Gamaliel Convinces the Council – No Persecution

Since the death of Jesus Christ, 2000 years ago, 43 million Christians have become martyrs Over 50% of these were in the last century alone More than 200 million Christians face persecution each day, 60% of whom are children Every day over 300 people are kill … More

Persecution

On their second appearance before the Sanhedrin the apostles found an unexpected helper - Gamaliel, who was a Pharisee (vv. 33-34). He was more than respected; he was loved. He was a kindly man with a far wider tolerance than his fellows. When the Sanhedrin seemed likely to resort to violent measures against the apostles, Gamaliel intervened (vv. 35-37). The Sanhedrin listened to Gamaliel, and once again, after threatening the apostles, they let them go.

In this passage we see God using one of the most celebrated teachers of the law, Gamaliel, to prevent any harm coming to the apostles. As a Pharisee he probably wanted to keep the Sadducees from winning any victories. This was the same man who was one of Paul’s theological seminary professors (Acts 22:3). He was a scholar who was highly respected by the people, but very liberal in his applications of the law.Gamaliel convinced the council that there wasn’t any reason for them to worry about these apostles. He said: “If these trouble makers are just operating on their own they will soon fade away. Just sit tight and wait. On the other hand, if they are truly God’s men you will not be able to stop them anyway” (vv. 38-39).This sounds like good advice on the surface, but does not ring true. He projected the idea that if something is not of God, it must fail. Success is not a true test of truth. If this were true, why do the false cults often grow faster than God’s church?

The Sanhedrin agreed to let the apostles go, but commanded them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus Christ, and had them beaten for being disobedient to their previous command (v. 40). However, neither the threats nor the beatings stopped them from witnessing. Instead they rejoiced in the privilege of being able to suffer for His name (v. 41). They didn’t stop teaching and telling the good news that Jesus is the Messiah (v. 42). Jesus had told them they should expect persecution, and to rejoice in it when it comes (Matthew 5:10-12).

Application

True believers are not quitters. When I receive criticism and persecution from the religious crowd for my witness, it should only cause me to trust the Lord more.

Acts 5:33-42 (English Standard Version)

When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. And he said to them, "Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!" So they took his advice, and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

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