Summary: This message is give to help us realize if we are straddling the fence on certian issues in our life and show us that we need to make a decision for Christ, now.


Acts 5:34-41


A. This is a very interesting passage.

1. As I studied I noted that most people see it as a “God Thing” that helped get the disciples back out on the street again to preach the gospel – that Gamaliel, was a sort of good conscienced man who helped the disciples – and I guess it is alright to see it that way.

2. But I had to wonder about Gamaliel, himself.

3. Where did he stand on the issues at hand: Jesus Christ and the gospel?

4. What was his reasoning concerning his proclamation?

B. If you read Vance Havner & others like Roy Clements in Turning the World Upside Down -Acts in Action, you might just see a different side to the story.

1. No doubt Gamaliel was revered as a great teacher as a liberal reformer somewhat ahead of his time - a moderate middle-of -the- way man, a centre-right position politically speaking.

2. And it is true, his intervention did seem to calm the fury of the council - for a short time, but in the next chapter (Acts 6) we see the same council – the Sanhedrin condemning and stoning Stephen.

3. Gamaliel was an appeaser, not an opposer; and appeasers have often done more harm to church than opposers.

4. Gamaliel was an apostle of compromise, unlike Peter & John who boldly proclaimed in Acts 5:29 & 32 We are witnesses of these things - We must obey God rather than men!

C. Think about this, Gamaliel was a witness of the things Peter and John talked about, as well.

1. He must have been in Jerusalem when Jesus was crucified, maybe even one of those who voted for his death and a witness, of such.

2. He knew the Scriptures, the prophecies concerning the Messiah, for he was a great teacher, perhaps The teacher of Israel

3. He should have known better than try and remain neutral or straddle the fence when it came to Jesus.

4. Agnosticism is NOT a viable option.

a. There is a Chinese proverb which states: He who deliberates fully before taking a step will spend his entire life on one leg.

b. The great philosopher Dante said it much more vigorously: The hottest places in hell are reserved for those who in a period of moral crisis maintain their neutrality.

5. Gamaliel was a fence straddler.

D. So where did he go wrong? Let me suggest three:

1. He made a False Comparison

2. He suggested a False Criterion

3. He Arrived at a False Conclusion

E. My prayer is that we will not find ourselves doing the same thing. May we stand with the likes of Peter, John and those throughout history who have boldly and unashamedly proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ.


Gamaliel’s first mistake was that

I. HE MADE A FALSE COMPARISON, Acts 5:34-37 Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space; [35] And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men. [36] For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody; to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain; and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought. [37] After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.

A. In his speech Gamaliel made some telling points about 2 men & their movements and fate - Theudas & Judas.

1. But in fact, he was comparing the apostles, the Gospel and ultimately Jesus Christ with these men.

2. He was suggesting Jesus was like them, and suggesting tolerance for a moment

a. He put Him into a pigeon-hole, a category with other revolutionaries whose causes have been long since discredited.

b. Or suggest that Jesus was just another reformer, philosopher, teacher, or guru.

c. He dismisses Him with: “We know all about such characters”

d. He is just like anyone else.

3. As I was studying I came across a message preached in 1999 by Derek Adamsbaum (pastor of a Baptist church Geneva, Switzerland), entitled Gamaliel – The Compromisor, in it was a quote from a local paper

a. It said, “Inter- faith dialogue is very fashionable in some Christian circles e.g. Dalai Lama speaking at Geneva cathedral next month: "In quest of religious tolerance, Geneva’s St Pierre Cathedral is to welcome the Dalai Lama, spiritual leader of Tibet’s Buddhists, to preach at a Sunday service on 8 August 1999. Between 5000 and 15,000 worshippers are expected to attend the service at the 12th-century building in Geneva’s Old Town, which in the 16th-century became the church of John Calvin, the most influential thinker in Reformed Christianity. This is the latest event in a series which indicates a growing role for the cathedral - one of the most important places in Reformed church history - as a centre for inter-faith dialogue."(ENI News Report)

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