When the law commands believers to do something that is contrary to what God says (Acts 5:27, 28), we are to stand with Peter and obey God rather than men (v. 29), like the 3 Hebrews did in Daniel 3.
God’s people must always obey the law, even in the Tribulation when the devil makes the Antichrist the law (Rev. 13:1, 2). We know God will expect His people to obey the Antichrist because while Paul’s epistles are written to us, the epistles that come after Paul’s epistles in the Bible are written to the people who will come after us, the Jews in the Tribulation. And in one of those epistles, Peter tells them to obey the king (I Pe. 2:13-17).
At first it will be easy to obey the Antichrist, for he will rebuild their temple and protect them from their enemies. But when he declares himself God (II Thes. 2:3, 4) and the false prophet erects an image of him and demands it be worshipped (Rev. 13:11-15), they will have to obey God’s command against worshipping graven images rather than men.
God “raised up” Jesus (Acts 5:30) to be Israel’s king in the same way He raised up David to be their king (Acts 13:21, 22). Peter says they hung the Lord on a “tree” instead of saying a cross in reference to Deuteronomy 21:22, which says men hung on trees are cursed. In quoting that verse, Paul says Christ redeemed us from that curse (Gal. 3:13). And the tree of Exodus 15:25 was a type of Christ!
God “exalted” the Lord (Acts 5:31), and exalt means to raise high or elevate someone, as it does in Isaiah 52:13. Verse 14 talks about how the Jews brought the Lord low by beating Him before the cross, described in the next chapter (Isaiah 53:5, 6, 12). The “therefore” of Acts 2:32, 33 means that the Jews also brought the Lord low by killing Him, but God exalted Him by raising Him from the dead.
Now if you think exalting Him to be “a prince” wasn’t exalting Him very highly, it’s because we think a prince is below a king. But the word prince often means the sovereign of all, as when the Lord is called “the prince of the kings of the earth” (Rev. 1:5 cf. I Tim. 6:15). That’s what the Lord would have been exalted to become if the dispensation of the mystery hadn’t interrupted prophecy.
It used to be that Israel’s king couldn’t be a priest. Saul lost his kingdom offering a sacrifice. But Christ will be a priest and a king (Zech. 6:12, 13), a prince and a savior (Acts 5:31).
Jews looked for a Savior to save them from their enemies as well as from their sins (Lu. 1:68-75), but the Lord knew He couldn’t do one without the other and still be a just God and a Savior (Is. 45:21). Rome had conquered them because of their sins (cf. Lev. 26:14, 17), so someone had to pay for their sins before He could save them from their enemies.
In the past, God had other nations pay for Israel’s sins (Isa. 43:3). When Assyria threatened Israel, God caused Assyria’s king to hear a rumor that those other nations were attacking Syria (II Ki. 19:6-9), and so he left Israel alone and attacked them instead!
But when Israel didn’t let their land rest every 7th year (Lev. 25:4) for 490 years, God let them be conquered by Babylon for 70 years to give their land the 70 years of rest it missed (Lev. 26:27, 33, 34; II Chron. 36:20, 21). In other words, God made the Jews themselves pay for their sins that time.
When they were captives in Rome, God had His own Son pay their ransom (Mt. 20:28). Peter didn’t understand that yet here in Acts 5, nor that He planned to ransom the Gentiles too, so He could be a just God and a Savior to them as well (Rom. 3:24-27). That wasn’t revealed until Paul (I Tim. 2:5-7). Repentance was being given to the Jews in Acts 5:31, but not to the Gentiles till after Paul was saved (Acts 11:18).
The Holy Spirit witnessed to the Jews (Acts 5:32) by the miracles He was empowering the apostles to do (5:12-16). Now you’d think the Jews would listen to the witness of the Holy Spirit of God, but they sought to kill the apostles instead (Acts 5:33).
Video of this message is available on YouTube: It Was Time to Break the Law – Acts 5:28-33