Acts 5:17-32

Sunday Morning Bible Study

September 28, 1997


I think itís important to keep in mind whatís been happening in Jerusalem.

After the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, God began to use the apostles in incredible ways, with all kinds of miracles.

At one point, they had been used in the healing of a lame man, and when the crowds saw what had happened, Peter preached, and thousands came to trust in Jesus.

Peter and John got arrested for preaching about Jesus, but after being beaten and released, they went back to telling people about their Savior.

Weíve seen the chastisement of God, as Ananias and Sapphira died for trying to pretend to be something they werenít.

And the power of God just kept being poured out on the church, even to the point where people were getting healed just by Peterís shadow moving over them.

All this has a few people upset.

:17-24 Imprisonment and Release

:17 the sect of the Sadducees

Sadducees Ė this was one of the "denominations" in Judaism at that time, to which most of the leadership of the nation belonged. They were liberal in their theology, denying miracles, and especially, the resurrection from the dead.

:17 were filled with indignation,

indignation Ė zelos Ė zeal, the fierceness of indignation; jealousy

This was one of the problems that the chief priests had with Jesus just a few months more. They were jealous of His popularity among the people. (Mat. 27:18)

Perhaps they are even more jealous to think that these apostles were now preaching the resurrection, something they didnít believe in, and so many thousands of people were following them.

Perhaps they were jealous because these uneducated, undignified fishermen were accomplishing more in their ministry than the cold, lifeless Sadducees could ever imagine.


Be careful about jealousy.

It can make you do lots of things youíre going to regret later.

Some people are jealous over other people getting ahead of them.


Charles L. Allen in The Miracle of Love writes of a fisherman friend who told him that one never needs a top for his crab basket. If one of the crabs starts to climb up the sides of the basket, the other crabs will reach up and pull it back down. Some people are a lot like crabs.

Some people are unreasonably jealous of their spouse. Iím not saying that a little jealousy isnít sometimes called for, but too much can cause lots of damage.


"Some say that jealousy is love, but I deny it; for though jealousy be procured by love, as ashes are by fire, yet jealousy extinguishes love as ashes smother the flame."

Ė La Reine de Navarre


When Adam stayed out very late for a few nights, Eve became upset. "You're running around with other women," she charged.

"You're being unreasonable," Adam responded. "You're the only woman on earth."

The quarrel continued until Adam fell asleep, only to be awakened by someone poking him in the chest. It was Eve.

"What do you think you're doing?" Adam demanded.

"Counting your ribs," said Eve.

(James 3:14-16 NLT) But if you are bitterly jealous and there is selfish ambition in your hearts, don't brag about being wise. That is the worst kind of lie. {15} For jealousy and selfishness are not God's kind of wisdom. Such things are earthly, unspiritual, and motivated by the Devil. {16} For wherever there is jealousy and selfish ambition, there you will find disorder and every kind of evil.

We need to work at loving and trusting each other.

(1 Cor 13:4 NASB) Love is patient, love is kind, and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant,

:18 laid their hands on the apostles

Apparently, all twelve apostles are placed under arrest, and not just Peter and John

:19 the angel of the Lord

better, and more literally, "an angel of the Lord"

In the Old Testament, there is a specific individual that pops up from time to time known as "The Angel of the Lord".

We have seen in our studies that we believe this Old Testament person is none other than Jesus Christ in a form before His human birth.

This is probably not Jesus, but just a regular angel.

:20 Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people

The angel tells them to go right back and get into the ring, right back into the persecution.

But this isnít always the case.

Jesus said,

Mt 10:14 And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

The assumption is that there will be a time to leave. And when you do, let is all go behind you, donít even let their dust cling to you when you leave, let alone any hatred or bitterness.

Sometimes when Paul was persecuted, he left.

When he was beaten and thrown into jail at Philippi, and then released and asked to leave the city, he left. (Acts 16).

When Paul was in Thessalonica, a great persecution rose up against the believers, and Paul and Silas left in the middle of the night (Acts 17:10).

When he was stoned and left for dead in Lystra, he got up, and went back into the city, but left the next day (Acts 14:20).


Donít get locked into formulas. Listen to God instead.

Sometimes we look at what the angel told Peter and say, "God always wants His people to march into persecution."

Not so.

Sometimes God wants to speak to you and tell you what He wants for you.

It may not be what the next guy is doing.

Sometimes He wants you to stay. Sometimes He wants you to go.

The only way youíll know for sure is to ask Him. And wait for the answer.

:20 all the words of this life.

Thatís what it means to preach the gospel.

To speak the words of "this life".

Itís all about a special quality of life, called "eternal life".

Itís not like when somebody tells you to "get a life".

Itís not like the saying, "Hey, itís a living".

The Bible tells us that in terms of spiritual things, without Jesus we are spiritually dead.

The Bible tells us that we were dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph. 2:1)

For those of us who have tasted of this eternal life, we know that it began when we came to the point in our life where we realized we needed help with our guilt and our sin.

We understood that Jesus took care of our sin problem by dying on a cross and paying for our sin.

Then we opened up our hearts to receive Godís free gift of forgiveness, and we received this new life, and passed from the land of the dead into the land of the living.

:21 they entered into the temple early in the morning

lit., at daybreak, dawn.

:21 called the council Ö the senate

Council Ė lit., "Sanhedrin"

Senate Ė lit., "elders"

:24 they doubted of them whereunto this would grow.

Or, "they were perplexed about what this thing would become"

:25-32 Another arrest

:25 Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching

Donít you know this has got to be one of the more embarrassing times for the Sanhedrin.

For the temple guards, this has got to be an "Excedrin Headache"!

Not only are the apostles not in prison, but theyíre back in the temple, telling people about this Jesus!

:26 brought them without violence

They did not use force to bring the apostles, apparently just talking them into going quietly.

:28 Did not we straitly command you

straitly command Ė lit., "did we not command a command"

This happened the first time they had arrested Peter and John, back in chapter 4, for healing a lame man, and then using the opportunity to preach to the people about Jesus Christ. (Acts 4:16-18)

:28 ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine

Keep in mind, this is not some television evangelist telling you to give because heís filled the city with the gospel.

This report is coming from the mouths of their enemies.

Oh that this would be said of us in Fullerton.

Oh that the humanistic professors on the college campuses would one day say of Calvary Chapel Fullerton, "youíve filled Fullerton with this Jesus stuff!"

Jesus had commanded the disciples to be witnesses:

(Acts 1:8 KJV) But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Apparently, by this time, it might be said that the apostles have crossed the first milestone in their mission for God.

:28 and intend to bring this man's blood upon us.

Itís kind of ironic, since when Pilate washed his hands at Jesusí trial, saying "I am innocent of the blood of this just person", the chief priests had primed the people to respond with,

Mt 27:25 Ö His blood [be] on us, and on our children.

The Sanhedrin doesnít want to take responsibility for what they did.

:29 We ought to obey God rather than men.

The King James translation is a little unfortunate here, obeying God is not some kind of "optional" obligation.

Lit., "we must obey God rather than men"


Thereís a time to disobey the authorities.

At times in history, Christians are forced to make a choice of whether to obey the government, or whether to obey God.

During WWII, there were some Christians in Holland who disobeyed the Nazi government, and helped to hide the Jews.

Some, like Corrie Ten Boom, ended up going to Nazi prison camps, and ended up learning things like,

If God sends us on stony paths, he provides strong shoes.


When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don't throw away your ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer.

The Russian parliament has just passed a law which will prohibit "non-approved" religions from proselytizing. Just two days ago, President Yeltsin signed the bill.

This means the Calvary Chapels that have recently been planted are going to have some tough times ahead.

But in reality, civil disobedience is not the norm for the American Christian.

Paul wrote,

Rom 13:1-2 Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. {2} Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

We only disobey when the government directs us to disobey the laws of God.

Lesson #2:

The battle of peer pressure.

For most of us, this is where the verse mostly applies. The issue is not obeying the government, but whether or not we give in to the pressure to be like our friends in the world.

In Daniel 1, young Daniel and his three friends were "hired" to work for the king. They quickly were enrolled into the government training program, which included free food and wine.

Dan 1:8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.

Daniel took a stand, and asked to have his diet changed. He challenged the supervisors to test and see if he wouldnít do better than the rest with a different diet.

Dan 1:20 And in all matters of wisdom and understanding, that the king inquired of them, he found them ten times better than all the magicians and astrologers that were in all his realm.

The point is that it pays to want to be pleasing to God.

It may not be easy, not giving in to what the rest of your friends or co-workers are doing.

But in the end, thereís much greater benefit to you in walking in Godís ways.

A great many of our youth made a commitment last week to be different than the rest.

Theyíve made a commitment to a life of sexual purity.

Theyíre going to find that if they keep that commitment, theyíre going to miss out on Ö incredible heartaches, broken trust, infidelity, strange diseases, and lots of trouble in their marriages.

The bottom line is, who are you looking to please? Who do you want your praise from?

(John 12:42-43 KJV) Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: {43} For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

:31 God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.

Itís because of Who Jesus is, and What Heís done, that we are able to repent and receive forgiveness of our sins.

Heís paid the price for our sin.

Repentance Ė to turn around, to turn from your sins.

Forgiveness Ė aphesis Ė release from bondage or imprisonment

Thereís a great sense of imprisonment that comes from guilt.

Jesus wants to set you free from it.

Heís paid for your ticket to freedom with His death on the cross.

Will you accept the ticket?

:32 we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost

The apostles were witnesses to the fact that Jesus rose from the dead.

The Holy Spirit was also a witness to the resurrection of Jesus by the miracles that were being done through the apostles.