Online Bible Commentary
Speak All the Words of This Life
Acts 5:17 Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation, 18 and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison. 19 But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 "Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life." 21 And when they heard that, they entered the temple early in the morning and taught. But the high priest and those with him came and called the council together, with all the elders of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought. 22 But when the officers came and did not find them in the prison, they returned and reported, 23 saying, "Indeed we found the prison shut securely, and the guards standing outside before the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside!" 24 Now when the high priest, the captain of the temple, and the chief priests heard these things, they wondered what the outcome would be. (NKJV)
The New Testament Church is now an up and coming reality, in the A.D. early thirties. There were now at least five thousand believers that made up the worldwide church, and the numbers were growing daily.
The Jewish religious leaders were feeling threatened by the following of this new movement led by the apostles. They had already arrested Peter and John for teaching of Jesus. They released them with a warning to stop this teaching.
Now it comes to their attention that the apostles are continuing to minister in the name of Jesus. They are healing many, through miracles from Jesus. The high priest and the Sadducees “were filled with indignation” (v. 17).
The word translated “indignation” is the Greek word “zelos”. It can also mean zeal, enthusiasm, jealousy, envy, or rage. All of these emotions were at work in the hearts of the Jewish religious leaders. The Sadducees did not believe in bodily resurrection, which was being preached by the apostles. All of the leaders had to be jealous of the popularity of this new movement, and enraged by their defiance.
So the Jewish leaders arrested, for the second time, the apostles and “put them in the common prison” (v. 18). That night “an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out” (v. 19). The prison guards were not even aware of their escape.
The angel instructed the apostles to "Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life" (v. 20). “This life” was the new way of life represented by this new movement, initially called “The Way” and later “Christianity.”
In obedience to the order from the messenger of God the apostles “entered the temple early in the morning and taught” (v. 21a). Not knowing this, that morning “the high priest and those with him came and called the council together, with all the elders of the children of Israel” (v. 21b). The “council” was the Sanhedrin Council of the religious leaders. The “elders” were those Jewish leaders that made up the senate. They met and summoned the apostles to be brought before them for questioning and sentencing (v. 21c).
The temple police returned shortly and announced that the guards were still in place and nothing had been disturbed, but the apostles were nowhere to be found (vv. 22-23). In their amazement “the high priest, the captain of the temple (police), and the chief priests”, all wondered what would come of this upstart movement (v. 24).
Just as the angel of the Lord commanded the apostles to “speak all the words of this life”, we too are to follow this same commandment. Christians of today are not to be silenced by the ruling leaders of today.
We are to continue to speak the words, all the words, of the Christian life. We are to condemn sinful living and uphold righteous living. We are to continue to preach the gospel, the whole gospel, no matter the opposition. We live to please the Lord Jesus, not the world. The world may be able to persecute us and even kill our bodies, but they cannot kill our souls.
All over the world Christians are being persecuted for their faith. Their charge is to continue onward, speaking all the words of this life.