The reaction of the followers of Jesus is praise and prayer. This runs counter to what the council intended – they ought to have been filled with remorse for having been shown to be teaching blasphemy, they ought to have humbly submitted to their elders and ceased their preaching of Jesus as the resurrected messiah.

On the contrary, they rejoice that they have been counted worthy to suffer persecution in a similar way to what Jesus faced – opposition to Jesus’ teaching began with the Pharisees and Sadducees; he too was told that he was not doing miracles by the power of God; he too was subjected to traps to get him to state a false teaching publicly.

Peter and JohnIn short, this resistance to the apostolic teaching is exactly the same think Jesus faced. The rejection of the teaching is far more grace, however, since the people acted in ignorance when they killed Jesus.  Ignorance is no longer an excuse – rejection of the Holy Spirit will result in a most dire judgment.

The disciples see this persecution as the fulfillment of scripture, specifically Psalm 2.  This Psalm is cited as proof that the apostolic mission is having the intended effect.  The “nations” in the original Psalm are the gentiles, or generically the “enemies of God.”  The gentiles did plot against Jesus and did put him to death, but now Peter is applying that same thinking to the actions of the High Priest.  Peter is calling the High Priest and his inner circle “gentiles.” Arnold points out when Peter prays that God “stretch out his hand” he is alluding the events of the Exodus – when God brought his people out of Egypt with miracles and great signs and wonders (Arnold, Acts, 34).   I think Peter is consciously connecting the Exodus, the great Salvation event of the Hebrew Bible to the events of Pentecost – the new age is dawning and it will be like a new Exodus.

The Jewish resistance to the Holy Spirit is therefore interpreted here as the same thing as Gentile resistance to the people of God in the Hebrew Bible.  Perhaps most significant is that this resistance will be  just as futile ans Egypt’s resistance to God in the first Exodus.

As they prayed, the meeting was shaken and they once again are filled with the Holy Spirit and they all spoke the word of God boldly. Just as Peter was filled with the Spirit and spoke boldly before the High Priest, the community now speaks boldly.  The council commanded silence, but the community reacts with further witnessing concerning the truth that God is about to begin the new age.

This is the first example of an arrest turning into a great revival for the Jesus community.  In Acts, nothing that the world does can hinder the spreading power of the Holy Spirit!