The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

My Notes On Acts 5:12-16

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 6, 2010

Background: St Luke has just shown the Apostle’s authority in teaching and in the administration of donations, along with their authority as a matter of life and death (Acts 4:32-37Acts 5:1-11).


Acts 5:12  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.

Signs and wonders.

  • What is happening here is showing forth the fulfillment of the prayer in Acts 4:30.  The persecuted Apostles and their followers offered up a prayer that God would stretch forth his hand in cures and signs and wonders, to be done by the name of thy holy Son, Jesus.

They were all of one accord.  almost certainly a reference to the Apostles rather than the community in general.  Luke’s focus has been primarily on the Apostles as a group since Acts 3:1.

Acts 5:13  But of the rest no man durst join himself unto them: but the people magnified them.
Acts 5:14  And the multitude of men and women who believed in the Lord was more increased:

But of the rest no man durst join himself unto them.  These words stand in contrast with the people mentioned in verse 12, among whom were many signs and wonders wrought by the Apostles.  It is these people who experienced the signs who are the subject of verse 14: they increased the number of believers.

The structure of verses 12-14 is a bit confused and has caused much emendations to occur, especially of verse 13.  In fact, in order to deal with the problems, some scholars have sought to “back translate” the text into the Aramaic language, assuming that Luke is using an Aramaic source.  For the technical details one should consult THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES by Luke Timothy Johnson in the Sacra Pagina series.

The basic meaning is as follows: The Apostles, who were united (with one accord) among themselves, wrought many miracles among the Jewish people (vs 12).  From these the Church was able to add to its number (vs 14).  But the rest of the people who did not experience, witness, or believe these things refused, even as the others magnified the Apostles (vs 13).

Further notes on verse 13: Join himself (κολλᾶσθαι).  The implication is that in light of the Ananias and Saphira episode (Acts 5:1-11) the faithless were reluctant to join the Church.  From Vine’s Word Study: “In all but two instances (Rom 12:9; 1 Cor 6:17), the word (κολλᾶσθαι) implies a forced, unnatural, or unexpected union. Thus Philip would not, without a special command, have “joined himself” to the chariot of the Ethiopian prince (Acts 8:29). Saul’s attempt to join himself to the apostles was regarded by them with suspicion (Acts 9:26); and the fact that certain persons “clave to” Paul in Athens is expressly contrasted with the attitude of the citizens at large. The sense of an unnatural union comes out clearly in 1 Cor 6:16.”  (see on Luke 15:15 and Luke 10:11).

Acts 5:15  Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that, when Peter came, his shadow at the least might overshadow any of them and they might be delivered from their infirmities.

They brought forth the sick into the streets.  Recalls the reaction of people to Jesus in the Gospel of Luke:

  • Luk 4:40  And when the sun was down, all they that had any sick with divers diseases brought them to him.
  • Luk 6:19  And all the multitude sought to touch him: for virtue went out from him and healed all.

When Peter came, his shadow at the least might overshadow any of them and they might be delivered from their infirmities.  The Greek term translated as overshadow is ἐπισκιάσει, which recalls Luke 1:35; Lk 9:34; and Acts 1:8.  The word also recalls the manifestation of God’s presence in Exodus 40:35.  The God who manifested His presence in the OT has, in this present age, manifested His presence through His Son made incarnate, Who in turn continues to manifest  His presence through the mission of His Church.

Act 5:16  And there came also together to Jerusalem a multitude out of the neighbouring cities, bringing sick persons and such as were troubled with unclean spirits: who were all healed.

The events narrated in verses 12-16 in general, but especially in this current verse (16), excite the envy (literally, “heat”) of the High Priest and the Sadducees (Acts 5:17).  Verse 16 then, prepares for what follows (vss 17ff), but also recalls Acts 4:1-2 and the events which follow those verses (see especially Acts 4:16-17).  The Jewish leader, who have already shown concern and opposition to the increasing popularity and influence of the apostles, are portrayed as unable to stem it.  This inability will be further highlighted in Acts 5:17-42, especially in Acts 5:39: But if it be of God, you cannot overthrow it, lest perhaps you be found even to fight against God.

For the importance of this passage as transitional, and as preparing for the trial before the Sanhedrin (Acts 5:17-42) see the previously mentioned commentary by Luke Timothy Johnson.

3 Responses to “My Notes On Acts 5:12-16”

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