Acts 5:15

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. (ESV)

According to Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges, the people "did not ascribe healing power to Peter’s shadow".

Then, what was the purpose in the shadow falling upon the sick?

  • 1
    Your question is only hinges on that commentary as if everyone accepts its interpretation.
    – Michael16
    Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 11:05
  • @agarza This was a great question. The shadow has the same result as Paul's kerchefs and even Elisha's bones, although the dead man coming back to life after being thrown in Elisha's grave could not exhibit faith.
    – RHPclass79
    Commented Jan 25 at 15:59

3 Answers 3


to bring out the sick into the streets, and to put them on cots and mats, that of Peter coming, at least the shadow might envelop some of them.

The shadow of itself is nothing. The idea is that by putting people on the street, as/if Peter walked by he would be in close proximity and that would be near enough for the holiness of God IN Peter to effect healing.

Now many signs and wonders were happening among the people by the hands of the apostles. And they were all with one accord in Solomon’s Colonnade. 13Now none of the rest dared to join them, but the people were magnifying them. v12-13

They thought that just being near to an Apostle was enough for a miracle to happen. The "shadow' is merely an evidence (in their minds) of Peter's physical closeness to them.

The whole narrative is similar to, "if I just touch his cloak" Matt 9:21

Did the cloak have special powers? No, but the wearer did, just as Peter did, but not his 'shadow'.

  • I think of this like the episode of the paralized man at the pool in John 5... I'm inclined to believe that John, by writing about the angel touching the water, was just presenting what the general population believed about it, and not stating a doctrinal fact. Commented Nov 19, 2021 at 12:36
  • Yes, that’s an interesting connection…
    – Steve
    Commented Nov 19, 2021 at 18:54

Bible commentary is wonderful, but it is an error to move beyond what the text says.

It says the people wanted at least his shadow to fall. They wanted to get healed. They knew people were getting healed after encountering Peter. They believed his shadow would heal their sick.

  • Up-voted +1. Kan needs attention. 'And if' 'if so much as' 'at the least' 'yet.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Nov 19, 2021 at 10:56

I checked the BLB lexicon for a deeper understanding of the word choice (Oκιά / shade). Seeking Peter's shadow* is like a prayer for healing and the comfort of knowing he is near - as the previous posters noted.

Shade also had additional meanings, as it still does in modern English. Strong's Number G4639 matches the Greek σκιά (skia) and occurs 7 times in 7 verses in the TR Greek. In each of those 7 examples, shadow references a specific noun. In the scripture that agarza offers us, it specifies Peter - the Rock upon which the Gospel is built (rather than Simon, which is "heard / listened"). The Shadow of Peter represents adumbration of healing and the immortality of their faith.

By verse 16, Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed, indicating that divine healings did occur.

Jesus healed many people using a variety of approaches. agaza presents the example, Jesus said, ‘Someone touched me; for I noticed that power had gone out from me.’ When the woman saw that she could not remain hidden, she came trembling; and falling down before him, she declared in the presence of all the people why she had touched him, and how she had been immediately healed. He said to her, ‘Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace.

Humanity misunderstands, thinking that individuals, rituals, objects, recitations, adherence to laws, etc. have divine magic. The temple veil tore at the moment of Death inviting each of us to approach God's throne - no middleman needed. Healing Faith, like the Kingdom of Heaven, is nurtured within each of us. Peter's shadow is merely foreshadowing this sketchy outline of the personal faith available to each of us. Science has identified this superpower in each of us.

*σκιά is apparently a primary word translated as shade or a shadow which literally or figuratively refers to a shadow, adumbration, or darkness of error.

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