5:12-16) The Shadow of Peter
As we continue our studies of Acts, there will be times we will need to
slow a bit, just do digest something of great value. This is one of those
times. In this study we are going to consider the apostolic signs, and
what their purposes really are.
This is Acts Study #13 - Acts
5:12-16 The Shadow of Peter.
One concern of the church has always been to what extent there was
to be a continuation of apostolic ministry. The truth is that while
healings and miracles of all sorts will always be with us, there are
certain works of power that were exclusive to the apostles. These
works of power were to validate their place in the kingdom of God.
This is why you will often hear me say that there are no apostles or
prophets in the same sense as the apostles and prophets who gave us
Now for our Scripture readings:
"At the hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were
taking place among the people; and they were all with one accord in
The word sign 'semeion' speaks of something that serves as a
or an aid in perception or insight. Semeion carries the idea of a
distinguishing characteristic, such as a miraculous event that serves to
confirm something. In this case the 'signs' confirmed the apostolic
The word wonders 'teras' is similar. It speaks of something that
unusual that it causes wonderment among the peoples.
Notice that at this point, these signs are taking place only through
apostles. Also notice that the apostles are in the temple area. So what
would be the purpose? Once again, it would be to establish the
spiritual authority of the apostles of the Lamb. These signs are a sign
to Israel. And they point to Israel's Messiah. The apostles are the
witnesses of Jesus.
(We will discuss another side to signs and wonders a little later in
study. There is a dark side. Interested?)
"But none of the rest dared to associate with them; however, the
people held them in high esteem."
Who are these who dare not associate themselves with the apostles?
These are Jewish people who have not come to the place of accepting
Jesus openly, or fully as Messiah. Why are they so fearful of
associating with the apostles? There could be multiple reasons, but
one reason would simply be to recall the story of Ananias and
Also notice that these same peoples are holding the apostles in high
esteem. This tells us that they haven't rejected that apostles. Who
these people are in particular is only a guess. Some of them could
actually be priests or even members of the Sanhedrin. We do know
that a great many priests came to accept Jesus as Messiah.
"And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and
women, were constantly added to their number ... "
We might have expected a decrease among believers after Ananias
and Sapphira, but the ranks of believers are swelling. God is pulling to
Himself a people. And the apostles of the Lamb are ministering right
under the nose of Caiaphas and the high priestly authorities.
(Jerusalem is where it began. Jerusalem is where it ends.)
The Shadow of Peter
"... 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. Also the people
from the cities in the vicinity of Jerusalem were coming together,
bringing people who were sick or afflicted with unclean spirits, and they
were all being healed."
Notice that these awesome healings and miracles are taking place
through the apostles. Some are being healed when Peter's shadow
passes over them. We didn't even see this with Jesus. Perhaps these
are some of the 'greater things' He said the disciples would do. Have
you seen anything like that? Have you even heard of anything like
No --- Because there has never been anything like this in the history
the Church. This is what historians mean by the apostolic age. These
awesome miracles are for one purpose --- not only the spread the
gospel of Jesus Christ, but they served to validate the apostles of the
Lamb as His witnesses. And to give them their rightful place in laying
the foundation for the Church. (Remember people taking
handkerchiefs or aprons from Paul's body and demons and diseases
left the peoples. These are apostolic miracles.)
Also keep in mind that it is these apostles alone who have the full
to determine what true doctrine is to be. They had particular authority
that would be given to no other person. And this is why that any
Church tradition that disannuls the writings of the apostles, is a
tradition that can be considered a false doctrine.
This brings is to a most important Scripture. Paul said, "So then
are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the
saints, and are of God's household, having been built on the
foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being
the corner stone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, is
growing into a holy temple in the Lord..." (Eph2:19-21)
The Dark Side to Signs and Wonders
We are very carefully warned through the Scriptures, that if men do not
speak according to what is written, it is because they do not speak for
God. The prophet said, it is because they have no dawn, or light. In
other words, they are false prophets or false apostles.
Now comes a clincher. Remember I said that there is a dark side to
signs and wonders. And so the question is, 'To what extent are we to
depend on signs and wonders as validations of the gospel?' Interesting
question. Listen carefully to Jesus; "For false Christs and false
prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to
mislead, if possible, even the elect." (Matt24:24)
The Greek words for signs and wonders are the exact words used for
the apostolic works of power. There are two considerations to be had
(1) The Lord said, "So as to mislead, if possible, even the
Greek language allows that this is impossible. But the purpose is
singular --- these workings are an attempt to mislead God's true
Why is it not possible for God's true people to be misled by signs and
wonders? For one thing, they know the Lamb personally. Jesus said,
"When he puts forth all his own, he goes ahead of them, and the
sheep follow him because they know his voice. A stranger they simply
will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the
voice of strangers." (John
10:4,5) --- Its all in the voice.
(2) The context places these works of signs and miracles as being in
the last days. In other words, there is going to be an upsurge of the
seemingly miraculous. Remember Jesus says these are "false"
Christs, and "false" prophets. That implies that the signs will
Is there other Scriptures that point to the issue of falseness? Yes,
directs our attention to the same issue, when he spoke of antichrist.
The apostle said, "...the one whose coming is in accord with the
activity of Satan, with all power and signs and false wonders, and with
all the deception of wickedness for those who perish, because they did
not receive the love of the truth so as to be saved. For this reason God
will send upon them a deluding influence so that they will believe what
is false, in order that they all may be judged who did not believe the
truth, but took pleasure in wickedness." (2Thess2:9-12)
What Paul said needs to be broken down a bit. Notice these things:
(1) The power, and signs, and false wonders are an activity of Satan.
(Satan is a spiritual being. Remember the magicians of Egypt, who
attempted to outman Moses?)
(2) The followers of these signs are not lovers of truth. They were
(3) This special activity will be "sent" by God. This is the
hard one. The
Greek word for sent, is 'pempo.' It speaks of causing movement from
from one place to another. Which brings us back to the 'Lo, Christ is
here,' that Jesus spoke of. (The 'Lo Christ is here,' is another way of
saying, 'Come over here. Here is the anointing, etc.')
(4) Notice it is "them" that God sends the deluding influence
them are people who are not true believers. (Deluding influence can
also be translated as 'activity of error.')
So then, should believers believe in healings and miracles? Absolutely.
Especially in regard to prayer and faith. But should believers to be
seekers of signs and miracles? Absolutely not.
Jesus said, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign;
a sign will not be given it, except the sign of Jonah." (Matt16:4)
sign of Jonah refers to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus
The study is open.
Previous: #12 (Acts 5:1-11) Satan's Intrusion in the Camp
Next: #13a - A synopsis on Acts Study#13 - The Shadow of Peter
This study on
Acts was originally part of a
series on the book of Acts given to members of
Hebraic Foundations from July 10, 2002 through January 19, 2003.
They were written by Pastor Buddy Martin, Founder and Senior Pastor of
Christian Challenge International.