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The Book of Acts Series

Acts, Chapter 3

John Baugh

August, 2009

 

Acts 3 

(New American Standard Bible)

Significant events from Chapter three:

 

Healing the Lame Beggar

1Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. 2And a man who had been lame from his mother's womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple.

3When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. 4But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, "Look at us!"

 

Devout Jews observed three times of prayer each day. These prayer times were morning, mid day and evening. The place where they preferred to pray was in the court yards of the Temple. The events recorded in Chapter three take place at one of the entrances to the Temple as Peter and John were entering to pray their mid day prayers. The ninth hour would be 3:00 pm, if the day started with the first hour at 6:00 am (Acts 3:1).

 

In his recounting of this event, Luke tells about the healing of a man who had been lame from birth. In order to make his way to the Temple each day to beg for alms for his support, he had to be carried (Acts 3: 2). He had been doing this for a long time, maybe from childhood. We will later learn (Chapter 4) that he is over 40 years old. Because of his condition he was able to support himself in no other way and so he begged.

 

The place where he begged was at the gate to the Temple that was called Beautiful. Begging for financial help (alms) at the gate (entrance) to the Temple was normal, relying on the generosity of those who were coming and going to pray and the consideration they would show as they were preparing to enter or leave God's house.

 

 

5And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6But Peter said, "I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene--walk!"

7And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. 8With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9And all the people saw him walking and praising God; 10and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

 

The man did not single out Peter and John. It was the ninth hour and many were coming into the Temple for prayer. He was begging from anyone who would hear him as they walked by.

 

It is interesting that Luke refers to this gate as the Beautiful Gate. The proper name for the gate to Solomon's Courtyard was Nicanor's Gate To enter the Temple through this gate, one would need to pass through the Courtyard of the Gentiles (where Luke would have been welcome), through a gate restricted to Jews into the Courtyard of the Women, where Jewish women were welcome, if ritually cleansed, and through the gate of Nicanor (the gate called Beautiful) into the Temple itself.

 

When Luke writes of the Gate called Beautiful, he is writing of a gate he would not be allowed to pass through, into a location (the Temple) he would not be allowed to enter, since he was not a Jewish man, but only a Gentile. 

 

Chances are that Peter and John had passed by the Beggar many times before, Perhaps, even Jesus had passed by this man without stopping to heal him, but God does things in His Time, and this was to be a day of miracles for the beggar, so Peter told the him to "Look at us". And then the Holy Spirit performed a miracle through His servant Peter.

 

This event shows definite things about the apostolic times:

 

-          Miracles did happen through the apostles. Luke reports them here and other reports show equal occurrences.

-          It is reasonable to ask why the miracles stopped. Perhaps there was a time when the miracles were necessary to demonstrate the continuing truth of the Christian message when the apostles first attempted to carry it to the world.

-          These were the men who had been with Jesus during his ministry. They had firsthand exposure to His miracle works since they were with Him.

-          At their level of faith of Christ the production of miracles was possible.

-          Perhaps the question is not "why did miracles stop?", but "Have they stopped?" Most Christians, who take the time to look, still observe things that would be considered miracles in Christ's time.

 

And so Peter, not possessing silver or gold, gave the beggar something much more valuable. In the name of Jesus Christ, he gave him the power to walk (Acts 3: 6). Luke shows Peter's reliance on Faith when he grasps the Beggar by the right hand and helps him stand.

 

Just as with the people who experienced the miracles performed by Jesus, the Beggar knows that his physical life has changed and so he enters the Temple with Paul and John, praising God. The miracle amazes those in the Temple that day. Perhaps they walked right past the Beggar when entering the Temple that day. They certainly took note of him when he suddenly had the ability to walk

 

 

Peter's Second Sermon

11While he was clinging to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement. 12But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, "Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?

 

The beggar is now clinging (in joy) to Peter, but Peter knows very well that it is not by his power that the man has been healed and he points this out to the crowd of onlookers in the Temple courtyard (Portico of Solomon). As so he begins a second sermon, to those present at this miracle, by assuring them that it was not his and John's own power or piety that has healed the beggar. He continues addressing the gathered crowd:

 

13"The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. 14"But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses.

 

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.

 

In his first sermon, Peter emphasizes the witness of David. In this sermon, he expands that to the witness of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and all the prophets from Samuel forward. He shares that all of the Old Testament proclaims Jesus is Lord.

 

Peter tells the crowd that the miracle they have witnessed was performed through faith and the power of the servant of God, Jesus Christ, who was the very person that the Jews had disowned and asked to be put to death, when even the ruling authorities (Pilate) had determined should be released. At the calling of the Jews, Jesus was put to death and then was raised from the dead by God, Himself. Peter tells the crowd that he and the apostles are the witness to this event.

 

The Peter assures the crowd that faith in Jesus Christ is the basis for the miracle they see before them (perfect health).

 

In his sermon, Peter tells:

 

1 - Of the horror of Jesus' crucifixion.

2 - Of the wonder of his resurrection

3 - Of the power that the resurrected Christ holds in those who have faith in him. It is not what we are or what we can do, but what Christ can do in us (Not me, but Christ in me).

 

 

17"And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. 18"But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. 19"Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.

 

22"Moses said, 'THE LORD GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says to you.

23'And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.' 24"And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. 25"It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, 'AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.'

26"For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways."

 

Peter presents a note of mercy and warning in his sermon. He reminds the Jews that their actions against Jesus were accomplished in ignorance but they now know what they did and can no longer claim ignorance. In this statement he tells them that they can no longer deny and reject Jesus Christ.

 

Knowledge of Christ places each of us in a position of responsibility. If we are ignorant, there may be some justification in our denials, but once we have knowledge of Him - who he was - what he did - and what he offers to all who call on His Holy name, we no longer can claim ignorance. At that point, the decision concerning how we deal with Jesus Christ becomes our responsibility.

 

For us, it is the same as with the Jews on this day at the Temple, with the miracle of the lame Beggar.

 

William Barclay - "New Daily Study Bible"

 

In his "New Daily Study Bible" message on these verses of Acts, William Barclay ("The Acts of the Apostles" - page 39) writes that "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." Barclay writes that "…the terrifying responsibility of knowledge sounds all through the new testament."

 

'If you were blind you would not have sin, but now that you say "we see", your sin 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)

 

'Anyone then who knows the right thing to do and fails to do it commits sin' (James 4: 17)

 

The obligation we have to knowledge is the obligation to repent from what we know is wrong and to turn away from it and make a new start. Repentance wipes away the sins of the past.

 

Peter then speaks of the coming of Christ. He insists that what has happened has been foretold in scripture, that if the Jews will look into scripture, they will find that Jesus (the chosen one of God) coming and being singled out as a sacrifice (that suffering was required) has been foretold in scripture. He reminds them of the special place that the nation of Israel holds with God, and that special privilege brings the responsibility of special duty.

 

Within forty years, the Temple where Peter preached his second sermon would be destroyed and demolished. The Church of Christ Jesus (the community of believers, who call Him Lord) still stands to this day.

 

 

 

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