Acts: Chapter 3
Let’s begin by reading (Acts 3:1-10).
(Verse 1) “Peter and John”
While Peter and John seemed to have a bit of a rivalry, and jealousy towards each other in the Gospels (See: Jn 20:3-8, Jn 21:18-22, Jn 18:15-16, Mk 10:35-41), now, after Pentecost, we see them together going to the Temple to pray. In the next chapter, they will be arrested together, and in chapter 8, they will be sent to Samaria together (Acts 8:14-25).
(Verse 1) “the ninth hour” This would have been 3:00 p.m.
***Small Rabbit Trail! Most Jews believed (and still believe today) that they had a duty to pray 3 times a day. They based this primarily on two verses. The Book of Daniel shows Daniel praying 3 times a day (Dan 6:10), and David says in (Ps 55:17) that he prayed “evening, and morning, and at noon.” In addition, many Jews believed that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob established 3 separate times to pray: Abraham – morning (Gen 19:27), Isaac – afternoon (Gen 24:63), Jacob – night (Gen 28:11). Morning and evening prayers also coincided with when God said daily sacrifices were to be performed at the Tabernacle/Temple (Ex 29:36-42)(Num 28:3-8)(2 Chr 2:4).
The times for these prayers are generally 9:00 a.m. (the third hour), 12:00 p.m. [noon] (the sixth hour), and 3 p.m. (the ninth hour). We can see these prayer times still being followed in the New Testament. For example, we see the disciples praying at the “third hour” (Acts 2:15), Peter praying at the “sixth hour” (Acts 10:9), and John/Peter praying at the “ninth hour” here (Also see: Acts 10:30 – Cornelius).
INTERESTINGLY, these times for Jewish prayer also correlate to Jesus’ death on the cross. He was crucified at 9:00 a.m. (Mk 15:25), darkness fell over the land starting at 12:00 p.m. [noon] (Mt 27:45)(Mk 15:33)(Lk 23:44), and Jesus died at 3 p.m. (Mt 27:46)(Mk 15:33).
(Verse 2) “And 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”
We learn in (Acts 4:22) that this man, who was born crippled, was “over forty years old.”
This “gate of the Temple” was on its eastern side. It was considered to be the primary (and most used) entrance to the Temple. My “Liberty Bible Commentary” says this of the gate called Beautiful, “The gate was made of Corinthian bronze, which had such exquisite workmanship that it “far exceeded in value those gates plated with silver and set in gold” (Josephus, Jewish Wars, vs. 5:3).”
By setting the “lame man” at this gate to the Temple, two things were assured: 1. He would be seen by the most people going into the Temple, 2. Those going into and out of the Temple would feel a “need” to give alms (money) to someone in need, more than people in another place would.
(Verses 3-5) “Look on us.”
Seeing Peter and John, the “lame man” asked them for “alms” (money). Peter responded by saying, “Look on us.” He wanted to make sure that he had the mans full attention for what was about to happen next. The lame man complied, “(giving) them his attention, expecting to receive something from them” (NASB). However, what he was expecting to receive was not AT ALL in line with what he was about to receive!
(Verses 6-7) “Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. (7) And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.”
Peter had no “silver or gold,” to give to the “lame man,” however, he had something MUCH better. He had LEGS to give him!
It is crucial to remember, however, that although Peter played a part in the healing, the actual healing was accomplished by Jesus Christ, through the Holy Spirit.
***Note: Notice the similarity between Jesus “lifting up Peter’s mother-in-law by the hand, and she was healed” in (Mk 1:29-31), and Peter doing the same thing here with the “lame man.”
(Verses 8-9) “And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. (9) And all the people saw him walking and praising God.”
The healing of this man was at a time when the maximum number of people would have seen it. It would open the door for Peter to preach to them all, in his 2nd sermon in Acts.
What lesson do you see for Christians in these two verses?
Next, let’s read (Acts 3:11-16),
(Verse 11) “And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.”
“Solomon’s Porch” was a porch located on the east side of the Temple, which enclosed the “Court of the Gentiles.” It had rows of 27′ high columns, and a roof of cedar. Jesus also taught here (Jn 10:22-24), and it was a place where believers regularly met “with one accord” (Acts 5:12).
(Verse 12) “And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?”
Peter begins his 2nd sermon in Acts (the first being in Acts 2:14-39) by making sure that the “men of Israel” understood that the “lame man” was not healed by the “power or holiness” of either himself or John.
(Verse 13) “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers”
Peter then begins to explain who “was” responsible for the healing. He was the One who the “God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers” had sent. This description of God was familiar to the Jews Peter was speaking to (Ex 3:6,15-16)(1 Kin 18:36)(1 Chr 29:18)(Mt 22:32)(Mk 12:26)(Acts 7:32).
(Verse 13)(NASB) This God “glorified His Servant Jesus”
Jesus is referred to by the title “Servant Jesus” in only 4 places, here, verse 26, and (Acts 4:27,30). This was an Old Testament prophecy / description for the Messiah (Isa 42:1-4)(Isa 49:5-7)(Isa 52:13)(Isa 53:11)(Mt 12:18). Peter used this word to show that the “Servant” described in Isaiah is speaking of Jesus. Jesus performed the greatest act of “servanthood” that any person can do, that is to give up their life for another (Mk 10:44-45)(Phil 2:5-8)(Jn 15:13)(Mt 20:28).
(Verses 13-15) In these verses, Peter then tells his Jewish audience what “they” did to the One that God sent (the Messiah):
#1. They “delivered Him up.”
***Note: They brought Him to the Romans (Gentiles) for trial.
#2. They “denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.”
***Note: Pilate tried numerous times to set Jesus free because he knew Jesus was innocent: (Mt 27:18-19,23)(Mk 15:10,14)(Lk 23:4,13-15,22)(Jn 18:38)(Jn 19:4,6), but the Jews cried out for Him to be crucified (Mt 27:22-23)(Mk 15:11-14)(Lk 23:20-23)(Jn 19:6,15).
#3. They “desired a murderer to be granted (given) unto (them).”
***Note: When Pilate gave them a choice of who to set free, Jesus or Barabbas, they chose Barabbas, who was a murderer (Lk 23:18-19,25)(Mk 15:7).
***Note: Jesus is also called the “Holy One” in (Mk 1:24)(Lk 4:34)(Acts 2:27)(Ps 16:10). GOD is called the “Holy One” in (1 Jn 2:20)(Ezek 39:7)(Hab 1:12)(Ps 71:22). Why is this significant??
#4. They “killed the Prince of life.”
***Note: The Greek word used for “Prince” here is “archegos.” This Greek word is used in 3 other verses in the New Testament, all speaking of Jesus. In (Acts 5:31), it is translated as “Prince,” in (Heb 2:10), it is translated as “Captain,” and in (Heb 12:2), it is translated as “Author.” The “life” being spoken of here is “eternal life.” In other words, Jesus is the “Prince / Captain / Author” of eternal life.
***Note: (Satan is also called a “prince” in several verses in the New Testament [i.e. Mt 12:24, Jn 12:31], but that is a different Greek word.)
(Verse 15) “whom God hath raised from the dead”
Remember our little lesson from the previous chapter in (Acts 2:32). “Who raised Jesus from the dead?” God did: here and (Acts 2:32). Jesus did: (Jn 2:19). The Holy Spirit did: (Rom 8:11). The Father did: (Gal 1:1). How can this be? Because ALL are God, and ALL are one! This points to a triune God.
(Verse 15)(NASB) “a fact to which we are witnesses”
Jesus appeared to both Peter and John (as well as the other disciples) after His resurrection, making them “eye-witnesses” to it. Some verses showing this: (Peter alone: Lk 24:34 /1 Cor 15:5)(Peter, John, and the other disciples Jn 20:19-23 / Jn 20:26-29 / Jn 21:1-23).
(Verse 16) “And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.”
Here, Peter gives the reason for the lame man’s healing. There are several interpretations for this verse. Was the lame man healed simply by “faith in the name: Jesus” or was it by faith in Jesus’ power and authority? Also, whose faith healed him: Peter and John’s or the “lame man’s?”
Finally, let’s read (Acts 3:17-26).
(Verse 17) “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers also did”
Notice a change in tone here. While Peter has just finished harshly criticizing the Jews (“men of Israel”) for what they did to Jesus, now he softens the criticism by telling them that he knows they “acted in ignorance” (“just as [their] rulers [had]”).
Since Jesus did not meet the requirements of who they expected the Messiah to be, they almost certainly thought they were pleasing God by killing Jesus. However, their “actions” were wrong because they were “ignorant” in their understanding of the prophecies of Jesus, and what they meant (see: Acts 13:27-28, 1 Cor 2:8). Remember some of Jesus’ final words on the cross, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Lk 23:34).
(Verse 18)(NASB) “But the things which God previously announced by the mouths of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has fulfilled in this way.”
Prophecies showing that the Messiah would “suffer” are found in (Gen 3:15)(Ps Ch. 22)(Isa Ch. 53)(Zech 12:10). Jesus affirmed that He fulfilled these prophecies in (Lk 24:25-27). In doing what they did to the Messiah, the Jews (and Romans) fulfilled these prophecies. However, even though they fulfilled God’s plan with their actions, and “acted in ignorance,” they were still responsible for their sinful actions. Thus, we go to verse 19.
(Verse 19) “Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord.”
For the sin of what they did to the Messiah, the Jews must:
“Repent” = Repentance means to feel great sorrow and remorse for your sins. You are heartbroken that you have sinned against God, who loves you so much. It is a Godly sorrow that truly WANTS to turn from sin and forsake it. It means confessing your sin, changing your behavior, and going in a new direction, which will result in a change in the way you live.
“Be Converted” = The Greek word used here is “epistrepho,” which means “to turn about or towards.” (It is used 37 times in the New Testament.) In other words, “turning about or towards the Lord” (see: Acts 9:35, 14:15, 26:18,20).
“Sins will be blotted out” = (Barnes Commentary) “The expression “to blot out sins” occurs also in (Isa 43:25)(Ps 51:1)(Ps 51:9)(Jer 18:23)(Neh 4:5)(Isa 44:22). The expression “to blot out a name” is applied to expunging it from a “roll,” or “catalog,” or “list,” as of an army, etc. (Ex 32:32-33)(Deut 9:14)(Deut 25:19)(Deut 29:29), etc. The expression to “blot out sins” is taken from the practice of creditors charging their debtors, and when the debt is paid, cancelling it, or wholly removing the record.” (See: Col 2:14 in the NT.)
“Times of refreshing” = (Ellicott Commentary) ” “Times of refreshing” come as the sequel of a true conversion, and prepare the way for a more complete restoration.” The word “refreshing” comes from the Greek word “anapsuxis,” which Strong’s defines as “a recovery of breath i.e. (fig.) revival.” This Greek word is used nowhere else in the Bible (a form of it is used in 2 Tim 1:16).
(Verses 20-21) “And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you: (21) Whom… heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
“Jesus Christ…Whom heaven must receive.” (Barnes Commentary) “The common belief of the Jews was, that the Messiah would reign on the earth forever, (Jn 12:34). On this account they would object that Jesus could not be the Messiah, and hence, it became so important for the apostles to establish the fact that he had ascended to heaven.”
“Until the times of restitution of all things.” Jesus ascended into Heaven, and will remain there “UNTIL the times of restitution of all things.” The Greek word for “restitution” is “apokatastasis.” Strong’s says it means “to set in order.” Barnes says a form of this Greek word is used 8 times, and means “to restore a thing to its former situation,” as restoring a “strained” or “dislocated” limb to its former soundness” i.e. see: (Mt 12:13)(Mk 3:5)(Lk 6:10).
What will this “restitution” be? That is debated. I believe this is speaking of a future time when the earth will be restored to the way it was before the fall of Adam and Eve, without sin, and its effects upon the world.
(Verse 22) “For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.”
This is taken from (Deut 18:15). Nearly every Jew had long interpreted this “prophet… like unto me” to be speaking of the coming Messiah. As God had “raised up Moses,” He would also “raise up” the Messiah (who would be one of their “brethren” = Jesus was Jewish). In the Gospels, we see several places where the Jews were wondering if Jesus “was” indeed “the Prophet” (Jn 6:14)(Mt 21:11)(Jn 7:40). Here, Peter is quoting (Deut 18:15) to say that He was!
It is also interesting to note the parallels between Moses and Jesus. Can you think of some?
(Verse 23) “And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
This is taken from (Deut 18:19). In the Old Testament, God often used the warning that those who did not obey what He said would be “cut off” from the people (see: Ex 12:15,19, Lev 17:4,9, Lev 23:29). Rejecting the “Messiah” (“Prophet”) would result in the Jews being “cut off” (“destroyed”) from God’s covenant promises.
(Verse 24) “Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.”
While Samuel did not “directly” prophesy about Jesus (the “Messiah”), he was the one who anointed David to be king (1 Sam 16:1-13), and the first to speak of his coming kingdom (1 Sam 13:14)(1 Sam 15:28)(1 Sam 28:17). Following Samuel, Nathan the prophet received direct revelation from God that the “kingdom” of David that Samuel first spoke of would be established forever. This pointed to Christ (Acts 13:22-23). Other Old Testament prophets followed, who also spoke prophetically about the coming “Messiah.”
(Verse 25) “Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.”
In (Gen 12:1-3), God first made a covenant with Abraham called the “Abrahamic Covenant.” In short, through this “covenant,” God promised to bless Abraham and all of his descendants, and make a special people for Himself (the Jews), through which He would bless the whole world (also see: Gen 15:1-21, Gen 17:1-11). This “covenant” was ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ (the “Seed” of Abraham), through whom God “blessed the whole world” (Gal 3:15-19,29). Peter’s Jewish audience were “children of the prophets” who made the prophecies about the Messiah, and inheritors of the promise God made to Abraham.
(Verse 26)(NASB) “God raised up His Servant for you first, and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”
“His Servant” = Jesus (see: verse 13)
Jesus was a Jew, who came to earth “first” for the Jews (Mt 10:5-6)(Mt 15:24)(Lk 24:47)(Rom 1:16). The Jews ultimately rejected Jesus, therefore, the Gentiles were “grafted” in to the promise God made to Abraham (Gal 3:29)(Rom Ch. 11)(Eph 2:11-13)(Eph 3:6)(Acts 13:46).