Based on Acts 5:12-16
Let’s get back to our text. I think the “none of the rest dared join them” is a Gideon moment in the New Testament. Judges 7 and the story of Gideon are very well known. Gideon has an army of 32,000 men, and God has called him as a judge to drive away the Midianites. Right before the battle, God says, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.'” Let’s take this idea of “self-salvation” back to our passage. A lot of money is coming into the coffers to care for the needy. The problem is that it comes in donations from a few, possibly very wealthy sources. The kind of sums that when the dust clears, someone could say, “If I had not given that money, this widow program wouldn’t even exist.” I think Ananias and Sapphira’s death turned the spigot of wealth off. The reason? So that a small group of large donors cannot take credit for what God in the Gospel is doing in the Church of Jerusalem. I think “none of the rest dared join them” means that no more large donors are coming and publicly laying their gifts at the apostles’ feet. That phrase is never re-used in Scripture again after Ananias and Sapphira. I think those that were standing in line after Ananias and Sapphira if only in their mind, begin to take a different view of the early church after their deaths, and it is a colder one. The good news is that even though no more wealthy donors are bringing money and laying it at the apostles’ feet, “more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women.” (vs 14)
Here is where it gets really interesting. So many people are coming to the Lord that their multiple daily public worship services are spilling over into the streets. The multitudes added are so great that when they bring friends to be healed, it lines the streets outside with sick people waiting to be ministered to by the apostles. Peter is given a specific treatment here by Luke, as Paul will receive later in Acts 19. Verse 12 tells us that “many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles.” But verse 15 singles out Peter as one having a special gifting by the Holy Spirit to heal the sick. The Scripture says that as the sick lay in the streets “on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them.” Meaning that Peter healed the sick without touching them personally. It is very near to “virtue” leaping out of Jesus and healing the woman with a discharge of blood for twelve years. (Matthew 9:19-21) Only to be outdone by Jesus healing the centurion’s servant while not even in the same geographic place as him. (Matthew 8:5-13) Peter is marked out in the early chapters of Acts as being the clear leader of the early church. The first sermons (Acts 1:15-22 Replacing Judas; 2:14-41 Pentecost; 3:11-26 Lame Man; 4:8-12 Sanhedrin) come from his mouth. The first major healing (Acts 3:1-10 Lame Man) came from his hands too. Here in Acts 5:15, he is portrayed as more powerful than the rest having received a particular honor from God. This affirms his place as first among equals among the apostles and chief overseer of the Church in Jerusalem. In other words, Peter is clearly the head of the first council of bishops.
Finally, the early church’s work is no longer contained within Jerusalem. Verse 16 says, “The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.” If we go back and consider what Jesus told them at his ascension in Acts 1:8, we can see that Operation New Covenant just moved into Phase 2. Jesus tells them that they “will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”
- “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you (Acts 2 Pentecost… we have ignition of rocket NC phase 1 is a go)
- and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem (Acts 2-5:15 phase 1 complete)
- and in all Judea (ignite booster rockets Phase 2 begins Acts 5:16)
- and Samaria (Phillip Acts 8)
- and to the end of the earth. (Peter & Cornelius Acts 10 – present day)”
Look for the finale’ tomorrow in Part 6 to “The Apostles’ Power To Heal Our Friends” where we make some applications.
May God be with you!