How did the story of Theudas save the apostles from the Jewish council?



Theudas is mentioned in the book of Acts chapter five. In short, the apostle Luke quoted Gamaliel who pointed that Theudas was a false messiah who led a revolution against Rome with a group of 400 men. But his attempt failed and he was killed and his group scattered (Acts 5:35).

Gamaliel speaks of Theudas

Gamaliel related the story of Theudas to the members of the Jewish council as they discussed what to do about the apostles’ preaching the risen Christ. He reminded them of the fading popularity of such false leaders and therefore urged them not to get involved with the apostles because they believed them to be false as well.

Looking into it in greater detail, this story first started after the Pentecost, when the apostles spread the good news about Jesus and did many miracles of healing the sick, and casting out demons in His name (v. 12-16). As a result, hundreds of people believed and were added to the church.

The apostles imprisoned and freed by an angel

However, the conversion of the masses enraged the high priest and religious leaders. They arrested the apostles for the second time and put them in the common prison. But at night, an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and released the apostles. He then commanded them to go to the temple and preach to the people the words of life (v. 17-20). The apostle obeyed and went to the temple the next day.

At the same time, the high priest called the Jewish council and sent the guards to the prison to get the apostles for trial (v. 21). However, the guards could not find the prisoners although everything was still securely shut and the guards standing watch. The high priest and the members of the council wondered about what happened. But soon after, they heard that the apostles were at the temple preaching (v. 22-25).

The disciples brought again before the council

The captain of guard and officers then went to the temple and brought the apostle to the council. The high priest questioned them saying, “Did we not strictly command you not to teach in this name? (v. 26-29). But Peter and the apostles answered: “We ought to obey God rather than men” (v. 29). And they added that the council was guilty of the blood of Jesus (v. 30).

Gamaliel calms the council

But when the members of council heard this, they were enraged and plotted to kill apostles to silence them just as they stoned Stephen (Acts 7). At this point Gamaliel reminded the council of Theudas’ failure and he added, “keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing;  but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it—lest you even be found to fight against God” (Acts 5:39).

Theudas attempted to conquer the Romans and establish a worldly kingdom. Whereas Jesus publicly stated, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here” (John 18:36). Jesus came to establish a spiritual kingdom on earth (Matthew 3:2, 3; 4:17; 5:2; Mark 3:14).

Gamaliel’s wise advice convinced the council and they agreed with him. So, they beat the apostles and commanded them not to speak in the name of Jesus anymore, then they let them go (Acts 5:40).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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