Gamaliel, from the Hebrew meaning reward of God, was a grandson of the famous scholar Hillel, and a prominent teacher in his own right. He was a highly knowledgeable Pharisee, and a leading member of the Sanhedrin through the reigns of the Roman emperors Tiberius (who was emperor at the time of the Crucifixion of Jesus Christ), Caligula, and Claudius (see Ancient Empires - Rome). Gamaliel died about 52 A.D., 18 years before the Fall of Jerusalem In 70 A.D.
When the apostles were arrested for preaching the Gospel, Gamaliel, although not a Christian, was directly responsible for saving their lives. His logic remains as relevant today as nearly 2,000 years ago: "keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!" (Acts 5:38-39 RSV)
The Apostles Saved By Gamaliel
"And when they had brought them, they set them before The Council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, "We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man's blood upon us."
"But Peter and The Apostles answered, "We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus Whom you killed by hanging Him on a tree. God exalted Him at His right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey Him."
"When they heard this they were enraged and wanted to kill them. But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, held in honor by all the people, stood up and ordered the men to be put outside for a while. And he said to them, "Men of Israel, take care what you do with these men. For before these days Theudas arose, giving himself out to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him; but he was slain and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing. After him Judas the Galilean arose in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him; he also perished, and all who followed him were scattered. So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!"
"So they took his advice, and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go."
"Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for The Name. And every day in the Temple [see Temples] and at home they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ." (Acts 5:27-42 RSV)
Fact Finder: The apostle Paul became one of the greatest Christians of all time, and himself wrote a large part of the New Testament. Before he was converted On The Road To Damascus, had Paul been a student of Gamaliel?
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