Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, April 17th, 2024
the Third Week after Easter
Partner with StudyLight.org as God uses us to make a difference for those displaced by Russia's war on Ukraine.
Click to donate today!

Bible Commentaries
Acts 3

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Search for…
Enter query below:
Additional Authors

Verse 1

Peter and John went up ... - In Luke 24:53, it is said that the apostles were continually in the temple, praising and blessing God. From Acts 2:46, it is clear that all the disciples were accustomed daily to resort to the temple for devotion. Whether they joined in the sacrifices of the temple-service is not said; but the thing is not improbable. This was the place and the manner in which they and their fathers had worshipped. They came slowly to the conclusion that they were to leave the temple, and they would naturally resort there with their countrymen to worship the God of their fathers. In the previous chapter Acts 2:43 we are told in general that many wonders and signs were done by the hands of the apostles. From the many miracles which were performed, Luke selects one of which he gives a more full account, and especially as it gives him occasion to record another of the addresses of Peter to the Jews. An impostor would have been satisfied with the general statement that many miracles were performed. The sacred writers descend to particulars, and tell us where, and in relation to whom, they were performed. This is a proof that they were honest people, and did not intend to deceive.

Into the temple - Not into the edifice properly called the temple, but into the court of the temple, where prayer was accustomed to be made. See the notes on Matthew 21:12.

At the hour of prayer ... - The Jewish day was divided into twelve equal parts; of course, the ninth hour would be about three o’clock p. m. This was the hour of evening prayer. Morning prayer was offered at nine o’clock. Compare Psalms 55:17; Daniel 6:10.

Verse 2

Lame from his mother’s womb - The mention of this shows that there was no deception in the case. The man had been always lame; he was obliged to be carried; and he was well known to the Jews.

Whom they laid daily - That is, his friends laid him there daily. He would therefore be well known to those who were in the habit of entering the temple. Among the ancients there were no hospitals for the sick, and no alms-houses for the poor. The poor were dependent, therefore, on the Charity of those who were in better circumstances. It became an important matter for them to be placed where they would see many people. Hence, it was customary to place them at the gates of rich men Luke 16:20; and they also sat by the highway to beg where many persons would pass, Mark 10:46; Luke 18:35; John 9:1-8. The entrance to the temple would be a favorable place for begging; for:

(1)Great multitudes were accustomed to enter there; and,

(2)When going up for the purposes of religion, they would be more inclined to give alms than at other times; and especially was this true of the Pharisees, who were particularly desirous of publicity in bestowing charity. It is recorded by Martial (i. 112) that the custom prevailed among the Romans of placing the poor by the gates of the temples; and the custom was also observed a long time in the Christian churches.

At the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful - In regard to this gate there have been two opinions, one of which supposes that it was the gate commonly called Nicanor, which led from the court of the Gentiles to the court of the women (see Plan in notes on Matthew 21:12), and the other that it was the gate at the eastern entrance of the temple, commonly called Susan. It is not easy to determine which is intended; though from the fact that what is here recorded occurred near Solomon’s porch (Acts 3:11; compare the Plan of the Temple, Matthew 21:12), it seems probable that the latter was intended. This gate was large and splendid. It was made of Corinthian brass, a most valuable metal, and made a magnificent appearance (Josephus, Jewish Wars, book 5, chapter 5, section 3).

To ask alms - Charity.

Verse 3

Who, seeing Peter ... - There is no evidence that he was acquainted with them or knew who they were. He asked of them as he was accustomed to do of the multitude that entered the temple.

Verse 4

Fastening his eyes - The word used here denotes “to look intently, or with fixed attention.” It is one of the special words which Luke uses (Luke 4:20; Luke 22:56; Acts 1:10; Acts 3:12; Acts 6:15; Acts 7:55; Acts 10:4; etc.) 12 times in all. It is used by no other writer in the New Testament, except twice by Paul, 2 Corinthians 3:7, 2 Corinthians 3:13.

Look on us - All this Was done to fix the attention. He wished to call the attention of the man distinctly to himself, and to what he was about to do. It was also done that the man might be fully apprised that his restoration to health came from him.

Verse 6

Silver and gold have I none - The man had asked for money; Peter assures him that he had not that to give; what he did was done, however, in such a way as to show his willingness to aid him if he had possessed money.

Such as I have - Such as is in my power. It is not to be supposed that he meant to say that he originated this power himself, but only that it was entrusted to him. He immediately adds that it was derived solely from the Lord Jesus Christ.

In the name - Compare Acts 4:10. In Mark 16:17-18, it is said, “These signs shall follow them that the sick, and they shall recover.” The expression means “by his authority,” or “in virtue of power derived from him.” We are here struck with a remarkable difference between the manner in which the Lord Jesus performed miracles and that in which it was done by his apostles. He did it in his own name and by virtue of his own power. The apostles never attempted to perform a miracle by their own power. It was only in the name of Jesus; and this circumstance alone shows that there was a radical difference between Christ and all other prophets and teachers.

Of Nazareth - This was the name by which he was commonly known. By the name he had been designated among the Jews and on the cross. It is by no means improbable that the man had heard of him by this name, and it was important that he should understand that it was by the authority of him who had been crucified as an impostor.

Rise up and walk - To do this would be evidence of signal power. It is remarkable that in cases like this they were commanded to do the thing at once. See similar cases in John 5:8; Matthew 9:6; Matthew 12:13. It would have been easy to allege that they had no power; that they were lame, or sick, or palsied, and could do nothing until God should give them strength. But the command was to do the thing; nor did the Saviour or the apostles stop to convince them that they could do nothing. They did not doubt that if it were done they would ascribe the power to God. Precisely like this is the condition of the sinner. God commands him to do the thing; to repent, and believe, and lead a holy life. It is not merely to attempt to do it, to make use of means, or to wait on him, but it is actually to repent and believe the gospel. Where he may obtain power to do it is another question. It is easy for him to involve himself in difficulty, as it would have been in these cases. But the command of God is positive, and must be obeyed. If not obeyed, people must perish, just as this man would have been always lame if he had put forth no effort of his own. When done, a convicted sinner will do just as this man did, instinctively give all the praise to God, Acts 3:8.

Verse 7

And he took him - He took hold of his hand. To take hold of the hand in such a ease was an offer of aid, an indication that Peter was sincere, and was an inducement to him to make an effort. This may be employed as a beautiful illustration of the manner of God when he commands people to repent and believe. He does not leave them alone; he extends help, and aids their efforts. If they tremble, and feel that they are weak, and needy, and helpless, his hand is stretched out and his power exerted to impart strength and grace.

His feet and ankle-bones - The fact that strength was immediately imparted; that the feet, long lame, were now made strong, was a full and clear proof of miraculous power.

Verse 8

And he, leaping up - This was a natural expression of joy, and it was a striking fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 35:6; “Then shall the lame man leap as an hart.” The account here given is one that is perfectly natural. The man would be filled with joy, and would express it in this manner. He had been lame from a child; he had never walked; and there was more in the miracle than merely giving strength. The art of “walking” is one that is acquired by long practice. Children learn slowly. Caspar Hauser, discovered in one of the cities of Germany, who had been confined in prison from a child, was unable to walk in an easy way when released, but stumbled in a very awkward manner (see his Life). When, therefore, this man was able at once to walk, it was clear proof of a miracle.

Praising God - This was the natural and appropriate expression of his feelings on this occasion. His heart would be full; and he could have no doubt that this blessing had come from God alone. It is remarkable that he did not even express his gratitude to Peter and John. They had not pretended to restore him in their own name, and he would feel that man could not do it. It is remarkable that he praised God without being taught or entreated to do it. It was instinctive - the natural feeling of the heart. So a sinner. His first feelings, when he is converted, will be to ascribe the praise to God. While he may and will feel regard for the ministry by whose instrumentality he has received the blessing, yet his main expression of gratitude will be to God. And this he will do instinctively. He needs no prompter; he knows that no power of man is equal to the work of converting the soul, and will rejoice, and give all the praise to the God of grace.

Verses 9-10

And all the people ... - The people who had been accustomed to see him sit in a public place.

And they knew ... - In this they could not be deceived; they had seen him a long time, and now they saw the same man expressing his praise to God for complete recovery. The particulars in this miracle are the following, and they are as far as possible from any appearance of imposture:

1. The man had been afficated from a child. This was known to all the people. At this time he was 40 years of age, Acts 4:22.

2. He was not an impostor. If he had pretended lameness, it is wonderful that he had not been detected before, and not have been suffered to occupy a place thus in the temple.

3. The apostles had no agency in placing him there. They had not seen him before. There was manifestly no collusion or agreement with him to attempt to impose on the people.

4. The man himself was convinced of the miracle, and did not doubt that the power by which he had been healed was of God.

5. The people were convinced of the same thing. They saw the effects; they had known him well; they had had every opportunity to know that he was diseased, and they were now satisfied that he was restored. There was no possibility of deception in the case. It was not merely the friends of Jesus that saw this; not those who had an interest in the miracle, but those who had been his enemies, and who had just before been engaged in putting him to death. Let this miracle be compared, in these particulars, with those pretended miracles which have been affirmed to have been performed in defense of other systems of religion, and it will be seen at once that in these there is every appearance of sincerity, honesty, and truth; in them, every mark of deception, fraud, and imposition. (See Paley’s “Evidences of Christianity,” proposition ii. chapter ii.)

Verse 11

Held Peter and John - The word “held” means that he “adhered” to them; he “joined himself” to them; he was desirous of “remaining” with them and “participating” with them. “He clung to his benefactors, and would not be separated from them” (Prof. Hackett).

All the people ... - Excited by curiosity, they came together. The fact of the cure and the conduct of the man would soon draw together a crowd, and thus furnish a favorable opportunity for preaching to them the gospel.

In the porch ... - This “porch” was a covered way or passage on the east side of the temple. It was distinguished for its magnificence. See the plan and description of the temple, notes on Matthew 21:12.

Verse 12

When Peter saw it - Saw the people assembling in such multitudes and wondering at the miracle.

He answered - The word “answer,” with us, implies that a question had been asked, or that some subject had been proposed for consideration. But the word is used in a different sense in the Bible. It is often used when no question was asked, but when an occasion was offered for remarks, or when an opportunity was presented to make a statement. It is the same as replying to a thing, or making a statement in regard to some subject, Daniel 2:26; Acts 5:8.

Ye men of Israel - Jews. Compare Acts 2:14.

Why marvel ye at this? - The particular thing which he intended to reprove here was not that they wondered, for that was proper; but that they looked on himself and John as if they had been the authors of this healing. They ought to have understood it. The Jews were sufficiently acquainted with miracles to interpret them and to know whence they proceeded; and they ought not, therefore, to ascribe them to man, but to inquire why they had been performed by God.

Why look ye ... - Why do ye fix the eyes with amazement on us, as though we could do this? Why not look at once to God?

By our own power - By any art of healing or by any medicine we had done this.

Or holiness - Piety. As if God had bestowed this on us on account of our personal and eminent piety. It may be remarked that here was ample opportunity for them to establish a reputation of their own. The people were disposed to pay them honor; they might at once have laid claim to vast authority over them; but they refused all such personal honor, and ascribed all to the Lord Jesus. Whatever success may attend the ministers of the gospel, or however much the world may be disposed to do them honor, they should disclaim all power in themselves, and ascribe it to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not by the talents or personal holiness of ministers, valuable as these are, that people are saved; it is only by the power of God, designed to honor his Son. See 2 Corinthians 3:5-6.

Verse 13

The God of Abraham - He is called the God of Abraham because Abraham acknowledged him as his God, and because God showed himself to be his friend. Compare Matthew 22:32; Exodus 3:6, Exodus 3:15; Genesis 28:13; Genesis 26:24. It was important to show that it was the same God who had done this that had been acknowledged by their fathers, and that they were not about to introduce the worship of any other God. And it was especially important, because the promise had been made to Abraham that in his seed all the families of the earth would be blessed, Genesis 12:3. Compare Galatians 3:16.

Hath glorified - Has honored. You denied, despised, and murdered him, but God has exalted and honored him. This miracle was done in the “name” of Jesus, Acts 3:6. It was the “power of God” that had restored the man; and by putting forth this power, God had shown that he approved the work of his Son, and was disposed to honor him in the view of people. Compare John 17:1; Ephesians 1:20-22; Philippians 2:9-11; Hebrews 2:9; Revelation 1:5-18.

Ye delivered up - That is, you delivered him to the omans to be put to death. See the notes on Acts 2:23.

And denied him in the presence of Pilate - Denied that he was the Messiah. Were unwilling to own him as your long-expected King, John 19:15.

When he was determined ... - Matthew 27:17-25; Luke 23:16-23. Pilate was satisfied of his innocence; but he was weak, timid, and irresolute, and he yielded to their wishes. The fact that Pilate regarded him as innocent was a strong aggravation of their crime. They should have regarded him as innocent; but they urged on his condemnation against the deliberate judgment of him before whom they had arraigned him, and thus showed how obstinately they were resolved on his death.

Verse 14

The Holy One ... - See Psalms 16:10. Compare the notes on Acts 2:27.

And the Just - The word “just” here denotes “innocent,” or “one who was free from crime.” It is properly used in reference to law, and denotes “one who stands upright in the view of the law, or who is not chargeable with crime.” In this sense, the Lord Jesus was not only personally innocent, but even before his judges he stood unconvicted of any crime. The crime charged on him at first was blasphemy Matthew 26:65, and on this charge the Sanhedrin had condemned him without proof. But of this charge Pilate would not take cognizance, and hence, before him they charged him with sedition, Luke 23:2. Neither of these charges were made out, and of course, in the eye of the law, he was innocent and just. It greatly aggravated their crime that they demanded his death still, even after it was ascertained that they could prove nothing against him, thus showing that it was mere hatred and malice that led them to seek his death.

And desired a murderer - Matthew 27:21.

Verse 15

And killed the Prince of life - The word rendered “prince” denotes properly “a military leader or commander.” Hence, in Hebrews 2:10, it is translated “captain:” “It became him ...to make the “Captain of their salvation” perfect through sufferings.” As a captain or commander leads on to victory and is said to obtain it, so the word comes to denote one who is the “cause,” the “author,” the “procurer,” etc. In this sense it is used, Acts 5:31, “Him hath God exalted to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel,” etc. In Hebrews 12:2 it is properly rendered author, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith.” The word “author,” or “giver,” would express the meaning of the word here. It also implies that he has dominion over life; an idea, indeed, which is essentially connected with that of his being the author of it. The word “life” here is used in a large sense, as denoting “all manner of life.” In this sense it is used in reference to Christ in John 1:4, “In him was life.” Compare John 5:26; 1 John 5:11; 1 Corinthians 15:45. Jesus is here called the Prince of life in contrast with him whom the Jews demanded in his place, Barabbas. He was a murderer Luke 23:19; Mark 15:7, one who had destroyed life, and yet they demanded that he whose character it was to destroy life should be released, and the Author of life be put to death.

Whom God hath raised ... - Acts 2:24, Acts 2:32.

Verse 16

And his name - The “name” of Jesus is here put for Jesus himself, and it is the same as saying “and he,” etc. In this way the word name is often used by the Hebrews, especially when speaking of God, Acts 1:15; Acts 4:12; Ephesians 1:21; Revelation 3:4. It does not mean that there was any efficacy in the mere name of Jesus that would heal the man, but that it was done by his authority and power.

Through faith in his name - By means of faith in him; that is, by the faith which Peter and John had in Jesus. It does not refer to any faith that the man had himself, for there is no evidence that he believed in him. But it was by means of the faith which the apostles exercised in him that the miracle was performed, and was thus a fulfillment of the declaration in Matthew 17:20, “If ye have faith ...ye shall to this mountain, remove hence,” etc. This truth Peter repeats two or three times in the verse to impress it more distinctly on the minds of his hearers.

Whom ye see and know - There could therefore, be no mistake. He was well known to them. There was no doubt about the truth of the miracle Acts 4:16, and the only inquiry was in what way it had been done. This Peter affirms to have been accomplished only by the power of the Lord Jesus.

Perfect soundness - ὁλοκληρίαν holoklērian. This word is not used elsewhere in the New Testament. It denotes “integrity of parts, freedom from any defect”; and it here means that the cure was perfect and entire, or that he was completely restored to the use of his limbs.

In the presence of you all - You are all witnesses of it, and can judge for yourselves. This shows how confident the apostles were that a real miracle had been performed. They were willing that it should be examined; and this is conclusive proof that there was no attempt at imposture. A deceiver, or one who pretended to work miracles, would have been cautious of exposing the subject to the danger of detection.

Verse 17

And now, brethren - Though they had been guilty of a crime so enormous, yet Peter shows the tenderness of his heart in addressing them still as his brethren. He regarded them as of the same nation with himself; as having the same hopes, and as being entitled to the same privileges. The expression also shows that he was not disposed to exalt himself as being by nature more holy than they. This verse is a remarkable instance of tenderness in appealing to sinners. It would have been easy to have reproached them for their enormous crimes; but that was not the way to reach the heart. He had indeed stated and proved their wickedness. The object now was to bring them to repentance for it; and this was to be done by tenderness, kindness, and love. People are melted to contrition, not by reproaches, but by love.

I wot - I know; am well apprised of it. I know you will affirm it, and I admit that it was so. Still the enormous deed has been done. It cannot be recalled, and it cam not be innocent. It remains, therefore, that you should repent of it, and seek for pardon.

That through ignorance ... - Peter does not mean to affirm that they were innocent in having put him to death, for he had just proved the contrary, and he immediately proceeds to exhort them to repentance. But he means to say that their offence was mitigated by the fact that they were ignorant that he was the Messiah. The same thing the Saviour himself affirmed when dying, Luke 23:34; “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” Compare Acts 13:27; 1 Corinthians 2:8. The same thing the apostle Paul affirmed in relation to himself, as one of the reasons why he obtained pardon from the enormous crime of persecution, 1 Timothy 1:13. In cases like these, though crime might be mitigated, yet it was not taken entirely away. They were guilty of demanding that a man should be put to death who was declared innocent; they were urged on with ungovernable fury; they did it from contempt and malice; and the crime of murder remained, though they were ignorant that he was the Messiah. It is plainly implied that if they had put him to death knowing that he was the Messiah, and as the Messiah, there would have been no forgiveness. Compare Hebrews 10:26-29. Ignorance, therefore, is a circumstance which must always be taken into view in an estimate of crime. It is at the same time true that they had opportunity to know that he was the Messiah, but the mere fact that they were ignorant of it was still a mitigating circumstance in the estimate of their crime. There can be no doubt that the mass of the people had no fixed belief that he was the Messiah.

As did also your rulers - Compare 1 Corinthians 2:8, where the apostle says that none of the princes of this world knew the wisdom of the gospel, for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. It is certain that the leading scribes and Pharisees were urged on by the most ungovernable fury and rage to put Jesus to death, even when they had abundant opportunity to know his true character. This was particularly the case with the high priest. But yet it was true that they did not believe that he was the Messiah. Their minds had been prejudiced. They had expected a prince and a conqueror. All their views of the Messiah were different from the character which Jesus manifested. And though they might have known that he was the Messiah; though he had given abundant proof of the fact, yet it is clear that they did not believe it. It is not credible that they would have put to death one whom they really believed to be the Christ. He was the hope, the only hope of their nation; and they would not have dared to imbrue their hands in the blood of him whom they really believed to be the illustrious personage so long promised and expected by their fathers. It was also probably true that no small part of the Sanhedrin was urged on by the zeal and fury of the chief priests. They had not courage to resist them; and yet they might not have entered heartily into this work of persecution and death. Compare John 7:50-53. The speech of Peter, however, is not intended to free them entirely from blame; nor should it be pressed to show that they were innocent. It is a mitigating circumstance thrown in to show them that there was still hope of mercy.

Verse 18

But those things - To wit, those things that did actually occur, pertaining to the life and death of the Messiah.

Had showed - Had announced, or foretold.

By the mouth of all his prophets - That is, by the prophets in general, without affirming that each individual prophet had uttered a distinct prediction respecting this. The prophets “taken together,” or the prophecies “as a whole,” had declared this. The word “all” is not infrequently used in this somewhat limited sense, Mark 1:37; John 3:26. In regard to the prophecies respecting Christ, see the notes on Luke 24:27.

Hath so fulfilled - He has caused to be fulfilled in this manner; that is, by the rejection, the denial, and the wickedness of the rulers. It has turned out to be in strict accordance with the prophecy. This fact Peter uses in exhorting them to repentance; but it is not to be regarded as an excuse for their sins. The mere fact that all this was foretold; that it was in accordance with the purposes and predictions of God, does not take away the quilt of it, or constitute an excuse for it. In regard to this, we may remark:

  1. The prediction did not change the nature of the act. The mere fact that it was foretold, or foreknown, did not change its character. See notes on Acts 1:23.
  2. Peter still regarded them as guilty. He did not urge the fact that this was foreknown as an excuse for their sin, but to show them that since all this happened according to the prediction and the purpose of God, they might hope in his mercy. The plan was that the Messiah should die to make a way for pardon, and, therefore, they might hope in his mercy.

(3)This was a signal instance of the power and mercy of God in overruling the wicked conduct of people to further his own purposes and plans.

(4)All the other sins of people may thus be overruled, and thus the wrath of man may be made to praise him. But,

  1. This will constitute no excuse for the sinner. It is no part of his intention to honor God, or to advance his purposes; and there is no direct tendency in his crimes to advance his glory. The direct tendency of his deeds is counteracted and overruled, and God brings good out of the evil. But this surely constitutes no excuse for the sinner.

If it be asked why Peter insisted on this if he did not mean that it should be regarded as an excuse for their sin, I reply, that it was his design to prove “that Jesus was the Messiah,” and having proved this, he could assure them that there was mercy. Not that they had not been guilty; not that they deserved favor; but that tire fact that the Messiah had come was an argument which proved that any sinners might obtain mercy, as he immediately proceeds to show them.

Verse 19

Repent ye - See the notes on Matthew 3:2.

Therefore - Because of your sin in putting Jesus to death, and “because” he is the Messiah, and God through him is willing to show mercy to the chief of sinners.

And be converted - This expression conveys an idea not at all to be found in the original. It conveys the idea of “passivity,” be “converted,” as if they were to yield to some foreign influence I that they were now resisting. But the idea of being “passive” in this is not conveyed by the original word. The word means properly to “turn; to return to a path from which one has gone astray; and then to turn away from sins, or to forsake them.” It is a word used in a general sense to denote “the whole turning to God.” That the form of the word here ἐπιστρέψατε epistrepsate does not denote passivity may be clearly seen by referring to the following places where the same form of the word is used: Matthew 24:18; Mark 13:16; Luke 17:31; 1 Thessalonians 1:9. The expression, therefore, would have been more appropriately rendered “repent and turn, that your sins,” etc. “To be converted” cannot be a matter of obligation, but to “turn to God” is the duty of every sinner. The crimes of which he exhorted them to repent were those pertaining to the death of the Lord Jesus, as well as all the past sins of their lives. They were to turn from the course of wickedness in which they and the nation had been so long walking. That your sins, etc. In order that your sins may be forgiven. Sin cannot be pardoned before man repents of it. In the order of the work of grace, repentance must always precede pardon. Of course, no man can have evidence that his sin is pardoned until he repents. Compare Isaiah 1:16-20; Joel 2:13.

May be blotted out - May be forgiven, or pardoned. The expression “to blot out sins” occurs also in Isaiah 43:25; Psalms 51:1, Psalms 51:9; Jeremiah 18:23; Nehemiah 4:5; Isaiah 44:22. The expression “to blot out a name” is applied to expunging it from a “roll,” or “catalog,” or “list,” as of an army, etc. Exodus 32:32-33; Deuteronomy 9:14; Deuteronomy 25:19; Deuteronomy 29:29, etc. The expression to “blot out sins” is taken from the practice of creditors charging their debtors, and when the debt is paid, cancelling it, or wholly removing the record. The word used here properly refers to the practice of writing on tables covered with wax, and then by inverting the stylus, or instrument of writing, smoothing the wax again, and thus removing every trace of the record. This more entirely expresses the idea of pardoning than blotting does. It means wholly to remove the record, the charge, and every trace of the account against us. In this way God forgives sins.

When the times ... - The word ὅπως hopōs, rendered “when,” is commonly rendered that, and denotes the “final cause,” or the “reason” why a thing is done, Matthew 2:23; Matthew 5:16, Matthew 5:45, etc. By many it has been supposed to have this sense here, and to mean, “repent ...in order that the times of refreshing may come,” etc. Thus, Kuinoel, Grotius, Lightfoot, the Syriac version, etc. If used in this sense, it means that their repentance and forgiveness would be the means of introducing peace and joy. Others have rendered it, in accordance with our translation, “when,” meaning that they might find peace in the day when Christ should return to judgment, which return would be to them a day of rest, though of terror to the wicked. Thus, Calvin, Beza, the Latin Vulgate, Schleusner, etc. The grammatical construction will admit of either, though the former is more in accordance with the usual use of the word.

The objection to the former is, that it is not easy to see how their repenting, etc., would be the means of introducing the times of refreshing. And this, also, corresponds very little with the design of Peter in this discourse. That was to encourage them to repentance; to adduce arguments why they should repent, and why they might hope in his mercy. To do this, it was needful only to assure them that they were living under the times graciously promised by God the times of refreshing, when pardon might be obtained. The main inquiry, therefore, is, What did Peter refer to by the times of refreshing, and by the restitution of all things? Did he refer to any particular manifestation to be made then, or to the influence of the gospel on the earth, or to the future state, when the Lord Jesus shall come to judgment? The idea which I suppose Peter intended to convey was this: “Repent, and be converted. You have been great sinners, and are in danger. Turn from your ways, that your sins may be forgiven.”

But then, what encouragement would there be for this? or why should it be done? Answer: “You are living under the times of the gospel, the reign of the Messiah, the times of refreshing. This happy, glorious period has been long anticipated, and is to continue to the close of the world. The period which will include the restitution of all things, and the return of Christ to judgment, has come, and is, therefore, the period when you may find mercy, and when you should seek it, to be prepared for his return.” In this sense the passage refers to the fact that this time, this dispensation, this economy, including all this, had come, and they were living under it, and might and should seek for mercy. It expresses, therefore, the common belief of the Yews that such a time would come, and the comment of Peter about its nature and continuance. The belief of the Jews was that such times would come.

Peter affirms that the belief of such a period was well founded a time when mercy may be obtained. That time has come. The doctrine that it would come was well founded, and has been fulfilled. This was a reason why they should repent, and hope in the mercy of God. Peter goes on, then, to state further characteristics of that period. It would include the restitution of all things, the return of Christ to judgment, etc. And all this was an additional consideration why they should repent, and turn from their sins, and seek for forgiveness. The meaning of the passage may therefore be thus summed up: “Repent, since it is a true doctrine that such times would come: they are clearly predicted; they were to be expected; and you are now living under them. In these times; in this dispensation, also, God shall send his Son again to judge the world, and all things shall be closed and settled forever. Since you live under this period, you may seek for mercy, and you should seek to avoid the vengeance due to the wicked, and to be admitted to heaven when the Lord Jesus shall return.”

Times of refreshing - The word rendered “refreshing,” ἀνάψυξις anapsuxis, means properly “breathing,” or “refreshment,” after being heated with labor, running, etc. It hence denotes “any kind of refreshment, as rest, or deliverance from evils of any kind.” It is used nowhere else in the New Testament, except that the verb is used in 2 Timothy 1:16, “Onesiphorus ...oft refreshed me, and was not ashamed of my chain.” He administered comfort to me in my trials. It is used by the Septuagint in the Old Testament nine times: Exodus 8:15, “But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite”; that is, cessation or rest from the plagues, Hosea 12:8; Jeremiah 49:31; Psalms 69:11, etc. In no place in the Old Testament is the word applied to the terms of the gospel. The idea, however, that the times of the Messiah would be times of rest, ease, and prosperity, was a favorite one among the Jews, and was countenanced in the Old Testament. See Isaiah 28:12, “To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing,” etc. They anticipated the times of the gospel as a period when they would have rest from their enemies, a respite from the evils of oppression and war, and great national prosperity and peace. Under the idea that the happy times of the Messiah had come, Peter now addresses them, and assures them that they might obtain pardon and peace.

Shall come - This does not mean that this period was still future, for it had come; but that the expectation of the Jews that such a Messiah would come was well founded. A remarkably similar construction we have concerning Elijah Matthew 17:11, “And Jesus answered and said, Elias truly shall first come, and restore,” etc.; that is, the doctrine that Elijah would come was true, though he immediately adds that it had already taken place, Acts 3:12. See the notes on that place.

From the presence of the Lord - Greek: “From the face of the Lord.” The expression means that God was “its author.” From the face of the Lord means “from the Lord himself:” Mark 1:2, “I send thy messenger before thy face,” that is, before thee. Compare Malachi 3:1; Luke 1:76; Luke 2:31.

Verse 20

And he shall send ... - Acts 1:1 l. Under this economy of things, he shall send Jesus Christ, that is, the Messiah, to teach people; to redeem them; to save them; to judge the world; to gather his people to himself; and to condemn the wicked. Under this economy they were then. This, therefore, was an argument why they should repent and turn to God, that they might escape in the day of judgment.

Which before was preached ... - Who has been proclaimed as the Messiah. The name “Jesus Christ” is equivalent here to “the Messiah.” The Messiah had been proclaimed to the Jews as about to come. In his time was to be the period of refreshing. He had come; and they were under the economy in which the blessings of the Messiah were to be enjoyed. This does not refer to his personal ministry, or to the preaching of the apostles, but to the fact that the Messiah had been a long time announced to them by the prophets as about to come. All the prophets had preached him as the hope of the nation. It may be remarked, however, that there is here a difference in the manuscripts. A large majority of them read προκεχειρισμενον prokecheirismenon, who was designated or appointed, instead of who was preached. This reading is approved by Griesbach, Knapp, Bengel, etc. It was followed in the ancient Syriac, the Arabic, etc., and is undoubtedly the true reading.

Verse 21

Whom the heavens must receive - The common belief of the Jews was, that the Messiah would reign on the earth forever, John 12:34. On this account they would object that Jesus could not be the Messiah, and hence, it became so important for the apostles to establish the fact that he had ascended to heaven. The evidence which they adduced was the fact that they saw him ascend, Acts 1:9. The meaning of the expression “whom the heavens must receive,” is that it was “fit” or “proper” δεῖ dei that he should ascend. One reason of that fitness or propriety he himself stated in John 16:7; compare John 17:2. It was also fit or expedient that he should do it, to direct the affairs of the universe for the welfare of the church Ephesians 1:20-22, and that he should exercise there his office as a priest in interceding for his people, 1 John 2:1-2; Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 9:24; Romans 8:34, etc. It is remarkable that Peter did not adduce any passage of Scripture on this subject; but it was one of the points on which there was no clear revelation. Obscure intimations of it might be found in Psalms 110:1-7; Psalms 16:1-11; etc., but the fact that he would ascend to heaven was not made prominent in the Old Testament. ‘The words “whom the heaven must receive” also convey the idea of “exaltation” and “power”; and Peter doubtless intended to say that he was clothed with power, and exalted to honor in the presence of God. See Psalms 115:3. Compare 1 Peter 3:22, “Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right banal of God; angels, and authorities, and powers being made subject unto him.” See the notes on Acts 2:33.

Until - This word implies that he would then return to the earth, but it does not imply that he would not again ascend to heaven.

The times of the restitution of all things - The noun rendered restitution ἀποκαταστάσεως apokatastaseōs, does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. The verb from which it is derived occurs eight times. It means properly “to restore a thing to its former situation,” as restoring a “strained” or “dislocated” limb to its former soundness. Hence, it is used to restore, or to heal, in the New Testament: Matthew 12:13, “And it (the hand) was restored whole as the other”; Mark 3:5; Luke 6:10. And hence, it is applied to the preparation or fitness for the coming of the Messiah which was to attend the preaching of John in the character of Elias, Matthew 17:11; Mark 9:12. Thus, in Josephus (Antiq., Mark 2:3, Mark 2:8), the word is used to denote the return of the Jews from the captivity of Babylon, and their restoration to their former state and privileges. The word has also the idea of “consummation, completion, or filling up.” Thus, it is used in Philo, Hesychius, Phavorinus, and by the Greek Classics. (See Lightfoot and Kuinoel.) Thus, it is used here by the Syriac: “Until the complement or filling up of the times”; that is, of all the events foretold by the prophets, etc. Thus, the Arabic: “Until the times which shall establish the perfection or completion of all the predictions of the prophets,” etc. In this sense the passage means that the heavens must receive the Lord Jesus until all thrums spoken by the prophets in relation to his work, his reign, the spread of the gospel, the triumph of religion, etc., shall have been fulfilled. It also conveys the idea of the predicted recovery of the world from sin, and the restoration of peace and order; the con. summation of the work of the Messiah, now begun, but not yet complete; slow it may be in its advances, but triumphant and certain in its progress and its close.

All things - All things which have been foretold by the prophets. The expression is limited by the connection to this; and of course it does not mean that all people will be saved, or that all the evils of sin can be repaired or remedied. This can never be, for the mischief is done and cannot be undone; but everything which the prophets have foretold shall receive their completion and fulfillment.

Which God hath spoken - Which have been revealed, and are recorded in the Old Testament.

Of all his holy prophets - This does not mean that each one of the prophets had spoken of these things, but that all which had been spoken would be fulfilled.

Since the world began - This is an expression denoting the same as from the beginning, meaning to affirm with emphasis that all the prophecies would be fulfilled. The apostles were desirous to show that they, as well as the Jews, held entirely to the prophets, and taught no doctrine which they had not taught before them.

Verse 22

For Moses truly said - The authority of Moses among the Jews was absolute and final. It was of great importance, therefore, to show not only that they were not departing from his Law, but that he had actually foretold these very things. The object of the passage is not to prove that the heavens must receive him, but that he was truly the Messiah.

Unto the fathers - To their ancestors, or the founders of the nation. See Deuteronomy 18:15-19.

A Prophet - Literally, one who foretells future events. But it is also used to denote a religious teacher in general. See Romans 12:6. In the passage in Deuteronomy it is evidently used in a large sense, to denote one who would infallibly guide and direct the nation in its religious affairs; one who would be commissioned by God to do this, in opposition to the diviners Acts 3:14 on which other nations relied. The meaning of this passage in Deuteronomy is apparent from the connection. Moses is stating to the Hebrews Acts 3:1-8 the duty and office of the priests and Levites. He then cautions them against conforming to the surrounding nations, particularly on the subject of religious instruction and guidance. They, said he, consult, in times of perplexity, with enchanters, and charmers, and necromancers, and wizards, etc. Acts 3:11-14, but it shall not be so with you. You shall not be left to this false and uncertain guidance in times of perplexity and danger, for the Lord will raise up, from time to time, a prophet, a man directly commissioned in an extraordinary manner from heaven, like me, who shall direct and counsel you. The promise, therefore, pertains to the serges or, prophets which God would raise up; or it is a promise that God would send his prophets, as occasion might demand, to instruct and counsel the nation. The design was to keep them from consulting with diviners, etc., and to preserve them from following the pretended and false religious teachers of surrounding idolatrous people. In this interpretation most commentators agree. See particularly “Calvin” on this place. Thus explained, the prophecy had no “exclusive” or even “direct” reference to the Messiah, and there is no evidence that the Jews understood it to have any such reference, except as one of the series of prophets that God would raise up and send to instruct the nation. If, then, it be asked on what principle Peter appealed to this, we may reply:

(1) That the Messiah was to sustain the character of a prophet, and the prophecy had reference to him as one of the teachers that God would raise up to instruct the nation.

(2) It would apply to him by way of eminence, as the greatest of the messengers that God would send to instruct the people. In this sense it is probable that the Jews would understand it.

(3) This was one of those emergencies in the history of the nation when they might expect such an intervention. The prophecy implied that in times of perplexity and danger God would raise up such a prophet. Such a time then existed. The nation was corrupt, distracted, subjected to a foreign power, and needed such a teacher and guide. If it be asked why Peter appealed to this rather than to explicit prophecies of the Messiah, we may remark:

(1) That his main object was to show their guilt in having rejected him and put him to death, Acts 3:14-15.

(2) That in order to do this, he sets before them clearly the obligation to obey him; and in doing this, appeals to the express command of Moses. He shows them that, according to Moses, whoever would not obey such a prophet should be cut off from among the people. In refusing, therefore, to hear this great prophet, and putting him to death, they had violated the express command of their own Lawgiver. But it was possible still to obey him, for he still lived in heaven; and all the authority of Moses, therefore, made it a matter of obligation for them still to hear and obey him. The Jews were accustomed to apply the name prophet to the Messiah John 1:21; John 6:14; John 7:40; Matthew 21:11; Luke 4:24, and it has been shown from the writings of the Jewish rabbis that they believed the Messiah would be the greatest of the prophets, even greater than Moses. See the notes on John 1:21.

The Lord your God - In the Hebrew, “Yahweh, thy God. “Raise up unto you.” Appoint, or commission to come to you.

Of your brethren - Among yourselves; of your own countrymen; so that you shall not be dependent on foreigners, or on teachers of other nations. All the prophets were native-born Jews. And it was particularly true of the Messiah that he was to be a Jew, descended from Abraham, and raised up from the midst of his brethren, Hebrews 2:11, Hebrews 2:16-17. On this account it was to be presumed that they would feel a deeper interest in him, and listen more attentively to his instructions.

Like unto me - Not in all things, but only in the point which was under discussion. He was to resemble him in being able to make known to them the will of God, and thus preventing the necessity of looking to other teachers. The idea of resemblance between Moses and the prophet is not very strictly expressed in the Greek, except in the mere circumstance of being raised up. God shall raise up to you a prophet as he has raised up me - ὡς hōs ἐμέ eme. The resemblance between Moses and the Messiah should not be pressed too far. The Scriptures have not traced it further than to the fact that both were raised up by God to communicate his will to the Jewish people, and therefore one should be heard as well as the other.

Him shall ye hear - That is, him shall you obey, or you shall receive his instructions as a communication from God.

In all things, whatsoever ... - These words are not quoted literally from the Hebrew, but they express the sense of what is said in Deuteronomy 18:15, Deuteronomy 18:18.

Verse 23

And it shall come to pass - It shall be, or shall occur. This is not the usual word rendered “it shall come to pass.” It is a word commonly expressing “futurity,” but here it conveys the notion of “obligation.” In this verse Peter has not quoted the passage in Deuteronomy literally, but he has given the sense.

Every soul - Every “person” or “individual.” Soul is often put for the whole man by the Hebrews, Acts 7:14; Joshua 10:28.

Hear that Prophet - That is, obey his instructions. He shall have authority to declare the will of God; and he that does not obey him refuses to obey God. Compare Luke 10:16; John 13:20.

Shall be destroyed - This quotation is made according to the sense, and not literally. In the Hebrew the expression is Deuteronomy 18:19, “I will require it of him,” that is, I will hold him answerable or responsible for it; I will punish him. This expression the Septuagint has rendered by “I will take vengeance on him.” The idea of the passage is, therefore, that God would publish the man that would not hear the prophet, without specifying the particular way in which it should be done. The usual mode of punishing such offences was by cutting the offender off from among the people, Exodus 30:33; Exodus 12:15; Exodus 9:15; Numbers 15:31; Numbers 19:13; Leviticus 7:20-21, Leviticus 7:25, Leviticus 7:27, etc. The sense is, that he should be punished in the usual manner; that is, by excision, or by being destroyed from among the people. The word translated “shall be destroyed” means properly “to exterminate, wholly to devote to ruin,” as of a wicked people, a wicked man whose life is taken, etc.

To be destroyed from among the people means, however, to be excommunicated, or to be deprived of the privileges of a people. Among the Jews this was probably the most severe punishment that could be inflicted. It involved the idea of being cut off from the privileges of sacrifice and worship in the temple and in the synagogue, etc., and of being regarded as a pagan and an outcast. The idea which Peter expressed here was, that the Jews had exposed themselves to the severest punishment in rejecting and crucifying the Lord Jesus, and that they should, therefore, repent of this great sin, and seek for mercy. The same remark is applicable still to people. The Scriptures abundantly declare the truth, that if sinners will not hear the Lord Jesus, they shall be destroyed. And it becomes each individual to inquire with honesty whether he listens to his instructions and obeys his Law, or whether he is rejecting him and following the devices and desires of his own heart. It will be a solemn day when the sinner shall be called to render a reason why he has rejected the teachings and laws of the Son of God!

Verse 24

All the prophets - That is, the prophets in general. It may be said of the prophets generally, or of all of them, that they have foretold these things. This expression is not to be pressed as if we were to look for distinct predictions of the Messiah in each one of the prophets. The use of language does not require so strict an interpretation.

From Samuel - In the previous verse (22) Moses was mentioned as the first in order. The next in order was Samuel. The same mention of Moses and Samuel occurs in Psalms 99:6. The reason why Samuel is mentioned here is probably that he was the first prophet after Moses who recorded a prediction respecting the times of the Messiah. The Jews, in their divisions of the books of the Old Testament, reckoned the book of Joshua as the first of the prophets. But in Joshua and Judges there does not occur any distinct prediction of the Messiah. The prophecy in Samuel, to which Peter probably had reference, is in 2 Samuel 7:16. From the time of Moses to Samuel, also, it is probable that no prophet arose. God was consulted by Urim, and Thummim Exodus 28:30; Numbers 27:21, and consequently no extraordinary messenger was sent to instruct the nation.

As many as have spoken - Whosoever has declared the will of God. This is to be taken in a general sense. The meaning is, that the prophets had concurred in foretelling these days. They not merely concurred in foretelling a happy future period, but they foretold distinctly the very things which had actually occurred respecting Jesus of Nazareth; and the Jews, therefore, should listen to the voice of their own prophets.

Verse 25

Ye are the children of the prophets - Greek: “Ye are the sons of the prophets.” The meaning is, not that they were literally the “descendants” of the prophets, but that they were their “disciples,” “pupils,” “followers.” They professed to follow the prophets as their teachers and guides. Teachers among the Jews were often spoken of under the appellation of fathers, and disciples as sons, Matthew 12:27. See notes on Matthew 1:1. As they were the professed disciples of the prophets, they should listen to them. As they lived among the people to whom the prophets were sent, and to whom the promises were made, they should avail themselves of the offer of mercy, and embrace the Messiah.

And of the covenant - Ye are the sons of the covenant; that is, you are of the posterity of Abraham, with whom the covenant was made. The word “sons” was often thus used to denote those to whom any favor pertained. whether by inheritance or in any other way. Thus, Matthew 8:12, “The children (sons) of the kingdom”; John 17:12, “the son of perdition.” The word “covenant” denotes properly “a compact or agreement between equals, or those who have a right to make such a compact, and to choose or refuse the terms.” When applied to God and man, it denotes a firm promise on the part of God; a pledge to be regarded with all the sacredness of a compact, that he will do certain things on certain conditions. It is called a covenant only to designate its sacredness and the certainty of its fulfillment, not that man had any right to reject any of the terms or stipulations. As man has no such right, as he is bound to receive all that his Maker proposes, so, strictly and literally, there has been no compact or covenant between God and man. The promise to which Peter refers in the passage before us is in Genesis 22:18; Genesis 12:3.

In thy seed - Thy posterity. See Romans 4:13, Romans 4:16. This promise the apostle Paul affirms had express reference to the Messiah, Galatians 3:16. The word “seed” is used sometimes to denote an individual Genesis 4:25; and the apostle Galatians 3:16 affirms that there was special reference to Christ in the promise made to Abraham.

All the kindreds - The word translated “kindreds” πατριαὶ patriai denotes “those who have a common father or ancestor,” and is applied to families. It is also referred to those larger communities which were descended from the same ancestor, and thus refers to nations, Ephesians 3:15. Here it evidently refers to “all nations.”

Be blessed - Be made happy.

Verse 26

Unto you first - To you who are Jews. This was the direction, that the gospel should be first preached to the Jews, beginning at Jerusalem, Luke 24:47. Jesus himself also confined his ministry entirely to the Jews.

Having raised up - This expression does not refer to his having raised him from the dead, but is used in the same sense as in Acts 3:22, where God promised that he would raise up a prophet, and send him to teach the people. Peter means that God had appointed his Son Jesus, or had commissioned him to go and preach to the people to turn them away from their sins.

To bless you - To make you happy; to fulfill the promise made to Abraham.

In turning away - That is, by his preaching, example, death, etc. The highest blessing that can be conferred upon people is to be turned from sin. Sin is the source of all woes, and if people are turned from that, they will be happy. Christ blesses no one in sin, or while loving sin, but by turning them from sin. This was the object which he had in view in coming, Isaiah 59:20; Matthew 1:21. The design of Peter in these remarks was to show them that the Messiah had come, and that now they might look for happiness, pardon, and mercy through him. As the Jews might, so may all; and as Jesus, while living, sought to turn away people from their sins, so he does still, and still designs to bless all nations by the gospel which he had himself preached, and to establish which he died. All may therefore come and be blessed; and all may rejoice in the prospect that these blessings will yet be bestowed on all the kindreds of the earth. May the happy day soon come!

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Acts 3". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/acts-3.html. 1870.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile