“But Peter and the apostles answered, ‘We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.’”(Acts 5:29-32)
As the early church grew, the believers encountered opposition and persecution from the Jewish authorities in Jerusalem and Judea. Because of the miraculous signs that accompanied the preaching of the apostles, many other Jews joined with them because they were attracted by the realization that the Lord was truly with them.
Consequently, persecution only increased and got more violent. In spite of that the apostles boldly proclaimed the truth despite the cost to them. They told the religious leaders of their responsibility for Jesus’ death, an accusation that infuriated them because they felt they were above reproach. The well-respected Pharisee Gamaliel prevailed upon his colleagues to let them go for if the apostles were truly anointed by the Lord, they were fighting against Him and not man. So despite the persecution or perhaps because of it the church continued to grow.
The words that open the passage as well as the actions of the apostles in the face of persecution are quite relevant to the church today. We face ever increasing opposition to the gospel today not just from worldly and pagan peoples but from often from our fellow Christians. Many Christians and entire denominations have caved in to the pressure of social demands for cultural sensitivity, tolerance and political correctness and have watered down and altered the gospel. In the spirit of tolerance they try to avoid offending others by not preaching about sin, eternal punishment or that Jesus is the only way to eternal life. Certainly we should be sensitive to the needs of others but not at the expense Of the truth. This helps no one for all people need to know of the grace of the God in Jesus Christ. We ought to obey God rather than man.