Acts 5:37-42
Acts 5:37 (KJB)
After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished; and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed.
This Judas had arisen about 6 A.D and according to Josephus, he had taught that the people should not pay taxes to Rome. This was the year of the second census when Cyrenius was Governor of Syria. He had a considerable following which was larger than that of Theudas and the Romans had to do something about him. So he was either killed in the rebellion when the Roman soldiers came against him or he was taken by the Romans and executed. There are conflicting stories as to how he died but the fact is that Rome had its way with this man and his teachings were abolished and his following came to nothing.
Acts 5:38 (KJB)
And now I say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought:
Gamaliel is basically telling the council that the same fate will await the men of this movement if it was conceived in the mind of man. They will only be allowed to go so far and then Rome will crush them as it did Judas and Theudas. If the council leaves them alone and Rome destroys them, then two things are accomplished. The first is that the Sanhedrin would be free of their blood and secondly, there would be more hatred toward their Roman occupiers.
Acts 5:39 (KJB)
But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.
Overthrow - Suppress
Then Gamaliel gives the other side of the issue. If this movement was initiated by God, then they will never be able to suppress it and instead of them being a Council which was supposed to teach the ways of God, they would be found fighting against God. This would make them enemies of God (which they were already) and would bring the wrath of God upon them. I have a feeling Gamaliel knew this movement was of God because of all the miracles taking place and the fact that the Apostles did not fear man but kept right on proclaiming the Gospel.
Acts 5:40 (KJB)
And to him they agreed: and when they had called the apostles, and beaten them, they commanded that they should not speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go.
Gamaliel had persuaded them to withhold any type of official plans to do them any harm and to wait and see as to whether this movement is of God or man. Nevertheless, they still felt that some type of punitive action had to be taken, so they brought the Apostles in to the synagogue and had them flogged. (Mark 13:9 KJV) But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. Jesus had warned them that this would happen. The maximum amount of lashes that they could receive under the law was 40 but they always gave 39 to make sure that the number was never exceeded. (Deu 25:2-3 KJV) And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number. {3} Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee. There was no specific number given as to how many lashes they received since they the only crime they were guilty of was disobeying the command not to teach.
Acts 5:41 (KJB)
And they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for his name.
They probably did not receive the maximum amount of lashes allowed under law since they were able to walk out of the presence of the council. If they would have received 39, then they might have been weak from blood loss and would be unable to walk out. They walked out of there, not with their heads bowed low but they were rejoicing that they were able to suffer shame for the Lord Jesus Christ, since He had suffered a greater shame for the purpose of those He came to save. They knew that His name represented His Messiahship, His deity, Lordship, and Him being the only Savior that can save. This was part of the confirming evidence that Gamaliel needed to realize that this movement was not of man but of God. Previous to this, I wonder how many came away from the flogging room rejoicing?
Acts 5:42 (KJB)
And daily in the temple, and in every house, they ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ.
Here is a great example of the perseverance of the Saints. They had just been flogged for teaching about Christ and this verse states that they did not even cease teaching again in the Temple. Surely the leaders would have noticed them teaching in the Temple. They not only taught in the temple but they taught in the houses. Here we read that the house of every Christian was a place of teaching and learning. They had taught the doctrine of Christ and all the teachings associated with Christ, in both individual houses and in the Temple where they were once again risking another flogging. They did not care because the Spirit of God compelled them to go on so the Gospel would continue to be preached and simultaneously spread throughout the Mediterranean and the Roman Empire in general.