Acts 5:39


King James Version (KJV)

But if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it; lest haply you be found even to fight against God.

American King James Version (AKJV)

But if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it; lest haply you be found even to fight against God.

American Standard Version (ASV)

but if it is of God, ye will not be able to overthrow them; lest haply ye be found even to be fighting against God.

Basic English Translation (BBE)

But if it is of God, you will not be able to overcome them, and you are in danger of fighting against God.

Webster's Revision

But if it is from God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight 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!"

English Revised Version (ERV)

but if it is of God, ye will not be able to overthrow them; lest haply ye be found even to be fighting against God.

Definitions for Acts 5:39

Haply - Perhaps.

Clarke's Acts 5:39 Bible Commentary

But if it be of God, ye cannot overthrow it - Because his counsel cannot fail; and his work cannot be counteracted. If he be determined that this doctrine shall prevail, it is vain for us to attempt to suppress it.

Lest haply ye be found - to fight against God - Μηποτε και θεομαχοι εὑρεθητε. Some have thought that they saw a parallel to these words in the speech of Diomede, when, seeing Mars, associated with Hector, oppose the Grecians, he judged farther opposition vain, and desired his troops to retire from the battle.

Τῳ δ' αιει παρα εἱς γε θεων, ὁς λοιγον αμυνει·

Και νυν οἱ παρα κεινος Αρης, βροτῳ ανδρι εοικως.

Αλλα προς Τρωας τετραμμενοι αιεν οπισσω

Εικετε, μηδε Θεοις μενεαινεμεν ιφι μαχεσθαι.

Iliad, lib. v. 603.

Protected always by some power divine;

And Mars attends this moment at his side,

In form a man. Ye therefore still retire,

But facing still your foes: nor battle wage,

However fierce, yet fruitless, with the gods.


Barnes's Acts 5:39 Bible Commentary

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:


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