What does Acts 5:12 mean?
ESV: Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico.
NIV: The apostles performed many signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers used to meet together in Solomon's Colonnade.
NASB: At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were taking place among the people; and they were all together in Solomon’s portico.
CSB: Many signs and wonders were being done among the people through the hands of the apostles. They were all together in Solomon's Colonnade.
NLT: The apostles were performing many miraculous signs and wonders among the people. And all the believers were meeting regularly at the Temple in the area known as Solomon’s Colonnade.
KJV: And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people; (and they were all with one accord in Solomon's porch.
Despite the Sanhedrin's orders not to teach or speak in Jesus' name (Acts 4:18), the apostles continue their ministry right next to the temple. The temple mount is surrounded by covered walkways called porticos. They are popular places for rabbis to teach their students, and anyone else happening by who is interested. It's safe to say none of the other teachers had such a healing ministry. Jesus had said the disciples would do greater works than He (John 14:12), meaning in scale, not power. Now, in order to validate their message, the Holy Spirit has so empowered the apostles that apparently even Peter's shadow can heal (Acts 5:15).
Hebrews 2:4 recounts this part of the apostles' ministry. The Holy Spirit attested to the apostles' ministry "by signs and wonders and various miracles." Hebrews 2:1–3 explains why these miracles are important. At the time, they drew people to a saving faith in Jesus. Later, they acted as a reminder of how deserving we are of retribution for our sins and how we should not "drift away" from the message of Jesus' gift of salvation.
Faith should never be dependent on signs, however (John 2:23–25; 4:48). After Thomas finally saw Jesus and affirmed His identity, Jesus said, "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed" (John 20:29). It's unclear why the Holy Spirit allows the church to grow through the healing of the sick and demon possessed. Possibly because before long, persecution would drive the Jesus-followers out of Jerusalem (Acts 8:1–3) and the powerful signs would keep them encouraged as they spread the gospel.
Acts 5:12–16 gives a short update of the state of the early church in Jerusalem. The first chapters of Acts alternate between highlights of the activities of the apostles and short summaries of indefinite periods of time. As in Acts 2:43–47 and Acts 4:32–35, Luke glosses over the events here. People are a little leery because of Peter and John's arrest by the Sanhedrin (Acts 4:1–22) and God's immediate judgment of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1–11), but both the miracles and the message are irresistible. Even more people come to saving faith in Jesus.
The apostles continue to make hard decisions in the name of Jesus, both inside and outside the church. When Ananias and Sapphira lie to God, the Holy Spirit inspires Peter to pronounce God's judgment on them, protecting the church from the love of the world. Despite the Sanhedrin's watchful eye—and direct orders (Acts 4:17–18)—the apostles continue to preach and heal openly. The guards arrest the apostles, but the Sanhedrin settles for beating them instead of capital punishment. The apostles consider it an honor to suffer on behalf of their Savior.
In Acts 5, persecution from unbelievers begins to accelerate. The Sanhedrin has become aware the apostles teach that Jesus rose from the dead (Acts 4). Now, they start to push back in earnest, arresting and beating the apostles. Soon, a mob will kill Stephen, a deacon (Acts 7:54–60), and the Sanhedrin will empower Saul to run down and arrest any Jesus-follower he can find (Acts 8:1–3). The apostles will stay in Jerusalem. Other Jesus-followers will carry His offer of forgiveness and reconciliation with God into the Roman Empire and beyond. The apostles' faithfulness and submission to the Holy Spirit is why we have the gospel message today.
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you 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 ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
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