Acts 5:29 – Obeying God Rather Than Man

After Gamaliel defends the apostles, Peter responds to the chief priests. His speech is a summary of all of his previous speeches given in Acts. First, Peter once again says he “must obey God rather than men.” Keener follows most commentators by hearing an allusion to the trial of Socrates (Keener, Acts, 2:1218). People throughout the Mediterranean world knew about the trial of Socrates and these famous words, analogous to most Americans knowing the phrase “give me liberty or give me death.” Peter boldly says he and John are obeying God rather than man, the human authority of the Sanhedrin.

Obeying God Rather Than ManThis is how Peter and the disciples responded to the original order to be silent and not “preach in that name.” Like the prophets of the Hebrew Bible, since they have been given the Word of God, there is no way that they could be silent (Jer 20:9, for example). While there is no way to know for certain, these words remind me of the words of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3:16-18. When confronted with certain death, the young men expressed faith in God to save them, but even if God did not save them, they still would not worship the idols of Babylon. So too, the brothers in 4 Maccabees who choose to die horrible deaths rather than compromise their Jewish faith and practice. There are quite a few examples in the literature of the Second Temple period where Jewish people choose death over disobeying God.

Second, Peter bluntly states that this group executed Jesus, but God has raised him from the dead. If these men killed an innocent man, then their lives would be required.  They did kill Jesus. There is no question of that.  But if God raised Jesus, then he was not just innocent. He was God’s messiah!

Third, not only is Jesus raised from the dead, but he is exalted to the highest place possible. Once again, the ascension is considered an important part of the gospel story. He was not only crucified but also raised from the dead, raised to the highest place possible.

Fourth, as a result of this glorification, Jesus can give “repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel.” Repentance and forgiveness are offered to Israel.  While this is not to take away from the death of Jesus as forgiveness for our sins, Peter connects the death and resurrection to forgiveness of Israel’s sins. What sin? The immediate context is killing an innocent man, Jesus.  “They had indeed sinned in hanging Jesus on the cross, but there is forgiveness and salvation for Israel in him” (Polhill, Acts, 169).

Peter calls on two witnesses to his assertions: the apostles and the Holy Spirit. This is yet another example of the witness theme in the first part of the book of Acts. Peter’s final words are more important – the Holy Spirit has been given to those who obey God.  The implication is clear: The disciples are obeying God rather than man and therefore have the Holy Spirit promised to come in the “last days,” as evidenced by miracles (healing and release from prison), and the Sanhedrin does not have the Holy Spirit.

The response of the Sanhedrin is anger – they want to put Peter to death! This is the same reaction that the Sanhedrin had toward Jesus when he claimed to be the fulfillment of Daniel 7:14.  The Greek here literally means “to be sawn in two,” a metaphor for extreme rage. Therefore, the charge against Peter is blasphemy – accusing the elders of the people of not being obedient to God and killing the Messiah!

Peter and the other disciples are willing to die rather than be silent about Jesus. They boldly proclaim the truth of the Gospel and make this proclamation in a way that is almost guaranteed to get them killed. The source of this boldness is the Holy Spirit empowering them to speak in a very powerful way to the people who have the power to torture and kill them. This model of Christian suffering challenges the reader to be ready to stand firm for their faith even though it costs their life.

There is a clear application here, but I suspect it is not the one usually drawn from this verse. I usually hear “Obeying God Rather Than Man” applied to so-called Christian civil disobedience, protesting a perceived governmental intrusion into our (American) religious liberties. But Peter is not protesting government healthcare initiatives here. He says he is ready to die rather than be silent about Jesus. It seems to me most Christians, usually in the West, are silent about who Jesus is and what he really was about, especially when they misapply this verse to their favorite political issue.

46 thoughts on “Acts 5:29 – Obeying God Rather Than Man

  1. After reading this passage of scripture, I admire Peter and the other apostles’ boldness to continue preaching the gospel even after they were told not to. I know there are many Christians all over the world who are dying for their faith every day. In America, where we have the freedom to worship God, people do not have to choose between their faith or their life on a daily basis. The apostles did choose to obey God rather than men. I believe that God has given people authority for a reason but I do not believe that He would want us to obey any law or rule of man that would contradict His laws. If there is a rule or law that contradicts what the Bible says, then I believe we should not obey it but also not act out in a rebellious way about it. The apostles were punished for disobeying the command of the Sanhedrin but after they were released, they did not plot against them. They continued to do what God had told them to do and that is spread the good news.

  2. I always find this passage interesting to me. Peter is willing to die for his belief, he is willing to say the words people don’t want them to say in the name of truth and justice, flash forward 2000 years and we are afraid to tell someone what they are saying or wearing does not represent the nature of the gospel. That would pose the question among some believers is the spirit still as active now as it was then or is it dwindling to a dull roar? I would not say the Holy Spirit has died down a bit, I would however say Christians are spoiled by privilege that we no longer fear for our beliefs. Christianity may not be popular anymore or growing like Islam, but in the U.S. its not legal for me to drag a church out in the street and put them to death because i think they are blaspheming. In this time of “peace” I think we lose the direness that comes with the message, Peter is calling for repentance and forgiveness with passion and urgency. We as Americans like to play church but often forget about the hurting and broken people because its ugly and we don’t want to think about it. The Holy Spirit cares less about the condition of the carpet in the sanctuary and more about the condition of the believers and non believers, what is done for eternity is the only thing that will last.

  3. The part that sticks out to me the most about this is how Peter says “whom you killed by hanging him on a cross” at the end of 5:29. In standing up for their faith, the apostles not only preached Jesus, but they were very upfront about confronting the Sanhedrin about the sins they had committed. In total obedience to God, they became willing to lay down their lives for their faith, and confront these other men with their sins in order that they might be forgiven. We also see how these men reacted to this, having the apostles flogged and ordering them to cease to preach in the name of Jesus. Why this sticks out to me so much is because of the modern American church. We have religious freedom; we have no reason to hide or be ashamed by our faith. We have one command from God, which is to spread his gospel to the world, and yet, we are embarrassed to confront people. We may not risk our lives everyday trying to obey God, but we risk our image. The apostles risked everything to confront people with their sins so that they had the chance to take part in God’s love, but we now, are afraid to confront people even on small sins. We need to learn to willing to risk everything in order to be obedient to God, even if it means not being obedient to social norms (man).

  4. I think your application makes a lot of sense. Peter was willing to face death rather than being silent. It was not that he was asked to deny Christ instead he is asked to not say something. Peter explains that he must obey God rather than men. In Luke 22:54-62 we see the story of Peter’s denial of Jesus. I think that it is interesting that Peter is the one who was so bold to say these thing even though he had denied even knowing Jesus in the past. As you said, their boldness was empowered by the Holy Spirit. If the church today is going to apply this particular passage to their churches in the way that you suggest, then I believe part of this must involve praying for boldness as the believers did in Acts 4:27-3. I think that this boldness is an example of the power of the Holy Spirit in Acts but that today the Holy Spirit can still empower the believer for boldness. However, we must be willing to take a stand and boldly speak even though we may face discomfort or even persecution from the world.

  5. Peter gives a great testament to what it truly means to live a life for God. There is always the battle between the world and God. I remember learning about the temporal world verse the eternal world in a theology class a year ago, and it really stuck with me to think that this world is temporary and it is important to live for God instead of living for people. I take comfort that I belong to Jesus and that I will be with Him forever in eternity instead of being here on earth. Knowing that the time on earth is limited, the time should be used to serve God and show others the love of God. Peter preaches the gospel to people that have the power to kill him and instead of being afraid, he stands before them with boldness. I agree with you Professor Long that Christians need to pray for a boldness to be able to preach God without being fearful of what others may think.

  6. This is one my favorite passages to read because I really admire and desire Peter and the disciples’ strength and determination during the time of trial. Peter and the disciples reminds us to have the will to believe and trust in God no matter how hard the situation is. In today’s world we are afraid to stand up for our faith because of what the consequences. When the issue of homosexuality rose in the world of sports, many analysts and players who had identified themselves as Christians were afraid to speak regarding their faith on the issue. The players and analysts were afraid, because they would get fired by their company and experience a lot of hate from those who support homosexuality. In the world we live in we are afraid to speak of our faith because of the risk of getting fired and being hated. However, when Peter and the disciples faced death, they made it clear that they will honor God, even if death is the result. From this passage I learn not to remain silent, I learn to speak up when my faith is challenged. I learn not to fear the consequences because God tells me that “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me”. Mathew 5:11-12

  7. Being completely honest, if someone challenged me in something I thought I was right in or knew so much about I would get pretty heated as well. But I also don’t think I would have been as outgoing as the apostles and Peter as they stood infront of the people who wanted to kill them. To be empowered by the Holy Spirit in that way, wow! As believers if we could have that same faith and obedience to God, the shift in how Christians are viewed in today’s society would be drastic. Instead of beginning to fade into the background we would be more “powerful” and maybe reach more people. God’s plan is sovereign and somethings I will never be able to understand that but seeing Paul stand up against people who wanted to take his life definitely inspires me to stand up for the name, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Maybe part of the reason Luke put this into the scriptures as motivation and inspiration for future believers.

  8. What makes this passage so incredible to me is Peter’s willingness to stay true to what he knows to be true in the teachings of Christ Jesus whom he witnessed in that “you must obey God rather than man”. In Matthew 15, a few Pharisees and other teachers of the law approached Jesus and asked him “why do they break the traditions of elders and not wash their hands?” Jesus replied by asking them why they would break the command of God for the sake of tradition. Putting God first in your life was a key aspect in Jesus’s ministry and Peter clearly doesn’t forget that in Acts 5. This however isn’t an easy thing to do. Peter risks being killed but believes it is worth it. I think that fact alone gives a great apologetical argument for the existence of The Holy Spirit as Peter was an eye witness to Jesus and was willing to fight for the truths Jesus spoke about as he knew his divine power and authority.

  9. While reading this blog post tonight I remembered a youth group lesson I went through about five years ago. It was a video series on being a fan or a follower. Fans sit in the crowd, cheering on during the good parts of the game, watching from a distance. Followers, however, are the ones in the field, getting dirty, playing, getting hurt. The difference between the two is one is willing to risk everything to get to the win. Fans simply just are there to watch, but not actually take the risks in their life. Here in Acts 5, we see Peter and the other disciples being followers. They do not want to just watch others tell about Jesus or even tell others in secret. They are bold with their faith and preach the good news in difficult situations, “the disciples are characterized by boldness of speech, obedience to God alone, and performance of powerful signs” (Jipp, 58). It is shown in their action and speech, a reputation that followed them. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel 3, they are another great example of being followers. They risk their lives, and they did not stop after the warnings given. They knew God was faithful, and even if He did not save them, it was still for a purpose and furthering His kingdom. Peter and the disciples did not leave out pieces of the gospel either, they told it straight up, even though leaving out certain parts may have helped them gain favor. These people did not do it alone, the Holy Spirit worked in them and gave them strength and boldness. We look at these bold characters, and ask ourselves, am I going to choose to risk my friendships over sharing the truth, or keep letting them go on with their lives? It is a heart and mind change, to truly want to be bold throughout your whole life, and you need the Holy Spirit to help you.

  10. I am amazed about Peter’s courage and faith in God that He is willing to stand up to those that are willing to kill him for speaking of Jesus. I can only hope that if I was in a similar situation that I would have the same confidence in my faith to not stand down to people trying to quiet me. However, while I am not in this same situation there is still application to this in my life. It is not about standing up to politics, but it is learning to be unashamed and unafraid of sharing my faith in Jesus. It is sharing what Jesus has done for me and for all of us with everyone that I meet and not being worried enough about it that it stops me from sharing the good news. This is definitely something I need to work on and have been working on since I was in high school. I need to work on trusting in God to give me the strength to speak up and to not back down due to my fears of what others will think of me.

    • Great Post Alex, I always enjoy reading posts that show a personal side to them because I believe that is the best way to apply these situations to our lives. As Christians we are put in a difficult situation because there are so many new laws in place that go against our beliefs which is always going to be a challenge. The challenge is sharing the truth to people who do not know it but, doing it without causing an argument. Many people stand with what they belief even if it isn’t right. Trying to find an appropriate conversation to be able to preach the truth of the Bible to those who are not believers is the biggest challenge. Similar to Peter we have to be bold in our faith and preach the truth I do not think there is a happy medium between the truth and what is wrong.

  11. Peter and the other disciples are willing to die rather than be silent about Jesus. They proclaim boldly the truth of the Gospel, and they make this proclamation in a way that is almost guaranteed to get the killed (Long.) This quote is how Christians should live their lives every day. In the modern world we live such sensitive lives trying not to hurt other’s feelings with the truth. This can affect our faith because people may not believe in what the Bible says causing us to just avoid the problem. Peter and the disciples did not care about what other people believed in because that wasn’t the truth. Peter sets a great example of being bold in our faith as Christians because this is the only truth the world has. The Holy Spirit is still alive and well and this is God challenging us to not hide our faith but, to be bold because people need Jesus more than anything right now. As Christians we must stand up for what we believe in and share the Truth of the Bible because people are trying to find ways to avoid what the Bible says, and it is becoming a reality. Being Bold in our Faith is the only way that we will be able to show people the word of God and what it means to be a Christian. If we do not stand up for what is right people will continue to stretch the truth allowing people to walk over what the Bible truly stand for.

  12. In Acts 5 the Apostles are arrested and thrown in jail. But an angel of the Lord appears and sets them free. So they go out and preach about Jesus. The apostles were found preaching, so they were arrested and brought in front of the Sanhedrin for questioning. The high Priest of the Sanhedrin said “we gave you strict orders not to teach in this name, he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood (Acts 5:28).” To this Peter replied that “we must obey God rather than men (5:29).” Peter goes on to tell how they killed Jesus by hanging him on a tree. And how God raised Jesus from the grave and raised him to the highest position possible. And that God has given the Holy Spirit to those who listen and obey him. Here Peter is standing before a group of High Priests and others who have the authority to have them killed in various ways and yet Peter has the courage to stand before them and preach about the very thing they were told not to speak of. I hope in my own life that if such a thing were to happen to me in my own life that I myself would have the kind of courage Peter had to speak up about my faith no matter what the consequences were. And profess my faith and belief in Jesus like Peter did.

  13. As I was reading this verse, it struck me how confident Peter was about what he was proclaiming. I struggled to relate that to something that would make sense in my American life, and like you said its not typically something we can grasp. We can claim that we must love and obey Jesus, but when we say it in our communities, we risk nothing more than some weird looks. Peter was doing this knowing that he was risking everything, and I tried to ask myself that if this was the case for me, what would look different in my life. A lot of our society right now is telling us to obey man, and for us in this climate to call out our faith, sometimes feels like one of the hardest things we have to do, and Peter had the strength and confidence to call out his beliefs in the midst of a situation with consequences far greater than we can understand. I think the key to it is his confidence, is because what he is saying is the reason he can feel so sure to yell because he had already been obeying God. Because he already had to hope and the promise of the Holy Spirit, he could be sure that God had placed it on his heart in that time.

    • I do agree with you that it is hard to grasp this because we are not in the same situation as what Peter was. As Americans we are very fortunate to be able to worship Jesus freely and so we don’t have to worry about being persecuted. But in a way, I would say that this verse is something that Christians in America, including myself struggle with. I think that the confidence that Peter uses to proclaim this is encouraging and is something that we should be modeling our faith to be. Even though we don’t have to deal with the same persecution that Peter did, we do face a kind of persecution today that we have to learn how to be confident in our faith and stand up. I believe that so often in today’s culture we are raising more “pew warmers” or people who just sit in church on a Sunday morning to fulfill a box on their weekly checklist, rather than raising people who are confident in their faith. I wonder if the church today in America was facing the same persecution that Peter and the disciples did would handle it the same way as they did.

  14. It is very easy for us to grasp this concept because we are not persecuted for our faith every day. We are in a nation where we are free to practice whatever religion we would like. However, I look at it from the lens that even though we don’t face nearly the persecution that others do, we still face it on a day to day basis. People still look down upon Christians, and there are situations where I have been treated as lesser because of my beliefs. It is something that we still face, but at the same time, we need to be able to look to God, and to stand up for what we believe in.

  15. The nature of human beings is to make everything about themselves. At least, due to the fall peoples sin nature corrupts them. When we approach the Scriptures it is easy to pull out things that immediately sound good to our own circumstances, instead of thinking of what the author meant, who this passage was written to, and how there is a 2000 plus year gap when it was written. When you talk about application, you mentioned people, mainly in the west, conclude that this passage supports the protest of governmental systems. For many people that would sound like a helpful motivation. But this goes back to a point I made in a pervious response to the comfort of the American church. We in the west have gotten used to comfort. There are things we can afford that allows us, not just a general type of comfort, but a specific comfort tailored to each individual. This social structure has influenced the way we perceive and interpret the world. Furthermore, when we approach the Scriptures there is an underlying assumption that what is being said in Scripture will benefit my desires, or comfort. I want to be careful not to group everyone in America into this category, because I know there are people who do not think this way. But for a large part of the America Christian church this is the reality. I think Christians in the west need to get back to the truth we find in Romans 12:1-2 and learn how to be transformed by the renewal of the mind through God’s word. We ought to learn how to be a living sacrifice.

  16. This passage throws people off just as you have stated. In others eyes it is interpreted as” I can rebel and disrespect authority because God said I need to stand up for injustice!”. Now they do not think they are rebelling against authority because if the authority is corrupt then they must be taken down.
    The funny thing is this attitude is not even one atom biblical. Take what God says concerning Pharaoh during the Exodus, “I have appointed you for the very purpose of displaying my power in you and to spread my fame throughout the earth” (Exodus 9:16-17, Rom. 9:17). Moses knew Pharaoh was God’s delegated authority. To resist Pharaoh would be to resist God, however, the known biblical phrase to teach on this is that you should submit and obey to authorities UNLESS they command you to sin or go against God. Obedience in this case is conditional but submission is NEVER conditional. Believers are to submit to God’s delegated authority no matter what (Rom. 13:1-5, Heb. 13:17, 1 Peter 2:13-18 etc.)

    Take for example also when Paul is before the high council and stated he had always lived before God with a clear conscience. As a result, Ananias the high priest commanded that Paul be slapped in the mouth. Before they slapped him, Paul replied “God will slap you, you corrupt hypocrite! What kind of judge are you to break the law yourself by ordering me struck like that?” (Acts 23:1-3). The people in the room said to Paul “Do you dare to insult God’s High Priest?” (Acts 23:4). Paul turns it around and apologizes because he did not realize this was the high priest he was speaking to and then mentions the scripture from Exodus 22:28 to support it. The Scripture reference says, “You must not speak evil of any of your rulers”.

    Peter is before the religious teachers and the religious leaders tell Peter to stop teaching the name of Jesus and filling Jerusalem’s people’s heads that they were responsible for the murder of Jesus. Yet, as Polhill points out, “Peter, of course, was not trying to get the leaders killed but rather to get them saved ” (Polhill, Acts 5:29 The intentions of Peter were not to disrespect the leaders but made such a strong statement because it is what they need in order to see their sins and get them saved. I love also that Polhill points out that the purpose of the bold statement (Acts 5:29) is very much abused and misappropriated in our society to get what they want and use it to support/enable a victim mentality. It must be used in its proper context otherwise you are manipulating Scripture and producing a rebellious divisive spirit to God’s people and delegated authority.

    The Holy Spirit empowers us to do God’s will, boldly and faithfully, this is a clear fruit of a faithful Christ follower. Let me finish with this, Jesus was asked if He paid the temple tax, and then asked of Peter, “What do you think Simon? From whom do the kings of the earth take customs and taxes, from their sons or from strangers?” Peter answered from strangers. Then Jesus states then the sons are free, and yet he says “Lest we offend them…” cast a hook and their will be a fish there with a cone in his mouth. Use that to pay the temple tax (Matt. 17:24-27).

    Put simply, the Temple was built for God the Father, Jesus is the Son of the living God. He was exempt from paying that tax. And yet He laid down His rights and privileges and paid it. So, you have one guy who led a revolt against the governing authorities and a guy who laid down His rights and submitted to authority. The person who rebelled (Barabbas) was spared and the innocent man was killed.

    This is an attitude that is, in my opinion, rarely seen in Christian communities. Those who profess they are liberal Christians you will see the attitude of Barabbas. Speaking evil of authorities and leading a revolt against them to get them out of power.

    Christians should not fear death because they are dead to themselves and will live forever more with Jesus upon their departure from earth. Therefore, with the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, would it not be better to obey God rather than man?

  17. Acts 5:29 states, “Peter and the other apostles replied: ‘We must obey God rather than human beings!’” This statement is so profound. It is not a statement that they will not listen to the leadership placed over them, rather it is them proclaiming that no matter what happens they will follow God. Many of the apostles’ lives were threatened because of the message they were declaring, but in this verse, they state that they do not care. No one what the threat, they will not back down, for they are speaking for the fame and renown of Christ. “This is a model of Christian suffering that challenges the reader to also be ready to stand firm for their faith even though it cost their life” (Long). So often in our world today we shy away from spreading God’s word, and we are not even faced with the brash persecution that the apostles faced daily. They literally had their lives on line, and still said, “we listen to God first,” or “what He says goes.” They lived boldly and fearlessly. Jipp says, “Twice Luke portrays Peter as responding to the threats with statements that they will listen and obey God only, even if it brings them into conflict with other humans” (58). That is what this verse is really about. The apostles are stating that nothing will make them back down. Their purpose is to spread the message of a Savior far and wide. That purpose has not changed and is still real for us…so why do we so often hesitate to share the good news that we have found?

    • I agree with you here Haley that a lot of times in our world we are scared of spreading the word of God just simply because of what ‘might’ happen to us ‘if’ we do that. When it comes to living a life with God and trusting him, there should never be any ‘ifs’ that we deal with. One of the books I’m reading in another class talks about how we as Christians need to go to ‘the gutter’ and not be afraid of getting dirty and the outcomes that come with it.

  18. Peter’s defense before the Sanhedrin not only summarized the previous remarks made earlier in the chapter, but it almost seemed like a ‘in your face’ moment. Peter is calling out the people responsible for the death of Christ, but recognizes the necessity of it in order for, but as you said, Jesus to extend “repentance and forgiveness of to sins to Israel” (Long 35). We talked earlier in class about the importance of having two eye witnesses in order to make a testimony credible. I find it interesting that Peter called upon the Holy Spirit as a witness because he would have been a fairly new concept for the Jews to wrap their mind around. The Holy Spirit was only made accessible to all believers at Pentecost, so it is interesting to me that Peter would bring to attention something that may have been widely misunderstood for people outside of the early church. Then again, the Book of Acts follows the movement of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the apostles and early church. The capability of the Spirit to create physical change in the disciples surroundings as well as within the hearts and minds of Judaism is incredible. People want something tactical to believe in and pull out as evidence when needed, but that is what makes Acts 5:29 so pivotal to the Christian movement.

  19. I am just like most people when I say that it was crazy (in a good way) to see how confident Peter actually was with proclaiming what he was. I would have to agree with you too in the fact that this notion is something that no real American can actually claim that we do. We may go out and about in proclaiming that we have to be able to accept a live with Christ, but when it comes down to it, especially with our fellow peers that are the closest to us, we basically ‘freeze’. Today in our world, we have all of these big leaders telling us left and right that we have to do things in life a certain way and if we don’t, we won’t be as successful, or not even successful at all. That should not be the case. We all have to be more like Peter and not live our lives as scared about what would come with actually proclaiming to those around you that yes, I live a life that is centered around God and that because I trust in him and obey him, nothing bad will happen to me.

  20. Many Americans today have vast misconceptions of what it means to be a Christian in the States. So many people tie their political beliefs to their religious beliefs. This is dangerous, not because setting your political stances based of Scripture is bad, but many tend to shape scripture to fit their political stances by taking things out of context. The moment that politics takes the front seat over God is the moment that it becomes pointless. God should always be our first thought when looking at life, and the Word should most definitely influence our decisions. Many people I see tend to think that the church needs to be directly tied into the government, and that Christian values are most important for the States. While yes, Christian values in government would be quite good, the corruption of those values that can happen when people come to power severely hurts the reputation of Christianity. This is why the idea of separation of Church and state is important, not because we need to take Christ out of our values, but because Christian values don’t always stay Christian when it comes to politics.
    The civil disobedience that Peter displays before the Sanhedrin, saying he’d die before he’d stop preaching in the name of Jesus, is something we can take away from today. In the States, even though people would like to say otherwise, Christians are really not persecuted on a large scale. Compared to other countries where being a Christian is illegal, the United States is quite a safe-haven for us. Many Christians tend to get riled up over things that happen in politics that don’t conform to their views, but I also think it’s important for those who aren’t Christians to have freedoms as well. We shouldn’t encourage their sin, but in the States, they have the right to. Taking away people’s choice isn’t the way to minister to them. Instead, unless Christians are directly being persecuted, the church is being attacked, and we are told to NOT worship Christ, then we should respect those in power knowing God allowed them to be there. If we are infringed on, then the mindset of Peter here is important. Being willing to die for our faith gives us an entirely different outlook on how we view it.

  21. The examples from the Bible that you mentioned are just some of the many we can use as an example for how we are to stand up for our faith. Jesus died for us yet sometimes we are still afraid to claim to be a follower of him. The examples that you listed are of people who were willing to give their lives to be obedient to God, even though they were simple tasks that were asked of them.
    People think getting a tattoo of a Bible verse, or a cross on themselves means that they are standing up for their faith and following God but it should go much farther for us. Every action and decision we make should be based on what we think should honor God. It will not always be with your life on the line, but we should always make the decision to obey God.

  22. I can agree to the wholeheartedly that this is a big thing in our world, ” I will not be silent, God wants me to speak” I would like to say that I have never done this but it would simply not be true. I believe that saying this in the wrong context could most definitely be taking the Lord’s name in vain. The time that I can remember doing this without a dought was when I was headed to youth group my senior year and I was speeding, I got pulled over and I used the excuse that I was on the worship team for youth group, and I was why I was running late because I forgot to print the cord sheets. even though all of that was true, I did not need to use all of it to get out of a ticket, later on, I realized I just used the Lord’s name in vain. this is exactly what I was getting out of your blog, no matter what I will not stop talking abought Jesus, but not for ourselves, but rather for the Lord’s kingdom.

  23. The application here seems never ending especially in today’s world where there are so many hot button issues that cause such severe trouble in our nation and surrounding places as well. There are so many people that are so passionate about certain issues, political views, or topics that they would literally lay their life on the line for the cause; which has been happening repeatedly throughout history and seemingly a lot more now than ever. The saddest part about this super applicable information is that a lot of these people that would lay their life down for a cause aren’t laying their lives down for Jesus and being an ambassador for him. I’m not sure if these two things are directly connected to each other, but they are definitely correlated through observation. I think that we should be constantly checking our hearts and our motives to make sure we are in line with the gospel and with Christ, doing all we can for Him and His kingdom rather than living according to our own selfish ambitions.

  24. It always amazes me to read of those in the Bible, and in history, who were not only willing to stand up and speak the truth of Jesus but did so while the very real threat (or reality) of death was facing them. Not only did the apostles proclaim they would continue to preach because God instructed them to, but as it says in 5:41, they rejoiced for being worthy of suffering. While I pray I would have the strength of mind to approach persecution in such a way, I wonder if truly faced with death, would I? Very often you hear that God will give one the strength when faced with a devastating situation, and I have to believe that is what is happening even here with the apostles. Yes, they have a powerful faith in Jesus, but they were still simply men. I must imagine that facing the very real threat of death was still terrifying in some sense…or at least extremely unsettling? Often, I read these short 1-2 sentence verses, wishing there were more detail. Did the apostles “rejoice” in the sense that we define the word today, which recalls a celebration? Or does this allude more to a rejoicing by praising God in prayer? The word picture in 5:41 evokes almost a cheering in the streets, but I have a hard time imagining that was the case!

  25. I am saddened to say that I agree with you, as Christians, we are very silent about Jesus. We live a very comfortable life, and talking about Jesus may stir up some conflict which would then make us uncomfortable and that’s the last thing we want. I’m ashamed to admit that even I view Evangelism as scary. Even though I know the whole gospel forwards and backwards, I worry I will mess up and tell the story wrong and some older and wiser person who knows the Bible better will correct me. Or I was worried that people will start asking me questions that I don’t know how to answer. Or that I might get flat out rejected by someone and ruin a friendship or relationship. So many things could go wrong, but that’s true of anything in life. The cost of messing up, or rejection does not compare to the cost of someone’s life. The longer we live in fear of evangelizing and sharing the gospel, the more people miss the shot of a life in eternity with Jesus. We can learn so much from Peter’s boldness and the boldness of many others in the Bible. They were not living a comfortable life, rather God had called them to be uncomfortable. They were empowered by the Holy Spirit just like we are today, but they were actually living it out in their lives.
    In regards to this verse being taken out of context and used as reasoning to protest government authority. God has called us to respect those in leadership, which means, we will respect their rules and regulations until they disagree with The Bible. Then we will follow what the Bible has said for our lives, but that does not mean we stop respecting those in authority or other people’s opinions. We are called to represent Christ in EVERYTHING we do. Every action, every word, every post, every text.

  26. What motivates a person to action? Typically this will be something that the individual is motivated to do by conviction, or by some need. I have a need to graduate so I do my homework, regardless of if I want to. But, I am convicted to do well and strive for a good grade, so I give it an earnest attempt. These are my motivations that bring me to action at this moment. Peter and the other apostles are motivated by a true conviction, they know what it is they have been commanded, and the authority of the one who commanded it. This conviction to them has transformed into a need to the point that “they cannot help but speaking (Acts 4:20). Likewise today what people do is motivated by their convictions, but few would like to admit how weak the motivations of their convictions are so they appeal to a higher cause to excuse or justify their zeal. I can say how I feel on a matter and feel motivated to action by these feeling but if my reason is just feelings my cause doesn’t seem just. Therefore why shouldn’t I staple a Bible verse or two to my banner and then declare my cause the will of God? Frankly, this approach is both fraudulent to your motivations, and an abuse of scripture. However, I think this is not malicious in its motivations typically, but rather is the result of proof texting the scripture. The, I see what I want to see approach. Read this way the Bible can prove and justify a great deal of things. Which I firmly believe why you can find a good deal of genuine Christians on each side of a political issue that firmly believe that their side is just, and cannot understand how those on the other side can call themselves believers. Therefore, I think this verse is just one of many victims of this form of interpretation. Peter, and the others were being repressed by those in power, but they were not responding with rage or hatred. They simply did what was right. I feel the phrase “We must obey God rather than human beings! (Acts 5:29 ESV)” Should be carefully used when used as an excuse for civil disobedience. Is the government saying you can’t proclaim the Gospel? Then proclaim anyway, this would be an appropriate use of this verse. Is the government taxing your large soft drinks, or imposing new taxes? This would not be an appropriate use of this verse. Remember that the apostles were resisting both peacefully, and only a command that directly contrasted with the direct command of God. They were not defending their own rights, or their own freedoms, nor the freedom of others. They were following a greater command. In conclusion it was Peter himself that also said, “Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor (1 Peter 2:17 ESV).

  27. After reading this blog post, I think of Galatians 1:10 that states, “For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Peter knew that he had to choose God, but also, the Holy Spirit was the one empowering him and crafting a supernatural boldness within him (Long). When the times of trials and tribulation came, Peter stood strong because he had a deep understanding of how worthy Jesus is of every word, every action and, ultimately, every life.
    As Western-world believers, we can get so caught up in the glamor of it all, yet we must understand that Jesus promised suffering. He told us that if we join him in his suffering, we will also join him in his glory and resurrection (1 Peter 4:13).
    We ought to have a better reason to protest things of the world, whether that be politics or not. Our sole reason should be that we are doing everything to speak up about Jesus, who He is, and what He has done. We cannot take this verse out of context to make ourselves feel validated about our opinions. It is time that we, as followers of Christ, use our voice to preach His gospel and not allow others to make us silent. The reality is people hated Jesus when He was on earth, so they are going to dislike those that follow Him and preach His gospel. It is time we stop looking for the approval of man, and look to just God for approval.

  28. I find it very admirable of Peter and John to be so confident in the face of death. Even the example of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego provides another real testimony to obeying God rather than man. These five men are just a few examples of men humbly braving death in order to obey God. In the text, it is evident that the apostles were charged and beat by the men working for the council. However, it was shocking to see that when the apostles left the council, they were “rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name” (Acts 5:41b, ESV). These men were honored to have faced such torture in order to go back out into the world to teach in the name of Jesus. The apostles were so bold to have rejected the orders of the council, even after being beat nearly to death, just to obey God. I think that many Christians of the modern church have much to learn from even just these couple examples (Daniel 3, Acts 5) of boldness for Christ in the face of adversity. It is often a question I even ask myself, “am I willing to die for Christ?”. It is a common problem for Christians to be hesitant when sharing the gospel, and obeying the Word of God. It is easy for people to read the Bible, but people are often wary to apply it to their life the message that God gives them through Scripture. Peter, the rest of the apostles, and the three men in the fiery furnace are all prime examples of the boldness that Christians need to have when it comes to obeying God. It is clear in the Scriptures that Christians are told to spread the gospel in all of the world. This command is not conditional. Mankind has no authority to pick and choose who they tell of the chance of forgiveness that God has gifted to everyone. With this in mind, Christians must all be bold to obey the Lord.

  29. I agree with you that Christians, usually in the west, are often silent about Jesus. Many Christians are hesitant to talk about who Jesus is, what he has done for us, and the salvation that he can provide to those around us. I think this is because of cultural differences in having a conversation around the topic of religion. For example, in some Eastern countries, having conversations around spirituality and religion are more common and normal in those societies. On the other hand, generally in the United States there is more of a hesitancy to start a conversation about religion. From my past experiences, I have sometimes felt tension or awkwardness when talking about religion to others, which I believe is a sad reality of most of the society in the United States. In Acts 5, Peter and the other disciples demonstrate what it truly means to “obey God rather than man,” which is that they are willing to die rather than be silent about Jesus. I find this very admirable, and I believe it is the way that we should all strive to live our lives as followers of Christ. Because of the power of the Holy Spirit within them, Peter and the disciples were able to speak boldly about the word of God and the truth of who Jesus was. They continued to speak boldly, even though they knew that they were likely to be physically persecuted for their actions. This is the application that Christians should follow when choosing to obey God rather than man, rather than using this verse to misapply it to a political issue.

  30. When reading passages like this, it reminds me how there were and still are people willing to die for their faith in Jesus Christ. I am reminded of the religious freedom that is given in America, but I still have to ask myself, would I be willing to die for the sake of Christ? My answer is, yes. Though, I do not know if I would have the bravery that Peter displayed all those years ago in the time of Acts. The point of this passage is to show that Peter and the apostles were willing to die in their faith in Jesus, and I think it is good to remind ourselves that this isn’t a passage to pull out of context and place in the next political “hot topic” (Long). Again, as most of the things that Peter says, his statement of following Christ rather than men is bold, because it means that the Sanhedrin no longer holds the power, but Christ himself does now. This would offend the Sadduccees, and Peter was well aware of that. However, it did not stop him from being bold to talk about Jesus, even when he was told not to (Polhil, 2091). I agree that people in the Midwest can be very silent in their faith and when it comes to talking about Jesus. I understand the concept of it being “scary” or being “rejected” to whomever one may be talking to about Jesus, but just think if Peter and the apostles were willing to die for the sake of Christ, why should we be shying away from a little verbal rejection from those who do not agree with us (believers)? I think that many Christians today do not think about how “easy” we have it in terms of speaking about Jesus to others. Acts 5 is a great reminder that as Christians, we should be prepared to lay down our lives for Christ.


    Crossway Bibles. (2016). Esv: Study Bible: English standard version.

  31. When you mentioned the political agenda often used of these passages, I did not quite understand. It was not until I got the very end of the blog post that I made the connection and could think of dozens of examples of Facebook friends using this to justify hate. One of the saddest things in our society today is using scripture to justify hate. It has always been done though, there are numerous examples throughout history, but it surely does not show the love of Jesus and who He is. We are so separated from the intentions of Peter and the other apostles that to truly die for something makes almost no sense. There are Christians all over the world that are willing to die for the name of Jesus. I truly do not even know what that looks like other than what the movies show us. My faith has been challenged before but never to the extent where I felt personally persecuted. Is this a blessing? Just a few verses later in Acts 5:41, they leave the presence of the council literally rejoicing because they were counted worthy of suffering. It was an honor to them that they might suffer for the name of Jesus. Where is that kind of faith? Why don’t my Facebook friends share that? Why don’t I share that? Because leaving our comfort zone and our easy lives is hard and uncomfortable and it does not feel safe. Peter and John did not care about their safety, their comfort, and their easy lifestyle. They cared about the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and they were honored to suffer for it.

  32. I agree that Christians today have a difficult time with trying to distinguish between the Laws that the government enforce in today’s world and the Law we have from God. I know that we are all supposed to respect our government and obey their laws but that only when they do not go against the word of God. For example we as Christians shouldn’t just stand by as the world starts to become more welcoming to things such as homosexuality and abortions. We do not have to hate these things or stop them from happening but us as followers should let it be known that these things are against Gods word.

  33. Here in Western cultures, we take almost everything for granted, we are blessed with such a luxurious lifestyle and comfort in our daily life that we oftentimes don’t seem to ask help from the Holy Spirit whereas also the names of Jesus no longer become a priority objective in our life which also follow “the truth” as not being operative in our daily life. We as Christian need to be more aware of the fact that the vertical relationship should be a primary objective, not the second objective. During the times of apostolic time, their primary concern was the vertical, rather than the horizontal, the more trials and persecution they encounter; the more they witnessed the presence of the Holy Spirit. If we look at a third-world country, or some other country like, China, Iran, India, and Africa, our Christian brothers and sisters were so bold in their faith, they rather obey God rather than humans, and many had forfeited their lives for their faith. In contrast, here in American, we are less likely to face persecution where our faith is not being challenged by the authority in an extreme form. Because of that, our faith seems too small in contrast to Christian in China, Iran, etc. And one of the major reasons was, we not fully exposed to the truth, and when a person is not being exposed by the truth, there is no conviction at all, or determination to stand up for their faith. Peter is a bold follower of Jesus, filled with conviction, eagerness, fearless, will rather obey God rather than human because he was fully exposed to the truth, witnessed the truth, and witnessed the resurrection of Jesus. We are also given the same evidence here, we see the same story and evidence as Peter, and we will not have the guts to say the same statement as Peter when our faith is being challenged and the possibility of death unless we are exposed and convicted by the Holy Spirit.

  34. As mentioned in the post, the passage serves as a reminder for all christians to hold on to their faith even if it costs us our lives (par. 8), but as I read this I can’t help but think of all of our brothers and sisters all over the world who are actually living persecution because of their faith. It is so hard for us who are comfortable and aren’t actively being persecuted, to remember or acknowledge those who are. The closest we get to feeling any sort of persecution because of our faith here in the Western world is from society. We could probably agree that with the “progressiveness” of society, calling yourself a Christian has become a controversial thing to say and sometimes worthy of being “victims” of “Cancel Culture” at most, but nothing compared to risking our lives every single day, and if I’m being honest I don’t know that many of us would survive such persecution with how comfortable we are now. This also makes me think about Peter and the apostles at the end of Acts 5 and how they rejoiced for being beaten for the name of Jesus. Would we rejoice likewise at the act of someone beating us? What would our reactions be?

  35. Honestly, reading Acts 5 again for class was more of an eye-opening experience than I thought it was going to be and it was all because of this verse and the surrounding verses. Referring to Long’s blog, I always appreciate when someone compares a situation in history to a situation in modern-day America because it is able to describe the cultural awareness around it in a way that some historical events aren’t able to do. This shows that whole community around them is aware that they killed Jesus and now have imprisoned His disciples. This also shows us to what lengths the disciples would go to just to defend the name of Jesus. Here in modern day America, it is very hard for us as Christians to defend the name of Jesus especially in a public space like work or school because of lack of knowledge, lack of confidence, embarrassment, shame, etc, etc. After reading Long’s blog on how the disciples would rather obey God then Man was really encouraging to me. Even down to his last sentence about misapplying this verse to your most controversial political stance, Long makes is clear (even with the mention of the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego) that no matter the circumstance, we are always called to obey God (teach about Him) rather than please men.

  36. Living in the west and living in a free country, we may overlook the fact that we can take part in any religion we choose. We have the ability to read and study the Bible. There are people across the world that don’t have the ability to read and study the Bible. We live in a society where we can, for the most part, comfortably study the Bible and go to church as we please. But how often are we going out spreading the word of God? Are we ever doing enough? Society today is so judgmental that many of us are scared to preach the word of God. Not because we think we will be persecuted, but to be judged by those around us. Many people care more about what others think of us than to do what the Bible says and to go out and share the gospel. Peter and the rest of the apostles weren’t afraid to die for continuing to spread the gospel. They were willing to give up everything on earth for God’s message to be sent out to the world. After reading this passage, why shouldn’t our minds shift towards spreading God’s word more than we already do? Why do we continually keep it to ourselves if it’s been shown to us how much it means to others?

  37. I found it very amazing that Peter and the other disciples would rather die than be silent about Jesus. This shows how much they believed in Jesus and what he could do and was going to do for us and our sins. As stated by Professor Long, they were very Bold about proclaiming their faith and the gospel. They were so bold about it because, “the source of this boldness is the Holy Spirit empowering them to speak in a very powerful way to the very people who have the power to torture and kill them” (Long). This is actually just super crazy to even fathom, but if I was a disciple in the hands of Jesus and I saw first hand the things He could do and was going to do, I too would be risking my life trying to proclaim the gospel. This is why today we are disciples of Jesus, but times are unlike then, but we still should be very dedicated to our faith and beliefs no matter what. We today need to not be silent about Jesus but to continue spreading the word of God as did his disciples long ago. The title of this blog is very fitting because Peter as Jesus’s disciple chose to obey God over man, he took his own findings and beliefs and stood firm in what he believed in. On the other hand, that is what we need to do today. Obey God and not man, to a religious extent obviously.

  38. Hearing Peter say the words “we must obey God more than man” (P. Long, 2019). As Christians, it is always the most important to put God before anything and it is easy to fail to do this task as well. There are many things in our human lives that we put first before God which is not something that he wants for us. We as Christians need to take these wise words from Peter and incorporate them into our everyday lives and remember to constantly put God first no matter what the circumstance may be. It was shared that many Jewish individuals put their life to an end in order to continuously put God first in their lives and this is a great example of what we ought to do in our everyday lives. It is definitely easier said than done but even if we took more initiative to work on this then we would be living a healthier and happier life with a closer relationship with God. Peter and Jesus’s disciples were willing to give their lives in order to share the word of Jesus, so why shouldn’t we do the same? We need to do better for ourselves and do better for God because God loves us unconditionally and we need to perform more holy for his sake.

  39. In reading the blog post “Obeying God Rather than Man” in Acts 5:29 Long brings up some challenging points. We see through this passage and in Acts that we must choose to follow Christ, and live to fulfill the gospel even if the consequences are death. We see disciples of Jesus all through scripture and into present times carrying out this passage, but many of those who witnessed Jesus’s death did not live up to this standard. The people in Israel at this time called for the killing of Jesus, they wanted the messiah dead, called him a traitor. Peter calls for repentance among these people for their sins against God in the same ways we are called to repentance everyday. Yet we see in the next event that against all odds Jesus was raised from the dead not just back to life, but then to the holiest of places he could be, seated at the right hand of the father. This opportunity of repentance is extended to even those shouting for his murder, and opportunity to live for the name they drug to the cross. Peter and the disciples carry this out so gracefully as they would rather die than not share the name of Jesus, and speak the truth of the gospel. The disciples choose to step out and live a life of boldness to spread the gospel and further the kingdom. The reflection of Christ ultimately led to their deaths.

  40. This passage in Acts 5 is making me think about Acts 4:12, when Peter emphasizes the power and authority in the name of Jesus. When Peter says that “we [the apostles] must obey God rather than men”, he is re-emphasizing the greatness/Lordship of Christ.
    I do think it’s interesting how modern-day Christians misinterpret this text & make it to be political. I also think it’s interesting when they casually switch it around from “obey God rather than men” to verses that also say to obey your leaders/earthly authorities, but only when their preferred leader gets elected. (I think that’s kind of funny, but also concerning, ya know?)
    It’s mainly concerning when modern-day Christians thwort this text, because they are ignoring the fact that God has brought Christ to the highest authority position. Often, people lose sight of that truth within the text, and only really focus on the whole “man” part of it—they lose sight of what it means to obey God.
    To obey God does not mean to go on Facebook rants and completely attempt to obliterate people in the comments of political posts. That’s not what it means to obey God rather than men! To obey God rather than men is to go before the Sanhedrin, as the apostles did, and share the Good News of Christ’s death and resurrection.

  41. Obeying God Rather Than Man
    When we hear this as christians, we automatically feel like that’s what we are doing. There are a lot of christians who may say this and say that they truly mean it but are their actions showing it? Long puts in this blog a line that truly touched me, “Since they have been given the word of God, there is no way that they could be silent.” Jesus! This is so powerful right here. How can I be silenced when I have been blessed by the holy word? God is working miracles in my life and I will not be silenced. The next part of the blog we get into Jesus being killed but then risen by God. They killed an innocent man who could not be silenced, and what happened to him? He was risen by God. Peter and the other disciples would rather be dead than to be silenced when it came to praising their Lord and Savior. So now I have a question!! This chapter in Acts is so beautiful and powerful, but why are christians so ashamed of God? Why is it so easy to be silenced when it comes to sharing the good works of the Lord? This really bothers me and rubs me the wrong way because at what point in life did someone decide to hush up about God. That trickles down to the next generation and the generation after that. I understand but I don’t understand why people are so ashamed of God.

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