Acts 5:19-24
Acts 5:19 (KJB)
But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said,
The Apostles had a ministry to complete and by throwing them in jail, it would hinder the immediate plan of getting the Gospel out to the group that were still left in Jerusalem. So to continue God’s plan of evangelism, an angel was dispatched to open the prison doors and lead them out of the prison. No doubt there would have been guards posted in the prison and they would have had to have a deep sleep fall upon them so the Apostles could be led past them. There is no account given of the guards and what did happen to them, so a deep sleep might have been the way to prevent them from allowing the Apostles to leave.
Acts 5:20 (KJB)
Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life.
The Apostles were not let out of the prison for the purpose of escaping for their lives, instead they were let go to begin proclaiming the true Gospel again. There were still people in the Temple area and the Apostles were to start preaching the Gospel to them. This is also a revealing of the doctrine of election. God had a specific timetable and specific people to reach at this time. This is why the Apostles had to be released so those whom God elected from the foundation of the world would hear the Word and believe unto salvation. The word “go” is in the Imperative Mood making this a command to preach and not an option.
Acts 5:21 (KJB)
And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest came, and they that were with him, and called the council together, and all the senate of the children of Israel, and sent to the prison to have them brought.
The first part of this verse tells us that as soon as the Apostles were released from the prison, they obeyed the command to them, to go and preach and this they did when they entered the Temple early in the morning. Not knowing what had transpired with the Apostles, the High priest came and had assembled all the leaders in the Sanhedrin and the Senate which would have been the elders of Israel, a subordinate council to the Sanhedrin. Basically, what you have here is every leader in Israel was assembled for this confrontation with the Apostles. Now that they were all assembled, they had sent for the Apostles.
Acts 5:22 (KJB)
But when the officers came, and found them not in the prison, they returned, and told,
What a surprise the officers had when they went to the prison and found that the Apostles were not there. They returned unto the leaders and no doubt in haste thinking that they had escaped for their lives.
Acts 5:23 (KJB)
Saying, The prison truly found we shut with all safety, and the keepers standing without before the doors: but when we had opened, we found no man within.
Now they bring the perplexing report. They had gone to the prison and found the doors shut and bolted so there could not be any escape. The guards were still posted outside the doors of the cells where they would normally be. Then when the cell doors were opened, they did not find the Apostles there. The angel had closed the door behind them and left everything as it was. The guards were clueless as to what happened and if they were put into a deep sleep, they were not about to tell anybody.
Acts 5:24 (KJB)
Now when the high priest and the captain of the temple and the chief priests heard these things, they doubted of them whereunto this would grow.
Doubted - To be greatly perplexed or at a loss
Grow - To come into being or what may become
The leaders did not concern themselves with the fact that a great revival was taking place or that God was working mightily in Jerusalem. What they concerned themselves about and was their only concern was their positions of authority which they had set up. Their power structure is what kept the people subject to them while making themselves rich. They did not want to risk the good thing they had going. This is why they were so perplexed because they were not sure what was going to happen or how large this situation would become. There seemed to be no end in sight of this teaching. Once the people had experienced the living Gospel, then who would want to go back to the Temple and hear a dead message from a dead religion and from a dead teacher who can never bring a living message like the Apostles were doing.