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Bible Commentaries
Acts 3

Contending for the FaithContending for the Faith

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Introduction

The labors of the apostles have thus far met with unqualified success, but major disappointment and trouble are on the horizon. This chapter deals with the healing of a congenital cripple and the subsequent way the people receive Peter and John.

Verse 1

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

Now Peter and John: Peter and John are two old friends, having once been in the fishing business together before Jesus gave them the higher calling to become"fishers of men."They, along with James, seem to hold a special place in Jesus’ heart, and they are with Him on many special occasions. Peter and John will accomplish much together for the cause of Christ.

went up together into the temple: As previously noted in Acts 2:46, the temple is the gathering place for the Lord’s church for the first few years of its existence. The temple provides a public place to assemble as well as a ready audience of Jews.

at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour: Historically, the Jews had formal prayer at the third, sixth, and ninth hours. As they reckoned time, counting from approximately six o’clock in the morning, the ninth hour was three o’clock in the afternoon (2:15).

Verse 2

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

And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried: This poor man has some congenital ailment that has left him crippled from birth. By this time, he is more than forty years old (4:22). This man is the perfect choice to use in demonstrating the power of God. He is known by all, and all know he has always been crippled to the point he must be carried.

whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful: This gate called Beautiful is the most luxurious of the nine doors into the temple."It was adorned after a most costly manner, as having much richer and thicker plates of silver and gold..." (Josephus 784).

to ask alms of them that entered into the temple The cripple has been laid at the Beautiful gate because it is the most popular entrance into the temple. Here the cripple would have the greatest opportunity to receive alms because of the increased number of people using this entrance.

Verse 3

Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.

The cripple evidently knows nothing more about Peter and John than he would anyone else going into the temple. He requests of them a gift as is his custom.

Verse 4

And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.

The cripple becomes the focus of the attention of Peter and John and receives the command, "Look on us."

Verse 5

And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them: Instead of a gift from Peter and John, as he might have expected, the cripple is about to receive a gift about which he has only dreamed.

Verse 6

Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: It is not known how long after Pentecost this incident takes place, but it is likely this is not the first miracle Peter has performed (2:43). With a boldness that could have come only from experience, Peter declares he has none of those things usually given as "alms," but he will not leave the cripple without a gift, a gift far better than "silver and gold."

In the name of: The usual meaning is "by the authority of" (2:38; 8:16).

Jesus Christ of Nazareth: All things in Christianity are to be done"in the name of" or by the authority of Jesus.

And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus… (Colossians 3:17).

rise up and walk: This command must have been totally unexpected by the cripple. It is certain he has been ordered about in many different ways as he lies at the gate called Beautiful, but nothing has ever been said to him to match these orders. Peter says, " Get up and walk!"

Verse 7

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

Peter encourages the cripple by taking him by the right hand and lifting him up. This incidental account also further confirms Luke as the writer of Acts. The training of Luke as a physician now becomes obvious as the writer describes, in the terms of a doctor, how the cripple’s "feet and ankle bones received strength."

Verse 8

And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

As the cripple feels the healing in his bones, he does not need any more encouraging from Peter. He leaps up, and again as a physician might explain, he "stood" and then he "walked." Something else has happened to this man: he is now ready to "praise God" in thanksgiving for his healing.

It should also be noted that a genuine, miraculous healing occurs instantaneously for all to see. How many times today do we see severed ears reattached with a touch (Luke 22:50-51)? How many times have we seen blind eyes opened, withered hands restored, or a lame man leap to his feet because of a command or a prayer? Professed modern miracle workers cannot match the genuine miracles of the Bible with their counterfeit claims.

Verse 9

And all the people saw him walking and praising God: This man, whom everyone knows has been a cripple for more than forty years, is now "walking" and thanking God for his healing. For certain no small stir will arise over this happening.

Verse 10

And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.

As stated earlier, this cripple is a prime target for the miracle performed upon him because everyone knows him. There would be no doubt as to the validity of the miracle. The healing of this cripple should have struck a familiar chord in the minds of some of these Jews, who were students of the prophecies concerning the coming of the Messiah. Isaiah prophesies, "Then shall the lame man leap as an hart… (Isaiah 35:6). Jesus also tells John the Baptist one of the signs of His coming was "the lame walk" (Matthew 11:5; Luke 7:22).

Verse 11

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

And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John: The "lame man" is so thrilled with his healing that he will not physically allow Peter and John to go; thus, the spotlight of attention is not only upon him but also upon them.

all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering: The crowd is amazed and perplexed by the powerful happening. A crowd has a way of growing just from the excitement and the unknown element involved; such is the case here. Since so many of the activities of the early church happen in the vicinity of the temple and in particular Solomon’s porch, it will be of value to understand something about the structure.

The structure that is here called a "porch" was a colonnade constructed along the inner face of the enclosing wall of the outer court. It consisted, according to Josephus, of rows of stone columns twenty-seven feet high, with a roof of cedar resting on them and on the wall, so as to constitute a covered portico, with its inner side open toward the temple. On the eastern side of the court there were two rows of these columns, making that portico sixty feet deep and as long as the wall, which Josephus estimates at a furlong, though its exact measurement today is fifteen hundred and thirty feet. Across the southern end, which now measures nine hundred and twenty-two feet, there were between them, each thirty feet deep, and consequently the depth of this portico was ninety feet. These immense covered porticos, or cloisters, as Josephus calls them, served as a protection from the sun in the summer, and from the rain in the winter. They contained space sufficient for the great multitude of the disciples when assembled in one mass (McGarvey, Vol. I l 52).

Verse 12

And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?

And when Peter saw it: When Peter realizes the wonder that has been created by this miracle and the crowd that is drawn as a result, he takes advantage of the situation by preaching to the gathering Jews.

he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk: Peter respectfully addresses the audience as"Ye men of Israel"and then quickly asks, "Why do you stare at us as though the power you have just witnessed, in the healing of this cripple, came directly from us?" Peter is laying the groundwork to introduce Jesus to these people and to make clear the power to heal came by the authority of Jesus Christ.

Verse 13

The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.

The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers: God reveals Himself to Moses as the "God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Jacob" (Exodus 3:6). Perhaps Peter uses this ancient way of referring to God to define clearly, in the minds of this Jewish audience, that he is talking about God the Father and to stir their respect and reverence for the Father of the patriarchs.

hath glorified his Son Jesus: This God of the patriarchs has "glorified his Son Jesus." Thayer gives this comment on glorified: "God exalting, or rather restoring, Christ the Son to a state of glory in heaven" (157-1-1392).

In most translations (NIV, ASV, RSV), the passage "glorified his Son Jesus" is rendered "glorified his Servant Jesus." By these words, Peter identifies Jesus as the suffering Servant prophesied in Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 52:13; Isaiah 53:11. Campbell says, "... it should here be servant, not son. ...Jesus was personally a son, officially a servant" (22).

whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go: Surely this accusation that Peter makes, when he rehearses the account of Jesus before the Roman governor Pilate, must have tormented the conscience of some of these Jews. Peter contrasts the treatment Jesus receives from the "God of our fathers, " as compared to the treatment these very Jews have given Him. God has "glorified Him" while they have "delivered, " "denied" and "killed the Prince of life."

Verse 14

But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;

The Jews request the release of a known murderer instead of allowing Jesus to be released. Matthew records the following account:

The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified (27:21-22).

Verse 15

And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.

And killed the Prince of life: The name "Prince of life" is a wonderful appellation to give to Jesus, but this term is more properly translated "Author of Life." "Archegos, though sometimes rendered prince, means, primarily, beginning, and thence originator, author" (Vincent 462) (Hebrews 12:2).

Peter, in his own fearless way, continues to increase the pressure on his audience with an antithetical style that is intended to bore into the conscience of these Jews. He builds upon the facts that "the God of our Fathers" has "glorified" Jesus while they have delivered Him up to die. Pilate desires to let Jesus go while they cry out "let Him be crucified." Then, as though to twist the knife once more in the guilty hearts of his audience, Peter accuses them of granting a murderer’s release "and of killing the Author of Life." The Jews put Jesus to death, but God raises Him to life. What a sermon!

whom God hath raised from the dead: The glorious gospel of Christ, the power of God unto salvation, is preached again by Peter. May it forever be understood, not just by the Jews who are in Peter’s audience, but by all men everywhere: Jesus died for our sins, was buried, and rose again to bring salvation to mankind (Romans 1:16; 1 Corinthians 15:1-4). This truth will haunt the minds of the Jews in eternity.

whereof we are witnesses: The historical events of the life of Jesus are well known. The fact that He is crucified is established, and the fact of His resurrection is witnessed by Peter and John. Who could deny it?

Verse 16

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

And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong: Peter is cautious to make this statement very clear. He wants no one to get the mistaken idea there is some magical power in saying the name Jesus, but rather it is faith in Jesus that produces the miraculous results. Although the apostles have received the ability to work miracles by the baptism of the Holy Spirit, it is evident they also have to have faith in order to exercise this miraculous ability. This lesson is learned early on by the apostles when, much to their shame, they miserably fail in an effort to perform a miracle (Matthew 17:19-20; Luke 17:5-6).

It must also be noted that Peter is the one needing the faith to work the miracle. There is no scriptural indication whatsoever that the cripple has any faith at all in Jesus, but it is not necessary that he have faith; the one working the miracle is the one in need of faith. Today, when some of our modern so-called faith healers fail in their healing, the excuse is the candidate for healing does not have enough faith. May the example of the lame man forever lay to rest this excuse; as can be seen here, faith on the part of the one to be healed is unnecessary. In the Bible, the only failures mentioned in regards to miracles are because of the lack of faith on the part of the one attempting to perform the miracle (Matthew 17:14-20; Mark 9:29).

whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all: The faith that is by Him (Jesus) is the faith that has healed the cripple and made him whole, as they could all see.

Verse 17

And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.

It is here Peter seems to take a new more conciliatory tack in his sermon. It is possible he senses a depression and hopelessness in his audience; so he will now offer an extenuation of the guilt of Israel by explaining that "I wot (know) that through ignorance ye did it." The fact they are ignorant does not make them innocent, but this incident does provide Peter with the opportunity to offer a free pardon to all.

Verse 18

But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.

The mistreatment and eventual crucifixion of Jesus, which is ignorantly carried out by these Jews, is also a fulfillment of the will of God, as foretold by the prophets. In this revelation we have a most interesting and thought-provoking dilemma. That God has "ordained before the world" the death of Jesus cannot be denied; and, that those who "by wicked hands have crucified and slain" the Son of God in fulfillment of the prophecies have committed a wicked and sinful deed is admitted by some three thousand on the day of Pentecost. This line of thought presents no difficulty to Peter, and it should not to us. God, in His august wisdom, intends the salvation of man through the death of His Son; nevertheless, the actual deed of crucifying Jesus is a wicked and sinful crime for which man would give an account.

Verse 19

Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;

Unlike those on Pentecost, these do not ask "what shall we do, " but Peter proceeds to extend the gospel invitation to them anyway. The commands are the same as those given in Acts 2:38, with a slight difference in wording; the verses in Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19 are parallel verses. In chapter two, they are told to: (1) "repent and (2) be baptized ... (3) for the remission of sins and (4) ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."Here, they are instructed to (1) "repent and (2) be converted, (3) that your sins may be blotted out" and (4) "the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord." It is easy to see that (1), (3), and (4) are synonymous; the only term that leaves any discussion at all is (2). The word "converted" means "to turn again" (Vine, Vol. I 239). The greatest "turn" in a person’s life occurs in baptism when his sins are remitted (2:38) and he is saved (Mark 16:16)."The blotting out of sins is equivalent to remission of sins; and being baptized is tantamount to turning again" (Boles 59).

The thought behind "turn again" is nothing short of baptism. The Jews no doubt had witnessed the baptism of persons every day (2:47); and thus when Peter called upon them to "repent" and "turn again, " they knew exactly what he inferred (De Welt 60).

It may also be found of value to compare not only Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19 but also John 3:5 and Titus 3:5. These verses describe the same spiritual event.

Verse 20

And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:

And he shall send Jesus Christ: Peter points out two additional inducements to encourage obedience to his sermon. The first is they would receive the "times of refreshing"; the second is some glorious day Jesus Christ will be sent to judge the world. Preparation is imperative.

which before was preached unto you: This teaching is to remind them that the same Jesus, the theme of this discourse, is coming again.

Verse 21

Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.

Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things: Jesus will remain in heaven until the purpose of God is completed on earth. This text seems to imply that the beginning of "restitution" or restoring to a better state begins with the first coming of Jesus and will be brought to completion at His second coming.

which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began: This "restitution" or a bringing of better things has been prophesied by all the prophets. The fingers of prophecy throughout the Old Testament point to the coming of better things when Jesus the Messiah comes.

Verse 22

For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.

Peter never misses an opportunity to call the Old Testament heroes to be witness for the testimony he has just delivered. This is a most effective technique to persuade the Jews.

For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me: The prophecy referred to is in Deuteronomy 18:15-19. In that passage, the patriarch Moses predicts the coming of Jesus and describes Him as one like himself. There truly are many likenesses and contrasts between Moses and Jesus. Moses is a deliverer; he delivers Israel from Egyptian bondage. Jesus is a deliverer; he delivers man from the bondage of sin. Moses is a lawgiver; he gives the Old Testament covenant to Israel. Jesus is also a lawgiver, having given the New Testament, a "more excellent ministry, " "established upon better promises" (Hebrews 8:6). The similarities are so many that the Jews should have realized the testimony of Peter about Jesus is true.

him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you: Jesus, not Moses, is to be heard in everything He shall say.

Verse 23

And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.

Under the rule of Moses, the Israelites who were rebellious and contrary to the law were cut off (Exodus 12:15-19; Exodus 22:20). Under the reign of King Jesus, those who are contrary and disobedient, all who are classified as unrighteous, are to be punished everlastingly (Matthew 25:46).

Verse 24

Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.

Peter now calls on not just the witness of Moses but the witness of "all the prophets since Samuel." Samuel is not the first prophet, according to the account of Judges 1:14-15. The first prophet on record is Enoch, but Samuel begins a line of prophets. It is to this line of prophets, since Samuel, that Peter calls to bear record of Jesus. Peter shows great wisdom and an understanding of human nature in this line of reasoning. If the Jews reject Peter’s teaching, they reject Christ; if they reject Jesus, they reject the teaching of their own prophets.

Verse 25

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

Having made his case by calling to remembrance Moses and the prophets, Peter now makes his strongest appeal to his audience by referring back to their beloved Abraham. Abraham also received a promise concerning Jesus.

And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed because thou hast obeyed my voice (Genesis 22:18; Genesis 12:3; Genesis 18:18).

The inference is the same: if they reject the sermon of Peter, they are rejecting Christ; to reject Christ is to reject Abraham.

Verse 26

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

Unto you first: The gospel is to be preached "to the Jew first" (Romans 1:16), but the insinuation is it will not be to the Jew only. Whether the Jews understand this teaching or not is doubtful. It is incredulous to them that the Gentiles will ever be included in the blessings of God.

God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities: This is a final and special appeal to these Jews. God sends His Son Jesus, first to the Jews, to turn everyone of them away from their sins. Peter makes a concluding attempt at bringing this crowd to obedience; Moses, the prophets, Abraham, all are witnesses, in prophecy, of the coming of Jesus. Peter’s audience should see by now that to reject Jesus is to make null and void the many revelations from these respected prophets and patriarchs of old. Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of prophecy and the redeemer of souls.

It is speculated Peter would have pressed for obedience at this place in his speech, as he does in Acts 2:40, but that will not happen this time. Peter’s sermon is aborted at this point by the "priests, and the captain of the temple and the Sadducees" who are "grieved" at his teaching (4:1-2).

Bibliographical Information
Editor Charles Baily, "Commentary on Acts 3". "Contending for the Faith". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ctf/acts-3.html. 1993-2022.
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