Acts 5:34

34 But one member, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who was an expert in religious law and respected by all the people, stood up and ordered that the men be sent outside the council chamber for a while.

Acts 5:34 Meaning and Commentary

Acts 5:34

Then stood there up one in the council
Or "in the sanhedrim", which the high priest had called together; this phrase is left out in the Syriac version: yet certain it is, that the great council was now assembled, and the disciples were now before them, and this man, who was one of the members of it, stood up in it; for it seems to have been the custom, that though they usually sat, yet when anyone had anything to say, or made a speech, he rose up from his seat.

A Pharisee named Gamaliel;
he is described by his sect of religion, a Pharisee; of which, (See Gill on Matthew 3:7) and by his name Gamaliel: he was the son of Rabban Simeon, the son of Hillell the great; which Simeon is, by some, thought to be the same that took Christ into his arms, ( Luke 2:25 ) and this Gamaliel was also the master of the Apostle Paul, ( Acts 22:3 ) . This was a very ancient name in Israel; the prince of the children of Manasseh, that offered at the dedication of the tabernacle, was of this name, ( Numbers 7:54 ) and perhaps this man might be of the same tribe. He is further described by his profession,

a doctor of law;
he was one of the Misnic doctors, one of the fathers of tradition, that received the oral law from those before him, and handed it down to others; and was the five and thirtieth of this sort, as the Jews say F20, from the giving of the law at Mount Sinai; or, as others F21, the thirty first:

had in reputation among all the people;
and therefore his advice was the more likely to take place, without giving offence, or exposing to danger, seeing he was highly esteemed, not only in the sanhedrim, but among the common people; and that not only because he was a Pharisee, and a very strict one, the glory of that sect, insomuch that it is said F23, that

``when he died, the glory of the law ceased, and purity and pharisaism died;''

but because of his years, dignity, and place also; he is called commonly Gamaliel, (Nqzh) , "the elder", because he lived to a great age F24. He died eighteen years before the destruction of Jerusalem {y}, and was had in veneration to the last. It is said of him F26, that

``he ordered, before his death, that they should carry him to his grave in linen; for before this time they used to carry out the dead in silk; and this was more grievous to his relations than his death itself;''

because they thought he was not interred honourably enough. And it is also reported, that Onkelos, the proselyte, at his death, burnt as much for him in goods and spices, as came to seventy Tyrian pounds F1. He was also commonly called by the name of Rabban, which was a more honourable title than that of Rabbi or Rab; and his father Simeon was the first that had it F2; and he was now president of the sanhedrim: and hence he used that authority which is expressed in the next words,

and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space;
he ordered the apostles to be put out of the sanhedrim for a little while, that they might not hear what he had to say, and take encouragement from it; and that he might more freely speak his mind without giving them any countenance. The Alexandrian copy reads, "the men", instead of "the apostles"; and so the Vulgate Latin version.


F20 Ganz Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 25. 2.
F21 Juchasin, fol. 20. 1.
F23 Misn. Sota, c. 9. sect. 15.
F24 Juchasin, fol. 53. 1.
F25 Ganz. ut supra. (Tzemach David, par. 1. fol. 25. 2.)
F26 Ib.
F1 T. Bab. Avoda Zara, fol. 11. 1.
F2 Ganz. ib. col. 1.

Acts 5:34 In-Context

32 We are witnesses of these things and so is the Holy Spirit, who is given by God to those who obey him.”
33 When they heard this, the high council was furious and decided to kill them.
34 But one member, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who was an expert in religious law and respected by all the people, stood up and ordered that the men be sent outside the council chamber for a while.
35 Then he said to his colleagues, “Men of Israel, take care what you are planning to do to these men!
36 Some time ago there was that fellow Theudas, who pretended to be someone great. About 400 others joined him, but he was killed, and all his followers went their various ways. The whole movement came to nothing.