Acts 5:38

Industrial strength color in this one.

Friday, 18 March 2022

And now I say to you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; Acts 5:38

Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen).

You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).

Gamaliel, having given two historical examples of failed leaders of the past, now gives his advice concerning the faith that is based on the leadership of Christ Jesus. This begins with his words, saying, “And now I say to you.”

Based on what had happened in the past to those who initiated uprisings, meaning Theudas and Judas of Galilee, there is a precedent that their followers will scatter and disperse when the leader has died. As such, he continues, “keep away from these men.”

The word translated as “keep away” signifies “to depart” or “stand off.” The leaders in the council “were furious and plotted to kill them” (5:33), Gamaliel is telling them to take another path and simply depart from them and not interfere. And more, he continues with, “and let them alone.”

The word signifies “to send away.” It carries with it the sense of permitting. When one is sent away, he is allowed to continue with his own devices. Gamaliel, understanding the failure of Theudas and Judas of Galilee, knew that if what the apostles were doing fell into the disfavor of Rome, it would be handled by them.

For the council to take action, it would only increase the zealotry of the followers and ultimately bring them unnecessary trouble. However, without the presence of Jesus, another option was more likely. As he next says, “for if this plan or this work is of men.”

The Greek reads, “for if this plan or this work is out of men.” The meaning is, out of their own strength, planning, or devices. Just as with the previous two examples of failed insurrections that did not have divine approval, so this might be as well. If that is the case, Gamaliel says, “it will come to nothing.”

The Greek word signifies “to loosen down.” It is what one does when he unpacks a horse or tears down a tent. It is also used to speak of the abolishing of the law or the destroying of the temple. If the movement of the apostles is out of man, it will simply collapse, either under its own weight or by another force that will cause it to be destroyed. Either way, it will not continue. As such, why should the council stir things up and cause exactly the opposite to occur?

Life application: The words of Gamaliel bear a wisdom that reflects principles found in the book of Proverbs. He gives sound advice concerning a matter that could have been handled in one of several ways. With thought and contemplation, a recommendation is put forth for consideration by the council. Before he finishes, he will also give another possible outcome for the movement of the apostles, and he will explain what would be the reason for its happening as well.

This is a sound way of presenting a case for action, and it has been based upon carefully evaluating events of the past and also how things could be affected into the future. Reading the Proverbs will give a person insight into such things. Rather than commands about how to do things, general guidelines, based upon personal insights and experiences, are given by the author for the reader to consider.

Be familiar enough with what is recorded there in Proverbs, so that when a matter arises, you can recall the words and consider them as you make your own decisions about important matters that you will certainly face at various times in your life.

Heavenly Father, You endowed Solomon with wisdom and understanding. He took some of that wisdom and wrote it down for us to consider as our own lives unfold. If we could ask for such wisdom, You would certainly say, “I have already given it to you, it is in My word.” And so, Lord, help us to search out the wisdom You gave Solomon by searching out his words that are recorded in Your word. Amen.