The Fifth Sunday of Easter A, May 7, 2023

These words from Stephen, the gospel’s first martyr, reveal to us that the Gospel’s good news has been a threat to the status quo since the very beginning.  As Stephen continues with his accusation, he reveals to his hearers that even the anticipation of the Gospel’s arrival in the person of Jesus Christ was a threat to the status quo.  The hearers standing before him killed the Righteous One just as their fathers had killed the prophets who announced the coming of the Righteous One (cf. vs. 52).

The Gospel’s good news poses a threat to the status quo for a very simple reason.  The status quo is always built upon yesterday’s faith—that is, it is always old news.  The status quo builds the present on yesterday’s faith and projects today’s present faith into the future.  The good news of the Gospel threatens that “same old, same old.”  The gospel is the announcement that the Lord’s mercies are new every morning… that in Jesus Christ, God is doing a new thing… that this Righteous One, murdered by the crowd, is not only the Messiah but a Messiah who dies and is resurrected.  The status quo of the Jews in front of Stephen could not withstand such an assault.  The status quo of any religion, even the Christian religion, cannot withstand the preaching of the Gospel’s fresh and good news.

The reaction of the crowd simply carries forth the action of the crowd at Jesus’ trial before Pilate.  The religious authorities felt the threat to their status quo posed by Jesus, stirred up the crowd, and Jesus got crucified.  The crowd before Stephen upon hearing both the promise of the Gospel preached by the Righteous One and the accusation against their sin of putting the Righteous One to death… the crowd, stirred up by the preaching entering their ears, stoned Stephen.

In every generation, there is opposition to the Gospel’s good news from those whose status quo is threatened by it.  That Gospel threat may be silenced by those supporters of the status quo.  All preachers of the gospel of Jesus Christ face that threat.

Table Talk:  What is it about the Gospel that so threatens the status quo?
Pray:  Father, keep me receptive daily to the Gospel’s good news. Amen

Acts 6:1-9; 7:2a, 51-60 English Standard Version

Now in these days when the disciples were increasing in number, a complaint by the Hellenists[a] arose against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution. 2 And the twelve summoned the full number of the disciples and said, “It is not right that we should give up preaching the word of God to serve tables. 3 Therefore, brothers, pick out from among you seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we will appoint to this duty. 4 But we will devote ourselves to prayer and to the ministry of the word.” 5 And what they said pleased the whole gathering, and they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, and Philip, and Prochorus, and Nicanor, and Timon, and Parmenas, and Nicolaus, a proselyte of Antioch. 6 These they set before the apostles, and they prayed and laid their hands on them.

7 And the word of God continued to increase, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests became obedient to the faith.

8 And Stephen, full of grace and power, was doing great wonders and signs among the people. 9 Then some of those who belonged to the synagogue of the Freedmen (as it was called), and of the Cyrenians, and of the Alexandrians, and of those from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and disputed with Stephen.

 7:2a And Stephen said: “Brothers and fathers, hear me.

8:51 “You stiff-necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you always resist the Holy Spirit. As your fathers did, so do you. 52 Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who announced beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whom you have now betrayed and murdered, 53 you who received the law as delivered by angels and did not keep it.”

54 Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. 55 But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. 56 And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57 But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. 58 Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul. 59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

Dr. Ngien’s New Book

ILT’s Ph.D. Fellow, Dr. Dennis Ngien, Publishes a New Book on Luther’s Sermons

Dr. Dennis Ngien, an ILT Ph.D. Fellow, is excited to announce the release of his new book, “Paragon of Excellence: Luther’s Sermons on I Peter,” by Fortress Press on September 26, 2023. The book delves into the history of Lutheran-Reformed polemics and brings 1 Peter into the light of Lutheran biblical scholarship.

The book showcases how Martin Luther considered 1 Peter as one of the books that most truly represented the gospel, alongside John and the Pauline epistles. Dr. Ngien’s careful explication brings this pastoral epistle into the realm of Lutheran biblical scholarship and reveals Luther as an exegete at his best.

In his endorsement for the book, Dr. Michael A.G. Azad Haykin, chair, and professor of church history at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, notes that “this is a superb examination of Luther’s evangelical reflection on the Petrine text.”

The book covers Luther’s understanding of the epistle in five thematic frames, presenting a comprehensive expression of Luther’s mature thought. Dr. Ngien argues that the sermons on 1 Peter present Luther’s vocational maturation as a “caretaker of the soul,” proclaiming Christ as gift and example.

Dr. Lois Malcolm, the Olin and Amanda Fjelstad Reigstad Chair of Systematic Theology at Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota, notes that “I recommend this book for anyone who seeks to understand how Luther’s hermeneutic principle, the theology of the cross, makes a difference for all aspects of our lives—at home, in the workplace and politics, and in the church.”

The book is immensely readable, academically-sound, non-combative, and essential reading for all who take the Christian life seriously. It is highly recommended for scholars and students of biblical studies, theology, and church history.


Preorder the Book!

Don’t miss the opportunity to pre-order Dr. Ngien’s “Paragon of Excellence: Luther’s Sermons on I Peter” by clicking on the button below!

Preorder Today


More By Dr. Dennis Ngien

Check out other books by author, Dr. Dennis Ngien, including Grace and Law in Galatians: Justification in Luther and Calvin published by Cascade Books.

President Dennis Bielfeldt, Ph.D., has endorsed the book and praised Dr. Ngien’s fresh reading of Luther and Calvin on Paul’s Letter to the Galatians. Dr. Bielfeldt has commended the book as essential reading for all those who take the Christian life seriously. This book is available for purchase on Amazon.

Purchase on Amazon

 


Upcoming Event:

Theology in Residence Gathering

The inaugural meeting of the Christ School of Theology’s Theology in Residence Gathering will take place in the week of June 12-17, 2023, in Brookings, SD.

Christ School of Theology students are invited to join fellow theologians, scholars, and faculty as they engage in personal theological research. Participants will pursue their individual, theological research efforts while refining their research through conversations with fellow scholars and on-site faculty, combined with guided academic coaching and research support from the Christ School of Theology Dean of Library and Research.

The emphasis for this year’s gathering is Theology and Science. Students in the Ph.D. program are encouraged to join us this year to study the relationship between theology and science, and the degree to which these scholarly disciplines are potentially complementary or compatible. Student research in theology and science will serve as preparation for and a prologue to the Seminar in Theology and Science offered this summer.

The Fourth Sunday of Easter A

Jesus is categorically different than the thief.  Jesus delivers abundant life.  The thief only steals life, kills, and destroys it.  We must put all things to the test as Luther did of free will.  Luther takes the passage, John 14:6, that has Jesus announce, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.”  Luther then says that Jesus means this categorically—that is whatever is not Jesus is not the way but error… whatever is not Jesus is not the truth but lies… whatever is not Jesus is not life but death.  Therefore, since free will is not Jesus, it is only error, lies, and death.  So, we put all things to the same test.  We ask, as Luther did, is this Jesus Christ?  Is this Jesus Christ, him crucified, and him alone handed over to be the life of dead sinners?  When the answer is, “No, this is not Jesus Christ,” then we can be assured that whatever we have compared belongs to the things of this sin-broken and passing-away world.  To pass off that object of failed scrutiny as more than it is commits error, tells lies, and spreads death.  The thief—that is, Satan, the Father of Lies—has come to steal the way, the truth, and the life away from you.  Put all things to the test…

Prayers from one whose itching ears truly love the blandishments which the thief lavishes upon them…

Father, your Son, Jesus Christ comes to give life… abundant life to those who hear his voice.  Grant that my ears are filled with his voice over and above that of the thief so I may be kept in the fold of the one true Shepherd.  Father be merciful and open my ears.

Father, your Son, Jesus Christ comes to give life… abundant life to those who hear his voice.  Grant that when I hear my one true Shepherd calling me that I may follow him so that I am led unto green and verdant pastures.  Father be merciful and open my ears.

Father, your Son, Jesus Christ comes to give life… abundant life to those who hear his voice.  Grant that I am filled by the verdant and green pastures of my Lord such that my cup runs over, and my contentment abounds.  Father be merciful and open my ears.

Father, your Son, Jesus Christ comes to give life… abundant life to those who hear his voice.  As I hear that voice, grant me to look around and see the others called by the same voice and be heartened by them no matter the numbers.  Father be merciful and open my ears.

Father, your Son, Jesus Christ comes to give life… abundant life to those who hear his voice.  As I see that I am in a great and grand flock gathered into a great cloud of witnesses and a communion of saints, give to me their witness to our one true Shepherd.  Father be merciful and open my ears.

Father, your Son, Jesus Christ comes to give life… abundant life to those who hear his voice.  Grant that his voice sound in the ears of the students, faculty, and staff at the Institute of Lutheran Theology that they, too, will enjoy the abundant life delivered by our Shepherd.  Father be merciful and open my ears.

Father, your Son, Jesus Christ comes to give life… abundant life to those who hear his voice.  Grant me the unceasing companionship of my Shepherd and his voice sounding in my ears throughout these days of my baptism so that the thief will not afflict me nor torment me.  Father be merciful and open my ears.  Amen

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The Fourth Sunday of Easter A, April 30, 2023

These are the activities of the baptized:  to receive the word handed over by their preachers… to engage the fellowship engendered by that word… to receive the gift of Christ’s body in the breaking of the bread… to pray in thanksgiving and praise while interceding for all… to witness with wonder and awe the miracle of repentance being worked and their sin forgiven (cf. vs. 42-43).

These are the activities of the baptized in every generation.  You might note how these activities reflect the marks of the church.  There are seven of them.  Five of them are the marks the Lord lays upon his church—that is, God’s Word, Baptism, Supper, forgiveness, and the office of ministry, here represented by the apostles.  The Lord marks out his people by subjecting them to these works of his.  This same Lord also draws from his people their prayers… their thanksgiving, their praise, and their intercessions.  The seventh mark of the church is suffering—the holy cross laid upon you.

How that seventh mark is received by God’s church is particular to every generation… particular to each person of that generation.  In the generation depicted here, the mark of the holy cross is described as commonality.  The believers—that is, the baptized—met in common… they held property and possessions in common… they shared the proceeds of their financial transactions in common… they met in the Temple in common… they enjoyed the breaking of the bread in common… and they shared the gladness and generosity of their hearts in common.  The distinctiveness of this commonality earned them the favor of all the people (vs. 44-46)

Now to you, you people of this particular generation… It seems as if you have fallen out of favor with all people.  Christ and his church no longer enjoy widespread cultural respect.  The leaders of our nation and its cultural influencers appear ready to force marginalization and ostracization upon you.  Such is the holy cross imposed upon this generation… this generation’s suffering.  Like that first generation, and every generation since, in response, you cling to the Word of God, the sacraments, forgiveness, and prayer—the enduring marks of the church.

Table Talk:  Discuss the necessity of suffering peculiar to each generation.
Pray:  Heavenly Father, grant me my own cross and your Word that I might bear that cross’ burden.  Amen

Acts 2:42-47 English Standard Version

42 And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. 43 And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. 44 And all who believed were together and had all things in common. 45 And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. 46 And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

CALC Pastor’s Retreat and Annual General Convention

The pastors of the Canadian Association of Lutheran Congregations (CALC) gathered at Hastings Lake Bible Camp on April 19-21, 2023 for the annual CALC pastor’s retreat. The CALC pastors gather every year to learn together, fellowship and support each other. This year, three speakers came to present on topics related to reaching out to new people with bravery, creativity and hospitality. It was a wonderful time for the CALC pastors to gather in their united faith and purpose.

ILT has a close relationship with CALC and most of the participants at the pastor’s retreat this year were either ILT alumni or students. It was very exiting to see the work of ILT faculty preparing students to serve the church coming to fruition in the lives of the congregations in Canada.

The CALC Annual General Convention will meet this weekend (April 21-22). ILT will be present, sharing how we are growing and reporting on the work that we are doing together to train and prepare pastors. We thank God for our partnership and the work that God has given us to do together. We continue to pray that God will send pastors to serve in CALC and the message of the Gospel will continue to be shared through the work of these congregations in Canada.

 


Upcoming Event:

Theology in Residence Gathering

The inaugural meeting of the Christ School of Theology’s Theology in Residence Gathering will take place in the week of June 12-17, 2023, in Brookings, SD.

Christ School of Theology students are invited to join fellow theologians, scholars, and faculty as they engage in personal theological research. Participants will pursue their individual, theological research efforts while refining their research through conversations with fellow scholars and on-site faculty, combined with guided academic coaching and research support from the Christ School of Theology Dean of Library and Research.

The emphasis for this year’s gathering is Theology and Science. Students in the Ph.D. program are encouraged to join us this year to study the relationship between theology and science, and the degree to which these scholarly disciplines are potentially complementary or compatible. Student research in theology and science will serve as preparation for and a prologue to the Seminar in Theology and Science offered this summer.

The Third Sunday of Easter A, April 23, 2023

Peter is preaching in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost.  He minces no words.  First his confession of the Lordship of Jesus rings out boldly and forthrightly: “God has made him both Lord and Christ…!”  Then his accusing finger of guilt stabs them in the heart: “…this Jesus whom you crucified.”  Peter’s preaching, full of the Holy Spirit, was driven all the way to the hearts of his hearers.  Their desperate situation was revealed to them:  they had killed the Messiah.  From the depths of their despair, they cried out, “Brothers, what shall we do?”

Peter has a ready answer for them… He preaches the same sermon as Jesus, “Repent!”  “Repent and suffer the kingdom of God to be done unto you—that is, be baptized.”  Be baptized in the name of the very Messiah whom you crucified… Be baptized for the forgiveness of such sin… the forgiveness of all your sin… Be baptized and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit—that is, receive faith itself… faith that this Jesus whom you crucified is both Messiah and Lord.  Peter applied this promise to his hearers… he applied this promise to his hearers’ children… he applied this promise to those entirely out of earshot—those far away… he applied this promise to them because the Lord called them to himself.  Peter’s answer to their desperate question, “What shall we do?” turns them from looking to their own doings and instead to the hearing of, and the receiving of, the doings of God.

A similar existential crisis is worked among you, you who are the contemporary equivalent of the crowds gathered in Jerusalem.  As the Holy Spirit drives the Word of God through your ears and into your heart, you—like them—get caught out by the depths of your sin:  Your hands, too, are red with the blood of the Messiah.  Like those crowds, the desperate question bursts from your lips, “What shall we do?”  The answer given you is the same answer given them: “Repent!  Turn from your own doings and suffer God’s doings upon you!  Be baptized!  Have your sin forgiven.  Receive faith as the Holy Spirit works it.”  To be saved from this crooked generation is not your doing but the call of God.

Table Talk:  Discuss the existential crisis brought on by Peter’s preaching.
Pray:  Heavenly Father, repent me; turn me from death to life.  Amen

Acts 2:14a, 36-41 English Standard Version

14 But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them: “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem,

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.”

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” 40 And with many other words he bore witness and continued to exhort them, saying, “Save yourselves from this crooked generation.” 41 So those who received his word were baptized, and there were added that day about three thousand souls.

The Third Sunday of Easter A

It’s a good thing Jesus has already been to hell and back.  Otherwise, he would be liable to such condemnation by his very own words, “…whoever says, You fool! will be liable to the hell of fire” (Mt. 5:22).  Truth is, we probably agree with him:  Cleopas and his companion did have the witness of scripture before them but were so slow of heart that, until this moment, they had not believed scripture’s witness to the Messiah.  How foolish!  Yet, we must ask, “What about us?  Are not we, too, slow of heart?”  Yes, of course, we are.  That is the truth of sinful humanity.  Scripture witnesses to the things concerning Jesus Christ but we, in our sin, want to make scripture about us… about our obedience… about our faithfulness… about examples for our living… Jesus appeared, in person, to those two on the road to Emmaus; he had to appear and shock them out of their self-referential pity pit.  Jesus comes to you in person as well.  He comes in the person of your preacher who, in the proclamation of Christ crucified, opens all the scriptures to you concerning the things of Christ.  Such preaching quickens that slow heart of yours, and that slow heart burns.

Prayers from one slow of heart and in need of quickening…

Father in heaven, quicken my heart by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit such that, as I hear my preacher’s proclamation, I too would have a burning heart.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Father in heaven, quicken my heart by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit that I, too, would have eyes to see you present by body and blood in the bread broken and wine poured.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Father in heaven, quicken my heart by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit that I would brave the darkness of this world, like Cleopas and his companion braved the darkness of night, and witness to my Lord’s resurrection to all and sundry.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Father in heaven, quicken my heart by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit and make it tender toward my neighbors and soft in my dealings with them.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Father in heaven, quicken my heart by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit that I do not flag in zeal for doing good, especially the good of the duty and obligations of the callings into which you have placed me.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Father in heaven, quicken my heart by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit that I might support the Institute of Lutheran Theology in my prayers, with my wallet, and by my speech.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

Father in heaven, quicken my heart by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit that, during these days of my baptism, I might readily confess my sins before you and receive your absolution that I would be returned to the promises of my baptism.  For Jesus’ sake.  Amen

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Summer Seminar

PTE 682, 782: Seminar In Science & Theology (3 credits)

Topic: “Naturalism and Theism: Their implications and approaches with regard to Artificial Intelligence”

June 5th–July 28th on Mondays from 12-2 p.m. CST
and Wednesdays from 9-11 a.m. CST

Sign up now by contacting Joel Williams at jwilliams@ilt.edu.

Download Flyer

About the Course:

When ILT began, we thought that theology and science would be one of its deepest competencies. We put two courses in theology and science in the very first catalogs. There was both a course in theology and science and a seminar in theology and science. These were taught back in 2010 by Greg Peterson and George Tsakaridis. Dennis Bielfeldt taught theology and science 2-3 times at ILT, one in residence in the summer of 2018 or 2019 where there were about 8-10 people in attendance.

This seminar concentrates upon one area or problem in the science and theology discussion, to find parallels, similarities, differences, and in order to compare and contrast what we know concerning each. Topics will vary each time the seminar is offered, and students will have an opportunity to engage in directed reading and research on the topic at the annual Theology in Residence Gathering, even prior to the beginning of the seminar. The topic for this year’s seminar is “Naturalism and Theism: Their implications and approaches with regard to Artificial Intelligence.”

About the Professor:
Dan Hackmann is a Professor and Research Fellow at the Institute of Lutheran Theology and resides in Switzerland!

 


Upcoming Event:

Theology in Residence Gathering

The inaugural meeting of the Christ School of Theology’s Theology in Residence Gathering will take place in the week of June 12-17, 2023, in Brookings, SD.

Christ School of Theology students are invited to join fellow theologians, scholars, and faculty as they engage in personal theological research. Participants will pursue their individual, theological research efforts while refining their research through conversations with fellow scholars and on-site faculty, combined with guided academic coaching and research support from the Christ School of Theology Dean of Library and Research.

The emphasis for this year’s gathering is Theology and Science. Students in the Ph.D. program are encouraged to join us this year to study the relationship between theology and science, and the degree to which these scholarly disciplines are potentially complementary or compatible. Student research in theology and science will serve as preparation for and a prologue to the Seminar in Theology and Science offered this summer.

The Second Sunday of Easter A

The number of signs isn’t important.  In fact, the signs themselves are of little importance.  Only their witness to Jesus the Christ as the Son of God has any importance.  That witness of theirs is only important to you because it delivers faith… faith that the name of Jesus Christ delivers you into life.  The evangelist John, in writing down these signs, transfers the witness from the signs themselves to the written word testifying to the signs just as the signs testify to Jesus the Christ.  For us, all these many generations distant from the signs themselves, we have the Word… the Word of God.  As the scriptures have assured us, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…” (He. 1:1-2).  Those many and various ways included signs and wonders… they included visions and theophanies… they included miracles and visitations… But, in these last days, the Son, God’s very own Word, is sufficient for us.  Its testimony is sure and certain.  We are given that Word of God in the words of God, the Holy Scripture.  Worship service after worship service, your preacher takes that Word of God delivered through the words of God and applies it to you… you who are a particular people, in a particular place, and of a particular time.  Such is the art of preaching, to take that Word given in words for the ages and hand it over to you in all your particularity.  That Word, Jesus Christ, is your life!

Prayers from one who can’t quite trust Jesus’ beatitude: “Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed…”

Heavenly Father, you have given me a trustworthy Word in Jesus Christ your Son, grant me to trust in the testimony that witnesses to the sign of Jonah, Jesus own resurrection, the only sign he promised to give us.  Father of mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, you have given me a trustworthy Word in Jesus Christ your Son, grant me to trust in the testimony of Thomas as he confesses, “My Lord and my God!”  Father of mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, you have given me a trustworthy Word in Jesus Christ your Son, grant me to trust in the testimony of blessing promised by Jesus for those who believe without seeing.  Father of mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, you have given me a trustworthy Word in Jesus Christ your Son, grant me to trust in the testimony of that great cloud of witnesses which has borne your Word through the generations until it has now come to me.  Father of mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, you have given me a trustworthy Word in Jesus Christ your Son, grant to me a preacher who takes that trustworthy Word of yours given to the ages and hands it over for me… for me and my life.  Father of mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, you have given me a trustworthy Word in Jesus Christ your Son, grant that this Word of yours so fill and enliven those at the Institute of Lutheran Theology that they, too, bear the witness of Thomas in exclaiming, “My Lord and my God!”  Father of mercy, hear my prayer.

Heavenly Father, you have given me a trustworthy Word in Jesus Christ your Son, grant that I endure the days of my baptism with both patience and anticipation, waiting in humility while anticipating the glory of my Lord Jesus in his final manifestation.  Father of mercy, hear my prayer.  Amen

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The Second Sunday of Easter A, April 16, 2023

Gamaliel… there are two of them mentioned in scripture.  The first was the son of Pedahzur, head of the tribe Manasseh, and chosen to lead the family’s tribe (Nu. 1:10).  The second is the Gamaliel of the highest council in Jerusalem, the Sanhedrin, and a teacher of Saul.  He is featured in this incident from the days of the early church.

Gamaliel, from his position among the Sanhedrin witnessed two things.  The first thing he witnessed was the apostles “…teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus” (Acts 5:42).  They did so unceasingly wherever they could get a hearing.  They refused to be silenced.  And, somehow, it appeared they had divine and miraculous assistance in escaping the imprisonment meant to silence them (Acts. 5:19).  The second thing Gamaliel witnessed was the behavior of his fellow members of the Sanhedrin.  The Sanhedrin were filled with jealousy.  The apostles healed the people (Acts 5:16).  The Sanhedrin were filled with murderous rage.  Peter and the apostles claimed, when it came to preaching that the Christ is Jesus, they would obey God rather than men (Acts 5:29ff).

Gamaliel, after witnessing both the apostles and the Sanhedrin, stood up and gave counsel to the council.  As he spoke, he gave witness to history… the failed history of other movements (Acts 5:36-7).  Then he speaks of these apostles of Christ Jesus, saying “Let them alone.  If this is of man, it will fail.  If it is of God, you’ll not be able to overthrow them” (cf. Acts 5:38-39).  As a result of Gamaliel’s speech, the Sanhedrin called the apostles before them once more, beat them, charged them not to speak the name of Jesus, and let them go (cf. Acts 5:40).  Once released, those apostles did not cease teaching and preaching the name of Jesus.

Gamaliel’s advocacy before the Sanhedrin blunted the impact of that council’s jealousy and murderous rage.  His counsel of “wait and see” gave those first apostles the opportunity to bear witness to Jesus Christ “… in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

Table Talk:  Discuss how “Gamaliel’s Rule” could be used and misused.
Pray:  Heavenly Father, grant me opportunity to preach and teach Jesus.  Amen

Acts5:29-42 English Standard Version

but Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. 32 And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”

33 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.

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