Summary: The apostles were taken into custody another time and stood trial the next day. Compare what Peter said, and what Gamaliel said, as responses to the charges! This outline is revised from one I used in preaching a miniseries on Acts several years ago.

Introduction: the apostles were healing people, through the power of God, so much that even people from outside Jerusalem were bringing their sick folks there for healing. Verses 12-16 give a brief summary of these activities. All of this no doubt led to the high priest and others taking action to stop the apostles from doing much of anything! This passage has narrative and dialogue, concluding with Gamaliel’s speech before the leaders and closing with the apostles continuing to preach and teach about Jesus.

On a personal note, I found it difficult to make a traditional outline for this passage. The important thing is not how anyone structures or analyzes this passage, but rather to take it for what it is and to see how the apostles responded when they were persecuted for their faith.

1 Catch and release?

--High priest (Annas, most likely; Acts 4:6) and others “were filled with indignation”

--Then they laid hands on the apostles (clearly not the kind of “laying on of hands” to signify approval by others!), most likely meaning they put the apostles under arrest.

--Placed them in “the common prison.” Not sure if this was the same place where they were “put in hold” previously (Acts 4:3). Protective custody?

--An angel of the Lord opened the door/s, brought them out, and told them to preach!

--The next morning they did exactly that, going into the temple and teaching.

2 Where did they go?

--High priest called a grand assembly to have the apostles brought in for trial

--But the apostles weren’t in the prison, and nobody knew where they were!

--Someone reported to the assembly that the apostles were in the temple and teaching!

--Captain (of the temple guard? 4:1) and other officers brought them in peacefully.

--Once there, they were brought before the Council (Sanhedrin) and questioned.

3 Charge and replies

--High priest: “Didn’t we tell you to stop doing this? You’re trying to bring this man’s (Jesus) blood on us. Fact: the crowd at Pilate’s judgment hall asked for this (Matthew 27:25)!

--Peter’s four-verse message in reply. Dr. Vance Havner in one of his works mentioned so many things in this brief message: Calvary, resurrection, repentance, forgiveness, and the Trinity plus possibly even more.

--Gamaliel’s speech, after the apostles were taken out of the way for a moment. Different opinions about what he was trying to say. Was he suggesting this new movement (for lack of a better term) would fade out like the activities of Theudas and Judas? Or was he suggesting this was truly a work of God? Only he knows for sure.

--One thing for sure, the religious leaders never gave up on persecuting believers in Jesus. Stephen, soon after this, and Paul, later on, both were tried by this Council!

4 Suffering and sharing

--The apostles were “beaten”; no details provided.

--Then they were released! Someone once observed there was no door anywhere to keep a believer from sharing Jesus.

--And they went right back to the temple, teaching and preaching Jesus, sharing about Him.

Conclusion: It didn’t require much time for all these events to happen. The apostles were held in the “common prison” overnight: while there is no evidence of what they did, it’s a pretty good guess they spent much of the night in prayer. They were tried, beaten, and released the next day and promptly went back to the business of sharing Jesus.

Should we ever come to something like this, may we too remain faithful to the Lord, witnessing about Him to all we can.

Scripture quotations were taken from the King James Version of the Bible (KJV).

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