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Bible Commentaries

Dunagan's Commentary on the Bible

Acts 3





I. The Healing of the Lame Man: 3:1-8

II. The Reaction of the Crowd: 3:9-11

III. Peter's Sermon: 3:12-26


'The healing of the lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple was not the first and possibly not the most marvelous miracle which had been wrought by the apostles since the Day of Pentecost (2:43); but it is related because it brought the apostles to the notice of the Jewish rulers and resulted in the first serious opposition to narrative shows the independence of the church and its boldness.' (Erdman p. 41)

This miracle and the sermon which follows it will trigger the persecution described in the next two chapters. In addition, Luke has previously noted that 'many wonders and signs were taking place through the apostles' ( Act_2:43 ); now he cites one dramatic example.

'How much time has passed since Pentecost? No hint is given..Through those days we may suppose that the evangelistic work of the apostles was little opposed. With the introduction of the healing of the lame man we are entering into the record of a series of conflicts and opposition to the spread of the Gospel.' (Reese p. 150)


Verse 1

Act_3:1 Now Peter and John were going up into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

'PETER AND JOHN'-We often find these two men mentioned together. They had been partners in a fishing business ( Luk_5:10 ) Both of them had been looking for the Messiah, before they met Jesus ( Joh_1:41 ; Joh_1:35-37 ). Peter, James and John constituted an inner circle among the apostles ( Mat_17:1 ; Mar_5:37 ; Mat_26:37 . We find both of them running to the empty tomb ( Joh_20:3 ); and fishing together after the resurrection (21:7). As of Gal_2:9 , we find Peter and John still together in Jerusalem.

'GOING UP INTO THE TEMPLE'-'ascending the terraces, on the highest of which the temple stood.' (Vincent p. 458)

Bruce notes, 'The Court of Israel was that part of the temple area to which Jewish laymen were admitted. The outer court of the temple was rebuilt and extended by Herod...Gentiles might walk about in it, and it was therefore called the Court of the Gentiles..From the Court of the Gentiles, after ascending some steps, one might pass through the barrier which separated the outer court from the inner courts. Notices in Greek and Latin were fixed to this barrier, warning Gentiles not to penetrate farther, on pain of death...Nine gates led through the barrier, of which the Beautiful Gate was probably one..The first of the inner courts was the Court of the Women, containing the treasury ( Mar_12:41 ff): it was so called because Jewish women might enter thus far, but no farther. Jewish laymen might go farther, into the Court of Israel. Beyond this was the Court of the Priests, reserved for priests and Levites...within this court stood the sanctuary building itself, with its two compartments, the Holy Place and the Holy of Holies.' (p. 83)

'AT THE HOUR OF PRAYER, BEING THE NINTH HOUR'-i.e. 3 p.m. 'The traditions of the Jews (rather than a specific O.T. commandment) had fixed the third, the sixth, and the ninth hours as times for private prayer.' (Reese p. 151) In addition the ninth hour was also the time for the offering of the evening sacrifice ( Exo_29:41 ; Num_28:3-4 ). 'called in Luk_1:10 , "the hour of incense", that is, the hour of the evening sacrifice, when the people stood outside in prayer, while the priest within offered the sacrifice and burnt the incense.' (P.P. Comm. p. 92)

Point to Note:

From this example, various writers assume that the early church was still keeping many of the Jewish laws. But other passages clearly inform us that the apostles understood that they were no longer under the Law of Moses ( Act_15:10-11 ). We should first remember, being of the Jewish race gave Peter and John the right to enter this court. Reese notes, 'At the temple, during the hours or prayer, they would find a ready-made audience to whom they might preach.' (p. 151)

Peter and John are entering the temple-like Paul entered the various synagogues, i.e. to find people to preach to and convert ( Act_17:1-3 ).

Verse 2

Act_3:2 And a certain man that was lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the door of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple;

'A CERTAIN MAN THAT WAS LAME FROM HIS MOTHER'S WOMB'- Act_4:22 informs us that he had been lame for over 40 years. This man doesn't have a psychosomatic or "imaginary" ailment. 'It was a congenital case..the man was now over forty years old (4:22); and he was so severely handicapped that he had to be carried (3:2).' (Stott p. 90)

'WAS CARRIED, WHOM THEY LAID DAILY AT THE DOOR OF THE TEMPLE'-This "certain" lame man, was a very familiar face to the worshippers in Jerusalem. 'The Beautiful Gate was doubtless the favorite passway into the temple court, he became well known to all who frequented the temple.' (McGarvey p. 51)

'THEY LAID'-Possibly carried regularly by family members of friends.

'AT THE DOOR OF THE TEMPLE..TO ASK ALMS'-'In the East it was the custom for beggars to set begging at the entrance to a temple..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 man.' (Barclay p. 28) In addition, this was a high-traffic area.

'WHICH IS CALLED BEAUTIFUL'-'Commentators mostly identify this as the Nicanor Gate, which was the main eastern entrance to the temple precincts from the Court of the Gentiles. Because Luke names it "the Beautiful Gate", it is probably the one made of Corinthian brass which Josephus said "greatly excelled those that were only covered over with silver and gold". It was about seventy-five feet high and had huge double doors.' (Stott p. 90) 'and 60 feet wide. It was located on the east where the sunlight presented a bright reflection to the constant crowds entering for worship.' (Reese pp. 152-153)

Verse 3

Act_3:3 who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked to receive an alms.

Verse 4

Act_3:4 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him, with John, said, Look on us.

'FASTENING HIS EYES UPON HIM, WITH JOHN'-Peter and John looked straight at this man. 'Peter looked him straight in the eye, and so did John' (Wms).

Verse 5

Act_3:5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something from them.


Point to Note:

It is often claimed by some modern groups, that one could be healed, if they just had enough faith. Carefully note, that the lame man was expecting alms, he wasn't expecting to be healed. Secondly, nothing in the text says that this man even believed in Jesus. For Peter was preaching to the lame man, as well as the crowd in the following verses. According to the Bible, if a person really could heal: (a) The presence of unbelief in the audience, didn't hinder them ( Mar_2:1 ff). (b) No case was too hard or difficult ( Mat_4:23-24 ). (c) Faith wasn't required of the person being healed ( Act_3:5 ). In fact, the person being healed didn't even have to be a Christian.

Some have said that Peter is looking at this man, to 'see if he is worthy of being healed'. But seeing that all have sinned ( Rom_3:23 ), no man would be "worthy" of being healed.

Verse 6

Act_3:6 But Peter said,Silver and gold have I none; but what I have, that give I thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.

'SILVER AND GOLD HAVE I NONE'-'I do no possess silver and gold' (NASB)

Points to Note:

Peter knew what the lame man was expecting--and it wasn't to be healed. He was hoping for a monetary gift.

Even though the money contributed in the previous chapter was under the apostles authority ( Act_2:44-45 ; Act_4:32-37 'laid it at the apostle's feet'), Peter said that he didn't possess any silver and gold, which infers: (a) This common fund, or treasury in the New Testament church wasn't available to non-Christians. (b) 'the possessions which had been sold did not belong to the apostles.' (Boles p. 54). (c) Hence, we see quite a difference between the use of funds given by Christians in the First Century--and how funds are used in many modern religious groups.

While the apostles did have the right to be paid and were financially supported ( 1Co_9:1 ff). They didn't act like this new movement belonged to them, i.e. they didn't draw enormous salaries and neither did they have huge expense accounts.

'BUT WHAT I HAVE, THAT GIVE I THEE'-Something much better than silver and gold.

'IN THE NAME OF JESUS CHRIST OF NAZARETH'-'The expression "in the name of" means "by the authority of" or "by virtue of the power derived from Him".' (Reese p. 154)

'WALK'-Notice the simplicity of the miraculous. No long drawn out ceremony or show. No buildup, no hype.

Verse 7

Act_3:7 And he took him by the right hand, and raised him up: and immediately his feet and his ankle-bones received strength.

'HE TOOK HIM BY THE RIGHT HAND, AND RAISED HIM UP'-'and hence implies taking hold with a firm grasp' (Vincent p. 459). The command was such a shock or surprise to the lame man, that Peter didn't even wait for his response. Peter reached down and pulled the man up.

'AND IMMEDIATELY'-'The apostle did not then stand back and watch the man struggle to his feet.' (Stott p. 91)

Points to Note:

Here we see the quality of true miracles. They were instant! This man has never walked in his life. There is no slow-gradual stumbling on his part, no rehabilitation is needed to strengthen his muscles. He doesn't need any follow-up surgery or medication. He is healed immediately, and the condition of his legs after he is healed, is the condition of a man who never had anything wrong with such legs in the first place. It's as if, the man had never been lame, or had even the slightest defect in his legs.

The apostles didn't work "second-rate" miracles. When they healed-it was the same quality as when Jesus had healed ( Joh_5:8-9 ). The reason for this--is that Jesus is still healing through them ( Act_3:6 ). Thus, as long as the miraculous gifts were available to the Church ( 1Co_13:8-10 ), they always had the same quality. Hence, we must conclude that all modern "healers" are fakes, for their supposed miracles and healings clearly do not have the same quality as the miracles you can read about in the Gospels and Acts.

Verse 8

Act_3:8 And leaping up, he stood, and began to walk; and he entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

'LEAPING UP'-He knew right away what had happened. Again, let it be stressed that in biblical healings, the healing didn't happen slowly, gradually or over a period of time. The lame man didn't say, 'I think I feel something in my legs'. 'Present middle..leaping out repeatedly after Peter pulled him up' (Robertson p. 42)

'BEGAN TO WALK'-'The imperfect..continued walking about.' (Vincent p. 460) Notice the agility of this man--no stumbling, no wobbling. He is walking about, but it isn't to learn how to walk, rather he is walking, because he is simply amazed at what he is now able to do.

'ENTERED WITH THEM INTO THE TEMPLE'-'This was the hour of prayer in the afternoon. We can imagine the usual silence of the worshippers being rather surprisingly interrupted by the leaping and cries of praise to God..May we picture the worshippers coming up quietly, reverently--and then into their midst comes this man shouting at the top of his voice and leaping about? He would be seen and noticed!' (Reese pp. 155-156)

'WALKING, AND LEAPING'-'ordinary walking seemed too humdrum a means of progress. His exultation must find a more vigorous expression, and so, leaping in the air and bounding along, trying to find out all that his new limbs were capable of doing.' (Bruce p. 84)

'PRAISING GOD'-He realized that God was the ultimate source of his healing.

Verse 10

Act_3:10 and they took knowledge of him, that it was he that sat for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.

'AND THEY'-Those in the temple area.

'TOOK KNOWLEDGE OF HIM'-'began to recognize him' (Rhm) 'They recognized the man as the lame beggar who was such a familiar sight at the Beautiful Gate; they knew that there was nothing fraudulent about his lameness.' (Bruce p. 84)

Point to Note:

We need to remind ourselves that many of the people healed in the New Testament weren't even members of the Church (like this lame man). Others were people that Jesus and the apostles had never previously met. Many of them were complete strangers ( Luk_7:11-17 ). And also note that Jesus and the apostles did many miracles outside the gathering of the disciples, i.e. they didn't need a special service or even a "church service" in which to heal.

'WONDER'-2285. thambos tham'-bos; akin to an obsolete tapho (to dumbfound); stupefaction (by surprise), i.e. astonishment: -X amazed, + astonished, wonder.

-'in ordinary Greek expresses rather distraction or disturbance of mind caused by shock.' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 107)

'AMAZEMENT'-1611. ekstasis ek'-stas-is; from 1839; a displacement of the mind, i.e. bewilderment, "ecstasy": -+ be amazed, amazement, astonishment, trance.

-'they were completely astounded and bewildered' (Wms).

Verse 11

Act_3:11 And as he held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering.

'AS HE HELD PETER AND JOHN'-'Held them firmly' (Vincent p. 460). 'in his joy and gratitude' (Gr. Ex. N.T. p. 107) 'he wished all to know to whom he was indebted for his great blessing' (Boles p. 56)

'ALL THE PEOPLE RAN TOGETHER UNTO THEM'-A huge crowd now gathers around these three individuals.

'PORCH THAT IS CALLED SOLOMON'S'-'Along the whole eastern side of the temple enclosure was a porch or roof extending from the top of the wall back into the temple area. This roof was held up by two rows of columns, 37 feet high. The whole porch was 60 feet wide...These huge covered porches would provide protection for the worshippers during the rainy season and shade during the hot summer months..It was called "Solomon's Porch" because when the temple was rebuilt by Zerubbabel, fragments of Solomon's temple were used in the construction of this porch.' (Reese pp. 156-157)

McGarvey notes: 'They contained space sufficient for the great multitude of the disciples when assembled in one mass; and also for many separate meetings of large numbers to listen to different preachers speaking at the same time. All the twelve apostles might be preaching in them at the same hour, each to a large audience, and yet be far enough apart to avoid confusion of sound.' (p. 52) The early church used these porches (Solomon's being only one), to meet in ( Act_5:12 ; Act_2:46 ). Jesus had also used these covered areas as places in which to teach ( Joh_10:23 ). The roof that covered these porches was made of cedar.

'GREATLY WONDERING'-'full of amazement' (NASV)

Point to Note:

'Just as the Pentecost event had been the text for his first sermon, so the cripple's healing became the text for his second.' (Stott p. 91) 'The crowd of wondering spectators thronged them, and when they reached Solomon's colonnade, Peter had a large audience ready to listen to anything he might say. If the spiritual significance of the miracle escaped many in the crowd..Peter had an excellent opportunity to making it plain to them.' (Bruce p. 87)

We again see that the miracles were used to open doors for preaching ( Joh_3:2 ; Joh_5:36 ).


Verse 12

Act_3:12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this man? or why fasten ye your eyes on us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made him to walk?

'WHY MARVEL YE AT THIS MAN? OR WHY FASTEN YE YOUR EYES ON US'-'and why do you stare so at us' (TCNT) The Jewish people knew enough about miracles to properly interpret them and to know where they came from. 'They ought not have been thinking so much about how did it happen, but ought to have been asking why God had performed the miracle.' (Reese p. 158)

'AS THOUGH BY OUR OWN POWER OR GODLINESS WE HAD MADE HIM TO WALK?'-'Do not stare at us, as though there were anything wonderful about us.' (Bruce p. 87)

'GODLINESS'-2150. eusebeia yoo-seb'-i-ah; from 2152; piety; specially, the gospel scheme: -godliness, holiness.

Point to Note:

Notice the humility of the apostles. Even though they could work miracles, they still perceived of themselves as ordinary men ( Act_14:15 ). McGarvey notes, 'The notion, therefore, which has existed in some minds from time to time ever since the apostolic period, that if our faith were strong enough we also could work miracles, has as little foundation in Scripture as it has in experience.' (p. 56) Carefully note that Peter denied that it was "great faith" or "spirituality" on his part that had worked the miracle. The inference is that no amount of spiritual growth could enable anyone, including an apostle to work a miracle. The source of the miracle was God's power. And such power can't be bought ( Act_8:20 ff), earned or merited.

Verse 13

Act_3:13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Servant Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied before the face of Pilate, when he had determined to release him.

'THE GOD OF ABRAHAM..'-Which contradicts the modern belief that the God of the O.T. is different from the God revealed in the New Testament. This expression also infers that God is still the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob-i.e. all three men still exist. Man does continue to live even after his body dies ( Mat_22:32 ). 'It was the very same God the Patriarchs had known and worshipped...The apostles were not introducing any new religion ("new" in the sense that it was different from what had been predicted in the Old Testament).' (Reese p. 158)

'HATH GLORIFIED'-1392. doxazo dox-ad'-zo; from 1391; to render (or esteem) glorious (in a wide application): -(make) glorify(-ious), full of (have) glory, honour, magnify.

'HIS SERVANT JESUS'-Thus identifying Jesus with the 'Servant' the prophets had spoken of ( Isa_42:1 ff; Isa_52:13 ff). 'Peter is saying that God did this miracle so that Jesus might be honored (glorified).' (Reese p. 158) Peter could also be saying that this miracle stands as proof that Jesus presently occupies a glorified position. 'Note again how the apostles loved to emphasize the contrast between men's treatment of Christ and God's.' (Bruce p. 89)

'WHOM YE DELIVERED UP'-In contrast to what God had done--this is what many in the audience had done. 'Perhaps there were some in the audience who had cried out against Jesus: "Crucify, crucify him"' (Boles p. 57)


Points to Note:

That last statement only magnifies what an injustice had been committed. Even the pagan Roman Governor could see that Jesus was innocent. In this verse, Pilate looks more "righteous" than the Jewish people assembled. At least, he put forth some effort to save Jesus ( Luk_23:16-20 )

'They delivered to death One whom even the pagan Pilate would have released.' (Erdman p. 45)

This also infers that in order to put Jesus to death, the Jewish leaders and crowd had to purposely ignore the many chances they were given to avoid killing Him. So great was their anger, jealousy, envy, and selfishness, that the pagan Pilate was more honest then they were in this situation ( Joh_19:4 ; Joh_19:12 ; Mar_15:10 )

Verse 14

Act_3:14 But ye denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted unto you,

'BUT YE DENIED'-Even when Pilate was determined to release Jesus, and when he gave them a choice between Jesus and a murderer. The 'But ye', is in contrast to the actions of Pilate.

'HOLY AND RIGHTEOUS ONE'-And one many of them knew to be Holy and Righteous.

'AND ASKED FOR A MURDERER TO BE GRANTED UNTO YOU'-'thus demanding both the condemnation of the innocent and the acquittal of the guilty.' (Stott p. 92) ( Mat_27:21 ; Mar_15:7 ; Luk_23:12 )

Again, Pilate the pagan and hated Roman Governor, appears in a better light than those in the crowd. For Pilate assumed that the crowd would logically choose Jesus to be spared instead of the murdering revolutionary Barabbas. On that day, by their actions, the Jewish crowd had said that Jesus was worse than a murderer.

Verse 15

Act_3:15 and killed the Prince of life; whom God raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.

'KILLED THE PRINCE OF LIFE'-'Yes, Peter continued, you asked that a murderer's life might be spared, but you put the very Author of life to death--an amazing paradox!.' (Bruce pp. 88-89)

'PRINCE'-747. archegos ar-khay-gos'; from 746 and 71; a chief leader: -author, captain, prince.

'though sometimes rendered 'prince', means, primarily, 'beginning', and thence 'originator, author'. (Vincent p. 462) ( Heb_2:10 ; Act_5:31 ). Jesus is not only the source of our physical lives ( Col_1:16-17 ), He is also the only source of spiritual life ( Joh_6:68 ; Joh_14:6 ).

'WHOM GOD RAISED FROM THE DEAD'-God can even use human rebellion to achieve His purposes (3:18). And carefully note that human rejection doesn't stop the purposes of God, rather God can use it to achieve His purposes.


Verse 16

Act_3:16 And by faith in his name hath his name made this man strong, whom ye behold and know: yea, the faith which is through him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.


Points to Note:

The "faith" in this verse doesn't refer to the faith of the lame man, for: (1) He wasn't even a Christian. (2) He wasn't expecting to be healed.

Rather, the faith refers to the faith of Peter and John. Please note: (a) Faith wasn't the power that worked the miracle (God did that), but faith was necessary in those performing the miracles ( Mat_14:31 ; Mat_17:20 ). (b) The only "failure" to heal recorded in the Gospels had to do with lack of faith-not in the person being healed, but in those doing the healing ( Mat_17:20 ). (c) 'no faith ever enabled one to work a miracle to whom such powers had not been imparted.' (McGarvey p. 56)

From this statement we also should note that the phrase, "in the name of Jesus", was not some sort of magic charm. ( Act_19:13-17 ) Again, if the power to work the miracles had not been imparted to you ( Act_8:15 ff), then this expression enabled you to do nothing. The simple phrase, "in the name of Jesus" has no inherent power.

'WHOM YE BEHOLD AND KNOW'-Which once again emphasizes the truth that this miracle hadn't been staged. Nobody could claim that the lame man had simply faked his illness or that his illness had been all in his head.

'THE FAITH WHICH IS THROUGH HIM'-The apostles faith in the risen Jesus. In other words, Peter is saying that if Jesus hadn't been risen, then they would have been helpless to heal this man. But the fact that the apostles could heal--was proof that the object of their faith (Jesus) had been raised.

'HATH GIVEN HIM'-the lame man.

'PERFECT SOUNDNESS'-3647. holokleria hol-ok-lay-ree'-ah; from 3648; integrity, i.e. physical wholeness: -perfect soundness.

-'The cure performed on the man was instantaneous, perfect, and entire.' (Reese p. 162) 'this complete cure' (TCNT)

'IN THE PRESENCE OF YOU ALL'-Consider how the apostles preached. They didn't try to convict people with highly subjective arguments. Instead they cited one obvious fact after another. The sermons were emotional, but they weren't based on emotionalism. They were charged with intense feelings, because the facts demanded such a reaction.


Verse 17

Act_3:17 And now, brethren, I know that in ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.

'I KNOW THAT IN IGNORANCE YE DID IT, AS DID ALSO YOUR RULERS'-( Luk_23:34 ; Rom_10:1-3 ; 1Co_2:8 ; 1Ti_1:13 ).

Point to Note:

And yet their ignorance did not excuse their actions. What they had done in ignorance was still sin (3:19), and it still demanded repentance. Thus we find that ignorance it not an excuse ( Luk_12:47-48 ; 2Th_1:8 ).

Some authors argue that since the sin was committed in ignorance Peter is then saying that the sin can be forgiven. They base this argument on the O.T. distinction between unintentional sins and intentional sins ( Num_15:22-31 ). I must reject this view because: (a) Especially in the case of the Jewish rulers, yes, Peter says they killed Jesus in ignorance, but that ignorance was deliberately chosen. They had to close their eyes to the miracles ( Joh_11:47 ). They purposely placed their own self-preservation, personal comfort and position above the life of Jesus ( Joh_11:49-50 ). They deliberately broke many of their own rules in arresting, trying and condemning Jesus ( Mat_26:59 ). (b) To say that Peter is applying an O.T. distinction to their sin, opens up a big can of worms, i.e. does the blood of Christ only forgive unintentional sins? If that is the case, then we are all in trouble. ( 1Co_6:9-11 ; Eph_2:1-3 )

Verse 18

Act_3:18 But the things which God foreshowed by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled.

'THAT HIS CHRIST SHOULD SUFFER'-( Luk_24:46-47 ). Thus anyone who reads or studies the O.T. and interprets the messages of the prophets that the Messiah would rule over an earthly kingdom, has clearly mis-interpreted the O.T.


Point to Note:

Notice how God is even able to use human rebellion in achieving His purposes. And carefully note that God can use the unreasonableness, stubbornness and selfishness of people to fulfill His purposes. We need to tell those individuals who are defiantly setting themselves up against God in our own time--that their efforts are going to be futile. They can't cause God to vanish, they can't change reality, and even in their stubbornness, God can still use them--if for nothing else as a prime example of how mixed up and foolish a person can become when they try to live without God ( Rom_9:17 ).

And also note how Peter completely sees no contradiction between God's ability to know the future and human accountability and free will.

Verse 19

Act_3:19 Repent ye therefore, and turn again, that your sins may be blotted out, that so there may come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord;

'REPENT'-3340. metanoeo met-an-o-eh'-o; from 3326 and 3539; to think differently or afterwards, i.e. reconsider (morally, feel compunction): -repent.

'THEREFORE'-'Neither their ignorance nor God's predictions exonerated them.' (Stott p. 93) God is very reasonable. It was now obvious that they had made the wrong decision concerning Jesus. In fact, they hadn't killed an innocent man (bad enough), they had actually killed the Messiah. Even though, their actions contributed towards the fulfillment of God's plan (3:18; 2:23), they stood in the same boat now that previous enemies of God had stood in, i.e. like Pharaoh. 'All that they had to do to avail themselves of this salvation was to change their former attitude to Jesus and bring it into line with God's attitude. God had clearly shown His verdict by raising Him from the dead. Let them therefore repent, let them repudiate with abhorrence their acquiescence in the murder of their true Messiah.' (Bruce p. 90)

'TURN AGAIN'-1994. epistrepho ep-ee-stref'-o; from 1909 and 4762; to revert (literally, figuratively or morally): -come (go) again, convert, (re-)turn (about, again).

Points to Note:

The phrase "turn again", is signifying something more than repentance. For Peter isn't saying, 'turn and turn'. McGarvey notes, 'the word "turn" expresses something to be done subsequent to repentance, and something different from repentance.' (p. 58)

In the book of Acts the first deed of a reformed life or the first act of turning that follows true repentance is the act of being baptized ( Act_2:38 ). Thus in comparing Act_2:38 with 3:19, we find that the phrase "turn again" is the equivalent to "be baptized".

Some have tried to down-play the importance of being baptized, by arguing that baptism isn't mentioned by name in this chapter. But that argument backfires seeing that "faith" isn't specifically mentioned in this case of conversion or the case found in Act_2:1-47 .

Reese notes, 'Unfortunately, in the KJV this word has been translated "be converted"; i.e. the verb is given a passive sense--and this has given some support to the Calvinistic concept that in conversion the individual sinner is wholly passive and that conversion is a miraculous act brought about by the direct influence of the Holy Spirit upon the heart. It should be noted that the verb (in the original) is an aorist active imperative, and indicates that the "returning" is a responsibility that each individual man has.' (p. 164)

'THAT YOUR'-Repentance is placed prior to forgiveness. Baptism must also be prior to forgiveness, for they are linked together here and in Act_2:38 .

'BLOTTED OUT'-1813. exaleipho ex-al-i'-fo; from 1537 and 218; to smear out, i.e. obliterate (erase tears, figuratively, pardon sin): -blot out, wipe away.

-'This is a vivid word. Ancient writing was upon papyrus, and the ink used had no acid in it. It therefore did not bite into the papyrus as modern ink does; it simply lay upon the top of it. To erase the writing a man might take a wet sponge and simply wipe it away. So God wipes out the sin of the forgiven man.' (Barclay p. 32)

Point to Note:

Unfortunately, some unwarranted assumptions have been made concerning forgiveness. God doesn't develope amnesia when He forgives, for He does remember the former condition of saved people ( 1Co_6:9-11 ; 1Ti_1:13-15 ; Eph_2:1-3 ). But when God forgives He releases us from the guilt of such actions and attitudes. In addition, forgiveness doesn't mean that the past has been obliterated. For the forgiven murderer, still must serve his or her time or still can be executed by the state ( Rom_13:1 ff). And the person who unscripturally left their spouse and family still has a moral obligation to pay child support ( 1Ti_5:8 ).

'THAT SO THERE MAY COME'-'in order that' (NASV). The KJV 'when' is a poor translation here.

'SEASONS OF REFRESHING'-403. anapsuxis an-aps'-ook-sis; from 404; properly, a recovery of breath, i.e. (figuratively) revival: -revival.

-'the word means cooling, or reviving with fresh air.' (Vincent p. 463) 'can mean rest, relief, respite or refreshment.' (Stott p. 93) Jesus Himself had promised "rest" to those who come to Him ( Mat_11:28-30 ).

Point to Note:

This phrase doesn't promise an easy or smooth life for the Christian ( 2Ti_3:12 ; Act_14:22 ). But it does promise refreshment--which could include the removal of guilt, a clear conscience, peace with oneself, others, and God, the close association among Christians, etc..

Verse 20

Act_3:20 and that he may send the Christ who hath been appointed for you, even Jesus:

'AND THAT'-Here is another incentive for repentance. Jesus is coming again! (1:11) While they mistreated Him the first time, they can be in a position to receive Him properly the second time, i.e. to be a Christian.

Point to Note:

The coming of Christ won't depend upon them becoming Christians, for Jesus will come, regardless if anyone chooses to repent ( 2Pe_3:9-10 ). And neither does Jesus need any "favorable" conditions to happen before He returns ( 1Th_5:1-3 ; 2Th_1:8-9 ).

'APPOINTED FOR YOU'-i.e. designated Lord and Christ ( Act_2:36 ). Jesus is the only "appointed" Savior ( Act_4:12 ), He is coming again, but He will only save those who are already saved at that time ( Heb_9:28 ).

Verse 21

Act_3:21 whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, whereof God spake by the mouth of His holy prophets that have been from of old.

'UNTIL THE TIMES OF RESTORATION OF ALL THINGS'-'until the period of restoration of all things' (NASV).

'RESTORATION'-605. apokatastasis ap-ok-at-as'-tas-is; from 600; reconstitution: -restitution.

Points to Note:

The Premillennialists argue that the "period of restoration" applies to a supposed Utopian Millennium. But this passage clearly isn't teaching that: (a) The period of restoration is the same period as that spoken by the prophets. But that period was being fulfilled in the First Century! (3:24 'also announced these days') (b) From the day of Pentecost forward, a tremendous amount of "restoration" has been going on, i.e. people restored to God ( Mat_19:28 ; Mar_16:15-16 ; 1Pe_2:9-10 )

Some try to argue that the phrase "all things" means that God will finally save everyone. But the same speaker who gave this sermon didn't believe in unconditional and universal salvation (3:19 'repent'; 2Pe_3:9 ).


The "restoration of all things" applies to what the prophets promised would be "restored". And in the New Testament we find the fulfillment of such promises. We find the restoration of true Israel ( Rom_11:5 ); of the Gentiles ( Rom_15:12 ; Eph_2:11 ff); of the House of God ( 1Ti_3:15 ; Eph_2:20-22 ); of God's intended purpose for mankind ( Eph_4:23-24 ). Reese notes, 'the Prophets had spoken of the days of refreshing--the church age--the very things that were then taking place.' (p. 167)

Verse 22

Act_3:22 Moses indeed said, A prophet shall the Lord God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me. To him shall ye hearken in all things whatsoever he shall speak unto you.

'MOSES INDEED SAID'- Deu_18:15-19 . Please note that the New Testament agrees that the book of Deuteronomy was written by Moses.

Point to Note:

The fact that Peter know quotes a specific prophecy from the O.T., and finds it's immediate fulfillment in Jesus Christ, proves that the "restoration" the prophets predicted was taking place in the First Century. It is NOT a restoration that takes place AFTER Christ comes the second time. It is a restoration that happens BEFORE the second coming.

'AMONG YOUR BRETHREN'-The Messiah would be of Jewish ancestry.

'LIKE UNTO ME'-Jesus was also a Law-giver ('But I say to you'- Mat_5:22 ; Joh_12:48 ; Joh_14:15 ). 'The Jews acknowledged that this passage in Deuteronomy was a Messianic prophecy. They had asked John the Baptist, "Are you the prophet?" ( Joh_1:21 ff)' (Reese p. 168)

Both were lawgivers, both were saviors, both delivered others from bondage, both were mediators.

'TO HIM SHALL YE HEARKEN IN ALL THINGS WHATSOEVER HE SHALL SPEAK UNTO YOU'-( Mat_17:1-5 ). This infers that even as far back as Deuteronomy, God was hinting that the Law of Moses wasn't an eternal law. But one day, there would be a change ( Jer_31:31-34 ).

Verse 23

Act_3:23 And it shall be, that every soul that shall not hearken to that prophet, shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.

'SHALL BE UTTERLY DESTROYED FROM AMONG THE PEOPLE'-Notice that the O.T. clearly endorses Jesus as the final spokesman, the final law-giver, even a superior to Moses ( Heb_1:1-2 ). Hence Moses warned the people, that a time was coming when God would make a change, God would send another Prophet, another Law-giver, and those people who didn't make the change with God, would be cut off. They would no longer be considered the people of God. Thus, Jews that rejected Christ, were in turn rejected by God ( Act_13:46 ).

We must stress that it shouldn't surprise any good student of the O.T. that the N.T. exists or that the Old Covenant was taken out of the way and the New Covenant was put in its place. That is exactly what the O.T. had taught. ( Heb_8:1-13 ; Heb_9:1-28 ; Heb_10:1-39 ).

Verse 24

Act_3:24 Yea and all the prophets from Samuel and them that followed after, as many as have spoken, they also told of these days.

'SAMUEL'-The next significant or well-known prophet following Moses. In addition, 'Schools of prophets arose in his time, few before him ( 1Sa_3:1 ).' (Robertson p. 47)

'THEY ALSO TOLD OF THESE DAYS'-The "days" in the context are the days in which God would raise up another Prophet. And God did that in the First Century!

'ALSO'-'suggests that the burden of the prophets was the same as that prediction given by Moses.' (Reese p. 169)

Point to Note:

'Dispensationalism, one of the modern systems of eschatology, says the church age is not predicted in the Old Testament. Dispensationalism, in this assertion, is exactly contrary to what Peter said by inspiration! Peter says that the events happening then (and that was the early part of the church age) were predicted in the Old Testament Prophets, in Moses, Samuel, and all his successors.' (Reese p. 169)

Verse 25

Act_3:25 Ye are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.

'THE SONS OF THE PROPHETS'-The prophets were their ancestors in a general sense, but also they were "sons" in the sense that: (a) They were heirs of the promises made by the prophets. (b) They claimed to be followers or students of the prophets. Now if they wanted to inherit these promises, if they really did believe that the prophets spoke for God, then let then demonstrate such by repenting and being baptized.

'AND OF THE COVENANT WHICH GOD MADE WITH YOUR FATHERS'-The Covenant mentioned in this verse was made to Abraham ( Gen_12:3 ; Gen_22:18 ); and later Isaac and Jacob ( Gen_26:4 ; Gen_28:14 ).

'AND IN THY SEED SHALL ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH BE BLESSED'- Gen_12:3 . Since this covenant promised blessings to "all the families of the earth", these Jewish listeners (as well as all Gentiles) could inherit this promise.

Point to Note:

In the Premillennial Theory such an emphasis is placed upon the "land promise" made to Abraham and his descendants. The claim is made that such a promise was never really fulfilled, in fact it is claimed that the complete biblical doctrine concerning the Second Coming of Christ is based in this promise finally being fulfilled. But Jesus and the apostles completely ignore the land promise. The only promise made to Abraham that the N.T. deals with is the "seed promise" ( Gal_3:16 ). The land promise, along with the promise to become a great nation are viewed as completely fulfilled ( Jos_21:43-45 )

'THY SEED'-The "seed" is Jesus Christ ( Gal_3:16 ).

'ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH'-Which should of taught the Jewish people that God would bless non-Jews. This phrase also infers that all cultures need to be blessed, i.e. every culture struggles with sin ( Rom_3:23 ).

Verse 26

Act_3:26 Unto you first God, having raised up his Servant, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.

'UNTO YOU FIRST'-Seeing that the Jewish people had been the chosen people, they were given the first opportunity to respond to the gospel message ( Act_13:46 ; Rom_1:16 ).

'RAISED UP HIS SERVANT'-Here "raised up" doesn't refer to the resurrection, rather, it refers to Jesus coming to this earth in the first place. Compare this verse with what Moses had said, 'A prophet shall the Lord God raise up unto you from among your brethren..' (3:22).

'SENT HIM TO BLESS YOU'-Jesus came to die for our sins ( Luk_19:10 ).

'IN TURNING AWAY EVERY ONE OF YOUR FROM YOUR INIQUITIES'-'By His preaching, example, death, and glorification. Christ would make provision for men to turn from their iniquities.' (Reese p. 170) ( Gal_2:20 ; 2Co_5:14-15 )

Points to Note:

This last line implies: (a) They were presently lost in sin. (b) Grace isn't an excuse to sin. Those who become Christians are expected to "turn away from" what is wrong.

'They had not paid heed to Him at first when God sent Him; let them pay heed now, when God in His pardoning grace gave them a fresh opportunity; else they would forfeit the covenanted blessing.' (Bruce p. 94)

We again learn that God's promises are conditional. Only those who turn from their sins and obey the teachings of Jesus Christ (including baptism), will be blessed ( Gal_3:26-29 ).

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Bibliographical Information
Dunagan, Mark. "Commentary on Acts 3". "Dunagan's Commentaries on the Bible". 1999-2014.