The Book of ACTS
James J. Barker
WE OUGHT TO OBEY GOD RATHER THAN MEN
- The first persecution was instigated by the Sadducees (cf. Acts 4:1-3), and so was the second persecution (5:17).
- Acts 5:14 says multitudes were getting saved. Verses 15 and 16 says sick folk were getting healed, and those vexed with unclean spirits were also healed.
- God's power was working mightily. This filled the Sadducees with indignation (5:17). The Greek word translated "indignation" literally means, "punitive zeal; an envious and contentious rivalry."
- The Sadducees had the apostles cast into prison (5:17, 18).
- But God sent an angel to deliver them, telling them to go stand in the temple and preach the message of eternal life (5:19, 20).
- W. Graham Scroggie said the apostles were delivered from prison, "not that they might be safe, but that they might be used" (The Acts of the Apostles).
- When the apostles were instructed to go back to the temple and preach, they obeyed. This showed courage because after their first imprisonment they were warned "not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus" (4:18).
- So they went to the temple "early in the morning, and taught" (5:21).
- Meanwhile, "the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought" (5:21b).
- "But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned and told, Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within" (5:22, 23).
- Verse 24 tells us the Sadducees wondered what this would come to. The word "doubted" here means, "to be entirely at loss, to be in perplexity."
- They were perplexed and they worried about the growth of Christianity (cf. 4:16, 17).
- They were even more perplexed and more worried when they heard that the apostles were "standing in the temple, and teaching the people" (5:25).
- So they had them arrested again and had them set before the council (the Sanhedrin), where they were interrogated by the high priest (5:26-28).
- The high priest said, "Behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine" (5:28).
- This reminds us of Acts 17:6, where the Jews accused the apostles of turning the world upside down.
- First, they filled Jerusalem with the doctrine of Christ; then they turned the world upside down.
- Jesus said in Acts 1:8 -- "Ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem ("ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine"), and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth."
- By the power of the Holy Spirit, the early church did turn the world upside down. But today most churches aren't even turning their neighborhoods upside down!
- The high priest also said, "Ye...intend to bring this man's blood upon us" (5:28).
- This reminds us of Matthew 27:24 and 25, when Pontius Pilate "took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, I am innocent of the blood of this just person: see ye to it."
- "Then answered all the people, and said, His blood be on us, and on our children" (Matt. 27:25).
- When Mel Gibson, the adulterous, drunken Roman Catholic, made his movie, "The Passion of the Christ," he originally included that scene but there was an uproar from Jewish groups.
- Since Jews control Hollywood, Gibson was forded to remove those words -- " His blood be on us, and on our children."
- Some people feel that it is anti-Semitic to say that the Jews control Hollywood but it is an indisputable fact.
- I read an article the other day from the Los Angeles Times entitled, "How Jewish is Hollywood?" The article was written by a Jewish man named Joel Stein.
- Mr. Stein says in his article, "Jews totally run Hollywood." And Mr. Stein believes this is good. He goes on to say, "As a proud Jew, I want America to know about our accomplishment. Yes, we control Hollywood. Without us, you'd be flipping between 'The 700 Club' (Pat Robertson's program) and 'Davey and Goliath' (an animated children's series produced by the Lutheran Church) on TV all day."
- Mr. Stein gives plenty of evidence to support his argument that Jews control Hollywood. He mentions that all of the eight major film studios are run by Jews.
- The head of the Screen Actors Guild Alan Rosenberg; the News Corp. President Peter Chernin; Paramount Pictures Chairman Brad Grey; Walt Disney Co. Chief Executive Robert Iger; Sony Pictures Chairman Michael Lynton; Warner Bros. Chairman Barry Meyer; CBS Corp. Chief Executive Leslie Moonves; MGM Chairman Harry Sloan; NBC Universal Chief Executive Jeff Zucker; and Miramax Films founder Harvey Weinstein are all Jewish.
- There are no Sadducees today but there are many people around today who adamantly oppose the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
- They say one of the reasons they picked a South American for pope is to try and hinder the growth of Gospel-preaching churches in Latin America.
- I could go on and on, but my point is this -- the same antagonism that we see here in Acts 4 and 5, and that we will see again in Acts 6 and 7 when Stephen was martyred, and that we see all throughout the book of Acts -- that same antagonism is here today.
- First John 4:3 says, "And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world."
- "Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).
- Peter proceeded to preach the Gospel. His listeners were convicted -- "cut to the heart" -- but they refused to repent. Instead they "took counsel to slay them" (Acts 5:30-33).
- The same thing happened to Stephen (7:54-60).
- They probably would have killed Peter, had it not been for the intervention of Gamaliel, a leader of the Pharisees (5:34-39).
- In fact, Gamaliel was a mentor of Saul of Tarsus. In Acts 22:3, Paul said, "I am verily a man which am a Jew, born in Tarsus, a city in Cilicia, yet brought up in this city at the feet of Gamaliel, and taught according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers, and was zealous toward God, as ye all are this day."
- Gamaliel recommended that the Jews "let them alone" (5:38). If Jesus Christ was nothing but a troublemaker like Theudas (5:36) or Judas of Galilee (5:37), than Christianity would eventually die out.
- On the other hand, if it be of God, they would not be able to overthrow it. In fact, they would find themselves fighting against God (5:38, 39).
- The Jews agreed with Gamaliel's worldly, pragmatic counsel (5:40). He was a "doctor of the law," with a good reputation among all the people (5:34), but he was a cowardly sinner.
- How sad that Gamaliel did not recommend that the council consider the claims of the apostles' doctrine!
- The Sanhedrin agreed to let the apostles go, but nevertheless decided to beat them first (5:40).
- After beating them, and commanding them once again "that they should not speak in the name of Jesus," they let them go (5:40).
- The apostles left, "rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name" (5:41).
- "And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ" (5:42).
- This was in disobedience to the Sanhedrin (5:40; cf. 5:28; 4:18), but it was in obedience to the Lord Jesus Christ, who said, "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned" (Mark 15:15, 16).
- " We ought to obey God rather than men" (Acts 5:29).
- antagonism -- the Jewish religious leaders "were filled with indignation" (5:17). They wanted to kill the apostles (5:33). They were guilty of "fighting against God" (5:39).
- neutrality -- Gamaliel was not antagonistic, but he did not believe the Gospel. He preferred to remain neutral. But Jesus said it was not possible to be neutral in this matter. He said in Matthew 12:30, "He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad."
- obedience -- the apostles obeyed God (5:32). Every day, "they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ" (5:42).