Daily Bible Studies & Sermon Notes

Acts 5:12-21
Pastor Steve Schell
Sunday: Acts 5:12
v12: Because the church steadfastly refused to allow threats of persecution to silence it (Ac 4:29, 30); and because believers gave so generously that the people of Jerusalem could be confident that they would be cared for if ostracized by their families for being baptized (Ac 4:32-35); and because a strong fear of God kept hypocrisy from eroding their faith and lifting the favor of God (4:33), the power of the Spirit continued to work signs and wonders among them drawing many to Christ. And the rhythm of their life together continued unchanged. Each day there were large public gatherings held in the shade of the Portico of Solomon (a large covered area on the south side of the Court of the Gentiles) and small gatherings which met in homes throughout the city (Ac 2:42, 46; 5:42).

Monday: Acts 5:13
v13: The crowds at the temple grew larger and larger as many came to listen to the apostles preach and watch as they prayed for the sick and cast out evil spirits, but others deliberately stayed away from those gatherings, feeling frightened by what was taking place. Yet, the prevailing attitude in the city was not hostile toward the followers of Jesus, in fact, they were viewed with great respect, even admiration. The miracles, the generosity, the joy were all very attractive, but people also felt the pull of negative considerations. It was no secret that the high priest disapproved of this movement and had made threats against those preaching Jesus (Ac 4:21; 5:26), and there was also a report circulating about the sudden death of two people who had lied to the apostles (Ac 5:11) and that created real fear in those with secrets they wanted to keep hidden.

Tuesday: Acts 5:14, 15
vs14-15: The whole city, as well as the surrounding region, were stirred by what was happening. Luke says multitudes of “believing ones,” both men and women were “added to the Lord,” and faith in the healing power of Jesus was exploding. The same circumstances which surrounded Jesus’ ministry (Mk 1:45; 2:2-4; 3:7-10; 6:53-56; 10:46; Lk 12:1; 14:25), people desperately trying to get near Him, were now being repeated with the apostles. The numbers of those being brought for prayer grew so large it became impossible to pray for each one individually, so people strategically placed their loved ones along the route Peter walked each day on his way to and from the temple. In some cases they must have waited many hours because some even brought small beds or cots for their sick to lie on. They patiently lined the streets hoping for a prayer, the touch of a hand, or even being close enough for Peter’s shadow to serve as a substitute for his hand being laid on them. Apparently, Peter was walking in the Spirit so strongly that power was emanating from him. Remember, none of this was new to these apostles. They’d often watched Jesus minister under these same conditions (Mk 6:53-56).

Wednesday: Acts 5:14-16
vs14-15 (continued): The picture Luke gives us of people waiting in the street outside the temple is exciting in that it reveals a growing level of faith, but it also shows us the overwhelming size of the crowds. It can only mean that the gathering in the Court of the Gentiles had swelled to a size where there was no longer any reasonable expectation of waiting in line for prayer. And the fact that Peter couldn’t stop to pray for each person placed on the side of the street tells us how many must have lined his path. There were simply too many for him to stop and give personal attention. v16: Of course, the report of these events went out from Jerusalem to the surrounding region which resulted in a “multitude” pouring in from other cities. They too brought their sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, swelling the size of the crowds even further. And then Luke makes a brief statement we must not overlook. He says, concerning this massive amount of needy people, they were “all healed.” In making that statement he carefully selected an unusual word for “all” (hapas), which is a strengthened form of the normal word for “all” (pas). Luke is literally saying everyone was healed. No wonder the crowds were huge, and no wonder the religious authorities felt they could wait no longer to stop this mass movement toward Jesus.

Thursday: Acts 5:17
v17: The high priest presided over a council of elders called the “Sanhedrin” who governed the nation’s spiritual matters (within the bounds permitted by the Romans). Those seated on the council included the acting high priest, those who had been high priest previously (the Romans kept changing high priests), members of their families, tribal elders, certain family heads, and scribes (legal experts in biblical matters) (J.A. Thompson, “Sanhedrin” in The New Bible Dictionary, J.D. Douglas, ed., Eerdmans, 1962, p143). Some on the council were members of a sect called “Sadducees” and some were “Pharisees” (Ac 23:6), but during the years when the nation was under the control of the Romans the Sadducees were the largest number present (A. Gelston, “Sadducees” in The New Bible Dictionary, J.D. Douglas, ed., Eerdmans, 1962, p1124). The Sadducees were a party of wealth and privilege, closely tied to the priestly roles of the temple, and they strongly opposed the idea of a resurrection or the existence of angels and spirits (Ac 23:8).

Friday: Acts 5:17, 18
v17 (continued): The high priest, and others who held powerful positions within Israel’s temple system, had the most to lose from this swelling tide of faith in Jesus of Nazareth. Pride, money and control were all at stake so they rose up in opposition with the kind of emotional fury that ignites when someone feels they must fight to protect their position. They were alarmed and angry that their influence was slipping away. v18: This time they showed no caution (Ac 4:1-3), they seized all twelve of the apostles, not just Peter and John, and put them in a public jail rather than holding them in a private cell within the temple complex. They wanted the entire city to hear about this arrest. They intended to frighten the church into confusion by removing their leaders and warn the population at large that this new faith would not be tolerated. Their goal was to stop or at least slow the spread of this spiritual awakening and to cause people to retreat into their homes in fear.

Saturday: Acts 5:19-21
vs19-20: The arrest was meant to be a public announcement that their patience with this new faith had come to an end, but God turned it into a public relations disaster. During the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors, let the apostles out, and then ordered them to return to the temple and continue preaching “all the words of this life.” v21: So instead of a successful demonstration of their power to crush this movement, the event only served to make them look weak and foolish. At dawn, the next morning, there were the apostles walking back into the temple in order to continue ministering where they’d left off. Thousands had watched the arrest and now thousands watched the apostles fearlessly return to the Portico of Solomon. No one would have assumed that the Sanhedrin met overnight to release them, so here was another miraculous “sign and wonder” confirming that God approved this teaching about Jesus. v21 (continued): As the morning wore on, the high priest, and those who supported him in making this arrest, remained unaware of what was happening in the temple courtyard. Sometime during the day they called a meeting of the Sanhedrin and also invited all the tribal elders of Israel to join them (“the Senate,” literally: “a council of old men”). Their plan was to conduct a formal hearing of the apostles, probably with the goal of getting a broad enough consensus to seek a death penalty (v33). After everyone was gathered, they sent word to the jail for the prisoners to be brought in. 

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