Friday, September 18, 2015

WEEKLY SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON
An international Sunday school lesson commentary
For Sunday September 20, 2015

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WITNESSING TO THE TRUTH
(GOD’s truth will always prevail over opposition)
(Acts 5:17-42)

Taking up at verse 17 of Acts chapter 5, we see how more of the problems of “violent jealousy” begin to rise up in the Church, this time, coming from the ranks of the high priest and his friends, the Sadducees. Jealous of the popularity of the apostles in the Church, they decided to arrest them, and throw them in jail. However, an angel of the LORD came down that same night and miraculously released the men from their incarceration, opening the gates, without alarming the guards, and then leading them away from the jail.
The guards remained unaware that the apostles were even gone until it was discovered the next morning. In verse 20 we see that, instead of directing the apostles to go and hide themselves somewhere, the angel directed them to go to the temple and teach GOD’s message to the people concerning the doctrine of eternal life through CHRIST JESUS (Vs. 19-20).
The apostles went into the temple around daybreak and begin to preach the message that had been taught to them by JESUS during HIS life personal time with them here on earth. Soon the Church hierarchy (the Sanhedrin) arrived and called their council together, and sent summons that the guards bring the apostles over to them from their prison cell for a hearing.
When the guards arrived at the jail they saw no signs of the apostles, and were perplexed as to how they could have escaped with the doors to their cells still being securely locked, and two guards still standing watch just outside the doors. Just then someone came up and told the captain of the guards that the apostles were over at the temple teaching the people.   
When the captain of the guards received word that the apostles were over in the temple teaching, he and his men went over and non-violently re-arrested them and brought them before the council of the high priest and elders of Israel for trial. During the trial, the apostles defiance toward the council, and their continued preaching and bold testimony about CHRIST, even in their presence, infuriated and offended the council greatly.
Peter and the other apostles were very bold in their defense of JESUS, even while under threat and duress from the religious hierarchy. They boldly stated to the council that, “We must obey GOD rather than human authority. The GOD of our ancestors raised JESUS from the dead after you killed HIM by crucifying HIM. Then GOD put HIM in the place of honor at HIS right hand as PRINCE and SAVIOR. HE did this to give the people of Israel an opportunity to turn from their sins and turn to GOD so their sins would be forgiven. We are witnesses of these things and so is the HOLY SPIRIT, WHO is given by GOD to those who obey HIM” (Vs.29-32).
It is at this point, that the council was ready to make a decision to kill all of the apostles; however, in verse 34, we are introduced to a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a very popular teacher of religious law in Israel in those days. In fact, Gamaliel was the mentor of Saul (otherwise known as the “Apostle Paul”), while he attended seminary training at the School of Hillel, where Gamaliel served as an instructor.  Gamaliel’s words of wisdom (Vs.35-39) calmed the angry council down, and they received his advice to them, not kill the apostles, but rather, let their actions play out, and let GOD decide whether they are HIS legit representatives or not (Vs. 35-39).
Even still, the angry council ordered the men to be flogged, and gave them another stern warning not to speak in the powerful name of JESUS anymore (v. 40). The apostles, nevertheless, left the trial rejoicing that GOD had counted them worthy to suffer dishonor by taking a beating for the name of JESUS. And every day forward, in the temple, and in their homes, they continued to preach this message: “The MESSIAH you are looking for is JESUS” (Vs. 41-42). Amen.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander





                                 

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