Thursday, May 3, 2012

The apostles in the primitive Church

From the Acts of the Apostles 5:12-32

Through the hands of the apostles, many signs and wonders occurred among the people. By mutual agreement they used to meet in Solomon’s Portico. No one else dared to join them, despite the fact that the people held them in great esteem. Nevertheless more and more believers, men and women in great numbers, were continually added to the Lord. The people carried the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mattresses, so that when Peter passed by at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them. Crowds from the towns around Jerusalem would gather, too, bringing their sick and those who were troubled by unclean spirits, all of whom were cured.

The high priest and all his supporters (that is, the party of the Sadducees), filled with jealousy, arrested the apostles and threw them into the public jail. During the night, however, an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the jail, led them forth, and said, “Go out now and take your place in the temple precincts and preach to the people all about this new life.” Accordingly they went into the temple at dawn and resumed their teaching.

When the high priest and his supporters arrived they convoked the Sanhedrin, the full council of the elders of Israel. They sent word to the jail that the prisoners were to be brought in. But when the temple guard got to the jail they could not find them, and hurried back with the report, “We found the jail securely locked and the guards at their posts outside the gates, but when we opened it we found no one inside.”

On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the high priests did not know what to make of the affair. Someone then came up to them, pointing out, “Look, there! Those men you put in jail are standing over there in the temple, teaching the people.” At that, the captain went off with the guard and brought them in, but without any show of force, for fear of being stoned by the crowd. When they had led them in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest began the interrogation in this way: “We gave you strict orders not to teach about that name, yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us responsible for that man’s blood.” To this, Peter and the apostles replied: “Better for us to obey God than men! The God of our fathers has raised up Jesus whom you put to death, hanging him on a tree. He whom God has exalted at his right hand as ruler and savior is to bring repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. We testify to this. So too does the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those that obey him.”

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