Life-Study of Actsby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In 5:17-42 we have the continuation of the persecution by the Jewish religionists. This section of Acts covers four matters: the Sanhedrin’s arrest of the apostles and the Lord’s rescue (vv. 17-28), the apostles’ testimony (vv. 29-32), the Sanhedrin’s prohibition and release (vv. 33-40), and the apostles’ rejoicing and faithfulness (vv. 41-42).
Acts 5:14 says, “Believers were all the more being added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and of women.” Because of this, “the high priest and all those with him (that is, the sect of the Sadducees) rose up and were filled with jealousy, and they laid their hands on the apostles and put them in public custody” (vv. 17-18). The expression “public custody” denotes the outer prison house, not the inner prison used for serious cases. During the night, an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison and led the apostles out (v. 19). Those guarding the doors did not know what had happened. The next morning the Sanhedrin and the council of the elders of the sons of Israel sent deputies to the prison to get the apostles. “But when the deputies arrived, they did not find them in the prison; and when they returned, they reported, saying. The prison house we found locked with all security, and the guards standing at the doors, but when we opened the doors, we found no one inside” (vv. 22-23). “The captain of the temple and the chief priests were utterly perplexed.” Then “someone came up and reported to them, Behold, the men whom you put in the prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people” (vv. 24-25). Although the religionists could not understand what had happened, the apostles had been rescued from prison and were in the temple teaching.
When the angel of the Lord rescued the apostles from prison, he said to them, “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life” (v. 20). We need to pay attention to the word “this,” for it indicates a particular life. The Greek word rendered “words” here is rhema, denoting the present spoken word, not the constant written word. Therefore, the angel was saying to the apostles, “Go and speak the present words of this life.”
What life is indicated by “this life”? It is the divine life preached, ministered, and lived by Peter that overcame the Jewish leaders’ persecution, threatening, and imprisonment. This word indicates that Peter’s life and work made the divine life so real and present in his situation that even the angel saw it and pointed it out.
The apostles were not told to speak of the divine life in a doctrinal way. Today certain Christians may talk about life, but their talk is altogether doctrinal. We need to seek mercy and grace from the Lord so that whenever we speak concerning the divine life, we speak the words of the very life we live. This means that the divine life becomes our daily life. It is this life that we should minister to others.
Acts 5:26 says, “Then the captain with the deputies went away and brought them without violence, for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned.” The religious leaders did not know how to handle the situation. In particular, they did not know what to do with “this life.” Fearing the people, they did not do anything violent to the apostles. Instead, “having brought them, they stood them in the Sanhedrin. And the high priest questioned them, saying, We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, and look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and intend to bring upon us this man’s blood” (vv. 27-28). Literally, the Greek words rendered “We strictly charged you” mean, “We charged you with a charge.” Those in the Sanhedrin charged the apostles not to speak anymore in the name of Jesus.
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