The Bridge: A Curious Connection
As a result of the apostles’ work, sick people were brought out into the streets on beds and mats so that Peter’s shadow might fall across some of them as he went by. Crowds came from the villages around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those possessed by evil spirits, and they were all healed.Acts 5:15-16
The Result of the Sadducees Jealousy
The high priest and his officials, who were Sadducees, were filled with jealousy. They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail.Acts 5:17-18
- (AMP) So that they [even] kept carrying out the sick into the streets and placing them on couches and sleeping pads, [in the hope] that as Peter passed by, at least his shadow might fall on some of them.
- (ASV, KJV) in so much that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that, as Peter came by, at the least his shadow might overshadow some one of them.
- (BBE, MSG, TLV, WEBA) And they even took into the streets people who were ill, and put them on beds, so that when Peter went by, some of them might be in his shade.
- (ERV) So the people brought those who were sick into the streets and put them on little beds and mats. They were hoping that Peter’s shadow might fall on them as he walked by.
- (ESV, LEB) So that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them.
- (GNB, GW, ISV, NIV, NLT) As a result, people carried their sick into the streets. They placed them on stretchers and cots so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some sick people as he went by.
- (JUB) So much so that they brought forth the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them.
- (LITV, MKJV) so as to carry out the sick in the streets, and to place them on cots and mattresses, that at the coming of Peter, if even his shadow might overshadow some of them.
- (NASB) to such an extent that they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and pallets, so that when Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on any one of them.
- (RV) insomuch that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that, as Peter came by, at the least his shadow might overshadow some one of them.
I have not had any questions from any of you, my readers, on this segment so I will follow up on the questions I left for you.
Does the apostles’ work include Peter’s handling of Ananias’ and Sapphira’s deceit?
When Luke told us the story, he made it clear that the people carried their sick into the streets and laid them there so that as Peter went by, his shadow might fall on them so that they be healed. They did this as a result of the apostles’ work. We have two options for interpreting this statement. Either the work of the apostles being referred to is specifically what Luke has just been telling us, namely the response of Peter to Ananias and Sapphira. In other words that is the sole focus. Or the reference is to all of the things that the apostles have been doing, among which is the response to Ananias and Sapphira. Either way, the Ananias and Sapphira incident is included. There are times when the most significant miracle in our lives is His intervention with disciplining us personally rather than the positive blessings He may grant us. At least that has been my experience.
Is the reference to healing as a result of Peter’s shadow falling across them superstition or a reference to what happened?
There has been huge debate over this issue among the experts. Some regard this as being merely a superstition of the time and not a reference to a miracle of healing proxy. I remember I once made a comment related to this verse in a God’s Awesome Book seminar about miracles by proxy – namely the healings upon contact with Peter’s shadow and Paul’s handkerchiefs or aprons (Acts 19:12). One man in the seminar reacted to me using this example of a miracle and told me he had read it was a superstition of the time, not a miracle. I told him (and the audience) that critics and some commentators claimed such but that didn’t mean there were not miracles of that kind. Notice what Luke writes in Acts 19:11, “God gave Paul the power to perform unusual miracles.” Why can’t the same comment be made in the case of Peter’s shadow? My God can do anything! What about yours? Many times the commentators and critics relegate the miraculous to myth and fable because they have no way of explaining things supernatural. I can. God is supernatural; He does things beyond and above the natural – that is what supernatural means. When you believe in God you had better be prepared to believe in the supernatural. If God can create the universe by the word of His mouth then I am prepared to believe HE CAN DO ANYTHING. What about you?
Notice the words “at least” [κἄν – kan] in the text of this verse. Meaning: if (so much as), if but, at the very least, though. It is a conditional particle but appears to hold hope to these people. Given the miracle, the constant signs and wonders in the book of Acts, it seems reasonable to believe the people believe these things because at least once it had happened before. If Peter was not going to stop for them, then at least they placed the sick in a position where Peter’s shadow might cross the sick one’s body. As I pointed out above, God had given power to Paul to perform unusual miracles by proxy, why not Peter?
Why are the Sadducees highlighted in the way they are?
It is clear that Luke makes a point of highlighting the Sadducees. The Sadducees were the predominant group among the high priestly core but there were some Pharisees too (see 5:34). I think that Luke has highlighted the Sadducees because they did not believe in the supernatural. They primarily denied the resurrection but included in that unbelief, was a tendency to deny all things supernatural (much like the critics and commentators I mentioned above). For that reason Luke singles them out for comment.
What are they jealous over? Another curious connection? Is “Jealousy” really meant here?
Well let’s investigate the word Luke wrote. Remember he is a doctor and one who is careful to make sure what he writes is strictly accurate in terms of the terminology he used. The word behind the English text is the Greek word [ζῆλος] zēlos meaning heat, that is, (figuratively) “zeal” (in a favourable sense, ardor, zeal; in an unfavourable one, jealousy, or malice, envy, indignation. The noun means “hot steam” derived from the verb [zeo] “to boil”. Clearly this positive response of the crowd to a negative act of God made them furious and filled with anger. I think there were a number of things going on here. Firstly, there was rivalry between the Sadducees and the apostles in winning over the people. When the Sadducees saw that even God’s judgment upon Ananias and Sapphira had positive results with the people, I am sure the Sadducees sensed that theirs was a lost cause. But also (as we will see in the following passages) they had told these disciples not to preach anything or to perform miracles and credit them to God and Jesus. And here these up-country-upstarts were at it again. It must have incensed them. Their anger was white hot. Their blood was boiling.
As Kev wrote: “I think that the Sadducees are more concerned with their power game. These guys think that they are losing their influence, hence their actions. This new teaching is so different to theirs, they don’t believe in eternal life, so they have to defend their position.” Exactly Kev.
What are the apostles being arrested for?
I don’t know. There is no legal case to arrest them. They have not done anything to contravene Jewish law or Roman law. They are just simply getting up the nose of the Sadducees so they have them arrested by the Temple Guard and not a Roman Guard. There is no case to answer from a Roman standpoint. This is all generated by the Sadducees themselves. They hold the religious power in Jerusalem and have the authority to order the Temple Guard to arrest them. They have done this kind of thing before. They did it with Jesus when they had no such jurisdiction, they did it with Peter and John and now they are doing it again.
How many apostles were arrested?
Who did they arrest? We are simply told, “They arrested the apostles and put them in the public jail.” In the verses which follow, those arrested are referred to as: the apostles, the other apostles, the men. Last time it was Peter and John who were arrested. This time it appears to be all of the apostles. This time apparently they were all arrested to ensure they all got the message. These Sadducees are so incensed with jealousy and anger that they rounded up the whole band of apostles and threw them in jail. It was not just Peter and John who were arrested. This time it was all the apostles. One assumes it is only the twelve who were arrested but even that is not certain. The only definitive statement we have is “the other apostles”. This time I have the benefit of my full library to do the research and there is no indication that the group are limited to a few. It is all of them involved. These Sadducees are at the end of their tether and getting totally frustrated with these apostles who won’t listen to them and obey their edicts. So they arrest them all without exception.
Continuing story next Gem.
Truths and roses have thorns about them.Mark Twain
You have to have a darkness. . .for the dawn to come.William Shakespeare
Don’t feel sad over someone who gave up on you, feel sorry for them because they gave up on someone who would have never given up on them.Ian Vail
Being thankful while doing a difficult and impossible job in His Kingdom is the sign that the reality of Christ in you is growing.Anon
People don’t talk about average people—they talk about extraordinary people. Take it as a compliment.Joel Osteen