Acts 5:33-42

Sunday Morning Bible Study

October 5, 1997

Introduction

As the power of God continued to be poured out on the early church, incredible things were happening, even to the point of people being healed by Peterís shadow as it passed by.

The high priests and his sect of the Sadducees were becoming jealous of these uneducated followers of Jesus.

When they had the apostles arrested, an angel of God came in the middle of the night and released the men, telling them to go back to the temple and keep preaching.

When the priests brought the apostles back in for more questioning, Peter responded by preaching about Jesus to the priests.

We pick it up this week with the response of the priests to Peterís words.

:33-42 Conviction and release

:33 they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.

Cut to the heart Ė diaprio Ė to saw asunder or in two, to divide by a saw.

The words that the Peter spoke didnít feel too good on the old ego. So they talked about killing him.

Lesson:

Donít kill the messenger, just learn your lessons.

If the UPS man delivered a package you didnít want to receive, would you shoot the UPS man?

Sometimes we donít like to hear the truth.

Sometimes we do everything we can to keep ourselves from hearing the truth.

Sometimes we end up hurting those who are trying to tell us the truth.

Yet the Bible says,

Pr 27:6 Faithful [are] the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy [are] deceitful.

Sometimes the one who delivers a "hard word" is not a friend, but somebody we donít really care for.

Perhaps itís a boss at work that is giving you a performance review. And you donít exactly respect your boss.

Are you willing to learn, no matter what the circumstances, no matter who the messenger is?

What if itís a lesson you really need to learn?

A wise person is one who listens even to rebukes, and tries to learn the lessons heís supposed to learn.

(Prov 9:8-9 KJV) Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. {9} Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

Sometimes the things that weíre instructed in are actually warnings of danger up ahead.

(Prov 27:12 KJV) A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.

A wise person pays attention to the warning signs.

Will you be a wise person who remains teachable, open to instruction, or a "scoffer" who only gets angry when someone wants to help?

Pr 17:10 (NAS) A rebuke goes deeper into one who has understanding Than a hundred blows into a fool.

:34 a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people

About Gamaliel Ė

He was a Pharisee, the group that traditionally opposed the Sadducees.

Unlike the Sadducees, the Pharisees believed in the miraculous, and believed in a resurrection.

He was the grandson of the great Jewish scholar, Hillel.

He himself was one of the great Jewish religious scholars of all time.

In fact, prior to the death of Gamaliel, when a teacher taught, he sat, and his students stood, but when Gamaliel died, they said, "the glory of the law ceased, and purity and Pharisaism died", and from that time, students no longer stood while being taught the law.

It is held by some that he was one of the scholars who heard the Boy Jesus in the temple (#Lu 2:47).

This was a man who, though he was not a believer, would have some kind of indirect influence on the New Testament, since one of his students was none other than the apostle Paul, before his conversion. (Acts 22:3)

He was also commonly called by the name of Rabban, which was a more honorable title than that of Rabbi or Rab; and his father Simeon was the first that had it.

This was a man who was respected so much among his peers that if he wasnít already at this time, he would eventually become the "president" of the Sanhedrin. When Gamaliel speaks, people listen.

:34 and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space

Gamaliel asked to have the apostles put out of the room so they could take among themselves. The apostles arenít going to hear whatís being said.

Some have suggested that Luke may have gotten his information on these proceedings from Paul.

:36 before these days rose up Theudas

Gamaliel is going to build his argument based on two historical examples.

About Theudas

We donít know much about this particular man, other than what we have here, that he was the leader of a rebellion which dissolved when he died.

The Jewish historian Josephus does talk about a man named Theudas, but this man lived after Judas of the next verse, rather than before him as Gamaliel says. Itís a different guy.

Gamaliel is comparing Theudas to Jesus.

When Theudas was killed, his group eventually broke up.

Now that Jesus is dead, the same will probably happen to his group as well.

:37 Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing

taxing Ė "writing off", referring to a census.

This the same time period as when Jesus was born, referring to the same kind of census as Luke 2:1-2.

About Judas

His revolt (about A.D. 6) is described by the Jewish historian Josephus ("Antiquities of the Jews", Book XVIII, 1:1)

The followers of this Judas became the "Zealots."

Judas too was killed, his followers were scattered.

:39 But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it

Gamalielís idea is that if this is of men, it will dissolve or be destroyed. But if it is of God, these leaders wonít be able to dissolve or destroy it.

:39 lest haply Ö

better, "perhaps you might be found even to fight against God".

:39 ye be found even to fight against God.

Could Gamaliel, an unbeliever in Jesus, be correct in what he says?

Thereís some truth to what Gamaliel says, but be careful that you understand that he isnít necessarily speaking under "inspiration" here.

Heís probably more likely defending the apostles because they are teaching something very close to his own Pharisaism, and he is taking an opportunity to throw a few jabs at the Sadducees.

Lesson #1:

Itís not always okay to let things alone.

In reality, if what he says is true, that the test of whether something is valid is the test of time, the question is, how much time?

I believe that ultimately, the things of God will last forever.

(Eccl 3:14 KJV) I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.

But time doesnít validate the errors of Hinduism, Islam, or even Mormonism.

Mark Twain said, "a lie runs around the world while truth is still putting on her shoes".

Just because these belief systems exist doesnít mean that theyíre from God.

Is this the way we are to approach life, "if it happens, it happens, if it doesnít, it doesnít"?

(Prov 27:12 KJV) A prudent man foreseeth the evil, and hideth himself; but the simple pass on, and are punished.

Sometimes God wants you to react and respond to something thatís not right.

But Gamaliel still unwittingly has a bit of a point here.

Lesson #2:

Donít be fighting against God.

In the big picture, youíll lose.

Illustration

The story goes that a big storm was on the horizon, and the police cars went through the small farming community to warn the citizens to head for high ground.

Farmer Bill heard the warning, but decided that he was just going to stay put and trust God.

When the rain began to fall, and the water began to rise, the firemen came by in a boat, offering to evacuate Farmer Bill, but he said, "No, Iím going to stay put and trust God."

Finally, as Bill had to climb out onto his roof to get away from the raging flood, a helicopter came by offering assistance, but Farmer Bill stayed put.

When Bill got to heaven, he was kind of ticked off at God. He said to God, "How come you didnít rescue me from the flood when I trusted you!"

God gently replied, "Bill, I sent a police car, a rescue boat, and a helicopter. What did you expect?"

Could it be that youíve been fighting God?

For some of you, youíve been hearing that God loves you and wants you to know Him personally.

Youíve heard that God has dealt with the main obstacle to you having a relationship with Him.

Youíve heard that Jesus willingly died on the cross to pay for your sins.

Yet youíve never stepped across the line to actually hold out your hand and receive the gift.

For some of you, youíve been reluctant to let certain things in your life go.

You know that youíre holding on to things that arenít pleasing to God.

Do you really want to be found fighting against Him?

(Isa 45:9 NLT) "Destruction is certain for those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot ever argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, 'Stop, you are doing it wrong!' Does the pot exclaim, 'How clumsy can you be!'

:40 beaten them,

Theyíre going to go easy on the guys, but not too easy.

It is generally understood that this beating was thirty-nine lashes.

:41 rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.

Lit., "then they departed, rejoicing, from the presence of the Sanhedrin".

They didnít wait until they were out of the council chambers, but left the presence of these leaders thrilled and rejoicing.

suffer shame Ė atimazo Ė to dishonour, insult, treat with contempt

Lesson:

Being Worthy of dishonor.

You almost get the feeling that Peter and the apostles counted it a privilege to suffer for Jesus, to be dishonored for Him.

Whatís this all about?

a) Perhaps it had something to do with feeling a connection with the great prophets of old.

Jesus had said,

(Mat 5:10-12 KJV) Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousnessí sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. {11} Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. {12} Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.

b) Perhaps Peter was thrilled to find himself finally not denying the Lord under pressure, but standing up for Jesus and suffering the consequences.

A few months earlier, Peter had denied his Lord, three times.

Then he saw His Lord suffer death on cross, dying for his, Peterís, sins.

Illustration

Thomas Cranmer was the archbishop of Canterbury from 1532 until 1556. During his tenure he strongly promoted the translation and distribution of the English Bible. When he offended Queen Mary I, she had him tried as a heretic, excommunicated, and burned at the stake. Prior to his death Cranmer recanted of his convictions, and escaped death.

Apparently, later he regretted what he had done, and ended up once again when tied to the stake at Oxford. So deep was Cranmer's regret at having signed the recantation that he promised that the hand which had signed the document would be the first to burn.

The brave archbishop kept his promise, holding his right hand steadfastly in the flames.

Peter would later write,

(1 Pet 4:12-16 NLT) Dear friends, don't be surprised at the fiery trials you are going through, as if something strange were happening to you. {13} Instead, be very glad--because these trials will make you partners with Christ in his suffering, and afterward you will have the wonderful joy of sharing his glory when it is displayed to all the world. {14} Be happy if you are insulted for being a Christian, for then the glorious Spirit of God will come upon you. {15} If you suffer, however, it must not be for murder, stealing, making trouble, or prying into other people's affairs. {16} But it is no shame to suffer for being a Christian. Praise God for the privilege of being called by his wonderful name!

What are you willing to endure for a Lord who gave up His life for you?

:42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not

A literal translation:

And every day, in the temple, through out the house, they did not cease, teaching and preaching Jesus the Christ.

They were preaching both in the temple, as well as in homes.

Lesson:

Jesus isnít just for church, but home as well.

The gospel doesnít just belong in church, but it belongs in your home as well.

a) In teaching your family.

Itís easy to leave the "Jesus Stuff" at church. God wants it to go home with you.

(Deu 6:6-7 KJV) And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: {7} And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Itís really not all that hard. Just read a chapter together. Just read a Bible story book together. The hardest part is just starting.

b) Open up your home for the gospel.

In the early church, they often met in homes Ė

(Rom 16:3-5 KJV) Greet Priscilla and Aquila my helpers in Christ Jesus: {4} Who have for my life laid down their own necks: unto whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. {5} Likewise greet the church that is in their house.

Iíd love to see us doing more in homes as a church. Iíd love to see some home fellowships developing.

:42 to teach and preach Jesus Christ.

Preaching (our word "evangelize" comes from the Greek word euangelizo used here) involves telling people the good news about Jesus Christ, and introducing them to the life of trusting in Jesus.

Teaching is the explanation of the Scriptures, explaining Godís ways, the thing that makes us grow in the Lord.

A healthy church should have a balance of preaching and teaching.

Altar Call

Yield to God. Stop fighting.