About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

Home Page

Was Gamaliel A Secret Believer?


First of all, some of you may not know who Gamaliel was.  He is mentioned twice in the book of Acts.  From Acts 5:24 we learn that he was a Pharisee, a member of the Sanhedrin, the ruling council of the Jews in Jerusalem. We also learn that he was a well respected rabbi.  This verse also tells us that he cautioned the Sanhedrin concerning persecuting Christians.  Just in case the Christian movement was of God, you would not want to persecute God.  For this reason, some suggest that Gamaliel might have been a Christian.


In Acts 22:3 we learn that the Apostle Paul was "thoroughly trained" in both Jewish law and tradition by Gamaliel.      


Extra Biblical literature tells us that Gamaliel was the grandson of one of the most famous and well respected rabbis in Jewish history named Hillel.  Hillel was the founder of the most popular school of theology among the Pharisees.  In one sense of the word, Hillel and his school of theology was liberal.  For example, the Hillel school of theology interpreted the divorce laws of Deuteronomy 24:1 to 4 to mean that a man could divorce his wife for any and every reason.  It was this theological position on divorce that Jesus confronted to be not God's will in Matthew 19. 


As I've said, some people suggest that Gamaliel was a secret believer because he cautioned those in the Sanhedrin not to go too hard on the Christians.  Hermeneutically speaking, and I know it's only a suggestion, that is a pretty flimsy point to base an argument on.


I would suggest that Gamaliel was not a secret Christian.  First of all, if he was, I would suggest that he would have told Paul about his faith in Jesus and he would have tried to lead Paul to Jesus.  Paul was one of his best students.  There is no evidence that Gamaliel did any such thing.  We know how Paul became a Christian.  It was by the direct and miraculous intervention of Jesus, not Gamaliel. 


As I've said, extra Biblical historic literature tells us that Gameliel was the grandson of Hillel, one of the most well respected rabbis in Jewish history.  I would assume, and I do admit that it is an assumption, that he would have followed in his grandfather's footsteps.  For this reason, and for the fact that he did not lead Paul to Jesus, I would think Gamaliel was not a secret believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. 

Home Page