Though There Be Opposition…

Hidden Influences in the Life of Paul and in Yours

The church had scarcely begun before it was challenged by its enemies. The closing verses of Acts 2 speak of the growth of the church and those who were being added to it every day. It would have been a remarkable time to have witnessed the enthusiasm of those early Christians. The opening verses of the next chapter tell of the results of Peter and John healing of the lame man at the temple. The city was amazed and “all the people ran together” (3:11) to the see these two apostles. Peter’s sermon that day changed those who assembled.

Then, for the first time, opposition arose as the temple guards and the Sadducees came to arrest Peter and John and put them in custody. However, they could do no more than threaten them and release them “because of all the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done” (4:21).

This opposition did not stop. The church continued to grow and multitudes from the cities surrounding Jerusalem were taught (5:17). The opposition became even greater and, the highest Jewish council, the Sanhedrin, brought greater punishment against the church. It imprisoned all the apostles. When Peter and the apostles addressed the council “. . . they were furious and plotted to kill them” (5:33). It is at this point we first meet Gamaliel who had great impact on the church.

Gamaliel, a highly respected member of the Sanhedrin, addressed the council. He urged them to be cautious with these words of wisdom. “If this plan or this work is of men, it will come to nothing; but if it is of God, you cannot overthrow it” (5:38-39). There is so much truth in what he said.

What significance does all this have? Consider the fact that though Paul was born in the area we know as Turkey he was reared in Jerusalem and was taught by Gamaliel (Acts 22:3). Those who taught us have a tremendous impact on us throughout all of our lives. It is possibly, perhaps likely, that Paul heard these very words spoken by his teacher. Gamaliel was a Pharisee who taught strict allegiance to the law, and Paul became one who was “zealous toward God” (22:3). It is obvious that Gamaliel influenced Paul. Gamaliel said to the council, “Take heed to yourselves what you intend to do,” and Paul said to Timothy, “Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine” (1 Tim. 4:16).

Our lives, like Paul’s, are touched by all those around us. We are shaped by people and circumstances every day we live. God was able to use all of the events mentioned above to bring glory to His name. Who has influenced your life? What circumstances have molded you? Rejoice that God is able to use all of these to help us become like Him. Rejoice. Our amazing God sits on His throne and works all things for our good!

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