17 Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees), and they were filled with indignation, 18 and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common prison. 19 But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, 20 “Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.” 21 And when they heard that, they entered the temple early in the morning and taught. But the high priest and those with him came and called the Council together, with all the elders of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.
Verses 17-26 show another conflict between religion and the apostles. The Sanhedrin arrested the apostles for the second time, but an angel of the Lord freed them from prison.
Then the high priest rose up, and all those who were with him (which is the sect of the Sadducees),
The high priest and Sadducees became alarmed again by the apostles’ preaching.
and they were filled with indignation [jealousy],
The apostles had a spectacular healing ministry that was apparent to all. The church grew by leaps and bounds. The Sanhedrin Council was highly indignant that the apostles disobeyed their earlier warning not to preach the gospel. Religion is normally jealous of any rivals it might face or any opposition to its power.
and laid their hands on the apostles and put them in the common [public] prison.
Religion again put Peter and John in prison, along with the other 10 apostles (Acts 5:29). This time, the council put the apostles in public jail for anyone to see. This action made the supernatural release of the apostles public as well.
But at night an angel [messenger] of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said,
God sent an “angel of the Lord” (not Jehovah) to free the apostles from prison. After leading them out of the public prison, he challenged them to continue to preach the gospel.
“Go, stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of this life.”
An angel of the Lord challenged the apostles to preach the gospel in the Temple once again. They were to do this regardless of mounting opposition from religion. “This life” refers to the gospel, the message of eternal life.
And when they [the apostles] heard that, they entered the temple early in the morning and taught.
The apostles immediately followed the angel’s instructions and went to the Temple to preach the gospel.
But the high priest and those with him came and called the Council together, with all the elders of the children of Israel,
At this point, the high priest and those with him were unaware that Peter and John had been freed from prison. The high priest called together the entire assembly of elders of Israel.
and sent to the prison to have them brought.
The Sanhedrin dispatched the Temple guard to bring the prisoners to court. However, the Sanhedrin was unaware that the prisoners had escaped (Acts 5:24).
God providentially cares for His church during persecution.
A God-honoring church will make waves in culture. It will take a stand against violations of biblical standards. Many churches are afraid to offend prevailing cultural norms but accommodate their message to the world. It is normative for those who live godly in the world to suffer persecution (Mt 5:10-12; 2 Tim 3:12; 1 Pe 2:20; 3:17; 4:14). As the apostles of old suffered persecution, so will the church today. The church possesses something far greater than what the world has to offer—the gospel. This gospel delivers eternal life, which transcends temporal, natural life.
If the church takes a proper stand for the cause of Christ, God will providentially care for and protect her.