17 “But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.” 18 So they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:17–20, NKJV)
The Jewish rulers viewed the gospel like a virus spreading unchecked throughout Jerusalem. Their solution was to “severely threaten” Peter and John to keep them from continuing to speak and teach in the name of Jesus. The conflict was set between the order of men and God’s mandate, not by Peter and John, but by the opponents of the truth. Peter and John would continue to do what they had been doing, speaking the things they had seen and heard (v. 20). When men insist we listen to them more than God, they cause a flashpoint. We do not desire it, but we do not shrink from it. The rules and dictates of men do not hold sway over our worship and obedience to God (Acts 5:29). Like then, rulers and faithless people will continue to test our resolve on this divine principle of truth. May we be wise in what is good and innocent in what is evil to navigate the rough seas of human obstructions and listen to God’s word more than men (v. 19-20; Rom. 16:19).