Last time, we saw the apostles arrested, jailed, freed from jail by an angel, and preaching again in the temple area. The apostles were then gently taken back to the temple officials and priests. They were taken gently because the people were listening to them and some of the people believed what they preached. The numbers of those believing were apparently substantial because verse 26 says the officers feared the people may stone them (officers).
The signs and wonders done through the apostles were proof to many that Jesus was indeed the Messiah and probably only entertainment to others yet the people did not want it to stop. The temple officials, however, did want it to stop. It was cutting into their power base.
The officals were not only angry but they were scared. Notice in verse 28 where they say that the apostles intended to bring Jesus’ blood upon thier heads (which is where it belonged to a degree).
Peter and the others then answered, “We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentence to Israel and the forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
I mentioned in the last study that the implied power would soon be explicit. Here it is. God made Jesus the Messiah and Savior. He exalted Him to His right hand and empowered the apostles to be witnesses to Israel (and later to everyone).
The officials were furious. Watch the reactions to the teaching that Jesus is Savior. Some people believe, some are furious and defiant, and we will see that some are indifferent.
Next, Gamaliel, who was a well-respected teacher of the Jewish law and faith, steps up to offer his help. His speach is a political one but it is noteworthy. He basically says to allow the apostles to teach Jesus. His rationale is that if the apostles are liars, they will soon pass away from notoriety but if they are real, then to resist them is to resist God.
I do not give much credit to Gamaliel because it seems that he is merely trying to avoid the conflict. It seems like a lukewarm reaction to the situation. This guy may have been a cool-handed politician. He would rather smooth out the conflict and get rid of the apostles by allowing them to leave and do their work in someone else’s backyard than to have a raging conflict inside his own area of power and influence. In other words, he was looking for the easy way out.
A consensus is reached! It seems like all parties get what they want. The apostles were beaten, told not to preach or teach about Jesus, and released. A typical compromise session within political groups. Problem solved?
Note that the apostles were pleased to have been beaten for being in the service of Christ. This was not pride. It was a true instance of them being glad to have been considered worthy to suffer for teaching about Jesus.
Did the apostles cease teaching about Jesus as the Messiah? No. Verse 42 says they were found daily in the temple and in houses teaching and preaching Jesus as Christ. The news about Jesus being God’s answer to man’s sin is not so easily swept under the rug. God was and is building His church. The gates of hell will not prevail against it. Praise God for His faithfulness.