The captain went with his Temple guards and arrested the apostles, but without violence, for they were afraid the people would stone them. Then they brought the apostles before the high council, where the high priest confronted them. “We gave you strict orders never again to teach in this man’s name!” he said. “Instead, you have filled all Jerusalem with your teaching about him, and you want to make us responsible for his death!” But Peter and the apostles replied, “We must obey God rather than any human authority. The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by hanging him on a cross. Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior. He did this so the people of Israel would repent of their sins and be forgiven. We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey him.” When they heard this, the high council was furious and decided to kill them. (Acts of the Apostles 5:26-33 NLT)
The Sanhedrin(probably all 71 members) were present at the council meeting when the captain went with the Temple guards to arrest the apostles while they were preaching and teaching in the Temple.
The arrest was civil, so as not to cause a tumult. When the apostles were brought before the council they were rehearsed about the previous warning (Acts 4:17-20) and jail time (Acts 5:17-20). The high priest stated that they had "filled all Jerusalem" with the teaching of Jesus and had declared the participation of the high council in Jesus death. Resolved and undeterred, the apostles stood their ground. They preached the truth to the high council and did not deny that the council was responsible for the arrest, trial, and crucifixion of Jesus. They also made it clear that this was in accordance with God's redemption plan for Israel. This infuriated the council. Even though the council rejected the message of Jesus, the apostles made it clear that they (the apostles) were responsible to God, not some religious hierarchy. Human authority is to be respected. We are taught that in Romans 13:1-7, I Timothy 2:1-3, and I Peter 2:13-17. However, when the authorities call us to disregard the commands of God, we, then, should disobey human authority in order to obey Divine Authority. In Daniel chapter three we read of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. These three Hebrews would not bow to the 90 foot tall image that King Nebuchadnezzar had erected. In Daniel chapter 6 we read of Daniel praying even though King Darius had issued a decree that, for thirty days, no one was to pray to anyone except him. These two accounts give us clear, biblical direction to disobey, with civility, authority when it disobeys God.
The apostles were standing firm in their devotion to Jesus. The Holy Spirit had emboldened them. May God give us, by His Holy Spirit, that same boldness. In our time, we need men who will stand, like the apostles, and say to our established religious and civil authorities that we must always honor God's Word above the councils determinations and decisions. God's Word stands forever (Luke 21:33). May we never cower back in the face of opposition and may we never be ashamed of the gospel. Until death!!!
Rev. Curtis Norris