The apostles had vanished from prison and were found preaching in the temple area! Watch what is said in the report to the officials. The gates were securely locked, the guards were standing outside the prison, and the prisoners were gone.
This was not a common occurrence. Believe me, prisons were secure and guards were on duty and not asleep. A guard found to be derelict in his duty was killed in those days. They did not play around at security the way we do today. There was no way the apostles could have escaped (in their minds). An eery chill must have crept up the necks of the religious officials heard the report.
Not only were the apostles gone from prison, they were teaching the people in the temple! These were no rabble rousers. These men had courage. They did not ‘head for the hills’ after escaping from prison but went to the temple to preach about Jesus. These actions would have certainly gotten them killed had God not provided for their care.
Later in the text, we will see the power that drove these men explicitly. Here we see it implied. Any common, ordinary person who managed to escape from prison would have fled. Almost no one escaped from prison and none of the escapees lived to talk about it once they were recaptured. History records how effective the jails were in those days. They killed first and asked questions later.
The apostles not only did not run away and hide for the rest of their lives, they went directly back to the temple and taught the people. There could not have been a more defiant action they could have taken. Why did they do this? They wanted to please and obey God more than they feared for their lives.
Each of the apostles knew they were dead unless God provided them safety. Yet the power of God propelled them to preach about Jesus. We get rattled when our coworkers laugh at our faith and the apostles stared death in the face yet continued with God’s work.
Can the approval of friends and colleagues empower men to such a degree? No. Can the hope of notoriety and prestige? No. The apostles were willing to die instead of disobeying God. Is there a lesson for this current culture to learn here?
Join me again for part 2. May God bless the study of His word.