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Bible Commentaries
Acts 3

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

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Verses 1-2

The John in view was undoubtedly the writer of the fourth Gospel, the brother of James. The temple was Herod’s temple, and the Jewish hour of prayer in view was 3:00 p.m., the other key prayer time for the Jews being 9:00 a.m. (cf. Acts 10:9; Acts 10:30; Daniel 6:10; Daniel 9:21; Judith 9:1). [Note: Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 14:4:3.] The early Jewish Christians continued to follow their former habits of worship in Jerusalem. The lame man had been in his condition for over 40 years (Acts 4:22). Furthermore he had to be carried by others. His was a "hopeless case."

The term "Beautiful Gate" is descriptive rather than specific. We do not know exactly which of the three main entrances into the temple from the east Luke referred to. [Note: See Barrett, pp. 179-80, for a brief discussion of the problem, or Martin Hengel, "The Geography of Palestine in Acts," in The Book of Acts in Its First Century Setting; Vol. 4: The Book of Acts in Its Palestinain Setting, pp. 37-41, for a long discussion of the alternatives.] He could have meant the Shushan (or Golden) Gate that admitted people into the Court of the Gentiles from the outside world. [Note: Jack Finegan, The Archaelolgy of the New Testament, pp. 129-30.] He could have meant the Corinthian (or Eastern) Gate that led from the Court of the Gentiles into the Women’s Court. [Note: Longenecker, p. 294; Kent, p. 37; Wiersbe, 1:412.] Another possibility is that it was the Nicanor Gate that led from the Women’s Court into the Court of Israel. [Note: Witherington, p. 174. See Dictionary of the Bible, s.v. "Temple," by W. T. Davies, 4:713-14.] Josephus’ descriptions of the temple do not solve the problem since he described both of these latter gates as very impressive. [Note: Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 15:11:5-7; idem, The Wars of the Jews, 5:5:3.] The last two of the above options appear more probable than the first.

Verses 1-7

B. The expansion of the church in Jerusalem 3:1-6:7

Luke recorded the events of this section to document the continued expansion of the church and to identify the means God used to produce growth. In chapters 3-5 the emphasis is on how the Christians’ witness brought them into conflict with the Jewish leaders.

Verses 1-10

The healing of a lame Man 1:3-10

Luke had just referred to the apostles’ teaching, to the awe that many of the Jews felt, to the apostles doing signs and wonders, and to the Christians meeting in the temple (Acts 2:43-44; Acts 2:46). Now he narrated a specific incident that included these elements. The Gospel writers also chose a healing to illustrate the nature of Jesus’ early ministry (Matthew 8:2-4; Mark 1:40-45; Luke 5:12-16; Luke 5:24; John 4:46-54). The healing of this man resulted in the leaders of the Jews changing their attitudes toward the disciples from favorable to antagonistic (Acts 4:1-4). The Christians were not able to continue to enjoy favor with all the people (Acts 2:47).

This is the first of 14 miracles in Acts (by Peter: Acts 3:1-10; Acts 5:1-11; Acts 5:17-26; Acts 9:32-42; by an angel: Acts 12:1-19; Acts 12:20-23; and by Paul: Acts 13:4-12; Acts 14:8-11; Acts 16:16-40; Acts 20:7-12; Acts 28:3-8). These include four healings (three paralytics and one involving fever), two raisings from the dead, four liberations (two from physical bondage and two involving exorcisms), three acts of judgment, and one preservation miracle. There are also 10 summary notices of miracles in Acts (Acts 2:43; Acts 5:12; Acts 5:15-16; Acts 6:8; Acts 8:6-7; Acts 8:13; Acts 14:3; Acts 19:11-12; Acts 28:9). [Note: Bock, Acts, p. 157.]

"This event shows the community’s compassion and how it meets needs beyond merely material concerns [cf. Acts 14:8-11; Luke 5:17]." [Note: Ibid., p. 158.]

Verses 1-31

1. External opposition 3:1-4:31

Opposition to the Christians’ message first came from external sources, particularly the leaders of Judaism.

Verses 3-6

"In the East it was the custom for beggars to sit begging at the entrance to a temple or a shrine. Such a place was, and still is, considered the best of all stances because, when people are on their way to worship God, they are disposed to be generous to their fellow men." [Note: Barclay, p. 28.]

Peter told the beggar to look at him and John so Peter could have his full attention. Peter than gave him a gift far better than the one he expected to receive. This is typical of how God deals with needy people. When we give people the gospel, we give them God’s best gift.

"In effect, Peter has given him a new life, which is precisely what the miracles represent, as Peter’s subsequent speech will show." [Note: Bock, Acts, p. 161.]

". . . the Church’s opportunity is lame humanity, lame from its birth." [Note: Morgan, p. 82.]

The name of a person represented that person. When Peter healed this man in the name of Jesus, he was saying that it was Jesus who was ultimately responsible for the healing, not Peter. Peter healed him in the power of and with the authority of Jesus of Nazareth (cf. Acts 3:16).

This was the first of three crippled people that Luke recorded the apostles healing in Acts (Acts 9:32-34; Acts 14:8-10; cf. John 5; John 9).

The gift of healing as it existed in the early church was quite different from the so-called gift of healing some claim to possess today. Examples of people using this gift in the New Testament seem to indicate that the person with this gift could heal anyone, subject to God’s will (cf. Matthew 10:1; Matthew 10:8; Acts 28:8-9; et al.). The sick person’s belief in Jesus Christ and in God’s ability to heal him or her also seems to be a factor (Acts 3:16; cf. Mark 6:5-6). There is a similar account of Paul healing a lame man in Lystra in Acts 14:8-10 where Luke said the man’s faith was crucial. Jesus Christ gave this gift to the early church to convince people that He is God and that the gospel the Christians preached had divine authority. He gave it for the benefit of Jewish observers primarily (1 Corinthians 1:22).

"The New Testament gift of healing is a specific gift to an individual enabling him to heal. It is not to be confused with the healing performed by God in answer to prayer.

"There is little correspondence between modern-day charismatic ’healings’ and the healings recorded in the New Testament. The differences are so vast that many of today’s healers are careful to point out that they do not have the gift of healing, but are merely those to whom God often responds with healing." [Note: Thomas R. Edgar, "The Cessation of the Sign Gifts," Bibliotheca Sacra 145:580 (October-December 1988):376, 378.]

Of course, many other modern healers do claim that their healings are the same as what the New Testament records.

Verses 7-8

Peter evidently did not touch the lame man to heal him as much as to help him to his feet. God healed this man completely and instantaneously. The healed beggar began to test the capability of his strengthened limbs immediately. He evidently followed Peter and John into whatever part of the temple they were entering praising God.

Verses 9-10

Almost everyone in Jerusalem would have known this beggar since he had sat for so long at an entrance to the temple. Jesus may have passed this man many times as He walked in and out of the temple. There would have been no doubt about the genuineness of his healing. Peter performed this sign (a miracle with significance) as Jesus had healed lame people before His crucifixion. By doing it in Jesus’ name it would have been evident to all that the power of Jesus was now at work through His apostles. Isaiah had predicted that in Israel’s future "the lame will leap like a deer" (Isaiah 35:6). The healing of this lame man, as well as the healing of other lame people in the Gospels and Acts, indicated to the Jews present that the Messiah had come. Peter claimed that Jesus was that Messiah.

". . . the similarity between Jesus’ healing of the paralytic and Peter’s healing of the lame man lies less in the healing itself than in the function of these scenes in the larger narrative. In both cases the healing becomes the occasion for a fundamental claim about Jesus’ saving power, emphasizing its importance and general scope (’on earth,’ Luke 5:24; ’under heaven,’ Acts 4:12). In both cases the healing leads to proclamation of a saving power that goes beyond physical healing. In both cases the claim is made in the face of new opposition and is directly related to the mission announced in the Scripture quotation in the inaugural speech." [Note: Tannehill, 2:51-52.]

This incident and the other miracles recorded in Acts have led readers of this book to wonder if God is still working miracles today. He is. God can and does perform miracles whenever and wherever He chooses. Regeneration is one of God’s greatest miracles. Perhaps a better question would be, does God still give the gift of working miracles to believers today as He gave this ability to Peter, Paul, and other first-century apostles? Significantly each of the three periods in biblical history when God manifested this gift dramatically to selected servants was a time when God was giving new revelation through prophets. These three periods are the times of Moses and Joshua, Elijah and Elisha, and Jesus and the apostles. However, God has performed miracles throughout history. Each period of miraculous activity was brief, spanning no more than two generations of people. When the miraculous gift was present not even those who had it healed everyone who could have benefited from it (e.g., Mark 6:5-6; Philippians 2:27; 2 Timothy 4:20; et al.).

Verse 11

The setting of the sermon 3:11

Peter and John, with the healed lame man clinging to them, moved into the portico of the temple, and a large crowed, amazed by the healing, followed them (cf. Acts 21:30). A covered porch supported by a series of columns surrounded the outer temple courtyard, the Court of the Gentiles. The eastern portion of this porch bore the name Solomon’s portico "because it was built on a remnant of the foundations of the ancient temple." [Note: Robertson, 3:42.] Peter addressed the curious throng from this convenient shaded area, where Jesus had formerly taught (John 10:23).

Verses 11-26

Peter’s address in Solomon’s colonnade 3:11-26

As is often true in Acts, an event led to an explanation (cf. ch. 2).

"It seems strange, at first glance, that in his narrative Luke would place two such similar sermons of Peter so close together. But his putting the Pentecost sermon in the introductory section of Acts was evidently meant to be a kind of paradigm of early apostolic preaching-a paradigm Luke seems to have polished for greater literary effectiveness. As for the Colonnade sermon, Luke seems to have included it as an example of how the early congregation in Jerusalem proclaimed the message of Jesus to the people of Israel as a whole." [Note: Longenecker, p. 296.]

"In his sermon at Pentecost, Peter had to refute the accusation that the believers were drunk. In this sermon, he had to refute the notion that he and John had healed the man by their own power [cf. Acts 14:8-18]." [Note: Wiersbe, 1:412.]

Verses 12-15

Luke recorded seven of Peter’s addresses in Acts (Acts 1:16-22; Acts 2:14-36; Acts 3:12-26; Acts 4:8-12: Acts 10:34-43; Acts 11:4-17; Acts 15:7-11). [Note: For the rhetorical forms of the speeches in Acts, see Witherington’s commentary.] It is noteworthy that in these sermons Peter did not discuss abstract doctrines or reason about profound theological problems. He presented the person and work of Christ in simple terms.

Peter spoke to his audience as a fellow Jew. First, he denied that it was the power or good character of himself or John that was responsible for the healing. Rather it was the God of the patriarchs, the God of their fathers, who was responsible. He had performed this miracle through the apostles to glorify His Servant Jesus (cf. Acts 2:22). It was God’s Servant Jesus whom Peter’s hearers had disowned and put to death preferring a murderer, Barabbas, to Him.

Peter called Jesus the Servant (Gr. paida) of the Lord, the subject of messianic prophecy (Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 49:6-7; Isaiah 52:13; Isaiah 53:11; cf. Mark 10:45); the Holy One, a title of Messiah (Psalms 16:10; Isaiah 31:1; cf. Mark 1:24; 1 John 2:20); the Righteous One (Isaiah 53:11; Zechariah 9:9; cf. 1 John 2:1); and the Prince (Author) of Life (Psalms 16; cf. John 1:1-18; Colossians 1:14-20; Hebrews 1:2-3; Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 12:2).

Peter charged these Jews with four things, first, handing Jesus over to be killed. He then pointed out three inconsistencies in the Jews’ treatment of Jesus and contrasted their treatment of Him with God’s. They had condemned Him when Pilate was about to release Him (Acts 3:13). They rejected the Holy and Righteous One out of preference for a murderer, Barabbas (Acts 3:14; Luke 23:18-19). Furthermore they executed the Author of Life whom God raised from the dead, of which the apostles were witnesses (Acts 3:15). Prince or (better here) Author of Life presents Jesus as the resurrected Messiah who gives life that overcomes death. [Note: Neil, p. 85.]

Verses 12-16

Peter’s proclamation 3:12-16

"In his former address Peter had testified to the power and presence of the Spirit of God at work in a new way in the lives of men through Jesus. Now he proclaims the power and authority of the name of Jesus by which his disciples are enabled to continue his ministry on earth. In both speeches there is a call for repentance for the crime of crucifying the Messiah, but here Peter stresses the role of Jesus as the Suffering Servant of God and as the new Moses who must be obeyed." [Note: Neil, p. 84.]

Verse 16

The proclamation portion of Peter’s sermon expounds "the name of Jesus" (cf. Acts 3:6). The "name" of Jesus summarizes everything about Him here as elsewhere in Scripture. Peter attributed the beggar’s healing to the power of Jesus and to the man’s trust in what he knew about Jesus. Jesus had given him faith. If the beggar had had no confidence in the deity and divine power of Jesus, he would not have responded to Peter’s invitation to walk (Acts 3:6). His response demonstrated his faith. Undoubtedly this man had seen and heard Jesus when He was in the temple. Jesus had given him "perfect health."

"The Christian knows that so long as he thinks of what I can do and what I can be, there can be nothing but failure and frustration and fear; but when he thinks of ’not I, but Christ in me’ there can be nothing but peace and power." [Note: Barclay, p. 31.]

Verses 17-18

If Peter’s charges against his hearers were harsh (Acts 3:13-15), his concession that they acted out of ignorance was tender. He meant that they did not realize the great mistake they had made. Peter undoubtedly hoped that his gentle approach would win a reversal of his hearers’ attitude.

"Israel’s situation was something like that of the ’manslayer’ who killed his neighbor without prior malicious intent, and fled to the nearest city of refuge (Numbers 35:9-34)." [Note: Wiersbe, 1:413.]

Jesus did not demonstrate His deity as convincingly as He might have during His earthly ministry. Consequently the reaction of unbelief that many rulers as well as common Israelites demonstrated was partially due to their ignorance. They were also ignorant of the fact that Jesus fulfilled many messianic prophecies in the Old Testament. Peter hastened to point out that Jesus’ sufferings harmonized with those predicted of the Messiah by Israel’s prophets. It was the prophets’ revelations about the death of Messiah that the Jews in Peter’s day, including Jesus’ own disciples, had difficulty understanding.

"Doubtless many in Peter’s Jewish audience would have been agreeable to much of the preceding statement. They would not have been averse to accepting the idea of a genuine miracle, nor were they unfamiliar with Jesus’ reputation as a miracle worker. The problem they faced was identifying Jesus as their conquering Messiah in the light of the crucifixion." [Note: Kent, p. 41. Cf. Blaiklock, p. 63.]

Verses 17-26

Peter’s exhortation 3:17-26

Verses 19-21

If Jesus was the Messiah, where was the messianic kingdom? Peter proceeded to explain from Scripture that the Jews needed to accept their Messiah before the messianic kingdom would begin. He again called on his hearers to repent in view of what he had pointed out (cf. Acts 2:38). He also invited them to "return" to a proper relationship to God that was possible only by accepting Jesus. The result would be forgiveness of their sins. Note that there is no reference to baptism as being essential to either repentance or forgiveness in this verse (cf. Acts 2:38).

What is repentance, and what place does it have in salvation? The Greek noun translated "repentance" (metanoia) literally means "after mind," as in afterthought, or change of mind. Concerning salvation it means to think differently about sin, oneself, and the Savior than one used to think. Peter’s hearers had thought Jesus was not the Messiah. Now they needed to change their minds and believe He is the Messiah.

"True repentance is admitting that what God says is true, and because it is true, to change our mind about our sins and about the Saviour." [Note: Wiersbe, 1:413.]

The Greek verb metanoeo, translated "repent," does not mean to be sorry for sin or to turn from sin. These are the results or fruits of repentance.

"The conclusive evidence that repentance does not mean to be sorry for sin or to turn from sin is this: in the Old Testament, God repents. In the King James Version, the word repent occurs forty-six times in the Old Testament. Thirty-seven of these times, God is the one repenting (or not repenting). If repentance meant sorrow for sin, God would be a sinner." [Note: G. Michael Cocoris, Evangelism: A Biblical Approach, pp. 68-69. See especially his chapter "What is Repentance?"]

People can repent concerning many things, not just sin, as the Scriptures use this term. They can change their minds about God (Acts 20:21), Christ (Acts 2:37-38), and works (Hebrews 6:1; Revelation 9:20; Revelation 16:11), as well as sin (Acts 8:22; Revelation 9:21). This shows that in biblical usage repentance means essentially a change of mind.

Repentance and faith are not two steps in salvation but one step looked at from two perspectives. Appeals to repent do not contradict the numerous promises that faith is all that is necessary for salvation (e.g., John 1:12; John 3:16; John 3:36; John 5:24; John 6:47; John 20:30-31; Romans 4; et al.). The faith that saves includes repentance (a change of mind). One changes from unbelief to belief (Acts 11:17-18). Sometimes the New Testament writers used the two terms, repent and believe, together (e.g., Mark 1:15; Acts 20:21; Hebrews 6:1). Sometimes they used repentance alone as the sole requirement for salvation (Acts 2:38; Acts 3:19; Acts 17:30; Acts 26:20; 2 Peter 3:9). Nonetheless whether one term or both occur, they are as inseparable as the two sides of a coin.

". . . true repentance never exists except in conjunction with faith, while, on the other hand, wherever there is true faith, there is also real repentance." [Note: Louis Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 487. See also L. S. Chafer, Systematic Theology, 3:373.]

"Biblical repentance may be described thus: the sinner has been trusting in himself for salvation, his back turned upon Christ, who is despised and rejected. Repent! About face! The sinner now despises and rejects himself, and places all confidence and trust in Christ. Sorrow for sin comes later, as the Christian grows in appreciation of the holiness of God, and the sinfulness of sin." [Note: Donald G. Barnhouse, God’s River, p. 202. See also Robert N. Wilkin, "Repentance and Salvation: A Key Gospel Issue," Grace Evangelical Society News 3:6 (June-July 1988):3.]

"We believe that the new birth of the believer comes only through faith in Christ and that repentance is a vital part of believing, and is in no way, in itself, a separate and independent condition of salvation; nor are any other acts, such as confession, baptism, prayer, or faithful service, to be added to believing as a condition of salvation." [Note: Doctrinal Statement of Dallas Theological Seminary, Article VII: "Salvation Only Through Christ."]

"Therefore, in a word, I interpret repentance as regeneration, whose sole end is to restore in us the image of God that had been disfigured and all but obliterated through Adam’s transgression." [Note: John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, 3:3:9. For an analysis of the view of H. A. Ironside concerning repentance, see Bob Wilkin, "Did H. A. Ironside Teach Committment Salvation?" Grace Evangelical Society News 4:6 (June 1989):1, 3. Ironside did not teach that repentance is a separate step in salvation.]

The phrase "times of refreshing" (Acts 3:19) seems to refer to the blessings connected with the day of the Lord, particularly the Millennium, in view of how Peter described them in Acts 3:20-21. [Note: See Bock, "Evidence from . . .," p. 189.] They connect with the second coming of Messiah, the "period" of restoration of all things. They are the subjects of Old Testament prophecy. Zechariah predicted that the Jews would one day accept Messiah whom they had formerly rejected (Zechariah 12:10-14; cf. Deuteronomy 30:1-3; Jeremiah 15:19; Jeremiah 16:15; Jeremiah 24:6; Jeremiah 50:19; Ezekiel 16:55; Hosea 11:11; Romans 11:25-27). Peter urged them to do that now.

Some dispensational expositors believe that if the Jews had repented as a nation in response to Peter’s exhortation Christ might have returned and set up His kingdom. There seems to be nothing in scriptural prophecy that would have made this impossible. Peter, therefore, may have been calling for both individual repentance and national repentance. The result of the former was individual forgiveness and spiritual salvation. The result of the latter would have been national forgiveness and physical deliverance from Rome, and the inauguration of the messianic (millennial) kingdom.

"Was Peter saying here that if Israel repented, God’s kingdom would have come to earth? This must be answered in the affirmative for several reasons: (1) The word restore (Acts 3:21) is related to the word ’restore’ in Acts 1:6. In Acts 3:21 it is in its noun form (apokatastaseos), and in Acts 1:6 it is a verb (apokathistaneis). Both occurrences anticipate the restoration of the kingdom to Israel (cf. Matthew 17:11; Mark 9:12). (2) The concept of restoration parallels regeneration when it is used of the kingdom (cf. Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22; Matthew 19:28; Romans 8:20-22). (3) The purpose clauses are different in Acts 3:19-20. In Acts 3:19 a so that translates pros to (some mss. have eis to) with the infinitive [in the NIV]. This points to a near purpose. The two occurrences of that in Acts 3:19 b and 20 are translations of a different construction (hopos with subjunctive verbs), and refer to more remote purposes. Thus repentance would result in forgiveness of sins, the near purpose (Acts 3:19 a). Then if Israel as a whole would repent, a second more remote goal, the coming of the kingdom (times of refreshing at the second coming of Christ) would be fulfilled. (4) The sending of the Christ, that is, Messiah (Acts 3:20) meant the coming of the kingdom. (5) The Old Testament ’foretold these days’ (Acts 3:24; cf. Acts 3:21). The Old Testament prophets did not predict the church; to them it was a mystery (Romans 16:25; Ephesians 3:1-6). But the prophets often spoke of the messianic golden age, that is, the Millennium.

"This offer of salvation and of the Millennium pointed both to God’s graciousness and to Israel’s unbelief. On the one hand God was giving the Jews an opportunity to repent after the sign of Christ’s resurrection. They had refused the ’pre-Cross’ Jesus; now they were being offered a post-Resurrection Messiah. On the other hand Peter’s words underscore Israel’s rejection. They had been given the sign of Jonah but still they refused to believe (cf. Luke 16:31). In a real sense this message confirmed Israel’s unbelief.

"Some Bible scholars oppose the view that the kingdom was offered by Peter. They do so on the basis of several objections: (1) Since God knew Israel would reject the offer, it was not a legitimate offer. But it was as genuine as the presentation of the gospel to any nonelect person. (2) This puts kingdom truth in the Church Age. However, church truth is found before the church began at Pentecost (cf. Matthew 16:18; Matthew 18:17; John 10:16; John 14:20). (3) This view leads to ultradispensationalism. But this is not a necessary consequence if this offer is seen as a transition within the Church Age. Acts must be seen as a hinge book, a transition work bridging the work of Christ on earth with His work through the church on earth.

"In conclusion, Acts 3:17-21 shows that Israel’s repentance was to have had two purposes: (1) for individual Israelites there was forgiveness of sins, and (2) for Israel as a nation her Messiah would return to reign." [Note: Toussaint, "Acts," pp. 361-62. Bold type omitted. See also idem, "The Contingency . . .," pp. 228-30; and idem and Jay A. Quine, "No, Not Yet: The Contingency of God’s Promised Kingdom," Bibliotheca Sacra 164:654 (April-June 2007):141-45.]

Other dispensational interpreters, including myself, believe that this was not a reoffer of the kingdom to Israel.

"Here Peter was not reoffering the kingdom to the nation, nor was he telling them that if the nation repented the kingdom would be instituted at that time. Rather he was telling the nation-the same nation that had committed the sin for which there is no forgiveness [cf. Matthew 12:22-37]-what they must do as a nation in order to enter into the benefits of the kingdom that had been covenanted and promised to them. In a word, they must ’repent.’ . . .

"The time ’for God to restore everything,’ to which Peter refers in Acts 3:21, is the same restoration referred to in Acts 1:6. Therefore, this statement does not constitute a reoffer of the kingdom, since the necessary prerequisites are not at hand. Jesus Christ is not personally present and offering Himself to the nation. Only He could make a genuine offer of the kingdom. . . .

". . . Peter was not offering the kingdom to Israel, nor was he stating that the kingdom had already been instituted; instead he was stating the conditions by which the nation will eventually enter into their covenanted blessings." [Note: Pentecost, Thy Kingdom . . ., pp. 275, 276. See also McLean, p. 225.]

Some individual Jews did repent, but the nation as a whole did not in response to Peter’s exhortation (Acts 4:1-4). [Note: See The New Scofield . . ., p. 1166.]

"Luke’s manner of representing the nationalistic hopes of the Jewish people implies that he himself believed that there would be a future, national restoration. If Luke really believed that there would not be a restoration, he has certainly gone out of his way to give the contrary impression." [Note: Larry R. Helyer, "Luke and the Restoration of Israel," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 36:3 (September 1993):329. See also J. Randall Price, "Prophetic Postponement in Daniel 9 and Other Texts," in Issues in Dispensationalism, p. 137.]

"In his first sermon S. Peter had explained the Lord’s absence by the necessity for the outpouring of the Spirit: now he answers the difficulty about the Messianic kingdom by unfolding its true nature." [Note: Rackham, p. 49.]

Verses 22-23

Peter proceeded to quote from the first writing prophet to confirm what he had just stated. Moses had predicted that God would provide prophets similar to himself through whom He would make His will known to His people (Deuteronomy 18:15-19; cf. Leviticus 23:29). As time passed, the Jews saw that this prophecy referred to one prophet in particular who would appear and who would be like Moses in other respects as well. [Note: Darrell L. Bock, Proclamation from Prophecy and Pattern: Lucan Old Testament Christology, pp. 191-94.] He would deliver and judge His people. Thus believers in Peter’s day regarded this passage as messianic prophecy (cf. John 1:21 b, 25; Acts 7:40). Peter, by quoting this prophecy, affirmed that Jesus was the Messiah and urged his readers to accept Him or face destruction (Acts 3:23). Destruction followed in A.D. 70. Belief in Moses should have led to belief in Jesus, and belief in Jesus would have made Peter’s hearers obedient to Moses.

"The particular interest of this sermon lies in the way in which it gives further teaching about the person of Jesus, describing him as God’s servant, the Holy and Righteous One, the Author of life and the prophet like Moses. This indicates that a considerable amount of thinking about Jesus, based on study of the Old Testament, was taking place [in Jerusalem following Jesus’ death and resurrection]." [Note: Marshall, The Acts . . ., p. 89.]

Verse 24

Samuel announced that David would replace Saul (1 Samuel 13:14; 1 Samuel 15:28; 1 Samuel 28:17; cf. 1 Samuel 16:13), but we have no record that he ever gave an explicitly messianic prophecy. Peter seems to have meant that in announcing David’s reign Samuel was also anticipating Messiah’s reign. The other prophets Peter apparently had in mind were all those who spoke of David’s continuing dynastic rule. Peter’s statement in this verse, by the way, shows that Joshua did not fulfill Moses’ prophecy about the coming prophet.

Verses 25-26

Peter’s hearers were the sons of the prophets in that they were the descendants of those people, not prophets themselves. They were sons of the covenant God made with Abraham because they were Abraham’s physical descendants. They were part of Abraham’s physical seed through whom God purposed to bring blessing to all the families of the earth (Genesis 12:3; Genesis 22:18; Genesis 26:4). Their acceptance of God’s Messiah was essential to their fulfilling all God’s purposes through them and in them. God desired to bless all people, but He purposed to bless humanity by first blessing the Jews. It was to bless first the Jews and then all humanity that God had called Jesus forth as a prophet. "For you first" (Acts 3:26, Gr. hymin proton) reflects the emphatic position of this phrase in the Greek text, which stresses the primacy of Jewish blessing.

It seems that in view of the context the phrase "raised up" (Acts 3:26) refers to God raising up Jesus as a prophet like Moses (Acts 3:22). He probably did not mean that God raised Him up from the grave by resurrection, though obviously God did that too.

The gospel went to the Jews before it went to the Gentiles (cf. Matthew 10:5-6; Acts 13:46; Romans 1:16) because the establishment of Christ’s earthly kingdom depends on Israel’s acceptance of her Messiah (Matthew 23:39; Romans 11:26). Before Christ can reign on the earth, Israel must repent (Zechariah 12:10-14).

"This speech is one of the most christologically rich addresses in Acts, as Jesus is the servant, the Holy and Righteous One, the Author of life, the prophet like Moses, the Christ, and the seed of Abraham." [Note: Bock, Acts, p. 165.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Acts 3". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/acts-3.html. 2012.
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