“. . . a Pharisee named Gamaliel, . . .” Acts 5:34
Sold out for Jesus. What image comes to mind when you read that phrase? It’s probably an image of someone you consider to have a more radical and audacious faith than you. Maybe you didn’t sing the loudest, raise your hands, or win apologetic debates, but it doesn’t mean you can’t be sold out for Jesus.
Measured by the power of Peter and the passion of Paul, the suffering of Stephen, and the benevolence of Barnabas, Gamaliel is a minor character. Gamaliel and Peter – think of the contrast! Gamaliel is more educated than Peter, more refined, more talented. And yet, Peter is the torch that burns through the history of the early church. Gamaliel was moving in an old religious current that had run its course. Peter was moving with the rushing stream of new life.
Gamaliel and Peter represent two contrasting temperaments. Peter is brash, bold and hot-headed, ready to plunge into action, impatient with religion and blind to everything but the gospel. Gamaliel, on the other hand, is restrained, slow to act, careful, cautious, and considerate, always balancing one view against the other, seeing all sides of the issue, tolerant, fair, and honest.
Gamaliel is not to be overlooked, nor his contribution to Christianity minimized. His wise advice of wait and see what happens is the perfect example of a moderating influence of reason, hope, and grace. Gamaliel is proof that there is more than one way to be sold out for Jesus. Our world could use more believers like Gamaliel.
The truth is both temperaments are necessary in building the church and extending the kingdom of Jesus in this world. The brash Peters get things done while the Gamaliels see to it that certain things are not done. The Peters are evaders of great movements while Gamaliels pave the way for others to travel.
Within God’s kingdom, there’s room for both types and temperaments. If we are wise, we will understand ourselves well enough to know if we are more like Peter, or more like Gamaliel, and then be humble enough to make friends with the opposite.
How does knowing you are more like the apostle Peter or more like Gamaliel increase your confidence in following Jesus?