CHAPTER FIVE PART FOUR Rejoicing That They Were
Worthy To Suffer for his Name, They Kept On Preaching
Acts 5:33-42 Part Four New American Standard Bible
You may find yourselves fighting against God
33 But when they heard this, they were cut to the quick and intended to kill them. 34 But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you propose to do with these men. 36 For some time ago Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a group of about four hundred men joined up with him. But he was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. 37 “After this man, Judas of Galilee rose up in the days of the census and drew away some people after him; he too perished, and all those who followed him were scattered. 38 “So in the present case, I say to you, stay away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or action is of men, it will be overthrown; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God.”
40 They took his advice; and after calling the apostles in, they flogged them and ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and then released them. 41 So they went on their way from the presence of the Council, rejoicing that they had been considered worthy to suffer shame for His name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they kept right on teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.
The burning jealousy kindled murder in their hearts. Jealous became the volcanic command in their heart to destroy God, His presence and His people.
But a Pharisee named Gamaliel! To me his name makes me immediately think of Gabriel. He was one of the most respected teachers of the Law in Israel. Whether it was seeing the lame man leaping, remembering the impact of Jesus message and ministry or the death of Ananias and Sapphira – Gamaliel realized that “God just might be in this!” One of his top students was a fellow named Saul who was in no doubt still Saul’s Rabbi at the time of this event. Gamaliel coerced the Sanhedrin to reconsider their murderous plans. He brought two previous stories to bear upon them:
So the wise Gamaliel made the point that whether a false messiah or a political insurrectionist the effect of killing them to stop their small band of followers that was ‘politically correct’ for the way to deal with such bands of people. He also then pointed out that if the followers of Jesus were born of God then putting them to death would only fuel Christ’s claims. They had already heard that Jesus rose from the dead. They already imprisoned Peter and John for healing a man crippled from birth. Then they jailed them again only to find out an angel set them free. They had already heard of the death of Ananias and Sapphira and saw the multitudes being healed in the shadow of Peter. So, the words of Gamaliel persuaded them to back off from their plans to kill the Jesus followers just in case they might be fighting God.
The story of Gamaliel is very interesting. He was compatriot to Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea (who both carried the body of Jesus to the tomb provided by Joseph of Arimathea). He became president of the Sanhedrin and may have provided the burial place for the first martyr Stephen and Nicodemus. As mentioned he was a primary influence of Saul who became the mighty Apostle Paul. So we see further reason by nature of the company Gamaliel kept and the fruit of his influence.
The demon of jealousy does not rest. It must be requited. It will not stop until it demonstrates itself to appear as though it has the upper hand. So after Gamaliel’s council the Sanhedrin still had the Apostles brought in and beaten again. Flogging can be done with whips, branches or any type of device that pounds upon the victim. In so doing the Sanhedrin is simply confirming the power of the Gospel.
The violence done against the believer’s causes their praises to Jesus to rise higher. They proclaim the glory of the Gospel not just with lightening but now with thunder. They have become partakers of His sufferings and thereby enter into the Communion of suffering. Like Communion with Jesus by His flesh and blood they now find Communion by sharing in His sufferings. Their response: “What? We get to suffer with Him? We are so fortunate! Thank you Lord for allowing us to know how real your love, goodness, life and love are.”
The fuel of suffering intensified the breaking of bread from house to house and the Lord continued to add to their numbers! The resurrection of Jesus was demonstrated on every level and those that believed were of one heart and mind. Jesus was in their midst. Wherever they were and wherever they went people saw Jesus among them and heard His voice. Jesus confirmed it was Him by healing, delivering and showing compassion. He rescued all who called upon His name and gave them new life.
The devotion of the believers lifted up Jesus and almost without their being aware of it this is how they were revealing Jesus to the rest of the world around them. Even to us today!