Summary: I would like to thank Pastor Jerry Shirley for sharing this series on Acts. It has been a blessing as well as a great help. I have used these for our church, as I spend my days caring for my dying father.

“Fence Riding is For Cowboys” Acts 5:33-39

Gamaliel was a man who helped give the disciples a break and what he said in verse 39 was probably the smartest thing he had ever said, which always caused me to think highly of this man.

But then after some careful examination and reading a sermon, my eyes were opened to the fact that Gamaliel was a fence rider.

It’s true that he was trying to be a peacemaker, but I realized that he has some very real issues!

Gamaliel, according to Acts 22:3, was Saul’s mentor, before Saul became the Apostle Paul or before he was saved!

Gamaliel shared enough truth to be applauded, but also enough error to be very dangerous, and there is a great deal that you and can learn from this.

1. He made a faulty comparison. Look at verses 36-37

Who were Theudas and Judas?

Both of these men came along during the time of Christ, and each tried to start his own religion or movement. These men also tried to overthrow the powers of Rome and deliver Israel from the empire…but each of them failed.

Everyone was looking for the Messiah in those days, and the hills of Palestine were filled with men who decided they would crown themselves as the Messiah!

These men, Theudas and Judas, were just two of the many “Messiah-wannabe’s”.

These men were like our modern day, David Koresh. Do you remember the guy that some called the wacko from Waco? If you remember, he crowned himself as Jesus and actually got a good sized group to follow him! But just like Theudas and Judas; his reign came to an abrupt end.

But you know, this same scenario has happened hundreds of times since Christ!

What Gamaliel is doing here is comparing Christ to these 2 men, which is a faulty comparison!

He said, let’s just ignore these disciples. Let’s just sit back, watch and see what happens. He is saying there is a good chance that this movement will come to its end JUST LIKE ALL THE OTHERS!

Well, 2k years later it’s clear that Jesus IS the Messiah! He cannot be compared to any other man or categorized by some manmade list.

He’s in a category all to Himself!


He’s not just another man who walked across the pages of history, He’s THE Man who walked on water and is capable of controlling the very course of history!

Col. 1:16 tells us that…all things were created by him, and for him:

1 Tim. 2:5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus…

Jesus was born uniquely, in the He was the only baby ever born that was older than His mother and just as old as His Father!

Gamaliel makes a huge mistake when He compares Jesus to a couple of wannabe’s.

You can always find a comparison to any great person in history.

Writers, like Shakespeare. A pretty fair comparison would be Longfellow.

Generals-Patton’s comparison might be MacArthur.

Alexander the Great could be compared to Napoleon

Preachers like Spurgeon/Moody/Billy Sunday/Edwards/Jimmy Lee…well, maybe not the last guy!

You can always find someone who’s comparable, but when you’re talking about Jesus Christ, there’s nobody that compares!

He’s Alpha and Omega. He’s the Bright and Morning Star, the Rose of Sharon, the Lily of the Valley, His Name is above every name, and at the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!

Gamaliel’s comparison was a faulty comparison, because Jesus DID NOT come to die at the end of a Roman sword but on a Roman Cross.

He DID NOT come to deliver mankind from the iron grip of the Roman Empire, but from the iron grip of sin, death, hell, and the grave!

Gamaliel’s comparison was a faulty comparison… but also:

2. He used faulty reasoning.

His reasoning for defining whether something is of God or not is way off.

Look at verse 38. Gamaliel says the determining factor of whether something is of God or not is in the visible success. In other words if it’s a big success and lots of people follow it, it’s of God. If it’s popular God must be in it but if not, it’s not of God.

That’s using faulty reasoning! We don’t follow something simply because it appears successful or popular. We don’t follow something because it’s popular but rather because it is right, because it’s true. We follow it because it’s in agreement with the Word of God!

Gamaliel uses what so many of us use; he used “human wisdom.” The best answer he could come up with was what logically looks right to him. What made logical human sense or what fit within the realm of logical human reasoning.

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