Meanwhile, the apostles were performing many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And the believers were meeting regularly at the Temple in the area known as Solomon's Colonnade.
No one else dared to join them, though everyone had high regard for them.
And more and more people believed and were brought to the Lord -- crowds of both men and women.
As a result of the apostles' work, sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats so that Peter's shadow might fall across some of them as he went by.
Crowds came in from the villages around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those possessed by evil spirits, and they were all healed.
The high priest and his friends, who were Sadducees, reacted with violent jealousy.
They arrested the apostles and put them in the jail.
But an angel of the Lord came at night, opened the gates of the jail, and brought them out. Then he told them,
"Go to the Temple and give the people this message of life!"
So the apostles entered the Temple about daybreak and immediately began teaching.When the high priest and his officials arrived, they convened the high council, a along with all the elders of Israel. Then they sent for the apostles to be brought for trial.
But when the Temple guards went to the jail, the men were gone. So they returned to the council and reported,
"The jail was locked, with the guards standing outside, but when we opened the gates, no one was there!"
When the captain of the Temple guard and the leading priests heard this, they were perplexed, wondering where it would all end.
Then someone arrived with the news that the men they had jailed were out in the Temple, teaching the people.
The captain went with his Temple guards and arrested them, but without violence, for they were afraid the people would kill them if they treated the apostles roughly.
Then they brought the apostles in before the council.
"Didn't we tell you never again to teach in this man's name?" the high priest demanded. "Instead, you have filled all Jerusalem with your teaching about Jesus, and you intend to blame us for his death!"
But Peter and the apostles replied, "We must obey God rather than human authority.
The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead after you killed him by crucifying him.
Then God put him in the place of honor at his right hand as Prince and Savior. He did this to give the people of Israel an opportunity to turn from their sins and turn to God so their sins would be forgiven.
We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey him."
At this, the high council was furious and decided to kill them.
But one member had a different perspective. He was a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who was an expert on religious law and was very popular with the people. He stood up and ordered that the apostles be sent outside the council chamber for a while.
Then he addressed his colleagues as follows: "Men of Israel, take care what you are planning to do to these men!
Some time ago there was that fellow Theudas, who pretended to be someone great. About four hundred others joined him, but he was killed, and his followers went their various ways. The whole movement came to nothing."
After him, at the time of the census, there was Judas of Galilee. He got some people to follow him, but he was killed, too, and all his followers were scattered.
"So my advice is, leave these men alone. If they are teaching and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown.
But if it is of God, you will not be able to stop them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God."
The council accepted his advice. They called in the apostles and had them flogged. Then they ordered them never again to speak in the name of Jesus, and they let them go.
The apostles left the high council rejoicing that God had counted them worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Jesus.
And every day, in the Temple and in their homes, b they continued to teach and preach this message: "The Messiah you are looking for is Jesus."
Scripture quotations marked NLT are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright 1996. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois 60189. All rights reserved. (New Living Translation - The Bible Online)