Question: What advice did Gamaliel give the Sanhedrin about what to do about the apostles?
Answer: Gamaliel, although a member of the Sanhedrin, seemed to be a leader of high integrity and honesty and had enough influence and confidence to successfully challenge the prevailing feeling in the Sanhedrin to execute the apostles. He asked them to think back to the time when others had started such movements and had failed. He counseled them that if this movement was a man-made movement, it would fail, but if it was of God, there was nothing they could do to stop it.
27 And when they (the police) had brought them (the apostles), they set them before the council: and the high priest asked (questioned) them,
28 Saying, Did not we straitly (strictly) command you that ye should not teach in this name (Jesus’ name)? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us (you are trying to make us look guilty for crucifying Jesus).
29 Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.
30 The God of our fathers (ancestors) raised up Jesus, whom ye slew and hanged on a tree (crucified).
31 Him (Jesus) hath God exalted (lifted up) with his right hand (to sit at his right hand) to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance (for the purpose of making repentance available) to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.
32 And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.
33 When they (the High Priest and his associates) heard that, they were cut to the heart, and took counsel to slay them.
34 Then stood there up one in the council, a Pharisee, named Gamaliel, a doctor of the law, had in reputation among all the people, and commanded to put the apostles forth a little space (ordered the apostles to be taken out of the room for a few minutes);
35 And (Gamaliel) said unto them (the other members of the Sanhedrin), Ye men of Israel, take heed to yourselves (stop and think about) what ye intend to do as touching (concerning) these men (apostles).
36 For before these days rose up Theudas, boasting himself to be somebody (claiming to be someone special); to whom a number of men, about four hundred, joined themselves: who was slain (Theudas was killed); and all, as many as obeyed him, were scattered, and brought to nought (his followers were scattered, and his influence among the people died out).
37 After this man rose up Judas of Galilee in the days of the taxing, and drew away much people after him: he also perished (he was also killed); and all, even as many as obeyed him, were dispersed (all of his followers scattered and nothing came of what he tried to start).
38 And now I (Gamaliel) say unto you, Refrain from these men, and let them alone (don’t do anything to these apostles of Jesus): for if this counsel or this work be of men, it will come to nought (if what Jesus started is man-made, it will eventually die out, like the movements started by Theudas and Judas):
39 But if it be of God (if Jesus and his gospel are from God), ye cannot overthrow it (you can’t stop it); lest haply (perhaps) ye be found even to fight against God. (JST “be careful, therefore, lest ye be found even to fight against God).
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George Albert Smith:
In a general conference address in 1946, President Smith prophesied about the use of such technologies: “It will not be long until, from this pulpit and other places that will be provided, the servants of the Lord will be able to deliver messages to isolated groups who are so far away they cannot be reached. In that way and other ways, the gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord, the only power of God unto salvation in preparation for the celestial kingdom, will be heard in all parts of the world, and many of you who are here will live to see that day.”
President Smith understood that the work of the Church is successful because it is the Lord’s work, and he taught the Saints that the opportunity to participate in that work is a blessing the Lord offers each member of His Church. During the first general conference after he was set apart as President of the Church, he said: “I realize the great responsibility that is upon my shoulders. I know that without the help of our Heavenly Father, the organization with which we are identified cannot be successful. No man or group of men can make it successful, but if the members of this Church will continue to keep the commandments of God, live their religion, set an example to the world, [and] love their neighbor as themselves, we will go forward, and increasing happiness will flow to us.” ...
The growth of this Church has not come because it was popular. It has been in spite of the opposition of the wise men of the world; it has been in spite of the opposition of religious teachers, and it has continued to gather here and there choice spirits who have lived in such a way that they could comprehend the truth....
It should be evident to all, and it will be some day, that the opposition to this work would have overcome it long ago if it had not been divine. Let all the world know that it cannot be overthrown, for “it is the power of God unto salvation unto all those who believe.”
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Sources: Come, Follow Me–For Individuals and Families, p. 104; The New Testament Made Easier, Part 2, Volume 3, by David J. Ridges, 14-15; Excerpts from Teachings of the Presidents of the Church: George Albert Smith, Chapter 15. “Advancing the Work of the Lord.”