To Give Repentance and Forgiveness of Sins
But Peter and the other apostles answered and said: “We ought to obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised up Jesus whom you murdered by hanging on a tree. Him God has exalted to His right hand to be Prince and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are His witnesses to these things, and so also is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him.”
The dramatic story in Acts 4 and 5 is amazing testimony to the inspiration and power of God through His Spirit. First, Peter and John were arrested and severely threatened to not preach in Jesus’ name (Acts 4:18-21). Then apparently all the apostles were imprisoned and miraculously released by an angel (Acts 5:17-20).
Instead of going into hiding, they obeyed the command of the angel to go preach in the temple again (Acts 5:20-21). The officers and the Jewish council didn’t know what to make of the fact the prison was still locked and the guards were still guarding the empty cells. It seems they didn’t know that the apostles had escaped.
Peter and the other apostles were hauled before the council again and spoke boldly. Peter not only accused the council of murder, he proclaimed that Jesus was on the right hand of God and is our Savior. As a result of Jesus’ sacrifice, God grants repentance and is willing to forgive our sins. Jesus Himself had explained that God’s great love makes this possible, as we covered in our commentary on John 3:16.
Not only were the apostles witnesses concerning Jesus Christ’s actions and words, the miracles performed through the power of God’s Holy Spirit also gave witness that He is the Son of God. God gave His Spirit to those who repented and were baptized (Acts 2:38)—to those who committed to obeying Him, which by implication the Jewish council had not.
Read about how God saved the apostles from the anger of the Sanhedrin in Acts 5:33-42. And read more about the Holy Spirit in “How Do You Know You Have the Holy Spirit?” and “Is the Holy Spirit a Person?”