Acts 5:29

Inside the house of Sgt. York.

Wednesday, 9 March 2022

But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. Acts 5:29

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 previous words contained the reminder from the high priest to the apostles, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name?” With that being the context, the response of the apostles is now noted, saying, “But Peter and the other apostles.”

This is not a common set of words. The Greek reads, “Peter and the apostles said.” The word “other” is not found in the original. However, it cannot be construed as, “Peter spoke on behalf of the other apostles.” The verb is plural, indicating that Peter and the others are all speaking up. Further, it cannot be construed as saying that Peter is not one of the apostles, as in “But Peter, and the apostles…” Peter is one of the apostles, but Luke singles him out as the leader.

As such, the translation, “But Peter and the other apostles,” suitably reflects the intent of the Greek. All of them “answered and said.” The words are both a response to the high priest, and they are a proclamation of a truth that has already been conveyed to this body in the recent past. One can almost see a united protest from their lips, each expressing the same general thought, but all in one accord concerning the matter, which is that “We ought to obey God rather than men.”

It is essentially what Peter and John both proclaimed the last time they were standing in this same location –

“So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, ‘Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.’” Acts 4:18-20

There is a difference now, however. The words of the angel just a couple verses ago make this more than an implicitly understood thing, but a command from the Lord through His angel –

“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.’” Acts 5:19, 20

As such, their response is bold and firm. Whatever number of apostles were in the cell, they had personally been told to speak, and they were under obligation to do so. Understanding this, the word “ought” is generally not strong enough to the mind of the reader. Rather, it is a word signifying “must” or “necessary.”

The apostles are under order of the Lord’s messenger, and they are under moral obligation of the truth of the gospel itself. Hence, their response is one that had to be stated to the leaders at this time. They must obey. Of the word translated as “obey,” the Greek word is a new one to Scripture, peitharcheó. It comes from two words signifying “persuade” and “what comes first.” Thus, it signifies being obedient to the higher authority. Vincent’s Word Studies provides an important insight –

“Not often used in the New Testament to express obedience, the most common word being ὑπακούω [hupakouó]. Sometimes πείθω [peithó] is used. But this word, in itself, is the only one of the several in use which expresses the conception of obedience exclusively. … It occurs four times in the New Testament: Acts 5:29, Acts 5:32; Acts 27:21; Titus 3:1; and in every case, of obedience to established authority, either of God or of magistrates. In Acts 27:21, where it is used of the ship’s officers hearkening to Paul’s admonition not to loose from Crete, Paul speaks of his admonition as divinely inspired; compare Acts 27:10. In Acts 4:19, Peter and John say hearken (ἀκούειν) [akouein]. That is a mere listening to or considering the proposition made to them. This is a deliberate course of action.”

The apostles’ appeal is to the higher authority. Disobedience to Moses, of whom the council represents (see Matthew 23:2), must take place. This is not because God is overriding His own words in the law, but because the law is annulled through the work of Christ.

Life application: The verse here is one that sets a clear and defining line between the covenant at Sinai and that found in Christ. Jesus explicitly said to the people –

“The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.” Matthew 23:2, 3

However, the angel from the Lord told the apostles to go out and preach to the people what is now found in Christ. That is in distinction to what was said in Acts 4 (as noted above), and the words of this verse now are in direct defiance of the words of the high priest and the council again in Acts 5.

This shows, without any doubt or ambiguity, that the New Covenant is the higher priority, and it is to be obeyed. And yet, there is no conflict between the two because the Law of Moses is –

Annulled – “For on the one hand there is an annulling of the former commandment because of its weakness and unprofitableness, 19 for the law made nothing perfect; on the other hand, there is the bringing in of a better hope, through which we draw near to God.” Hebrews 7:18, 19

Obsolete – “In that He says, ‘A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.’” Hebrews 8:13

Taken away – “Previously saying, ‘Sacrifice and offering, burnt offerings, and offerings for sin You did not desire, nor had pleasure in them’ (which are offered according to the law), then He said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.’ He takes away the first that He may establish the second.” Hebrews 10:8, 9

Wiped out (meaning “erased”) and nailed to the cross (meaning it died when Christ died) – “And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 having wiped out the handwriting of requirements that was against us, which was contrary to us. And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” Colossians 2:13, 14

To reinsert the law of Moses as binding is the highest of heresy because it negates (makes null and void) the work of Christ in one’s life. It is essentially saying, “Nice try, God. You did your best, but I will add to it; improving what you were unable to complete.” It is a rejection of the full, final, and forever work of Jesus Christ. It is a self-condemning act.

You must reject the teachings of the Hebrew Roots movement and all who would claim the Law of Moses is binding (in part or in whole) upon you. Come to the grace of God in Christ. Be freed from your arrogant and futile attempts to do better than what God in Christ has done!

Heavenly Father, it is as if we just cannot trust You with our souls! So many of us in the church constantly fear about the future, strive to return to the law to please You, reject the cross through our actions, and show contempt for the shed blood of Christ. Help us to trust and to just keep on trusting that what You have done is sufficient. To Your glory, and Your glory alone, may we simply demonstrate the faith of children and TRUST! Amen.