Acts 5:12

Sunday, 20 February 2022

And through the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Porch. Acts 5:12

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The matter of Ananias and Sapphira is complete. With that out of the way, the last verse said, “So great fear came upon all the church and upon all who heard these things.” That thought now ties in with what is next given by Luke, beginning with, “And through the hands of the apostles.”

This is a somewhat idiomatic expression. Something done “through the hand” means “by the power of,” or “under the authority of.” It does not necessarily mean that physical contact is required, even if that is often the case. For example, the death of Ananias and Sapphira could be said to have been done by the Lord through the hand of Peter.

Peter clearly didn’t strike them, but it was under the authority of the Lord, and by Peter’s spoken word, that the events took place. That authority and power is now stated to be not just with Peter, but through the hands of the other apostles as well. And this power was reflected in “many signs and wonders.”

As has been noted, the difference between a sign and a wonder comes down to whether the thing accomplished points to something else (a sign), or if it simply speaks for itself (a wonder).

The sign will authenticate the purposes of the Lord, pointing to what He is doing in the process of redemptive history. In this case, that is accomplished through the signs given by the apostles. The wonder is given to elicit a response of awe from those who behold it, but it does not necessarily speak of anything beyond itself. Luke notes that both of these “were done among the people.”

The early church was provided these, and indeed unbelievers beheld them as well, to convince and convict them of the truth of the apostles’ message concerning Jesus. Thus, these things were given to establish the early church, grounding it, and solidifying the faith of the people. The record here describes what occurred, it does so in relation to the apostles, and it prescribes nothing for anyone else in future times.

As for the ongoing events, Luke next notes, “And they were all with one accord.” Who “all” is referring to is debated. The subject of the previous sentence was the apostles. However, the nearest antecedent is “the people.” The next verse seems to indicate that it is referring to the apostles, but even that can be debated.

Due to the ambiguity, Luke’s intent may just be “And they all – apostles and those who came to hear them – were all in one accord.” Thus, it would be a general statement that when the people met, any who were free at the moment, were in a state of agreement and contentedly came together “in Solomon’s Porch.”

This is where the healing of the beggar in Acts 3:11 was highlighted. It is also where Jesus is said to have walked in John 10:23. Due to the size and layout of the area, it was a good place to gather, and so this is where the people would come to teach and be taught.

Life application: As has been noted, and as will certainly continue to be stated as the book of Acts continues to unfold, there were signs, wonders, miracles, and demonstrations of power in the early church. These served their purpose by establishing a reliable basis of authority for the apostles, and they stood as a witness to the people that the Lord was working through them.

In this, the people could then fully trust that what was done was true and that it was also approved by the Lord. These instances describe what occurred, and their record is now written down for us to accept or to reject. Either way, however, there is no longer a need for such demonstrations of power because the recorded testimony has been given. It now stands as the authority and witness to us. As such, there is no longer a need for such events to occur.

But more, there are no longer any apostles of Jesus to do such miracles. The word of God has been given, it testifies to what they have done, and that written testimony then testifies to the power of the Lord working through them. As we have this word, what more do we need? And more, what more should we expect? As Paul says in Romans 10:17, “So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

The word is given, and it sufficiently provides all we need to make our decision concerning Christ. Therefore, we do not need – nor should we expect – anything beyond it. Let us be content in this knowledge. Let us accept the word as a suitable and sufficient witness. And then, let us go forward proclaiming the good news that is recorded there.

Heavenly Father, thank You for the precious and sacred word that You have given us. It is just what we need to lead us to You, it tells us all that we need to know about You, and it establishes and grounds our faith in You. It is sufficient, and we shall look to it for our guidance as we live our lives out before You. Amen.