Peter and John Heal a Lame Man at the Temple, 1-10

3:1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time for prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon.
3:2 And a man lame from birth was being carried up, who was placed at the temple gate called “the Beautiful Gate” every day so he could beg for money from those going into the temple courts. 3:3 When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple courts, he asked them for money.
3:4 Peter looked directly at him (as did John) and said, “Look at us!” 3:5 So the lame man paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them. 3:6 But Peter said, “I have no silver or gold, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene, stand up and walk!” 3:7 Then Peter took hold of him by the right hand and raised him up, and at once the man’s feet and ankles were made strong.

The pope was showing Thomas Aquinas the riches of the Vatican and said proudly, “We no longer say, ‘Silver or gold I do not have.'” Aquinas replied, “And we no longer say, ‘In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk'”.

3:8 He jumped up, stood and began walking around, and he entered the temple courts with them, walking and leaping and praising God.
3:9 All the people saw him walking and praising God, 3:10 and they recognized him as the man who used to sit and ask for donations at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, and they were filled with astonishment and amazement at what had happened to him.

Peter Addresses the Crowd, 11-26

3:11 While the man was hanging on to Peter and John, all the people, completely astounded, ran together to them in the covered walkway called Solomon’s Portico.

Solomon’s Colonnade – This eastern colonnade supposedly remained from Solomon’s day. See Jn 10:23.

3:12 When Peter saw this, he declared to the people, “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this? Why do you stare at us as if we had made this man walk by our own power or piety?

“Why does this surprise you?” – Just as earlier, on the Day of Pentecost, Peter turns directs attention away from the miracles that has caused such a stir, and focusses immediately on Christ crucified and risen.

‘Jewish people often thought wonderworkers did miracles (e.g., causing rain) by their great piety, which required God to pay attention to them. Luke emphasizes that the apostles were normal people, filled with God’s Spirit.’ (Ac 14:15) (NT Background Commentary)

3:13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our forefathers, has glorified his servant Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate after he had decided to release him. 3:14 But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a man who was a murderer be released to you. 3:15 You killed the Originator of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this fact we are witnesses!

‘Here sound three of the dominant notes of early Christian preaching.

(i) The early preachers always stressed the basic fact that the crucifixion was the greatest crime in human history. Whenever they speak of it there is a kind of shocked horror in their voices. They tried to stab men’s minds with the realization of the sheer crime of the Cross. It is as if they said, “Look what sin can do.”

(ii) The early preachers always stressed the vindication of the resurrection. It Is simple”] fact that without the resurrection the Church would never have come into being. The resurrection was proof that he was indestructible and was Lord of life and of death. It was the final proof that behind him there was God and therefore a power which nothing could stop.

(iii) The early preachers always stressed the power of the Risen Lord. They never regarded themselves as the sources of power but only as channels of power. They were well aware of their limitations but were also well aware that there was no limitation to what the Risen Christ could do through them and with them. Therein lies the secret of the Christian life. So long as the Christian thinks only of what he can do and be, there can be nothing but failure and frustration and fear. But when he thinks of “not I, but Christ in me” there can be nothing but peace and power.’ (DSB)

“You disowned…and asked” – This miracle had not occurred during a feast, and so most of Peter’s audience would now be local. Cf. 2:23.

The Holy and Righteous one – This designation ‘doubtless recalls the Lucan passion narrative, with its particular stress on Jesus’ innocence (cf. Luke 23:4, 13-15, 22, 41, 47; cf. Acts 4:27, 30; 7:52; 22:14).’ (Harper’s Bible Commentary)

You killed the author of life – A ‘striking oxymoron’ (Stott).

Author – Gk ‘archegos‘. ‘The word translated as “prince”author” (Ac 3:15 5:31) and “leader” respectively in some modern versions) is also translated as “captain”pioneer” (Heb 2:10) or “author” in some modern versions) and “author”pioneer” (Heb 12:2) in modern versions). All of these references are to Jesus as the founder of a new life which his followers now share with him.’ (Holman)

We are witnesses of this – Concerning the witnesses to Christ’s resurrection, T.V. Moore says: ‘They saw him, heard him, touched him, and had every possible proof that the body before them was the same that died on the cross.  At least ten interviews with him are recorded, not by night only, but in the broad daylight, and before at least five hundred spectators.  In attestation of this testimony, they suffered every kind of loss, torture, and calumny, and even death itself.  They had no motive to maintain a falsehood from this life, where its only reward was suffering; and none from the life to come, where all liars have their part in the burning lake.  Hence their testimony was true, and the records of human history may be challenged to furnish a statement, thus attested, that was not true.  If there be, where is it?’ (The Last Days of Jesus, 24)

3:16 And on the basis of faith in Jesus’ name, his very name has made this man—whom you see and know—strong. The faith that is through Jesus has given him this complete health in the presence of you all.

As Stott remarks, the most striking feature of Peter’s sermon is its Christ-centredness.  He draws attention away from the healed man, and away from himself, and points to Jesus.

3:17 And now, brothers, I know you acted in ignorance, as your rulers did too.

‘Their ignorance did not place them beyond the need of repentance, but neither did their direct involvement in Jesus’ condemnation place them beyond redemption’s reach.’ (NBC)

Peter’s hopeful attitude towards his Jewish hearers is matched only by Paul’s, in Rom 9-11.

‘One may see Lk 23:34 for the words of the Saviour on the Cross. “They had sinned, but their sin was not of so deep a dye that it could not have been still more heinous” (Hackett). If they had known what they were doing, they would not knowingly have crucified the Messiah.’ (1 Cor 2:8) (RWP)

3:18 But the things God foretold long ago through all the prophets—that his Christ would suffer—he has fulfilled in this way.

Writing of the use of the OT in Acts, D.L. Bock says that ‘most texts are christological, emphasizing Jesus as the fulfillment of messianic and Davidic hope or highlighting how he fulfills promises associated with the end-time activity of God or a righteous sufferer. The Psalter, Isaiah, Joel and Amos are keys to this portrait (Ps 2:7 in Acts 13:33; Ps 16:10 in Acts 2:25-28,13:35; Ps 110:1 in Acts 2:34-35 Ps 118:22 in Acts 4:11; Ps 132:11 in Acts 2:30; Isa 53:7-8 in Acts 8:32-33; Isa 55:3 in Acts 13:34; Am 9:11-12 in Acts 15:15-17; Joe 2:28-32 in Acts 2:17-21). In addition Acts 3:18-21 highlights the general promises of Scripture in indicating that, as Israel’s Messiah, all that Jesus did not fulfill in his first coming, he will realize in his return.’ (DLNT)

3:19 Therefore repent and turn back so that your sins may be wiped out, 3:20 so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and so that he may send the Messiah appointed for you—that is, Jesus.

“Repent” – ‘Repentance is much more than “feeling sorry for your sins.” As the little Sunday School girl said, “It means feeling sorry enough to quit!” False sorrow for sin could be mere regret (“I’m sorry I got caught!”) or remorse (“I feel terrible!”); and such feelings have a tendency to pass away. Repentance is not the same as “doing penance,” as though we have to make a special sacrifice to God to prove that we are sincere. True repentance is admitting that what God says is true, and because it is true, to change our mind about our sins and about the Saviour.’ (Wiersbe)

So that your sins may be wiped out – Barclay explains the allusion: ‘Ancient writing was upon papyrus, and the ink used had no acid in it. It therefore did not bite into the papyrus as modern ink does; it simply lay upon the top of it. To erase the writing a man might take a wet sponge and simply wipe it away.’ Just so, when God forgives our sins, he wipes the slate clean.’

Times of refreshing – ‘refreshing’ = anapsyxis, ‘relaxation, relief’.  Some, such as Stott, understand these ‘times of refreshing’ (similar expressions may be found in Isa 35:1-2; Ezr 34:26; Ps 72:6; Ho 6:3) to refer to the spiritual refreshment which is the counterpart of forgiveness.  Others think that this refers to what we sometimes call ‘revival’.  However, most commentators think that the reference is to the last days, when God will restore everything (v21; cf 2 Pet 3:11-13).  Nevertheless, these interpretations are not mutually exclusive, given the ‘now/not yet’ teaching of the New Testament: personal spiritual refreshment can extend into the believing community as revival, which then becomes an anticipation of the final restoration of all things.  As Peterson says, ‘even now, those who turn to him for forgiveness may enjoy in advance some of the blessings associated with the coming era.’

Marshall (TNTC) says that ‘times’ (plural) may indicate the extended duration of the period in question.

Christ, who has been appointed for you – Appointed, that is, not at some point subsequent to his ascension, but already appointed at least as far back as his baptism.

3:21 This one heaven must receive until the time all things are restored, which God declared from times long ago through his holy prophets. 3:22 Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers. You must obey him in everything he tells you. 3:23 Every person who does not obey that prophet will be destroyed and thus removed from the people.’ 3:24 And all the prophets, from Samuel and those who followed him, have spoken about and announced these days.

He must remain in heaven – ‘not in retirement, but ruling the church and the world.’ (Williams)

Until the time – lit. ‘times’ – comes for God to restore everything – ‘There is an important sense in which the renewal of all things has already begun with the coming of Jesus—or even earlier, with the coming of John the Baptist (cf. Mal. 4:5f.; p 72 Matt. 11:14; 17:11). But the thought here is of the consummation of the kingdom on Jesus’ return.’ (William).  Cf. Acts 1:3.

The idea of ‘restoration’ suggests ‘that God, through Christ, will restore his fallen world to the purity and integrity of its initial creation’ (Barrett, quoted by Peterson).

Stott thinks that ‘apokatastasis is [to be understood as] the eschatological ‘restoration’, which Jesus called a ‘regeneration’ [Mt 19:28], when nature will be liberated from its bondage to pain and decay [Rom 8:19ff] and God will make a new heaven and earth [2 Pet 3:13; Rev 21:5]. This final perfection awaits the return of Christ.’

‘The last time is not called a time of destitution, but of restitution: and that of all things. The disorder of the creature, arising from the venom of man’s transgression; the fierceness of the creatures, one against another, shall vanish. The world shall be nothing but a universal smile; nature shall put on triumphant vestments.’ (Charnock)

The verse cannot be understood to teach universalism, for that is contradicted a little later, in Acts 3:23.

Restoration - of Israel?
For Derek White, of Christian Friends of Israel, ‘there are clear references in the New Testament to the restoration and future of Israel, as for example in Acts 3:17-21, where Peter explains that Jesus had re-entered heaven (Acts 1:10,11) until the time came for fulfilling all that had been foretold by the prophets – and this must include the promised restoration of Israel as a people to their land at the end times.’

We think, however, that White seriously misunderstands the trajectory from Old Testament to New Testament in this regard.  As Waltke and Yu conclude:-

  1. Old Testament promises and prophecies regarding the essentials of the gospel of Jesus of Nazareth—his life, death, and resurrection—necessarily find their literal fulfillment in the Land.
  2. the primitive church, lacking the teachings of Jesus and the illumination of the Spirit, mistakenly thought along with all of Jewry that the glories of Messiah Jesus would also be fulfilled literally in the land of Canaan.
  3. the Synoptic Gospels’ predictions that Jerusalem will be annihilated without any prospect of its being rebuilt make a literal interpretation of Old Testament prophecies regarding Messiah’s glory impossible.
  4. Christ inaugurated his everlasting reign at his resurrection from the dead and his ascension into heaven.
  5. apart from the primitive church, the rest of the New Testament represents the glorified Christ as ruling the nations through the Holy Spirit and the Spirit’s empowering the church in its witness to the gospel.
  6. the New Testament redefines prophecies regarding Messiah Jesus’ glory in the Land as having a present spiritual fulfillment and/or an eschatological fulfillment in the regeneration of all things. By spiritual fulfillment is meant they are fulfilled either in the person of Christ and/or in his reign from heavenly Jerusalem; in short, they are fulfilled “in Christ.”
  7. upon reflection the church realizes that the Old Testament promises regarding the Land typify Jesus Christ and the life of saints in Christ.

Nevertheless, it is important to note that Israel is by no means excluded from the promise of restoration:-

‘The restoration of ‘the kingdom’ to Israel is probably meant to be understood as part of this process (cf. Acts 1:6 note, where the cognate verb apokathistēmi is used). Acts 2 suggests that the restoration of Israel began with the preaching of the gospel and the pouring out of God’s Spirit. Acts 3 illustrates that restoration with the healing of the crippled man. However, this miracle also anticipates the ultimate renewal of the whole created order, ‘as he promised long ago through his holy prophets’ (e.g., Is. 35:1–10; 65:17–25; Ezk. 47:1–12; cf. Rom. 8:18–23; 2 Pet. 3:10–13; Rev. 21:1–7; 22:1–5). Furthermore, Peter goes on to teach that the blessing of all the peoples on earth through the messianic restoration of Israel must first take place (Acts 3:25–26; cf. 1:7–8).’ (Peterson)

As he promised long ago through his holy prophets – as Peter will proceed to explain.  ‘No group within Israel that considered itself to be God’s righteous remnant in the inauguration of the final eschatological days could expect to win a hearing among Jews without attempting to define its position vis-a-vis Israel’s great leaders of the past—particularly Abraham, Moses, and David. And that is precisely what Luke shows Peter doing as he concludes his call for repentance. Peter first refers to Moses, quoting his words in Dt 18:15, 18–19. This was a widely accepted messianic proof text of the time, one that emphasized the command to “listen to him” by the addition of the phrase “in everything he tells you.” Peter’s argument here, though not stated, is implicitly twofold: (1) true belief in Moses will lead to a belief in Jesus, and (2) belief in Jesus places one in true continuity with Moses.’ (Expositor’s Bible Commentary)

The text form of the Old Testament quotation (Deut 18:15-16,19) follows neither the LXX nor the MT but a Palestinian text tradition found in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Targum.

In its original context, this quotation from Deuteronomy applied most obviously to Moses’ successors, such as Joshua.  But Jewish thought developed an expectation, on the basis of this text, of a Moses-like figure in the last days.

3:25 You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your descendants all the nations of the earth will be blessed.’ 3:26 God raised up his servant and sent him first to you, to bless you by turning each one of you from your iniquities.”

“Turning…from your wicked ways” – ‘Too often today these salvation blessings are treated as cheap grace. Many claim to be Christians, yet their lives are not markedly different from the lives of others. Divorce rates do not vary greatly between professing Christians and the general population. Peter lets us know in clear terms that salvation is not simply a matter of wiping away sin (Acts 3:19) but also a matter of righteousness (Acts 3:26; 26:20).’ (IVP Commentary)