This is along the same lines of how we think of Scripture today, being preserved and passed down for two thousand years and yet we are confident that God’s inspired Word is still just as infallible now as it was when it was written. Because “the authorities cannot control or stand against the continuing activity or the resurrected and enthroned Messiah,” they were becoming very angry and wanted to even kill the disciples. Thank you. Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email. I think Gamaliel was speaking to the Sanhedrin council. I think Gamaliel realized this and was not going to encourage punishment from God. In contrast, any Christian origins “buff” readily finds details of the trial of Jesus or accounts of the resurrection expounded as hopelessly muddled. Some in which it makes a real difference in our understanding of critical things are the contradictions between his accounts and Paul’s of the same situations. I wish we could examine Gamaliel’s life from a closer lens, but unfortunately we do not have much more information that what we find in Scripture. Gamaliel is a well known figure in the first century. “Peter would have been saying…” is always problematic, since we only have his words as reported by Luke. Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. Phillip J. They could not beat Stephen in this debate and therefore made up lies of him and found himself getting stoned in chapter 7. In this passage, Theudas led a revolt during the reign of Fadus, A.D. 44-46. His priests blow their trumpets and lead us into battle against you. Paul was three times shipwrecked (2 Corinthians 11:25) and once, "passed a night and a day on the deep." If the Sanhedrin continues to persecute and these men turn out to be from God, then they will be fighting against God. While he might have witnessed the earthquake, the disciples were more or less in hiding by the time Jesus was on the Cross, so being “eye witnesses” may not apply to them! His most recent book is Galatians: Freedom through God’s Grace (Wipf & Stock, 2019). Part of the answer is Luke’s use of speeches as examples of the types of sermons evangelists preached in various situations, so that Acts 2 and 3 are examples of the types of sermons Peter and the Twelve typically preached in Jerusalem, while Acts 7 is a Hellenistic Synagogue sermon, as is Paul’s sermon in Acts 13. Part of this could be politics in the fact that he knew how to quickly appease the Sanhedrin without too much dispute. the non-allusion, as you say. Especially against the leaders who could have them killed for heresy and blasphemy. Biblical Studies Carnival 176 for October 2020. Why not reach out to someone, and while you’re at it, who can you be a mentor to? Since they are short extracts used as models, a great deal is left aside, and not everything said two months after the resurrection would have been wholly relevant two years later, let along twenty years later when Luke writes. As a teacher of the Law, it is fitting that Gamaliel would have a high enough view of God that he thought God capable of preserving truth, even in the light of a would-be Messiah. I had not heard of this movie. “Gamaliel’s advice was sound and yet also a bit ironical. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2003. 14. Now after all of this, it brings me back to my opinion, about Gamaliel talking to the Sanhedrin and not the apostles. 173-174). In other words, one can believe the historicity of the Passion/resurrection accounts OR the veracity of Luke’s summation of what Peter and then Gamaliel said, but one can’t believe them both! Easy to NOT follow the various factors as a credible narrative… and I don’t recall finding comments about this issue by others. In Acts 5:36-37 Gamaliel brings up other leaders that had been greatly esteemed and once they died their followers dispersed. Who knew the Veil of the Temple was torn? In addition, the period after the death of Herod the Great saw many rebellions, so it is likely that Gamaliel refers to a leader of one of these earlier rebellions. Although it is an interesting perspective, I don’t think what Gamaliel said was addressed at all to the disciples. I think it is important to note that Gamaliel was a respected teacher of the Law, which would have been both a religious and political role. Perhaps there is a also a warning to Peter and his followers as well: If your leader is really dead, maybe you ought to stop this preaching. What else comes immediately to mind if we put minds in Jerusalem at this time, with the background of what the Gospels (including Luke’s) say had just recently happened… all the miraculous, powerful signs of earthquake, tombs broken with saints risen, thick temple veil torn fully in two, supposedly bodily appearances by Jesus, etc…. His dissertation was published as Jesus the Bridegroom by Pickwick Books in 2012. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. You do however bring up a serious problem, since Peter does not (in the story Luke is telling) refer to the spectacular events you list above nor does Gamalliel seem to know them (or care about them). Daniel 1:8-16 - What was Wrong with the King’s Food? Even his adversary Josephus praises him, saying that Simeon was a circumspect and energetic man, who would have carried the revolt to a successful conclusion if his counsel had been consistently followed (Josephus, "Vita," § 38). Gamaliel might not have publicly announced faith in Jesus, but it seems likely from this warning that there was at least some inkling of him not wanting the other Sadducees to be right. After they had come into possession of the city, these fanatics took bloody vengeance on him, killing both him and Ananus as traitors to their country (68).[12]. We know nothing else about this man. Why does neither he nor Gamaliel address all these signs, especially the pivotal symbol (if it happened) of the Temple veil… cited by all 4 gospel-writers and Hebrews? God would just use another person or find another way to share the word about who Jesus is, because no matter how much they wanted to, they would not be able to find anything within their power to bring an end to what they were preaching. Bruce Chilton would be just one of a great many scholars and commentators who point out many similar points that are often not just questionable as to even general accuracy, but evidence of purposeful manipulation of events and situations. In the last chapter Peter was speaking boldly to the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:13), and scripture says that when the Sanhedrin saw that Peter and John were unschooled, ordinary men they took note that they were with Jesus. ( Log Out /  In a city as geographically small as Jerusalem and as centered on the Temple, on Jewish religion, prophesy, etc. But if Jesus was indeed who He said He was, then Gamaliel thought it important not to try to hide that. It may be that they are worthy of death, but one must think about what the ramifications of another execution of a messianic pretender. Gamaliel was a Pharisee so that means he was a teacher of the law, and probably knew everything about the law. Because of his standing with the people, he was able to warn them about the power that God has. Was Gamaliel’s advice ignored? Already his counsel was finding fulfillment—in the growing Christian community, in their signs and wonders, in their escape from jail just the night before. It’s absolutely brilliant! People don’t often did people back then see miracles happen. ( Log Out /  “We are following the instructions of the Lord our God, but you have abandoned him. 46:10). However, the apostles knew that Jesus was risen. [2] According to Talmudic sources,[3] Martha bribed a "King Jannai" into appointing Joshua High Priest with a tarkab of denarii. (I posted a few comments about his relationship with Paul here.). Please update this article to reflect recent events or newly available information. In Acts 5:38, Gamaliel advices the counsel to leave the disciples alone. There is more to the story than that of “shrewd” politics. He was active after A.D. 25 and was reputed to have been a great teacher of the Law. Like someone else mentioned in a comment above, this is the only time that Gamaliel speaks up to the Sanhedrin. The first thought that I remember having about the character Gamaliel that he was reflecting the idea of being quick to listen and slow to speak. It may be that they are worthy of death, but one must think about what the ramifications of another execution of a messianic pretender. Had not God (according to Luke, et al) made it more than clear that Jesus had God’s unequivocal approval and had changed everything? If you like what you're reading, you can get free daily updates through the RSS feed here. We need community, fellowship, and a close relationship to help us grow, spur one another to good works, and to serve alongside of one another. Without Gamaliel standing up and proclaiming what he did, the Sanhedrin would be against God. Another possibility is Gamaliel was less inclined to defend Greek-speaking Christians who were attacking the Temple in a diaspora synagogue. To a certain extent, Gamaliel’s advice is “shrewd popular politics” which endorses neither side’s view of who Jesus was (Dunn, Beginning in Jerusalem, 174, n. 14). It seems that, regardless of his own thoughts on who Jesus was, he had a desire for the truth to be known. And now you’re trying to say we killed the messiah, and make us guilty for killing this Jesus guy. It was under Gamaliel that Paul developed an expert knowledge of the Hebrew Scriptures or the Law. (Jipp 58). He refers to two other “messianic pretenders” which gathered some following but eventually came to nothing. I do think it is remarkable you would (likely) say the signs surrounding the Crucifixion were created by the evangelists, but also then expect Peter to cite them as evidence for the resurrection. (Or one can question them both, of course.). Setting: Per Luke and the other gospel writers, we have such things as, 1) 3 hrs. All Rights Reserved. So you see, God is with us. While we as 21st century Christians may tend to think of that position in a negative light, in second-temple Judaism Gamaliel’s position would give credence to his opinion. In addition, it does not seem to me Peter (or anyone in Acts) attempts to “prove the resurrection” via signs, they simply state “we witnessed everything.” There is no modern, rationalistic apologetic strategy in Peter’s sermon or in his defense before the Sanhedrin. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.” I think that is was both shrewd politics and experience that Gamaliel used to save these men lives. The apostles would eventually dwindle down and die off. He has Masters degrees in Biblical Exposition and Old Testament from Talbot School of Theology (BIOLA) and a PhD in New Testament from Andrews University. I think the latter is much more credible and likely. So after the apostles leave the room Gamaliel gives a small speech. It says in Acts 5:34 that he was “honored by all.” It is clear that he had some influence in the decisions made and I think he used his power wisely in giving advice. But I don’t think that Gamaliel gave his opinion here lightly. That’s where a wise old Pharisee named Gamaliel steps in. Theudas is known from Josephus (Antiq. Who Are the Seven Angels in Revelation 8:2? They were specifically put outside before he spoke this defense to the Sanhedrin. Even though they had a large group of people with them when the leaders were killed their followers scattered and nothing happened (v.36-37).

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