Popularity and Persecution

Text: Acts 5:12-42

I.         Miracles continued to be done among the Jews of Jerusalem

            A.        The church, with such a growth, was meeting at the largest building in the city on Solomon’s portico of the Temple

                        1.         This caused no direct problems. Jews worshiped on the Sabbath and Christians on Sunday.

            B.        The early disciples were strongly united, but many of the Jews feared to join them

                        1.         Even so, the disciples were popular among the Jewish people

                        2.         The number of the disciples continued to increase

                        3.         People brought their sick, laying them on the street where Peter traveled in hope that his shadow would fall on them and they would be healed.

                        4.         Not only from Jerusalem, but also from neighboring cities, people were flocking to Jerusalem, bringing their ill.

II.        With all this attention, the disciples again became a concern of the Jewish leaders

            A.        They were jealous of all the attention the people gave to the disciples

            B.        The apostles were arrested and placed into jail

            C.        But that night an angel of God opened the jail and released the apostles

                        1.         They were instructed to stand in the Temple and teach the message of the new Life

                        2.         In other words, they were not to go into hiding, but to make themselves seen in the most public place available.

            D.        Meanwhile, the Sanhedrin Council gathered and the apostles were sent for.

                        1.         The soldiers returned to report the apostles were gone even though the jail was securely locked and the guards on duty.

                        2.         Then another rushed in to say that the men they were looking for were in the Temple teaching the people

                        3.         The soldiers hurried to the temple and arrested the apostles, but they did not rough them up because they feared to set off a riot among the people.

            E.        Before the Council the High Priest asked why they ignored their earlier order.

                        1.         He accused the apostles of trying to blame them for the death of Jesus

                        2.         Again Peter pointed out that they were required to serve God, not man.

                                    a.         God proved that Jesus was his Son by raising him from the dead.

                                    b.         The very man they had killed. (Yes, Peter did blame the leaders.)

                                    c.         Jesus is ruling from heaven, it is through him alone that salvation is available.

                                    d.         The apostles claimed to be witnesses of these facts as well as the Holy Spirit whom has given them the power to do miracles.

                        3.         The words of Peter hurt and the council was infuriated.

                                    a.         They wanted to kill the apostles then and there.

                                    b.         But one of the Council, a respected teacher named Gamaliel, argued against the plan

                                    c.         After sending the apostles out, he stated that other popular leaders had arisen and fell away after the charismatic leader died.

                                    d.         If this religion is of men, the apostles will eventually fail, but if it is from God they will not be able to stop it.

                                                (1)       In other words, he is telling the Council that fighting this religion would be politically unsound.

                                                (2)       They would lose in either case.

                        4.         They settled on flogging the apostles and issuing again a firm order not to speak of Jesus.

                                    a.         Rather than intimidating them, the apostles rejoiced that they were privileged to suffer for Jesus.

                                    b.         Every day they continued to teach publicly in the Temple and privately from house to house.

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