Acts 5:19

ESV But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out, and said,
NIV But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out.
NASB But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the gates of the prison, and leading them out, he said,
CSB But an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail during the night, brought them out, and said,
NLT But an angel of the Lord came at night, opened the gates of the jail, and brought them out. Then he told them,
KJV But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said,

What does Acts 5:19 mean?

The chief priests have arrested the apostles for teaching and healing in the name of Jesus. The apostles' continued confinement is not in God's plan right now, so He arranges to have them released.

The story of the Bible proves that God provides miraculous escape and safety only when it serves His plan. When Jesus was very young, God sent Joseph a dream, warning him that Herod the Great was looking to kill Jesus. Joseph followed God's instructions and took Mary and Jesus to Egypt. God did not rescue the other baby boys in Bethlehem. Although there wouldn't have been very many boys under the age of two in that tiny town, the massacre was still heartbreaking. We're not told why God didn't spare the other boys, other that it fulfilled prophecy (Matthew 2:13–18).

While Jesus slept in a boat, the disciples grew more and more terrified of a storm on the Sea of Galilee (Mark 4:35–41). Finally, they awakened Jesus who responded, "Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?" (Mark 4:40). Jesus calmed the storm, and all was well. Jesus didn't mean that God would always keep them safe. He meant that when they have work to do, God will make sure they are able to do it.

The apostles lived this out through their ministries. The Sanhedrin arrested Peter and John, and then let them go with a warning (Acts 4:1–3, 21). Later, Herod Agrippa I will arrest Peter and James; he will kill James, but an angel will rescue Peter (Acts 12:1–11). In Philippi, the local authorities will arrest Paul and Silas (Acts 16:19–24). While Paul and Silas worship God, an earthquake will open all the prison doors. But none of the prisoners will leave (Acts 16:25–28). And yet, church tradition says all the apostles will die as martyrs except for John who will survive being burned in oil.

The Bible doesn't promise God will keep Jesus-followers safe. It promises He will equip us for the work He has assigned us (Ephesians 4:12). Sometimes, that work is best accomplished with hardships and even death. We need to decide what we value more: our comfort and safety or His plan of reaching the world with the message of repentance and salvation. If we follow Him, we can affirm Job's words: "Though he slay me, I will hope in him" (Job 13:15).
What is the Gospel?
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