Jealous religious leaders had put the apostles in prison. It was an attempt to curb their enthusiasm about Jesus and to restore their own authority (Acts 5:17-18). But God had other plans. He sent an angel to unlock the jail and let them out so that they could continue publicly to teach about Jesus.
All that was unknown to the ruling council of the Sanhedrin who were summoned as the court was convened: the same court that tried Jesus (Luke 22:66-71) and had already threatened Peter and John not to talk any more about Jesus (Acts 4:18-21).
When the officers went to the prison to escort the apostles to court, they were not there. The guards were still at their posts; the doors were still locked but nobody was inside. The officials did not know what to do and doubtless thought about the empty tomb left by Jesus, and their inability to control the people who actively followed Jesus. The disappearance of the apostles posed yet another threat to the religious authorities.
God is always in command of everything. He has the power to do whatever He chooses. He uses the weak to frustrate the strong and the lowly to humiliate the mighty (Isaiah 40:23; 1 Corinthians 1:27). He is never prevented from fulfilling His plan, nor is His timetable ever altered. This passage should be a great encouragement to trust the Lord who can do the impossible in order to achieve His own purpose. It does not matter if the world is not on your side, as long as you are on Jesus' side (Romans 8:31-32).
© Dr Paul Adams