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Bible Commentaries

William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament
Acts 3

 

 

Verses 1-10

1-10. Mt. Zion, where the Holy Ghost fell on the disciples, is in the southwestern part of the city, which is, throughout, the most densely built I ever saw; the streets eight to sixteen feet wide, and frequently arched over, and a house directly over the middle of the streets; while in front of the Temple, on Mt. Moriah, in the southeastern part of the city, there is a large area, said to contain thirty-five acres, and nicely laid with stone, the constituted receptacle of the vast multitudes which convene during the great annual camp meetings, Passover in April, Pentecost in June, and Tabernacles in September. From these considerations the afternoon meeting is moved from Mt. Zion to Mt. Moriah, where they avail themselves of the temple campus for the accommodation of the countless multitudes. The Beautiful Gate stands in the east wall of the city, directly eastward of the temple, in full view of Solomon’s porch. When I was there in 1895 I gave especial attention to this gate. I found it closed and fastened with such quantities of iron that nothing but battering rams and dynamite could open it. My Arab guide told me that the Moslem prophets lifted their warning voices when Caliph Omar captured Jerusalem, A. D. 637, solemnly warning him to close the Beautiful Gate and keep it closed, as he could only hold the city while that gate was closed; consequently it was promptly closed and made as sure as iron and brass could fasten it; and the Mohammedans, who think their salvation depends on holding Jerusalem, have kept it closed during this wonderful prophetic period, 1,260 years. As a confirmation of this statement of my guide, he pointed me to the tombs immediately outside the gate, jammed up against it. They looked as old as the great rocks of Mt. Moriah. While Mt. Olivet is covered with Jewish tombs, the Mohammedans bury on Mt. Moriah, outside the wall of Jerusalem. All these facts corroborate the testimony of my guide, i. e., that the Beautiful Gate has been closed 1,260 years. According to the same prophecy, it will certainly soon be opened as he prophet period of the Moslem power, according to Bishop Ussher, expired in 1897. Totten and Bimbleby say it is too short, and the true period will expire in 1899. Rest assured, Turkdom is tottering and liable to fall any moment. Daniel (8:25) says: “He shall be broken without hand,” i. e., not by military power, but by the power of the Almighty. This throws light on the tardiness of Islam’s fall. Is she not fallen already, and merely kept in status quo by her Christian neighbors for state policy? Jerusalem swarms with beggars. Yet every beggar has his place. When I was there I went to the exchangers twice a day and got a supply of beggar money, so I could pass them. The Turks have about a half-dozen coins ranging from one-fourth of a cent to five cents, very convenient to give to the beggars, as I could not afford to give them the large coins. A man can live fat at Jerusalem on goat’s milk and barley bread bought from the Arabs for five cents. This beggar, more than forty years old, had his regular place at the Beautiful Gate, where his friends carried him every morning and set him down to beg through the day, no doubt they sharing in the benefactions. Doubtless he had seen Jesus pass through that gate ever and anon. He had heard Him preach and believed on Him (verse

16). Why was he not healed? God makes no mistakes. He is reserved for this important occasion. He is the best-known man in the kingdom. All of the people come to the temple and at the same time pass through this gate. Hence they all get acquainted with him. Peter says, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have I give unto thee. In the name of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, arise and walk.” In a great ecclesiastical council, one of the popes came along and saw wagon loads of money poured into the coffers of the church. Pausing, he observed, “No longer can the church say, ‘Silver and gold have I none.’” Thomas Aquinas, his eccentric cardinal, standing by, responded, “Neither can she any more say, ‘Arise and walk,’” thus sadly illustrating the loss of power with the loss of poverty. While the Methodists were poor and despised, they swept this continent like a tornado, more than a match for earth and hell. Since we have become rich, evacuated the old log meeting-house for the gorgeous edifice, and exchanged the illiterate pioneer circuit-rider for the collegiate graduate, we have lost our power and lamentably verified Wesley’s fears expressed on his death-bed that Methodism would become a dead sect like others.


Verse 8

8. The Greek describes the man leaping out of his place like a frog, and continuing to run round and round, following Peter and John into the temple, attracting the attention of everybody, because in forty years he had become better known than the king.


Verse 10

10. So the multitude all “ran to him, filled with astonishment and delight.”

The Greek word which is translated “delight” is ecstasy, a very strong word. Oh, how his old acquaintances are astounded and thrilled! Why, only look yonder at Ben Israel! Did you ever see the like? How he leaps, skips and runs around! The news flies on the wings of the wind: “Old Ben Israel is healed — that man who has not walked a step in more than forty years.”

“Oh, you don’t say it!” “I dare you to go and see for yourself.” The wonderful tidings fly to all parts of Jerusalem. Thousands of people leap and shout. “If Ben is healed, as you say, I am an out-and-out Nazarene.”

Nearly all of them had ever and anon dropped a penny in his hat. See him leap like a monkey and run like a race-horse!


Verse 11

11. Now the apostles have entered Solomon’s porch, running the entire width of the temple, fronting eastward. Meanwhile the ecstatic man so miraculously healed at the Beautiful Gate is holding them by the hand in adoring gratitude, leaping and skipping and shouting aloud, while the vast multitude running from all directions are gazing with unutterable bewilderment upon the scene, as the Greek says, “exceedingly excited.”


Verse 12

12. Meanwhile, Peter responded to the people: “Israelitish men, why do ye gaze upon us as that by our power or holiness we have caused this man to run around?” Remember that the Greek word here translated “holiness” is simply the noun form of the same word applied to the Jewish delegates who came from their synagogues in all the Gentile world to represent the God of Abraham at Pentecost. It is also applied to Cornelius and to Ananias, the good old local preacher in Damascus sent to comfort the penitent Saul of Tarsus.


Verse 13

13. Here Peter boldly certifies to the multitude that the same Jesus of Nazareth, whom they had crucified, had so miraculously restored the notable cripple at the Beautiful Gate.


Verse 14

14. He reminds them of their uproarious demand for the release of Barabbas, the robber-chief, as a substitute for Jesus. Now, reader, if you are ever going to follow Jesus up to heaven, you must travel the very road He traveled. Just as they preferred Barabbas to Jesus, so will the people of this wicked world and fallen churches prefer bad men to you, if you get sanctified wholly. Be not surprised if they actually prefer and honor the saloonkeeper in your town above you, somehow so deluded by Satan as to believe him a better man than yourself. As in the case of Jesus, Barabbas went up in the popular estimation and He went down, so you will find it in your own case if you get truly sanctified and profess it straight and clear.


Verse 15

15. “And you slew the Prince of Life.” Here is a beautiful allusion to our Savior’s royalty. He is not only our wonderful Savior and perfect Sanctifier, but our glorious coming King.


Verse 16

FAITH

16. “And upon the faith of his name, his name hath restored this one whom ye see and know, and faith through him hath given him this soundness in presence of you all.” From this verse it is very clear that the healed cripple was well acquainted with Jesus. He was a mature man in life’s meridian when Jesus began to visit Jerusalem, preach and do His mighty works, as it was His custom to preach all day in the streets of Jerusalem, and go away to Mount Olivet, where from His own testimony He doubtless lodged on the bosom of the earth which He had created, holding secret communion with His Father. In His constant peregrinations hither and thither, from the temple to Mount Olivet and back to the metropolis, He passed through the Beautiful Gate, turning many a loving smile, accompanied by words of truth and wisdom, on the poor beggar. Hence, when Peter commanded him in the name of Jesus of Nazareth to arise and walk, instantaneously his faith took hold on the loving Sympathizer he had so often seen and heard, spiritually apprehending Him as the Omnipotent Healer of that decrepitude which had all his life utterly disqualified him to stand on his feet. Hence, pursuant to his faith in Jesus of Nazareth as the Omnipotent Healer, he leaps instantaneously into perfect restoration. We see from this verse that he was healed by faith in Jesus, who said, “As your faith is, so be it unto you.” This wonderful proclamation, on which hangs the world’s redemption, is as true of the body as the soul. Sure as the infallibility of our Jesus, we receive just what we have faith for, whether involving body or soul. Though the beggar had seen Jesus passing by, day by day, during the three years of his ministry, his healing was reserved for this salient epoch, when it was so much needed to boom the popular faith in the Christhood of the risen Jesus. At the same time we recognize in the flash radiating from the countenances of Peter and John, replete with buoyant faith, and the stentorian voice roaring in his ears, and the herculean grip of Peter’s hand, a potent inspiration to the faith of the cripple, which, responsive to these collateral incentives, leaped at once into electrical activity, apprehending in the humble Nazarene, about whom he had thought so much, the actual Omnipotent Shiloh of prophecy, Christ of God, Redeemer of the world and Healer of the body. Hence, pursuant to his faith, he leaps, skips and runs for the first time in a life of more than forty years.


Verse 17

17. Though, as Peter says, “The Jews blindly and ignorantly slew the Prince of Life,” yet they were awfully criminal in the sight of God because they had yielded to the lies of Satan and spontaneously turned away from the light.


Verse 18

18. “But those things which he proclaimed through the mouth of all his prophets that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled.” We see from this verse how the Jews and the Romans in their condemnation and crucifixion of Christ were literally fulfilling prophecies so obviously that it is astonishing that they could not recognize it. The very men who stood at the head of the church, having studied the prophecies at the feet of their great theologians, and preached on them all their lives, were so blinded by Satan that they could not see them; but in the black darkness of their wicked unbelief, these great preachers went right ahead, fulfilling the prophecies to their own condemnation. Oh! how history repeats itself! Visit in the great ecclesiastical assemblies of the present day. You find the mighty men of talent and scholarship standing at the head of the popular churches, all counseling together, even different denominations, like Pilate and Herod in the crucifixion of Christ, waiving their old animosities and uniting their wisdom and power to crush out the Holiness Movement [which is simply the Holy Ghost religion in contradistinction to the devil’s counterfeit, i. e., dead churchism]. They all unite their forces, take up every sanctified preacher, carry him away and set him down in a region of icebergs, sending in his place a theological refrigerator to freeze out all the holy fire. What is this but the literal fulfillment of Daniel’s prophecy,

“When they shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, then shall the end come.”

The holiness people are doing their best to spread Scriptural holiness throughout the world. But it is hard to tell which party is actually doing the more to scatter the holy fire — our friends or our enemies. When the latter, with the malignant rage which rankled in the carnal hearts of the great preachers who nailed Jesus to the cross, martyred Stephen and did their utmost to crush out the Nazarenes in blood, now violently interpose, reach forth the strong hand of ecclesiastical tyranny, pick up the holiness preachers, send them to the north pole and supply their places with the worst anti-holiness preachers they can command, what is the result? I am an eye-witness to what I write — have seen it verified repeatedly. They simply give the sanctified preacher a new, fresh field upon untrodden virgin soil — the very opportunity he needs to do a mighty work for God, preaching entire sanctification and instrumental in saving and sanctifying multitudes. Meanwhile the fire in his former field is too hot for the devil’s ice carried in by the plughatted D. D. The accumulated fire of God’s red-hot cranks melts all of his ice. It is a well-known fact in chemistry that a sufficient intensity of heat will not only melt ice, but decompose the water into its constituent elements, oxygen and hydrogen, the latter the most combustible in the world, and the former the great supporter of combustion. Hence all the ice imported by the new preacher is simply a supply of fuel to augment the flame. The result is he gets gloriously sanctified; the revival which they sought to freeze out takes new fire, and sweeps over the land like a cyclone. If you will read the prophecies and open your eyes to the ecclesiastical phenomena of the present day, you will be astounded at the wonderful fulfillment of prophecies. As the preachers standing at the head of a church in Jerusalem, blinded by Satan, rejected and killed the Son of God and did their utmost to exterminate His followers, we see the same tragedy at the present day going on throughout Christendom. Jesus was simply the incarnation of holiness. His disciples were nothing but simple-hearted, humble holiness people. Grace, as well as sin, is uniform and identical in all ages. Hence, at the present day, the proud, autocratic, carnal clergy in the leadership of popular religion are doing their utmost to antagonize the Holy Ghost and Spirit-filled people, thus literally fulfilling the prophecies as in the days of Christ.


Verse 19

PLAN OF SALVATION

19. “Repent, therefore, and turn unto the blotting out of your sins, in order that times of soul-renewing may come from the face of the Lord.” In repentance the sinner gives up all of his sins to the devil, where he got them, and leaves Satan’s kingdom forever. We must become honest before we can be saved. This honesty extends even to the devil. We must make an honest and final settlement with him, thus giving him back all we ever got from him, i. e., all of our sins. How very few people ever do that! They endeavor to carry some of their sins with them along the heavenly road, which is utterly impossible. The devil holds you tight so long as you have anything that belongs to him. Whenever you give back to him all your sins, all your meanness, and everything you ever got from him, then he has no more use for you and will not let you stay with him another minute. So then you get off with a big shout, moving heavenward at a race-horse speed.

The E. V. erroneously says in this passage, “be converted,” as the verb is in the active voice, and literally means “turn.” While “repent” and “turn” and “the blotting out of sin” are all specific, they constitute conversion, which is generic. Here we see that the sinner has just two things to do — first, leave the devil and all of his sins in the devil’s kingdom, where they belong.

Then turn to the Lord with all his heart, soul, mind and strength, casting his lot with Him for time and eternity. In that case, the Lord freely and eternally blots out all of his sins from heaven’s chancery, so they never can be found again to bring back the blush of shame. Thus the vilest reprobate and the blackest debauchee, rescued and washed, can shout as loud as Gabriel on the golden streets, and defy all the archangels to find anything against him. In vain they ransack the heavenly archives. The records are all destroyed; so the blood-washed slumites shine as bright and shout as loud as the cherubim and seraphim. When the sinner by repentance has left the devil and all of his sins with him forever and turned to the Lord, soul and body, heart, spirit, life and influence forever, and all his sins are blotted out, this consummates the grand negative work in the plan of salvation. Now the glorious positive side supervenes. The Holy Ghost raises him from the dead, giving him the very life of God in regeneration; then the Holy Ghost Himself makes him His happy incarnation, moving in to abide forever, thus verifying this beautiful promise, “In order that times of soul-renewing may come from the face of the Lord.”


Verse 20

RETURN OF CHRIST

20. The E. V. erroneously has a semicolon between the 19th and 20th verses. The inspired original, spoken by Peter and written by Luke, has no stop whatever between these verses. Then what will our brethren do who are unwilling to preach the second coming of Christ, as there is not even a comma here, much less a period, on which they may slide out? Inspired Peter preaches the glorious spiritual economy of full salvation and the second coming of Christ in the very same breath. Hence, if you preach the former and leave out the latter, you will certainly grieve the Holy Spirit by breaking one of His sentences in two in the middle without His authority. Good Lord, help us to be true to His Word and not get wise above what is written: “And he may send forth unto you him who has been preached unto you as the Messiah, namely Jesus,”


Verse 21

21. “Whom it behooveth heaven indeed to receive until the times of the restitution of all things which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from the beginning.” This Scripture reveals the fact most unequivocally that Peter was enthused with the glowing anticipation of seeing his Lord return to the earth, before he exchanged his silver trumpet for a golden harp. This expectation would have been verified if the Pentecostal generation had preached the gospel of the kingdom to every nation, calling out the Bride of Christ and preparing her to meet her coming Lord. In this they failed, thus postponing our Lord’s return. You see here that Jesus is to remain in heaven “until the time of restitution of all things spoken by the prophets from the beginning.” You know the prophets have most unequivocally predicted the restoration of the world back to the Edenic state. The Son of Man “came to destroy the works of the devil.” This world once existed without a devil in it. The prophet John tells us positively that the devil is to be taken out, so we will again have this world without a devil in it as in Eden times. The prophets certify over and over, “The desert shall rejoice and the wilderness bloom”; “Springs of water shall break out in the wilderness and streams in the desert.” Hence the millions of acres of valuable lands in Asia, Africa and America, now desert-wastes for the want of irrigation, will have ample supplies of water and flourish as the very gardens of the Lord, abounding in perennial fruits and flowers. I believe it inspired Peter and all of his apostolical comrades and saints that our Lord is coming back and will “restore all things” as spoken by the prophets. This wonderful sentence (including Acts 3:19-21) reveals succinctly, lucidly and comprehensively the gracious economy of full salvation, and in the same breath the return of the Lord to the earth. “What God hath joined together, let no man separate.” Woe unto the audacious hand that dares to divorce what God has married! Then let us go to the ends of the earth preaching this wonderful salvation, and at the same time the most potent of all inspirations to a holy experience and life, i. e., our Lord’s return to the earth on the throne of His glory, visiting awful retributionary judgment on the wicked, and crowning His faithful, expectant Bride to sit with Him on His throne. While holiness to the Lord is the grand trunk line of the heaven-bound railway running up to the New Jerusalem, yet we must not depreciate the great tributaries, and especially that potent and inspiring incentive to entire sanctification, i. e., the constant outlook for our coming King.


Verse 22

22. “Indeed Moses said that our Lord God will raise up unto you a prophet from your brethren like unto me; him you will hear as to all things so many as he may speak unto you.” This prophet is none other than Jesus. Moses is the brightest type of the Mediatorial Christ, himself the honored mediator of the old dispensation, symbolizing so potently our Lord in His glorious mediatorial office in the new dispensation.


Verse 23

TRIBULATION

23. “And it shall come to pass that whosoever may not hear that prophet will be cut off from the people.” “May hear” in this verse is in the subjunctive mood, revealing contingency, which is peculiar to man alone, as there are no contingencies with God. While we all fully recognize human free agency, yet the present dispensation, like all of her predecessors, is fast hardening into infidelity, grieving the Holy Spirit away, passing the dead line and ripening for destruction. God knows every person who will hear His Son when He comes in His glorious kingdom. He equally well knows every one who will reject Him. During the great tribulation, when the Ancient of Days shall descend on the throne of His righteous retributive judgments (Daniel 7:9), He will hackle out of the world everything that will not do for the coming kingdom; so that when the Son rides down on the throne of His millennial glory, He will find none but the elect, i. e., saved and savable people, on the earth. The first work of the transfigured saints will be the preaching of the gospel of the kingdom to all the survivors of the tribulation on the whole face of the earth (Acts 15:17). Then shall be verified that notable prophecy, “A nation shall be born in a day.” This verse is clear and unequivocal that the non-elect, i. e., the people who have crossed the dead-line and are unsavable, shall all be cut off during the tribulation.


Verse 24

24. “And all the prophets from Samuel and successively so many as spoke also proclaimed these days.” How significantly true! The second coming of Christ is a most prominent thing with all the prophets in all dispensations. Even Enoch, in antediluvian times, was a powerful preacher of the Lord’s second coming (Judges 1:14-15). Read it and you will find a most vivid description of the great tribulation. Job, the oldest writer in the Bible, living in the patriarchal dispensation, preached powerfully on the Lord’s second coming:

“I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand in the latter days upon the earth, — and with mine eyes I shall see God, whom I shall know for myself and not a stranger.”

The E. V. says, incorrectly, “not another.” The truth of it is, Job claims a happy acquaintance with his Redeemer, so that when He returns to the earth in the latter days and stands upon it, Job, a member of the Bridehood coming up in the first resurrection, will joyfully recognize Him. Shall we not preach a truth which constituted a glowing theme of all the prophets in all dispensations?


Verse 25

25. “Ye are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God established with our fathers, saying to Abraham: Truly in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” You all know “seed” here means Christ (Galatians 3:16). Hence we see that God covenanted with Abraham that all the families of the earth shall be blessed in his seed. That wonderful promise is far from verification at the present day. The people who live and die wicked in gospel lands find an infinitely more terrible hell than lost heathens, because damnation is in proportion to the light rejected. There is not the slightest probability that this prophecy will have a pre- millennial fulfillment. Truly its fulfillment will inevitably bring the Millennium. When Jesus shall reign in every home, blessing all the members of every family on the earth, then will millennial glory girdle the globe. Reader, do you believe that the time will come when this promise which God made to Abraham, “that all the families of the earth shall be blessed in Christ,” will be literally fulfilled? I hope you do believe it, as you can not afford to be an infidel. Abraham’s faith ought to put the modern church to the blush. If he could stand beneath the starry canopy of a Palestinian sky four thousand years ago and believe this promise, which has not yet been fulfilled, but is reserved for the millennial ages, oh! how faithless the present generation! standing away down at the terminus of this gorgeous rainbow of God’s infallible promise to the Father of the Faithful. If Abraham could believe it four thousand years ago, certainly we, standing on the remotest verge of pre-millennial centuries, flooded on all sides with the signs of our Lord’s near coming, ought to believe it with joyful enthusiasm. Reader, would you be a truly happy Christian? Then believe everything God tells you in the Bible. If you understand it, Amen! If you do not understand it, believe it none the less and shout the louder. I am a son of Abraham, and rejoice with him in the sure word of prophecy, and contemplate with glowing anticipation the good time quickly coming, when “all the families of the earth shall be blessed” in our glorious Christ. I hope, reader, if you are wearing the critic’s cap, that you will get such a baptism of fire as to burn it up. My critical cap was burnt up when God baptized me with the Holy Ghost and fire thirty years ago. From that day, instead of criticizing God’s Word, I have believed it; my creed is all dead and buried.

If you want the shout to come into your soul, never to go out, do you begin to believe all the Bible, not because you understand it, but because God said it. Good Lord help you to sink away into God, dead to everything but Him and His Word.


Verse 26

26. Peter’s afternoon sermon in Solomon’s porch, like his forenoon sermon on Mt. Zion, is climacteric in the enforcement of these two great cardinal gospel truths, i. e., entire sanctification and the coming King.

 


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Bibliography Information
Godbey, William. "Commentary on Acts 3:4". "William Godbey's Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ges/acts-3.html.

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Sunday, December 15th, 2019
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