Acts 3 Pulpit Commentary (2024)

Acts 3:1

Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

Verse 1. - Were going up for went up together, A.V. and T.R. Peter and John. The close friendship of these two apostles is remarkable. The origin of it appears to have been their partnership in the fishing-boats in which they pursued their trade as fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. For St. Luke tells us that the sons of Zebedee were "partners with Simon," and helped him to take the miraculous draught of fishes (Luke 5:10). We find the two sons of Zebedee associated with Peter in the inner circle of the Lord's apostles, at the Transfiguration, at the raising of Jairus's daughter, and at the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (see also Mark 13:3). But the yet closer friendship of Peter and John first appears in their going together to the palace of Caiaphas on the night of the betrayal (John 18:15), and then in the memorable visit to the holy sepulcher on the morning of the Resurrection (John 20:2-4), and yet again in John 21:7, 20, 21. It is in strict and natural sequence to these indications in the Gospel that, on opening the first chapters of the Acts, we find Peter and John constantly acting together in the very van of the Christian army (see Acts 3:1, 3, 11; Acts 4:13, 19; Acts 8:14, 25). The hour of prayer; called in Luke 1:10, "the hour of incense," that is, the hour of the evening sacrifice, when the people stood outside in prayer, while the priest within offered the sacrifice and burnt the incense (see Acts 2:46, note). Hence the comparison in Psalm 141:2, "Let my prayer be set before thee as incense, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice."

Acts 3:2

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;

Verse 2. - That was lame for lame, A.V.; door for gate, A.V. Door. If any distinction is intended between the θύρα here and the πύλη of ver. 10 (which is not certain, as θύρα is often used for a gate), we must understand θύρα of the double doors of the gate described by Josephus. Perhaps the lame man leant against one of the open doors. Which is called Beautiful. It is not certain what gate this was. In the 'Dictionary of the Bible' it is described as "the great eastern gate leading from the court of the women to the upper court," following apparently Josephus, 'De Bell. Jud.,' 5. 5:3. But it is impossible to reconcile Josephus's two accounts - that in the 'Bell. Jud.,' 5:05. and that in 'Ant. Jud.,' 15. 11. In the former he says distinctly that there were ten gates - four on the north, four on the south, and two on the east. In the latter he says there were three gates on the north, three on the south, and one on the east. In the former he says that fifteen steps led up from the women's enclosure to the great gate, exactly opposite the gate of the temple itself (ἄντικρυ τῆς τοῦ ναοῦ πυλῆς); in the latter he says very distinctly that women were allowed to enter through the great gate on the east. With such discrepancies in the description of the only eye-witness whose evidence has been preserved, it is impossible to speak with certainly. But it seems probable that there were two gates on the east - one the beautiful and costly gate of Corinthian brass, elaborately described by Josephus, through which the women did pass; the other the greater gate, just opposite to and above the beautiful gate ( ὑπὲρ τὴν Κορινθίαν), leading from the court of the women to the inner court; and that Josephus has confounded one with the other in his descriptions. Anyhow, the beautiful gate was probably on the east. Its correct name is said to be the gate of Nicanor. The temple. It must be remembered that the whole platform, including the porches, and the courts of the Gentiles and of the women, and the outer court and the court of the priests, was called τὸ ἱερόν; the actual house was called ὁ ναός; that part of the ἱερόν to which only Israelites were admitted, was called τὸ ἅγιον. Josephus also divides the precincts into the first, second, and third ἱερόν. The description of this lame man laid at the gate of the temple to ask alms is very similar to that in Luke 16:20 of Lazarus laid at the rich man's gate; only that the word for laid is in St. Luke ἐπέβλητο, and here is ἐτίθουν.

Acts 3:3

Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.

Verse 3. - To receive an alms for an alms, A.V. and T.R. The R.T. has ἐλεημοσύνην λαβεῖν.

Acts 3:4

And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.

Verse 4. - Fastening his eyes (ἀτενίσας εἰς αὐτόν). Comp. Luke 4:20, "The eyes of all were fastened upon him (ἤσαν ἀτένιζοντες);" and Acts 22:56, "looking steadfastly." St. Luke also uses the phrase in Acts 1:10; Acts 3:12; Acts 6:15; Acts 7:55; but it is found nowhere else in the New Testament except 2 Corinthians 3:7, 13.

Acts 3:5

And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.

Verse 5. - From for of, A.V.

Acts 3:6

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.

Verse 6. - But for then, A.V.; what I have that for such as I have, A.V.; walk for rise up and walk, A.V. and T.R. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. What Peter meant by "in the Name," he clearly explains in vers. 12 and 16, where he shows that they did not work the miracle by their own power or godliness, but that the lame man was healed by the Name of Jesus, in which he believed. So our Lord said of himself, "I am come in my Father's Name" (John 5:43; comp. John 10:25) Observe the full designation of our Lord as "Jesus Christ of Nazareth" (τοῦ Ναζωραίου), as in Acts 4:10, and comp. Matthew 11:23. The faith which was the condition of the healing (ἐπὶ τῇ πίστει, ver. 16) embraced the humiliation and cross of the Christ (as expressed in the word the Nazarene) as well as his power and glory.

And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ancle bones received strength.

Verse 7. - Raised for lifted, A.V.; his ankle-bones for ancle bones, A.V. St. Luke's medical knowledge discerns the cause of the lameness - a weakness in the anklebones.

Acts 3:8

And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

Verse 8. - And leaping up, he stood, and began to walk, for and he, leaping up, stood and walked, A.V.; he entered for entered, A.V. Into the temple (τὸ ἱερόν). He passed through the gate, and mounted the fifteen steps which led into the ἄγιον (see note to ver. 2).

Acts 3:9

And all the people saw him walking and praising God:

Acts 3:10

And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.

Verse 10. - Took knowledge of him for knew, A.V. Wonder and amazement (θάμβος); any very strong emotion of awe, or admiration, or astonishment. It occurs elsewhere only in Luke 4:36, where it describes the awe and amazement which came upon those who witnessed the casting out of the unclean spirit from the man in the synagogue at Capernaum. The verb θαμβέω occurs in Acts 9:6 in the T.R., and is rendered "astonished" in the A.V., but is omitted in the text of the R.V.; elsewhere only in Mark 1:27; Mark 10:24, 32. Ἕκθαμβος occurs once in ver. 11 of this chapter; and ἐκθαμβέομαι in Mark 9:15; Mark 14:33; Mark 16:5, 6; ἔκστασις, an ecstasy, mostly used of a state of transport, as Acts 10:10; Acts 11:5; Acts 22:17. But in the LXX. (Genesis 27:33), Mark 5:42; Mark 16:8; and Luke 5:26, it is used, as here, for a violent emotion of astonishment and amazement.

Acts 3:11

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.

Verse 11. - He for the lame man which was healed, A.V. and T.R. The words of the T.R. are thought to have crept into the text from the portions read in church beginning here, which made it necessary to supply them. Held; by the hand or otherwise; not have to in the spiritual sense. The porch that is called Solomon's. Josephus tells us that King Solomon built up with masonry only the eastern side of the temple enclosure, and that upon the artificial foundation thus formed one στοά, or covered colonnade, was built, the other sides of the temple in Solomon's time being naked and bare of buildings, but that in process of time, and by an enormous expenditure of treasure, the ground was filled up, leveled, and made firm by the masonry of huge walls all round, and then the circuit of buildings was completed. This eastern στοά, or colonnade, was called Solomon's porch (see John 10:23). Greatly wondering; ἔκθαμβοι, (see note on ver. 10).

Acts 3:12

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?

Verse 12. - At this man for at this, A.V.; fasten ye your eyes for look ye so earnestly, A.V.; godliness for holiness, A.V.; him for this man, A.V. The him at the end of the verse requires that the man should have been previously mentioned. The A.V. felt this, and so, having taken ἐπὶ τούτῳ as at this, they rendered αὐτόν by this man, as if Peter had supplied the want of the verbal mention by pointing to him. Fasten ye your eyes. (For the use of ἀτενίζειν, see note on ver. 4.)

Acts 3:13

The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.

Verse 13. - Servant for Son, A.V.; before the face for in the presence, A.V.; had for was, A.V.; release him for let him go, A.V. The God of Abraham, etc. The continuity of the New Testament with the Old Testament stands out remarkably in St. Peter's address. He speaks to the "men of Israel," and he connects the present miracle with all that God had (lone to their fathers in days gone by. He does not seem conscious of any break or transition, or of any change of posture or position. Only a new incident, long since promised by the prophets, has been added. "tie thrusts himself upon the fathers of old, lest he should appear to be introducing a new doctrine" (Chrysostom). God... hath glorified his Servant Jesus. Servant is manifestly right (so St. Chrysostom). It is the constant meaning of παῖς in the LXX.; son is always υἱός (see ver. 26; Acts 4:27, 30). In Matthew 12:18 the A.V. has "servant." (For the Old Testament usage, see Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 52:13; Isaiah 53:11). Delivered up; παρεδώκατε, different from the ἔκδοτον of Acts 2:23 (where see note). The word is applied to the action of Judas in delivering up Jesus into the hands of the chief priests (John 19:11), and to the action of Pilate in sending Jesus to execution (Luke 23:25; John 19:16). Here it is spoken of the whole action of the Jews in procuring the death of Jesus. Denied before the face of Pilate. The reference is exact to Luke 23:13-23. To release him. There is a verbal agreement with Luke 23:16, 17, 20.

But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;

Verse 14. - Holy and righteous One for Holy One and the Just, A.V. ; asked for for desired, A.V.

Acts 3:15

And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.

Verse 15. - Raised for bath raised, A.V. The Prince of life; a remarkable title here given to our Lord, to bring out the contrast between him whom they preferred and him whom they rejected. Barabbas was a murderer, one who took away human life for his own base ends; the other was the Prince and Author of life, who was come into the world, not to destroy men's lives, but to save them. This title, taken in connection with the preceding declaration, "God hath glorified his Servant Jesus," seems almost to be a reminiscence of our Savior's prayer," Father,... glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him" (John 17:1, 2). Jesus himself in very many places dwells upon his own great prerogative of giving life: "I am come that they might have life, and.., have it more abundantly" (John 10:10); "I am that Bread of life;" "I am the living Bread ... if any man cat of this bread, he shall live for ever;" "I give... my flesh for the life of the world;" "Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life;" "They that hear shall live;" "As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;" "The Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should... have eternal life;" "The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." The word ἀρχηγός applied to Christ is found also in Acts 5:31, and in Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 12:2, rendered the "Author or Captain of their salvation," "of our faith." Whereof we are witnesses (see Acts 2:22, note). The marginal rendering of whom is equally literal, and may be defended by reference to Acts 1:8; Acts 13:31; but the rendering whereof is in accordance with the more frequent phrases (Acts 5:32; Acts 10:39, etc.). The meaning is practically the same.

Acts 3:16

And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

Verse 16. - By faith in his Name hath this for his Name through faith in his Name, A.V.: the order of the words is changed from that of the A.V., to bring it into accordance with the order of the Greek, but with a great loss of force in English; behold for see, A.V.; through for by, A.V. Yea, the faith; rather, and the faith. The two propositions are not the same. The first affirms that it is the Name of Jesus which has given him strength, objectively; the second that the faith (subjective) which is through or by him hath given him perfect soundness. There is some obscurity in the exact meaning of ἡ πίστις ἡ δι αὐτοῦ. Some (see Alford, 1:1) compare 1 Peter 1:21, and make God the object of the faith of his witnesses, Peter and John. Others (Meyer) understand that the faith in the Name of Christ was wrought in Peter and John by or through Christ's ministry and resurrection. But it is much more consonant with other passages (Acts 14:9; Acts 16:31, etc.; Matthew 15:28, etc.) to understand the faith to be that of the man who was healed; and then the phrase, "which is through him," will denote naturally that it was through Jesus Christ that the man's faith brought him into contact, so to speak, with God who healed him. In the same spirit we read that the lame man "praised God" (vers. 8, 9) for the cure effected through the Name of Jesus Christ; and Peter says (ver. 15), "Whom God raised from the dead." The interpretation of the phrase ἡ δι αὐτοῦ depends upon whether we supply an active or a passive word. The faith which acts, or works, or moves through him is one way of understanding it; the faith which is wrought or produced through him is the other. The first is preferable. This perfect soundness; pointing to what they saw with their own eyes while the man was leaping and dancing before them (ὁλοκληρία, perfect soundness, used only here in the New Testament; it is a medical term).

Acts 3:17

And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.

Verse 17. - In for through, A.V. I wot that in ignorance, etc. Mark the inimitable skill and tenderness with which he who had just wounded by his sharp rebuke now binds up the wound. All sternness and uncompromising severity before, he is all gentleness and indulgence now. They were only "men of Israel" in ver. 12, now they are "brethren." He has an excuse for their grievous sin. They did it in ignorance (comp. Luke 23:33; 1 Timothy 1:13). Only let them see their error and repent of what they had done, and their forgiveness was sure.

Acts 3:18

But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.

Verse 18. - The things for those things, A.V.; foreshowed or before had showed, A.V.; the prophets for his prophets, A.V. and T.R.; his Christ for Christ, A.V. and T.R.; he thus fulfilled for he hath so fulfilled, A.V. He even excuses their ignorance by showing how the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God was brought about through it (comp. Gem 45:5, and see above, Acts 1:23).

Acts 3:19

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;

Verse 19. - Turn again for be converted, A.V., with no difference in sense; that so there may come seasons of refreshing for when the times of refreshing shall come, A.V. Turn again. The turning to God is the consequence of the change of mind (μετάνοια). That so there may come; rightly for the A.V. "when," etc., which the Greek cannot mean. What Peter conceives is that if Israel turns to God at once in the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ, then there will come at once those times of refreshing, those blessed days of righteousness, and peace, and rest, and universal joy, which are the characteristics of Christ's kingdom as foretold by the prophets. Those days are delayed by the unbelief of Israel. Seasons of refreshing. The A.V." times of refreshing" is manifestly right, though there is no article in the Greek. "Seasons of refreshing" seems very vague and vapid (see Alford, 1:1, who very appropriately and conclusively cites the phrase καιροὶ ἐθνών, "the times of the Gentiles"(Luke 21:24). Meyer also compares the παράκλησιν τοῦ Ἰσραήλ of Luke 2:25, and so in ver. 21, χρόνων ἀποκαταστάσεως is rendered "the times of restoration."

Acts 3:20

And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:

Verse 20. - And that he may send the Christ... even Jesus for and he shall send Jesus Christ, A.V.; who hath been appointed (προκεχειρισμένον, Acts 22:14; Acts 26:16) for you for (προκεκηρυγμένον) which before was preached unto you, A.V. and T.R. Who hath been appointed, etc. Jesus is already designated and appointed and made (Acts 2:36) both Lord and Christ, but his glorious presence with his Church is deferred for a time, during which he is in heaven (ver. 21). Tim R.V. is surely very infelicitous here, as if there were several Christs, one of whom was appointed for Israel.

Acts 3:21

Whom the 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.

Verse 21. - Restoration for restitution, A.V.; whereof for which, A.V.; spake for hath spoken, A.V.; his for all his, A.V. and T.R. Whom the heaven must receive. This is clearly right, not as some render it, who must occupy heaven. The aorist δέξασθαι seems to point to the moment when, at the Ascension, he was carried up into heaven (Luke 24:51). The restoration of all things (ἀποκαταστάσεως πάντων). This must be the same operation as our Lord speaks of in Matthew 17:11: "Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things (ἀποκαταστήσει πάντα) ;" and from the words of Malachi (Malachi 4:5, 6) it would seem to be a moral or spiritual restoration preparatory to the coming of the Lord. If so, the time of restoration is not exactly synchronous with the times of refreshing, but preparatory to them; preparatory, too, to that restoration of the kingdom to Israel of which the apostles spake to the Lord (Acts 1:6). Probably, however, St. Peter includes in his view the immediately following times of" the presence of the Lord," just as in St. Mark (Mark 1:1) the preparatory mission of John the Baptist is included in the phrase, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ." Whereof God spake. The antecedent to "whereof" is "the times" (ver. 24).

Acts 3:22

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.

Verse 22. - Moses indeed said for Moses truly said unto the fathers, A.V. and T.R.; the Lord God for the Lord your God, A.V. and T.R.; from among for of, A.V.; to him shall ye hearken for him shall ye hear, A V. ; speak for say, A.V. Moses indeed said. Peter now verifies his assertion about the prophets in the previous verse by quoting from Moses, and referring to Samuel and those that came after. A prophet, etc. The quotation is from Deuteronomy 18:15-18. That this was understood by the Jews to relate to some one great prophet who had not yet come, appears from the question "Art thou that prophet?" (John 1:21), and from the saying of the Jews after the miracle of the loaves and fishes, "This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world" (John 6:14; John 7:40). St. Peter here teaches that that prophet was none other than Christ himself, who was like unto Moses in the fullness of the revelation given unto him, in his being a Mediator between God and the people, in being the Author of a new law - the law of faith and love, in building a new tabernacle for God to inhabit, even the Church in which he will dwell for ever and ever (see Hebrews 1:1, 2).

Acts 3:23

And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.

Verse 23. - Shall be for come to pass, A.V.; shall not hearken to for will not hear, A.V.; utterly destroyed for destroyed, A.V. Utterly destroyed. The Greek ἐξολοθρεύω οξξυρσ frequently in the LXX. for the Hebrew phrase," cut off from his people" (Genesis 17:14); but in Deuteronomy 18:19, the phrase is quite different, "I will require it of him." St. Peter here gives the sense, not the ipsissima verba, and thereby marks the extreme gravity of the sin of unbelief (see John 3:18).

Acts 3:24

Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.

Verse 24. - Them that followed for those that follow, A.V.: they also told for have likewise foretold, A.V. From Samuel, etc. Samuel and οἱ καθεξῆς seems to denote what the Jews called "the former prophets" - the authors of the historical books. The whole phrase, therefore, comprehends "all the prophets" (of whom Samuel and οἱ καθεξῆς were the first), to whose testimony concerning himself our Lord appeals (Luke 24:27, 44).

Acts 3:25

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.

Verse 25. - Sons for children, A.V.; your for our, A.V. and T.R.; families for kindreds, A.V. Ye are the sons of the prophets, meaning that they inherited all the promises made by the prophets to their fathers. Just as in Acts 2:39 he said, "The promise is unto you and to your children" (comp. Romans 9:4; Romans 15:8). He thus enforces the solemn obligation of giving heed to what the prophets had said concerning Christ and his kingdom. In thy seed (see Galatians 3:16). This covenant, into which God entered with Abraham, with an oath (Genesis 22:16, 18), and which was a repetition and amplification of the covenant and promise already recorded in Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 15; Genesis 17:1-8, was made πρὸς τοὺς πατέρας, with a view to, in the direction of, the fathers, so as to include them and their children after them. It was now fulfilled to those whom St. Peter was addressing, as is set forth in the next verse.

Acts 3:26

Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.

Verse 26. - Servant for Son Jesus, A.V. and T.R.; your for his, A.V. Unto you first. In virtue of the covenant, the first offer of salvation was made to the Jews (see Acts 1:8; Acts 13:26, 46; Luke 24:47; Romans 2:10, etc.; comp. Matthew 15:24). His Servant (as in ver. 13). As regards the phrase, "having raised up," however natural it is at first sight to understand it of the raising from the dead, the tenses make it impossible to do so. Nor could it be said that God sent Jesus to bless them after his resurrection. We must, therefore, understand ἀναστήσας as to be equivalent to ἐξαγείρας, and to mean "having appointed," set up, raised up (as the English word is used, Luke 1:69; Romans 9:17). In this sense God raised up his Servant by the incarnation, birth, anointing, and mission to be the Savior. To bless you; to fulfill to you the blessing promised to Abraham's seed. In turning away, etc., deliverance from sin being the chief blessing which Christ bestows upon his people (so Acts 5:31, repentance is spoken of as Christ's great gift to Israel). So closed the second great apostolic sermon.

Acts 3 Pulpit Commentary (2024)
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