Acts 5:39
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them; or else you may even be found fighting against God."

King James Bible
But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God.

Darby Bible Translation
but if it be from God, ye will not be able to put them down, lest ye be found also fighters against God.

World English Bible
But if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow it, and you would be found even to be fighting against God!"

Young's Literal Translation
and if it be of God, ye are not able to overthrow it, lest perhaps also ye be found fighting against God.'

Acts 5:39 Parallel
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

But if it be of God - If God is the "author" of this religion. From this it seems that Gamaliel supposed that it was at least possible that this religion was divine. He evinced a far more candid mind than did the rest of the Jews; but still it does not appear that he was entirely convinced. The arguments which could not but stagger the Jewish Sanhedrin were those drawn from the resurrection of Jesus, the miracle on the day of Pentecost, the healing of the lame man in the temple, and the release of the apostles from the prison.

Ye cannot overthrow it - Because:

(1) God has almighty power, and can execute his purposes;

(2) Because he is unchanging, and will not be diverted from his plans, Job 23:13-14.

The plan which God forms "must" be accomplished. All the devices of man are feebleness when opposed to him, and he can dash them in pieces in an instant. The prediction of Gamaliel has been fulfilled. People have opposed Christianity in every way, but in vain. They have reviled it; have persecuted it; have resorted to argument and to ridicule; to fire, and faggot, and sword; they have called in the aid of science; but all has been in vain. The more it has been crushed, the more it has risen, and it still exists with as much life and power as ever. The "preservation" of this religion amidst so much and so varied opposition proves that it is of God. No severer trial "can" await it than it has already experienced; and as it has survived so many storms and trials, we have every evidence that, according to the predictions, it is destined to live and to fill the world. See the Matthew 16:18; Isaiah 54:17; Isaiah 55:11 notes; Daniel 4:35 note.

Lest - That is, if you continue to oppose it, you may be found to have been opposing God.

Haply - Perhaps. In the Greek this is "lest at any time"; that is, at some future time, when too late to retract your doings, etc.

Ye be found - It shall appear that you have been opposing God.

Even to fight against God - Greek Θεομάχοι Theomachoi, "those who contend with God." The word occurs nowhere else in the New Testament. To fight against God is to oppose him, or to maintain an attitude of hostility against him. It is an attitude that is most fearful in its character, and will most certainly be attended with an overthrow. No condition can be more awful than such an opposition to the Almighty; no overthrow more terrible than what must follow such opposition. Compare Acts 9:5; Acts 23:9. Opposition to the "gospel" in the Scriptures is uniformly regarded as opposition to God, Matthew 12:30; Luke 11:23. People may be said to "fight against" God in the following ways, or on the following subjects:

(1) When they oppose his "gospel," its preaching, its plans, its influence among people; when they endeavor to prevent its diffusion, or to withdraw their families and friends from its influence.

(2) when they oppose the "doctrines" of the Bible. When they become angry that the real truths of religion are preached, and suffer themselves to be irritated and excited by an "unwillingness" that those doctrines should be true, and should be presented to people. Yet this is no uncommon thing. People by nature do not love those doctrines, and they are often indignant that they are preached. Some of the most angry feelings which people ever have arise from this source; and man can never find peace until he is "willing" that God's truth should exert its influence on his own soul, and rejoice that it is believed and loved by others.

(3) people oppose the "Law" of God. It seems to them too "stern" and "harsh." It condemns them; and they are unwilling that it should be applied to them. There is nothing which a sinner likes "less" than he does the pure and holy Law of God.

(4) sinners fight against the "providence" of God. When he afflicts them they rebel. When he takes away their health, or property, or friends, they complain. They esteem him harsh and cruel; and instead of finding peace by "submission," they greatly aggravate their sufferings, and infuse a mixture of wormwood and gall into the cup by complaining and repining. There is no peace in affliction but in the feeling that God is "right." And until this belief is cherished, the wicked will be like the troubled sea which cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt, Isaiah 57:20. Such opposition to God is as wicked as it is foolish. The Lord gave, and has a right to remove our comforts; and we should be still, and know that he is God.

(5) sinners fight against God when they resist the influences of his Spirit; when they "oppose" serious thoughts; when they seek evil or frivolous companions and pleasures rather than submit to God; and when they spurn all the entreaties of their friends to become Christians. All these may be the appeals which God is making to people to be prepared to meet him. And yet it is common for sinners thus to stifle conviction, and refuse even to think of their eternal welfare. Nothing can be an act of more direct and deliberate wickedness and folly than this. Without the aid of the Holy Spirit none can be saved; and to resist his influences is to put away the only prospect of eternal life. To do it is to do it over the grave; not knowing that another hour of life may be granted; and not knowing that "if" life is prolonged, the Spirit will ever strive again with the heart. In view of this verse, we may remark:


Acts 5:39 Parallel Commentaries

Whom to Obey, --Annas or Angel?
'Then the high priest rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of the Sadducees,) and were filled with indignation, 18. And laid their hands on the apostles, and put them in the common prison. 19. But the angel of the Lord by night opened the prison doors, and brought them forth, and said, 20. Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life. 21. And when they heard that, they entered into the temple early in the morning, and taught. But the high priest
Alexander Maclaren—Expositions of Holy Scripture: The Acts

On Zeal
"It is good to be always zealously affected in a good thing." Gal. 4:18. 1. There are few subjects in the whole compass of religion, that are of greater importance than this. For without zeal it is impossible, either to make any considerable progress in religion ourselves, or to do any considerable service to our neighbour, whether in temporal or spiritual things. And yet nothing has done more disservice to religion, or more mischief to mankind, than a sort of zeal which has for several ages prevailed,
John Wesley—Sermons on Several Occasions

Whether Human Law Binds a Man in Conscience?
Objection 1: It would seem that human law does not bind man in conscience. For an inferior power has no jurisdiction in a court of higher power. But the power of man, which frames human law, is beneath the Divine power. Therefore human law cannot impose its precept in a Divine court, such as is the court of conscience. Objection 2: Further, the judgment of conscience depends chiefly on the commandments of God. But sometimes God's commandments are made void by human laws, according to Mat. 15:6: "You
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Whether the Devil is Directly the Cause of Man's Sinning?
Objection 1: It would seem that the devil is directly the cause of man's sinning. For sin consists directly in an act of the appetite. Now Augustine says (De Trin. iv, 12) that "the devil inspires his friends with evil desires"; and Bede, commenting on Acts 5:3, says that the devil "draws the mind to evil desires"; and Isidore says (De Summo Bono ii, 41; iii, 5) that the devil "fills men's hearts with secret lusts." Therefore the devil is directly the cause of sin. Objection 2: Further, Jerome says
Saint Thomas Aquinas—Summa Theologica

Cross References
Proverbs 21:30
There is no wisdom and no understanding And no counsel against the LORD.

Isaiah 46:10
Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, And I will accomplish all My good pleasure';

Acts 11:17
"Therefore if God gave to them the same gift as He gave to us also after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God's way?"

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