When [the high council] heard [the apostles' testimony about Jesus' resurrection], the high council was furious and decided to kill them. 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. Then he said to his colleagues, "Men of Israel, take care what you are planning to do to these men! 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. 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.
"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. 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
Paul considered his having studied under Gamaliel to be part of his authentication as a true Jew and a validation that everyone would recognize (Acts 22:3). Gamaliel is still recognized today as one of the great rabbis of Israel's history. His wise counsel in today's verses sounds very similar to the principle Jesus taught in the parable of the wheat and the weeds (Matthew 13:24-30). The basic principle is that God will show the legitimacy of those who have his blessing and are doing his will. We don't want to oppose the work of God by people who may not be in our group. In fact, doing so may even be destructive to the faith of people we know and love.
Father, forgive me for passing judgment too quickly on people who are doing your will but who are not part of my group of disciples. I want to be discerning and not gullible to false teaching or unscrupulous leaders. At the same time, dear Father, I don't want to interfere with anyone who is doing your work and advancing the Kingdom of Heaven. Bless all those people, near and far, who are doing your work in our world. For the sake of Jesus' cause, I ask this. Amen.
Related Scripture Readings
- Matthew 13:24-30
- Mark 9:38-41
About This Devotional
Unstoppable! is a one-year devotional guide through the book of Acts. Each devotional consists of a scripture passage, a reflection and a prayer. The reflection opens up the day's scripture and shows how it challenges one to live for Jesus.
Unstoppable! is written by Phil Ware.
Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2007, 2013, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.