The early church in Jerusalem, 1:1-5:42

xiv] An overview of the apostles' ministry, 5:12-16


Luke tells us that the disciples continue to meet at Solomon's Portico in the temple. Although the general populous has a high regard for them, especially for Peter, they are wary of any close association. None-the-less, the gospel continues to prompt repentance and belief and so the Christian fellowship grows in numbers. Given the signs and wonders accompanying Peter, the inhabitants of Jerusalem and beyond, fill the streets with the infirm and possessed for healing. Luke tells us that "they were all cured."


The realisation of the kingdom of God, a realisation evident in signs and wonders, brings with it fear, amazement and belief.


i] Context: See 4:1-22.


ii] Background: See The movement of the gospel from Jerusalem to Rome, 1:1-11; The theological structure of the gospel message; 3:11-26; Prophecy in the New Testament and Signs and Wonders in Acts, 4:23-31.


iii] Structure: An overview of the apostles' ministry:

Signs and wonders, v12a;

They met regularly in Solomon's Portico, v12b;

Feared, but respected, v13;

Conversions continue, v14;

Peter's healing ministry, v15-16.


iv] Interpretation:

Luke's third overview of life in the Christian fellowship serves to provide a bridge from the first arrest of Peter and John to the arrest of the apostles recorded in 5:17ff. The death of Ananias and Sapphira, new converts to the sect, causes consternation among the populous, and this, with the continued and increasing numbers of believers, along with the performance of signs and wonders by Peter, will prompt the religious authorities to again seek to suppress the apostolic mission. None-the-less, the gospel is achieving its intended purpose, and so "more than ever believers are added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women."

Unlike the first two overviews of life in the Christian fellowship, this overview "treats the relationship of the apostles to outsiders", Bock. Luke's realised eschatology is evident in his description of the numinous associated with the apostles; the kingdom of God is indeed "upon us", rather than "at hand", with the apostles the representative "rulers of the twelve tribes of Israel." The populous hold the apostles in high regard, but etalma kallasqai, "dare to join" them at their meetings in Solomon's Portico. They may well fear the religious authorities, but given the circumstances surrounding the death of Ananias and Sapphira, a fear of God's divine holiness is also probably gripping the inhabitants of Jerusalem.

Haenchen regards the narrative as a Lukan creation, while Jeremias is of the view that at least v11-14 derives from original tradition. We can probably best describe it as a "Lucan composition; an idyllic, generalising description resembling the two earlier summaries", Fitzmyer. Luke's Acts of the Apostles presents as a well-researched account of the movement of the gospel from Jerusalem to the centre of the known world, Rome, an account based on first and second-hand testimonies of the time.

Text - 5:12a

An overview of life in the Jerusalem church, 5:12-16. i] Signs and wonders, v12a. The passage, as a whole, is somewhat disjoined. Luke begins by making a point about the signs and wonders surrounding the apostolic mission, v12a, but then gives some background information about the mission, v12b-14, before describing how the signs and wonders play out with the general population in v15.

de "-" - but/and. Transitional, indicating a step in the narrative.

dia + gen. "-" - [many signs and wonders were becoming] by means of [the hands of the apostles]. Instrumental, expressing means / intermediate agency. The phrase, "by the hands of the apostles", does not necessarily mean the laying on of hands. It simply means that the apostles themselves were doing the work of healing, or more particularly, acting as God's agent for healing. "Wonderful demonstrations of the power of God in action were publicly performed by the disciples", Barclay.

en "among [the people]" - in [the people]. Local, expressing space, "in among the people."


ii] The apostles meet regularly in Solomon's Portico. It is unclear who the "all of one mind" are. It is often assumed that Luke is speaking of the Christian community, as NIV, CEV, etc., so Barrett, but then why would "no one associate with them", but at the same time "exalt them", v13, while "believing" and "being added" to their number? It seems likely that those meeting in Solomon's vestibule are the apostles.

oJmoqumadon adv. "[all the believers used to meet] together" - [and all were] of one accord. The adverb of manner, "of one mind, accord", modifies the verb to-be, expressing that they were united, "they met regularly and in remarkable harmony", Peterson. Possibly used as a local adverb, "together", "they were all together in Solomon's Portico", ESV, as NIV.

SolomwntoV (wn wntoV) gen. "[in] Solomon's [Colonnade]" - [in the portico] of solomon. The genitive is adjectival, descriptive, idiomatic / identification, "the Portico which is known as Solomon"; "on the temple porch named after Solomon", Peterson.


iii] Feared but respected, v13. As already noted, it seems likely that those who gather at Solomon's Portico are the apostles, rather than the Christian community. It is unclear why the populous keep their distance. There would certainly be a general fear of the religious authorities, given the arrest of Peter and John. Possibly they are afraid of the numinous that surrounds the apostles. "None dared to associate with them", but none-the-less, hold them in high regard. So, the scene is something like an open-air / street-corner evangelistic outreach where the general public stand off at a distance, but give an ear to what is said.

twn ... loipwn gen. adj. "-" - [but/and none] of the rest. The adjective serves as a substantive, the genitive being adjectival, partitive. Of course, those who hold the view that the Christian community is identified by the phrase oJmoqumadon apanteV, the "everyone with one mind" who met at Solomon's Portico, divide on whether "none of the rest" refers to believers or non-believers.

kollasqai (kollaw) pres. mid. inf. "[dared] join" - [was daring] to join with. Complementary infinitive completing the sense of the verb "to dare." "None of the other worshippers at the temple dared to associate with the apostles."

autoiV dat. pro. "them" - them. Dative of direct object after the infinitive "to join with."

alla "-" - but [the people were exalting them]. Strong adversative standing in a counterpoint construction, "not ....., but ....." The populous may have kept their distance from the apostles, but none-the-less they held them in high regard / great respect.


iv] Conversions continue, v14. The gospel does its work and large numbers of people commit their lives to Jesus; "Increasing numbers of converts were added to the Lord", Marshall. The sense is clear enough, but rather than "added to the Lord", ESV, RSV, JB, etc., we are best to follow the NIV, "believed in the Lord", so TEV, NEB, etc., "those believing in the Lord, multitudes of both men and women", Johnson. Irrespective of the fact that people were keeping their distance from the apostles, the gospel was achieving its intended end and people were committing their lives to Jesus.

mallon adv. "more and more" - [but/and] more. The NIV assumes that this adverb modifies the verb prosetiqento, "were being added", but as Culy notes, it is likely that "it introduces a proposition that supplements and clarifies what has preceded"; "and, what is more, ....", Cassirer. If we take de as contrastive, we get the sense, "but despite the fact that the populous kept their distance from the apostles, more than ever, those who believed were being added to the Christian community, large numbers of both men and women."

pisteuonteV (pisteuw) pres. part. "believed" - the ones believing in [the lord were being added]. Being anarthrous (without an article), the participle would normally be taken as adverbial, but it seems more than likely that it serves here as a substantive, nominative subject of the verb "to add", with the article assumed. The dative tw/ kuriw/, "the Lord", serves as a dative of direct object after the participle "believing in."

te kai "and" - both [of men] and [of women]. Coordinate construction. The genitives "of men" and "of women", are adjectival, partitive.


v] Peter's healing ministry, v15-16. The signs and wonders evident in the ministry of the apostles, and in particular, Peter, exceed those of Jesus. We are reminded of Jesus' words to the disciples of the "greater things" they will do, Jn.14:12, and of their empowerment, Lk.10:17-20, Luke's realised eschatology, in the fulfilment of God's long-promised covenant, is evident in his description of Peter's miraculous powers - even his shadow heals.

wJste + inf. "as a result" - so that [the people and = even to carry out the sick into the street and to place them upon beds and mats]. This conjunction, plus an infinitive, here ekferein, "to carry out", and tiqenai, "to place", technically forms a consecutive clause expressing result, as NIV. Yet, the clause does not logically go with v14, but certainly works with v12a. This implies that v12b-14 is intended as a parenthetical statement. Given the signs and wonders associated with the apostles, the people take every opportunity to see their ill and infirm are healed by them. "As a result of what the the apostles were doing, the sick people were carried out in the streets and placed on beds and mats", TEV.

iJna + subj. "so that" - that. Introducing a final clause expressing purpose; "in order that ....."

kan + subj. "at least" - even if [the shadow might fall upon]. Crasis, kai a]n, "even if", supplying a modifying element, so Barrett, although the modification is unclear. Peterson D suggests that the people desire a closer contact with Peter, despite their apprehensions; "at least Peter's shadow might fall on some of them." Given that the issue is the healing of the sick and possessed, as v16 indicates, then the point may well be that even if Peter's shadow falls on them, they are healed. So, the clause is possibly elliptical, and conditional, 3rd. class, rather than concessive; "They even used to bring the sick into the streets, laying them on beds and pallets, in order that they may be healed when Peter passed by, and even if (as the case may be) his shadow fell on some of them, (then) they were healed."

autwn gen. pro. "[some] of them" - [some] of them. The genitive is adjectival, partitive.

ercomenou (ercomai) pres. part. "as [he] passed by" - [peter] coming. The genitive participle, and its genitive subject "Peter", forms a genitive absolute construction, temporal, as NIV.


"They came from the villages surrounding Jerusalem, throngs of them, bringing the sick and bedeviled. And they all were healed", Peterson.

twn polewn (iV ewV) gen. "from the towns [around Jerusalem]" - [but and and = also the multitude was assembling] of the [around = surrounding] cities, towns [of jerusalem]. Culy classifies the genitive as adjectival, partitive, while Kellum suggests source / origin, as NIV. The adverb of place perix, "around", virtually functions as an attributive adjective limiting "towns", "the surrounding towns" The genitive proper "Jerusalem" may be classified adverbial, reference / respect, so Culy, "the surrounding towns in relation to Jerusalem", = "the towns around Jerusalem", Barclay.

feronteV (ferw) pres. part. "bringing" - carrying [sick]. The participle is adverbial, modal, expressing the manner of the crowd's assembling.

ocloumenouV (oclew) pres. mid. part. "those tormented" - [and] the ones being disturbed. Although the participle is anarthrous (without an article) it most likely serves as a substantive, accusative direct object of the participle "carrying".

uJpo + gen. "by [impure spirits]" - by [unclean spirits, who all were being healed]. Instrumental use of the preposition, expressing agency.


Acts Introduction

Exegetical Commentaries


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