The apostles were doing many signs and multitudes were being added to the Lord in the city of Jerusalem (Acts 5:12-16). The Jewish authorities did not like it one bit, so they had the apostles arrested. God sent an angel to release them, but when they returned to preach again in the temple area, they were once again taken into custody (5:17-26). The Jewish Sanhedrin rebuked the apostles for what it considered to be misconduct, but ultimately it released them.
With the above information as a background, let us now read the words of Acts 5:40-42:
And they agreed with him, and when they had called for the apostles and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
We may never suffer through the type of persecution that the apostles endured, and we certainly will not do true miracles as they did, but there surely are some lessons that we can learn from their attitude and action. What do we see in the apostles on this occasion that is worthy of imitation?
(1) The apostles delighted to be able to suffer for Jesus’ sake. They rejoiced – not complained, not whined, not blasphemed – they rejoiced. They counted it as an honor to be able to suffer for the name of the One Who had willingly suffered for them. The apostle Peter later wrote to saints that were facing severe trials and persecution. His instruction for them included these words: “. . . rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings . . . If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you . . . Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter” (1 Peter 4:13,14,16). You and I need to learn to rejoice in the Lord always, even when things do not go as we desire.
(2) The apostles defied human decrees that conflicted with the revealed will of God. The apostles did not simply spread the gospel; they did so despite a direct command from the Jewish Sanhedrin not to do it. It was not the first time that they had gone against the council’s decree, and they knew that doing so had the potential to get them into big trouble once more. But still, there they were, doing again what the council despised: doing their best to fill the whole area with the good news of the Lord’s salvation. Before the Jewish leaders beat and released them, the apostles told them to their face: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). They did not organize a public demonstration. They did not go around shouting as they held signs that revealed their anger. They simply
let it be known that they intended to do what God told them to do, regardless of what any humans might think or say about it. Then, they went out and continued to work to carry out their Lord’s charge to preach His will to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:47). Brothers and sisters, their attitude and action showed courage and commitment. Most of us could do better in these two areas, do you not agree?
(3) The apostles taught and preached daily. That is what the Bible says (5:42). Not once per month, and not one day per week. No, their pattern was to do it every single day. No doubt they were glad to do so. No doubt they felt a sense of joy each time someone obeyed the gospel. Yet, being a daily teacher of God’s word involves a huge amount of work. It requires self-discipline and steadfastness, too. Is the church putting forth that kind of effort today? Are we really trying to reach souls on a daily basis?
Daily evangelism was the practice of the early church. One of the clear factors in the numerical growth of the Kingdom in its early years was the evangelistic fervor of Jesus’ followers. Collectively, they showed such zeal each day. Consider some other references in the Book of Acts that point to daily teaching [emphasis below is mine, rdc]:
“So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily” (16:5). “Therefore he [Paul] reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and with the Gentile worshippers, and in the marketplace daily with those who happened to be there” (17:17). “ . . . he [Paul] departed from them and withdrew the disciples, reasoning daily in the school of Tyrannus” (19:9).
We further read in Acts 2:47 that the Lord added saved people to the church on a daily basis. While such a statement does not necessarily prove that the teaching was done each day, it would make us think that teaching was done often, yes, very often. We need to step up our efforts in the 21st century. Just like the apostles, we, too, need to go to work to teach and preach Jesus as the Christ on a daily basis.
(4) The apostles taught both publicly and privately. The Bible says that they taught and preached “in the temple, and in every house.” Some people can be reached by hearing the gospel proclaimed in a public manner, while many more learn and receive the gospel through teaching that is done in person-to-person settings. A wise course of action is to employ a combination of both public and private teaching. What works well in one location may not be the best approach in other places. There is so much work to do! Let us learn from and imitate the apostles.
—Roger D. Campbell
TRUTH is published monthly by the Klang church of Christ in order to help educate, edify, encourage, and equip the saints of God.