Boldness to Obey

KEY VERSE: “Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” —Acts 5:29


BEFORE HIS ASCENSION, Jesus told the apostles that they would “be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) And he had told them before his death that they would drink of the cup that he was to drink (Matt. 20:23), foretelling the persecutions they were to suffer for his name’s sake. The test would be. in their boldness to obey.

The first test came as a result of the healing of a lame man. (Acts 3:1-8) Summoned before the Sanhedrin, Peter and John were commanded “not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.” (Acts 4:18) The apostles’ response was to continue to “speak the 20 things which we have seen and heard.” (vs. 20) Because the man who had been healed was an undeniable witness, the rulers threatened the apostles and let them go without further punishment. But the apostles were true to their mission and continued to preach the Gospel, even with this threat hanging over them.

As the apostles continued performing ‘signs and wonders’ and healing in the name of Jesus, they were arrested and thrown into prison. The rulers were becoming more threatening and serious about silencing these men. But that night, while wondering what lay ahead for them, an angel appeared to Peter and John, opened the prison doors, and instructed them to “Go, stand and speak in the Temple to the people all the words of this life.” (Acts 5:17-20) The threats and imprisonment still reminding them of their dangerous situation, they did not hesitate, but went immediately to the Temple according to the delivered instructions and continued preaching the Gospel message.

When the High Priest and the Sadducees heard what had happened, they were furious, and had the apostles again brought before them, and demanded to, know why these men continued to preach in the name of Jesus. But the apostles were not moved from their convictions, and Peter answered, in the words of our Key Verse, “We ought to obey God rather than men.” Their obedience to God would not be denied.

When the council heard this, they were ready to have the apostles killed. (Acts 5:33) But they were spared when Gamaliel, a Pharisee, pointed out that similar threats had died out with their leaders, and this ‘Jesus movement’ would be no different. He concluded his defense of the apostles by saying, “If it [preaching in the name of Jesus] be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.” (vss. 34-39) This reasoning persuaded the council to once again release the apostles, but not before beating them, and again commanding them not to speak in the name of Jesus.—vs. 40

What obedience the apostles had demonstrated! And their response to this difficult experience is an encouragement to every true Christian. “They departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name. And daily in the Temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.” (Acts 5:41,42) They would obey God regardless of the consequences!

The apostles set a standard of Christian discipleship for us. We are “to obey [which] is better than sacrifice.”—I Sam. 15:22

Dawn Bible Students Association
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