Summary: The Apostles Persecuted. (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email: firstname.lastname@example.org)
Reading: Acts chapter 5 verses 17-42.
We looked last week at verses 1-11:
• The story of Ananias and Sapphira.
• How they presumed upon God and were dishonest.
Being honest is not always easy.
• The children in a prominent family decided to give their father a book of the family’s history for a birthday present.
• They commissioned a professional biographer to do the work, carefully warning him of the family’s ‘black sheep’ problem: Uncle George.
• Uncle George had been executed in the electric chair for murder. ‘I can handle that situation so that there will be no embarrassment,’ the biographer assured the children.
‘I’ll merely say that Uncle George occupied a chair of applied electronics at an important Government Institution. He was attached to his position by the strongest ties and his death came as a real shock.’
Verses 1-11: Show to us a problem, opposition to a healthy Church, (opposition that was within the Church).
Verses 12-34: Opposition outside the church.
Acts chapter 5 is a series of places:
• Scan through the passage with me and see the variety of places,
• Where Christ uses these apostles:
Verse 12: The Colonnade.
• Solomon’s colonnade was becoming a regular gathering place for Christians to meet.
• Verse 12: “All the believers used to meet there”.
• Don’t forget, Church buildings had not yet been invented,
• So the Christians needed somewhere big enough to house 5,000 men plus women & kids(ch 4:4).
• Solomon's Colonnade would have resembled a long porch:
• Stretching along, the eastern side of the temple courtyard.
It was full of:
• The sick and feeble, the diseased, the afflicted and the disabled.
• Full of beggars, the poor and unfortunates of society.
• Instead of it representing a dignified religious sight:
• It looked like a cross between, Card-board city and a General Hospital.
(So the first place mentioned is a porch, a colonnade).
The second place mentioned is found in Verse 18:
• The last two words in the verse,
• "Public Jail".
• What a contrast to Solomon's Colonnade; which was full of opportunities,
• There they were useful, they could do something, achieve something.
• But now they are confined, limited, someone has put the brakes on their mission!
• Or have they? Even though they are confined in a public jail, God's will shall be done!
The third place mentioned is found in verse 21:
• "The Temple Courts".
• From jail to the temple.
• Only this time they return with renewed fervour,
• After all they had just experienced the power of God first hand.
• So they returned full of joy, full of confidence,
• I would imagine shouting the Christian message.
The fourth place is found in verse 27:
• Although it is not mentioned by name,
• We do know where they were by that key word 'Sanhedrin':
• The 'Sanhedrin', was the highest authority in Jewish affairs,
• It met in the COURT ROOM in Jerusalem.
• At the time of Jesus the Sanhedrin was at its most powerful and influential peak,
• This court wrote the final word concerning civil and religious law,
• It could order arrests by its officers,
• But they had limited powers, e.g. they could not kill a man (capitol punishment).
The fifth place mentioned is contained in verse 42:
- 'From house to house',
- In this verse they are on the streets.
NOTE: The point I wish to make is this:
• Everywhere the Apostles found themselves,
• They made it count for Christ!!!
For them it mattered not, WHERE they were,
• They reacted no differently whatever their surroundings,
• In prison and therefore in hardships, or in the temple or in somebody's houses.
WHERE they were was not important:
• But WHO was with them, i.e. The Lord was with them! (That's what counted)
• In their changing circumstances, they had an unchanging God.
That is the stirring lesson of this chapter:
• The apostles were persecuted, imprisoned & beaten,
• For no other reason than teaching the gospel.
• But through Christ, the Great Shepherd,
• They overwhelmingly conquered the situations & circumstances they were in.
4 situations where God was at work:
Verse 11: “Great fear had gripped the whole Church and all who heard about these events”.
Question: What events?
Answer: The supernatural death of Ananias & Sapphira.
(A). Power on the Porch (Verse 12-16).
Verse 12: “The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people”.
"As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by".
These miracles divided the people into two groups: