Most of this section is about the comical case of the twelve missing prisoners. The apostles have been arrested for preaching in the temple, yet an angel comes to open the prison doors. “Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this Life”(Acts 5:20). The angel directs them to go right back to preaching. As frightening as the prospect of being arrested again to face the anger of the leaders is, it is more frightening to disobey an angel. God wants this message to be preached and is willing to send angels and work miracles to show both his power and the intensity of his desire to have people hear about his Son.
The poor officers, meanwhile, have a terrible morning. They come to work to find everything locked, with the guards standing outside the locked prison. There are just no prisoners. “Now when the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these words, they were greatly perplexed about them, wondering what this would come to”(Acts 5:24). I picture them standing around staring at each other. Finally someone comes to inform them that the apostles are preaching in the temple. “Then the captain with the officers went and brought them, but not by force, for they were afraid of being stoned by the people”(Acts 5:26). Despite this temporary freedom, the apostles are going to have to face the judges.
God wants this message preached. Even just one more opportunity where a few more people will hear is worth the effort to free the apostles from prison. It is also more important to God than getting the apostles out of town or hiding them. It is a gospel that must be preached.
One thing to think about: If God felt this way about preaching opportunities in the first century, how does he feel about them today?
One thing to pray for: This sense of the urgency of the gospel
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Fairview Park church of Christ, 11820 Fairview Road, Little Rock, AR 72212
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