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Bible Commentaries

Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible
Acts 3

 

 

Introduction

The Rapid Growth of the New Israel (Chapters 3-19).

‘The Lord added to them day by day those who were being saved.’ This not only summarises the situation in chapter 2 but will now be the theme of Acts 3-19 which will reveal a huge emphasis on the continuing rapid growth of this new Israel. It will the beginning of the fruit of Pentecost. It will eventually include Gentiles being incorporated into the new Israel (compare Ephesians 2:11-22; Galatians 6:16; Romans 11:17-29) and will continue on until Rome itself is receiving the Gospel from the Apostles.

There will be many who will be involved in spreading the Good News: the Apostles, Stephen, those who were scattered abroad by persecution, Philip, more of those who were scattered by persecution, Peter, converted Jews of Cyprus and Cyrene. Then from 13 onwards we have the ministries of Paul and Barnabas and then Paul and Silas (Silvanus).

From 20 onwards we have the account of Paul’s progression as a prisoner from Jerusalem to Rome. There it is as though God takes Paul by the scruff of his neck and makes sure that he gets to Rome. It is as though God is saying, ‘what are you doing still in Jerusalem when I want you in Rome?’ Note also the parallel between Paul’s journey from Jerusalem to Rome and that of the progress of the Gospel from Jerusalem to Rome which is the basis of the whole book (Acts 1:8). Salvation and suffering advance in parallel together towards Rome.

We will close this section by giving a rapid summary of the advancement of the Gospel in Acts as it reaches out and spreads and grows and multiplies. This is the fruit of Pentecost:

1). IN JERUSALEM.

· ‘And there were added to them in that day about three thousand souls’ (Acts 2:41).

· ‘And the Lord added to them day by day those who were being saved’ (Acts 2:47).

· ‘Many of those who heard the word believed, and the number of the men came to be about five thousand’ (Acts 4:4; compare Luke 9:14).

· ‘And they spoke the word of God with boldness, and the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul’ (Acts 4:31-32).

· ‘And believers were the more added to the Lord, multitudes both of men and women’ (Acts 5:14).

· ‘And the word of God increased, and the number of the disciples multiplied in Jerusalem exceedingly, and a great company of the priests were obedient to the faith’ (Acts 6:7).

2). IN ALL DIRECTIONS (INCLUDING JUDAEA AND GALILEE).

· ‘They therefore who were scattered abroad went about preaching the word’ (Acts 8:4).

3). IN SAMARIA.

· ‘And the (Samaritan) multitudes gave heed with one accord to the things that were spoken by Philip’ (Acts 8:6).

· ‘They therefore (Peter and John), when they had testified and spoken the word of the Lord, returned to Jerusalem and preached the Good News to many villages of the Samaritans’ (Acts 8:25).

4). IN THE JUDAEAN COASTLAND.

· Here we have the conversion of The Ethiopian Eunuch who returned with rejoicing to Ethiopia to take the message further (Acts 8:26-39).

· ‘Philip was found at Azotus, and passing through he preached the Good News to all the cities, until he came to Caesarea’ (Acts 8:40). These would include Jamnia, Joppa, and Apollonia.

· ‘So the church throughout allJudaea, and Galilee, and Samariahad peace, being built up, and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the strengthening of the Holy Spirit, were multiplied’ (Acts 9:31).

5). IN THE JUDAEAN AND SAMARITAN COASTLAND.

· ‘And all who dwelt in Lydda, and in Sharon, saw him (the paralysed man Aeneas whom Peter healed) and they turned to the Lord’ (Acts 9:35).

· ‘And it (the raising of Dorcas) became known throughout all Joppa and many believed on the Lord’ (Acts 9:42).

· Description of the conversion of Cornelius and his household (Acts 10:1-48).

6). IN PHOENICIA, CYPRUS, SYRIAN-ANTIOCH.

· ‘Those who were scattered abroad on the tribulation that arose about Stephen travelled as far as Phoenicia, and Cyprus, and Antioch, speaking the word to none except only to Jews’ (Acts 11:19).

· ‘But there were some of them, men of Cyprus and Cyrene, who when they were come to Antioch, spoke to the Greeks also, preaching the Lord Jesus, and the hand of the Lord was with them, and a great number who believed turned to the Lord’ (Acts 11:20-21).

7). IN GENERAL.

· ‘The word of God grew and multiplied’ (Acts 12:24).

8). IN PAUL’S MISSIONARY JOURNEYS FROM SYRIAN ANTIOCH.

· In Pisidian Antioch - ‘Many of the Jews and of the devout proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas, who speaking to them urged then to continue in the grace of God. And the next Sabbath almost the whole city was gathered together to hear the word of God -- and as the Gentiles heard this they were glad and glorified the word of God, and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed, and the word of God was spread abroad throughout all the region (Acts 13:43-44; Acts 13:48-49).

· In Iconium - ‘a great multitude both of Jews and Greeks believed’ (Acts 14:2).

· In Derbe - ‘they made many disciples’ (Acts 14:21).

· In Lystra - ‘the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily’ (Acts 16:5).

· In Beroea - ‘they received the word of God with all readiness of mind, examining the Scriptures daily whether these things were so. Many of them therefore believed, also of the Greek women of honourable estate, and of men, not a few’ (Acts 17:11-12).

· In Athens - ‘certain men clave to him and believed, among whom also was Dionysius the Areopagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them’ (Acts 17:34).

· In Corinth - ‘and Crispus the ruler of the synagogue believed in the Lord with all his house, and many of the Corinthians hearing, believed, and were baptised’ (Acts 18:8).

· In Ephesus - ‘all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks’ (Acts 19:10) -- ‘so mightily grew the word of God and prevailed’ (Acts 19:20).

· In Rome - ‘some (of the Jews) believed the things which were spoken and some disbelieved’ (Acts 28:24) -- ‘and he received all who went in to him, preaching the Kingly Rule of God, and teaching the things concerning the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness, none forbidding him’ (Acts 28:30-31).

Thus as a result of the work of the Holy Spirit and the proclamation of the word will the Good News become established in Jerusalem and then sweep outwards and onwards until it comes to Rome itself, with the Apostle Paul present in his own house and able to proclaim the Kingly Rule of God without hindrance.


Verse 1

The Healing of the Lame Man (3:1-11).

‘Now Peter and John were going up into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.’

Peter and John being together (compare Acts 1:13) seems to suggest that the Apostles continued to go around in pairs as they had done while preaching during the ministry of Jesus (Mark 6:7; Luke 10:1), and as Paul would do in the future. This would also have provided another reason why they felt it necessary to make up the twelve. But while the Apostles were all on a par and were depicted as acting as a whole (Acts 2:14; Acts 2:37; Acts 2:42-43; Acts 4:35; Acts 5:2; Acts 5:12-13; Acts 5:29; Acts 6:2; Acts 6:6; Acts 8:14; Acts 15:6), Peter tended to be the public spokesman (Acts 2:14; Acts 5:3; Acts 5:29), and Peter and John appear to have been given special prominence (compare Acts 8:14; Galatians 2:9), although very much as representatives of the whole body of disciples. They had after all been a part of the favoured trio of Peter, James and John (Mark 5:37; Mark 9:2; Luke 8:51; Luke 9:28).

There were a number of recognised times of public prayer at the Temple. These included the morning prayers around the time of the morning sacrifice (compare the third hour (9:00 am) in Acts 2:15) and the afternoon prayers around the time of the evening sacrifice (the ninth hour - 3:00 pm). These would include formal priestly prayer, and free prayer in the outer courts. Peter and John were going to join with the young church in their afternoon worship (compare Acts 2:46; Luke 24:53).

‘Going up.’ The worshippers would ascend the Temple Mount. But it also contains the idea of respect and reverence. They have to ‘go up’ to God.


Verses 1-7

The Ministry of the Apostles (3:1-6:7).

The pouring out of the Holy Spirit having taken place, and the infant church having been shown to be established, Luke now goes on to deal with the way in which the infant church rapidly expanded, firstly through the ministry of the Apostles (Acts 3:1 to Acts 6:7), and then more widely through the ministry of some of their appointees (Acts 6:8 to Acts 9:31). God is revealed as at work in sovereign power, and His Apostles are having to keep up. But it is recognised that in the establishing of His people their authority is required at each stage as Jesus had assured them would be the case (Matthew 16:19; Matthew 18:18; Matthew 19:28; Luke 22:30). This was necessary in order to maintain the unity of the church and the preservation of true doctrine.

The Days Immediately Following Pentecost - The Kingly Rule of God Is Revealed

The dramatic events of the Day of Pentecost are now followed by the equally dramatic events which result from that day. The Kingly Rule of God is revealed as present and flourishing:

1) The presence of the Kingly Rule of God is revealed in the healing of the lame man which testifies to what God wants to do for His people in the new age - ‘the lame will leap like a deer’ (Acts 3:1-10).

2) On the basis of this Peter declares that Jesus is the Servant of the Lord spoken of by Isaiah, and is the Holy One, the Righteous One (Messianic designations) and the ‘Prince’ (Source and Leader in Triumph) of Life (Acts 3:11-26).

3) Peter and John are arrested and questioned before a Tribunal (Acts 4:1-7) - the nation is setting itself against the Lord’s Anointed (Acts 4:26).

4) Peter declares that Jesus is the expected Messianic Salvation and Chief Cornerstone (Acts 4:8-12).

5) Peter and John are given the required official warning concerning their ‘illegal’ activities. They are forbidden to preach in the Name of Jesus (Acts 4:13-22).

6) Gathering in prayer the place where they are is shaken and they declare Jesus to be the Lord’s Anointed and are all filled with the Spirit to speak the word of God in boldness (Acts 4:23-31).

7) The Kingly Rule of God is revealed in the daily life of the people of God (Acts 4:32-35).

8) The Kingly Rule of God is revealed in the execution of those who appropriate for themslves what has been given in tribute to God (Acts 4:36 to Acts 5:11).

9) The Kingly Rule of God is revealed by signs and wonders (Acts 5:12-16).

10) The Kingly Rule of God is revealed by the release of the captives (Acts 5:17-23).

11) The Apostles are again brought before the Tribunal accused of teaching the ‘this Name’ (Acts 5:24-28).

12) Peter declares that Jesus is both Archegos (the One Who by His resurrection is the Triumph Leader of life, the First-born from the dead, leading all who find life in His train) and Saviour (Acts 5:29-32).

13) As a result of the advice of Gamaliel the Apostles are released, having been beaten for His Name’s Sake (Acts 5:33-40).

14) The preaching of Jesus as the Messiah continues (Acts 5:41-42).

Chapter 3 An Outstanding Miracle Results in A Great Evangelistic Opportunity.

We shall now consider these in more detail.

The account of the healing of the lame man was probably once circulated on its own, along with the preaching that went with it, as part of the witness to the early church of the effectiveness of Pentecost, and as a declaration of how the church (the people of God), made up of those who had been ‘lame’, had been delivered by its Saviour. It would thus early take on a standard form, preserving its accuracy. Here it is incorporated by Luke for a threefold purpose. Firstly in order to illustrate the wonders and signs spoken of earlier (Acts 2:43), secondly in order to illustrate that those who will come to Christ are those who have recognised their spiritual lameness and need, and have looked to Him as the only One Who can heal them, and thirdly in order to evidence the fact that the new age had come by the fulfilment of Isaiah 35:6, ‘then shall the lame man leap like a deer’.

Let us consider these purposes in more detail:

1) In the previous chapter it has been stressed that the Apostles did ‘signs and wonders’ (Acts 2:43). Now we are given a practical example in the healing of this notable cripple, one who had been so from birth and had regularly sat at the gate of the Temple. The healing of so well-known a cripple caused a great stir, and his ‘leaping’ could only remind them of the prophecy of the lame man who would leap like a hart (deer) because the Kingly Rule of God had come (Isaiah 35:6).

2) Both the Old Testament and the teaching of Jesus stress that those who will be saved of old Israel are like the lame. In Isaiah 33:23 we read, in the context of the coming of the Lord as Judge, Lawgiver and King, ‘The lame took the prey’ where the thought is that it is God’s weak and helpless but restored people, who will finally, in God’s day, triumph and enjoy the spoils of victory. In Isaiah 35:6 Israel are likened to a lame man who is restored and leaps like a deer, no longer lame because the Kingly Rule of God is here, a place where there can be no lameness. In Jeremiah 31:8 ‘the blind and the lame’ will be among the people of God who return triumphantly from far off to enjoy God’s coming Kingly Rule. In Matthew 11:5; Luke 7:22 the lame walking is to be a sign to John the Baptiser that the Kingly Rule of God is here. In Luke 14:13 the maimed and the lame were the ones who were to be called when someone gave a supper, and this was immediately followed by the parable of the man who made a great supper (representing ‘eating bread in the Kingly Rule of God’), only for his invitation to be rejected by all who were invited, so that the invitation instead went out to the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind (Luke 14:21). They were the ones who would come to his feast.

3) There is also a deliberate contrast here between the old and the new. Under the old dispensation the lame man has sat at the gate of the Temple, and all the Temple could offer him were the alms of those who went in and out. Year by year it was powerless to offer more. With all the glory of its silver and gold, and the Temple was splendid indeed, it could not offer restoration. That awaited the new age (Isaiah 35:6). But now in the coming of the representatives of the new age there is Power. He rises up, and he walks and leaps. The fact that he is now healed proclaims visually the fact that the new age has arrived and that the old Temple is superseded.

So in this new incident we have a further manifestation of the new power that has come to God’s chosen representatives through the coming of the Holy Spirit. Here the Holy Spirit through the Apostles makes clear that in the Name of Jesus salvation is offered to ‘the lame’, and that something better than the Temple is among them. The Kingly Rule of God is here.


Verse 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 those who entered into the temple,’

As they passed through the Beautiful gate, which has not yet certainly been identified, they passed a man who had been born lame. Each day he was carried to the Temple so that he could receive alms from those who entered the Temple. Beggars regularly sat at the gates of temples and shrines hoping to benefit from donors when they would be feeling at their most pious. We are not told for how many years this had occurred, but he was now over forty years of age (Acts 4:22), and was clearly a well known figure (Acts 3:10).

As mentioned above Luke has selected this incident because this lame man represents those of Israel who recognise their need and are open to God’s call. The later mention of his having been lame for ‘over forty years’ may well have been a reminder of the ‘lameness’ of Israel in the forty years in the wilderness.

The Beautiful gate may be the Eastern gate which had glistening doors of Corinthian bronze-work. (called the Shushan gate because it had on it depictions of the palace of Shushan). It led into the outer courtyard of the Temple. It was representative of the silver and gold that was everywhere apparent in this new Temple (of Herod). As Peter gazed at it, it may well have filled his mind with the thought of silver and gold. Even the pillars which supported the gates in the Temple were all silver and gold plated, and within there was much more that was of silver and gold, including the gigantic vine of pure gold that hung above the entrance to the Holy Place.

But we must see it as Luke (or his source) who is drawing the lesson. The mention of the Beautiful Gate combined with the mention of silver and gold had to draw his reader’s attention to the connection between the two comparing, the old Temple with its splendour, but ineffective, with the new Temple of His people founded on the wonder-working Apostles.


Verse 3

‘Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked to receive alms.’

When the man saw Peter and John about to go into the Temple, he called on them to give him alms. Luke is bringing out his sad condition. All he could do, surrounded by all the splendour of the Temple, was beg and call out for help. He was like the people of Israel, dependent on others for solace and with little hope as he sat there in the dust (compare Isaiah 52:2).


Verse 4-5

‘And Peter, fastening his eyes on him, with John, said, “Look on us.” And he turned his attention to them, expecting to receive something from them.’

Immediately, moved in their hearts, Peter and John responded. They turned their eyes and looked at him. At this he waited expectantly, assuming that they would give him something. But Peter’s words had been in order to turn his eyes on the two Apostles because they alone could bring him the message of hope. It was a quiet call to faith.


Verse 6

‘But Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none; but what I have, that give I you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” ’

Peter then informed him that he had no money, no silver or gold, the things that men craved after as they sat in the dust. Those could be found in the Temple, but he had none of that. But what he did have meant that he could offer him something better. We can compare here Proverbs 23:1 where loving favour is specifically represented as better than silver and gold. What Peter carried with him was the authority of the name of Jesus the Messiah of Nazareth. He was here with all the authority of the Messiah. And by that authority he now commanded him to rise from the dust and walk. He thus turned the man’s attention wholly on Jesus as Messiah (Acts 3:14; Acts 3:18; Acts 3:20) and Servant of the Lord (Acts 3:13; Acts 3:26). We are reminded here of the words of Isaiah 52:2, “Awake, awake, put on your strength --- shake yourself from the dust”. These words in Isaiah were preparatory to the description of the Servant of the Lord when He offered Himself in total self-giving (Isaiah 52:13 to Isaiah 53:12).

‘In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.’ ‘In the name’ means through the power of the One Whose name it is. Peter was claiming to act in His Name and with His authority. This is the first time that ‘the name’ of Jesus is called on (compare Acts 4:10; Acts 4:30; Acts 16:18). It contains within it the idea of all that Jesus is. That was why He was named ‘Yahweh is salvation’. The full name ‘Jesus Christ’ was first used by Jesus Himself, either in the Upper Room or on the way to the Garden of Gethsemane (John 17:3) and then by Peter in Acts 2:38. It is a part of the transforming of ‘Jesus the Messiah’ into a name, ‘Jesus Messiah’, but it never loses its Messianic significance. ‘Of Nazareth’ adds solemnity and identification to the name. There were many who were called Jesus (Joshua), but only One Jesus, the Messiah of Nazareth.

Luke wants all Israel, and indeed all men, to recognise that what God brings to men is not silver and gold and outward success and wealth, but the power to make men whole. Israel’s problem lay in its yearning for the silver and gold of the past, for the past glory of Solomon. And it was proud of its Temple which manifested silver and gold in abundance. Here was the glory of man and of decayed religion. But what they should be doing, says Luke, is looking to the One Who offers far more than silver and gold (compare 1 Peter 1:18 where again Peter contrasts silver and gold with God’s offer of life in Christ). They should be looking to the One Who can offer strength, and vigour and life.

‘Walk.’ God’s ways are often described as a walk, and God calls all to stand and walk in His ways. This was also to be true of the lame man. He was not only to walk into the Temple. He was to walk before the Lord in the land of the living (Psalms 116:9).


Verse 7-8

‘And he took him by the right hand, and raised him up, and immediately his feet and his ankle-bones received strength. And leaping up, he stood, and began to walk; and he entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.’

Then Peter reached out and, taking him by the right hand, raised him up. And the man immediately felt the strength entering his ankle-bones, and in faith he leaped up and stood and began to walk. The detailed descriptions bring out each step of faith as he responded to the word of Peter. He allowed himself to be raised up (an act of faltering faith), his ankle-bones received strength, he leaped up (exultant faith), he stood (confident faith), he began to walk (persevering faith). And then he walked with them into the Temple, leaping and praising God.

Note that the strength came immediately after he responded to Peter’s first raising of him up. His first response was a primary act of faith. It was only then that there came the sense of strengthening and the final total response of faith.

‘Leaping.’ The word is used in Isaiah 35:6 LXX of the leaping of the lame when they are healed in the new age. Thus his leaping indicated that the new age was here. It was also the natural reaction of a man who had the use of his legs for the first time. He just could not believe that he was walking, and every few seconds he had to give a little leap in order to express his joy over it and savour what for him was a totally new experience. He did not care what anyone thought, he simply had to experiment. This simple description bears all the evidence of being the description of an eyewitness. ‘Praising God.’ His response was the right one. He gave the glory where it was due.

The completeness of the healing is brought out by three sets of threefold verbs, three intensified. ‘Took him’, ‘raised -- up’, ‘received strength’. ‘Leaping up -- stood -- began to walk’. ‘Walking -- leaping -- praising God’.


Verse 9-10

‘And all the people saw him walking and praising God, and they took knowledge of him, that it was he who sat for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.’

When the people saw him they were filled with ‘wonder and amazement’ at what had happened to him, for they recognised who he was. They recognised him as the lame man who had for so long begged for alms at one of the gates of the Temple. And now here he was walking and praising God within the Temple. The one who had been outside was now in.

Note the implication behind these words. The man and the Beautiful gate were linked together. Yet he had sat there, the very opposite of what the Beautiful gate represented. But now he was no longer tied to the Beautiful gate. He was free. He had life.

‘All the people.’ The representatives of the whole of Israel were receiving God’s witness, and they were all amazed. But the question was, would they see that they too were lame and needed to be healed? Would they see that here was evidence that the new age had come?

‘And they took knowledge of him.’ Compare Acts 4:13. Here the crowds took knowledge of this man that he was the lame one. In Acts 4:13 the court would take knowledge of the Apostles that they had been with Jesus because the lame one was standing there, healed


Verse 11

‘And as he held Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.’

The contrast here is significant. The man held on to Peter and John, full of faith and confidence. He would not let them go. The crowd ran together greatly wondering. But what would they do? The porch might be called ‘Solomon’s’. But would they reveal the wisdom of Solomon in their response? Would they too ‘hold on’ to the Apostles? or would they remain ‘lame’.


Verse 12

‘And when Peter saw it, he answered, saying to the people, “You men of Israel, why do you marvel at this man? or why do you fasten your eyes on us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made him to walk?” ’

Peter immediately turns the people’s gaze away from himself. ‘You men of Israel.’ The call is to all Israel to face up to Jesus. They had seen Him walking among them constantly doing such miracles. Why then were they marvelling? Rather they should be saying, ‘Jesus is still among us’. Why were they looking at Peter and John when they should be recognising Whose power and godliness had made this man walk? Their eyes were turned in the wrong direction.

How easily Peter and John could have basked in the admiration of the crowds. But they did not even think of that. Indeed their one concern was that the thoughts of the crowds were fixed in the wrong place. They wanted them to be fixed on the Name of Jesus.

‘Our own power or godliness.’ It was believed that men who were especially pious were sometimes able to perform miracles. The word for ‘power’ is dunamis, raw power revealed in action.

The words that follow reveal an interesting pattern. It is instructive to look at Peter’s speech here as a whole.

a The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up,

b You denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted unto you, and killed the Archegos (Author and Sustainer, one in authority who starts something and sees it through) of life, whom God raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.

c And by faith in his name has his name made this man strong, whom you behold and know, yes, the faith which is through him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

d And now, brethren, I know that in ignorance you did it, as did also your rulers.

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

c Repent you 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, and that he may send the Christ who has been appointed for you, even Jesus, whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, whereof God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets that have been from of old.

b Moses indeed said, A prophet shall the Lord God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me. To him shall you hearken in all things whatsoever he shall speak unto you. And it shall be, that every soul that shall not hearken to that prophet, shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.

a Yes, and all the prophets from Samuel and them that followed after, as many as have spoken, they also told of these days. You are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in your seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Servant, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.

It will be noted that in ‘a’ he begins and closes by turning their thoughts towards Abraham, and connects Him with the Servant. That he then in ‘b’ indicates that they have ignored God’s holy and righteous One while in the parallel they are not to refuse to listen to the words of God’s Prophet. In ‘c’ he points out that what is required is a response of faith in His name which makes whole and in the parallel calls for repentance to salvation. And in ‘d’ they did it in ignorance but in the parallel God foreshowed it by the mouth of His prophets.


Verses 12-26

Peter’s Second Proclamation to the People (3:12-26).

As in his first message Peter first refers back to the past, but this time it is to ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’, the ones who had received from God the promise of blessing (compare Acts 3:25). He wants the people to know that they bring no new god. Jesus’ God is the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the One Who delivered His people from Egypt (Exodus 3:6). Then he goes on to describe Jesus as the Servant of God referred to by Isaiah, Who had come and had been rejected by them (Isaiah 50:4-9) and had been slain (Isaiah 53:1-12), and refers to the Scriptures that have therefore now been fulfilled, declaring Him to be the Messiah, and calls on them to repent so that God may then give them the everlasting Kingly Rule of God through His Messiah Jesus. He finishes by confirming that Jesus is God’s great expected Prophet whom they must listen to, and His Servant Who can deliver them from sin. He wants it known that all that he is saying is in line with the teaching of the prophets.

But having stressed the central agreement of the content of the two speeches we must also recognise their essential differences. For the two messages take two different lines of argument and refer back to different Scriptures in order to prove different points. Unlike in Acts 2 there is here no attempt to prove the resurrection from Scripture. Rather the stress is on the fact of prophecies concerning Jesus’ suffering and those which promise the blessing of Abraham. Here His Messiahship is related to the Servant of God in Isaiah rather than to David who is unmentioned except by implication. However, the overall message is unquestionably the same, as we would expect if both were by Peter.

The change is apposite. In the first speech, in the light of the experience of Pentecost, the regal aspect came through. The King was on His throne. He was Lord and Messiah. But here in the light of man’s weakness and need, it is the Servant aspect that shines through, the idea of the One Who had come among men to serve. Each speech admirably fits its occasion.


Verse 13

“The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up, and denied before the face of Pilate, when he had determined to release him.”

Let them now recognise that the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the One Who had made them such great promises (Acts 3:25), the One to whom they claimed close allegiance, was also the One who had ‘glorified’ His Servant Jesus. It was He Who had raised Him up and seated Him on His throne and given Him glory (compare John 17:5; Isaiah 52:13).

They would remember that when God had first revealed Himself to Moses as ‘the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob’ it had been in order to establish His servant Moses. (All in the crowd would know the words by heart). But now a greater than Moses was here, and He had glorified His Servant Jesus. In Isaiah 41:8 the God of Abraham raised up seed to Abraham to be His Servant (see Acts 3:25-26).

But in contrast to what God had done in ‘glorifying’ Him and raising Him up, they had rather delivered Him up, and denied that He was their Messiah before the face of Pilate, when Pilate had determined to release Him. Peter makes quite clear that it was Jewish prejudice and refusal to accept God’s chosen One that had to bear the weight of Jesus’ conviction and sentence. His desire is that they recognise their guilt and repent and change the attitude of their minds and hearts and wills.

All who read these words have also to pass their verdict on the situation. Will they side with the unbelieving Jews or recognise that Pilate, and God, were right?

‘The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers.’ This was the name under which God spoke to Moses when He called him to deliver Israel (Exodus 3:6; Exodus 3:15-16). It would immediately link what he had to say with Moses, and with God’s deliverance.

‘Glorified His Servant (pais).’ The idea comes directly from Isaiah 52:13 LXX where both verb and noun appear. Compare also Isaiah 49:6; Isaiah 50:10 LXX. The claim is being made that Jesus is the Servant of the Lord described by Isaiah, Who would be humiliated and made a sacrifice, bearing the sins of others, and would then be glorified.

Note on the Servant of the Lord.

Central to Isaiah 41-55 is the concept of the Servant of the Lord who is coming. He is portrayed as a righteous and gracious king (Isaiah 42:1-6), One Who acts in God’s name to bring Him glory and deliver His people and to be a light to the Gentiles (Isaiah 49:1-6), One Who being taught by God takes His message to men through much suffering (Isaiah 50:4-9) and Who coming in humility is finally offered up as a kind of sacrifice for the sins of His people (Isaiah 53:1-11), will rise again (Isaiah 53:10), and will finally be exalted in glory (Isaiah 52:13). This, putting it simply, is the idea that Peter has in mind.

End of note.


Verse 14-15

“But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.”

The heinousness of their crime is brought out by contrast. They denied the Holy and Righteous One -- they refused to listen to the One Who taught and did only what was good, and chose rather the survival of a murderer. Theykilled-- the source and sustainer ofLife. In further contrast while they killed Him, God demonstrated what He thought of their action by raising Him up. Thus while He was spurned by Israel He was vindicated by God (see Isaiah 50:4-9; Isaiah 53:10-12), as they, the Apostles, can all bear witness to.

‘The Holy and Righteous One.’ For the ‘Holy One’ compare Acts 2:27; Acts 4:27; Psalms 16:10. He is God’s Anointed. ‘The Holy One of Israel’ was also Isaiah’s favourite title for God. For ‘the Righteous One’ compare especially Isaiah 53:11 LXX Zechariah 9:9 LXX. He was both Servant and King. See also Isaiah 24:16 (RV RSV). and compare Acts 7:52; Acts 22:14; James 5:6; 1 Peter 3:18. In Jewish apocalyptic literature The Righteous One had become a Messianic title (Enoch 38:2; 53:6).

The Holy One was the One Who above all was set apart as God’s. The Righteous One was the One Who epitomised in Himself all righteousness, The One Who had fulfilled all righteousness, the One Whose life shone bright and purely in God’s eyes. He was the very opposite of what the word ‘murder’, the dark side of man, conveyed (compare the contrast of the righteous Abel with the murderer Cain - Hebrews 11:4). We note the stress here on the sinlessness of the One of Whom Peter speaks.

Note in the construction of the passage the parallel with the Prophet like Moses (Acts 3:22-23). Those who would refuse to listen to Him would themselves be cut off.

‘Killed the Prince (archegos) of Life.’ The contrast is almost unbelievable. The One Who was the Source, Author, Originator, Provider, Sustainer and Revealer of Life, Who came offering it to all men, ready to be their Guide and Trek Leader in leading them through to eternal life, was taken by them and killed. They were seeking to destroy the core of life itself. And in doing so they had rejected the One Who had come to bring it to them. For archegos compare Acts 5:31; Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 12:2. The idea behind the word is of one who originates and carries through an enterprise, both as its source and its very heart, like a Wagon-train Boss, or a Safari leader. It is used of the eponymous Heroic founders of ancient cities. It pictures the one who heads the march of triumph as both its originator and object. It represents a Prince in its best and noblest sense, active on his nation’s behalf. And Israel’s folly in killing Him was evidenced by the fact that God had raised Him from the dead. That was God’s verdict on Him, and on what they had done. They had turned their thumbs down and declared Him worthy of death. But God had emphatically turned His thumb upwards, ensuring that He lived.


Verse 16

“And by faith in his name has his name made this man strong, whom you behold and know: yes, the faith which is through him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.”

And the fact that He had been raised and was truly the Prince of Life, and the Holy and Righteous One, was evidenced by the fact that it was His Name, as a result of faith in His Name, which had made this man strong. It was He who had healed the lame. None other could have done it. What has happened has established once for all His essential worth and power, through which this was accomplished. This once lame man was the evidence to all of Who and What Jesus was, and to the power of His being.

The faith here might signify the faith of Peter and John or it may be the faith of the lame man that is in mind. But the emphasis is on neither of these. The emphasis is rather on the One Whose Name may be totally relied on, and Who in response to faith can act in this way.

But it had nevertheless required faith, both from the Apostles and from the lame man. And the faith that they had and the faith that the man had received was ‘through Him’. It had come from the Lord Himself. And that is why it has given him this ‘perfect soundness (wholeness, completeness)’. This echoes the idea in Acts 3:7 above. The hint is that all who hear Him can also find perfect soundness in Him if they turn to Him in faith. All can be restored to full wholeness. It is in the light of this that the later appeal to repentance can be made (Acts 3:19-21).

In Greek the sentence is rather complicated, but by no means impossible. There is no reason for avoiding its plain sense. It is structured so as to place the emphasis on Him, and then on the faith that is required in order to benefit from Who He is..


Verse 17

“And now, brethren, I know that in ignorance you did it, as did also your rulers.”

Peter then makes them a concession. He acknowledges that what they had done they had done in ignorance. When they had done it they had not realised what they were doing. And this was true both of them and their rulers (compare Luke 23:34). So they were now being given another chance. Now in the light of what had happened they could have their eyes opened, recover their position and see the truth.

This attitude brings out how early on in the ministry this speech was, before attitudes had hardened. Here Peter believed that there was hope that not only the people, but also their rulers, would repent.

But ignorance was no excuse now that the light had shone. It was in ignorance that the Jews perpetrated the terrible act of crucifying their Messiah, but the thought is that now in he light of His resurrection and ensuing wonders that ignorance is no longer possible, and, therefore, there can be no excuse for their further rejection of Jesus Christ. For Christ has risen, and He has revealed Himself openly in what has happened to this lame man. This note of the terrifying responsibility that knowledge brings appears all through the New Testament. "If you were blind you would have no guilt, but now that you say `We see,' your guilt remains" (John 9:41). "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin; but now they have no excuse for their sin" (John 15:22). "Whoever knows what is right to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin" (James 4:17). To have seen the full light of the revelation of God is the greatest of privileges, but it is also the most terrible of responsibilities, and it had happened in the coming of Christ.


Verse 18

“But the things which God showed beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer, he thus fulfilled.”

However, he makes it clear that they should not have been ignorant. Let them recognise that what had happened had actually fulfilled what God had shown beforehand through the mouth of His prophets, that His Messiah would suffer. This had been made apparent in the prophecies concerning the Suffering Servant and Lamb of God of Isaiah (Isaiah 50:4-9; Isaiah 52:13 to Isaiah 53:12), in the Davidic Psalms such as Acts 22:12-18, which applied to all the house of David but especially to the coming greater David, and in Zechariah 13:7 where God’s Shepherd and the man who was God’s fellow was to be smitten. Furthermore it could be discerned by the initiated in all references to the sacrifice of lambs in the Old Testament, for He was the Lamb of God (John 1:19).

In 'all the prophets' (compare Luke 24:27). Here we have a technical term by which ‘the prophets’ from Joshua (these early books which we consider historical were called the ‘former prophets’) through to Malachi (excluding basically 1 Chronicles to Song of Solomon) were known. Thus by 'all the prophets' he is really using a term signifying ‘the prophets in general’. We must not stress the ALL except as a generalisation. He could hardly be expected in a brief speech to pick out the individual prophets whom he thought specifically proclaimed Christ's suffering. We would put it, 'in the prophetic books it is taught that Christ would suffer, and none of the prophets taught otherwise’.

This could actually have been said even if there were only a few references like those mentioned above, but there can be no questioning the fact that by this time all the sacrifices described in the Old Testament were seen as foretelling Christ's suffering. 'Behold the Lamb of God' (John 1:29) comes as early as the time of John the Baptiser emphasising that Jesus was already seen as having come as the supreme sacrifice. So Peter, who had heard those words, had come to see in the sacrifices a clear portrayal of what Jesus would suffer from the beginning, even though John's words had not come home fully to him until after the crucifixion. He now saw that Jesus was Passover lamb, burnt offering and sin offering, all rolled into one. Thus he would see every mention of these in the prophets as a portrayal of His suffering. In his new found understanding, therefore, he would have seen Christ's suffering as portrayed wherever the sacrifices are mentioned, and such mention is regular in almost all the prophets. The result would be that he saw Christ's suffering as portrayed ‘everywhere’.

We must not judge Peter from the standpoint of a modern scholar. To him in the newness of the resurrection he was no doubt filled with wonder that the whole of the Old Testament had pictured Christ's suffering in this way. His eyes had been opened. It sprang out from everywhere. The whole Old Testament declared His suffering. It was no longer a handbook of ritual but a vivid declaration of Christ's sacrifice of Himself. It was sufficient to make him recognise even at this early stage that Christ's death was predetermined (compare Acts 2:23).


Verses 19-21

“Repent you 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, and that he may send the Christ who has been appointed for you, even Jesus, whom the heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, of which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets that have been from of old.”

Now comes the familiar call to repent. They must have a change of heart and mind. They must ‘turn again’, turning to God’s way and to the Saviour from sin, turning from sin and from their own way (Isaiah 53:6) . They must seek the prince of life. They must respond to Jesus the Messiah. Such repentance and faith are parallel ideas.

Then their sins will be blotted out (Psalms 51:1; Psalms 51:9; Isaiah 43:25; Isaiah 44:2). And then will come seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord, followed by the coming again of Messiah Himself Whom the heavens have necessarily received until the times of the restoration of all things, that time of restoration spoken of by His holy prophets from ancient times. As a result of faith in His Name they will be made whole (Acts 3:16).

We should note that repentance and faith are two sides of the same coin. The person whose faith in God is opened up and made real cannot but repent. When a person becomes aware of God they can do no other than ‘repent’, changing their hearts and minds and wills about sin and about God. Job was evidence of this. He said. ‘I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you, wherefore I hate myself and I repent in dust and ashes’ (Job 42:5-6). He did not try or struggle to repent. He saw God and he had no choice. The same was true of Isaiah in Isaiah 6:1-7. He too saw God and had no choice but to repent. Indeed every man who by faith sees Him will be driven to repentance, that is why Peter has made Him known. Once these men became aware of God as He is, and Jesus Christ as he is, repentance will be the inevitable result. Peter was trusting God that this would be true here as it had been for Job and Isaiah. All he could do was present and interpret the facts, and face them up to Jesus. Then he looked for God to work on his hearers hearts and make them know the truth about Himself and about Him. His call was therefore that on recognising that truth they would respond. Repentance is simply faith responding. Becoming aware of God and believing, they are to turn to God from their sins, yielding to His Kingly Rule and walking in His ways.

Note here the mention of ‘times and seasons’ which they can know about (contrast Acts 1:7). The first is the ‘seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord’. This speaks of all the good things that can be known by experiencing His indwelling presence and blessing. The Apostles had known them from when they first knew the Lord. They had experienced them anew through Pentecost. The woman of Samaria had know them from when she had first believed (John 4). The whole church from when it was first indwelt and made one at Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). They could be known by Peter’s hearers once they repented and their sins were blotted out. For they were there in the presence and work of the Holy Spirit.

The word for ‘refreshing’ (anapsukseows) means to ‘revive, refresh’. This spiritual refreshing was symbolised in the prophets by the picture of rain pouring down and bringing life and fruitfulness and of rivers of lifegiving water (e.g. Isaiah 32:1-4; Isaiah 32:15-18; Isaiah 44:1-5; Isaiah 55:10-13; Ezekiel 36:25-26; Ezekiel 47:1-12; Psalms 36:8; Psalms 46:4). It was symbolised in terms of receiving a refreshing drink in the hottest and dryest of conditions (Isaiah 55:1-3). It was symbolised by the shadow of a great rock in a hot and weary land (Isaiah 32:1-4). It was a picture used by Jesus Himself when offering spiritual life (John 3:5-6; John 4:10-14; John 7:37-39). It is the result of the ‘washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit’ (Titus 3:5).

The basic idea is found in Exodus 8:15 where Pharaoh saw that there was a ‘respite’ (anapsuksis), a breathing space, from the plague of frogs. In Exodus 23:12 the verb is used of the resident alien being ‘refreshed’ on the Sabbath. In 1 Samuel 16:23 Saul was ‘refreshed’ at the playing of David’s harp so that the evil spirit left him for a while. In Psalms 39:13 the Psalmist prays that he may ‘recover strength, be refreshed’ before he goes hence to be no more. Note the contrast of this last with these new ‘seasons of refreshing which will result in the ‘times of the restoration of all things’.

These ‘seasons of refreshing’ will be followed by the ‘times of the restoration of all things’. This will be the times when all is put right, when Eden will be restored (Isaiah 11:4-9; Isaiah 33:21; Revelation 22:1-5), when there will be a new heaven and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17-25; Isaiah 66:22-24; Revelation 21:1-7), when the everlasting kingdom will be established. This everlasting kingdom was portrayed in earthly terms in Isaiah 11:1-9; Ezekiel 37:21-28; Zechariah 14:16-21 because any others would not have been understood. But we must read not the outward shell, but the inner heart. The New Testament knows of only one kingdom, the everlasting kingdom.

For the use of the verb ‘to restore, turn again’ on which the noun ‘restoration’ is based, in places in the Old Testament which relate to the restoration see Jeremiah 16:15; Jeremiah 24:6; Jeremiah 50:19; Ezekiel 16:55; Hosea 11:11.

Then will come again their appointed Messiah. He will come in blessing if they have become His people, and in judgment on all who have rejected Him, just as the prophets have declared. First the seasons of refreshing, and then the times of restoration. Those who benefit from the one will enjoy the other.

Some see the ‘seasons of refreshing’ as being synonymous with ‘the times of the restoration of all things’, but the whole point of Peter’s message is that what Christ has brought through His Holy Spirit is available now. The Kingly Rule of God is already here. We can enjoy eternal life (the life of the age to come) now, and then later in its fullness (John 5:24-29). We can come under His Kingly Rule now, and enjoy it in its fullness in eternity. We can have refreshing now, and full restoration later.

‘His holy prophets that have been from of old.’ Compare Luke 1:70.


Verse 22

“Moses indeed said, A prophet shall the Lord God raise up to you from among your brethren, like to me. To him shall you listen in all things whatever he shall speak to you.”

Peter’s thoughts now turn to justifying his position further in the light of Scripture, by showing Whom it is that they have crucified (the Holy and Righteous One) by declaring that Jesus was the Prophet who had been promised by Moses. He does this firstly by introducing the idea of the Great Prophet promised by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15, then by stating that all the prophets pointed ahead to Him, and connects Him with the idea of Abraham, through whom the whole world was to be blessed. He clearly sees the Messiah and ‘the Prophet’ as synonymous. Many people in those days expected the coming of a Great Prophet (Mark 6:15; Mark 8:28; John 1:21), who would introduce the blessing of Abraham, and some saw him as synonymous with the Messiah. Peter was in no doubt on the matter.

The citation is taken from Deuteronomy 18:15. His point is that Jesus is that prophet Whom God has raised up who is ‘like Moses’. No one was held in greater esteem in first century Judaism than Moses. He was exalted above all men. But men were interpreting Deuteronomy 18:15 as indicating the rise of another Prophet of equal status. And now here had come the promised new coming Moses. Let them therefore remember God’s command that they listen to all that He says to them. They had failed to listen previously, but now they have a further opportunity. Let them therefore listen to Him now. For just as those who did not listen to Moses were to be cut off (Exodus 32:33) so now those who will not listen to Jesus will be cut off.

The idea of Jesus as a prophet is common to Luke’s writings. Compare Luke 4:16-21; Luke 7:16; Luke 7:39; Luke 13:33-34; Luke 24:19.

It may be noted that the citation from Deuteronomy 18:15 follows neither LXX or MT. It is, however, fairly close to quotations, presumably taken from a current Hebrew text, which are found in Qumranic literature. Alternatively it may instead simply have arisen from Peter citing from a collection of texts or as a paraphrase. The sense is unchanged.


Verse 23

“And it shall be, that every soul who will not listen responsively to that prophet, shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.”

For God had warned severely, that if anyone did not listen to Him responsively as He spoke through that Prophet, he would be cut off from Israel. Here is a clear indication that the coming of Jesus will result in a new Israel arising out of the old, from which all who reject Him will be cut off (compare John 15:1-6; Romans 11:16-26). This new Israel will be the nation to whom God will give what the old nation has forfeited (Matthew 21:43). A new nation will be formed with the Christ rejecters cast off.

‘Utterly destroyed from among the people.’ Compare Leviticus 23:29.


Verse 24

“Yes and all the prophets from Samuel and those who followed after, as many as have spoken, they also told of these days.”

But it is not only Moses who had spoken of these days which have now come. It was also all the prophets who followed him from Samuel onwards (see Acts 13:20). All such as had spoken of these days. The mention of Samuel was especially significant as he had anointed David (1 Samuel 16:13) in whom the promises of an anointed king to come had begun (2 Samuel 7:16).

‘All the prophets from Samuel and those who followed after.’ This is intended simply to signify all the true prophets, and it will be noted that he acknowledged that not all did speak of Him (‘as many as have spoken’). Thus it may be that he did not intend to indicate that Samuel had so spoken. But Samuel certainly anointed the Davidic line to rule over Israel and we need not doubt that he would have concurred with Nathan that it was to be for ever (2 Samuel 7:16). The kingship was certainly seen by him as in God’s hands (1 Samuel 13:14; 1 Samuel 15:28; 1 Samuel 26:4). It was probably therefore something accepted by all that Samuel had prepared the way for the Messiah.


Verse 25-26

“You are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, And in your seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed. Unto you first God, having raised up his Servant, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.”

So they should listen. For they are the ‘sons of the prophets’, that is they come from the same background ideas and thoughts and mind-stream and nationality of the prophets, and look to the prophets as their ‘fathers’ and are the ones who would expect therefore to obey their prophecies. To be thought of as ‘the sons of the prophets’ would certainly please most of them.

Furthermore they are the sons ‘of the covenant’ which God made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. They have first right to this promise and covenant if only they will receive it. And the promise given there was that in their seed all the nations of the earth would be blessed (Genesis 12:3; Genesis 22:18; Genesis 26:4). But Scripture also promised that from the seed of Abraham God would raise up His Servant (Isaiah 41:8), through whom that blessing would come. The whole world was to enjoy the blessing, but the Servant had brought it to them first.

‘Unto you first.’ Before the earth as a whole receives His blessing, as Isaiah has made clear that it will one day through the Servant (Isaiah 49:6), God has first appointed it to them, (to the Jew first, and then to the Gentile). That is why He has ‘raised up’ His Servant (caused Him to come forth in His purposes - compare Acts 3:22), so that Israel might receive the anticipated blessing of Abraham and be blessed in turning away from their iniquities. The choice now therefore lies with them. They can refuse to hear His words and be cut off from Israel (Acts 3:23). Or they can respond and enter into the blessing of the new Israel, turning from their sin and having them blotted out as He has promised (Acts 3:19).

‘In your seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ In Isaiah 41:8 the Servant whom God will raise up is said to be ‘the seed of Abraham My friend’. Initially that Servant and seed was the children of Jacob/Israel, but gradually the idea narrowed down to the One Who in Himself was Israel (Isaiah 49:3). It is then finally the unique Servant Who is the seed of Abraham through which the nations of the world will be blessed (for the outworking of this see our commentary on Isaiah). But Peter probably arrived there by inspiration.

It is informative to consider how many seed thoughts for the future there were in Peter’s words. They are not expounded on in depth, but they are here because Peter was taught by his Master, both before and after His resurrection, and was now inspired by the Holy Spirit Who brought them to the forefront of his thinking. These include, for example, Jesus as: the Messiah, the Holy One, the Righteous One, the Source and Sustainer of Life, the Servant, and the Great Prophet. And supporting these claims, and behind Him in them, are Moses, and all the prophets, and the patriarch Abraham himself.

Chapter 4 The Arrest of the Apostles, Their Response Through Peter And A Further Inundation From God.

It is a recognised principle of Scripture that once God begins to bless His people opposition will arise in order to seek to prevent it (consider Jesus’ words in Luke 12:4; Luke 12:11; Luke 21:12-19; John 15:18-19; John 16:2-3; John 16:33; see Acts 3:25-26 below). It was inevitable. It was after all what happened to Jesus (see Luke 4:29; Luke 5:21; Luke 5:30; Luke 6:2; Luke 6:7; Luke 6:11 etc.). Indeed it is what was prophesied to happen to the Servant (Isaiah 50:8-9; Isaiah 53:8), and the followers of Jesus are also the Servant (Acts 13:47). Luke now therefore introduces the first stage in the opposition. Peter and John are arrested and brought before the Sanhedrin, the Jewish body politic. But Peter is undeterred and sees it as an opportunity for witness to the leading authorities of Israel (compare Acts 3:17). This is then followed by a further infusion of the Holy Spirit, and a picture of the progression of the new Israel.

A further importance of this section is that it establishes what the crucial difference was between the old Israel and the new Israel, and that was the Name of Jesus. The old Israel rejected the name and its bearer. They would not hear it under any circumstances. The new Israel claimed that there was salvation in no one else. In chapter 2 the emphasis had been on the enthronement of the King. In chapter 3 it had been on the work of the Servant and Prophet of God. Here it is now on the Name of Jesus, and the salvation that He has brought.

In this chapter we also have illustrated the approach taken by the Jewish authorities to judicial situations. It was a good principle of their system of justice that unless persons were aware of the consequences of their crimes they could not justly be punished for them. Thus when a ‘common’ person (untrained in the Law) had committed a crime, not of a capital nature, it was considered necessary that on the occasion of the first offence such a person be given a legal admonition before witnesses. They would then only be punished if they committed the offence again (when of course they could no longer claim ignorance). In this situation ignorance of the Law was considered to be an excuse. In view of the complexity of some of the laws this was very necessary.

This explains why in the first example below stress is laid on the fact that they were ‘unlearned and ignorant men’ (that is, untrained in the Law), which is why they are let off with a warning and a legal admonition. On any repetition of the offence they will be punished in accordance with their supposed crime. Then they could no longer be seen as ignorant of their ‘crime’, because they would have been legally admonished. So rather than the accounts of the trials being duplicates of the same event as suggested by some, they beautifully illustrate the stages that would necessarily have occurred, given the attitude of the Jewish Law and the determination of the disciples.

 


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Bibliography Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Acts 3:4". "Peter Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pet/acts-3.html. 2013.

Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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