Lesson 15 - Chapter 5:12-32

Lesson 15 - Chapter 5:12-32

Lesson for August 7, 2016

The Book of Acts

Chapter 5:12-32

Verses 12-32

“At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico. But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem. And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number,to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them. Also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed. But the high priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy. They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail. But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.” Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple about daybreak and began to teach. Now when the high priest and his associates came, they called the Council together, even all the Senate of the sons of Israel, and sent orders to the prison house for them to be brought. But the officers who came did not find them in the prison; and they returned and reported back,saying, “We found the prison house locked quite securely and the guards standing at the doors; but when we had opened up, we found no one inside.” Now when the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them as to what would come of this. But someone came and reported to them, “The men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!” Then the captain went along with the officers and proceeded to bring them back without violence (for they were afraid of the people, that they might be stoned). When they had brought them, they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.”

The signs were designed to evangelize Israel. The signs warned the Jews of the fifth cycle of discipline and how cursing can be turned to blessing by means of the Gospel. Signs and wonders were a means of getting a hearing for the Gospel from the Jews and the Gentiles. Among the people indicates that there were Jews and Gentiles. They were all with one accord in Solomon’s portico. Now we have a new type of harmony but it is a true type of harmony. There can be a discipline (study and application) in an organization and still be wonderful harmony. But it is a solid harmony, a harmony which has stability. Here is a discipline now in a local church, but this discipline does not in any way destroy love or harmony or friendship. In fact, it strengthens it. Now we have a most amazing thing. The church is meeting at the end of the temple in the eastern porch, Solomon’s porch, and when they meet now they have wonderful harmony and are with one accord.

But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the people held them in high esteem. The people had great respect for church leadership. They gave them respect. So this verse in the Greek is actually developing the concept that they didn’t give them approbation for the sake of approbation lust but they recognized their leadership. It says that the apostles had now established their leadership in the local church, there was now harmony in the local church, and there was now respect from people on the outside. And believers were the added to the Lord because the local church was now operating, not on approbation lust, but under the authority of the apostles which was authorized by the Word of God. Everything was now stabilized within the framework of the discipline of the local church.

And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number,to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them. Also the people from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together, bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all being healed. The people thought it was a good luck charm to get under the shadow of some person who has performed a miracle. This is an indication of how sometimes unbelievers regard the power of Christian leadership, or any believer. Some of them didn’t want salvation, they just wanted good luck. So great was the power of the impact of the apostles that even the superstitious were trying to crawl under the shadow of Peter. This was not a bona fide healing situation here; this was simply a reaction of unbelievers who desired, instead of salvation to be happy, a little good luck.

Based upon the superstition that the shadow of a great man falling upon you brings good luck is the principle. This was a commonly understood principle in the ancient world. God does not honor superstition, but faith in His Word. In this case, ignorance of doctrine led to a superstitious practice. The Bible account does not record any results from this, and the silence indicates the principle. What is recorded demonstrates the impact of Peter and the early apostles in the early day of the church. They had tremendous impact and were well-known among unbelievers. Such impact resulted from the filling of the Spirit and the utilization of divine power. How the people took the power was not Peter’s responsibility. The thing that counts in this life is Bible doctrine, not superstitious concepts.

Wherever we have these incidents of healing in Scripture the objective is not primarily to alleviate suffering. In every one of these healing passages, whether in the Gospels or in Acts, there was only one purpose in mind and that was so people would give the Gospel a hearing and so that people could have eternal life. The alleviation of suffering is totally inconsequential compared to eternal life. Neither Jesus on the earth nor the apostles in any way tried to heal everyone. The objective was always to get the Gospel a hearing before the canon of Scripture was completed. Remember that the book of Acts covers the pre-canon period of church history. When the apostles performed miracles under the gift of healing, this was a validation showing they had authority from God, and this gave them the opportunity of presenting the Gospel and gave people a chance to focus their attention on it. Today, healing has been ballooned a way out of its context as far as the Bible is concerned. The only divine healing that ever occurs today is strictly from God. There is no person on the face of the earth today who has the gift of healing. What healing did in the pre-canon period the Bible does today. It focuses attention on the Person and the work of Jesus Christ.

But the high priest rose up, along with all his associates (that is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with jealousy. They laid hands on the apostles and put them in a public jail. Now there was a counter-attack, and the counter-attack came from religion. Religion is always opposed to the truth; it is the greatest enemy of the truth. The Sadducees were the aristocrats in the land at that time. They were rationalists, intellectuals, and they disregarded all extra-natural phenomena of any type. Therefore they did not believe in angels, in a resurrection, or a life after death.

These men were filled with jealousy (people were being drawn away from their false doctrine), a mental attitude sin. Mental attitude sins in religious minds cause the most awful things in the history of the human race. All you need is a little jealousy in the mind of a legalistic or religious person and you have a created monster. Generally speaking the Sadducees, while they were rationalists, were also in favor of human freedom, and it was the Sadducees, not the Pharisees, who tried to bring freedom into the land of Judah. The Pharisees, on the other hand, were very bigoted and they did not want any freedom of any kind except the rule of the Pharisees. But even though the Sadducees were a freedom-conscious group of people, when it came to anything to do with Christianity they wanted it wiped out. So we find them on board to get rid of Christianity. Notice that when it says they were filled with jealousy, it led to inconsistency. No one can be jealous without being inconsistent with himself and his best motives and concepts. They were the ones who were strong for human freedom for the Jews, were strong advocates of the Law, but they violated the Law in their jealousy because, of course, jealousy leads to mental attitude sins such as violence and murder, which is a violation of the law. The Sadducees created a monster of jealousy and stooped to that which was contrary to their own standards. They wanted to destroy Christianity instead of allowing them to worship according to the dictates of their own beliefs. They refused to stand on their own standards once they became jealous. Because of their jealousy they didn’t even follow the usual procedures of arresting an individual. They arrested the apostles accompanied by violence. They beat them up first and then took them off to prison.

But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and taking them out he said, “Go, stand and speak to the people in the temple the whole message of this Life.” Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple about daybreak and began to teach. Remember the Sadducees didn’t believe in angels! So God took the things that the Sadducees didn’t believe in and He used them to deliver the apostle from jail. Then they proceeded to the temple and began teaching. The interesting thing is that the temple was already filled at dawn. Apparently this was customary for people to worship in the temple before they went about their daily activities.

Upon hearing this, they entered into the temple about daybreak and began to teach. Now when the high priest and his associates came, they called the Council together, even all the Senate of the sons of Israel, and sent orders to the prison house for them to be brought. The council is the Sanhedrin which means that they not only called out the officials of the court but the senate means they called out the heads of all the tribes. So they called out all of the authoritative people they could find to get rid of Christianity once and for all. He had everyone together to get rid of these leaders of Christianity.

But the officers who came did not find them in the prison; and they returned and reported back,saying, “We found the prison house locked quite securely and the guards standing at the doors; but when we had opened up, we found no one inside.” Now when the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them as to what would come of this. The high priest was a Sadducee; all of the chief priests were Sadducees. They didn’t believe in angels or anything supernatural, they are rationalists. They were perplexed. They were disturbed and upset by all these unusual things that were happening wondering what would happen (most likely to them and their corrupt way of life).

When the captain of the guard got into the picture he realized that if he took these people by violence there was going to be trouble, so he persuaded them. This is different from the arrest of the day before. They were concerned about their own lives. Everything here points to a total corruption of the leadership of the Jews and helps to explain what happened in AD 70 when they were destroyed as a nation.

The purpose of the miracles the day before, the purpose of all of the extra-natural activities had one purpose in mind: to fill Jerusalem with doctrine. Evangelism is filling an area with doctrine. It is the doctrine which is then power of God to save. The doctrine in this case is the Gospel. Note that they are concerned about themselves, and when leaders become concerned for their personal safety instead of the good of the people whom they purport to lead disaster follows.

The high priest questioned them, saying, “We gave you strict orders not to continue teaching in this name, and yet, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” Here is the secret to power and production in the Christian life. This was the secret of the early church — Bible doctrine. They knew doctrine; they disseminated doctrine; they made the issue clear. The impact of Christianity depends upon knowing and disseminating doctrine. Doctrine is the power of Christianity. Notice that in verse 28 the statement was not made by Peter or one of the apostles, this statement was made by the high priest, the head of the opposition. The unbelievers, the opposition, recognize the impact of Christianity only when accurate Bible doctrine is taught.

But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had put to death by hanging Him on a cross. He is the one whom God exalted to His right hand as a Prince and a Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things; and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey Him.” This brings up the great issue of the believer’s responsibility to his country and to God, and when these two conflict, then what? Peter is speaking to the leaders of the land. When God’s will and man’s will are in direct opposition to each other, God’s will takes precedence. The divine plan of the Father called for the death of the Son, and since the Son is deity He cannot die He had to become true humanity. Another title of Christ’s is Son of Man in contrast to Son of God. It was the Father who raised Him up giving full approval of His work on the Cross.

Everything in the plan of God is designed for the glorification of the Lord Jesus Christ. As a matter of fact there is no other way to operate under the plan of God. So Peter was making it very clear that only Jesus Christ has a right to glory and that the Sanhedrin itself was in opposition to the principle of the glory of God and therefore the principle of grace. The word Prince is a political concept, and it is a fact that eventually the nation of Israel will be ruled by the Lord Jesus Christ. But not only is He a prince but He is the Savior, and it is because He is the Savior that there will be a future government/kingdom. And Peter was reminding these men that if they want to get into the future kingdom, to enter into the plan of God, then they must believe in Jesus Christ. Peter was giving them one of their greatest opportunities for reversing their decision, and by doing so to provide for themselves eternal life in the only way possible – faith alone in Christ alone.