Read Part 1
From the sermon series Acts of the Apostles: The First Thirty Years
Based on Acts 5:17-26
Let’s continue examining together the mounting problem being faced by the Jewish ruling council, the Sanhedrin, because of the miraculous ministry of the Apostles.
The Apostles’ doctrine is spreading fast, along with the miraculous healings like a train following on its tracks. There is also a new social phenomenon occurring too. After the healing of the lame man outside of Solomon’s Portico in Acts 3, we are told that “the number of the men came to about five thousand.” (Acts 4:4). The three thousand souls saved back in Acts 2 in Pentecost were not gendered. But since the feast required the attendance of every male in Israel, the first three thousand souls saved were likely men as well. Something I breezed over last week for time’s sake but wanted to return to this week is that women are listed explicitly as becoming believers for the first time in Acts 5:14. “And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.”
It appears the full covenantal recognition of women began in the Acts 5 time period. It also seems that one of the key ministries of women got its start here. What do I mean by that? Women, by nature, are creatures of concern. God designed them to be more nurturing and caring than men. For instance, even in our egalitarian era, women become nurses at a ratio of 10 to 1 compared to men. What happens in Acts 5:15 after Luke notes for the first time clearly that women are becoming believers? He writes, “They even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats.” Not that this idea would never occur to a man, but it seems to grow as a concept exponentially on the heels of women becoming believers. As caretakers begin to believe, those that are being cared for, like sick and dying children, spouses, parents, and in-laws, begin to be brought to the apostles in greater numbers.
The Gospel engine is now firing on all cylinders. A critical difference between the Old Covenant and New Covenant is that both men and women are included in the covenant because both are joined to Christ by the same Holy Spirit. Paul writes in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
The coming of the Holy Spirit has begun to bring about a more complete ministry, reconciling Adam and Eve, men and women, to God and each other. The Gospel then promptly jumps the wall surrounding Jerusalem and spreads out into the region’s roundabout. “The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.” (Acts 5:16)
It is becoming increasingly clear to the Sanhedrin that they have miscalculated twice. First, when they consented to Jesus’ murder. Second, when they allowed Peter and John to walk away free in Acts 4. Peter, who they had in their grasp, is now healing people when his shadow crosses them in the streets. (Acts 5:15b) It has become painfully evident that the new Christian sect cannot be contained. But what is to be done? When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. In other words, they do what they always do to their perceived enemies. They arrest them with the intent to murder them. Let’s turn to our text for today, Acts 5:17-26. This sermon will be the first in a series of sermons covering the rest of Acts 5 as Acts 5:17-42 is all one scene.
Thanks for taking the time to read our blog post. Look for Part 3 of “Burning Coals: When We Are Persecuted For Doing Good.”