12Διὰ δὲ τῶν χειρῶν τῶν ἀποστόλων ἐγίνετο σημεῖα καὶ τέρατα πολλὰ ἐν τῷ λαῷ. καὶ ἦσαν ὁμοθυμαδὸν ἅπαντες ἐν τῇ στοᾷ Σολομῶντος,

Through the hands of the apostles were being performed many signs and wonders among the people and they were together all in Solomon’s portico.

  • The section links up directly with the prayer in 4:30 that God would help the church’s witness by performing signs and wonders. The deaths of Ananias and Sapphira could be regarded as examples of these, but Luke is now thinking of the healing ministry exercised not only by Peter (3:1–10) but also by the other apostles[1]
  • Now all the apostles were shown to be doing miraculous works. The miracles were performed among the Jewish populace (laos) and were “signs” that pointed to and prepared the way for the witness to the word. The Greek of v. 12b says that “they all” were accustomed to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade.[2]

13τῶν δὲ λοιπῶν οὐδεὶς ἐτόλμα κολλᾶσθαι αὐτοῖς, ἀλλʼ ἐμεγάλυνεν αὐτοὺς ὁ λαός.

Of the others none dared to join them, but the people spoke highly of them

  • Why did none dare join them?
    • The cost as paid by Ananias and Sapphira perhaps?
  • They may have been frightened lest half-hearted allegiance would lead to judgment. But if fear kept them away, they nevertheless could not help praising them as they were impressed by what they did.[3]
  • The word for join, kollasthai, has the sense of being joined to like glue
  • The people were awed by the power of the apostles, seeing the miracles worked through their hands, and perhaps having heard the report about Ananias and Sapphira. They did not run up and join the Christian band in the colonnade but kept a healthy distance (v. 13a). Nevertheless they held the Christians in the highest regard. Luke was working with a paradox here. It is the same two-sidedness of the Spirit’s power that had just been demonstrated in Ananias and Sapphira. The power of the miracles attracts. The awesome power of the Spirit that judges also demands commitment and responsibility. Before that power the crowd kept its distance with healthy respect, unless they were willing to fully submit to that power and make a commitment. [4]

 

14μᾶλλον δὲ προσετίθεντο πιστεύοντες τῷ κυρίῳ, πλήθη ἀνδρῶν τε καὶ γυναικῶν,

And even more believers in the Lord were being added, large numbers of both men and women

  • Despite the awe which kept the people from meddling with the Christian group as they met together, there were nevertheless increasing numbers of converts who believed and were added to the Lord[5]
  • Notice how the words for both men and women are used

15ὥστε καὶ εἰς τὰς πλατείας ἐκφέρειν τοὺς ἀσθενεῖς καὶ τιθέναι ἐπὶ κλιναρίων καὶ κραβάττων, ἵνα ἐρχομένου Πέτρου κἂν ἡ σκιὰ ἐπισκιάσῃ τινὶ αὐτῶν.

And so that even into the streets the sick were carried out and placed on cots and mats so that (when) Peter came by at least his shadow would fall on some of them

  • As a result of the reputation of the Christians more and more people sought physical healing from the apostles, and especially from Peter. Sick people were carried out into the streets where Peter might pass by (cf. the similar description in Mark 6:56). People hoped that even if only his shadow fell across them they would be healed. The idea that shadows had magical powers, both beneficent and malevolent, was current in the ancient world and explains the motivation of the people. Similar beliefs about Paul’s powers are attested in 19:12. [6]
  • Whether or not they were healed by Peter’s shadow Luke did not explicitly say, but the note underlines the strength of the apostle’s healing reputation.[7]
  • There was, of course, no virtue or power in Peter’s shadow. That was faith with superstition, of course, just as similar cases in the Gospels occur (Matt. 9:20; Mark 6:56; John 9:5) and the use of Paul’s handkerchief (Acts 19:12). God honours even superstitious faith if it is real faith in him. Few people are wholly devoid of superstition.[8]

16συνήρχετο δὲ καὶ τὸ πλῆθος τῶν πέριξ πόλεων Ἰερουσαλὴμ φέροντες ἀσθενεῖς καὶ ὀχλουμένους ὑπὸ πνευμάτων ἀκαθάρτων, οἵτινες ἐθεραπεύοντο ἅπαντες.

And also the people from around (the) towns of Jerusalem came together bringing the sick and those tormented by unclean spirits, who all were being healed.

  • A new feature is the spread of the reputation of the church to the towns around Jerusalem. The implication is that at this stage Peter and the other apostles confined themselves to Jerusalem, so that the sick had to be brought to them. Later they would begin to itinerate as missionaries.[9]
  • In any event, crowds came from all the surrounding villages to Jerusalem to be healed by the apostles. One is reminded of Jesus’ own healing ministry as recorded in Mark 6:53–56 and the similar response of the people. At this point the apostles were still confined to Jerusalem. The people came to them from the outlying villages. Only later would they go forth from Jerusalem and take their gospel and their healing ministry into the villages of Judea (cf. 9:32–43).[10]

 

[1] Marshall, I. H. (1980). Acts: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 5, p. 121). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[2] Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, p. 163). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[3] Marshall, I. H. (1980). Acts: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 5, p. 122). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[4] Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, pp. 163–164). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[5] Marshall, I. H. (1980). Acts: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 5, p. 122). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[6] Marshall, I. H. (1980). Acts: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 5, p. 122). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[7] Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, p. 164). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[8] Robertson, A. T. (1933). Word Pictures in the New Testament (Ac 5:15). Nashville, TN: Broadman Press.

[9] Marshall, I. H. (1980). Acts: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 5, pp. 122–123). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.

[10] Polhill, J. B. (1992). Acts (Vol. 26, p. 164). Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.