It is difficult to admit that we may be wrong. Until the time of this Council, meeting as a court to stop the Apostles speaking about Jesus, dissenters had been silent. We know that two members, Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea personally buried Christ's body (John 19:38-42). Now Gamaliel voiced his concerns. Interestingly, this distinguished rabbi also tutored the Apostle Paul (Acts 22:3).
Gamaliel was a senior Council member, well respected for his wisdom. He understood from the Old Testament Scriptures that when God acts, nothing can stop Him (Isaiah 14:27); and that when humans claim to work for God, but are unauthorised, their initiative always fails (Numbers 16:1-50). The old rabbi cited two recent cases of two men who claimed to be leaders sent by God. They were killed, their followers fled and their enterprise collapsed.
But Jesus was different. He also led disciples, claiming to be God's Son (Luke 22:70). He was killed but then rose from the dead and His followers continued His work with great power. Gamaliel's point was that the Council need not trouble about stopping His followers. If they did not have God's authority, their failure would be obvious. Punishing them would be counter-productive as that would stir the crowds; but more importantly, if God had authorised them, the Council would be fighting against Him.
Although we see much wickedness entrenched in our world, apparently stable and even growing (2 Timothy 3:12-13), there is a natural end to everything God has not authorised. Either it fails or it is finally judged by God; unless the perpetrators repent and seek forgiveness through Christ. On the other hand, God is still at work in this world and people either work with Him or fight against Him. True wisdom understands how to handle information and circumstances in the light of God's character and Word. Jesus was filled with wisdom (Luke 2:40) as were the Apostles (Colossians 1:28). You can recognise true wisdom; it is, “… first of all pure; then peace-loving, considerate, submissive, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial and sincere.” (James 3:17). So, if you lack wisdom, ask God (James 1:5).
© Dr Paul Adams