Sunday, 27 February 2022
But at night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said, Acts 5:19
Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)
You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).
The events to this point are that the high priest and those with him have risen up against the apostles, laid their hands on them, and have put them in public custody. With that context stated, it next says, “But at night.”
The Greek word dia is used, signifying “through.” As such it is at some point during the course of the night that came “an angel of the Lord.”
The lack of any article means that this is simply an angel, or messenger, of the Lord and not a manifestation of the Lord Himself. This messenger has been sent as is later stated in Hebrews as a “ministering spirit” who is directed to help those saved by the Lord. With him now sent, it says that he “opened the prison doors.”
Here, Luke now uses the word phulaké, a prison. The public custody they were taken to in the previous verse is noted as a prison. Hence, it is a locked and guarded chamber of some sort. However, Luke leaves out any particular details. He doesn’t say if the messenger came to the apostles in the place where they were incarcerated or if he came from outside, opening the door for them to exit. It doesn’t say anything about any guards standing by as well. We are given only the most relevant information. They were incarcerated, a messenger of the Lord has come, and he has opened the doors for them. With this noted, it says, “and brought them out, and said…”
Again, minimal information is provided. Where they were brought out to, the time of the night, and other such details are not given by Luke. At other times, Luke will be more specific, but for this account, he is only telling in broad brushstrokes what occurred. Now that they have been brought out, however, he has words for them which will come in the next verse.
Life application: It is not uncommon for people to claim angelic visitations. Just search the internet and there is an almost unlimited supply of such accounts in blogs, on YouTube videos, and so on. However, you probably won’t find any people claiming they were miraculously released from a locked prison in the middle of the night. Something verifiable like that can easily be disproven.
Rather, claims of angelic visitations are general in nature and they make wild and fantastic claims about things that have been seen, special words from God that have been given, and so on. And more, those who make these claims aren’t just made by “Christians.” They are found among people of almost any religion you can think of.
Is it reasonable to think that God would give a vision to a non-Christian? Of course not. Why would He validate the thinking of a non-believer concerning his false religion? Is it reasonable to assume that God would tell a non-believer that he needs Jesus? No. If He did, it would then contradict His own word, given by inspiration of the Spirit, that we are to be the ones to spread this message, and that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.
And if there are innumerable claims of such things from non-believers concerning their angelic visitations, then why should we believe anyone, even those who claim to be Christians, concerning such things? That is what got millions of people going down the wrong path when Joseph Smith claimed he was visited by the angel Moroni. It is what got countless souls misdirected by Ellen G. White, the leader of the Seventh Day Adventists. And so forth.
If God truly intended for us to accept the testimony of such lunatics as those false prophets, He would have given us more credible proofs of their claims to look for in His word. But He has not. Rather, He has given us His word that has been completed. It is now the place where we are to turn in order to hear the voice of the Lord.
What is recorded in Acts describes what occurred as the church was being established. These things happened, they were sufficiently witnessed to and recorded, and they prescribe nothing. Nor are they considered normative for the church age. Normative for us means, “Pick up your Bible and read it. There you will find your instruction.” Who will you trust? God has spoken. Trust Him!
Thank You for the surety of Your word, O God. In it is all we need for our life, our doctrine, and for the practice of our faith. We have the story of Jesus, we have the promises of His coming for us. We have hope of eternity in Your presence because of what He has done. What more could we ask for! It is sufficient and we are grateful for what You have told us there. Thank You for Your word. Amen.