The most important priest puts the apostles in prison
17 People liked the apostles very much. So the most important priest and his friends who belonged to the Sadducees' group were very jealous. 18 These important men took hold of the apostles and they put them in the city's prison. 19 But during the night, one of the Lord God's angels came and he opened the prison gates. He led the apostles out of the prison. 20 The angel said to them, ‘Go and stand in the yard of God's Great House. Tell the people everything about this new life that God gives.’
21 The apostles did what the angel told them to do. At dawn they went into the yard of God's Great House. They began to teach the people there.
Then the most important priest and his friends arrived. They told the group of Jewish leaders to meet with them. All the most important people in Israel were in that group. Then they sent their police to the prison to bring the apostles to the meeting place. 22 But when the police arrived at the prison, they did not find the apostles there. So the police returned to the Jewish leaders and they told them the news. 23 They said, ‘We arrived at the prison. We saw that the soldiers had locked the gates. They were standing at the gates and they were watching carefully. But when we opened the gates of the prison, we did not find anybody there!’
5:23The soldiers at the gates of the prison did not know that the apostles were not inside.
24 The leader of the police of God's Great House and the leaders of the priests heard the news. They could not understand what had happened. They were afraid of what might happen next.
25 Then a man came to the leaders. He said to them, ‘Listen! Those men that you put in the prison are now standing in the yard of God's Great House. They are teaching the people there.’ 26 So, the leader of the police took his men with him to find the apostles. They took hold of the apostles to take them back to the Jewish leaders. But they did not hurt them because they were afraid of the people. They thought that the people might be angry. They might throw stones at them to kill them.
27 The police brought the apostles into the meeting room. They made them stand in front of the group of Jewish leaders. The most important priest said to the apostles, 28 ‘We told you that you must not teach people any more with the authority of Jesus. But now look at what you have done! Now people everywhere in Jerusalem have heard your teaching. You also want people to think that we are guilty for the death of Jesus.’
29 Peter and the other apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than obey people. 30 You fixed Jesus to a cross so that he died. But then the God of our ancestors caused him to become alive again. 31 God raised Jesus and he put him in the most important place at his right side. Jesus is now the one who leads us and the one who saves us. He has made a way for the people of Israel to turn back to God. He wants us to stop doing wrong things. Then God will forgive us for our sins. 32 We tell people about what happened to Jesus. We ourselves saw these things. Now God has given his Holy Spirit to people who obey him. The Holy Spirit also shows that these things are true.’
33 The group of Jewish leaders heard what the apostles said to them. They were so angry that they wanted to kill the apostles. 34 But one man did not agree. He was called Gamaliel and he was a Pharisee, a teacher of the Law. All the people agreed that he was a good man. Gamaliel stood up in front of the group of Jewish leaders. He told the police to take the apostles out of the room. 35 When they had gone, Gamaliel spoke to the group of leaders: ‘Men of Israel! Think carefully about what you want to do to these men. 36 Remember what happened to Theudas a few years ago. That man told everyone, “I am a very important leader.” As a result, about 400 men joined his group. But then somebody killed him, and all his men went away. Nobody heard any more about them. 37 Later, Judas from Galilee appeared at the time when the Romans were making a list of everyone's names. Many people also came to help him fight against the Romans. But somebody killed him. His men also ran away and nothing more happened.
5:37The Romans were counting the people when Jesus was born.
5:37Judas from Galilee would not pay money to the Roman government. People joined Judas's group and they helped him. They fought the Roman soldiers. These people were called Zealots. This Judas was not the same man that Jesus chose to follow him.
38 Now think about what is happening with these men. I tell you it would be better to leave them alone. Let them go free. If their message only comes from human ideas, all their work will fail. 39 But perhaps what they are doing really does come from God himself. If that is true, then you cannot stop them. You might even find that you are fighting against God!’
40 So, the Jewish leaders did what Gamaliel said. They told the apostles to come back into the room. They told the police to hit them with whips. Then they said to the apostles, ‘You must not use the authority of Jesus to teach the people.’ After that, they let the apostles go free.
5:40Rulers used a whip to punish people who did not obey the law.
41 The apostles went away from the meeting of the Jewish leaders. They were very happy because they thought to themselves, ‘These leaders have done bad things to us because we obey Jesus. That shows that God accepts us as his people.’
42 Every day the apostles continued to teach people about Jesus. They spoke in people's homes and in the yard of God's Great House. All the time, they told people the good news that Jesus is God's Messiah.