Background and Review:
But Peter and the others were continuing to meet in one of the great porches of the Temple. To understand this, you need to remember that the Temple in Jerusalem was not a single building, like a great church or cathedral. It was more like an entire area of the city, covering dozens of acres, walled off and with several gates and porches. There were trees and shrubs and various buildings, houses where the priests on duty would lodge during their days of service and, in the middle, the Temple proper, with its sequence of courts leading in towards the holy of holies. So the apostles had taken up the habit of worshipping in the Temple and then staying around beside one of the porches where there would be plenty of room for crowds to gather around them
Imagine you are the manager of a great concert hall or opera house—the Metropolitan in New York, say, or the Albert Hall in London. For generations now this has been the place to which concert-goers have flocked in their thousands, week after week, year after year. All the glittering international stars have played and sung here. Every performance is reported in the national press. A grateful public subscribes for whole seasons of concerts all at once.
And then, quite suddenly, in the middle of your busy season, a small informal group begins to perform, day after day and night after night, right outside the main door of the concert hall. It’s a motley collection of musicians, and they’re playing a strange mixture of ancient classical music and rowdy new songs, sometimes putting them together in an unprecedented fashion.
Well, you think, people come and people go, strange things happen, there’s probably no harm in it. But then you realize that a lot of the people who ought to be coming into the concert hall are coming to see and hear this little ragtag group of musicians. Crowds gather, and stay outside listening to the new music rather than coming inside to hear the advertised programme. And soon the leaders of the new band become well known. People are talking about them, and writing newspaper articles about them, rather than paying attention to the ‘proper’ stars. Now, as manager, you become seriously worried. Perhaps it’s time to call the police and have them moved on, or even arrested for disturbing the peace …
And now we see why it was that things began to escalate in Jerusalem in the days and weeks after Pentecost. It might not have mattered so much if Peter, John and the rest had met, and drawn crowds, far away—in Galilee, say, or out in one of the villages. When Jesus had done that, he caught people’s attention all right, but he was able to establish a large following without the Jerusalem authorities worrying particularly about it.
Many Signs and Wonders Done
12 Now many signs and wonders were regularly done among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all together in Solomon’s Portico. 13 None of the rest dared join them, but the people held them in high esteem. 14 And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, 15 so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. 16 The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed.