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Verse 39: “but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God.”

Two businessmen are walking through a train station. The first one is talking about advice his broker gave him: “My broker said to hang onto that stock…that it should really take off in the long run. What does your broker say?” The second one replies, “Well, my broker is E. F. Hutton, and he says…” at which point everyone working or walking around them, stops, and quietly leans in, ears cocked to the conversation, to hear the advice that Hutton gave this man. This is an old TV commercial for E. F. Hutton: the marketing caption was “When E. F. Hutton talks, people listen”.

So it was with Gamaliel, a wise teacher and Pharisee on the Sanhedrin council. Footnotes in my Bible record that he was the teacher of Paul; his was a calming influence on the council, especially since this council was ready to kill the disciples. He argued that other insurrectionists had come and gone, and nothing lasting had ever resulted from their efforts. His proposal was to let the disciples alone; if their cause was from man, it would crumble. But…if it was from God “you cannot overthrow it”. He was reminding them that if God is for something, man cannot oppose it and hope to win…man would be doomed to failure and to punishment.

My Holman Concordance on Acts had a very interesting paragraph on page 79: “This passage holds two great lessons for us. First, the calm, quiet logic of Gamaliel should appeal to Christians repeatedly told in Scripture to be sober and controlled. Second, though committed believers must speak out against heresy and cultic error, attacks against fellow Christians on minor matters are out of place and out of character. People whose views do not agree with ours should be left to God, lest we discover they were right and we were wrong and find ourselves fighting against God. Such was the case of the apostle Paul who all his life could never forget he had once been God’s vigorous enemy.”

Would that we had more Gamaliels in today’s contentious, bickering world.

Something to think about today.

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