Bible Class
Discussion Guide
by Edward Thomason

Persecution of the Apostles            Acts 5:17-42

warm up
Problem Dangers Wrong response Correct response
jailed for preaching
a. Hindered  gospel.
b. Lives at risk.
c. Reputation at risk
a. Flee for life.
b. Incite a riot
c. Obey authority of men and disobey God.
a. Obey God rather than man.
b. Rejoice rather than retaliate.
c. Continue preaching

In the chart above, which would you say was the greatest danger, worst and most correct response?

   1. Can you imagine a situation when it might not be wrong to disobey your government?  If so, what kind of situations might that be?

   2. If you were forbidden by the law to talk about Jesus what would you do? Before you think that such will never happen consider where it already has.

      [  ]
[  ]
[  ]
Is it lawful to openly preach about Jesus in communist China?
Is it lawful to openly preach about Jesus on U.S. government property?
Is it lawful for teachers to instruct students concerning God and Jesus in our local schools? 

wise up

I. Indignation and irony: Vs. 17-28
There is a good deal of "irony" played out in the events of this text. For example, the Sadducees along with the high priest were filled with indignation. The Sadducees, you may recall, did not believe in angels. But God sent an angel to release the apostles from prison. That's irony! 

   1. If you had been in the court and heard someone say that the prisoners had escaped, and were publicly preaching, yet the doors of the prison were still locked and the guards who had been posted did not see them leave... what would you think? Discus why.
      [  ]
I'd be stunned.  [  ] I'd be puzzled.  [  ] I'd be angry. [  ] I'd be fearful.

   2. Discuss the miraculous escape of the apostles. Were the doors of the prison relocked? Did the apostles flee for safety once released or go back and preach? What is meant by the expression "the words of this life" in verse 20? 

   3. According to verse 24, how did the council respond when they heard the prison was empty?  In verse 28, what 3 things did the high priest ask the apostles? What is implied about the success of the gospel by the statement that they had "filled Jerusalem with your doctrine?"

   4 Why was the council afraid that the apostles would bring Christ's blood upon them? Cf., verse 28. (Which of the following fits best their fear? Explain your choice.)
     [  ]
Afraid the people would question their authority and they might loose prestige.
     [  ]
Afraid they would have to wrestle with their conscience.
     [  ]
Afraid of open rebellion by the people.

II. Courage and confrontation: Vs. 29-33
   1. How did the apostles respond to the charge that they had violated the command not to preach in the name of Christ? 
       [  ]
Plead guilty as charged? [  ] Plead not guilty? [  ] Counter charged their accusers?

   2. Discuss the modern day applications to the statement "We ought to obey God rather than men."

   3. In Peter's sermon to the rulers was he confrontational regarding their sin and need for forgiveness? According to verse 33, Peter's words did not prick their hearts (cf. 2:37) but "cut to the heart." Peter had hit a sore spot. They knew they were guilty of the blood of Jesus but refused to repent. (Obviously, knowledge of truth does not always lead to repentance.) What did these men begin to plot?

III. Wait and see wisdom: Vs. 34-42
   1. Who was a student of this wise and reputable Pharisee named Gamaliel? (Cf., Acts 22:3.) What was Gamaliel's counsel regarding these matters? Do you think that  he may have begun to think a little? (Cf., Vs.38-39.) Can men overthrow the work of God?

   2 Do you think Gamaliel's advice to take a wait and see approach...
       a. Was sound advice then? [  ]
Yes  [  ] No   -- Why?
       b. Was sound advice at all times in any situation? [  ]
Yes  [  ] No  -- Why?
           Cf., I Thess. 5:21
   3. After being beaten and commanded to keep quiet about Jesus, what did the apostles do? Where did they teach and preach every day? (Vs. 42.)

wrap up

1. It took courage for the apostles to return to the temple and preach. Where do you think they got such courage? Do we need leaders today with that kind of courage?  Where will such courage come from today? Share lessons you think this text teaches.


  Please read Acts 6:1-7 for next week        copyright 2001