Acts of the Apostles
Part 3: Practicals for Evangelization
Chapter Chapter 10 • Sharing the Gospel and Fear and Suffering (Acts 5:27-42)
Begin by passing out the "Evangelization and Fear" handout. Have each member rank their fears, and have them share their number one fear with the group. Split up your study into groups. Have each group take one of the fears and come up with reasons why this fear would be irrational.
In the Acts of the Apostles, we see several examples of suffering. One of the best examples is found in Acts 5:27-42. Previously in chapter 5, the apostles' fame is spreading in Jerusalem and the surrounding towns. They are working signs and wonders, and many believers were being added. In response, the Jewish authorities arrest the apostles—but when they are called up for questioning, they are not to be found in their cells. Instead, they are back in the temple, teaching the people. With this context in mind, let’s look at how the Jewish authorities question the apostles.
27 When they had brought them in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them, 28 “We gave you strict orders [did we not?] to stop teaching in that name. Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29 But Peter and the apostles said in reply, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, as is the holy Spirit that God has given to those who obey him.”
33 When they heard this, they became infuriated and wanted to put them to death. 34 But a Pharisee in the Sanhedrin named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, respected by all the people, stood up, ordered the men to be put outside for a short time, 35 and said to them, “Fellow Israelites, be careful what you are about to do to these men. 36 Some time ago, Theudas appeared, claiming to be someone important, and about four hundred men joined him, but he was killed, and all those who were loyal to him were disbanded and came to nothing. 37 After him came Judas the Galilean at the time of the census. He also drew people after him, but he too perished and all who were loyal to him were scattered. 38 So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. 39 But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.” They were persuaded by him. 40 After recalling the apostles, they had them flogged, ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them. 41 So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. 42 And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Messiah, Jesus.
- It is easy to forget that these figures in Acts are humans just like us. They had feelings, fears, and doubts just like we do. If you were them, how would you have responded?
- Why it is hard to rejoice in our suffering?
- St. Paul goes through a great deal of suffering as he preached the gospel. Read 2 Corinthians 11:23-29. Whether it is St. Paul or other saints, it seems that the life of a saint is usually filled with suffering. Why do you think this is?
- In an earlier chapter, you developed a mission statement. In the mission that God has given you or will give you, what suffering do you think you will have to endure?
- St. Therese once said, “My God, I choose all! I do not want to be a saint by halves, I’m not afraid to suffer for You, I fear only one thing: to keep my own will; so take it, for I choose all that You will!” How do we develop this attitude of not being “saints by halves,” especially when we are in the midst of suffering?
- If you could choose one thing you want to take away from this entire study, what would it be and why?
*Adapted from FOCUS