Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, July 17th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
Tired of seeing ads while studying? Now you can enjoy an "Ads Free" version of the site for as little as 10¢ a day and support a great cause!
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries
Acts 3

Coffman's Commentaries on the BibleCoffman's Commentaries

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors


This chapter develops the story of the healing of a congenital cripple by the apostles Peter and John.

Verse 1

Now Peter and John were going up into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

Peter and John … How great must have been the friendship, of these two men. They had been partners in the fishing business on Galilee when Jesus called them to be "fishers of men," and both of them had earned the distinction of membership in the inner circle of the Twelve who witnessed such events as the Transfiguration, the raising of Jairus’ daughter, and the agony in Gethsemane. Here, it would seem that they were following the pattern of going "two by two," as when the Lord had first sent them on their apostolic mission.

Into the temple … Christians, for some considerable time after Pentecost, continued to frequent the temple, especially at the hours of prayer, not merely for the purpose of praying, but also, it may be supposed, for the opportunities afforded by such occasions for preaching Christ to the people. In time, God would remove the temple; and the separation from Judaism would become complete. Ten reasons why, it may be concluded, that God destroyed the temple are discussed in my Commentary on Mark, Mark 13:2.

Regarding the chronology of just when the event described in this chapter occurred, some have been quite anxious to suppose that a long period had elapsed since Pentecost, Ramsay declaring that "It is not made clear at this point whether weeks or months or years had passed,"(F1) evidently preferring the longest interval possible. He made a preposterous deduction from this, affirming that whereas, in Peter’s speech on Pentecost, "the way of salvation was described as consisting of three steps, repentance, baptism, and remission of sins … now the nature of this process is better understood … the idea of faith is fundamental in this address. Through faith comes healing"(F2)

Ramsay’s exegesis, above, is ,the classical example of the lengths to which men will go in their efforts to get baptism out of the plan of redemption, Ramsay’s argument includes these affirmations: (1) that Peter did not properly understand the plan of redemption on Pentecost, (2) that he mistakenly included baptism as a precondition of salvation, (3) that a very long period elapsed between chapters two and three, giving Peter time to learn the truth he did not know earlier, (4) that when Peter announced the terms of salvation in chapter three he stressed "faith" (Ramsay apparently did not notice that Peter made no mention at all of faith in the announcement offering salvation in Acts 3:19). It would be impossible to imagine a more fallacious exegesis based upon this chapter, the most astounding thing in the exegesis being the denial absolutely of Peter’s inspiration on Pentecost immediately after his baptism in the Holy Spirit!

The hour of prayer … "The hours of prayer were the third (Acts 2:15) when the morning sacrifice was offered, the sixth (noon), and the ninth, the time of the evening sacrifice."(F3) The Jewish method of counting time was followed in the temple, of course, the ninth hour being 3:00 o’clock in the afternoon.

Verse 2

And a certain man that was lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the door of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered the temple.

The cripple in view here had been disabled from birth, being at the time of his healing more than forty years old (Acts 4:22); the fact of his having to be carried showed how complete was his disability.

Beautiful … There were nine doors to the temple, all being 45 feet high, except the gate of Nicanor which was 75 feet high, facing eastward, and very richly adorned. It is thought by many that this was the door mentioned here. Of it, Josephus says:

It was adorned after a most costly manner, as having much richer and thicker plates of silver and gold … it was made of Corinthian brass. The gold had been poured upon it by Alexander, the father of Tiberius.(F4)

Verses 3-5

Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked to receive an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him, with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something from them.

The beggar is not here represented as having any faith in Christ, or indeed that he had any other concern than the hope of receiving gifts from those entering the temple. McGarvey flatly declared that "It is evident from the account of the cure that previous to it he had no faith at all."(F5)

Verse 6

But Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but what I have, that give I thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.

Silver and gold have I none … This clause is not strictly grammatical; and as Campbell noted:

However use may have sanctioned it, this cannot be justified. "None" is an abbreviation of "not one," which does not apply to these metals named … "Silver and gold I have not" was strictly true, and more eloquent.(F6)

The legendary story of Thomas Aquinas and Pope Innocent II comes to mind in connection with this verse. Aquinas surprised the Pope and came upon him while he was counting great stacks of silver and gold coins, whereupon the Pope said,

"Brother, you see that Peter can no longer say, `Silver and gold have I none.’"

Aquinas replied, "Quite true; and neither can he say to the lame man, `Rise and walk!’"

In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk … This means "by the authority of" Christ, showing that Peter and John were acting in a manner consonant with Christ’s will, as being in him and identified with him. There does not exist any other authority in the Christian religion; all things are to be done by the authority of Christ. Even the baptismal ceremony (Matthew 28:18-20) is not "in the name of" the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, but "into" that triple name, but still done by the authority of Christ.

Verse 7

And he took him by the right hand, and raised him up: and immediately his feet and ankle-bones received strength.

The beggar did not respond by trying to rise up; but the apostle took him by the hand and raised him up, whereupon the strength came. Clearly, the faith of the apostles did the healing in this case, the beggar being absolutely passive in it until the strength came; and, at this point, the miracle had already been accomplished. Such a comment as this, that "He sprang up and found his feet for the first time in his life."(F7) fails to take note of the fact that the beggar did not spring up at all; he was lifted up. The reference to ankle-bones shows the perceptive and inquiring mind of the sacred historian, Dr. Luke.

Verse 8

And leaping up, he stood, and began to walk; and he entered with them into the temple, walking and leaping and praising God.

This was the signal for all to behold that the Messianic age indeed had come upon the world. Isaiah had written of the times of Messiah that "Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing" (Isaiah 35:6). Thus began to be fulfilled the promise of Jesus to the Twelve that great "signs" would accompany them on their apostolic mission (Mark 16:17 ff), this being another of several such mighty "signs" recorded in Acts, the miracle of Pentecost being the first.

Verses 9-10

And all the people saw him walking and praising God: and they took knowledge of him, that it was he that sat for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened to him.

These verses report the impression the miracle created among the people who were witnesses of it, the understandable result being the wonder and amazement of all; nor is there any hesitancy on the part of this writer to use the word miracle as descriptive of what happened here. Even the priestly enemies of Jesus admitted that it was a notable miracle they could not deny (Acts 4:16).

Verse 11

And as he held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.

He held Peter and John … Clinging to the apostles was a natural expression of the beggar’s gratitude; also, perhaps a childish fear had seized him, making him fearful that the healing might not last if he permitted the apostles out of his sight.

All the people ran together … Thus the utility of the wonder is apparent in the gathering of a mighty throng of people who would hear the gospel. There was always a design in everything that God did.

Porch that is called Solomon’s … This porch is named twice in Acts, the other place being Acts 5:12, and once in John 10:23. It was located in the court of the heathen on the eastern side of the temple.

The opinion has long been, and still is, that it was placed on the spot where Solomon had made the entrance to the old temple, but still retained its name …. Some distinguished moderns think it was the identical porch Solomon built.(F8)

Verse 12

And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this man? or why fasten ye your eyes on us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made him walk?

When God does mighty things through his servants, the natural man is strongly tempted to glorify the servant rather than the Lord. So it was here, as it was with Paul and Barnabas at Lystra (Acts 14:12); but Peter quickly moved to correct their error.

Verse 13

The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Servant Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied before the face of Pilate, when he had determined to release him.

The God of Abraham, etc. … This was the ancient Jewish formula for calling God’s name; and Peter used it here, perhaps, for its appeal to Jewish minds.

Whom ye delivered up … denied … The wickedness of the conduct of the chosen people was dramatized by Peter by his emphasis upon their conduct before the heathen governor, and in the face of that governor’s determined efforts of release Jesus. In the light of Peter’s charge here, there is no way to soften the guilt of Israel, although, to be sure, Pilate was equally guilty.

Servant Jesus … By these words, Peter clearly identified our Lord as the suffering Servant of Isaiah 42:1; 52:13; and 53:11; thus taking this exceedingly important understanding of the prophecies back to the very door of that first Pentecost. This, of course, is not a denial that Jesus was also the Son of God. As Campbell noted, "Jesus was personally a son, officially a servant."(F9)

Glorified his Servant Jesus … As Root observed, God glorified Jesus repeatedly:

In acknowledging him at his baptism and transfiguration, by working through him the mighty miracles, and further by working the present miracle of healing which had been called forth in the "name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth."(F10)

Verses 14-15

But ye denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted unto you, and killed the Prince of Life; whom God raised from the dead, whereof we are witnesses.

Asked for a murderer … This was another factor that aggravated the guilt of Israel, and it was proper that Peter should have mentioned it here. The choice of Barabbas by the Jewish populace was as tragic an event as ever occurred, for it was part and parcel of the rejection and crucifixion of Jesus. The consequences of it were also of colossal proportions. Within a generation, an entire company of the most reprobate robbers infested Jerusalem, taking charge of the temple itself, and filling the Holy of Holies with dead bodies. This is fully discussed in my Commentary on Mark, Mark 13:2.

The Prince of Life … This pleasing expression is actually a mistranslation, the true reading being "Author of Life Eternal."(F11) McGarvey also supported this translation, pointing out that the word here rendered "Prince" also occurs in Hebrews 5:9; Hebrews 12:2, where it is properly translated "Author."(F12)

Whom God raised from the dead … As always, the burden of apostolic preaching was the resurrection of the Son of God; and here Peter stressed it, together with the fact of the apostles being witnesses of it.

Verse 16

And by faith in his name hath his name made this man strong, whom ye behold and know: yea, the faith which is through him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

In this verse appears the only mention of faith in this whole narrative; and it is mentioned here, not as a condition of receiving salvation (although it is so, of course) but as an explanation of the power that had healed the cripple, the faith in view being not of the cripple at all, but of the men who healed him. Following this explanation, Peter went on with his sermon; and, somewhat later, when again he would announce terms of redemption to men, his words (Acts 3:19) were in perfect agreement with what he had announced on Pentecost. The conceit that Peter’s mention of faith in this verse was due to his having discovered by some means or other that baptism was no longer a condition of salvation is founded upon a denial of the sacred text. The terms of redemption are not in view at all in this verse; but what is taught is that the apostles (already saved) had performed this wonder by reason of their faith in Jesus Christ; and, at this point in the narrative, Peter had not told either the healed beggar or the multitude what to do to be saved. He would do that later (Acts 3:19). Another important corollary of this verse is:

The power of performing miracles was given to the apostles by virtue of the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but they needed to exercise faith before this power could be used.(F13)

Verses 17-18

And now, brethren, I know that in ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers. But the things which God foreshadowed by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, be thus fulfilled.

In ignorance ye did it … This extenuation of the guilt of Israel was mentioned by Peter for the sake of a more persuasive appeal to his hearers; and, of course, what Peter said of their being ignorant is true. However, Peter was not specific about the area of their ignorance, which was limited, especially as regards the rulers. The leaders of Israel knew that Christ was the long-expected Messiah, a holy and righteous man, and that he was the heir of the theocracy, and the rightful claimant of the throne of David — all this they most certainly knew; because, as Jesus said of them that they said among themselves, "This is the heir; come let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours" (Mark 12:7). The exact point of their ignorance regarded the fact of Jesus’ being God come in the flesh, the very person who would judge them in the last day; THAT they did not know. The infinite patience and forbearance of God appear in Peter’s making every possible allowance in softening the guilt of Israel’s rejection of Christ.

That his Christ should suffer, be thus fulfilled … Moreover, Peter stated here that their ignorant rejection had also fulfilled the prophecies of Jesus’ sufferings. Having thus tempered, to the extent it was possible, the guilt of those who rejected and crucified the Christ, Peter at once appealed to them to obey the gospel, announcing the very same terms of salvation which he had previously spoken on Pentecost.

Verse 19

Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that so there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.

On Pentecost (Acts 2:38), Peter had preached: (1) repent ye, (2) and be baptized, (3) for the remission of sins, and (4) ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Exactly the same four factors are in view here: (1) repent, (2) turn again, (3) that sins may be blotted out, and (4) that refreshing from the Lord’s presence would follow. It is universally admitted that (1), (2), and (4) of the above factors in both sequences are synonymous; and, if we had known nothing at all concerning any of these things, the incidence of "be baptized" and "turn again" in exactly corresponding places in these sequences would prove that they mean the same thing. As De Welt expressed it:

The thought behind "turn again" was nothing short of baptism. The Jews no doubt had witnessed the baptism of persons every day (Acts 2:47); and thus when Peter called upon them to "repent and turn again," they knew exactly what he inferred.(F14)

Boles also agreed, declaring that: "The blotting out of sins is equivalent to remission of sins; and being baptized is tantamount to turning again."(F15)

It is, however, to the great Restoration preacher, Benjamin Franklin, that we turn for one of the most impressive analyses regarding "turn again." It actually means "be converted," as the translators of the KJV rendered it in three different passages thus:

1. The heart of this people is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their heart, and should be converted (turn again), and I should heal them (Acts 28:27).

2. At the same time came the disciples unto him, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. … Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted (turn), and become as little children, ye shall not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:1; Matthew 18:3).

3. Repent ye therefore, and be converted (turn again), that your sins may be blotted out (Acts 3:19).

Significantly, the command, however it is read, whether "turn again" or "be converted," was used by the inspired writers to indicate something that men must do; and the status of those to whom these several words were addressed shows what was meant. In (1), the people commanded to be converted were unbelievers; in (2) they were already believers; and in (3) the people were already believers and had been commanded to repent; and therefore, "converted" in this instance refers to some further action following repentance and faith.

Thus it is clear that "turn again" may refer to any of the necessary actions by which one becomes a Christian. In (1) it means that he should believe, repent, and be baptized; in (2) it meant that the apostles should repent; and in (3) it has the meaning that people who had already believed and repented were yet required to be baptized. Thus the actual meaning of "turn again," as used by the inspired writers, is "complete whatever is lacking" to bring one into Christ. In this verse, the thing lacking after faith and repentance was most certainly their being baptized into Christ.

But the question arises, Why did Peter use this rather indirect way of stating what they must do, especially in view of what he had so flatly said on Pentecost? The answer must lie in the fact of his inspiration. God always gives the skeptic, the willful, and the unbeliever a way out. Our Lord said shortly before raising the daughter of Jairus, "The maid is not dead, but sleepeth!" (Mark 5:39), thus leaving men room to make their own moral decision. So it is here. If one is determined to reject baptism as clearly binding upon all men, this verse gives him a straw to catch at, the excuse to refuse what is morally impossible for him already.

The notion advocated by Ramsay and discussed earlier in this chapter, to the effect that Peter switched his position to new ground in this passage, "stressing faith," is refuted by the simple truth that faith is not even mentioned here. Just as it was on Pentecost, the people already believed; and Peter was concerned here with further instructing men regarding how they might "save themselves" by complying with the God-given terms of redemption.

For those who desire a fuller discussion of the questions regarding this verse, reference is made to J. W. McGarvey’s New Commentary on Acts.

Verses 20-21

And that he may send the Christ who hath been appointed for you, even Jesus, whom the heavens must receive until the times of restoration of all things, whereof God spake by the mouth of his holy prophets that have been of old.

Whereas in Acts 2:38 Peter had promised that remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit would follow their obeying the gospel, there is here assigned another consequence, namely, that (God) may send the Christ, etc. Christ had already come and completed the work of his First Advent, making this a reference to the Second Coming, which in this verse is promised as an event that would be hastened by the people obeying the gospel, indicating, as McGarvey said, that:

A certain amount of work in the saving of men was to be accomplished before his coming. This is indicated by the qualifying remark, "whom the heavens must receive until the restoration of all things whereof God spake by the mouth of his holy prophets."(F16)

There is a definite hint here that Christ’s Second Advent will not appear until a certain number of souls have been redeemed; and, that being true, one of the reasons for the severe weeping of Jesus over the fate of Jerusalem due to their rejecting him is evident. IF the Jews had received Christ, there can be no doubt that Christianity would have been the choice of far greater numbers of men, and God’s purpose could have been realized much sooner; and Peter definitely says as much right here. The tragic rejection of Israel, however, had the effect of extending the long agony of mankind, vastly increasing the numbers of men who would be born, and thus fulfilling the curse upon Eve that God would "multiply thy sorrow and thy conception" (Genesis 3:16). Thus, the human race blew its second chance in Israel’s rejection of the Christ, the same being a disaster for humanity, fully comparable to the original debacle in Eden. Here, Peter pleaded with the people to obey the gospel that God might send the Christ, etc., in his Second Advent.

Whom the heavens must receive … means that Jesus will not appear again until a certain time future, at which time "the restoration of all things," in one sense, shall have been completed, and to be followed by certain other restorations. Here again one thinks of the primary and secondary arches of the rainbow, as so often in prophecy.

Until the times of the restoration of all things … The primary and immediate thing in view here is the accomplishment of all those things which had been prophesied by the Old Testament prophets, Acts 3:21 b being a qualifier of the things to be restored; and, concerning those things, the Second Advent will be at the end, not the beginning of the restoration. The premillennial views are not supported by this text. Christ explained that John the Baptist’s coming to "restore all things" was fully accomplished (Matthew 17:11-12); and men "knew him not." Also, none of the outlandish things the Jews thought would happen when Elijah "restored all things" ever took place. It is, in all probability, certain that the "restoration of all things," as taught by the prophets, is now going on under the reign of Christ, and that all shall be accomplished without the majority of mankind ever being in the slightest degree aware of it. Jesus himself made the work and the events of John’s ministry, in certain particulars, typical of his own. Just as John was killed, so would Jesus be crucified, etc.

Despite this, there is the definite suggestion in places like this of a further restoration of "all things," following the judgment. As Dummelow believed: "It means the restoration of the whole universe to its original and planned perfection … as in the `new heavens and the new earth’" (2 Peter 3:13).(F17)

Verses 22-23

Moses indeed said, A prophet shall the Lord God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me; and to him shall ye hearken in all things whatsoever he shall speak unto you. And it shall be, that every soul that shall not hearken to that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.


Peter pressed his appeal by his presentation of Christ as the mighty Prophet like unto Moses. This quotation is from Deuteronomy 18:15 ff, which emphasizes the typical qualities in the life of the great Lawgiver of Israel, Moses. This is an extensive area of study, because there were many likenesses between Moses and Christ. Both were sons of virgin princesses, Moses by adoption, Jesus by the virgin birth, etc., etc. For a rather extended enumeration of these, please see my Commentary on Hebrews, under Hebrews 3:2, where nineteen likenesses and thirteen contrasts between Moses and Christ are presented.

Significantly, Moses was rejected by Israel, but Moses ruled them despite that; and the inference from Peter’s mention of this prophecy is that Jesus, despite the fact of his being rejected, will nevertheless be the ruler of God’s true Israel.

Destroyed from among the people … In its spiritual application, this means that all who do not hearken to that Prophet, who is Christ, shall be lost eternally.

Verse 24

Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and them that followed after, as many as have spoken, they also told of these days.

Peter’s words here show that all of the Old Testament writers bore witness to the coming of Christ and to qualities and events of the kingdom he would receive. Some have questioned whether Samuel spoke of Christ, but of course he did. It was he who anointed David king and delivered the prophecy of David’s perpetual throne (2 Samuel 7:12-16), all of which was fulfilled in Christ. Some 333 prophecies of the Old Testament, embracing practically every aspect and feature of Christ’s coming and of his life, sufferings, death, burial, resurrection, glorification, etc., and of the kingdom he received, — all are fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

Verse 25

Ye are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

Sons of the prophets … seems to distinguish among the sons of Abraham, as between the secular descendants like the Pharisees, and those of the true spiritual likeness, here called "sons of the prophets," who were also posterity of Abraham, but in the more meaningful sense.

Sons of the covenant … clearly refers to the true Israelites, the spiritual seed of Abraham, such as Nathaniel and Zacchaeus.

In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed … The promise to Abraham is recorded in Genesis 12:3; 22:18; 26:4; and 28:14. "All the families of earth …" envisions the blessing being poured out upon Gentiles as well as Jews; and "in thy seed" is not a promise that the multitudes of Abraham’s posterity will bless mankind, but that the blessing shall come through the seed singular, which is Christ (Galatians 3:16).

Alexander Campbell commented on the Jews being sons of the prophets, taking a slightly different view, thus:

They were educated by the sixteen Jewish prophets, the same being read in their synagogues weekly. Hence, we presume, they were called sons of the prophets; and therefore ought to have recognized and acknowledged their own Messiah.(F18)

Verse 26

Unto you first God, having raised up his Servant, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.

Unto you first … "To the Jew first …" (Romans 1:16). This was the invariable rule of apostolic preaching; but the words inherently contain a prophecy that others shall receive the gospel also; and Peter’s use of this slogan in context is a warning that the right to receive or reject the gospel never pertained to the Jew only, but to the Jew first; and afterward the Gentiles would also be called.

In turning … from your iniquities … The great blessing Jesus came to deliver was not a re-establishment of the old Solomonic empire, but a spiritual blessing marked by the forgiveness of sins, the reception of God’s Spirit, and a turning of the people away from their wickedness. It is not hard to understand why secular Israel wanted no such blessings; millions of men in all generations are just like those ancient Israelites. Yet, significantly, many of the fleshly Israel were Israelites indeed; and they, along with the apostles, made up the original church of Jesus Christ in this world; and it may well be supposed that in all ages many people who literally descended from Abraham are now in the kingdom of Christ; although, to be sure, the acceptance of Christianity by one who is called a Jew leads at once to his loss of identity as a Jew, afterward being, not a Jew, but a Christian.

Bibliographical Information
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Acts 3". "Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bcc/acts-3.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.
Ads FreeProfile