17 Then the high priest took action. He and all his colleagues, those who belonged to the party of the Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. 18 So they arrested the apostles and put them in the city jail. 19 But an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail during the night, brought them out, and said, 20 “Go and stand in the temple complex, and tell the people all about this life.” 21 In obedience to this, they entered the temple complex at daybreak and began to teach.
When the high priest and those who were with him arrived, they convened the Sanhedrin—the full Senate of the sons of Israel—and sent orders to the jail to have them brought. 22 But when the temple police got there, they did not find them in the jail, so they returned and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing in front of the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside!” 24 Asthe commander of the temple police and the chief priests heard these things, they were baffled about them, as to what could come of this.
25 Someone came and reported to them, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple complex and teaching the people.” 26 Then the commander went with the temple police and brought them in without force, because they were afraid the people might stone them. 27 After they brought them in, they had them stand before the Sanhedrin, and the high priest asked, 28 “Didn’t we strictly order you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to bring this man’s blood on us!”
29 But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom you had murdered by hanging Him on a tree. 31 God exalted this man to His right hand as ruler and Savior, to grant repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34 A Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law who was respected by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered the men to be taken outside for a little while. 35 He said to them, “Men of Israel, be careful about what you’re going to do to these men. 36 Not long ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about 400 men rallied to him. He was killed, and all his partisans were dispersed and came to nothing.
37 After this man, Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and attracted a following.That man also perished, and all his partisans were scattered. 38 And now, I tell you, stay away from these men and leave them alone. For if this plan or this work is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even be found fighting against God.” So he persuaded them.
40 After they called in the apostles and had them flogged, they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus and released them. 41 Then they went out from the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to be dishonored on behalf of the Name. 42 Every day in the temple complex, and in various homes, they continued teaching and proclaiming the good news that Jesus is the Messiah.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are taken from the Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1999, 2000, 2002, 2003, 2009 by Holman Bible Publishers. Used by permission. Holman Christian Standard Bible®, Holman CSB®, and HCSB® are federally registered trademarks of Holman Bible Publishers.
“Didn’t we strictly order you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching…”
The book of Acts is filled with miraculous events—healings, angels, tongues of fire, earthquakes, visions, and thousands of people coming to faith in Christ. It’s titled “The Acts of the Apostles,” but it might well be titled “The Acts of the Holy Spirit,” since the Spirit’s activity is evident everywhere.
One of the most striking ways in which the Spirit was evident was in the boldness and efficacy of the witnesses who spoke for Jesus. The apostles, who’d been hiding out in fear for their lives, were imprisoned because they couldn’t stop talking about what they’d seen and heard—and praising God for the opportunity to do it!
Earlier in Acts, we read they’d been ordered by Jewish leaders to stop speaking about “that name.” And there it was again, “that name.” The high priest couldn’t even bring himself to say the name. (In early Jewish writings, Jesus’ name is never mentioned. He’s referred to as “such a one” [i.e. “so and so”].)
The disciples weren’t ordered to stop healing or meeting together, to stop sharing their possessions or doing good things. They were ordered to stop doing things in the name of Jesus—talking about Him, attributing power to Him, and increasing His fame.
"We cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard,” they replied.
When the apostles were arrested and asked to explain their actions, they used the opportunity to proclaim the message of Jesus, not try to secure a release. Both Stephen and Paul did this when they were brought to trial (7:2–53; 24:25; 26:2–29). They spoke about who Jesus is and what He’d done.
The content of their message is commonly called “the Kerygma,” which means “preaching.” It came to include this good news about Jesus:
- The promises God made in the Old Testament were fulfilled with the coming of Jesus the Messiah (Acts 2:30; 3:19, 24; 10:43; 26:6-7, 22; Romans 1:2-4; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:1-2; 1 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:18-19).
- God anointed Jesus as Messiah at His baptism (Acts 10:38).
- Jesus began His ministry in Galilee after His baptism (Acts 10:37).
- His ministry was characterized by doing good and performing mighty works by the power of God (Mark 10:45; Acts 2:22; 10:38).
- Jesus was crucified according to the purpose of God (Mark 10:45; John 3:16; Acts 2:23; 3:13-15, 18; 4:11; 10:39; 26:23; Romans 8:34; 1 Corinthians 1:17-18; 15:3; Galatians 1:4; Hebrews 1:3; 1 Peter 1:2, 19; 3:18; 1 John 4:10).
- He was raised from the dead and appeared to His disciples (Acts 2:24, 31-32; 3:15, 26; 10:40-41; 17:31; 26:23; Romans 8:34; 10:9; 1 Corinthians 15:4-7, 12ff; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; 1 Timothy 3:16; 1 Peter 1:2; 3:18, 21).
- Jesus was exalted by God and given the name “Lord” (Acts 2:25-29, 33-36; 3:13; 10:36; Romans 8:34; 10:9; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:3; 1 Peter 3:22).
- He gave the Holy Spirit to form the new community of God (Acts 1:8; 2:14-18, 38-39; 10:44-47; 1 Peter 1:12).
- He’ll come again for judgment and the restoration of all things (Acts 3:20-21; 10:42; 17:31; 1 Corinthians 15:20-28; 1 Thessalonians 1:10).
- All who hear this good news should repent and be baptized (Acts 2:21, 38; 3:19; 10:43, 47-48; 17:30; 26:20; Romans 1:17; 10:9; 1 Peter 3:21).
Jesus promised, “When I am lifted up, I will draw all people to myself” (John 12:32), and He said, “The Son of Man must be lifted up so that everyone who believes in Him will have eternal life” (John 3:14-15).
It's the good news of Jesus—who He is, what He’s done, what He can do for those who believe in Him. We must continue talking about it, filling every place with this news. It's that news that’s powerful, that will change lives, and that will give life.
Are you filling the place with that Name?
- When you speak about God in the places where you live, work, and play, do you speak about Jesus? What other things might we tend to talk about instead (political issues, morality, church)?
- Do you attribute your success, opportunities, and blessings to Jesus? Or do you describe them as luck or the result of hard work?
- Do you talk about who Jesus is to you? What can you say that you’ve seen and heard by experience with Jesus?
- How would you present the good news contained in the Kerygma? Practice telling these things to a family member or friend.
- Do you believe Jesus will draw people to Himself if we make much of Him?