Read Acts 5.
The church in Jerusalem was growing by the thousands. In chapter 2 there were 3,000 baptized believers who had banded together for mutual spiritual growth, accountability, and service. "And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved." (2:47) In 4:4, the number of believers had grown to 5,000. Here in 5:14, the congregation was expanding exponentially. "And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women..."
The twelve Apostles continued to lead, to minister to the human needs of the sick and afflicted, and to preach publicly. This became an overwhelming challenge to the religious leaders. Jealousy motivated the Sanhedrin to react. Without charge of a crime, the Apostles were arrested and imprisoned. But the word of God would not be silenced.
Verse 19 records the first of three times in Acts where God opened prison doors. The angel told them to preach right on the Temple steps. Their mission was to "speak to the people all the words of this Life." Jesus said, "I came that they may have life and have it abundantly" (John 10:10b) And, later Jesus added, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life." (John 14:6) They proclaimed Jesus, crucified for our sins and raised as proof of being the Messiah, God in the flesh.
Though the council threatened them to stop, by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, these men stood firm. "We must obey God rather than men" (v.29). The only hope the Sanhedrin had was that, perhaps, this Jesus movement would die out on its own. It did not. It continues to grow day by day, "more than ever."
Beaten and released, the Apostles rejoiced "that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name" (v.41). That is certainly not a natural response to be being falsely arrested, threatened, and beaten. But faith in Jesus provides the believer with an eternal perspective on temporal circumstances.
2 Timothy 3:12 reminds us, "Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted." That is, not "may" but "will". We do not go looking for such rejection, but in the process of living a changed life not everyone will appreciate our stand for the word of God. One of the signs of maturity in our faith is the ability to implement that understanding when an unpopular decision must be made and the resultant persecution comes our way. Ducking such times of rejection shows an absence of faith in Christ or an immaturity that lacks confidence in God's word.