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Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 36: Acts, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at

Acts 5:12-16

12. And by the hands of the apostles were done many signs and wonders amongst the people. And they were all with one accord in the Porch of Solomon. 13. And of the other durst no man join himself to them: but the people magnified them. 14. And the multitude of those that believed in the Lord, both of men and women, grew more and more. 15. So that they brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them in beds and couches, that at the least way the shadow of Peter, as he came, might shadow some of them. 16. And a multitude of the next cities came together to Jerusalem, bringing their sick, and those which were vexed with unclean spirits, which were all healed.


12. He returneth to miracles of another sort, which are more proper to the gospel; to wit, whereby Christ doth not only declare his power, but also his goodness; to the end he may allure men unto himself with the sweetness of his grace. For he came to save the world, and not to condemn it. Therefore, whereas the sick are healed, and others are delivered from devils, these benefits done to the body do represent the spiritual grace of Christ; and therefore they agree with his natural  249 office that I may so speak. That fearful sign which was showed in Ananias and Sapphira came to pass extraordinarily  250 Luke saith that the Church was increased by miracles, because they serve for faith,  251 (as we have said,) to prepare some, to confirm others. Whereby that is proved again, which I have said elsewhere that miracles must never be separated from the word. Luke showeth the multitude of miracles by this, in that the sick were brought forth everywhere, that they might be healed. For God meant thus to set forth the gospel of his Son, especially at the beginning; that he, might for a certainty testify to the Jews, that that restoring of all things was present, which was so often promised, and in which all their hope was reposed, as they themselves did pretend, (and make semblance.) It is well known that couches were certain little beds in which the men of old were wont to rest at noon. Because they might the more easily carry them out, they laid the sick in them.

And they were all with one accord. He signifieth unto us that they were wont to meet together at certain hours, not only for doctrine and prayers’ sake, but that they might win others unto the Lord, as occasion was given. For every man lived at home at his own house, but they had their meetings there, as assuredly no body of the Church can otherwise continue. For if every man will be his own teacher, and pray apart by himself, and if there be no meetings and assemblies, how excellently soever the Church be ordered and appointed, yet must it needs decay and come to nought. He saith that they were all of one mind, to the end we may know that they did all keep that order willingly, that no man was so disordered as to keep himself at home,  252 neglecting the public assembly. Wherein they showed a token, not only of modesty, but also of constancy. For they could not do this without danger, seeing the place was so famous. For which cause, the agreement of them all to put themselves in hazard was so much the more worthy of commendation.

13. And of other durst no man. This was the second fruit of the miracles, in that these which believed not, being convict with the excellent power of God, dare not despise the apostles, but are rather enforced to reverence the Church. Yet that might seem an absurd thing, that being terrified with miracles, they flee from God and his people. I answer, that they were letted through their own fault from coming; and it is not to be doubted but that God doth call us unto himself by miracles. Therefore, whosoever they be that go not so far, as willingly to embrace the grace of God which shineth in them, they are letted and hindered by their own perverse and evil conscience. Yet this is some fruit, in that God wringeth some fear out of them; although Luke doth ascribe this not only to the miracle, but rather comprehendeth all together which might serve to the increasing of the dignity of the Church. For all things were so ordered, that there shined there a certain divine majesty; for they did no less differ from the other than angels from men.

For there is a certain secret majesty in holy discipline and in sincere godliness, which doth even fast bind the wicked whether they will or no. But we know not at this day of what sort the same is; yea, rather, we cause ourselves to be despised together with the gospel, through our profane liberty of evil living. Furthermore, the punishment of Ananias and his wife did not a little terrify the wicked, and keep them from breaking in unadvisedly into the company of those men, where God had showed himself so sharp a Judge. Yet we must note that he speaketh of men which were indifferent in this place, and of those which were not of the worst sort; for there were at that time many at Jerusalem, whom neither the reverence of signs, neither yet of the angelic holiness of the godly, could move. Therefore Luke meaneth moderate men, in whom there are some seed of the fear of God; like as we see at this day certain, whom the vanity of the world keepeth back from submitting their necks unto the yoke of Christ; yet because they smell out some divine thing in our doctrine,  253 they dare not despise the same; yet we may see also in what deadly grins [gins] Satan insnareth all those which have not the Spirit of Christ, that they do not only fear to provide for themselves, but purposely avoid those remedies which are offered them unto salvation. They both see and allow those things which are both holy and profitable, and yet, notwithstanding, they are either carried headlong unto things which are worse, or else they wax drowsy in their filthiness.

15. The shadow of Peter, as he came. The Papists abuse this text, [as a pretexts] not only to the end they may commend reigned miracles, which they say are done at the graves of martyrs, but also that they may boast of their relics. Why (say they) shall not the grave, or garment, the touching of the bones of Peter, have power to heal, as well as his shadow had this power? I answer, we must not by and by think that that is right which Luke saith was done by ignorant men, and those which knew not the pure faith. Yet we have a more certain answer in readiness than this. For the apostles were endued with such power for this cause, because they were ministers of the gospel. Therefore they used this gift, inasmuch as it served to further the credit of the gospel; yea, God did no less show forth his power in their shadow than in their mouth. Those miracles whereof the Papists babble are so unlike to these, that they are rather altogether contrary. For this is the end of their miracles, to lead away the world from Christ unto saints.



Genuino,” genuine.


Quasi accidentale erat,” was, as it were, accidental.


Fidei subserviunt,” are subservient to faith.


Intra privates parietes se teneret,” as to keep himself within a private buildings.


Sed quia illis divinum aliquid subolet nostra doctrina,” but because our doctrine has somewhat of a divine savor to them.

Next: Acts 5:17-26