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The Second Sunday of Easter A, April 16, 2023

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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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