Straddling the Fence


Audacity is one of those words that has positive and negative connotations. It can mean “the willingness to take bold risks,” or “disrespectful behavior.” Ever get in trouble for being audacious in a negative way? I have, more times than I care to count. How about for taking a bold risk? Sometimes we tell the truth, but no one believes us. Sometimes, when we take a stand and speak the truth, it costs us.

  • Have you ever lipped off to a parent or your boss and wish you had taken a more submissive attitude and approach?
  • Have you ever stood up against a powerful personality for someone or something that was right, even though you may have been shaking in your boots?


33 When they heard this, they were enraged and wanted to kill them. 34 But a Pharisee in the council named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law held in honor by all the people, stood up and gave orders to put the men outside for a little while. 35 And he said to them, “Men of Israel, take care what you are about to do with these men. 36 For before these days Theudas rose up, claiming to be somebody, and a number of men, about four hundred, joined him. He was killed, and all who followed him were dispersed and came to nothing.37 After him Judas the Galilean rose up in the days of the census and drew away some of the people after him. He too perished, and all who followed him were scattered. 38 So in the present case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone, for if this plan or this undertaking is of man, it will fail; 39 but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!” So they took his advice, 40 and when they had called in the apostles, they beat them and charged them not to speak in the name of Jesus, and let them go. 41 Then they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonor for the name. 42 And every day, in the temple and from house to house, they did not cease teaching and preaching that the Christ is Jesus.

English Standard Version, copyright 2001 by Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


  1. In verse 33, who made up the group that wanted to kill Peter and the other apostles? Why do you think they were so angry?
  2. What is significant about Gamaliel (vs. 34)? Summarize his advice in your own words (vss. 35-39a).
  3. What do you think was the true heart reason the council backed off from killing them (vss.39b-40)?
  4. How did the apostles react after being beaten and released (vss. 41-42)? How would you react if you suffered physical harm for your belief in God?
  5. Do find yourself struggling to choose between your way and the truth? Do you wrestle with the fear of speaking boldly for Jesus? What would it look like for you to follow Peter and the other first century believers’ model, to tell the world what you have seen Jesus do in your life?


Peter and other apostles had been arrested twice for their holy boldness (audacity). They spoke the truth they knew about Jesus, and were locked up, beaten, and ordered not to speak in Jesus’ name. The Jewish council members, on the other hand, had the audacity to stand against the truth. They knew the apostles performed miracles in Jesus’ name, yet only after Gamaliel “reasoned” with them did the council members stop short of killing the apostles. None, apparently, acted on the truth God gave them. They chose indecision rather than believing they might be wrong about Jesus. Amazingly, they chose the fence! Are you sitting on the fence? If so, come down off the fence today!

  • Ask God to turn your heart toward him and to give you faith toward Jesus as Lord today (Acts 20:21).