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Q&A: Acts 5 - No One Dared Join Them?

Question:

This question comes from Bri:

"I've been going through Acts and the New Testament putting together a rough timeline of events in the early church, studying individual apostles back stories, mapping out locations and understanding how the early churches were established and maintained. I was in Acts 5:12 and had a quick question. Solomon's Colonnade is mentioned a few times in the New Testament as being a place where Jesus taught the disciples, and a regular meeting place for the apostles and early disciples in Acts. Following the story of Ananias and Sapphira, it says that all the believers used to meet there but no one else dared join them even though they were highly regarded by the people. Would the people's hesitancy come from their fear that followed Ananias and Sapphira, or from the great power the apostles exhibited through preaching and miracles? I'm asking because I was reading about Solomon's Colonnade and it was theorized that the apostles continued to use it after Jesus died in keeping with the way he taught them, and because it was a sort of sanctuary for the Jews to worship so it was a great place to find people who were seeking God and were therefore possibly more open to becoming disciples. So if this is true, what is the significance of noting that no one dared join them if "nevertheless more and more were added to their number". I don't know if my question makes sense, but basically, if the Colonnade was a great place to find "converts" and people were continually added to their number, what's he significance of verse 13?"


ANSWER:

It is most likely that "them" (αὐτός) in v. 13 is referring to the apostles that are performing miracles and inspiring wonder amongst the people, and not the Christians at large.  This would explain why people were not wanting to "join" the apostles (be their equal or associate with them) and why they were revered and magnified (they were doing some pretty powerful things!).  And although people sort of "kept their distance" from the apostles, this did not stop the gospel from spreading and people being converted and "added to their number" (v. 14).


Actually, a more difficult and strange verse to me is just after where even Peter's shadow is healing people (v. 15), which is a bit odd to me and is not mentioned anywhere else in scripture (but seems to be akin to Jesus' and Paul's garments healing people - Mat 5:27-29; Acts 19:12).  The greater emphasis on these things I believe are not the specific details of each miracle, but the greater message of a new kingdom and era being ushered in, in which God is moving to bring about his creative restoration.  All of it is part of the mystery of living at the overlap between the present age, with it's griefs and sorrows and decay and death, and the age to come, with its new life and energy and restorative power.