Acts 5:35

ESV And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men.
NIV Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: 'Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men.
NASB And he said to them, 'Men of Israel, be careful as to what you are about to do with these men.
CSB He said to them, "Men of Israel, be careful about what you're about to do to these men.
NLT Then he said to his colleagues, 'Men of Israel, take care what you are planning to do to these men!
KJV And said unto them, Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves what ye intend to do as touching these men.

What does Acts 5:35 mean?

The Sanhedrin is questioning the apostles about why they are still teaching in Jesus' name after the priests ordered them not to. Peter responds that although they, the Jewish leaders, killed Jesus, God raised Him from the dead. He is the leader and Messiah of the Jewish people and is sitting at God's right hand. The Sanhedrin reacts in rage; they think such blasphemy deserves death (Acts 5:27–33).

The Pharisee scribe Gamaliel doesn't necessarily disagree, but he suggests restraint. The priests have already shown an ability to be cautious: they arrested the apostles "but not by force" for fear of the people (Acts 5:26). Since the apostles started their ministry on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), over five thousand people have responded to their message, repented, and been baptized (Acts 4:4; 5:14). Recently, the apostles have started healing, starting with a man born lame in the temple (Acts 3:1–8) and escalating to the sick and demon possessed from the towns around Jerusalem (Acts 5:12–16). Killing the apostles outright, no matter how blasphemous their words, would be a dangerous political move for those primarily interested in maintaining influence over the people.

Gamaliel goes on to give an argument that touches on God's sovereignty and long-term will. He points out that these Jesus-followers are not the first men to gather a following. History proves that if men presume to speak for God of their own volition, God will take care of them. If God is with them, there's nothing the council can do to stop them. He points out, "You might even be found opposing God!" (Acts 5:39). The Sanhedrin take his advice to heart…to some extent. They still beat the apostles, but let them go (Acts 5:40).
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