Chapter Five — Part Four: The Book of Acts

By: Pastors Rodney & Adonica Howard-Browne

Publish date: 06/06/2021

Foundation Scriptures:
Acts 5:33-42

1. Cut to the Heart.
a. Acts 5:33 AMPC — Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart and infuriated and wanted to kill the disciples.
b. As Peter preach to them, they were cut to the heart—convicted by the Holy Spirit.
c. However, they reacted—not with repentance—but with anger, spite, malice, and revenge.
d. The council was approved, educated, and ordained, but without power.
e. The disciples were ordinary people, with no positions or formal education; but they had a ministry of power!
f. Too often, people try to cloak their envy under the guise of “defending the faith.”
g. Even certain religious people, who claim to be “Christians.”

2. Gamaliel
a. Acts 5:34 AMPC — But a certain Pharisee in the council (Sanhedrin) named Gamaliel, a teacher of the Law, highly esteemed by all the people, standing up, ordered that the apostles be taken outside for a little while.
b. Gamaliel was highly respected, one of the most celebrated and honored of the Jewish rabbis.
c. He is the one who personally taught and instructed Saul, later known as the apostle Paul.
d. Acts 22:3 AMPC — I am a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia but reared in this city. At the feet of Gamaliel I was educated according to the strictest care in the Law of our fathers, being ardent [even a zealot] for God, as all of you are today.

3. A Move of God or Man?
a. Acts 5:35 AMPC — Then he addressed them [the council, saying]: Men of Israel, take care in regard to what you propose to do concerning these men.
b. There are things that happen that can stir up our emotions, causing us to react in a fleshly, or carnal way, but it never ends well.
c. James 1:19-20 KJV — Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: 20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
d. Gamaliel continued.
e. Acts 5:36-37 AMPC — For before our time there arose Theudas, asserting himself to be a person of importance, with whom a number of men allied themselves, about 400; but he was killed and all who had listened to and adhered to him were scattered and brought to nothing. 37 And after this one rose up Judas the Galilean, [who led an uprising] during the time of the census, and drew away a popular following after him; he also perished and all his adherents were scattered.
f. Gamaliel believed (or hoped) that if this new movement did not have its origins in God, it would most likely fizzle out on its own.
g. Acts 5:38 AMPC — Now in the present case let me say to you, stand off (withdraw) from these men and let them alone. For if this doctrine or purpose or undertaking or movement is of human origin, it will fail (be overthrown and come to nothing).
h. There are many movements, religions, and cults, that have survived for many years.
i. However, they have required a great deal of influence, dominance, coercion, control—and in some cases, brutality and murder—to maintain their power over their followers.
j. Christianity is completely different—Christians are changed from the inside out, and follow willingly, with all their heart.
k. Almighty God come to live within man—we are led and sustained by His Word and His very presence.
l. The whole of heaven is with and behind every believer!
m. And that is why no one, and no amount of persecution, through the ages, has been able to stamp it out.
n. Acts 5:39 AMPC — But if it is of God, you will not be able to stop or overthrow or destroy them; you might even be found fighting against God!
o. No one really knows what Gamaliel’s motivation was, or how sincere he was, but God used him to intervene and prevent the murder of the apostles, right then and there.
p. Unfortunately, this turned out to only be a temporary reprieve.
q. Acts 5:40 AMPC — So, convinced by him, they took his advice; and summoning the apostles, they flogged them and sternly forbade them to speak in or about the name of Jesus, and allowed them to go.
r. They could not help themselves—they could not just let them go without taking out their anger on them in some way.

4. Counted Worthy.
a. Acts 5:41 AMPC — So they went out from the presence of the council (Sanhedrin), rejoicing that they were being counted worthy [dignified by the indignity] to suffer shame and be exposed to disgrace for [the sake of] His name.
b. They took the beating and left—not angry or discouraged or dejected.
c. They left rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer for and in His Name!
d. How powerful is the influence of this Mighty God upon His people!
e. How impactful is His beautiful work on their hearts and in their lives—that they would be prepared to give their very lives for Him!
f. Acts 5:42 AMPC — Yet [in spite of the threats] they never ceased for a single day, both in the temple area and at home, to teach and to proclaim the good news (Gospel) of Jesus [as] the Christ (the Messiah).
g. They were so full of the Holy Spirit, and so devoted to their mission, that there was nothing that could prevent them.
h. Despite the persecution, the apostles did not alter or change their message, nor did they stop doing what they were doing.
i. They continued to preach and teach the good news—the Gospel—and lift up Jesus Christ, the Messiah, wherever they went.
j. Those who fight against the Kingdom of God are always the losers.
k. Ultimately, no matter how they are treated (even unto death), those who stand up for the Kingdom of God are always the winners!