Summary: Acts Series: 27th Sermon...He made a faulty comparison, used faulty criterion, and thus came to a faulty conclusion.

Gamaliel: Ridin’ Fences

Acts 5:33-39

I’ve always admired this man…he helped give the disciples a break…said some wise things in v. 39, but then I heard a sermon a few years ago which opened my eyes to the fact that this man is straddling the fence. He’s trying to be a peacemaker, yes, but he’s got issues!

Gamaliel, acc’d to Acts 22:3, was the apostle Paul’s mentor, before he was Paul, before he was saved!

Gamaliel shared enough truth to be applauded, but also enough error to be very dangerous, and we can learn much from this.

1. He made a faulty comparison

vv. 36-37 Who were Theudas and Judas? Each of them came along during the time of Christ, and each tried to start his own religion/movement, and tried to overthrow the powers of Rome/deliver Israel from the empire…but each of them failed.

They were “Messiah-wannabe’s”. Everyone was looking for the Messiah in those days, and the hills of Palestine were crawling w/ men who decided they would crown themselves as the Messiah!

[like David Koresh…remember the wacko from Waco? Crowned himself as Jesus, actually got a good sized group to follow him! But it came to nought, as has happened hundreds of times thru the centuries since Christ!]

Theudas and Judas were just the same, revolutionaries, insurrectionists, a flash in the pan! They were ablaze for their 15 minutes of fame, then flickered into oblivion!

Gamaliel here compares Christ to these 2 men…a faulty comparison!

He said, let’s just step back and watch and see what happens…chances are it will all fall by the wayside…this movement will come to its end as well!

Well, 2k years later it’s clear that Jesus was the Messiah/He cannot be written on any list of men, He’s in a category all to Himself! He’s God!

Ill.—I like to watch A & E/Biography channel, until they did one on Jesus Christ, and made Him out to be just another good man.

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

Col. 1:16

…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, 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…it was a faulty comparison.

You can take any great person in history, and you can always find a comparison:

Writers—Shakespeare, but right beside him you can put Longfellow

[a pretty fair comparison]


Alexander the Great/Napoleon

Preachers—Spurgeon/Moody/Sunday/Edwards/Shirley…well, maybe not!

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, bright and morning star, rose of Sharon, lily of the Valley, Name above every name, and at the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow, every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord!

It was a faulty comparison, for Jesus did not come to die at the end of a Roman sword but on a Roman Cross, He didn’t come to deliver mankind from the iron clench of the Roman Empire, but from the iron clench of sin, death, hell, and the grave!

It was a faulty comparison…

2. He used a faulty criterion [for defining whether of God or not]

v. 38 Gamaliel says here that the determining factor of whether something is of God or not is in the visible success of it…if it’s a big success and lots of people follow it, it’s of God…but if not, it’s not of God.

That’s a faulty criterion! We don’t follow something simply because it appears successful/many others are following it, but rather because it is right/true/in accordance w/ the Word of God!

What he spouts off is some “human wisdom” at best, what logically looks right to him.

You don’t see it that way, do you? Or you wouldn’t be here! You’d be w/ the Mormons, the 2nd fastest growing church in America, or the 1st, the Pentecostals, or you’d be one of the 67 million Catholics that make up the largest church membership in our nation!

Gamaliel didn’t ask if it was true or right…he said, let’s just hop up here on the fence and watch, and see how it does!

Sadly, many churches fall into that same trap, including the 2nd largest group in America…a convention that has Baptist as it’s middle name, with many wonderful people in it, and yet for the most part their leadership worships results/numbers, sometimes to the exclusion of what is true and right!

Obviously we want to grow, reach people, fill this place up, but not at any cost, but in a genuine way…which is why we’re doing this Acts study on the early church/God’s way of doing it!

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