In my last post, we learned that the Emissaries Perform Many Signs and Miracles and Are Jailed Again. In this post, we learn that the Emissaries Are Rounded Up Yet Again and Warned by the Sanhedrin.
21b Now the Cohen HaGadol and his associates came and called a meeting of the Sanhedrin (that is, of Isra’el’s whole assembly of elders) and sent to the jail to have them brought. 22 But the officers who went did not find them in the prison. So they returned and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked and the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened it, we found no one inside!”
These guards are fortunate that they are Levites policing for the Jewish Temple aristocracy rather than recruits under the Romans or Herod Agrippa I, who might have executed them (see 12:18-19).
24 When the captain of the Temple police and the head cohanim heard these things, they were puzzled and wondered what would happen next. 25 Then someone came and reported to them, “Listen! The men you ordered put in prison are standing in the Temple court, teaching the people!”
Such events would cause these leaders to lose face further.
26 The captain and his officers went and brought them, but not with force because they were afraid of being stoned by the people.
The Temple police were afraid of being stoned by the people because Yerushalayim was responding positively to the emissaries. Meanwhile, the Jewish leaders saw their authority slipping away.
27 They conducted them to the Sanhedrin, where the Cohen HaGadol demanded of them, 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this Name! Look here! you have filled Yerushalayim with your teaching; moreover, you are determined to make us responsible for this man’s death!”
At the time of Herod Agrippa, all but three of the seventy members of the Sanhedrin were Tz’dukim. Therefore in suppressing the Gospel the Sanhedrin was judging it by two Sadducee criteria: (1) it proclaimed the resurrection, which the Tz’dukim denied, and (2) it proclaimed “another king, Yeshua,” which, if true, would be politically subversive, as well as destructive of the cozy, working relationship the Tz’dukim had with the occupying Romans.
The charge against the emissaries is that they are trying to incite unrest against the municipal aristocracy, which the Romans approved, by accusing them of responsibility for Yeshua’s execution. They were more concerned about maintaining their authority than embracing the truth.
29 Kefa and the other emissaries answered, “We must obey God, not men.
Believers should obey the law of the land, but when human law conflicts with God’s law, we must obey God, not men.
30 The God of our fathers raised up Yeshua, whereas you men killed Him by having him hanged on a stake.31 God has exalted this man at His right hand as Ruler and Savior, in order to enable Isra’el to do t’shuvah (repentance) and have her sins forgiven.32 We are witnesses to these things; so is the Ruach HaKodesh, whom God has given to those who obey him.” ~ Acts 5:21b-32 (CJB)
Kefa never wastes an opportunity to proclaim the Gospel. Here he knows he must be brief, for the Sanhedrin will not patiently endure a sermon. Yet his message always, even to these determined opponents, is one of hope, one who offers salvation. If anything, Kefa stepped up the pressure on the Sanhedrin (and endangered himself and the others more) by declaring that they had killed Yeshua, whom God has exalted this man at His right hand as Ruler and Savior. Kefa and the other emissaries knew this to be true because they were witnesses of this, as was the Ruach HaKodesh.
In my next post, we will jump forward to Acts 8 to learn that a Great Persecution of the Faithful Has Hit Yerushalayim.