Thursday: The Second Arrest

If the apostles could be used to bring God’s judgment on sin, as in Ananias and Sapphira’s case, they could also be used to bring God’s grace on sinners. Their powerful healing ministry (Acts 5:12-16) was tangible evidence that God’s Spirit was working through them. That even Peter’s shadow, it was believed, could heal people is striking.

Praying for Peter

Image © Lifeway Coll.

The closest parallel in the Gospels is that of a woman who was healed by touching Jesus’ garment (Luke 8:43-44). Luke, however, does not say that Peter’s shadow actually had healing power but that the people thought so. Yet, even if popular superstition was involved, God would still dispense His grace.

Notwithstanding, the more the apostles were filled with the Spirit, and signs and wonders multiplied, the more the religious leaders were filled with jealousy. This led them to arrest the apostles a second time (Acts 5:17-18). It was only after their miraculous escape (Acts 5:19-24) and another bold speech by Peter, stressing that they should “obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29), that some of the authorities began to consider the possibility that supernatural influences could be at work.

Read Acts 5:34-39. How did Gamaliel try to dissuade the Sanhedrin from killing the apostles?

The Sanhedrin was controlled by the Sadducees, with the Pharisees forming an influential minority. Gamaliel was a Pharisee and a doctor of the law. He was so highly regarded among the Jews that he became known as “Rabban” (“our teacher”), rather than simply “Rabbi” (“my teacher”). Paul was one of his disciples (Acts 22:3).

Gamaliel recalled two other rebel movements in Israel’s recent history that had also attracted followers and caused turmoil. The leaders, however, were killed and their followers were completely dispersed. The lesson he drew was that if the Christian movement was of human origin, it would soon disappear. On the other hand, if it was a divine movement, as claimed by the apostles, how could they hope to withstand it? Gamaliel’s advice prevailed. The apostles were flogged and once again commanded not to speak in Jesus’ name.

What does this story tell us about how needful and helpful good counsel can often be? How can we learn to be more open to getting counsel even when it may consist of what we don’t necessarily want to hear?

Leave a comment

Source: Daily Sabbath School Lessons