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Lesson Prep

Background Scripture (read 2-3 times during the week)

Acts 3:1-26; 4:1-31; 5:12-42

Story Summary

This story is a continuation from the previous story (Peter and John Heal a Crippled Beggar). Be sure to review that story if you did not teach last week.

Peter and John Put in Prison and Threatened the First Time

Peter and John were relentless about making sure everyone around them knew that the miracle they performed was not in their own power, but was because they healed in the name of Jesus and through his power. This got the priests and some of the other religious leaders of the day very nervous. Remember that just before this incident Peter had preached to the crowd on the day of Pentecost and over 3,000 people joined the disciples. According to Acts 4:4, now there were over 5,000 men who were believers. Things were spiraling out of control very quickly for the Jewish leaders. In just 2 short months they had crucified Jesus, watched him appear after his resurrection, and then witnessed the day of Pentecost and the establishment of this quick-growing movement of believers who were meeting every day in homes and in the temple courts. Additionally, the Sadducees were a group of Jews that didn't believe in the resurrection (or life after death). So they also had a theological disagreement with the disciples to begin with.

So the religious leaders confronted them and put them in prison overnight until they could get the whole council together. They asked Peter and John: “By what power did you do this?...And through whose name?” This just gave Peter another opportunity to clearly share with them about Jesus! They really wanted to punish Peter and John, but right in front of them stood this man who was over 40 years old, had been crippled from birth, and now was walking around the temple because Peter and John healed him. What could they do? So they let them go with a stern warning not to preach anymore.

The Believers Pray

Peter and John returned to the other believers and told them about everything that happened. So they prayed to God: "Now, Lord, consider the bad things they say they are going to do. Help us to be very bold when we speak your word. Stretch out your hand to heal. Do miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus." (Acts 4:29-30). 

Notice they didn't ask whether they should continue to speak the word of Jesus. They just asked God to handle the threats and allow them to continue to preach.

The Apostles are Put in Prison and Threatened Again

The apostles did just as they said they were going to do and God answered their prayers. They continued to heal people in Jesus' name and preach to them the Good News. So the religious leaders put them in prison again! This time, during the night, an angel came and opened the prison doors and told the apostles to go back to the temple and continue to preach the Good News! Nothing could stop these early church leaders from preaching about Jesus!

So early the next day, there they were in the temple courtyard preaching again. The religious leaders showed up and asked the guards to get them out of prison to put them on trial. But they weren't there! So they brought them in again and questioned them: "We gave you clear orders not to teach in Jesus’ name...but you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching. You want to make us guilty of this man’s death." (Acts 5:28)

The disciples' response was clear: "We must obey God instead of people! You had Jesus killed by nailing him to a cross. But the God of our people raised Jesus from the dead. Now Jesus is Prince and Savior. God has proved this by giving him a place of honor at his own right hand. He did it so that he could turn Israel away from their sins and forgive them. We are witnesses of these things. And so is the Holy Spirit. God has given the Spirit to those who obey him."

Well, that just about set the religious leaders over the edge. They wanted to put the disciples to death right there! But one of them cautioned them not to. He told them that if what they were saying was a bunch of bologna, the movement would die out soon enough, and putting them to death would just prolong the movement and incite the people. 

So instead of putting them to death, they had the disciples whipped and threatened them not to preach about Jesus anymore. But.... "The apostles were full of joy as they left the Sanhedrin. They considered it an honor to suffer shame for the name of Jesus. Day after day, they kept teaching in the temple courtyards and from house to house. They never stopped telling the good news that Jesus is the Christ." (Acts 5:41-42)

(Note: we are encouraging you to teach your students about missionaries during several of the "Early Church" lessons. Several of the Reinforcement Activities for this lesson deal with missionaries. For this lesson, you can focus on missionaries that you know or support that are serving in countries that are hostile to Christianity and the Gospel)

What You Will Need

Resource Sheet

Jesus' Followers are Persecuted Coloring Sheet

This coloring sheet depicts some of the early church in prison during a time of persecution

Lesson

1. Warm Up

get your kids talking and engaged

For younger children:

Have you ever told someone about Jesus? If a friend came to you and asked you about Jesus, what would you say?

For older children:

Is it against the law to talk about Jesus where you live? If not, do you think there are places in the world today where it is against the law to talk about Jesus? Today, we're going to learn about a time in the Bible when the early church wasn't allowed to preach about Jesus in public, but they did it anyway!

2. Teach the Story

teach a holistic story

Read story from a Children's storybook Bible for younger children.

For older children, read the story from an age-appropriate Children's storybook Bible or read directly from the Bible.

3. Bible Mastery

give them basic Bible skills

Scripture for Kids to Read Aloud: Acts 4:1-10; 5:17-25

4. Comprehension Questions

make sure they understand the story

First, ask the children if they have any questions about the story. What to do if you don't know the answer?

  • Why were the religious leaders upset with the disciples? (Peter and John healed a man and they healed him in the name of Jesus)
  • What did they do the first time they confronted Peter and John about it? (they put them in prison and threatened them not to preach about Jesus anymore)
  • What did Peter and John do? (they went back to the rest of the disciples and told them what happened)
  • How did the disciples react? (they prayed to God that he would handle their threats and that God would continue to do miracles and heal people)
  • What did the religious leaders do the second time they confronted the disciples? (they put them in prison again)
  • What happened during the night while they were in prison? (an angel came and set them free and told them to go back and preach in the temple courts)
  • When the religious leaders found them in the temple courts preaching again, what did they do? (they had the disciples whipped and told them not to preach anymore)
  • How did the disciples respond? (they kept preaching!)

5. Faith Questions

help them apply the story to their lives and open up a conversation about faith and the gospel; close with prayer
  • In this story, we learned that the early church would not stop preaching about Jesus, no matter how the Jewish leaders threatened them. They had to obey God, not man.
  • Do you tell others about Jesus and that he died on the cross and rose again so we can have new life?
  • Who in your life needs to hear that?

6. Memory Verse

hide God's Word in their heart
This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24 (ESV)

Reinforcement Activities

Paper Chains

Scripture So they arrested them and put them in the public prison. Acts 5:18

Supplies strips of construction paper, glue, scissors or tape

  • Make paper chains by gluing, taping or stapling paper strips.
  • Have students stick their legs and hands into the chain.

Human Chain Game

Scripture So they arrested them and put them in the public prison. Acts 5:18

  • Split into groups. The fewer in each group, the simpler the game.
  • You can start with 4 and then repeat the game with more people to make it more difficult.
  • Have the group stand in a circle, sholder to shoulder.
  • Have each person reach across the circle and grab the hand of someone across from them.
  • Each person must hold hands with two different people and they must not be right next to you.
  • Try to untangle the group.
  • Do not let go of hands or you must begin again.

Learn about Missionaries

Scripture The apostles were full of joy as they left the Sanhedrin. They considered it an honor to suffer shame for the name of Jesus. Day after day, they kept teaching in the temple courtyards and from house to house. They never stopped telling the good news that Jesus is the Christ. Acts 5: 41-42

  • Learn about missionaries who have been persecuted for their work.

Praying With Playdough

Scripture When the believers heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Lord and King,” they said, “you made the heavens, the earth and the sea. You made everything in them...Help us to be very bold when we speak your word. Stretch out your hand to heal. Do miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” Acts 5:24-30

Supplies play dough

  • Teach your students how to pray for others and themselves.
  • Give each of them some playdough.
  • Begin by having them roll the playdough into a ball. Ask them to pray for others around the world that are telling others about Jesus. Name specific missionaries that your church or group supports.
  • Form the playdough into a cross. Ask them to pray for your church or group. Name specific requests.
  • Form the dough into a heart. Ask them to pray for their families and friends.
  • Form the dough into their first initial. Pray for themselves.

Jenga Prayers

Scripture When the believers heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Lord and King,” they said, “you made the heavens, the earth and the sea. You made everything in them... ...Help us to be very bold when we speak your word. Stretch out your hand to heal. Do miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” Acts 5:24-30

Supplies jenga game, sharpie marker

  • Write a person to pray for on each Jenga block.
  • Play the game as normal.
  • When you pull out a block, pray for the person on the block before putting it down.
  • Ideas for blocks:
  • family member
  • missionaries
  • friend
  • someone who is sick
  • someone who is not a believer
  • parents
  • teacher
  • someone you have a hard time getting along with
  • person sitting next to you
  • pastor
  • neighbor
  • somone with a new baby or young child

Paper Doll Prayers

Scripture When the believers heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Lord and King,” they said, “you made the heavens, the earth and the sea. You made everything in them... ...Help us to be very bold when we speak your word. Stretch out your hand to heal. Do miraculous signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” Acts 5:24-30

Supplies large paper, scissors

  • Cut out paper doll chains.
  • You can attach two chains together to crete a longer chain.
  • Write the names of people you are praying for on each of the dolls.
  • Hang the chain up where you can easily see it as a reminder to pray for those people.
  • Color the person in when your prayer is answered or color a stripe each day after you pray.

Pray for Missionaries

Heads up! Get a list of gift ideas from your missionary family

Scripture But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you. Then you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem. You will be my witnesses in all Judea and Samaria. And you will be my witnesses from one end of the earth to the other.” Acts 1:8

Supplies list of care package ideas requested by missionary family

  • Begin collecting items to make a care package to send to the missionary family.
  • Families serving in other countries often do not have access to items we take for granted.
  • They may love a jar of peanut butter or a new set of water color paints!
  • Keep praying for your family. Encourage the students to pray with a partner.

Tie up the children

Scripture So they arrested them and put them in the public prison. Acts 5:18

Supplies rope

  • Tie up the children with rope and have them walk to the bathroom, to get snack, or to go outside for games, etc.