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Biblical People

Biblical People: Gamaliel (2)

Gamaliel is a Pharisee and teacher of the Jewish law. He trained young Saul, who studied under him. All the people respect him for his wisdom and character. The Bible gives us one story about Gamaliel. 

Some of the religious leaders grow jealous of the influence Peter and the other apostles have on the people. After the apostles’ arrest and miraculous release from prison, they head back to the temple to teach about Jesus.

They’re rounded up again and brought before the religious Council. “We explicitly told you to stop talking about Jesus,” the high priest says, “but you persist, even trying to pin his death on us.”

“We must obey God and not you,” Peter says. Then he launches into a mini sermon. His words infuriate the Council, who want to silence him and his crew permanently. 

But wise Gamaliel intervenes. The Council goes into a private session and Gamaliel warns them that they should proceed with much caution. He reviews some historical examples of leaders who popped on the scene, built a following, and then died. Their followers scattered.

“My recommendation is to leave these men alone. If they’re acting on their own, their movement will fail. But if they’re acting on God’s authority, we’ll never stop them and will find ourselves fighting against God.”

This persuades the Council to not take excessive action. They have the apostles beaten and let them go with a warning.

When we encounter things that challenge our theology, what should we do to make sure our opposition to these ideas doesn’t cause us to end up fighting against God?

[Discover more about Gamaliel in Acts 5:33–42 and Acts 22:3.]

Read more about other people in the New Testament in The Friends and Foes of Jesus, now available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

A lifelong student of the Bible, Peter DeHaan, PhD, wrote the 700-page website ABibleADay.com to encourage people to explore the Bible. His main blog and many books urge Christians to push past the status quo and reconsider how they practice their faith in every area of their lives.