What does Acts 5:34 mean?
ESV: But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while.
NIV: But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, who was honored by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered that the men be put outside for a little while.
NASB: But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, respected by all the people, stood up in the Council and gave orders to put the men outside for a short time.
CSB: But a Pharisee named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law who was respected by all the people, stood up in the Sanhedrin and ordered the men to be taken outside for a little while.
NLT: But one member, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who was an expert in religious law and respected by all the people, stood up and ordered that the men be sent outside the council chamber for a while.
KJV: Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;
Verse Commentary:
The Sanhedrin, the Jewish ruling council, is usually described as containing three different classes, from two different sects. The chief priests and elders were generally Sadducees. The scribes were Sadducees or Pharisees.

Sadducees were already predisposed against the apostles, because followers of Christ teach that God raised Jesus from the dead. The Sadducees did not believe resurrection from the dead was possible: they held to the ancient equivalent of annihilationism. In their view, if and when God restores and blesses Israel, only those alive at the time will reap the rewards. Until then, Sadducees were happy to make the best life they could, accumulating influence and money in the present.

The Pharisees, however, believed in the resurrection from the dead. Although Pharisees were a minority in the Sanhedrin, one of the most respected scribes in Israel of any sect was the Pharisee Gamaliel. In fact, one commentary on the Talmud says, "When Rabban Gamaliel the elder died, the glory of the law ceased and purity and abstinence died." When Paul gives his defense and wants to emphasize the depth of his Jewish knowledge, he mentions he studied under Gamaliel (Acts 22:3).

Thus it is that Gamaliel can afford to be a little calmer and more objective about the situation, despite Peter's wild claims that Jesus is the Leader and Savior of the Jews and sits at God's right hand (Acts 5:31). Even so, extra-biblical writings affirm that Gamaliel believed Christians were apostates and should perish. He's not remotely friendly to Christians, but he is more measured in his approach.
Verse Context:
Acts 5:27–42 occurs in the aftermath of a miraculous jailbreak. The chief priests arrested the apostles for teaching and healing in Jesus' name (Acts 5:17–18). On the morning of the inquiry, the guards find the prison cells empty and the apostles, again, preaching in the temple courtyard (Acts 5:22, 25). The guards bring the apostles back, and the Sanhedrin questions them. When the apostles insist Jesus is alive, the priests want them killed. But a Pharisee, Gamaliel, calms the situation. The Sanhedrin do flog the apostles before releasing them, starting the long history of physical persecution against Christ-followers. Verse 29 is a cornerstone of Christian ethics: that God's will is worth suffering for.
Chapter Summary:
The apostles continue to make hard decisions in the name of Jesus, both inside and outside the church. When Ananias and Sapphira lie to God, the Holy Spirit inspires Peter to pronounce God's judgment on them, protecting the church from the love of the world. Despite the Sanhedrin's watchful eye—and direct orders (Acts 4:17–18)—the apostles continue to preach and heal openly. The guards arrest the apostles, but the Sanhedrin settles for beating them instead of capital punishment. The apostles consider it an honor to suffer on behalf of their Savior.
Chapter Context:
In Acts 5, persecution from unbelievers begins to accelerate. The Sanhedrin has become aware the apostles teach that Jesus rose from the dead (Acts 4). Now, they start to push back in earnest, arresting and beating the apostles. Soon, a mob will kill Stephen, a deacon (Acts 7:54–60), and the Sanhedrin will empower Saul to run down and arrest any Jesus-follower he can find (Acts 8:1–3). The apostles will stay in Jerusalem. Other Jesus-followers will carry His offer of forgiveness and reconciliation with God into the Roman Empire and beyond. The apostles' faithfulness and submission to the Holy Spirit is why we have the gospel message today.
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
Accessed 3/1/2024 1:41:56 AM
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