I don’t know how many times I have read Acts.
Recently I was rereading and stumbled over something I had never
noticed. I thought it was somewhat humorous. First, note Acts
23:8. The Sadducees did not believe in either the
resurrection or angels. Now turn to Acts
5:17-18. Luke went out of his way to explain it was the
high priest and the Sadducees who arrested the apostles because of
their jealousy. In vs.
19, the apostles were rescued by an angel. Now how can
that happen? The Sadducees didn’t believe in angels. Yet, there
was one releasing the apostles right out from under the
Sadducees’ noses. I know this is no major point of doctrine and
doesn’t change the world. But thinking about this ironic
occurrence, I learned a few faith building lessons I would like to
share with you.
Just because someone believes or doesn’t believe
something, doesn’t make it so.
As we noted in Acts
23:8, the Sadducees didn’t believe in the resurrection
or in angels. However, their belief didn’t change the way things
5:19 is written as if to say, “Yes, Sadducees, there are
angels.” Jesus had dealt with the Sadducees in Matthew
22:23-32. The Sadducees asked what they believed was a
stumper question. They thought it brought to an end all discussion
and argument about the spiritual realm. Jesus said, “You are
mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of
God.” The belief of the Sadducees, or disbelief, as the case may
be, didn’t make it so.
Paul made this point in Romans
3:3-4. Just because someone doesn’t believe doesn’t
make it so. Rather, God will always be found true though everyone
else is a liar. We need to remember this. We aren’t right just
because we believe something. We hear someone else’s opinion,
which contradicts ours, and we take shelter saying, “That is
just their opinion. They don’t have a right to say I am
wrong.” But what if I am wrong? Something is not right or wrong
based on my belief. It is right or wrong based on God’s word.
You have probably seen the bumper sticker that says, “God said
it. I believe it. That settles it.” Actually, my belief
doesn’t settle anything. God said it. That settles it. As John
17:17 says, God’s word is truth.
Others may think we are foolish, but we will be the ones
We have already discussed the altercation between Jesus and
the Sadducees in Matthew
22:23-32. Knowing a little bit about how these kinds of
debates and side-taking stories pan out, I can almost envision the
Sadducees as they huddled up with each other discussing this
question about the woman married seven times in the resurrection.
They were sure this question put a stop to all questions about the
resurrection. No doubt, in their minds, if you couldn’t see
there was no resurrection, you were just foolish. Obviously there
can’t be a resurrection because the resurrection makes a mockery
of marriage. Undoubtedly, they thought the same thing about
believers in ministering spirits sent out by God to render service
for those who will inherit salvation (Hebrews
1:14). But that didn’t change anything. Angels still
exist and it was the believers in angels who were set free and the
disbelievers who were made fools.
demonstrates that many people will think what we believe is
foolish. We must not be surprised when the intellectual elite
believe we are a bunch of fools. Here is the key. Those who
believe the message of the cross is foolishness will perish. Only
those who believe the cross is God’s wisdom will be saved by its
message. Let’s not be influenced by the seemingly intellectual
masses who foolishly proclaim there is no God or foolishly refuse
to obey His will. Let us be deemed fools by the foolish and be
saved by God’s wisdom.
We just can’t all be right.
5, the Sadducees didn’t believe in angels and the
apostles did. I know this point seems like a no-brainer. However,
in our society we have to make it. Our world places a premium on
spiritual tolerance. But spiritual tolerance no longer means
allowing folks to believe what they want even though you think
they are wrong. Tolerance now means believing that we might all be
right. That just doesn’t make good nonsense. In Acts
5, the Sadducees and the apostles couldn’t both be
right. Either angels exist or they don’t. The apostles were
right and were freed.
This applies to every issue. There are hundreds, perhaps
thousands, of churches; all with differing faiths. However, we
just can’t all be right. Nor can we hide behind strained clichés
like, “We are all going to the same place, just taking different
ways.” According to Matthew
7:13-14, there is only one way—it is a strait and narrow
way at that. Two plus two cannot equal four, five and six all at
the same time. In the same way, we can’t read the scripture and
come up with different truths. According to Ephesians
4:4-6, there is one faith and one body. All the different
bodies and different faiths just can’t be right anymore than
both the Sadducees and the apostles could be right. We have to get
into the word and learn what is right (II
Some people will ignore the obvious to hammer their
One thing that most surprised me in this story is Acts
5:27-28. The text says, “When they had brought them,
they stood them before the Council. The high priest questioned
them…” What do you expect to be said next? I expected him to
say, “How on earth did you get out of the jail?” That is the
obvious question. But he didn’t ask it. Of course, he wouldn’t
have accepted their answer, he didn’t believe in angels. Perhaps
that is why he didn’t ask the question. It would have led into
territory he didn’t want to address. Instead, he hammered home
is point. “We told you to quit teaching about this Jesus and
bringing His blood on our head.” The high priest didn’t really
care how the apostles escaped and its ramifications for why he
ought to listen to them. He just wanted to force his point.
That happens so often today. And we need to be just as
careful of it as everyone else. How easy it is to overlook even
obvious points or objections to simply favor our preconceived
notions. We all need to have open minds and hearts to what others
have to say and then judge it based on what we can find in the
scriptures. We must be like the Bereans of Acts
17:11. These were noble-minded because they didn’t just
shut out messages that didn’t jive with their preconceptions.
Rather, they listened and then searched the scriptures to see what
is the truth. We need to follow in their footsteps.
No matter what, we just have to obey God.
Though the Sadducees did not believe in angels or a
resurrection; though they believed the apostles were fools; though
they ignored plain and obvious evidence regarding why they should
listen to the apostles; the apostles knew that no matter what they
simply had to obey God. In Acts
5:29, Peter said, “We must obey God rather than men.”
No matter what people said about them or to them, they would obey
We must follow in their footsteps. Numerous people will not
believe what we teach. That doesn’t make them right. Numerous
people will think we are fools. We should not be deterred.
Numerous people will tell us we should just allow for the
possibility that we are all right. We must not fall for that
devil’s lie. Numerous people will ignore the obvious truths in
our message. We need to keep on preaching it. No matter what, we
must obey God. We must keep on preaching the message. In the end,
we will be set free by the blood of Jesus Christ. As Paul told
Timothy in II
Timothy 4:1-4, no matter what we need to keep right on
teaching what we believe and know to be true.
Yes, Sadducees, there are angels. Yes, you must be careful
lest you find yourself fighting against the angels of God and
against God Himself. You may not believe in God, but that
doesn’t change the truth of the matter. If God is out there,
your unbelief will not save you from Him. Are you prepared to meet
Him? If not, why not prepare today? Why not submit in faithful
obedience to His will? Ground your faith in the word of God and
then follow through with what it says. Repent and be baptized for
the remission of your sins today (Acts
2:38). Yes some will disbelieve. Some will think you are
foolish. But like the apostles, you will be set free.
to God in the church by Christ Jesus
Church of Christ