Where Jealousy and Faction Are

James 3:16 says, “For where jealousy and faction are, there is confusion and every vile deed”.

Acts 3 records the first specific miracle of Peter: Healing a lame man at the Beautiful Gate. This was not the first miracle of Peter, for earlier than this (Acts 2:43) tells that the apostles (of which Peter was one) did many wonders and signs. Another miracle (although not of healing, the death of Ananias and Sapphira in Acts 5:4-11) was also worked by Peter. And while many signs were done by all the apostles, Peter is particularly mentioned as the inspired record said, “And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women: insomuch that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that, as Peter came by, at the least his shadow might overshadow some one of them … and they were healed every one” (Acts 5:14-16). The church was growing and its favored meeting place was Solomon’s Porch, a portico which ran alongside the eastern side of the temple.

Tradition has said that this large meeting place was so named because it was built from material salvaged from the original temple which Solomon built. We are not certain whether that tradition was established on fact or whether the reason for so identifying that large gathering place was to honor him who built the first temple. It could also have been for some other undisclosed reason. Whatever the reason it bore the name it did, the covered shelter provided an assembly place for thousands of people, and by the time the events of Acts 5 were reached, the number of baptized disciples has risen to more than 5,000 men (Acts 4:4). Jesus had taught in this place (John 10:23) and the porch was the gathering place for the church because Acts 5:12 says that “all were together in Solomon’s porch”.

Such a large number of people naturally captured the attention of others, and among such who noticed the ever-increasing numbers of disciples was the high priest and those who were with him: the Sadducees. We are told they were filled with jealousy, and laid hands on the apostles and put them in public ward (Acts 5:17-18). The consequences of jealousy noted by James (3:16) was demonstrated here in Acts 5.

What a sad commentary of those that were custodians of temple services —the very center and heart of Jewish religion. The leadership of the priests were ones who did not believe in angels, the resurrection of men from the dead, or that man had an immortal spirit (Acts 23:8). Yet while they did not believe in these vital items of faith, they held control of the temple itself and the growing numbers of disciples, based on a doctrine these rulers rejected (Jesus’ resurrection from the dead), disturbed them to no end and moved by that jealousy, they laid hands on the apostles and put them in prison.

Jealousy and envy will move men to all kinds of wickedness. Several months earlier, these same men hired Judas, an apostle of Jesus, to betray Him into their hands and they subsequently put Him to death. The motive for their actions was apparent. Even Pilate, as worldly and unscrupulous as he was, saw through the charges they made against Jesus, and sought to release Him, for “he knew that for envy they had delivered him up” (Mark 15:10). Now, the high priest and his companions in that crime had to deal with the consequence of their lawless deed. Rather than wiping out the disciples of Jesus, as they supposed would be the result of their crucifixion of Jesus, those disciples only multiplied and whatever influence the high priest, along with the Sadducees had with the people, was rapidly deteriorating for the people “magnified the apostles and disciples”.

That was more than these wicked men could tolerate. Once more jealousy moved them to inappropriate action and they sought to exterminate all Jesus’ apostles, just as they had killed Jesus. They put them in prison and then later held a counsel with these apostles and the apostles’ attitude toward the authority the high priest thought he had, so infuriated them that they determined to put them to death as they had earlier killed Jesus. But it was not they who had final authority and was all powerful — as they shortly came to realize. Truly, “Where jealousy and faction are, there is confusion and every vile deed”!

Jim McDonald

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