The Apostle's Respected By People Part 1 of 2

by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)

November 18, 2013
Acts of the Apostles


Lesson II.D.2.a: The Apostle's Respected By People (2:12-16)


Acts 5.12-16 (KJV)

12 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch.
13 And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them.
14 And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)
15 Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
16 There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one.


12 And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch.
13 And of the rest durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them.
14 And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women.)

“And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people.” Notice that the apostles exercise the apostolic gifts. Gifts of healing and gifts of miracles were sign gifts which were given to the apostles. They did many signs among the people. “By the hands of the apostles” does not necessarily mean that these “signs and wonders” were done through the laying on of hands—and certainly does not mean that they were done through the power of the hands of the apostles. It simply means that God working through the apostles, wrought signs and wonders among the people.

During the earthly ministry of Jesus, He often laid hands upon the sick, and in Mark 16.18 He said of His disciples, “They shall lay hands upon the sick, and they shall recover.” However, verse 15 of our present chapter proved that the multitudes believed that their sick ones could be healed without the touch of the hands of the apostles, since they laid the sick on cots and couches in the streets in hopes that the shadow of Peter might pass over them.

The discipline in the church had put a fear on the people and stopped the revival, so that nobody for purely human reasons dared to unite with the new fellowship. However, the Church was held in high regard by the people. Only those who experienced a genuine work of God dared to unite with the Church; yet there were still great numbers who were being saved.

“Believers were being added to the Lord.” People heard and believed the Word preached by Peter and the other apostles and were added to the Lord’s Church day by day (Acts 2.471). Rapid numerical growth was a phenomenon of the early Church. We know that by A.D. 300 there were millions of people in the Roman Empire who had turned to Christ.

“And they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch.” The early Christians did not have their own building for worship. They usually met in the homes of the believers who had the necessary space, and sometimes they met in Solomon’s Porch, which bordered the east side of the vast temple area. Such meetings were important, since they were opportunities to confer with each other, and for instruction, prayer, and fellowship among the believers. In other words, they came to Solomon’s Porch to teach and be taught—and with one common purpose: to learn more about the Lord Jesus Christ and the things of God. Who were the“all”? They may have been the apostles, the apostles and their immediate following (born again believers), or possibly, the whole Christian community. If the latter is true, “the rest” (v.13) would be other interested spectators, the Jews who had not believed, who now hesitated to publicly identify themselves with the Christians because of what had happened to Ananias and Sapphira, even though “the people” in general “magnified them” (held them in high esteem). But verse 14 seems to be a contradiction, unless we suppose that “durst no man join himself to them” does not merely mean to join with them, but to join them in courageous public witness. In other words, they were willing to join the Christian community, but balked at making any public declaration of their faith in Jesus Christ.

“And of the rest durst no man join himself to them.” There was a terrible fear that fell on the community outside as well as upon the Church; upon the entire city, and upon the leaders of the people. That sudden and swift and awful judgment that befell Ananias and Sapphira was like the flaming sword God placed at the entrance to the Garden of Eden and it kept people from associating with believers.

There was danger in being a Christian! There was real danger then; the danger of being put in jail, and perhaps of being killed. There have been dangers in every succeeding generation. Even today, in the Middle East, people are killed by those of the Muslim religion for having faith in Christ. But in the United States there appears to be no danger at all. Whether that state of affairs is due to the fact that most Americans classify themselves as Christians, or whether it is due to the fact that Christians are no longer dangerous is open to question. Most honest Christian would choose the latter explanation, and while they may rejoice that Christianity is not persecuted in our nation, they may regret that Christians have become so worldly that they are no longer dangerous.

There is, however, another danger that Christians are exposed to; the danger of being different. It is the danger so well-known by the child whose parents force her to wear clothes which are different from those worn by her friends. The Christian thinks differently about life and the universe than his materialistic friends. He behaves differently towards people of other races, colors, religions, criminals, and refugees. He has a different value for money. He goes to church, prays, and gives more than he can afford; he takes offence, without taking revenge. All these things make him different, and the danger to which he is exposed is not the danger of jail or physical hurt; it is the danger of the laugh. He breaks the pattern of the herd (or gang) and becomes the laughingstock of his crowd. That is a bitter punishment, even for a man.

15 Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.

“Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets.” It is obvious that there is a connection between the first part of verse 12 and verses 15 and 16. Also note the close parallel between Mark 6.562and verses 15 and 16: and the healing power of Peter’s shadow and Paul’s handkerchiefs (Acts 19.123).

“And laid them on beds and couches.” These words denote the softer couches of the rich and the less comfortable beds of the poor. They had not yet learned the full meaning of Christianity, but their admiration and respect for this new way of life was so great that they brought their sick ones into the streets on couches and cots, so that the shadow of Peter might fall on them as he passed by.

“That at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.” Notice that it doesn’t say that the shadow of Peter healed any of them, or that it did not. But let us not deny the accuracy of the story by denying the truth of something that is not affirmed. The phrase “the shadow of Peter” is a purely Eastern phrase; and in the Eastern lands today people will try to escape from the shadow of a man because there is supposed to be an evil influence in it, and they will try to come into the shadow of another who they suppose has an influence for good. This is purely an Eastern peculiarity, but in it we can see what these people thought of Peter. Such people thought they would be healed if put into his shadow. It’s a revelation of what these people thought of the power of the Christian Church. They were afraid but they knew that purity was at the heart of the fierce fire that scorched and blasted sin. The world always knows it. At the heart of the fire there is not only purity, but blessing. The world is keenly conscious that the only real healing is the healing of purity and holiness, however much they may argue to the contrary. As they carried the sick out into the streets and laid them there, their doing so was evidence of the impression made upon them by the little company of pure souls in whose presence no lie could live.

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