Daily Word

Wisdom in action | Acts 5:33-39

33 When they heard this, the high council was furious and decided to kill them. 34 But one member, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who was an expert in religious law and respected by all the people, stood up and ordered that the men be sent outside the council chamber for a while. 35 Then he said to his colleagues, “Men of Israel, take care what you are planning to do to these men!

36 Some time ago there was that fellow Theudas, who pretended to be someone great. About 400 others joined him, but he was killed, and all his followers went their various ways. The whole movement came to nothing. 37 After him, at the time of the census, there was Judas of Galilee. He got people to follow him, but he was killed, too, and all his followers were scattered.

38 “So my advice is, leave these men alone. Let them go. If they are planning and doing these things merely on their own, it will soon be overthrown. 39 But if it is from God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You may even find yourselves fighting against God!”

Acts 5:33-39 (NLT) 中文

Trial continues

We saw in an earlier post that the Spirit of God working again mightily through signs and wonders done by the apostles. A holy fear spread among the crowd. Sick and possessed were being healed and delivered in dramatic ways. The church continued growing. But the Jewish religious leaders were jealous so tossed all the apostles into prison. But God sent an angel to free them. They got re-arrested for preaching the gospel and brought to this trial – which is not ending well for them.

But one

This ruling religious council was so frustrated (and guilty – as we saw in the previous post) that they wanted to kill the apostles. But one stands up to give wisdom and leadership. This one is well-respected in society as a teacher. “Gamaliel was given the title Rabban (“our teacher”), which was a step above the title Rab (“teacher”) or Rabbi (“my teacher”).” (enduringword.com) His other indirect contribution to the church was in the Apostle Paul. He was the teacher of the Apostle Paul (Acts 22:3). It is possible Paul may have even been in attendance.

This scene harkens back to the High priest Caiaphas. We remember from John 11:47-53 that the same council was up in arms about what to do with Jesus. Caiaphas recommended that they crucify Jesus and their “trouble” would end. He was unintentionally prophesying about Jesus’ death (v51).

Wisdom in action

The wisdom that Gamaliel provides the council is quite powerful. If he was swayed by Jesus, he would have been a follower by now, even if secretly.  “We should not be too ready to credit Gamaliel with having uttered an invariable principle… the Gamaliel principle is not a reliable index to what is from God and what is not.” (Stott, quoted in enduringword.com) But surely his council is correct, they are fighting against God!


  • How do you know God’s will in a matter? Sometimes it is very practical to do what you think His will is and pray and trust that, if it’s wrong, God will intervene or change our desires (Psalm 37:4). It’s up to us to be diligent to know Him through how He reveals Himself in His Word. It makes it difficult to know His will if we don’t read His word!
Three wise men. Image from Pxfuel.com

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