On hearing these words they were cut to the heart, intending to see them killed. But a Pharisee in the council, Gama'li-el, a teacher of the law, held in high esteem by all the people, stood up and had the men put outside for a little. And he said to them, "Men of Israel, take care what you do with these men. For before these days there was Theu'das who arose, making out that he was somebody, and a number, four hundred, joined him; but he was slain and all who followed him were dispersed and it came to nothing. After him, in the days of the census there was Judas the Galilean drawing some of the people away after him; he also perished, as did his scattered followers. So in this case I tell you, keep away from these men and let them alone; for if this project or this undertaking is of men, it will fail; but if it is of God, you will not be able to overthrow them. You might even be found opposing God!" So that is the advice they took, and when they called the apostles in, they beat them, charging them not to speak in the name of Jesus; then they let them go. Leaving the presence of the council, they rejoiced at being counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the Name. From then on daily in the temple, and at home, they did not cease from teaching and preaching Jesus as Christ.
And so the Council's rage, fuelled by their deepest fears, was stilled. Gamaliel's advice was heeded. He was a well-regarded Pharisee. He had obviously listened very carefully to all that had been discussed. He would have been aware of unrest across the nation. He knew what had taken place in recent times in Galilee, so his mention of Judas the Galilean, indicates he had knowledge of that region and that might mean he was well informed about the Other Galilean Rabbi. Luke includes Gamaliel's advice at this stage of his story because soon he will tell us about one of Gamaliel's students who led the persecution of Jesus' followers. Luke tells us what Gamaliel said: Keep away from these men and leave them alone!
The Council's decision meant the apostles were to be left alone, but later on we hear that Gamaliel's student, Saul, hounded the followers of Jesus, arresting them and having them thrown into prison. This important decision of the Council had a big impact. It looks like a "divide and conquer" strategy. Isolate the apostles from the rest of the believers and the movement will be broken.
Luke portrays Gamaliel as a shrewd Pharisee who understood how ordinary Jewish people, loyal to the law and the prophets, thought. He knew their concerns. He also knew the Council's weaknesses and how it could trouble the Roman authorities. Maybe there were "eyes" and "ears" in the Council chambers.
Mark and Luke tell us that the religious leaders feared the people. Gamaliel's advice did not address that fear. And so, after giving them a beating, the Council still had to try very hard to ignore the momentous acts to which Peter, the apostles and also the Holy Spirit bore witness.