Acts 3

A Further Appeal to the Nation of Israel
Acts 3
Acts 3. A little time had passed after the Day of Pentecost. At the feast Peter had preached to a great number of Hellenists visiting for the feast. Now many of the visitors had returned home, and the appeal in this chapter is more to the Jews of Jerusalem and Judea, who were quite familiar with the events of the crucifixion. In this chapter we have the miracle of healing the lame man, and the resulting opportunity for Peter to preach, yet again, an appeal to the nation of Israel. Earlier, the saints had favor with all the people. But the events of this chapter draw out the true disposition of the nation, especially shown by their leaders. In Peter’s preaching, we have a wonderful expression of the grace of God to Israel, extending a provisional offer of pardon to the guilty nation.

Healing the Lame Man (3:1-11)

1 And Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, which is the ninth hour; v.1 The Hour of Prayer. As we saw in Acts 2:46, the early church was yet in transition, and had not yet been called to separate from Judaism. Shortly after the Day of Pentecost, Peter and John went up to the temple “at the hour of prayer”. This was “the ninth hour” or our 3:00 PM. In Acts 2:15 it was the third hour, or 9:00 AM. Now it was the third hour, or late afternoon. In Acts 4:3 it was eventide (6:00 PM), and in Acts 5:19 it was night. This pictures how the opportunity for Israel to receive the gospel was winding down. This time also corresponded to the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice in Israel (1 Kings 18:29). It speaks of how the sacrifice of Christ as a burnt-offering is the basis for any and all blessing to God’s people, and the foundation for God’s grace in answering prayers (Psa. 141:2).
2 and a certain man who was lame from his mother’s womb was being carried, whom they placed every day at the gate of the temple called Beautiful, to ask alms of those who were going into the temple; 3 who, seeing Peter and John about to enter into the temple, asked to receive alms. vv.2-3 The Lame Man. There was a man at the gate of the temple in a sad condition. He was “lame from his mother’s womb” and had to be carried to the gate each day, where he would beg for alms, or charitable donations. This man’s condition was apparently hopeless. All he could ask for was a little money to continue his sorrowful existence. He asked Peter and John for money, and this became the opportunity for a wonderful exhibition of power and mercy! Apparently, the Beautiful gate of the temple was the very outmost gate of the temple, separating the court of the Gentiles from the temple courtyard. The gate was no doubt physically beautiful, but it could offer no relief to the lame man. The man pictures the nation of Israel, ruined by rebellion and sin from their very beginning. Their religious system, though attractive, was unable to heal them.
4 And Peter, looking stedfastly upon him with John, said, Look on us. 5 And he gave heed to them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, Silver and gold I have not; but what I have, this give I to thee: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazaraean rise up and walk. vv.4-6 What Peter Had. The lame man expected Peter and John to give him alms, but they had no money to give. Even if they had silver and gold, it could only temporarily ease the ancillary effects of his lameness. What Peter had was far greater! He healed the man “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth”. It is notable that all through the early chapters of Acts the Lord is preached to Israel as Jesus Christ of Nazareth. This brings in the Lord’s humble upbringing, being raised in the despised region of Galilee. Israel is going to recognize that they had stumbled over Messiah’s humble origin. It was by “His name”, but the man was healed, and there was none other name whereby by they might be saved.
7 And having taken hold of him by the right hand he raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones were made strong. 8 And leaping up he stood and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. vv.7-8 The Healing.  Peter took hold of him by the right hand, the hand of power. As soon as he lifted the man to his feet, those feet and ankle bones were made strong. It’s an amazing thing when you consider forty years of lameness, and how those bones would have deteriorated, and grown deformed. Luke, the beloved physician, notices the feet and ankle bones. It is not a gradual restoration, but an instant transformation. He went into the temple with Peter and John, “walking, and leaping, and praising God”.
9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God; 10 and they recognised 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. 11 And as he held Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico which is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering. vv.9-11 Effect on the People. The people of Jerusalem saw the healed man, and they knew exactly who he was. The result was “wonder and amazement”, and it brought the people near to listen to hear Peter. The people had seen a tremendous display of grace in a physical healing, and now they would be presented with God’s grace to the nation for a moral healing. Would they accept it?
Solomon’s porch

was a porch or colonnade attached to the Temple. It was originally constructed by King Solomon (1 Kings 6:2–3), and later rebuilt after a fashion by Herod. Solomon's porch comes up three times in the scripture, and each time it is connected with a notable rejection of God by Israel. The first mention is John 10:23, where Jesus had presented Himself as the Good Shepherd, and then was attacked by the Jews who tried to stone Him for claiming equality with God. The second mention is in Acts 3, where Peter and John had healed the lame man, and Peter held out the provisional offer of repentance to Israel, then the Jewish leaders cast Peter and John into the hold (Acts 4). The third mention is in Acts 5, where Israel had witnessed the unity of the believers and the signs of power among them, and the High Priest cast the Apostles into prison, where they were beaten. In all three cases, Israel was presented with grace, and rejected it with hostile energy.


A Second Appeal to the Nation (3:12-26)

12 And Peter, seeing it, answered the people, Men of Israel, why are ye astonished at this? or why do ye gaze on us as if we had by our own power or piety made him to walk? 13 The God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus, whom “ye” delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when “he” had judged that he should be let go. 14 But “ye” denied the holy and righteous one, and asked that a man that was a murderer should be granted to you; 15 but the originator of life ye slew, whom God raised from among the dead, whereof “we” are witnesses. 16 And, by faith in his name, his name has made this man strong whom ye behold and know; and the faith which is by him has given him this complete soundness in the presence of you all. vv.12-16 An Explanation and An Accusation. In explaining the healing of the lame man, Peter quickly curtailed the worshipful gaze of the crowds of people, who are always prone to give man the glory rather than God. He had been healed because of faith in the name of Jesus. Immediately, the person of Christ is brought before the people. It was the same God that Israel worshipped, the “God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers” that had done something new and wonderful, and which Israel ought to have recognized. God “glorified His servant Jesus”. Jesus is presented as Jehovah’s perfect Servant, as we have in the prophet Isaiah (Isa. 42-53). Israel had failed as Jehovah’s servant, and Jesus had come (Jehovah incarnate) to be that which Israel had failed to be. Having glorified God, God had now glorified Jesus (Acts 1; John 13:31-32). But the very One God had glorified, Israel had denied His proper rights (Luke 19:14). Peter does not tread lightly here, as if to soft-pedal the issue of rejecting the Messiah. This shows how fully Peter had been restored; he who himself had denied Jesus three times in the house of the High Priest now accuses the Jews of Jerusalem (likely many of whom where present in the hall of Caiaphas) of denying Jesus before Pilate. Pilate – an ungodly man – was intent on releasing Jesus, but the Jews insisted He be crucified. The “holy and righteous one” they denied, and requested instead Barabbas; “a man that was a murderer”. It was intended to prick their conscience. Further, Peter lays the death of Jesus at their feet. What they had done was truly awful, to kill the very “the originator of life”. 
In response to man’s rejection of His Son, God raised Him “from among the dead”. This is a distinct and marvelous thing. Resurrection from among the dead was a new development, and a special proof of God’s favor. Read more… The twelve were witnesses to the fact of Jesus’ resurrection. What God had done in contrast to what Israel had done with Jesus shows how serious of a position the Jews were in. They had killed God’s man, and God had responded with the greatest display of power ever seen. Now, His witnesses were on the streets among the people, and a lame man had been healed according to that same power because of faith in the name of Jesus!
17 And now, brethren, I know that ye did it in ignorance, as also your rulers; 18 but God has thus fulfilled what he had announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer. vv.17-18 Mercy to Israel. Israel was truly guilty of crucifying their Messiah, but the Spirit of Christ in Peter was speaking to them in grace, noting two points upon which the mercy of God could be shown to the people. The first point is their ignorance. In the law we find that a woman’s vow uttered in haste could be annulled by her father or husband if he heard it on the day she said it (Num. 30:5, 8, 12). The Lord Jesus did just that for Israel! The nation was guilty of the death of Christ, and vowed before Pilate that they would own the responsibility; “His blood be on us and on our children” (Matt. 27:25). In grace, after being lifted up on the cross, Christ “made intercession for the transgressors” (Isa. 53:12) when He cried “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do”.1 He sealed the sin of the crucifixion as a sin of ignorance (the ignorance of unbelief), and on that basis God could give an extension of grace, which Peter offered; “And now, brethren, I know that ye did it in ignorance. The second point is that, while Israel crucified their Messiah, God was sovereignly working the scenes to accomplish His will, fulfilling “what he had announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that his Christ should suffer”. For example, Isaiah 50, 52, and 53 speak of the sufferings of Christ. God’s sovereignty did not absolve Israel of their responsibility, but it did become the grounds of mercy to be offered.
19 Repent therefore and be converted, for the blotting out of your sins, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20 and he may send Jesus Christ, who was foreordained for you, 21 whom heaven indeed must receive till the times of the restoring of all things, of which God has spoken by the mouth of his holy prophets since time began. vv.19-21 Repentance & Restoration. In order for Israel to make good on this offer of pardon, they must “repent and be converted”. To repent is to have a turning about in the mind, and to be converted is to have a turning about in the life. All their sins, but especially the heinous sins of rejecting Christ and putting Him on the cross could be blotted out! What an opportunity! Not only so, but Israel would be restored and blessed under the reign of Christ. Think of it: Jesus Christ would come again, and Israel would have the One “who was foreordained” for them! The “times of refreshing” refers to the pouring fourth of blessing from heaven (the “presence of the Lord”) upon earth, characterized by streams of water flowing out to make the desert flourish (Isaiah 32:2; 35:6-7; 41:18-19; 43:19-20). This will take place after the appearing, when Jesus Christ is sent again. Until that time, the Lord Jesus is in heaven (v.21) until that appointed time, after which the Millennium will begin. The “times of restitution of all things” refers to the millennium, the “regeneration” (Matt. 19) and “the administration of the fulness of times” (Eph. 1:10-11) when God will gather up together all things in the heavens and on the earth, and place them under the headship of Christ. This millennium is the great goal of prophetic events, and is seen in the mouth of “all his holy prophets since time began”. Here Peter begins with Moses, then Samuel, etc. 2  
22 Moses indeed said, “A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up to you out of your brethren like me: him shall ye hear in everything whatsoever he shall say to you. 23 And it shall be that whatsoever soul shall not hear that prophet shall be destroyed from among the people.” [Deuteronomy 18:18-19] 24 And indeed all the prophets from Samuel and those in succession after him, as many as have spoken, have announced also these days. 25 “Ye” are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God appointed to our fathers, saying to Abraham, “And in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” [Genesis 22:18] 26 To you first God, having raised up his servant, has sent him, blessing you in turning each one of you from your wickedness. vv.22-26 The Witness of the Prophets & Israel’s Birthright. Beginning with Moses, Peter shows how Moses spoke of the coming of the Messiah particularly in the aspect of restoring Israel. The “prophet” that Jehovah would raise up is Christ Himself, and He would make the people hear the word that He spoke (Deut. 18). This will be fulfilled entirely at the second coming of Christ, although for those of faith it is fulfilled now. In addition to Moses, “Samuel and those in succession after him” pointed forward to the coming of Christ. Israel was living in special times! The children of Israel ought to have been the spiritual beneficiaries of the prophets, as they were “the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God appointed to our fathers”. The blessing of the whole world was in the purpose of God, but it would begin with Israel, according to the ancient promised to Abraham; “And in thy seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed”. In Galatians 3:16, Paul explains that that the “seed” (singular) refers to Christ! Christ Himself, of whom Isaac is but a type, is the depositary of the promises. The promise does not rest on Israel’s obedience, and therefore it is unconditional.  The nations will be blessed through Him, but Israel was the first of those nations being the descendants of Abraham. But the timing of that blessing would depend on whether they repented.
A genuine offer? Some have wondered if this was a genuine offer of pardon to Israel. God had already formed the church by sending the Holy Spirit down to the earth to indwell believers. How could the offer of repentance to Israel (consequent upon which there would be the ushering in of the millennium) be a genuine offer? This is where the foreknowledge and omniscience of God enter, in that God knew Israel would reject this provisional offer. It was a genuine offer, and therefore God kept the truth of the church hidden during the early chapters of Acts until the final offer was rejected. Almost immediately after the stoning of Stephen, Saul of Tarsus was converted, and the truth of the church began to be unfolded. We find that the church was not an afterthought, but in God’s purpose before the foundation of the world. It is a display of God’s marvelous wisdom to keep the mystery hidden until the right moment, in order that His ways of grace with Israel might be magnified. Israel and the Church therefore are distinct entities, and never blended together. Though the offer to Israel was rejected, the unconditional promises made to Abraham will yet be fulfilled. Meanwhile, the gospel continues to go forth to the Gentiles, and God is prolonging the time of the gathering together the co-heirs, the body and bride of Christ.
  1. Israel’s vow to keep the law was not instantly annulled however, and therefore Jesus had to bear the iniquity of it (Num. 30:15; Isa. 53:11).
  2. W. Kelly in his exposition of Romans 8 goes through all the prophets showing this; Isa. 11; 12; 25; 32; 35-51, 60-65; Jer. 31-33; Ezek. 36-48; Dan. 2:44, 45; 7:14, 27; 12; Hosea 1:11; 2; 3:5; Joel 3; Amos 9; Obadiah 17, 21; Jonah (typically); Micah 4; 5; 7; Nahum 1:15; Hab. 3; Zeph. 3; Haggai 2:6-9, 21-23; Zech. 2:4-13; 6; 8-14; Mal. 3; 4.