Bible Bite – Acts 5:40-41

Bible Bites TeethA night or two ago, as my wife and I were reading Acts 5, we were talking about many things in the text.  One of them was the amazing contrast between the members of the Sanhedrin and the Apostles.  Here’s a little walk through the passage:

In Acts5:14, the church was growing by leaps and bounds because in 5:15-16, Peter healed everyone in Jerusalem.  Did the members of the Sanhedrin rejoice at the healing, revival and gospel proclamation?

Nope.  They were jealous (5:17) and arrested them (5:18).

Then an angel let them out of prison  and told them to continue preaching (5:19-20) and they did (5:21).

In the morning, the Sanhedrin sent out soldiers to get the prisoners but they weren’t there (5:21-24).  They found the prisoners out preaching in the temple (5:25) and went and asked them to come back to the Sanhedrin cautiously, for fear that the people would stone them (5:26).  The apostles went with the soldiers and appeared before the Sanhedrin, who reminded them that the apostles were forbidden from preaching Christ (5:27-28).

The apostles tell the Sanhedrin that “we must obey God rather than men” (5:29) and re-itterate the message that they’re proclaiming (5:30-31). Did the members of the Sanhedrin rejoice at the gospel proclamation?

Nope.  They were so infuriated that they wanted to murder the apostles (5:33).

Then Gamaliel (the teacher of Saul of Tarsus), who was a wise and respected Rabi, had the apostles removed, spoke up to remind the Sanhedrin of other “revivals” that came and went into oblivion, and also suggested that if the apostles were indeed spokesmen for God, any opposition to the apostles would be direct opposition of God (5:39).  Did this have any effect on the Sanhedrin?

Barely.  They didn’t murder the apostles.  Instead, they had them flogged and commanded them again to not preach the good news about the resurrection (5:40).  Then comes one of the most bizarre verses in the entire Bible:

“Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name.” – Acts 5:41

And they kept on preaching the gospel both in the temple and in houses (Acts 5:42).

Here’s some thoughts on the passage:

1.  The facts of Peter’s healing weren’t in dispute.  Acts 5:16 says “The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.”  Peter put the doctors out of business, and nobody was suggesting that Peter wasn’t doing what he was clearly and obviously doing.  The facts of the healings weren’t in dispute; the interpretation of those facts was where the battle lied.  Peter was unquestionably verified, by divine miracles, as a spokesman for God.  The Sanhedrin hated that fact, and they sought to erase that fact by silencing, or even murdering Peter.

All this to simply show you that sin affects how the mind interprets facts.  Facts are neutral, but the carnal mind is enslaved to sin and sees all facts only and exclusively through the lens of their own sin (John 8:34; Rom. 8:5-8).

2.  The disciples rejoiced in their suffering.  Literally, they praised God that they got a beating.  There’s a rather vast disconnect between how they saw the world and how the Sanhedrin saw the world.  The Sanhedrin saw the apostles as a threat to their power and position and wanted them silenced, even at the cost of obvious and premeditated sin.  The apostles saw the Sanhedrin as a threat to the gospel and wanted to proclaim the gospel, even at the cost of their own comfort or even lives.

All this to simply show you that the Holy Spirit must change your perception of life. Paul talks about this at length in Philippians 3:3-11.  The gospel turned his world (and his worldview) completely upside down:

For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

That leads to a serious question about how much your life and actions either confirms or betrays your claims to believe the scriptures and treasure Christ:

Do you, like Paul and the apostles, live with a singular focus on preparing for the coming resurrection?

Do you live for then or now?

What I mean by that is that every Sunday, I pass Pepsi’s new ad campaign on my way to church:


When life brings you sickness, difficult times, or even malicious people who orchestrate tangible acts of wickedness against you, etc. do you see it for what it is?  Do you see the Lord’s good and loving hand in it for the purpose of increased Christ-likeness, the fruits of which will be enjoyed forever?

Fools live for now.  Wise men live for 10 trillion years from now.

Live for then.

Until Next Time,

Lyndon “Get your worldview from the Savior, not a soft drink” Unger


8 thoughts on “Bible Bite – Acts 5:40-41

  1. Just got out the ER after having an emergency appendectomy. Timely words. I am blessed that God is seeking my maturity through the various challenges and struggles of life. Good exegesis, keep it up.

    • Oh man! That’s not something you should have on your “to do” list Jon! I’m glad you’re alright and even more glad that you’re wise to the hand of the Lord in it all.

      God bless brudder Epp.

  2. Just wanted to say hello to the Mennoknight family and I don’t know why I wanted to make you all happy and chose this Verse: “But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
    (John 4:14, NKJV) Hoping everything is well. Looking forward to more postings when time arrives.

  3. Excuse me, I did not see “J. Epp’s” post about emergency appendectomy. Let me take this opportunity to offer prayer. Bless your recovery my falling out of bed pales in comparison indeed. +++

  4. Dear Mennoknight, when you decide you have opportunity, could you give your opinion on this: a Church in Oklahoma prays for me. One of the Deacons happens to be a distant relative. I mentioned you and guess what he said!!! He said “oh, Mennonites are a large part of our Church, because many of their beliefs coincide with Baptist beliefs” as if it was an everyday thing! Didn’t you mention once something about a similarity between Baptist and Mennonites? He said the Church welcomes them and considers them a great addition to the Congregation 🙂 🙂 🙂 I was surprised! (and happy)

  5. I apologize for not commenting on the posting. It is not correct to ignore The Word. Thank you for what Paul said, he fascinates me with his writing ability through the Holy Spirit. Just tonight, I cried multiple times, before I had read this Posting. I thought back to when due to chronic illness working in a world of doctors who disagreed and designated me a leper, He gave me the strength to dot every i and cross every t to where I could not be fired, because at the time I was married and had my only baby, David, and his dad was injured. I saw the childhood damage in a totally different manner: that damage was what allowed me to go thru the castigation and denial of fibromyalgia and the loss of all my working relationships. I saw He took bad and turned it to good for me. I knew a lot of sin was occurring and the Head of the Department knew I knew yet I never said a word. Tonight, years later, I cried again because by saying nothing I finally saw when Human Resources called me in with him present, they actually offered to help with the disability process. I cried and laughed at the same time and saw a look of amazement come across that man’s face as I suspect now he was behind my getting the extra help. I could have destroyed his career. Not until that moment do I believe he recognized I was no threat. God is Good.

    Another incident occurred today, not years ago. I called the co-op bank and asked to apply for the skip-a-pay program for July, no, this is not ”name it or claim it’ the girl asked me my password the first time I made a slight error she was crying I tried to tell her my 100percent accurate password but she just kept saying ”you’re approved, your approved”. She had begun crying when she heard my password. As if she had needed to hear it. Her response was very precious in my opinion.

    Life is not always perfect. The Trinity is Perfect and THANK YOU for telling a part of the story of a zealot come to Christ. +++

    I promise to be quiet for awhile.

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