Acts 5 : 27 - 32, 40 - 41 ( NRSV )

When they had brought them, they had them stand before the council. The high priest questioned them,(27) saying, "We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to bring this man's blood on us."(28) But Peter and the apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than any human authority.(29) The God of our ancestors raised up Jesus, whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree.1(30) God exalted him at his right hand2 as Leader and Saviour that he might give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins.(31) And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him."(32) . . ,
. . , and when they had called in the spostles, they had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.(40) As they left the council, they rejoiced that they were considered worthy to suffer dishonour for the same of the name.(41) And every day in the temple and at home they did not cease to teach and proclaim Jesus as the Messiah.(41)

Comment

     The apostles Peter and John had earlier been called before Hebrew society's Supreme Court to be interrogated about the healing of a lame man and in the presence of the priests, temple police and Sadducees (cf Ac.3:1-10). On that occasion Peter identified Jesus as the Messiah, who although not recognised by the Hebrew leaders, immersed His disciples in YHWH's "living Torah" and brought YHWH's cause in history to completion!
     By their persistence in the telling of this "good news" about Jesus the apostles provided an invitation to the Hebrews to re-gather as a community around the Torah values of joyful, liberated obedience. That aroused their opponents to act. Peter and the other apostles had been apprenticed in Jesus' settled instincts and performance skills of living Torah, so their practice reproduces in a new situation the same prophetic activity by which people are attracted to the Torah which completes the conditions of God's reigning.
     But they are accused of spreading a message, "in the name." Their message was promoting the skills of Jesus for living the Torah of the God of history! The apostles affirm the value of their practice. For them it was a matter of obedience. It was not an attack on the guilt or otherwise of their opponents. Obedience to Jesus' message demanded a response of practical faith in God's revelation in history.
     The preaching of Peter and other apostles empowers for a new future that is linked to the power of God - to work, "miracles, portents and signs," culminating in the resurrection (Ac.2:22-24). Thus the Spirit of Jesus leads to a discernment and reception of God's crucifixion - of God's raising the crucified One to glory. Obedience means that Peter and the apostles act, "in the name"(of Jesus) inviting Hebrew religious leaders to change their negative attitude towards the Jesus-movement.
     The Sanhedrin had Peter and the apostles flogged and released, with a prohibition to speak, "in the name." God's power-for-life raised up Jesus, "the Saviour of humankind!" Despite persecution, apostles consider obedience to Jesus' Spirit is the physical side of this salvation in the religious sense. Obedience is faithfulness to God's way of the future. Accourding to Peter and the apostles, the power and authority of the God of history is revealed by Jesus' prophetic practice. The duty of a disciple is to proclaim Jesus' name boldly! No relgious or secular authority can compel silence. This proclaiming liberates and cures. It opens up the power for life and newness at the same time as it awakens fear and opposition!
 
footnotes:
Acts 5:27-41 When the Twelve immediately resumed public teaching, the Sanhedrin determined to invoke upon them the penalty of death (Ac.5:33) prescribed in Dt.13:6-10. Gamaliel's advice against this course finally prevailed, but it did not save the Twelve from the punishment of scourging (Ac.5:40) in a last endeavour to shake their conviction of their prophetic mission.
1. [ v.30 ] Hanging Him on a tree: That is, crucifying Jesus (cf Ga.3:13).
2. [ v.31 ] At His right hand: At the right hand of God: or "by the right hand of God."


 

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