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Bible Commentaries

Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament
Acts 3

 

 

Verse 1

Acts 3:1. Peter and John went up together into the temple. These two apostles are constantly mentioned as being together in the later portions of the Gospel, and the earlier ones of the ‘Acts.’ They were sent by Christ to prepare the upper room for the last Passover. They were most probably both present in the hall of Caiaphas. They both followed Christ (John 21) after His appearance by the sea of Tiberias. They are together here in the Temple. They are afterwards sent out together to confirm the Samarian converts; but after chap. Acts 8:14, although, as Wordsworth remarks, St. Peter is mentioned in this book nearly forty times after the occurrence referred to (chap. 8), St. John never appears again. Most likely St. John about that time ceased to be a resident in the Holy City.

At the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour. This was about three o’clock in the afternoon, the hour of the evening sacrifice. Of the three different hours of prayer, this was the favourite time for the Jews to go up to the Temple, as the busiest time in the day was over, and it happened just before the evening (the principal) meal of the day (see Ewald).


Verses 1-11

Healing of the Lame Man by Peter and John at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, 1-11.

The writer of the ‘Acts,’ after describing the inner life of the new society, takes up the thread of the story again. He had spoken (Acts 2:46) of the daily attendance of the followers of Jesus in the Temple, and had mentioned the many signs and wonders which were being worked by the apostles (Acts 2:43); and now he gives in detail an account of one of their daily visits to the Temple, in the course of which the apostles happened to do one of those wondrous works referred to (Acts 2:43).


Verse 2

Acts 3:2. A certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the temple. Martial (i. 112) tells us of beggars who were in the habit of sitting at the gate of heathen temples. Chrysostom recommends this practice as regards Christian charities. In the Roman Catholic churches on the Continent of Europe, one or more beggars, usually cripples, constantly sit in the church porch asking charity from all who enter.

The temple. A short description of the Temple as it appeared at the time of the crucifixion, will bring those events which are related in the ‘Acts’ as happening in the Temple, more vividly before our eyes. Solomon’s ‘House’ had been completely destroyed in the Babylonian war; on the return from captivity, a second Temple was built. Herod the Great restored the second ‘House’ completely, and almost entirely rebuilt it; his successors went on with the work of adorning and beautifying for the period of about forty-six years referred to by John 11:20. Outwards, and in its decorations within, it was perhaps not inferior to Solomon’s ‘House’ (its moveable furniture and vessels were not wrought of the same costly materials), and at this time it was one of the most stately buildings in the world. The outward face of the Temple, looking at it from the Mount of Olives, as our Lord did that last week of His earthly life (Matthew 24), wanted nothing that was likely to surprise men’s minds or their eyes; for it was covered over with plates of gold, which, at the first rising of the sun, reflected back such a splendour as compelled those who forced themselves to look upon it to turn away their eyes, just as they would have done at the sun’s rays. This Temple appeared to strangers, when they were at a distance, like a mountain covered with snow, for those parts of it which were not covered with gold were exceeding white’ (Josephus, Jud. Bell. Acts 5:5). This glorious ‘House’ in no way, writes Gloag, from whose elaborate note this description is in the main taken, resembled one of our mediaeval cathedrals; its most striking feature was not the Temple proper, but its courts, surrounded with cloisters. The whole pile consisted in a series of terraces rising one above the other, on the topmost of which stood the sanctuary. The circumference of the entire edifice was about half a mile.

The outer court, known as the Court of the Gentiles, surrounded the Temple; on each side were cloisters with pillars of the Corinthian order of white marble, with roofs of curiously engraved cedar. The open court was laid with coloured tesselated pavement; a flight of fourteen steps led from this outer court—beyond which no Gentile might pass—to the inner court. This was a square, and was divided into terraces which rose one above the other in a westerly direction to the Temple, which was situated at the western end of the square. The first terrace was termed the ‘Court of the Women,’ not because it was exclusively allotted to them, but because no Israelitish woman might advance farther. There were cloisters with handsome pillars round this court also; a flight of five or, as some say, fifteen steps led to the second terrace, ‘the Court of the Israelites,’ which was parted by a low wall from a still higher terrace, ‘the Court of the Priests.’ This surrounded the Temple and led to it by a flight of twelve steps.

The Temple itself was comparatively small, 150 feet long, 150 feet broad, but narrowing as it receded to a breadth of 90 feet. Josephus states it as only 150 feet high, but opinions as to its height vary. It was built of blocks of white marble covered with plates of gold. It contained, besides other chambers, a vestibule, the Holy Place entered by a golden door, and the Holy of Holies.

The gate . . . which is called Beautiful. It is not certain whether (a) this refers to the gate called ‘Nicanor,’ or (b) to the gate called ‘Shushan.’ (a) The gate ‘Nicanor’ led from the court of the Gentiles to the inner court of the Israelites. (b) The Shushan gate was an outer gate, and led out from the court of the Gentiles. The market for the sale of doves and animals for sacrifice was held close by this gate. It was named after Susa (Shusah), the ‘City of Lilies’ ( שׁוּשָׁן), some say, because a picture of the royal Persian residence was painted or carved on the gate (Meyer suggests the origin of the name might be sought from the lily-shaped capitals of the pillars of the gate, שׁוּשָׁן, 1 Kings 7:19). Josephus, without particularizing, speaks of one of the Temple gates excelling all the others in richness of material and in decoration. It was made of Corinthian brass, overlaid with plates of gold and silver, and was fifty cubits high.


Verse 3

Acts 3:3. Asked an alms. Meyer, quoting from Vajikra Rabbi, f. Acts 20:3-4, gives us some Jewish forms of begging: ‘Merere in me,’ ‘In me benefac tibi,’ etc.


Verse 4

Acts 3:4. And Peter, fastening his eyes on him with John, said, Look on us. Calvin, commenting on this miracle about to be worked by Peter and John, asks whether they had the power of working such miracles when they pleased, and replies they were so exclusively ministers of the Divine power that they attempted nothing of their own will, and the Lord worked through them whenever it was expedient. Hence it happened they healed one sufferer—not all sufferers promiscuously, for the Holy Spirit guided them here just as in other matters. So Peter, in answer to the poor cripple’s prayer for alms, moved by the Holy Ghost, fixes his earnest gaze on him, to discover if he were worthy of the glorious gift of health he had to bestow.


Verse 5

Acts 3:5. And he gave heed unto them. The sufferer, perhaps surprised at this unusual notice from a passer-by, gazed up at Peter and John with rapt attention (the Greek word is far stronger than the English equivalent), knowing he was about to receive some kindness, he knew not what, from these holy men, whom doubtless he knew well by sight, having often seen them go up to the Temple.


Verse 6

Acts 3:6. Then Peter said. Recognising from something he could read in that face, marked by years of suffering and want, that lure was true faith.

Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee. Centuries after, Cornelius a Lapide beautifully relates how Thomas Aquinas once came to Pope Innocent IV. at a moment when the pontiff had before him a great treasure of gold. ‘See, Thomas,’ said Innocent, ‘see, the Church can no more say as it did in those first days, “Silver and gold have I none.”’ ‘True, holy father,’ replied Thomas Aquinas, ‘but the Church of the present day can hardly say to a lame man what the Church of the first days said, “Arise and walk”’ (Cornelius à Lapide, quoted by Wordsworth). Peter and his companions in the Church of Jerusalem were compelled literally to comply with their Master’s injunction (Matthew 10:9), ‘Provide neither gold not silver in your purses.’ The community of possessions, a state of things which prevailed then generally (though not universally) in the city, had the effect of producing an ever increasing poverty among the brethren.

In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk. When their Master performed a miracle, His language was that of direct command, as in Luke 5:24 : ‘I say unto thee, Arise,’ and the palsied man rose up healed; while Peter likewise bids the helpless sufferer ‘arise,’ but he commands in his Master’s name, by the power of which the wonder-work was to be accomplished.


Verse 7

Acts 3:7. And he took him by the right hand. To the word of command, Peter, following his Master’s example in such cases (see Mark 9:27), grasps him by the right hand, thus encouraging him to obey the command to arise. On the use of such outward instrumentality, Chrysostom remarks: ‘So, too, Christ did; ofttimes would He heal with a word, ofttimes with an act; frequently, too, He would stretch out His hand where their faith was too weak, that it (the miracle of healing) might not seem to have worked of itself’. (Chrysostom, quoted in Alford).

His feet and ankle bones received strength. Commentators remark on the accuracy and exactness of the description. They are the words of one who had received the professional training of a physician.


Verse 8

Acts 3:8. And entered with them into the temple. Instead of at once going to his home or any other place, his first thought seems to have been: ‘He would go into the sanctuary of his God and there return thanks for his great deliverance.’ Peter and John, guided by the Holy Ghost, when they cast their eyes on the poor cripple, were not deceived in their estimate of his character.


Verse 9-10

Acts 3:9-10. And all the people saw him walking. The crowds in the temple-court knew him as he walked among them for that helpless beggar whom they had seen so many times lying by the ‘Beautiful Gate;’ they saw, him now, who had never walked before, full of life and power, praising God, and were struck with amazement and wonder at the greatness of the miracle.


Verse 11

Acts 3:11. And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John. That is, while he was holding them fast or keeping near them (see De Wette), perhaps, as Alford suggests, in the ardour of his gratitude, that he might testify to all who his benefactors were.

In the porch that is called Solomon’s. This porch or cloister was on the eastern side of the court of the Gentiles. It was built on an artificial embankment which filled up a deep valley. The embankment was the work of King Solomon,—hence, perhaps, the name,—and the cloister was restored on the original plan.

It was in this cloister that the traffic of the money-changers was carried on. According to Lightfoot, the whole court of the Gentiles was spoken of popularly, at times, as Solomon’s Porch. It was here, in winter-time, at the feast of Dedication, that Jesus walked when the Jews took up stones to stone Him.


Verse 12

Acts 3:12. And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, etc. The wondering gaze of the throng in the temple-court seemed to ask, ‘What mighty power is possessed by these men? What holy men must these be for God to have endowed them with these strange miraculous gifts?’ It was in answer to that inquiring, anxious look, more than to any direct question, that Peter replied with his second sermon (see Lange), which he opens with a startling question, ‘Men of Israel, do you think we have done this great thing? Do you attribute this to our wondrous skill, or do you look upon this strange power as bestowed on us, as a reward for our piety and goodness?’


Verses 12-26

Second Discourse of St. Peter, 12-26.

This second sermon of St. Peter is even more briefly reported than the first. Compared with the summary Divine wisdom has preserved for us in the ‘Acts,’ it must have been originally a discourse of some length. The last division especially (Acts 3:17-26) has apparently been much abbreviated. It evidently starts with the knowledge that much concerning Jesus of Nazareth, dwelt upon by St. Peter at Pentecost, was known to the crowds now thronging the Porch of Solomon. It only touches upon the awful ‘death’ of Jesus, in which death he tries to excuse the guilt of the Jewish people by urging for them the plea, ‘They knew not what they did.’ The central point of the address is the earnest exhortation to the Jews to repentance and faith, that they might share in the glorious blessings of the future—in which blessings they, as the people from whom Christ sprung and to whom He was first sent, seemed especially invited to share.

The sermon falls into two divisions—(a) Acts 3:12-16. The miracle of healing the lame man, at which ye marvel, is a work of God’s, done to glorify that Jesus of Nazareth whom you crucified and God raised from the dead; (b) Acts 3:17-26. But you did this deed in ignorance, God all the while carrying out His design; so repent now, and share in a salvation which Christ will bring—Christ who will one day, as your prophets have said, return.


Verse 13

Acts 3:13. The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers. No words could have riveted the attention of the people like these. ‘We have not done this great thing which so astonishes you, but the Eternal of hosts, the Glory and Hope of Israel, the covenant God, in whose royal house we all are standing—He has done it.’

Hath glorified his Son Jesus, and by doing it hath glorified that Jesus whom ye all know. ‘His Son’ ( τὸν παΐδα αύτον). So the Vulgate and ancient interpreters generally (as though the Greek word was υἱόν). All scholars now are agreed that the passage should be rendered ‘hath glorified His servant Jesus.’ Messiah is constantly designated by this title, ‘Servant of the Lord’ ( עֶבר יְה<sub>וֹ</sub> ָה), in the second part of Isaiah (chaps. 40-66), as the One who carries out the deliberate plan of God—the Minister of the Eternal—in the redemption of the world. The title is directly applied to Christ (Matthew 12:18) in a quotation from the famous Isaiah prophecies: ‘Behold my Servant ( παῑς), whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is well pleased.’ The appellation referring to Christ occurs in the Acts four times with the same signification (comp. Acts 3:26 or this chapter in Acts 4:27; Acts 4:30). None of the apostles is ever called παῑς θεοῡ, but only δοῡλος θεοῡ.

Whom ye delivered up, and denied him. The picture St. Peter paints to the Jews of their guilt is exceedingly vivid. He piles up the terrible contrasts. This Jesus God hath glorified; but ye, denying that He was Messiah, have delivered Him up to shame and death. Pilate, the mocking careless Roman, could not find in his heart to condemn Him; but you urged him on, clamouring for His blood. You were offered (Acts 3:14) the choice between a murderer and the Holy and Righteous One, and you chose the murderer. The Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, you in your shortsightedness deprived of life.


Verse 14

Acts 3:14. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just. Old Testament titles of Messiah, where He is called the Holy One, the Righteous Branch, the Lord our Righteousness, God’s Righteous Servant who should justify many (Isaiah 53:11).


Verse 15

Acts 3:15. The Prince of life. Life here, in its highest sense, is intended—eternal life (see John 1:4; John 5:26; John 2:25); but it includes also physical life. Alford even suggests the possibility that the words may contain an allusion to the great miracle [the raising of Lazarus], which was the immediate cause of the enmity of the rulers to Jesus.

Whereof we are witnesses. After an unfolding of the marvellous connection between the sacred Israelitic prophecies and the Life and Passion of Jesus of Nazareth, when the apostles came to speak of the resurrection and of the risen glorified Jesus, they would constantly say here simply, grandly (einfach grossartig (Meyer)), ‘and of this we are witnesses, for we have seen Him risen.’


Verse 16

Acts 3:16. And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know. We will take these words in the order of the original Greek: ‘And through faith in His name.’ Peter had just related (in Acts 3:15) what was the ground of his perfect faith: he had been one of the witnesses of the risen Lord. He now proceeds to tell them that the miracle they are wondering at is the result of that faith.

In his name. The miracle of healing was worked by the name of Jesus, uttered under the condition of perfect faith above mentioned.

This man strong, whom ye see. Here Peter doubtless pointed to the man standing, as we know, close by the apostles.

Yes, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness. The faith which Peter possessed, and by means of which he had healed the lame man, is represented as the work of Christ (i.e. faith in Christ is the gift of Christ); in other words, the expression ‘which is by Him’ may be explained thus: Faith in Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah came to Peter partly owing to his having witnessed the life and work, and especially the resurrection, of Christ—partly through the revelations of the Spirit sent by Christ from the Father at Pentecost. This seems a fairly accurate statement of the conditions under which this first great apostolical miracle was wrought: (1) It was worked solely by a perfect faith in Jesus of Nazareth as Messiah (which faith, as we have seen, was the gift of Christ); and (2) The faith was the faith of the apostles, not of the lame man who was healed; it was evidently money, not health, that he hoped to receive from them. ‘Silver and gold have I none,’ said Peter. All that can be said of the restored cripple is, that he was an eminently fit subject for the distinguished mercy shown to him. Peter and John, guided by the Holy Spirit, no doubt perceived this. His brave and grateful conduct after he was restored to health and strength, is a sufficient index to his character.


Verse 17

Acts 3:17. And now, brethren. Notice the apostle no longer gravely, though courteously, addresses the people as ‘men of Israel’ (Acts 3:12), but affectionately as ‘brethren.’

Through ignorance ye did it. Not recognising under that meek and lowly form the conquering Messiah they so fondly looked for to free Israel from the foreigner’s degrading yoke which had so long weighed them down,—the triumphant King who should restore the never-forgotten glories of David and Solomon.

As did also your rulers. Just one loving word to those Sadducean rulers, who then possessed such great power over the people, in case any of their proud unbelieving hearts had been pierced at his narrative of the death of ‘the Just.’

It was our Lord’s words on the cross which suggested the beautiful thought of this 17th verse: ‘Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do’ (Luke 23:34; see also 1 Tim.; Ephesians 1:13).


Verse 18

Acts 3:18. In reference to God, the sin of Israel, consisting in the rejection and murder of Messiah, may be forgiven, in so far as it at the same time involved the fulfilment of the divine decree made mention of by all the prophets, ‘that Messiah should suffer.’

Which God showed by the mouth of all the prophets. ‘Omnes prophetae in universum non prophetarunt nisi de diebus Messiae’ (Sanhedr. 99, 1, quoted by Alford). These words of Peter’s are not to be understood as a hyperbole (Kuinoel), or in the sense given to them by Olshausen, who, looking upon the entire history of the Jews as typical, in that view maintains that all the ancient prophets prophesied of Christ. Very many of the prophets describe with more or less distinctness the sufferings and the death of Messiah—all of them looked on with sure hope to the times of restoration and redemption. This longed-for restoration and redemption was only to be won by the sufferings and death of Messiah. Meyer’s view slightly differs from the above. He looks back—as on a thing accomplished—to redemption, won only through the death and suffering of the Messiah Jesus. Of this redemption all the prophets spoke.


Verse 19

Acts 3:19. Repent ye therefore ( οῧν). Seeing, then, that your guilt, great though it be, does not shut you out from pardon and reconciliation in the blood of the Messiah, whom in ignorance you crucified, ‘repent ye therefore.’

And be converted—that is, turn from your present way of life, receive the crucified Jesus as Messiah. In a similar exhortation (chap. Acts 2:38), Peter adds, ‘and be baptized;’ but this naturally would be understood, in the present instance, as several thousand had so recently received the rite of baptism immediately after their conversion to Christ.

That your sins may he blotted out (in the blood of Jesus—obliterated, as it were, from the book of record or tablet where they were written). No doubt this idea of ‘blotting out’ refers to the baptism in the name of Jesus—that mystical washing away of sin.

When the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord; Acts 3:20. And he shall send Jesus Christ. This rendering is undoubtedly incorrect; ὅπω; ἄν followed by a subjunctive ἴλθωσι, cannot signify ‘when’ in the sense of ὶπεί, postquam (Beza, Castalio, and others, and also the English Version). It can only be translated ‘in order that the times of refreshing,’ etc. What, now, are we to understand by this statement of St. Peter? 1st. That these times of refreshing relief, or rest for the wearied and faithful toilers of the world, will come when the Jewish people, as a people, shall acknowledge Jesus as Messiah; and 2d. That these times of refreshing are closely connected with the Second Coming of the Lord. The second clause of the statement (Acts 3:20) is added to define with greater exactness the nature of the ‘times of refreshing,’ as a period in which Jesus the Messiah shall come again and comfort with His presence His own faithful servants. We have doubtless, in our very short abstract of this division of St. Peter’s sermon, a distinct reference to a season of rest and gladness which the coming of Messiah in His glory would herald; it is apparently identical with the period of Messiah’s reign for a thousand years, described in that portion of the Apocalypse beginning (Acts 11:15), when ‘the kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ.’ St. Peter connects these events with the conversion of the Jewish people. Now it may be pointed out by thoughtful men—not necessarily unbelievers—that more than eighteen centuries have passed by since the inspired apostle spoke these words, and the conversion of the Jewish people—as a people—seems still as remote an event as it appeared to be some forty years after the date of the present discourse (we may assume that after the fall of the city in A.D. 70, few Jews, comparatively speaking, became Christians). To this the reply naturally suggests itself: Though after eighteen centuries the heart of the ‘chosen’ race seems as hard as ever; still, circumstance unprecedented in the history of the world, God has kept them together. Though dispersed to the four quarters of the globe, they are as distinct and separate a people now as they were eighteen centuries back. Is it not surely for some great purpose, still hidden in perhaps a remote future, that they are kept in their strange, apparently unnatural, separation?

From the presence of the Lord. ‘Since the blessings in question are laid up there, He is, and must be, received thence’ (Hackett).


Verse 20

Acts 3:20. And he shall send Jesus Christ. See above, the note on the ‘times of refreshing,’ with which period this Second Advent of the Lord must be considered as contemporaneous.


Verse 21

Acts 3:21. Whom the heaven must receive. Some commentators (e g. Bengel, Olshausen, Stier) have adopted another rendering of the Greek words (which makes ὅν the subject) ‘who must receive heaven.’ considering that the usually-received translation involves a statement injurious to the nil-pervading majesty of Christ; but it is doubtful whether δίϰομαι is ever used in the sense of ‘to possess.’ The statement that heaven must receive Christ until the period of His Second Advent, is anything but derogatory to the majesty of the Redeemer who will reign from heaven; it is only inconsistent with the doctrine of the ubiquity of Christ’s body which Lutheran divines invented to strengthen their view of the corporeal presence in the Eucharist.

Until the times of restitution of all things. The word ἀ ποκαταστά σεως (restitution) occurs here only in the New Testament, but we often find the verb from which it is derived. ‘Elias truly shall first come and restore ( ἀ ποκαταστή σει) all things’ (Matthew 17:11; see, too, Acts 1:6). The lull signification of the word is renewal or restoration of primeval purity, order, happiness; setting right the present wild disorder and confusion: good will then finally triumph over evil, truth over falsehood. The ‘times of restitution’ signify the same epoch as the ‘times of refreshing’ (here all the best modern commentators agree). Gloag well sums up St. Peter’s thoughts here: ‘Accordingly, the idea of the apostle seems to be that so long as the unbelief of Israel continues, Christ will remain in heaven, but that their repentance and conversion will bring about the “times of refreshing” and of the “restoration of all things,” which will either immediately precede or coincide with the Second Advent.’

Which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began. These ‘times of restitution’—this glorious restoration to holiness and happiness, is the theme of all prophecy in every age in the Old Testament. It was the expectation of this ‘restitution,’ so deeply rooted in the hearts of all Jews, which was the principal cause of their summary rejection of a suffering Messiah. They read their glorious sacred books in the strong false light of their own jealous hopes and burning desires; and so they passed over the plain intimations of some of their noblest prophecies, which told them how the glory they longed after could only be reached through a long weary training of pain and sorrow, and the triumph of Messiah only through His suffering and death.


Verse 22-23

Acts 3:22-23. The quotation is from the LXX. Version (Deuteronomy 18:15; Deuteronomy 18:18-19). The words of the original are not exactly given, but the paraphrase of St. Peter faithfully reproduces the original sense. The Deuteronomy passage promises, at some future period, that God—seeing that the children of Israel were unable to endure the terrors of His voice or the glory of His presence—would send them another Mediator, through whom He would communicate to them His will, as He had done through Moses (see also Hebrews 12:18-21).

A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me. Raise up, not here ‘from the dead,’ but ‘will cause to appear’ ( ἀναστήσει, יָקִים, wird aufstehen lassen (De Wette).

Of your brethren. Another graceful and loving touch. This Messiah, who was to work such blessing to the world, was to be one of you, a Jew, like unto me. ‘The likeness of Christ to Moses is beautifully though silently traced by St. Stephen in his speech before the Sanhedrim,’ Acts 7 (Wordsworth). What prophet of all that long and honoured line, from the day of the death of Moses to the times of Malachi, answered in any way to the Deuteronomy promise, ‘like unto me’? Only to Jesus of Nazareth could the words apply. Like Moses was Jesus a Law giver, a Mediator between God and man, and the Founder of a new dispensation of religion.


Verses 22-24

Acts 3:22-24. These verses are explanatory of the general statement of Acts 3:21, ‘Which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets.’ They first speak of Moses and his famous words relating to Messiah, and then dwell on the testimony of the prophets collectively from Samuel downwards.


Verse 23

Acts 3:23. And it shall come to pass ( ἔσται δέ). These words do not occur in the passage quoted by St. Peter.

Every soul which will not hear that prophet. The apostle had been excusing the people who had crucified the Lord, seeing they had done it ignorantly. Now, in the words of the Pentateuch prophecy, he announces the fate of every soul which, through hardness of heart, self-will, hatred of goodness and purity, refuses to listen to the voice of Jesus the Messiah.

Shall he destroyed from among the people. The words of Deuteronomy, in the passage quoted from the LXX., are ἐγὼ ἐκδικήσω ἐξ αὐτοῦ, ‘I will require it of him’ (E. V.), or better translated, ‘I will exact vengeance from him.’ St. Peter here has substituted an expression which constantly occurs in the Pentateuch; and as Hackett remarks, the only difference is, while the original words of the passage in Deuteronomy affirm the purpose of God to exact vengeance, the well-known formula employed by the apostle defines the nature of the punishment reserved for that stubborn soul which refuses to hear the Lord Jesus. This punishment is exclusion from the kingdom of God, from life in its highest sense; and this exclusion from life carries with it the sentence of eternal death (see also De Wette and Meyer).


Verse 24

Acts 3:24. All the prophets from Samuel, and those that follow after. Of the prophets between Moses and the days of Samuel, we possess few recorded sayings. Samuel is mentioned as the founder of the so-called schools of the prophets. Gloag especially notes this verse as probably containing only an epitome of what St. Peter said on this subject; he perhaps proved by express quotation from the prophets, or at least from some of them, the assertions it contained. It is, however, an undisputed fact, that in all the prophetic writings preserved by the providence of God in the Old Testament, which are guarded now by the Jews with a jealous and devoted reverence, the grand theme is the coming of Messiah, and the sure hope of a joyful season of restoration and refreshing.

Have likewise foretold of these days. ‘These days’ may, as Alford and others maintain, refer to the days ‘now present,’ the Gospel times of restoration, as taking in the whole of the period known as ‘the last days;’ but the reference more clearly points to ‘the days immediately in the speaker’s mind, to which he had been directing his hearers attention, the Second Advent and the times of restitution of all things (with this view Meyer and De Wette agree).


Verse 25

Acts 3:25. Ye are the children of the prophets and of the covenant. ‘Children’ ( υἱοί). ‘Children’ in this sense is a very common expression in Hebrew thought. So in Matthew 8:12, we read of ‘the children of the kingdom;’ in Luke 16:8, ‘children of the world’ and ‘children of light.’ They were children of the prophets, for the promise of their prophets was in the first instance to them (chap. Acts 2:39). They were children of the covenant as the heirs of Abraham, with whom God made a covenant when He chose him and his descendants for a peculiar people, and restricted the promised seed of the woman to his family, saying, ‘In thy seed (that is, in the Messiah) shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.’ The last quotation is a free citation from the LXX. Genesis 22:18, where, instead of αἱ πατραι, the kindred, we find τὰ ἔθνη, the nations.


Verse 26

Acts 3:26. Unto you first God, etc. ‘First.’ St. Peter here clearly recognises definitely that upon others as well as Israel, the glory of the Lord has risen (Isaiah 60). Perhaps at this moment, full of the Holy Spirit, the fact of the glorious breadth of redemption flashed on the speaker’s mind with startling clearness; and then, when the moment of inspiration was over and gone, the old Jewish prejudices and jealousy mastered him again, for we see by the history of the ‘Acts,’ as the Lord’s purposes were gradually developed, how slowly and even reluctantly St. Peter gave up calling common or unclean what God had cleansed. The utter impossibility of the admission of the Gentile world into the Church, except through the medium of Judaism, was deeply rooted in the hearts of Peter and the apostles. They had all been brought up in the rigid school of Jewish Messianic hopes, which admitted, certainly, the great heathen world into Messiah’s kingdom, but only on the stern condition of all becoming Jews and submitting to the requirements of the Mosaic law. ‘The Gentiles are not handed over to Israel in this age, but they will be in the days of Messiah’ (Berish. Rab. f. 28, 2, quoted by Meyer; see also Olshausen on this place).

Having raised up his Son. Not from the dead, but, as in Acts 3:22, ‘having caused to appear.’ ‘His Son,’ τὸν παῖδα αὐτοῦ, ‘His Servant’ (see note on Acts 3:13).

To bless you ( εὐλογοῦντα), blessing. Thus fulfilling the great promise made to Abraham, ‘In thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.’ The act of blessing not done once and for all, but a continuing one on the part of the Lord Jesus from His throne in heaven.

In turning away every one of you from his iniquities. Or better rendered, ‘provided that each one turn from his iniquities,’ ut convortatse unusquisque (Vulg.). Commentators are divided on the question whether τῷ ἀποστρέφειν possess (a) a transitive or (b) an intransitive meaning here. For (a) it is urged that this verb is not found used intransitively in the New Testament. The transitive sense is explained by Alford thus: ‘He came blessing you, in turning away every one from your iniquities,’ thus conferring on you the best of blessings (so generally Calvin, Hammond, Wetstein, Bengel, Hackett, and apparently Gloag). For (b) a list of passages where the verb is used intransitively is given by Meyer—e.g., Xen. Hist. iii. 4, 12; Horn. Od. iii. 597; LXX. Genesis 18:33. If this intransitive sense be adopted, the meaning of the passage would be, ‘Which blessing is to be gained by every one of you turning from your iniquities’ (Theophilus, Œcumenius, Beza, Meyer, De Wette, and the Vulgate). The intransitive meaning (b) is decidedly to be preferred. Thus the blessing of the Lord Jesus is made to depend on the individual life, and the concluding words of St. Peter’s second sermon bring out prominently the grand truth, that the promised blessing will come not to the man who merely professes an orthodox belief, but to the man who, receiving Jesus, lives the life which Jesus loves.

 


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Bibliography Information
Schaff, Philip. "Commentary on Acts 3:4". "Schaff's Popular Commentary on the New Testament". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/scn/acts-3.html. 1879-90.

Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, November 21st, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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