The apostles and the Church enjoyed the favor of the people—a favor which was mingled with awe. Many miracles were wrought by the apostles; multitudes of sick people were brought to be healed.
But the Sadducees made another attempt to put a stop to the dangerous movement. Acts 5:17–42. They laid hands upon all the apostles, as they had laid hands upon two of them once before, and put them all in prison. But in the night the apostles were released by an angel of the Lord, and at once, in obedience to the angel's command, went and taught boldly in the Temple. When they were arrested again, Peter said simply, "We must obey God rather than men. The Jesus whom you slew has been raised up by God as a Prince and a Saviour, and we are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit." Vs. 29–32, in substance. It was a bold answer, and the sanhedrin was incensed. But Gamaliel, a Pharisee, one of the most noted of the Jewish teachers, advocated a policy of watchful waiting. If the new movement were of God, he said, there was no use in fighting against it; if it were of men it would fail of itself as other Messianic movements had failed. The cautious policy prevailed, so far as any attempt at inflicting the death penalty was concerned. But the apostles before they were released were scourged. The suffering and shame did not prevent their preaching. They rejoiced that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name of Jesus.
The early Jerusalem church was composed partly of Aramaic-speaking Jews who had always lived in Palestine, and partly of Greek-speaking Jews who were connected with the Judaism of the Dispersion. The latter class murmured because their widows were neglected in the daily ministrations. In order that the matter might be attended to without turning the apostles aside from their work of teaching and preaching, seven men were chosen to preside over the distribution of help to the needy members of the church. Acts 6:1–6. But these seven were no mere "business men." They were "full of the Spirit and of wisdom," and at least two of them became prominent in the preaching of the gospel.
Acts 6:7 to 8:3
One of these two was Stephen, a "man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit." Stephen "wrought great wonders and signs among the people,"