Now many signs and wonders
were performed among the people by the apostles. They met together in Solomon's
Portico. None of the rest dared join them, but the people did hold them in high
honour. And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes both of
men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets, and
laid them on beds and pallets, hoping that Peter would come by and his shadow,
at least, might fall on some of them. People from the towns around Jerusalem
also gathered, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and
they were all healed. But the high priest rose up and with him, all the party
of the Sad'ducees, and filled with
jealousy they arrested the apostles and put them in the common prison. But at
night an angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them out and
said, "Go and stand in the temple and speak to the people all the words of
life." And when they heard this, they entered the temple at daybreak and
taught. Now the high priest came and those who were with him and called
together the council and all the senate of Israel, and sent to the prison to
have them brought.
You will remember that Peter and John returned from their initial confrontation with the Sanhedrin to rediscover how God's Spirit had been working His wonders amongst the entire company of believers. God's Spirit had been with them in their arrest and in the prison and then in the council they had the right words at the right time. God's Spirit was working in their midst, deepening their friendships and giving them boldness. With the peculiar death of Ananias and Sapphira they were all confronted with God's awful power. It might not be easy to face but God has revealed Himself as a Holy God and sometimes, as in this case, He acts to remind us of Himself in our midst.
But the work goes on. There is a deepened sense of awe and respect for God and His ways within the community of believers. This spills over into the wider society, as it is realised that those believing in Jesus do indeed have the blessing of God upon them. Luke writes that "the rest" dared not to join them; this means that those who believed in Jesus constituted a distinct and active group. One did not just drift into membership. Then Luke adds "the number of believers was growing constantly." "The rest" - those worshipping at the temple who did not join - grew in respect for the Christian synagogue.
Luke tells us that Jesus' healing work (which He had performed since His Galilee days) was now being continued in Jerusalem by the apostles. Jesus had said to them that they would perform greater works than He had done, and now in Jerusalem their reputation for healing was growing. The public respect was such that the High Priest, and his gang of Sadducees, were fired by jealousy. They had them committed to prison. But this did not stop the signs and wonders. Not at all. An angel released them during the night and the next day the work, and the confrontation, continued.