Week of June 17 - Day 4

Day 4 Read: Acts 5:33-42

When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them.34 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. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36 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. 37 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. 38 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; 39 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, 40 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. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

Reflect: Summarize Gamaliel’s main argument in verses 35-39. What was his reasoning for why the court should not kill the apostles? In what ways was this wise counseling? Why do you think Gamaliel’s reminding the religious authorities that they could never overthrow God successfully convinced them not to kill the apostles? Why was this argument persuasive?

Consider: Gamaliel’s power in the Sanhedrin is subtly reflected in his ordering the apostles to be removed “for a little while.” Such matters were generally the prerogative of the high priest, and his reference to “a little while” reflects his confidence that it wouldn’t take him long to sway the court. He began by urging the court to “consider carefully” what they were about to do to the apostles. Considering that the death penalty had just been suggested, he was implying that this might be a bit rash and bring unfortunate results down on them, particularly given the Christian popularity with the masses. There was a better way. Simply leave the movement alone. Leave it to God. If he was not in it, it would fizzle out (vv. 38–39).[1]

Respond: Bold is deciding to say something when it would be easier to say nothing. In what areas of life is it a challenge for you to speak and it would be easier to stay quiet? How can you work to develop more courage in that area?


[1]  John B. Polhill, Acts, vol. 26, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1992), 171.