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The Apostles Heal Many
12 The apostles performed many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13 No one else dared join them, even though they were highly regarded by the people. 14 Nevertheless, more and more men and women believed in the Lord and were added to their number. 15 As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. 16 Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by evil spirits, and all of them were healed.
The Apostles Persecuted
17 Then the high priest and all his associates, who were members of the party of the Sadducees,were filled with jealousy. 18 They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out. 20 “Go, stand in the temple courts,” he said, “and tell the people the full message of this new life.” 21 At daybreak they entered the temple courts, as they had been told, and began to teach the people. When the high priest and his associates arrived, they called together the Sanhedrin–the full assembly of the elders of Israel–and sent to the jail for the apostles. 22 But on arriving at the jail, the officers did not find them there. So they went back and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked, with the guards standing at the doors; but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24 On hearing this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were puzzled, wondering what would come of this. 25 Then someone came and said, “Look! The men you put in jail are standing in the temple courts teaching the people.” 26 At that, the captain went with his officers and brought the apostles. They did not use force, because they feared that the people would stone them. 27 Having brought the apostles, they made them appear before the Sanhedrin to be questioned by the high priest. 28 “We gave you strict orders not to teach in this name,” he said. “Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” 29 Peter and the other apostles replied: “We must obey God rather than men! 30 The God of our fathers raised Jesus from the dead–whom you had killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him to his own right hand as Prince and Savior that he might give repentance and forgiveness of sins to Israel. 32 We are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.”
Previously, Ananias and Sapphira died after lying to the community of believers by falsifying the amount of money they’d received and given after the sale of their property.
Before that, Peter and John had been released from prison by God, and they’d prayed for signs and wonders from God for healing. There were some.
The church agreed to sell and give their money at times to give to the poor among them so that no one would be in need. Barnabas was a good example of this. He sold a field and gave all the money to the apostles.
Ananias and Sapphira also sold a field and tried to give the impression that they were giving ALL the money, BUT, that was a lie. Peter said, “Why has Satan filled your heart with these things?” Ananias fell down dead and three hours later, his wife arrived and lied as well – she also fell down dead.
Great fear came upon the church.
Later in Acts, we read that “great grace was upon them all.”
We’ve all been guilty of hypocrisy, but it was likely the intensity of the power and Spirit of God there that their attitude was taken and dealt with more harshly. It had to be cut out. (I believe they were “promoted to heaven” early before they could do anything else.)
We can’t just emphasize the LOVE of God without also emphasizing his HOLINESS. He has a HOLY love. The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever, the beginning of wisdom.
Jesus delighted in that – in Isaiah we read that he was filled with and walked in the fear of the Lord. Is this enslaving fear? No, perfect love casts out all fear. There is, however, a reverence for God. A fear of grieving Him, of walking outside of His will, it keeps us from evil.
Ananias and Sapphira ignored that fear and paid the price ultimately.
The atmosphere of the early church was charged with grace and now also with this kind of fear.
In v 12, the apostles performed many signs and wonders.
A&S didn’t repent, Peter gave them a chance, so they were killed. There was a holy fear, holy awe both in and OUT of the church after this.
Luke, the writer of Acts uses “ecclesia” for the first time in the book – this is the Greek word for “church.” He uses it to describe both the local and the universal church. This is a different word from “synagogue.” It actually means, a citizen’s assembly. These are the citizen’s of heaven – so it is appropriate here.
Church sometimes has bad meanings that ecclesia doesn’t.
- Do we “go” to church? We are the church. We GO.
- Is the church the building? We are the church.
Luke writes that the apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. Earlier they’d prayed that God would do this. A&S’s deaths were also examples of supernatural powers (this was a negative example among many positive examples). In fact, the supernatural powers of God were so great that if people merely lay under Peter’s shadow, there were ALL healed. Imagine that. People lining the sides of the street…
It was in this atmosphere that people were healed.
Jesus had also said that the apostles would do greater works than he had. In fact, even just the amount of the converts on Pentecost was greater than Jesus’ work previously. But, it was Jesus’ spirit in them that enabled that.
When a woman came asking Jesus for help for her daughter, Jesus tested her faith. “It’s not fit to give the children’s bread to the dogs.” She responded well, “But it’s OK for the dogs to eat the crumbs that fall from the master’s table.” She wasn’t a Jew, she wanted the crumbs from the Master’s table – Jesus was pleased with her faith and said, “Go, the demon is out of your daughter.” This was an instance of a distance healing.
In Acts 19:11, through Paul, God did extraordinary miracles through Paul – just by touching a handkerchief he touched, people were healed.
The church now regularly meets in Solomon’s Colonnade – a part of the temple. And they are held in such awe and reverence that “no one dared join them.” (v. 13). No one was willing to pretend to believe unless they actually did. They’d seen what had happened to others.
Yet, more and more DID believe and were added to their numbers. There were some whose minds and hearts were opened and who joined the community.
William Barclay: “Of the others, no one dared to meddle with them – interfere without invitation.”
v. 16 – Gospel is spreading to the towns around Jerusalem and is advancing into all of Judea. But the effectiveness of the words and deeds of the apostles causes the religious leaders to become jealous and take action.
The High Priests and the “Sad You Sees” arrested the apostles – ALL of them and put them in the public jail. Essentially, they are being punished for the (Counsel’s) order to not preach in Jesus’ name. Yet, another miracle happens – the doors are opened by angels – and they tell them to go BACK to the temple and continue preaching about this “New Life”.
The new life has a present and a future tense.
- Future: resurrection – some to eternal life (great for those who believe) some to eternal condemnation (not so hot).
- Present: those who believe begin a literal NEW life RIGHT NOW. They grow in faith, the fruit of the Spirit, try to go away from sin and toward God.
1 Corinthians 15: “Now brothers I want to remind you of the gospel which I preached and on which you’ve believed…if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you, and haven’t believed in vain.”
The new life also means the “after-conversion” life. They are buried with Jesus in his death (in baptism) but are also raised with Christ in his resurrection (Romans 6:4). “We too may live a new life.”
Do we have that new life? How do we get it?
By believing that Jesus was the Son of God, came to earth to die for our sins, to be a substitutionary attonement for our sins, to grant us forgiveness for our sins, reconciliation with God, and eternal life forever after. And to continue believing that.
We begin the life of faith by believing, we live the life of faith by belief, and we end the life of faith by belief.
In the Counsel, someone rushes in and says “Hey guys! Those guys! Preaching to other guys!”
An angel set them free and they are back making more trouble in the temple. So, the religious guys go from the temple, to the jail, back to the temple, back to jail – they aren’t there, back to the temple, arrest them AGAIN (they don’t resist) and the religious leaders are concerned that they are being singled-out for the death of Jesus “The apostles are determined to make us guilty of this man’s blood.” Apostles, “No, no, no, it’s all about repentance man!” They say, “we should obey God rather than men.”
Communion next. Let’s prepare our hearts. Examine your hearts so that we can partake worthily of the elements that represent the body and blood of Christ.