Fighting Against God

Paul of Tarsus was a disciple of Gamiliel, the famed Jewish rabbi.

This story in Acts 5, following the divine judgment enacted upon Ananias and Sapphira, has always been both chilling and instructive to me.  It says,

Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than human beings! The God of our ancestors raised Jesus from the dead—whom you killed by hanging him on a cross. God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might bring Israel to repentance and forgive their sins. We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.” When they heard this, they were furious and wanted to put them to death.

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. Then he addressed the Sanhedrin: “Men of Israel, consider carefully what you intend to do to these men.

Some time ago Theudas appeared, claiming to be somebody, and about four hundred men rallied to him. He was killed, all his followers were dispersed, and it all came to nothing. After him, Judas the Galilean appeared in the days of the census and led a band of people in revolt. He too was killed, and all his followers were scattered.

Therefore, in the present case I advise you: Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”

His speech persuaded them.

Gamaliel’s wise words are filled with thunder and lightning for every human being today.

What say you?



  1. says

    While I don’t think Gamiliel is ready to jump on board with Christianity, he is wise enough to hold his own judgment, understanding that God’s ways are higher than his. He’s basically saying to go ahead and give the Christians all the rope they need, and if they are not truly on God’s side then they’ll hang themselves.

    Gamiliel is saying to take our own hands off of the situation and let God judge it.

    I’ve had to learn (and am still learning) that God doesn’t always need my intervention, even if there is something going on that I don’t agree with. Unless we feel a leading from God to intervene in a specific situation, it may be wiser to let it go and let God work. Valuable lessons may follow from what you see Him do… that’s my $0.02 anyway.

    • Cliff says

      I too am learning that I am not God’s correctional officer, but am to attend to His correction of me so that I might be a useful vessel for His purposes in my life. Whether those purposes be big or small, noble or ignoble, I am to be perfectly content to glorify Him.

  2. Tim Nichols says

    It is well understood that humans are unwise enough to “take on” God. Gamiliel asks that we stop, step back, and think about what we are doing. Thanks for being a modern day Gamiliel, Frank.
    By the way, enjoyed your interview with Greg Boyd!

  3. Dustin says

    As powerful and wise as Gamaliel’s words were, there still existed an outsider’s viewpoint; no identification with the new life that Peter was preaching. I wonder if he ever changed his stance and joined with the Apostles… Thanks for the thought provoking posts, Frank.

  4. Rebecca Ming says

    “The Lord has established His throne in heaven, and HIS kingdom ‘rules over ALL’.”

  5. Jason Guinasso says

    One additional point I find interesting: Gamaliel was the teacher of Saul of Tarsus. Acts 22:3. This fact makes this passage even more interesting to me in light of Saul’s subsequent persecution of the church. I wonder why Saul did not listen to his teacher? Was it normal for a student to completely disregard the wisdom of his elder and teacher? Nonetheless, the words of Gamaliel proved prophetic: Saul found himself in a battle with God that ended in Saul being knocked from his horse and blinded . . . “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

    On one hand, I suppose we should be happy about Saul’s rebellion against his teacher because the battle he waged against Christ resulted in His conversion. On the other hand, I wonder why any sane human being would want to fight against God. (although I must sadly admit I have succumbed to the insanity of fighting against God on more than one occasion in my life) Ultimately, God is faithful and just and He loves us more than we could ever ask or imagine. This love has the power to convert the blackest heart of an enemy. Just ask Saul of Tarsus, he had a few things to say about the love of God after he lost his fight with God.

    • says

      Good point. As to our question, those who fight against the Lord typically don’t realize that’s what they are doing. They actually think they’re doing God a favor – see John 16:2.

  6. Bob Green says

    I wish I knew more about Gamileal. It seems possible that when God chose Saul to carry the good news to the gentiles, that he was influenced by teaching he had received already. Gamilieal must have loved God and had a balanced view of God’s workings. BTW,thanks for alerting us to the importance of the resurrection [Raised With Christ]. I can’t read scripture any more without those proclamations [like Peter’s in your quote above] jumping off the page. Bob

  7. says

    I see so much failure in our country due to independent thinking. If every leader and man and woman leaned not on their own understanding, but acknowledged God in every decision, imagine how truth, righteousness and justice would reign! God have mercy on each one of us.

  8. says

    Even if we do find ourselves fighting against God, like Paul, when we come to our senses our failure can bring us right back to Jesus’s door. Acts 9:4

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