What is the worst thing someone might accuse you of as a believer? No, I don’t really want to go there, but look at the worst accusation the accusers could throw at the Apostles in Acts 5:28 “You Have Filled Jerusalem With Your Teaching!”. Now, that is an accusation I could take. In fact, that is a pretty good start to a prayer, but first look at the example, the pattern for prayer, given in Acts 4:24-30. And after they had prayed, they were bold, they were protected, and signs followed through the name. Jesus!
Extend Your Hand to Heal
This band of believers had been together with one mind and one purpose since Jesus sent them to Jerusalem. It is right that Peter and John would go to report to them what had happened. Then, in Acts 4:24 (LEB) And when they* heard it,* they lifted their voices with one mind to God and said, “Master, you are the one who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all the things in them, …
They give us a lesson in prayer as they quote what has already been written, from Psalm 146:6 (LEB) who made heaven and earth, the sea and all that is in them, the one who keeps faith forever, and then they quote David and acknowledge the anointing of the Holy Spirit in his words from Psalm 2:1–2 (LEB) Why are nations in tumult, and countries plotting in vain? 2 The kings of the earth establish themselves, and the rulers conspire together against Yahweh and his anointed:. Now, they turn their attention to naming the enemies that set themselves against Jesus and now have set themselves against his apostles and his people. Then, in Acts 4:29-30 they ask for three things: 1. “Lord, concern yourself with their threats” and this is unspoken but clearly a request for God to remove the threat and protect his people. 2. “grant your slaves to speak your message with all boldness” which is what we have seen happening as they are filled with the Holy Spirit. 3. “extend your hand to heal” they wanted God’s confirming power manifested through the name of Jesus.
“‘their demand is not now for miracles of vengeance or destruction, such as fire from heaven, but for miracles of mercy’,31 Moreover, the word and the signs would go together, the signs and wonders confirming the word proclaimed with boldness”1
And, the place was shaken in Acts 4:31 and they were filled and they spoke with boldness and going forward, in Acts 5:12 “many signs and wonders”.
Great Grace was on Them All
Think about this statement in Acts 4:32 “the group of those who believed were one heart and one soul”. It is an amazing thing to have a group of people gather together for one purpose as we saw in Acts 2:46 (LEB) And every day, devoting themselves to meeting* with one purpose in the temple courts* and breaking bread from house to house, they were eating their food with joy and simplicity of heart. But this goes beyond that. They also, it says, had one heart and one soul. The needs of one were the needs of all. It was not a time for them to be thinking about my family, my retirement, my property, it was truly a time of God’s grace to meet every need.
For What Reason Has Satan Filled Your Heart
This account makes it clear that there was no demand on anyone that they had to give. What they had was theirs. The lie in Acts 5:3-4 is not that they kept back part of what they owned, it was that they said they were giving it all. They were not honest about the amount, but even worse, they made it seem that they were. You may say that Peter had a word of knowledge or he may have had a vision as Jesus did before meeting Nathaniel. Whatever it was, the Holy Spirit intervened to keep their hearts pure.
Many Signs and Wonders Were Being Performed
They all continued together and God was confirming his word, he was answering their prayer from Acts 4:29-30. Even more were added in Acts 5:14 (LEB) And even more believers in the Lord were being added, large numbers of both men and women. But, now we see a shift. People are being healed as Peter’s shadow touches them. People from all around were bringing their sick and Acts 5:12 says “who were all being healed”.
There is a principle at work here. God had always been happy to heal. Jesus demonstrated God’s will to heal. Yet, even Jesus said in Mark 6:5–6 (LEB) And he was not able to do any miracle in that place except to lay his hands on a few sick people and* heal them.* 6 And he was astonished because of their unbelief. And he was going around among the villages teaching.
The principle at work is that people need to hear God’s word first. Then, they begin to believe. And as faith in God increases, people are able to receive what God has for them. As it says in Romans 10:17 (LEB) Consequently, faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the word about Christ. And in Hebrews 11:6 (LEB) Now without faith it is impossible to please him, for the one who approaches God must believe that he exists and is a rewarder of those who seek him. The Apostles and the people are experiencing this in action as the word of the Kingdom is being taught, people are believing, miracles are increasing.
Go and Stand in the Temple Courts
The religious leaders of the day were jealous, Acts 5:17. They used their position to stop the apostles and put them in prison, not secretly, in the public prison to also taint their reputation with the people.
But God had heard their prayer in Acts 4:29-30. Their protector showed up in the prison, in Acts 19-20 an “angel of the Lord … led them out”. The angel didn’t just set them free, he also gave them a command from the Lord, in Acts 5:20 (LEB) “Go and stand in the temple courts* and* proclaim to the people all the words of this life.” And so, they went to the temple courts. Not waiting until the third hour when they might normally arrive, they began teaching at day-break. (See the message Tell The People based on these verses.)
And, then there were the religious leaders again, and their captain and his officers went again and brought them again.
You Have Filled Jerusalem With Your Teaching!
If only this could be said about us in our cities! But, here they are, standing in front of the Sanhedrin and the high priest and these also said, in Acts 5:28 “And you are intending to bring upon us the blood of this man!”
Peter continues to hit them hard in vs 29 “obey God rather than men”, vs 30 “Jesus, whom you killed” vs 31 “this one God exalted … Saviour”, and vs 31 “and we are witnesses … and so is the Holy Spirit”. And, in Acts 5:33 “they … were wanting to execute them”.
If this is an example of Ephesians 4:15 (LEB) But speaking the truth in love, we are to grow into him with reference to all things, who is the head, Christ, we may have some serious thinking to do with our 21st Century doctrine.
If This Matter is From God …
Religious leaders were as great an enemy of the early believers as any other. But even among their ranks, there may be wisdom. Patience is sometimes needed. God will confirm his work. And, here, in the midst of their opposition, God answers their prayer, not through retribution or destruction, but by simply having them released.
This matter is from God and in Acts 5:42 (LEB) Every day, both in the temple courts* and from house to house, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the good news that the Christ was Jesus.
- Acts 4:23–31
- Acts 5:17–26
- Acts 5:27–33
- Acts 4:23-37
- Acts 5:1-42
- 1. Stott, J. R. W. (1994). The message of Acts: the Spirit, the church & the world (p. 100). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.