulers, but not when they contradict God.
Peter referred to the cross as a tree in verse 30 because he drew an association from Deuteronomy 21:22-23, where it says that a person hanged from a tree is cursed by God. Peter brought attention to the magnitude of their rejection of Jesus, pointing out that they killed Him in the worst way possible, both from a Roman perspective (the cross) and a Jewish perspective (the tree association).
Peter’s response and blatant disapproval set in motion their deaths (verse 33).
Who is Gamaliel?
This was the grandson of the esteemed Hillel, the founder of Israel’s strongest school of religion. Gamaliel was given the title Rabban (“our teacher”), which was a step above the title Rab (“teacher”) or Rabbi (“my teacher”). Gamaliel was a Pharisee and was revered and wise, as his actions showed here. Though the Sadducees had more political power (Acts 5:17), it was politically foolish for the Sadducees to ask the Romans to execute the apostles without support from the Pharisees. Saul (who became the apostle Paul) was one of his pupils.
How Do You Respond?
We often find the threat of social rejection enough to make us keep quiet about who Jesus is and what He did for us. We need to have the apostles’ courage and determination to stand firm for Jesus Christ.