Scripture Reading:  Acts 5:33-42

“So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this understanding is of man it will fail; 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.” (Acts 5:38,39)

Our passage today records Gamaliel’s counsel to the religious leaders regarding how to handle Peter and Paul.  Gamaliel was a highly respected leader of the Pharisees.  He was a disciple of Hillel, who headed up one of the great schools of Jewish legal interpretation. Saul of tarsus was a disciple of Gamaliel.

Gamaliel warned the religious leaders not to do anything rash with Peter and Paul.  He appealed to two incidents of rebellion.  One was an insurgent named Theudus who gained a following of four hundred men but who was slain and thereafter his cause failed (v. 36).  The other was Judas of Galilee who led a revolt agains the Roman government in Israel around 6 A.D. but he too was killed.  (This movement lived on through the party of the Zealots.)

At the core of Gamaliel’s counsel was his statement:  “If it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them.  You might even be found opposing God” (v. 39).  The religious leaders took his advice.

When God is involved in any movement, mission, or ministry, nothing can thwart it.  A friend of mine was given this advice when he began planting a church in Atlanta:  “Have a vision so big that if God is not in it, it is doomed to fail.”  When God gives us a vision, it will come to pass.  If He is not in it, it will fail.

The religious leaders could not overthrow the movement of the gospel led by the apostles.  Peter and John continued their teaching and preaching:  “And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ” (v. 43).  This hand full of men turned the world upside down (Acts 17:6), because God was leading them to accomplish His purposes.

Lord God, let me be sensitive to Your leading today.  Give me a vision for ministry that is doomed to fail unless You are in it.


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