6. A Lame Excuse For Preaching the Gospel (Acts 3:1-26)
According to Cornelius a Lapide, Thomas Aquinas once called on Pope Innocent II when the latter was counting out a large sum of money. “You see, Thomas,” said the Pope, “the church can no longer say, ‘Silver and gold have I none.’” “True, holy father,” was the reply; “neither can she now say, ‘Rise and walk.’”15 This story, it seems, has a somewhat anti-Catholic flavor, so let us even the scales a bit.
We Protestants pride ourselves for not having money, and yet we are seldom heard saying one word which Peter and the apostles frequently used—“give” Peter said, “But what I have I give to you.” I see help offered in the name of Jesus, but for a price. We cannot repeat Peter’s words either, not if we are honest. Observe also the way the church today tries desperately to draw crowds, but not by means of miracles; today it is done with magic shows, pony rides, and circus acts. Just this week I heard a radio commercial for special services at a church, and the drawing card, among other circus acts, was that there would be strong men showing their brute strength by blowing up hot water bottles!
The story of the healing of the lame man in Acts chapter 3 is one of the delightful accounts of the power of the risen Christ at work through the apostles. This miracle will be the second occasion in Acts for the gathering of a large crowd, and this will be the occasion for the second sermon Peter is said to have preached to the people of Jerusalem. Both the miracle and the message of Acts chapter 3 are quite different from those described in Acts chapter 2. And the results will be somewhat different. There will be a number of people saved (we see this from Acts 4:4), but there will not even be time for the people to ask what they must do to be saved. A party will arrive, as recorded in 4:1-3, who will arrest Peter and John, put them in jail, and then bring them up to stand trial the next day. Opposition to the gospel has now begun.
You will notice that there are great similarities between the miracle which we find in our text and the miracles performed by Jesus (Matthew 21) and by Paul (Acts 14). That is because, as I understand it, the Lord Jesus was at work in each case, fulfilling the Messianic promise of healing(s) of the lame, as found in Isaiah 35. Thus, when John the Baptist wavered in his faith as to whether or not Jesus was the Messiah, He pointed to the healing of the lame (for one thing) as evidence to the fact that He was the Messiah (Matthew 11).
The Structure of the Text
The third chapter of Acts falls into two major sections: (1) the miracle of the healing of the lame man, verses 1-10; and, (2) the preaching of Peter in response to the crowds who had gathered, verses 11-26. Chapter four follows immediately on: (3) the results of the miracle and Peter’s preaching, verses 1-4; (4) the trial and threatening of Peter and John, verses 5-22; and, (5) the response of the church to persecution, verses 23-31.
The Approach of this Lesson
In our study of this chapter, we shall first consider the miracle of the healing of the lame man (verses 1-10). Then we will study the message which Peter preached when the crowd gathered in response to this miracle, and the testimony of the man who was not only healed but who was dramatically demonstrating it by his leaping and praising God. We will then consider the contribution of this incident to the developing argument of Acts. Finally, we will attempt to demonstrate the relevance and application of these events to our own lives.
1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer, 2 And a certain man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. 3 And when he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple he began asking to receive alms. 4 And Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze upon him and said, “Look at us!” 5 And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” 7 And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. 8 And with a leap, he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God; 10 and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
For over forty years (cf. Acts 4:22) a man had suffered from an ailment which made him lame. He was born that way (3:2). He had never known the freedom of going anywhere without petitioning others to carry him there. It would seem that this man had been a beggar for many, if not most, of those forty-plus years (cf. 3:2). It may be that he had staked out a certain “territory” at the temple. At least we know that for some time this man daily was carried to the gate of the temple, a gate identified here as the “Beautiful” gate.16 It seems the gate was this lame beggar’s station, much as a newspaper boy would find a suitable location and return there day after day.
We are not told what this man had heard about Jesus or whether he had ever tried to reach Him to be healed. It would seem that the man would have given considerable thought to Jesus during those times when He visited Jerusalem and especially that final week of His public ministry, before His death. This was a week characterized not only by daily appearances in the temple for teaching but also to heal:
And the blind and the lame came to Him in the temple, and He healed them. But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that He had done, and the children who were crying out in the temple and saying, “Hosanna to the Son of David,” they became indignant, and said to Him, “Do You hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read, ‘OUT OF THE MOUTH OF INFANTS AND NURSING BABES THOU HAST PREPARED PRAISE FOR THYSELF’?” (Matthew 21:14-16)
Is it possible that this man had made efforts to reach Jesus and thus to be healed? The problem was that he was immobilized by his ailment. Men carried him to the temple to beg each day. There they would leave him. Then in the evening (it would seem) they would carry him back home. Perhaps Jesus passed by this lame man, but he was unable to press through the crowds or to call out loudly enough to be heard by the Master. It sounds something like a “Catch 22” problem to me. The man needed to be healed. Jesus could heal him. But he had to get to Jesus to be healed, and his lameness kept him from getting there (not unlike the situation described in John 5:1-9).
It is not altogether clear whose faith it was (primarily) that was instrumental in this man’s healing, but it would seem this man had some measure of faith (cf. 3:16). Could it be this man had hoped Jesus would heal him, but just could not get to Him? How this man’s hopes of healing must have been crushed when Jesus was led outside the city to that cross! And yet, after the death of Jesus, it was Jesus who had healed him. Let us see how it came to pass.
It was the ninth hour (cf. the “third hour” in Acts 2:15), which would have been 3:00 P.M. Peter and John were on their way to the temple to observe a regular time of prayer.17 As they were heading toward or into the temple, the lame man was being carried to his normal post, at the “Beautiful” gate. He was not, as we so often visualize him, sitting or laying down at the gate, but only on his way. As he is approaching his station, he observes two men nearby about to go into the temple. Beggars generally seem to get attention by calling out to those who would pass by. Almost instinctively, I think, he called out with his usual petition. Here were two prospects. He might as well get right at his task.
I am not certain we can understand this account apart from having experienced a beggar or two. On my two trips to India, I saw a large number of beggars. There were so many beggars there was no way one could respond to all of them. The solution was often not to “see” any of them. But the beggars made this difficult. Those who were mobile would press themselves on you. They would approach your taxi at an intersection, tugging at your sleeve and pleading for help. Those not mobile would call our for charity. The beggar would be aggressive, something like the salesmen as you try to walk through the appliance section at Sears. You would concentrate on not seeing them as they converged on you, and you hurried to get through the section before you were trapped.
In this instance, the roles appear somewhat reversed. The beggar called out all right, but he doesn’t seem to expect anything to happen. After all, he has not yet reached his station, and they are nearly out of his territory. I think the beggar hardly looked up, for he simply expected to be ignored. Had he been directly in front of them, perhaps he would have stood a chance, but not here.
Peter and John18 did not respond typically, however. It was not the beggar who fixed his eyes on Peter and John, but they who first fixed their eyes19 on him. He may not have expected anything from them, but they fully intended to do something for him. It is noteworthy that Peter and John had no money to give him. Surely it was not that they were opposed to giving to the poor, but they could not give what they did not possess. They did give what they had. How fortunate for the beggar. The best he hoped for was a little money. He did not get money, but he did receive his health and mobility.
Peter seems to know from the outset (and John too) what he was going to do for this man. Somehow he knew that he had the power to heal this man, and also that it was God’s will for him to do so. There is a deliberateness to everything which Peter and John said and did. They looked intently at him. They instructed him to look at them. They said that they possessed no silver or gold, but they did have that which they would give to him. Immediately Peter commanded the man to stand up and walk in the name20 of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene. Peter then seized the man by the right hand and raised him up.
The man who had never walked before in his life stood up with a leap, and he didn’t quit leaping.21 What a sight that must have been. Some men would probably have dealt with such a miracle with great dignity and composure. Here was a man who had, for his whole life, been a spectacle. He earned his living by making a spectacle of himself, by drawing men’s attention to his pitiable state. Now this man would surely care little that everyone was staring at him, for he leaped about, clinging to Peter and John, praising God. It was a sight no one in the vicinity could have avoided. No wonder a crowd was attracted.
God had marvelously prepared this scene. The healed man had spent his life (or a good deal of it, it would seem) around the temple, begging. Everyone knew him—they couldn’t have avoided him. The man, and his condition, were well known by all who frequented the temple (cf. 4:16, 21). And the fact that he had been crippled from his mother’s womb was more than ample evidence that he was hopelessly disabled, and thus the miracle was a spectacular one. The people who witnessed this were understandably filled with wonder and amazement (verse 10).
11 And while he was clinging to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement. 12 But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk? “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered up, and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. 14 “But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses. 16 And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all. 17 “And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. 18 “But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He has thus fulfilled. 19 “Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21 whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. 22 “MOSES said, ‘THE LORD GOD SHALL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED in everything He says to you. 23 “And it shall be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ 24 “And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. 25 “It is you who are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.’ 26 “For you first, God raised up His Servant, and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”
A crowd gathered, filled with wonder, not unlike that which occurred after the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost in Acts chapter 2. Only here, there were no skeptics as there were before. In fact the problem the healing of this lame man created was that people thought too much of the apostles, Peter and John, not too little. Peter and John were heroes, first to the lame man and then to the crowd. It was they who were given credit for the miracle. Peter’s first words to the people, as at Pentecost, were spoken to correct a misconception. Before, it was the conclusion that they were drunk. Here, it was that they were too “divine,” that is, that the healing was the result of their own power or piety.22 Peter quickly and flatly denied this. Far from taking credit for the miracle, Peter gave the praise to God, through His Servant, Jesus.
A Study in Contrasts
It is most interesting to study Peter’s message in Acts chapter 3 in comparison to his message at Pentecost as recorded in Acts chapter 2. While there are definite similarities between the two sermons, there are these contrasts. Peter’s first sermon, in chapter two, was the result of the phenomenon of Pentecost. The second sermon was the result of a healing (both manifestations of the power of the Holy Spirit, but quite different manifestations). Peter’s first sermon was longer and was complete with specific instructions as to what men must do to be saved, in response to their question. The second sermon is interrupted by the arrest of Peter and John. While a number of people seem to have been saved, they must have been converted “on their own,” because Peter and John were not there (cf. Acts 4:1-4). Furthermore, Acts chapter two tended to focus on the last days, the “day of the Lord” as prophesied by Joel, while the second sermon tends to go back to the early days of Israel’s beginnings, to the days of the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, 3:13,25) and of Moses (3:22-23). Finally, the primary theme of chapter 2 was judgment (with a secondary theme of blessing), while the primary theme of chapter 3 is blessing (with a secondary theme of judgment.
In spite of (and perhaps because of) the popularity of Peter and John due to the healing of the lame man, Peter came down very strongly on the guilt of his audience for having rejected Jesus as the Messiah. Peter’s words in chapter 3 are even stronger (in my opinion) than they are in chapter 2. It is my opinion that many of those who heard this second message may well have been present at Peter’s first sermon, at Pentecost. If they had heard his first message without repenting, it is no surprise that this second message would come down even harder on his hearers.
The guilt of the people of Jerusalem is described by means of a series of contrasts. Let me point out a few of them.
First, Peter contrasted the glorification of God’s servant in His resurrection and ascension with his audience’s disowning of Him as their Messiah:
“The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His Servant23 Jesus, the one whom you delivered up, and disowned … (Acts 3:13a).
Second, Peter contrasted Pilate’s desire to release Jesus because he felt he was innocent, with their insistence that He be put to death, convinced He was guilty, and thus worthy of death:
“… you delivered up, and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him” (Acts 3:13b).
In chapter 2, Peter had spoken of the death of Jesus as a joint-conspiracy of the Jews and the Gentiles (2:23), but here Pilate is represented as wanting to release Jesus but being pressured into putting Him to death, making the guilt of the Jews greater in the sense of their accusation of His guilt and being worthy of death.24
Third, Peter contrasted the One whom they wished to crucify with the one they wished to release:
“But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of life, …” (Acts 3:14-15a).
Imagine it. They wanted a murderer to be set free, a wicked and violent man—a murderer, a thief, a revolutionary! They wanted the Holy and Righteous Son of God, the Prince of life, to be put to death! What an incredible evil.
Fourth, they dealt with Jesus, who was the promised “prophet like Moses,” as though He were a false prophet. Peter reminded his listeners of these words, found in the Book of Deuteronomy:
22 “MOSES said, ‘THE LORD GOD SHALL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED in everything He says to you. 23 “And it shall be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’
Let us take a look at the fuller context of these words:
The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him. 16 For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.” 17 The Lord said to me: “What they say is good. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. 19 If anyone does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will call him to account (Deuteronomy 18:15-19).
When God was about to bring the people of Israel into the land of promise, the land of Canaan, He warned them through Moses not to do as those who lived in Canaan before them, those that He was about to expel from this land. They listened to their false gods and idols, something which the Israelites must not do (Deuteronomy 18:9-13). Instead, they must listen to God’s prophets. God would raise up, Moses said, a prophet like him, to whom they must listen (verse 15). This was in accordance with their own request on Mt. Sinai (verse 16), a citation worth reviewing:
When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.” 20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.” 21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was (Exodus 20:18-21).
The people of Israel were terrified at the holiness of God, as they beheld the thunder and lightning and smoke on the mountain. They feared any direct contact with God, and they begged Moses to be their intermediary, something which God commended. The prophet, like Moses, would be an intermediary as well. And, like Moses, the carrying out of his mission would cost him His life.25
Peter’s use of this quotation from Deuteronomy 18 has a two-pronged impact. It was, in the first place, a reminder of Israel’s guilt. In the context of Deuteronomy 18, Israel was warned not to listen to the gods of the Canaanites. They were to listen to the prophets, particularly the prophet “like Moses.” In the final verses of Deuteronomy 18 the people were told how to discern a false prophet from a true one. That which the true prophet foretold would surely come to pass. If the prophecy of the prophet did not come to pass, that person was a false prophet26 and should not be heeded. Indeed, that “prophet” should be put to death. Israel’s guilt was to be seen by the fact that they listened to the words of their leaders, rather than to the words of Jesus. They followed their leaders and they put to death the “prophet like Moses.” They had done the exact opposite of what God had commanded the Israelites through Moses in Deuteronomy 18.
In the second place, this quotation served as a strong word of warning. Those who failed to heed the words of Jesus, the “prophet like Moses” were warned that they would bear the consequences for it. Peter spelled it out. Those who failed to heed His words would be “utterly destroyed.” Let those who heard Peter take heed.
Israel’s Glory—Promised Blessings
Very quickly I sense an even stronger indictment in chapter 3 than I did in chapter 2. Peter did not go easy on his audience. And yet, when one looks carefully at this chapter, the dominant theme is not judgment, but blessing. While the phenomenon of Acts 2 was a sign of coming judgment, the healing of the lame man was an evidence of blessing, a foreshadowing of the messianic blessings of the kingdom (cf. Isaiah 35:4-6 above). The suffering which is most prominent in this chapter is that of Christ, not that of Israel. While the resurrection and ascension of Christ was interpreted in terms of His return to judge His enemies, here the glorification of the Lord Jesus was interpreted as a prelude to His return to bless those who have trusted in Him. The coming of the Christ is viewed as for Israel, not against her (verse 20). These blessings are called “times of refreshing” in verse 19, the “restoration of all things” in verse 21, the “blessings” promised in the Abrahamic Covenant in verse 25, and God’s blessing in verse 26.
There is a principle evident here in this emphasis on Israel’s blessings, in spite of her sin and guilt before God. It is that stated by the apostle Paul:
But where sin increased, grace abounded all the more (Romans 5:20b).
Israel’s guilt was great, but it could never outrun the grace of God. Christ died according to the plan of God, so that the sins of men might be atoned for. All those who would repent of their sins would find them “wiped away,” so that the promised “times of refreshing” might come (Acts 3:19).
Graciously, Peter attributed the sinful actions of his audience to ignorance, and ignorance it was. Where there was ignorance, there was both guilt and grace:
They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts (Ephesians 4:18).
Even though I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent man, I was shown mercy because I acted in ignorance and unbelief (1 Timothy 1:13).
He is able to deal gently with those who are ignorant and are going astray, since he himself is subject to weakness (Hebrews 5:2).
But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance (Hebrews 9:7).
At first, I saw the healing of this lame man as only an “excuse” for Peter’s preaching of the gospel. I now see it as far more than this. This miracle did attract a large crowd, to whom Peter preached. But the miracle of the healing of this man also illustrated the salvation of which Peter preached. This lame man typifies man’s helpless state, and the grace of God which reaches out to touch and to save sinners. Let us conclude by giving consideration to the way in which the lame man typifies the state of lost men.
The lame man of our text typifies lost Israel
The lame man was in a hopeless condition. He was helpless, immobilized, broken. He needed to be healed. His only “salvation” was Jesus, and yet his ailment disabled him, it kept him from coming to Jesus. He would never get to Jesus on his own. He looked to the temple and to the goodness of men, but this could not deliver him. The help which the man cried out for was merely monetary—he cried out for money but hardly seemed to expect that. When Jesus was put to death, it appeared that this man’s hope of healing was gone. And yet it was the risen Jesus whose power healed him.
The Israelites, like this man, were in desperate need, and from birth. From birth, the Israelites were sinners. They were enemies of God. Their sin kept them from getting close to God, even from wanting to be near Him. This was seen by the Israelites’ request that Moses serve as a mediator between them and God. They looked to such things as the temple and their rituals. They sought God’s blessings, but these were primarily physical, material. And when Jesus came, their hopes were initially raised, but when He spoke of spiritual salvation and of giving up one’s material goods, they wanted no part of Him. They put Him to death. But through this death, man’s sins were atoned for. It was through the death and resurrection of Jesus, the Christ, that Israel’s spiritual healing was made possible.
The lame man of our text typifies all who are lost
It is not just Israelites who are lost, but all men. To play on words for a moment, when it comes to our relationship to God, to our approaching Him, we “don’t have a leg to stand on.” Our sins have separated us from God and keep us from approaching Him. But just as the apostles reached out to the lame man, giving him far more than he hoped for, or asked for, so the Lord Jesus has taken the initiative to come to fallen men, lost and helpless in their sins. While lost men do not seek God, God has sought out the lost, in the coming of Christ. By His death, man’s sins are atoned for. He takes hold of us and draws us to Himself. All those who have faith in His name, who repent of their sins, and who trust in Him, are healed and are made whole.
To all who believe, who “take heed” to the words of Jesus, there is salvation, wholeness. But to all who refuse to heed His words, there is only the expectation of the judgment which will befall all those who refuse to heed the words of the “prophet like Moses.”
The lame man also typifies many Christians
Unfortunately, this lame man also typifies many Christians. We, like him, may be in great need, and in a pitiable state—beggars. The apostles had their eyes fixed on the beggar, but they had to command him to look intently at them. He cried out for help, but of the most meager and material kind. How often do we come to God in prayer for only material things and hardly believing that God cares or that He will provide. We seem to think that our problem is getting God’s attention, when His eyes are fixed on us, to bless us. And what He wants to give us is so much more than anything we might ask or think (cf. 1 Corinthians 2:6-13).
And we so often attempt to attract a crowd by circus-like antics, rather than by genuine manifestations of divine power. It is not God whose attention we need to attract. It is our attention which needs to be riveted on Him. And we should believe that what He desires to give us is far greater than what we expect to get.
There is a clear evidence of the “supernatural” hand of God in our text. But there is also a clear sense of the “natural.” The disciples were acting naturally; that is, they were on their way to the temple to pray. They did not go out of their way nor did they attempt to attract a crowd. They did not have any money, but they did possess the power of the Holy Spirit, which the Lord Jesus had poured out on them. And so, when they encountered a man in need, they gave what they had; they did what they could. And when a crowd gathered, they shared their faith. A very supernatural thing took place from some very natural actions. That is the way God often works, using vessels of clay through which to manifest His grace and power. May we be faithful as vessels of clay, to be instruments in His hands, to produce marvelous things.
15 Cited by F. F. Bruce, The Book of Acts, Revised Edition (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988), pp. 77-78.
16 There is no clear identification of this gate, but many have concluded that it was the gate commonly known as the “Nicanor Gate”:
“This may be identical with the Nicanor Gate, as it is called in the Mishnah, leading into the Court of the Women; the name here given to it may be more readily understood if it is further identified with the gate of Corinthian bronze described by Josephus, of such exquisite workmanship that it ‘far exceeded in value those gates that were plated with silver and set in gold.’”
F. F. Bruce, The Book of Acts, Revised Edition (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1988), p. 77, citing Josephus, BJ 5. 201. Bruce further comments in his footnote: “Josephus, BJ 5.184-247, and the Mishnaic tractate Middot are our principal sources of information about the temple before its destruction in A.D. 70.” (p. 77, fn. 10).
“Josephus says, concerning this gate: ‘its height was fifty cubits, and its doors were forty cubits, and it was adorned after a most costly manner, as having much richer and thicker plates of silver and gold upon them than the others.’”
Charles W. Carter and Ralph Earle, The Acts of the Apostles (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1973), pp. 49-50.
17 It was the “time of the evening sacrifice”. A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville: Broadman Press, 1930), III, p. 41. “There were three hours of prayer (third, sixth, ninth).” Ibid, p. 41.
The apostles (and the rest, it would seem) continued to observe Jewish ceremonies at the temple. This is evidence of continuity between that which the church was doing here and that which God began in the Old Testament. The reason the apostles and the rest ceased to attend the temple is because they were thrown out, not only of the temple, but of Jerusalem. Coming to faith in Christ (Christianity) did not necessitate the Jews’ throwing off all of the rituals, all of the practices, of Judaism. Put in different terms, the coming of the Spirit on the apostles did not replace the normal routines and disciplines of life with pure spontaneity.
18 Peter and John seem to become “partners” of sorts. One would expect these two men, both of whom had brother/disciples (Peter and Andrew, Matthew 4:18; James and John, Matthew 4:21) to be with their brothers, but they were not. Peter and John were sent out together by our Lord in Luke 22:8 to prepare for the Passover meal. Could they possibly have been paired together when the twelve were sent out two by two? The two are listed together in Acts 1:13, for what that is worth. They were arrested together in chapter 4 (cf. vv. 13, 19), and they were the two sent down to Samaria by the Apostles.
19 This expression, “fixed his gaze” (verse 4), or something similar, is found also in Luke 4;20, and in Acts 1:10; 10:4 and 13:9. If it tells us anything it is that Peter and John riveted their attention on this man, fully intent on his healing. They were much more attentive to him than he was to them. Thus, they commanded him to look at them. They did not wish him to miss any of what was to happen. I think, in particular, they did not wish him to miss the statement that it was Jesus who was healing him.
20 There is a strong emphasis in Acts on the name of Jesus. Below is a list of references to the name of Jesus in Acts: 2:21; 4:17-18; 9:21; 19:5; 2:38; 4:30; 9:27-28; 19:13; 3:6; 5:28; 10:43; 19:17; 3:16; 5:40-41; 10:48; 21:13; 4:7; 8:12; 15:17; 22:16; 4:10; 8:16; 15:26; 26:9; 4:12; 9:14-16; 16:18;
21 “Leaping up repeatedly” A. T. Robertson, Word Pictures, III, p. 42.
22 How often those who are the instruments through whom the power of God is manifested begin to lay claim to that power, as though it were their own. How quick God’s servants are to deny this (cf. Paul in Acts 14:8-18). How often, too, power and piety are associated. That is, men are quick to conclude that if God’s power has been manifested through a human instrument, it must be the result of his or her piety. This is not necessarily so. Spiritual gifts and spiritual power do not equate to a person’s piety. The Corinthians had all the gifts and many manifestations of God’s power, but they were also a carnal lot in many ways. Nowhere is the power of God working in men viewed as the result of man’s piety. Look at men like Samson and Jonah, for example.
23 The statement of Peter that God had glorified His Servant is a very significant one, for these two terms seemed contradictory to the Israelites. The “suffering” and the “glory” themes of the Old Testament seemed to be so inconsistent that they could not be applied to the same person, Messiah. Thus, Peter wrote,
As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful search and inquiry, seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow (1 Peter 1:10-11).
When it came to “the Christ,” the Messiah, the two themes of “suffering” and “glory” did not seem to fit, not together anyway.
When Peter, in Acts 3:13, said that God had glorified His Servant Jesus, he said a great deal. He identified Jesus as the Messiah, who was the “Suffering Servant” of Isaiah 52 and 53 (and elsewhere), as well as the glorious King, who would reign in power and in glory. The reason why “glory” and “suffering” were combined in one person, Jesus, the Messiah, was because he first suffered, and then was glorified; He first was rejected and put to death on the cross, and He then was glorified by His resurrection and ascension. Here was the answer to the mystery which baffled even the prophets who wrote of Messiah’s suffering and glory.
24 One might argue, with some force, that Pilate’s guilt was just as great, for he allowed an innocent man (by his judgment) to be put to death wrongly.
25 God promised Moses that he would serve Him on the mountain where he encountered him, from whence his call originated (Exodus 3:12). In the exercise of his duties as a mediator, Moses became angry at the people of Israel and smote the rock. This cost Moses his life and the opportunity of leading the people of God into the promised land (Numbers 20; Deuteronomy 32:48-52). In this sense, Moses died in the exercise of his duties. His task cost him his life. The difference is, of course, that Moses sinned and thus died, whereas Jesus was sinless and died.
26 When a prophet’s words failed to come to pass, one would definitely know that he was a false prophet. But if one’s words did come to pass, it was no sure sign that he was a true prophet. This matter was taken care of in Deuteronomy chapter 13, where the ultimate test of a prophet was given. A true prophet was one whose prophecies came to pass, and whose words were in accordance with what God had revealed (Deuteronomy 13:1-5).