Online Bible Commentary
We Ought to Obey God Rather than Men
Acts 5:25 So one came and told them, saying, "Look, the men whom you put in prison are standing in the temple and teaching the people!" 26 Then the captain went with the officers and brought them without violence, for they feared the people, lest they should be stoned. 27 And when they had brought them, they set them before the council. And the high priest asked them, 28 saying, "Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man's blood on us!" 29 But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: "We ought to obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. 31 Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him." (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.
The apostles were then arrested a second time for preaching and healing in the name of Jesus. This time an angel of the Lord released them from their prison cell, without the guards even knowing!
Now the religious leaders are fit to be tied. What makes it worse is that not only have the apostles escaped prison but now they also are back teaching in the temple again (v. 25).
So the “captain” of the temple police was sent with his “officers” to arrest the apostles, for the third time (v. 26a)! The captain and his officers were very careful and gentle in arresting the apostles. They knew that the apostles had gained a loyal following and feared retribution from the crowd in the form of stoning (v. 26b).
So the apostles were again brought before the Sanhedrin Council, the religious leaders, for interrogation (v. 27). “The high priest asked them, saying, ‘Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? And look, you have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this Man's blood on us’" (vv. 27b-28)! The response from “Peter and the other disciples” was: "We ought to obey God rather than men” (v. 29).
The apostles continued by accusing the religious leaders of murdering Jesus by hanging Him on a tree. Then their God resurrected Jesus and He now sits at the right hand of God in Heaven as “Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins” (vv. 30-31). The apostles concluded their response by claiming to be “witnesses” of these events, along with “the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him” (v. 32).
Notice that Luke, the writer of the Book of Acts, identifies only one spokesperson by name, Peter. This would lead us to believe that Peter is the one speaking and the apostles were then joining in with their affirmations.
It is important to notice the use of the word “obey” in verses 29 and 32. It is the Greek word “peitharcheo”, which also means to “take advice from”, in both verses. Christians are called to obey, or take advice from, God rather than men. We should obey the laws of the land, but when they conflict with God’s law we must obey God’s law. God’s law is found in the Bible.
The Holy Spirit is given to Christians when they obey God and become a Christian. But our obedience does not stop there. Christians are to continue to obey God, even if it means disobeying men, their ways and their laws.
Obedience is the defining word in Christianity. We come to the Lord in obedience. We receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit because of that same obedience. And we are continually filled with the Holy Spirit as we continue in our obedience. It is this filling that gives us the power to obey, so as we obey it becomes progressively easier to continue to obey.
So Christians must always obey. We will fail at times but the more we obey the easier it gets. We ought to obey God rather than men, always.