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Acts 3

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary

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A.M. 4037. A.D. 33.


(1,) Quickly after the events recorded in the preceding chapter, Peter and John, going up to the temple, cure a man who had been lame from his birth, as they enter in at one of its gates, Acts 3:1-8 .

(2,) The people, having known him to be lame, and seeing him now leaping and walking, and praising God, run together, filled with wonder and amazement at the sight, Acts 3:9-11 .

(3,) Peter takes occasion from their astonishment to show them the power and glory of Christ, and their sin and guilt in crucifying him, Acts 3:12-18 .

(4,) He exhorts and encourages them to repent and believe in him for remission of sins and salvation, Acts 3:19-26 .

Verse 1

Acts 3:1. Now Peter and John, &c. We are not informed when the fact here recorded took place; but it is probable it was during the days of the feast of pentecost, and while the city was still full of people; went up to the temple Probably to seek an opportunity of preaching to the people, as well as to offer up their prayers and supplications there before God; at the ninth hour One of the solemn hours of prayer. The Jews divided the time, from sunrise to sunset, into twelve hours; which were consequently of unequal length at different times of the year, as the days were longer or shorter. The third hour, therefore, was nine in the morning; the ninth three in the afternoon, but not exactly. For the third was the middle space between sunrise and noon; which, if the sun rose at five, (the earliest hour of its rising in that climate,) was half an hour after eight; if at seven, (the latest hour of its rising there,) was half an hour after nine. The chief hours of prayer were the third and ninth; at which seasons the morning and evening sacrifices were offered, and incense (a kind of emblem representing prayer) burnt on the golden altar.

Verse 2

Acts 3:2. And a certain man Well known, it appears, by those who frequented the temple; lame from his mother’s womb, was carried Thither by the help of others, being unable to walk, through a weakness in his ankles; whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple, called Beautiful This gate, which was between the court of the Gentiles and that of Israel, and is here called Beautiful, for the richness of the metal of which it was formed, and its curious workmanship, is termed by Josephus the Corinthian gate. About one hundred and eighty years before this, the city of Corinth had been taken and burned by the Romans; and in the burning of it multitudes of statues and images of brass, gold, and silver, being melted down and running together, made that mixture of metals, which, from that time, was called Corinthian brass, and was valued, by the ancients, above gold or silver. This gate, on the east side of the temple, was made of that brass, and exceeded the other gates, as in its dimensions, so especially in its workmanship and splendour, though most of them were covered over with silver or gold. It was thirty cubits high, and fifteen broad, and was added by Herod the Great.

Verses 3-8

Acts 3:3-8. Who, seeing Peter and John, asked an alms As it seems he did of all who entered in at the gate where he sat begging: an alms was the utmost he expected from them or any others. And Peter, fastening his eyes on him, with John That is, looking steadfastly at him, feeling, doubtless, a strong emotion of soul, which intimated to him that the divine power would be exerted in working an illustrious miracle for the further confirmation of the gospel; said, Look on us This the lame man readily did, expecting to receive something of them Namely, for the relief of his temporal necessities. Little did he suppose that a much greater blessing was prepared for him. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none How unlike was Peter to his supposed successor! Can the bishop of Rome either say this, or do what Peter now did? This, we may observe, was after the estates were sold, as mentioned Acts 2:45, and plainly shows how far the apostles were from enriching themselves by the treasures which passed through their hands. But such as I have give I thee What is in my power, I willingly impart; and thou shalt find it not less valuable than money. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth That is, by the power of him who, in contempt, is called, Jesus of Nazareth; rise up and walk

Be immediately and perfectly healed of thy malady. And he took him by the hand Thereby encouraging him to do as he had said; and lifted him up In the same name in which he had bid him rise. Not that his doing this could contribute any thing to the lame man’s cure: it was but a sign, intimating the supernatural help that he should receive, if he exerted himself, as he was commanded. When God by his word enjoins us to rise, and walk in the ways of his commandments, if we mix faith with that word, and rely on the power of it, he will give us his Spirit, to take us by the hand, as it were, and lift us up. If we set ourselves to do what we can in dependance on the divine aid, God has promised us his grace to enable us to do what of ourselves we cannot; and by faith in that promise we receive a new nature productive of a new practice: for the grace of God thus received and used shall not be in vain; as it was not here: his feet and ankle-bones received strength Which would not have been the case if he had not attempted to rise. And he, leaping up From the place where he lay; stood In an erect posture, which he had never before been able to do; and walked Greek, περιεπατει , walked about, with strength and steadiness; and entered with them into the temple Into the court of Israel, there to offer the first-fruits of his thanksgivings, sometimes walking, and sometimes leaping, for joy, and to show that he was perfectly healed; and praising God In a rapture of astonishment and thankfulness for so wonderful a mercy bestowed upon him. Thus was the prophecy ( Isa 35:6 ) remarkably fulfilled, Then shall the lame man leap as a hart. This man, being now newly cured, was in this excess of joy and thankfulness: all true converts walk and praise God; but young converts, perhaps, leap more, as it were, in his praises.

Verses 9-11

Acts 3:9-11. And all the people Who were there present; saw him walking In the court of the temple; and heard him praising God In this uncommon ecstasy of delight; and they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate, &c. He had sat there so long, that they all knew him; and for that reason he was chosen to be a vessel of mercy. Now they were not so perverse as to make any doubt whether he was the same man that had sat begging, as the Pharisees had questioned concerning the blind man that Christ cured, John 9:18; for they saw him walking and praising God, and probably took notice of a change in his mind, for he was now as loud in praising God, as he had used to be in begging relief. And they were filled with wonder and amazement Greek, θαμβους και εκστασεως , with astonishment and ecstasy; they felt emotions, resembling those of the person healed; at that which had happened to him At the miracle wrought for him. It is worth observing here, that this effect appears to have been produced by the late effusion of the Spirit; the people, at least those in Jerusalem, were more affected with the miracles which the apostles wrought, than they had been with those of the same kind that had been performed by Christ himself. And as the lame man held Peter and John Full of gratitude for the great blessing he had received through their instrumentality; and while he walked on between them, sometimes, probably, taking hold of them by the hand; and sometimes embracing them as his great benefactors; all the people In the neighbouring parts; ran together unto them Some only to gratify their curiosity with the sight of men that had such power; others, perhaps, with a desire to hear them preach, concluding that the doctrine must needs be of divine origin, which had thus a divine confirmation: in the porch that is called Solomon’s A spacious and celebrated portico of the temple. See note on John 10:23. Hither the people flocked to see this great sight.

Verses 12-16

Acts 3:12-16. And when Peter saw it When he saw a crowd of people collected together, and found that they were exceedingly affected with the miracle that had been wrought, he took that favourable opportunity to preach Christ unto them, especially as the temple was the place of their concourse; thus sowing the seed of the gospel in the ground that was broken up and prepared to receive it. Ye men of Israel To whom miracles surely are not, or at least ought not to be, strange things: having been wrought for you as a nation, in multiplied instances, from age to age, and many very evident and signal ones having, during the last three years, been performed before your eyes; why marvel ye at this As if it were a singular fact, the like of which you had never seen? Why do you wonder at what has now happened, when so much greater miracles have lately been performed among you? The fact was indeed marvellous, and they justly wondered at it, but it was no more than what Christ had done many a time. It was but a little before that Christ had raised Lazarus from the dead: nay, and he had lately risen from the dead himself; why did they not marvel at these facts, and why were they not convinced by them? Observe, reader, stupid and thoughtless people think that strange now which might have been very familiar to them, if they had not been wanting to themselves, and void of consideration. Or why look ye so earnestly on us With that astonishment which your looks express, as though by our own power we had effected this cure; or by our own holiness had deserved that God should perform it by us. The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, &c. This was wisely introduced here in the beginning of his discourse, that it might appear they taught no new religion, inconsistent with that of Moses, and were far from having the least design to divert their regards from the God of Israel; hath glorified his son Jesus Namely, by this miracle, as he also glorified him in his life and in his death, and especially in his resurrection and ascension; whom When God had given him to you, and when you ought to have received him as a most precious treasure, and to have preserved him with all your power; ye delivered up To the Romans as a criminal, and denied Greek, ηρνησασθε , renounced him; in the presence of Pilate Or, against the face of Pilate, as Dr. Hammond renders it; that is, in defiance of his reasonings with you; when he was determined to let him go To release him, being fully satisfied he was innocent of the things laid to his charge. But ye denied the Holy One Whom God had marked out as such; and the Just One Just even in the judgment of Pilate, declaring that you would not own him as your king, nor even be contented to admit his discharge, when it was offered and pressed upon you by the governor: and desired With outrageous clamour, one of the most infamous of mankind, a robber, and a murderer, to be granted unto you To be spared and released. And while you asked for the deliverance of so vile a wretch, you inhumanly and insolently killed the Prince of life Even him who had life in himself, and was appointed to be the Author of life, spiritual and eternal, and glory, to his followers. Observe the antithesis: You desired a destroyer of life to be released, and Christ the Lord and giver of life to be crucified, as if a murderer had deserved better at your hands than the Saviour! than which a greater affront could not have been put upon him. You did at once a wicked and foolish thing, in taking away his life, who would have been your life and Saviour, thus forsaking and rebelling against your own mercies; and in supposing you could conquer and extinguish in death the Prince of life, who, having life in himself, could soon resume the life he had resigned! Whom God raised As we know by the certain and repeated testimony of our own senses; and thereby amply vindicated him; whereof we are witnesses Constituted such by God, in order to the conviction and salvation of others. And his name He himself, his power and love; through faith in his name A confidence in him, a dependance on him, a believing application to him, and expectation of power to proceed from him; hath made this man strong Hath effected a perfect cure of his lameness. Dr. Lightfoot suggests, that faith is twice named in this verse, because of the apostles’ faith in working this miracle, and the cripple’s faith in receiving it. But it seems to relate chiefly, if not only, to the former: they that wrought this miracle by faith, derived power from Christ to work it, and, therefore, returned all the glory to him. By this true and just account of the miracle, Peter both confirmed the great gospel truth they were to preach to the world, that Jesus Christ is the fountain of all power and grace, and the great Healer and Saviour; and recommended the great gospel mystery of our salvation by Christ. It is his name that justifies us, that glorious name of his, the Lord our righteousness; but we, in particular, are justified by that name, through faith in it, applying it to ourselves. Thus doth Peter preach unto them Jesus and him crucified, being a faithful friend of the bridegroom, to whose service he devoted all his interest.

Verses 17-18

Acts 3:17-18. And now, brethren A word full of courtesy and compassion; I wot That is, I know: here he speaks to their hearts; that through ignorance ye did it Which lessened, though it could not annihilate, the guilt of your conduct; as did also your rulers The prejudice lying from the authority of the chief priests and elders, he here endeavours to remove, but with great tenderness. He does not call them our, but your rulers. For as the Jewish dispensation ceased at the death of Christ, consequently so did the authority of its rulers. This was the language of Peter’s charity, and it teaches us to make the best of those whom we desire to make better: not to aggravate, but, as far as may be, to extenuate their faults or sins. Perhaps Peter perceived, by the countenances of his hearers, that they were struck with great horror at being informed that they had murdered the Messiah, the Prince of life, and that they were ready either to sink down in distress, or to fly off; and, therefore, he saw it needful to mitigate the rigour of his charge, that he might prevent their utterly despairing. He had searched the wound to the bottom, and now begins to think of healing it: in order to which it was necessary to beget in them a good opinion of their physician. And in proceeding thus, he had the example of his Master to justify him, who prayed for his crucifiers, and pleaded in their behalf, that they knew not what they did. And it is said of the rulers, that they would not have crucified the Lord of glory, if they had known him, 1 Corinthians 2:8. Doubtless many of the rulers, and of the people, in crucifying Christ, rebelled against the light and the convictions of their own consciences, influenced by envy and malice; but the generality, probably, were carried down the stream, and acted as they did through ignorance, as Paul persecuted the church ignorantly and in unbelief, 1 Timothy 1:13. But those things, &c. But God permitted this that you have done, and overruled it for wise and gracious purposes; for he hath thus fulfilled what he had before showed by the mouth of all his prophets Had plainly foretold in the various ages of the world; that Christ should suffer As an atoning sacrifice for the sins of mankind. Now, though this was no extenuation at all of their sin, in hating and persecuting Christ unto death, yet it was an encouragement to them to repent, and hope for mercy upon their repentance; not only because, in general, God’s gracious designs were carried on by it, and thus it agrees with the encouragement Joseph gave to his brethren, when they thought their offence against him almost unpardonable, (Genesis 50:15; Genesis 50:20,) but because, in particular, the sufferings and death of Christ were for the remission of sins, and the ground of that display of mercy he now encouraged them to hope for.

Verses 19-21

Acts 3:19-21. Repent ye, therefore, &c. Let it, therefore, be your principal and immediate care to secure an interest in the benefits procured by his death; and in order thereto, repent of this and all your other iniquities; and be converted That is, be turned from sin and Satan to God, (chap. Acts 26:20,) in the way of sincere and universal obedience. The term, converted, so common in modern writings, rarely occurs in Scripture, at least in the sense we now use it, for an entire change of heart and life. That your sins may be blotted out That you may be delivered from the heavy burden of your guilt, and may obtain peace with God through the sacrifice and intercession of him you crucified; when the times of refreshing shall come Rather, that they may come; times when God shall largely bestow his refreshing grace; from the presence of the Lord To you also. To others, those times will assuredly come, whether ye repent or not. Erasmus and Piscator render this clause, Seeing times of refreshment are come; but the authorities produced in favour of this version seem not sufficient to justify it. The blotting out of the sins of penitents, however, was not deferred to any distant time, and divine refreshment would, no doubt, immediately follow a sense of pardon to them, attended with a lively hope of eternal felicity to succeed in due time. But “the following clause seems to intimate, that Peter apprehended the conversion of the Jews, as a people, would be attended with some extraordinary scene of prosperity and joy, and would open a speedy way to Christ’s descent from heaven, in order to the restitution of all things.” Doddridge. And he shall send Greek, και αποστειλη , and that he may send; Jesus That, in consequence of your complying with this important counsel, you may not only be received to all the joys of a state of pardon and acceptance with God, but he may, at length, send unto you Christ, which before was preached unto you By his disciples, both before and since his resurrection. But Tertullian, and several of the fathers, in quoting this passage, instead of προκεκηρυγμενον , before preached, read, προκεχειρισμενον , before appointed; that is, exhibited and set forth in a variety of types, and other symbols, namely, under the Old Testament dispensation, as the great Saviour of lost sinners. 1st, You shall have Christ in his spiritual presence; he that was sent into the world shall be sent to you, in and by his Spirit accompanying his word. The apostle meant, 2d, That God would send Christ to destroy the unbelieving and persecuting Jews, the enemies of God and his truth and cause, and so would deliver his true servants, both ministers and people, and give them a quiet possession of the gospel, with its privileges and blessings, which would be a time of refreshing to all that received it. For then had the churches rest, Acts 9:31. So Dr. Hammond. There is also, 3dly, A reference in these words to the general conversion of the Jews, to take place after the fulness of the Gentiles is brought in, of which there are many express predictions and promises in the writings of the prophets, which, when it takes place, will be a time of refreshment indeed, both to them and the whole Church of Christ through all the world. Whom the heavens must receive Whom you must not expect to appear immediately in person among you, for as he has ascended to heaven, he must remain there, until the times of restitution of all things The long- expected happy times, when God will rectify all the seeming irregularities of his present dispensations, and make the cause of righteousness and truth for ever triumphant and glorious: which God hath spoken of, &c. That is, concerning which great events (namely, that such a Saviour should be raised up, and should at length extend his righteous reign over all the world) God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets That is, by the mouth of the generality of them; for the word παντων , all, is not found in some of the best MSS. and versions; since the world began Since the beginning of time. See note on Luke 1:70, where the same original phrase, απ ’ αιωνος , occurs. In these times of restitution, the apostle here comprises at once the whole course of the time of the New Testament between our Lord’s ascension and his coming to glory. The most eminent of these times are the apostolic age, and that of the spotless church, which will consist of all the Jews and Gentiles united, after all persecutions and apostacies are at an end. It is well known that Dr. Thos. Burnet, Mr. Whiston, and some other learned writers, have urged this text in proof of a restoration of a paradisiacal state of the earth, which they have endeavoured to show will take place, but certainly without any clear warrant from Scripture; and this passage, in particular, may be so well explained of regulating the present disorders of the moral world, and the seeming inequalities of God’s providential dispensations, that it can with no propriety be pleaded in vindication of such an hypothesis.

Verses 22-23

Acts 3:22-23 . For Moses The first of these prophets, whose writings have come down to us; truly said unto the fathers In his early days; A prophet shall the Lord raise up unto you Namely, in after times; of your brethren Of the posterity of Jacob; (see the note on Deuteronomy 18:15;) like unto me And that in many particulars. Moses instituted the Jewish Church: Christ instituted the Christian. With the prophesying of Moses was soon joined the effect, the deliverance of Israel from Egypt: with the prophesying of Christ, that grand effect, the deliverance of his people from sin and death. Those who could not bear the voice of God, yet desired to hear that of Moses: much more do those who are wearied with the law, desire to hear the voice of Christ. Moses spake to the people all and only those things which God commanded him: so did Christ. Some other instances of similarity between Moses and Jesus, mentioned by the late Mr. Fletcher, in his letters to Dr. Priestley, are as follows: “Was the son of Amram saved in his infancy from the cruelty of a jealous tyrant, who had doomed him to die with a multitude of other children? So was the son of Mary. Was Moses the lawgiver of the Jews? So is Christ the legislator of the Christians. Was Moses remarkable for his meekness? So was He who says, Learn of me, for I am meek in heart. Both, being appointed as mediating prophets, stood in the gap to turn away the wrath of Heaven from a guilty people. Both, as shepherds of the Lord, led his straying sheep through a wilderness to a delightful land. Did Moses smite Pharaoh, king of Egypt; Sihon, king of the Amorites; and Og, king of Bashan? so will Christ wound kings in the day of his wrath. Did Moses heal the dying Israelites, by lifting up the serpent in the wilderness? so Christ heals believers, by being lifted up on the cross. Did Moses fast forty days, and receive the law on mount Sinai? so did Jesus fast forty days, and deliver his law on a mountain of Galilee. Was Moses rejected and almost stoned by the Israelites? so was Christ, by the Jews. Did Moses despise the glory of Egypt, that he might suffer for, and with, the people of God? so did our Lord despise all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them, that he might suffer for, and with, his people. In a word, Is Moses the great prophet of the Old Testament? so is Christ of the New.” But, though Christ was like Moses in these respects, yet was he infinitely superior to him in person as well as in office: he was counted worthy of more glory than Moses, as the author of the epistle to the Hebrews asserts, (Hebrews 3:3-6,) especially on two capital accounts: “1st, Moses was faithful as a servant in the house of him who had appointed him: but Christ was faithful as a Son over his own house. 2d, Moses was worthy of glory, inasmuch as he was a fundamental stone in the house of God; but Christ is worthy of more glory, inasmuch as he who builded the house hath more honour than the house, or any part of it; for every house is built by some man, but he who builded the Jewish Church, and all things, which Christ did, (John 1:3; Colossians 1:16,) is God.” See Fletcher’s Works, vol. 4. pp. 517, 518, Amer. 8vo. edit. Him shall ye hear Him shall ye regard with obedient reverence; in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you Persuaded of the certain truth and infinite importance of his doctrine; and every soul that will not hear that Prophet And be directed by his words; shall be destroyed from among the people Shall be made an example of the severest punishment, due to so much aggravated and ungrateful rebellion. One cannot imagine a more masterly address than this, to warn the Jews of the dreadful consequence of their infidelity, in the very words of their favourite prophet, out of a pretended zeal for whom they had rejected Christ.

Verses 24-26

Acts 3:24-26. Yea, and all the prophets That succeeded Moses, particularly from Samuel, have likewise foretold these days The days of the Messiah, which, by the singular favour of God to you, ye are now so happy as to see. Ye are the children of the prophets You are the descendants of that people, among whom the prophets were raised up, and to whom the prophets were sent. Those of the latter ages of the Jewish Church, when prophecy had ceased, yet might be fitly, in general, called the children of the prophets, because they heard, though they did not know, the voices of the prophets, which were read in their synagogues every sabbath day; chap. Acts 13:27. Now this ought to have quickened them to embrace Christ, their own prophets having foretold that this grace should be brought unto them in his days, (1 Peter 1:10,) and therefore ought not to be neglected by them. And of the covenant which God made with our fathers As children in the family. God’s covenant was made with Abraham and his seed; and they were that seed, and on them, therefore, the blessings of the covenant were entailed. As if the apostle had said, The promise of the Messiah was made to you, and therefore, if you forsake not your own mercies, and do not, by obstinate infidelity, lay an insuperable obstruction in your own way, you may confidently hope to be put in possession of them: saying to Abraham, In thy seed, &c. This promise, though referring principally to Christ, (Galatians 3:16,) yet respects the church also, which is his body, even all believers, that are the spiritual seed of Abraham. Unto you first You Jews, though not to you only; God having raised up his Son Jesus From the loins of that pious patriarch, or having appointed and authorized him to be a Prince and a Saviour; and in confirmation thereof, having raised him from the dead; sent him to bless you With the greatest of all blessings; in turning every one of you from his iniquities In saving you from the guilt and power of your sins, and from the misery consequent thereon. To explain this more fully: 1st, God raised up his Son Jesus, when he constituted him a prophet, owned him by a voice from heaven, filled him with his Spirit without measure, and then sent him to bear witness to the truth, and to seek and save lost souls. He raised him up more especially when he brought him back from the dead by a glorious resurrection, which was the first step toward his exaltation, and, as it were, the renewing of his commission. And though, having thus raised him up, he seemed presently to take him from his people, yet he did really send him afresh to them, in his gospel and Spirit. 2d, The apostle says, God sent him to the Jews first, because the personal ministry of Christ, as that of the prophets, was confined to them; and after his resurrection, though he was to be preached, indeed, by his apostles to all nations, yet they were to begin at Jerusalem, Luke 24:47; and when they went to other nations, they always first preached to the Jews they found there. The Jews, therefore, were so far from being excluded for having crucified Christ, that when he was risen he was first sent to them, and they were primarily intended to have benefit by his death. Indeed, had not the gospel been everywhere first offered to them, their prejudices would have been so heightened and confirmed, that, in all probability, many, who were converted in this method, would have been exasperated and lost. It must be observed, however, that when the apostle says to these Jews, God sent his Son to bless you, he speaks conditionally, as the event showed with respect to many of them, on whom the divine wrath and curse came, and not the blessing here spoken of; namely, because they rejected the counsel of God against themselves. Many commentators, therefore, give this sentence a different turn, rendering the last clause, upon your turning every one of you, &c., or, every one of you turning, &c. That is, “all those of you who turn from sin shall be entitled to his blessing.” And this is agreeable to the Syriac rendering, if you are converted, and repent of your sins. But the former seems the preferable reading, as the great gospel blessing is, to be turned from our iniquities, or to be converted from sin to righteousness. Nor can it be any reasonable objection to say, that Christ did not in fact turn every one of the Jews from their iniquities, since it must be allowed that he did every thing that was necessary in order thereto; yea, every thing except depriving them of their liberty of choice and action, and turning them into mere machines. He procured for them, and offered to them, and that sincerely and repeatedly, yea, continually during his own personal ministry, and afterward by his divinely-commissioned apostles, grace sufficient to enable them to turn from their iniquities; and by the help of that, they might every one of them have turned, and so have obtained the blessing here intended. But let us not suppose that this, or any other part of Peter’s discourse, was intended only for the Jews. It concerns us also, whom Christ was likewise sent to bless, and that in the same manner, even by turning us from our iniquities, by saving us from our sins. Matthew 1:22. Sin is that which we naturally cleave to, and the design of divine grace is, to turn us from it; nay, to turn us against it, that we may not only forsake it, but hate it, and strive against it. And the gospel has a direct tendency to produce this effect, not only as it requires us to turn, but as it promises us grace to enable us to do so. Therefore let us apply to Christ for this, and by the aid and right use of it, repent and be converted, and so do our part; because he is ready to do his, namely, to give the grace we need, and thereby to save us from our sins, and the consequences thereof, and to bless us effectually, abundantly, and for ever.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Acts 3". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/acts-3.html. 1857.
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