Acts 5:15
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(15) Insomuch that they brought forth the sick . . .—The tense implies habitual action. For some days or weeks the sick were laid all along the streets—the broad open streets, as distinct from the lanes and alleys (see Note on Matthew 6:5)—by which the Apostle went to and fro between his home and the Temple.

That at the least the shadow of Peter . . . .—It is implied in the next verse that the hope was not disappointed. Assuming that miracles are possible, and that the narratives of the Gospels indicate generally the laws that govern them, there is nothing in the present narrative that is not in harmony with those laws. Christ healed sometimes directly by a word, without contact of any kind (Matthew 8:13; John 4:52); sometimes through material media—the fringe of His garment (Matthew 9:20), or the clay smeared over the blind man’s eyes (John 9:5) becoming channels through which the healing virtue passed. All that was wanted was the expectation of an intense faith, as the subjective condition on the one side, the presence of an objective supernatural power on the other, and any medium upon which the imagination might happen to fix itself as a help to faith. So afterwards the “hand, kerchiefs and aprons” from St. Paul’s skin do what the shadow of St. Peter does here (Acts 19:12). In the use of oil, as in Mark 6:13, James 5:14, we find a medium employed which had in itself a healing power, with which the prayer of faith was to co-operate.

On the “beds and couches,” see Note on Mark 2:4. The couches were the more portable pallets or mattresses of the poor.

Acts 5:15-16. Insomuch, or so that, they brought the sick into the streets, &c. — The contents of this and the following verse are evidently connected with the former part of Acts 5:12; the intermediate paragraph being intended to be read in a parenthesis. They brought the sick into the streets, because, as is probable, the priests would not suffer them to bring them into the temple to Solomon’s porch; and the apostles had not leisure to come to the houses of them all. And they laid them on beds and couches — Because they were so weak that they could neither walk nor stand, and in order that, if they could neither have access to Peter, nor he come to them, at least the shadow of him passing by might overshadow some of them — Though it could not reach them all, and they had faith to believe this would be the means of healing them. And it is probable that they were not disappointed, but that some, at least, were thus healed, as the woman mentioned in the gospel was, by touching Christ’s garment. According to their faith it was done unto them. And in this, among other things, the promise of Christ, (John 14:12,) The works that I do, shall ye also do, and greater works than these, &c., was eminently fulfilled. And if such miracles were wrought by Peter’s shadow, we have reason to think some were wrought in some such way by the other apostles; as by the handkerchiefs from Paul’s body, Acts 19:12. And there came a multitude out of the cities — In proportion as the fame of these wonderful works was spread abroad; bringing sick folks — That were afflicted in body; and those vexed with unclean spirits — Who were troubled in mind; and they were healed every one — Distempered bodies and distempered minds were both cured. Thus opportunity was given to the apostles, both of convincing people’s judgments, by those miracles, of the heavenly origin of the doctrine they preached, and also of engaging people’s affections both to them and it, by giving them specimens of its manifest beneficial tendency.5:12-16 The separation of hypocrites by distinguishing judgments, should make the sincere cleave closer to each other and to the gospel ministry. Whatever tends to the purity and reputation of the church, promotes its enlargement; but that power alone which wrought such miracles by the apostles, can rescue sinners from the power of sin and Satan, and add believers to His worshippers. Christ will work by all his faithful servants; and every one who applies to him shall be healed.Insomuch - So that. This should be connected with Acts 5:12. Many miracles were performed by the apostles, "insomuch, etc."

They brought forth - The people, or the friends of the sick, brought them forth.

Beds - κλινῶν klinōn. This word denotes usually the "soft" and "valuable" beds on which the rich commonly lay. And it means that the rich, as well as the poor, were laid in the path of Peter and the other apostles.

Couches - κραββάτων krabatōn. The coarse and hard couches on which the poor used to lie, Mark 2:4, Mark 2:9,Mark 2:11-12; Mark 6:55; John 5:8-12; Acts 9:33.

The shadow of Peter - That is, they were laid in the path so that the shadow of Peter, as he walked, might pass over them. Perhaps the sun was near setting, and the lengthened shadow of Peter might be thrown afar across the way. They were not able to approach him on account of the crowd, and they "imagined" that if they could "anyhow" come under his influence they might be healed. The sacred writer does not say, however, that any "were" healed in this way, nor that they were commanded to do this. He simply states the "impression" which was on the minds of the people that it "might be." Whether they were healed by this, it is left for us merely to conjecture. An instance somewhat similar is recorded in Acts 19:12, where it is expressly said, however, that the sick were healed by contact with "handkerchiefs" and "aprons" that were brought from the body of Paul. Compare also Matthew 9:21-22, where the woman said respecting Jesus "If I may but touch his garment I shall be whole."

Might overshadow - That his shadow might pass over them. Though there is no certain evidence that any were healed in this way, yet it shows the full belief of the people that Peter had the power of working miracles. "Peter" was supposed by them to be eminently endowed with this power, because it was by him that the lame man in the temple had been healed Acts 3:4-6, and because he had been most prominent in his addresses to the people. The persons who are specified in this verse were those who dwelt at Jerusalem.

15. into the streets—"in every street."

on beds and couches—The words denote the softer couches of the rich and the meaner cribs of the poor [Bengel].

shadow of Peter … might overshadow some of them—Compare Ac 19:12; Lu 8:46. So Elisha. Now the predicted greatness of Peter (Mt 16:18), as the directing spirit of the early Church, was at its height.

Into the streets; into every street generally taken, it being a common practice where they came, and not in one street only. These weak and unlikely means did more show the power to be of God, and was the greater confirmation to the truth of the gospel; and this was fulfilled what our Saviour had promised to the apostles, and such as should believe in him, John 14:12, that they should do greater works than he did. Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets,.... These words are to be read in connection with the former part of the twelfth verse. Such miraculous cures being wrought by the apostles, the people who had sick persons in their houses, hearing of it brought them out; either "into the streets", as we render it, and as the Alexandrian copy reads; or "in every street" in Jerusalem, waiting for the apostles as they came, to receive a cure from them:

and laid them on beds and couches; for the better conveniency of carrying them to the apostles, or for their lying upon them until they came by that way:

that at the least, the shadow of Peter passing by, might overshadow some of them. The Vulgate Latin version adds, "and be delivered from their infirmities"; but this is not supported by any copy, nor is it in any other version. Peter is only mentioned because he was most known, he being the chief speaker and actor. Who these were that fancied there was such a virtue in Peter's shadow, and whether any were cured by it, is not certain. However, it is a vain thing in the Papists to conclude from hence the primacy of Peter, the worshipping of images, and that the Pope is Peter's shadow, and has his power.

Insomuch 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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 5:15. ὥστε καὶ εἰς, “insomuch that they even,” R.V.—κατὰ, T.R., so Alford, Meyer, “all down the streets,” as if the streets were entirely beset with sick folk (see Holtzmann, in loco).—πλατείας, feminine of the adjective πλατύς, sc., ὁδός, a broad way, so here, the open streets, in classical Greek, and frequently in LXX, chiefly for Hebrew, רְחֹב, Tob 13:17, Jdt 1:14; Jdt 7:14; Jdt 7:22, 1Ma 1:55; 1Ma 2:9, 3Ma 1:18, used by St. Luke three times in his Gospel, Acts 10:10, Acts 13:26, Acts 14:21, but only here in Acts, see below on Acts 9:11. For κλινῶν read κλιναρίων, which is found only here in N.T., not at all in LXX, and very rarely in other Greek authors, Aristoph., Frag., 33, d, and Arrian, Epict. Diss., iii., 5, 13, where it is used for the couch of a sick person; Artem., Oneir., ii., 57. As Dr. Hobart points out, St. Luke employs no less than four different words for the beds of the sick, two in common with the other Evangelists, viz., κλίνη (not in John), and κράβαττος (not in Matthew). But two are peculiar to him, viz., κλινίδιον (Luke 5:19; Luke 5:24), and κλινάριον only here. Neither word is found in the LXX, but κλινίδιον, although rare elsewhere, is used in Artem., also in Plutarch, and Dion. Hal. (Antiq. Rom., vii. 68), for a litter for carrying the sick, Hobart, Medical Language, etc., pp. 116, 117. Dr. Kennedy sees in κλινίδιον an instance of rare words used by the comic poets, especially Aristophanes, found also in the N.T., and almost nowhere else, and hence a proof of the “colloquial” language of the N.T. writers (Sources of N. T. Greek, pp. 76–79). But the fact remains that the word in question is found only in St. Luke, and that both it and κλινάριον were employed for the couch of a sick person.—ἐρχομένου Πέτρου, genitive absolute, “as Peter came by,” R.V. (very frequent in Luke), it does not mean, as Felten admits, that none of the other Apostles possessed such powers.—κἄν = καὶ ἐάν—even if it were only his shadow, “at the least his shadow,” R.V., cf. Mark 5:28; Mark 6:56, 2 Corinthians 11:16; the usage is not unclassical, Soph., Elect., 1483; Simcox, Language of the N. T., p. 170; Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 118 (1893).—ἐπισκιάση with dative, Luke 1:35, Mark 9:7; [171] so W.H[172], future indicative σει, a construction common with ὅπως in classical Greek (Page); for other examples of the future indicative with ἵνα see Viteau, Le Grec du N. T., p. 81 (1893), of which several are found in the N.T., although not in classical Greek; cf. Luke 14:10; Luke 20:10, 1 Corinthians 9:18, 1 Peter 3:1, Acts 21:24, W.H[173]; John 7:3, Galatians 2:4, etc.; Burton, u. s., p. 86. Undoubtedly this action of the people showed the lively power of their faith (Chrys., Theod., Aug[174]), but the further question arises in spite of the severe strictures of Zeller, Overbeck, Holtzmann, as to how far the narrative indicates that the shadow of Peter actually produced the healing effects. Acts 5:16 shows that the sick folk were all healed, but Zöckler maintains that there is nothing to show that St. Luke endorses the enthusiastic superstition of the people (so J. Lightfoot, Nösgen, Lechler, Rendall). On the other hand we may compare Matthew 9:20, Mark 6:56, John 9:5, Acts 19:12; and Baumgarten’s comment should be considered that, although it is not actually said that a miraculous power went forth from Peter’s shadow, it is a question why, if no such power is implied, the words should be introduced at all into a narrative which evidently purports to note the extraordinary powers of the Apostles. The parallels just instanced from the Gospels could, of course, have no weight with critics who can only see in such comparisons a proof that the Acts cannot rise above the superstitious level of the Gospels, or who start like Renan with “an absolute rule of criticism,” viz., the denial of a place in history to all miraculous narratives. [175] adds ἀπηλλάσσοντο γὰρ κ.τ.λ.: but even here, as Blass says, Luke does not distinctly assert that cures were wrought by the shadow of Peter, although there is no reason to deny that the Evangelist had this in mind, since he does not hesitate to refer the same miraculous powers to St. Paul. Hilgenfeld refers Acts 5:14-16 to his “author to Theophilus,” and sees in the expressions used in Acts 5:16 a reminiscence of Luke 6:17.

[171] Codex Vaticanus (sæc. iv.), published in photographic facsimile in 1889 under the care of the Abbate Cozza-Luzi.

[172] Westcott and Hort’s The New Testament in Greek: Critical Text and Notes.

[173] Westcott and Hort’s The New Testament in Greek: Critical Text and Notes.

[174] Augustine.

[175] R(omana), in Blass, a first rough copy of St. Luke.15. Insomuch that they brought forth the sick into the streets] Instead of the preposition into, the best authorities read even … into, “they even brought forth,” &c.

These words are a description of one way in which the new believers gave evidence of their faith. To bring a sick person on a couch to the presence of Jesus was accepted by Him (Mark 2:5) as a sign of true faith, and for the sake of the faith shewn by those who brought him the paralytic was made whole. So here, though we are not told of any cures wrought by the shadow of Peter, we may conclude that to the like faith God would give a like blessing.

and laid them on beds and couches] The warm climate making it possible for the sick to be exposed in the open air.

that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them] The order in the original is, that, as Peter came by, at the least his shadow might, &c. Peter is alone mentioned here because he was the most prominent figure, but we are not to conclude that no mighty works were done by the rest. These men who gave such an exhibition of faith have been described (Acts 5:14) as believers in the Lord. There can therefore be no question as to what they regarded as the power which was to heal their sick. They did not believe on Peter, though they magnified him as the Lord’s instrument; they did not ascribe healing power to Peter’s shadow, though it might please God to make that a sacrament of healing, as to Israel in old times He had made the brazen serpent. They had seen health bestowed through the Apostle by the name of Christ, and to demonstrate their faith in that name, they bring their afflicted friends into the way of salvation.Acts 5:15. Ὥστε, insomuch that) This depends on Acts 5:12, at the beginning [“And they were all—women,” in Acts 5:14, being a parenthesis].—κατὰ τὰς πλατείας, into, or along the streets) [secundum plateas]. The preposition has a distributive sense without the article, Acts 5:42, κατʼ οἶκον, house by house: not with the article, ch. Acts 8:3, “Entering into the houses,” κατὰ τοὺς οἴκους.—κλινῶν καὶ κραββάτων) A couch, κλινὴ, is more costly: a pallet, κράββατος, more humble.—Πέτρου, of Peter) He, who had denied Jesus, was now the more on that account conspicuous in faith.—αὐτῶν, of them) See the App. Crit., Ed ii., on this passage, as to the addition, and they were delivered from their infirmity.[41] The force of this clause is virtually contained in verses 12 and 16.

[41] Ee add καὶ ῥύσθωσιν ἀπὸ πασης ἀσθενείας ἦς εἶχον. D has ἀπηλλάσσοντο γὰρ ἀπὸ πάσης ἀσθενείας ὡς εἷχεν ἕκαστος αὐτῶν: d somewhat similar. Lucif. 201 has et liberabantur ab infirmitate suá: and so the oldest MS. of Vulg., viz. Amiat., also others, inserting ‘omnes.’—E. and T.

[16. Πέριξ, round about) The success of the Gospel cause advances continually to greater distances and more widely.—V. g.]—ἅπαντες, all) There was now no ἀπότευγμα, failure, no abortive attempt to work miracles, as before: Matthew 17:16, The man having the lunatic son, “I brought him to Thy disciples, and they could not cure him.”Verse 15. - Even carried out for brought forth, A.V. and T.R.; that, as Peter came by, at the least his shadow for that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by, A.V.; some one for some, A.V. Insomuch; not to be referred back to the first part of ver. 12, as indicated by the parenthesis in the A.V., but to the whole description of the Church's glorification in vers. 12-14. Couches (κραββάτων)

See on Mark 2:4.

The shadow of Peter passing by

But the proper rendering is, as Peter passed by, his shadow might, etc.

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