About Jesus   Steve Sweetman

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ch. 3:1-10    ch. 3:11-26

Peter Heals The Crippled Beggar  (ch. 3:1 - 10)

 

Chapter 3, verse 1 states.  "One day Peter and John went up to the temple at the time of prayer Ė at three in the afternoon".  It would be interesting to know how soon after the Day of Pentecost this event took place, but we donít know. 

 

One thing we do know is that Luke tells us that Peter and John "went up to the temple at the time of prayer".  This tells us a couple of things.  It tells us that these men still practiced their Jewish tradition.  The Jewish day began at six in the morning.  When the Holy Spirit was given on the Day of Pentecost, it was nine in the morning.  At nine in the morning would have been the first time of prayer.  The times of prayer were every three hours.  The Holy Spirit came to earth at the first time of prayer.  At three in the afternoon was another time of prayer, when Peter and John went up to the temple here in chapter three.  Going to the temple was not simply an after-thought for these men.  It was their religious practice while in Jerusalem at the temple.  

 

Concerning these times of prayer, Jesus was hung on the cross at nine in the morning, the first time of prayer.  Jesus died at three in the afternoon, the third time of prayer.  This helps confirm what I've said over and over again.  God does things at specific times for specific reasons.  I don't believe anything is random when it comes to the things He does.  Each thing He does has a specific time and is for a specific reason.    

 

Even though Peter and John were now Christian Jews as of Pentecost, they were still very much Jewish in their thinking.  Their salvation theology had not really been developed as they approached the temple that afternoon.  Theology would come later, and mostly through the apostle Paul.

 

Verse 2 tells us that as Peter and John were approaching the temple, at the gate called Beautiful.  A crippled man was asking for money.  This gate appears to be one of the more spectacular of gates entering the court yard of the temple.  It had the largest columns, and according to its name was very beautiful.  It's not entirely known exactly what gate is being talked about here.  The general consensus is that it was on the eastern side facing the Mount of Olives and separated the court of the Gentiles from the court of the women.   

 

Peter and John had just arrived at this gate at the same time the crippled man was carried and set down to beg, as was his custom.  This obviously was not the first time this man had been at this gate, and it was not the first time that Peter and John were at this gate, but for one reason or another, Peter took note of him. Maybe it was the prompting of the Holy Spirit, which would be new to Peter.

 

After asking Peter and John for money in verse 3, Peter and John look straight at the crippled man in verse 4.  In verse 6 Peter said, "Look at us.  Silver and gold I do not have, but what I have I give you.  In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk".  At this moment Peter reached out his right hand and helped the crippled man up.  Immediately the man's feet and ankles gained in strength.  All three men walked into the courtyard of the temple and the man began to jump and dance for joy, giving praise to God. 

 

Here is a thought for any "Prosperity Gospel" teacher who might be reading this.  Note that Peter and John had no money, yet I think they were very blessed in the Spirit.  Think this through a bit.  Peter was a fisherman on the Sea of Galilee.  He had been away from his job for seven plus weeks.  His money was probably gone.  He has just lost a month and a half worth of income.  He was honest when he said he had no money.     

 

Note that Peter specifically told the man whose name he was being healed by.  It was "Jesus Christ of Nazareth".  The crippled man would have surely known and heard of the events that had recently happened in Jerusalem concerning the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus.  Then beyond that, he would have seen or heard what had happened on the day of Pentecost.  Peter, along with all the early apostles made it very clear to those hearing the gospel what Jesus was being preached.

 

We should be just as clear today, but in our modern church I don't think we're so clear.  Many Christians are fuzzy in their thinking concerning the basic truths of Scripture, which as far as I'm concerned have been neglected of late.

 

In the rest of this section we note that all of those around who had seen this miracle were astonished.  They had known this man to be a beggar and a cripple, and now he was up jumping and dancing.  This was the first recorded miracle that the disciples performed in the "name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth", as Peter put it.

 

Peter and John were given authority by Jesus.  They represented Jesus on earth since Jesus was not on earth in physical form on earth to represent Himself.  They were at that gate in the place of Jesus since Jesus could not be there.  So in Jesusí place, Peter reached out and healed this man.  This is what "in the name of Jesus" really means.  "In the name of Jesus" is more than words or is more than a formula attached to a prayer.  It is acting in the place of Jesus here on earth because He has given us the responsibility and authority to do so.  This is why Peter didn't pray to ask Jesus if he should lay hands on this beggar for healing.  This is why Peter didn't pray, "Jesus heal this man".  Peter simply said, "Be healed".  You might ask, "Who healed the crippled man"?  It was Peter, but Peter, in Jesus' name, authority, and power.  

 

You would have thought that this miracle would have produced lots of good things in the Jewish community in Jerusalem , but it didnít.  You will see that it actually had the opposite effect on the Jewish leaders.  This miracle threatened the Jewish leaders, and when people get threatened, they get nasty.  Peter and John would now face the wrath of the Sanhedrin. 

 

  

Peter Speaks To The Onlookers (ch. 3:11 - 26)

 

Verse 11 tells us that Peter, John, and the once crippled man began to leave the temple.  A crowd gathered on "Solomonís Colonnade", or porch.  This huge porch was on the eastern wall of the temple with a roof held up by very large pillars.  There were also many steps going down to street level.

 

Verse 12 says, "When Peter saw thisÖ" he took the opportunity to preach the gospel.  Once again, it was Peter who took the lead in the verbal proclamation of the gospel.  It appears, as in Acts 2, that Peter was the spokesman.  Luke does not say that John spoke any words here.

 

In verses 12 and 13 Peter asks the question, "men of Israel, why does this surprise you?  Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?  The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus."  Peter is linking Jesus to the God of Israel, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  That's Yahweh.  This linking is what got Jesus in trouble with the Jewish leaders in the first place.  Now Peter and John are repeating the truth of the Deity of Christ, which will get them in trouble too. 

 

One might expect that Peter would view Jesus in such Jewish terms.  One might expect him to preach that Jesus relates the God and Father of the Lord Jesus Christ to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, since he had not yet fully understood that Gentiles could now be part of the family of God through faith in Jesus.  His understanding would be illuminated in Acts 10.  That being said, I believe what Peter is about to say here is inspired by the Holy Spirit.  So, when it comes to Replacement Theology, here in Acts 3, we still see that God is associated with Israel and the Jews.  He has not disowned them as Replacement Theology teaches.        

 

The words "has glorified His servant Jesus" in this verse link Jesus to God.  In John 17 Jesus uses the word "glorify" a lot in His prayer to God His Father.  In context, when Jesus speaks of being glorified, He is speaking of a very special union that He only has with the Father.  That is why I say what Peter and John are saying here concerns the Deity of Christ, and the Jewish leaders would have realized this.  

 

Further to this, Peter connects Jesus to the God of Israel, that is to say, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  He wants his listeners to know that Jesus was sent by their God.  He was not a foreign pagan God.  Thus, they should pay attention to what Jesus had to say.  Eventually it was this claim that got Peter and John in trouble.  They would have been better off if Jesus had not associated Himself with the God of Israel, but this was not the case and could never be the case.  Jesus can't deny who He is, and we cannot deny it either.  While on earth, Jesus was God in human flesh. 

 

Peter makes it clear that he and John had no power or special godliness that could cause such a miracle to happen.  It was all a result of Jesus, the one they "handed over to Pilate and disowned", even though Pilate was willing to release Jesus.

 

Peter is very bold in his words, something else that got him into trouble.  In verse 14 he told the crowd, "you disowned the Holy and Righteous One Ö you killed the author of life".  This is quite an accusation for Peter to make, yet how true it was.  Such boldness shows what the Holy Spirit can do in the life of the believer.  What Peter was doing here was standing up for truth no matter the cost, and for Peter, the cost was great.  We should be as Peter was.

 

Pointing out the fact that the Jews handed Jesus over to the Romans was something that Peter mentioned many times in the book of Acts.  It was a re-occurring point that he wanted the Jews to know, but as he said on the Day of Pentecost, Jesus' death was God's will.

 

We see in verse 15 that Peter does not leave Jesus dead in this his second sermon.  He says that God raised Him from the dead and that he and others are witnesses to this fact.  Again, Acts 1:8 is coming true in what Peter is saying here.  He is a witness to the resurrected Jesus.

 

The term "author of life" in verse 15 is interesting.  I think Peter understood Jesus as being the author of life because it is clear from John 1:1 through 4 and elsewhere that Jesus was part of the creation process.  In Genesis 1, every time it says, "and God said", speaks of Jesus Himself, the "logos of God", or, the "Word of God".  Jesus was that word spoken by God as seen in John 1:1.   

 

In verse 16 Peter says outright that the crippled man was made better because of Jesus and faith in Him.  Faith simply means to trust.  What Peter is saying is that he trusted Jesus to heal this man as he spoke the word of healing to him.  It is in the "name of Jesus" this man was healed, Peter says.  The authority that Jesus gave Peter to represent Him on earth and trust in Him made this man whole.  As I've said before, the phrase "in the name of Jesus" means that Peter represented Jesus to this crippled man, and as Jesus' representative, Peter could speak the word of healing to him. 

 

In verse 17 Peter softens his remarks by saying, "now brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance."  Peter had just told them that they "killed the author of life", but now he says that they did this in ignorance, that is to say, they really did not understand what they were doing. That being said, ignorance of the law is no excuse.  It's my opinion based on what I read in the Old Testament prophets that ignorance is no excuse.  God brought judgment on Israel and other nations as seen in the Old Testament who were clearly ignorant of His commands. 

 

When thinking that the Jews killed Jesus in ignorance, it makes me wonder if they would then have a legitimate excuse for their actions.  To make sure that they did not have a valid excuse, the apostles preach the gospel to the Jews who handed Jesus over to Rome.  The Jews had a chance to repent before the apostles would turn to the Gentiles.  Because Israel did not repent as a whole, judgment finally came on them when Rome devastated Jerusalem in 70 A. D.. 

 

In verse 18 Peter goes on to say that their killing of Jesus was actually a fulfilling of prophecy.  Many Old Testament prophets said that the Christ must suffer, and suffer He did at the hands of both the Jewish and Roman authorities.  The Jews of that day failed to see and understand the prophecies of their suffering Messiah.  They only saw the prophecies concerning their ruling and powerful Messiah.

 

We should understand that the Jews throughout the past, and even until now, are waiting for the King Messiah to come and rule Israel.  When Jesus came and died on the cross, that did not fulfill their understanding of prophecy.  When Jesus came into Jerusalem riding on a donkey during the last week of His earthly life, the Jews thought that this was their King.   Their king had finally come, but when they saw Him hanging on the cross their hopes were dashed to the ground.  

 

Even though these people killed Jesus in ignorance, Peter tells them in verse 19 "to repent and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out".  Once again, you see the importance of repentance.  Repentance is the first step in salvation.  One must take this first step before successfully taking the next, which in this case would be faith, or trust in Jesus.

 

Repentance is the act of turning from you life of sin.  It's more than changing your mind about your sins as many Evangelicals think.  One who repents walks away from a life of sin.  This doesn't mean sin will not bug you and haunt you, because it will.  Once you walk away from sin, the Christian life is all about being transformed into a new creation.

 

As stated here in verse 19, when one truly repents "his sins will be wiped out".  A personís sins will not be held against him on the Day of Judgement if true repentance and faith is found in him.  "Will be wiped out" are words of forgiveness.  Our sins are wiped out of God's records.  There's a Biblical principle here that states there is no forgiveness of sin without repentance.  Repentance must precede faith or there is no forgiveness.    

 

We need to note here that Peter is telling his audience that they need to repent from sins of ignorance, not just sins they knew they committed.  This tells us something about the justice of God and how He views sin.  Sins of ignorance are in the same boat as sins willingly committed.  Sin is sin, whether we know it is sin or not.   

 

Once one repents, his sins are blotted out of Godís books.  This is not the end of the matter.  Peter goes on to say, "that times of refreshing might come from the Lord".  What does this mean?  I interpret this to mean the refreshing of the Holy Spirit.  Some may not agree with me on this point but as Peter says in Acts 2:38, once one has repented and trusted Jesus, he receives the gift of the Holy Spirit.  The same sequence should be seen in this verse, that is, repent, believe, sins are forgiven, then receive the Holy Spirit, which in this verse is suggested by the words "time of refreshing".  Those who have received Godís Spirit could easily agree with Peter and say along with him that the Holy Spirit brings times of refreshing.

 

In verse 20 we see the words "so that He (God the Father) may send the Christ".  Our sins a forgiven; we are refreshed by the Spirit, so that Jesus will come to us. 

 

So this is the picture Peter paints here.  Repent Ė your sins will be wiped out Ė times of refreshing Ė Jesus will come to you. 

 

Verse 21 has stirred up some controversy over the years.  It says, "He (Jesus) must remain in Heaven until the time comes for God to restore everythingÖ"  Some say that this verse means the Kingdom of God will be restored to such a degree on earth, and that things will get so good that Jesus will have no other alternative than to return to earth.  To put it another way, the earth is in such good shape due to the perfection of God's people, God will say to Jesus, "it is time for you to return, they have restored the Kingdom and the earth is full of my glory".   Jesus thus returns to a restored church and planet.

 

This verse does not say any such thing.  Read it carefully and you will see that Jesus "must remain in Heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything".  It does not say "Jesus must remain in Heaven until all things are restored", as many interpret it to say.  Do you see the difference?  God restores all things at the return of Christ, and not before.  Peter says it pretty clearly.  I believe that part of this restoration process is the restoration of Israel to  world prominence which will take place at the return of Christ, and only then.  During the thousand year rule of Christ, and I believe also on the new earth, Israel will be the most important nation on earth as a direct result of the Abrahamic Covenant. 

 

Note the restoration spoken of here was prophesied long ago by the holy prophets.  If you read and understand the prophets, the most important part of restoration is the restoration of Israel to what she was always meant to be.  We're not talking about the restoration of the church in this verse as Replacement Theology teaches.  We're talking about the restoration of Israel at the end of this age.                

 

We need to view this part of Acts 3 in its context.  Peter is speaking to Jews, not Gentiles.  He has just spoke about how the Old Testament prophets predicted the restoration of all things.  If you do a careful study of the restoration prophecies, you will note that they all predict the restoration of Israel as I've noted above.  So, when Peter speaks of "sending the Christ, even Jesus" in verse 20, he is simply saying that once Jews repent and are refreshed by the Holy Spirit, Jesus will be sent to them, which I believe is at the end of this age after Israel is brought to her knees in repentance through the tribulation period

 

In verse 22 Peter quotes something that Moses says to Israel to back up his point.  The intent of what Moses said is that God would raise someone up from among Israel.  He will be like a prophet; like Moses.  You must listen to this man.  Obviously Peter is saying that Jesus is the man spoken of by Moses and the prophets. 

 

In verse 23 Peter says that if any Jewish person does not listen to Jesus, he will be cut off from Godís people.  Godís people thus become those of faith in Jesus, and not merely a people based on descending from Abraham.

 

This is what Paul says in Romans 9 through 11.  No longer does simply being a descendent of Abraham make you a true child of God.  You must listen to Jesus.  Thus, this would include anyone on earth, even Gentiles, something that Peter really didnít understand as he spoke these words.  All that being said, and I won't get into it here, God still has plans for His chosen people Israel.  Israel still has prophetic and historical significance in the mind of God.  Paul explains all of this in Romans 9 through 11as well.  He ends the discussion with the point that all Israel will be saved.  "All Israel " means the remnant that he also talks about.  The remnant is those Jews who are alive at the end of this age, who God Himself will pour out a spirit of repentance on so they will recognize their Messiah who is Jesus.  This has all been foretold by the Old Testament prophets.  Those Jews who actually survive the Great Tribulation will be saved and will go into the thousand year rule of Christ as the nation promised in the Abrahamic Covenant.

 

In verse 24 Peter says that all of the prophets have spoken of these very days in which he lived.  These are the days where forgiveness of sins can be found through repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  These are days where the Holy Spiritís indwelling presence can be known in the believer. 

 

We often think that the prophets spoke only about the end of this age, but that's not true.  The prophets spoke about the earthly life, dead, and resurrection of Jesus as well.  Psalm 22 and Isaiah 53 are just two well known passages speaking of Jesus, the suffering Saviour. 

 

In verse 25 Peter says, "You are heirs of the prophets and the covenant that God made with your fathers".  Those listening to Peter were primarily Jews.  It was the Jews that were heirs of the prophets and Abraham.  Peter was acknowledging the specialness of the Jewish race.  God took Abram out of the pagan Gentile world in order to create in his descendents a special nation that was meant to be priests of God to the nations of the world. 

 

Peter speaks of the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12:1 to 2 and confirmed in many other passages in the book of Genesis and beyond.  God promised Abraham that his descendents would be great and number as the sand of the sea.  God also told Abraham that one of his descendents would be very special and would bless the world.  You can refer to my web site concerning the Abrahamic Covenant where I have written extensively about it.  Peter was telling these Jews that Jesus was the one God spoke to Abraham about. Jesus was the one that would bring blessing to the world if the world would accept His blessing.   

 

In verse 26 Peter says that God raised Jesus up and sent Him to the Jews first to be a blessing to them.  Peter said that the Jews would be blessed first once they turned from their sins.  Simply put, sin interferes with the blessings of God.  There's no doubt about that.

 

John, in his gospel account, tells us that Jesus came to His own. (John 1:11)  Then beyond this, when the Spirit came in Acts 2, He came to the Jews only.  God, as Paul says many times, puts the Jew first and the Gentile second because of the very Abrahamic Covenant that we've just briefly touched on.  The sending of Jesus, and the sending of the Spirit, came first to the Jews, to bless them. This would soon change because Godís plan has always included blessing for all of mankind, all ethnic peoples.  This blessing began to be seen in Acts 8 when the gospel was first preached to Samaritans.  Samaritans were half Jews and half Gentiles, both by religion and by race.  So, it would only seem fitting for the gospel to be preached first to Samaritans before it was preached to Gentiles. Then, in Acts 10, Peter preached the first gospel message to Gentiles, who accepted it and received the Holy Spirit into their lives. 

 

The Biblical principle can be seen in this phrase; "to the Jew first and then to the Gentile".  See Romans 1:16 and 2:9 Ė 10. 

 

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