What does Acts 5:35 mean?
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.
Verse Commentary:
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).
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.
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