GLEANINGS FROM THE SCRIPTURES
OBEYING GOD RATHER THAN MEN
By Keith L. Estes
Peter and some of the other apostles were in the temple teaching the people about Jesus, and the authorities being filled with indignation, arrested them and brought them before the ruling council. Here is what the scripture says.
"And the high priest asked them, saying, did not we strictly command you that ye should not teach in this name? And, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man's blood upon us. Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, “WE OUGHT TO OBEY GOD RATHER THAN MEN. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree. Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins...When they heard that, they were furious, and took counsel to slay them."
Fortunately Gamaliel was there and saved the day by his defense. The Apostles were instructed not to teach in this man's name again, then beaten and released. They immediately went to the homes and the temple and preached Jesus Christ to the people, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name.
Let me assure you that Peter is not sanctioning civil disobedience; he makes this clear in his first epistle. We are to obey civil government, but when it goes contrary to the explicit commands of God, we must obey God and be ready to suffer the consequences.
What should we as Christians do when faced with a conflict between HUMAN authority and GOD'S authority? In The Word in Life Study Bible are listed five things that we should note that Peter and the apostles did.
One: Their aim was to serve and glorify God. They were not motivated by ego or out to protect their own power.
Two: Their point of disobedience was specific and particular. They did not resist the authority of the Jewish council in total.
Three: They approached the situation with a spirit of submissiveness toward both the council and God. They did not harbor rebellious anger toward authority in general.
Four: They delivered a positive, factual message about God's plan and power in loving truth. They did not slander or show disrespect to their superiors.
Five: They accepted the cost of being loyal to the truth without rancor or bitterness.
[It may be of interest to note that both Peter, the other Christians, and the Jewish Priests were all under the authority of the Roman government.]
I doubt that Shakespeare would mind if I changed the words of Polonius in Hamlet to read. "This above all O Christian: to Jesus Christ be true: And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man or authority."
Reference: Acts 5: 22-32, I Peter 2:13-17, Rom. 13:1-7. The Holy Bible and The Word In Life Study Bible- Thomas Nelson Publishers.
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