24: Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow. 25: Then came one and told them, saying, Behold, the men whom ye put in prison are standing in the temple, and teaching the people. 26: Then went the captain with the officers, and brought them without violence: for they feared the people, lest they should have been stoned. 27: And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, 28: Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. 29: Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men. 30: The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. 31: Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32: And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him. 33: When they heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them. 34: Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; 35: And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. 36: For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. 37: After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed. 38: And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought: 39: But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God. 40: And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41: And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. 42: And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
The religious leaders were discussing what might become of this movement when they heard a report that the men that had been put in prison were even now standing in the temple teaching the people. The captain who was the leader of the temple guard went and arrested them again. These men were afraid of the common people thinking that they might even be stoned. The religious leaders said don’t you remember that we told you not to preach yet you continue to fill Jerusalem with their teaching and intend to convict them of the murder of Christ. Peter gave his famous response. ‘We ought to obey God rather than men. Then he continued to preach the very message which had spread through the city. Peter’s emphasis is the resurrection of Jesus who he said they killed and crucified. He went on to say that God has exalted him in power to be a Prince and a Saviour and in His name repentance is preached to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. Then Peter emphasised this even more saying, we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Spirit, And that God gives the Holy Spirit to those that submit to him. The men were convicted of the Holy Spirit and they plotted their murder. However not everyone in the Jewish council were of this mind. There was one Pharisee (The teacher of Saul) he was a doctor of the law and greatly respected by the people. He asked to speak to the council in private. When they were alone he cautioned them saying take a look at yourselves and what you are plotting to do. Don’t you remember the man called Theudas? He boasted of being someone great and he gathered about 400 disciples however he was killed and his disciples killed and scattered. And everything came to nothing. And then there was Judas of Galilee, he drew a large company of disciples too but he died and it all came to nothing. Listen, he said, leave them alone because if it is of man then it will come to nothing but if is of God then you will not be able to overcome it. And you might be found to be fighting against God. Interestingly this advice was not taken by his famous pupil Saul. He became the chief persecutor of the Church and Christ eventually met him in judgment in the road to Damascus. The religious leaders followed his advice. They called the apostles and they beat them and they threatened them and then let them go. The apostles left rejoicing in God that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for Christ’s name. The apostles were never hindered in their work and they continued every day in the temple and in every house to teach and preach Jesus Christ. Again the Apostles had come head to head with the religious leaders of Jerusalem and they had won out even though through suffering.
- Why did the religious leaders treat the Christians carefully?
- How did Peter explain his disobedience to the religious leaders?
- How did Gamaliel calm the situation?