Acts 3 – A Lame Man Healed
A. The healing of the paralytic at the Gate Beautiful.
1. (1-3) The request of the paralyzed beggar.
Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. 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 from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.
a. Now Peter and John went up together: Peter and John were both commissioned by Jesus and recognized by the early Christians as apostles – special ambassadors of Jesus. Acts 2:43 told us, many signs and wonders were done through the apostles. Acts 3 tells us of a specific example, one of the many.
i. We can think of at least three reasons why Luke found it important to share the story of this miracle. First, to give an example of what he mentioned in Acts 2:43. Second, to give an excuse for telling us about another sermon of Peter. Third, to show why these earliest Christians were persecuted, because that is what this beautiful story leads to.
b. At the hour of prayer: Apparently Peter and John saw no problem in continuing their Jewish custom of prayer at certain hours of the day.
i. Morgan points out that Peter and John were not going to the temple at the hour of sacrifice, but at the hour of prayer that followed the afternoon sacrifice. They realized that the sacrificial system was fulfilled in the perfect sacrifice Jesus offered on the cross.
ii. Calvin saw a missionary intent in what Peter and John did: “Furthermore, if any man ask, whether the apostles went up into the temple that they might pray according to the rite of the law, I do not think that that is a thing so likely to be true, as they might have better opportunity to spread abroad the gospel.”
iii. The ninth hour: “Perhaps this time of day, even then, held special significance for them because it was the hour when Jesus cried from the cross, ‘It is finished’ (John 19:30).” (Hughes)
c. The gate of the temple which is called Beautiful: The Jewish historian Josephus described this gate on the temple mount; made of fine Corinthian brass, seventy-five feet high with huge double doors, so beautiful that it “greatly excelled those that were only covered over with silver and gold.” (Cited in Stott)
d. A certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried . . . asked for alms: The lame man simply wanted to be supported in the condition that he was in. God had something better in mind; Jesus wanted to completely change his condition.
i. Of course, the lame man felt he had no other option than to be supported in his condition; and it was certainly better for him to be supported than to starve to death.
ii. In addition, the man had good reason to believe that begging at the Beautiful gate could support him. There was (and is) a strong tradition of alms-giving (giving to the poor, especially beggars) in Judaism, and doing it as an act of righteousness.
2. (4-6) What Peter said to the lame man.
And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
a. Fixing his eyes on him: The man must have been happy and encouraged when Peter and John looked at him intently. Most people who want to ignore beggars are careful to not make eye contact with them. When they looked at the lame man so intently, he probably thought he had a big gift coming.
b. He gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them: The lame man returned the eye contact with Peter and John; perhaps he stretched out his hand or a cup to receive their generosity.
i. The lame man was correct in expecting to receive something from them, but he received much more than the monetary donation he would have been satisfied with!
ii. Many have yet to come to the place where they really expect something from God. This is faith, plain and simple – even if the man expected less than Jesus wanted to give.
iii. Better yet, we should expect the right things from God. We are often much too ready to settle for much less than God wants to give to us, and our low expectations often rob us.
c. Silver and gold I do not have: Peter didn’t have any money, but he did have authority from Jesus to heal the sick (what I do have I give to you). Peter knew what it was like to have God use him to heal others, because Jesus had trained him in this (Luke 9:1-6).
i. For some people, to say “silver and gold I do not have” is about the worst thing that can be said. They feel the church is in ruins if it must say “silver and gold I do not have.” But it is much worse if the church never has the spiritual power to say, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk”?
ii. There is a story – perhaps true – about a humble monk walking with a Roman Catholic cardinal at a time in the Middle Ages when the Roman Catholic church was at its zenith of power, prestige and wealth. The cardinal pointed to the opulent surroundings and said to the monk, “We no longer have to say, silver and gold I do not have.” The monk replied, “But neither can you say, In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.”
iii. When Peter and John gave him no money, we might have heard the lame man complain: “You don’t care about me. You won’t support me. Look at the mess I’m in.” But Peter and John wanted something greater than supporting the man in his condition. They wanted to transform his life by the power of the risen Jesus Christ.
iv. “It is not the Church’s business in this world to simply make the present condition more bearable; the task of the Church is to release here on earth the redemptive work of God in Christ.” (LaSor)
d. What I do have I give you: He gave the lame man power in the name of Jesus, but he could not give it unless he had it in his own life. Many people want to be able to say, “rise up and walk” without having received the power of Jesus to transform their own life.
i. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth: “Jesus was from Nazareth – he was a Nazarene, and this had been used to insult Christ during his life on earth. But now Peter waved it like a banner.” (Hughes)
3. (7-10) The healing of the lame man.
And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them; walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
a. And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up: It was one thing to say, “rise up and walk,” but it was a much greater thing to so boldly take the man’s hand and lift him to his feet. At this moment, Peter received the gift of faith described in 1 Corinthians 12:9 – a supernatural ability to trust God in a particular situation.
i. This wasn’t something Peter did on a whim or as a promotional event; he did it under the specific prompting of the Holy Spirit. God gave Peter the supernatural ability to trust Him for something completely out of the ordinary.
b. Immediately his feet and bones received strength: Strength did not come to the lame man until Peter said “rise up and walk,” and not until Peter took him by the right hand and lifted him up.
i. “Perhaps only medical men can fully appreciate the meaning of these words; they are peculiar, technical words of a medical man. The word translated feet is only used by Luke, and occurs nowhere else. It indicates his discrimination between different parts of the human heel. The phrase ankle-bones is again a medical phrase to be found nowhere else. The word ‘leaping up’ describes the coming suddenly into socket of something that was out of place, the articulation of a joint. This then is a very careful medical description of what happened in connection with this man.” (Morgan)
c. Entered the temple . . . walking, leaping, and praising God: As soon as he was healed, the formerly lame man did three good things. First, he attached himself to the apostles (entered the temple with them). Secondly, he immediately started to use what God had given him (walking, leaping). Finally, he began to praise and worship God (praising God).
d. Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms: This man was more than 40 years old (Acts 4:22), and had been crippled since birth. He was a familiar sight at this temple gate (Acts 3:10). Therefore, Jesus must have passed him by many times without healing him.
i. We can say that one Jesus didn’t heal his is because God’s timing is just as important as His will, and it was for the greater glory of God that Jesus heal this man from heaven through His apostles.
B. Peter preaches to the gathered crowd.
1. (11-12) Introduction: Why do you think we have done something great?
Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed. So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?”
a. Held on to Peter and John: Since he could walk, it wasn’t for support. Perhaps he held on to them out of gratitude, perhaps out of a combined sense of fear and surprise – since a crowd quickly gathered as the people ran together to them . . . greatly amazed.
b. When Peter saw it, he responded to the people: Peter wisely took advantage of the gathering crowd. Yet he knew that the phenomenon of the miraculous in itself brought no one to Jesus, it merely aroused interest. Though they were greatly amazed, they weren’t saved yet.
i. This might have been a good time for a testimony service, for the healed man certainly had a great experience. Yet Peter knew that what the crowd needed to hear – even more than the healed man’s experience – was the gospel of Jesus Christ, and a call to repent and believe. The healed man didn’t know enough yet to share that, so Peter did the talking.
ii. Peter knew that saving faith did not come by seeing or hearing about miracles, rather faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).
b. Why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? Peter denied that the healing was due to either his power orgodliness.
i. Many evangelists or preachers today who would never claim to heal in their own power still give the impression that healing happens because they are so spiritual, so close to God, or so godly. Peter knew that it was all of Jesus and nothing was of him.
c. Why do you marvel at this? Peter’s point was simple: Jesus healed all sorts of people when He walked this earth, so why should it seem strange that He continues to heal from heaven?
2. (13-15) Peter preaches Jesus.
“The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.
a. God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: By opening with this reference to God, Peter made it clear that he spoke to them about the God of Israel, the God represented in the Hebrew Scriptures.
b. His Servant Jesus: The greatness of Peter’s sermon is that it was all about Jesus. The focus on the sermon was not on Peter nor on anything he did, but all about Jesus.
i. The first thing Peter said about Jesus in this sermon drew attention to the idea that Jesus was the perfect Servant of the Lord, and spoken of in the Hebrew Scriptures (as in Isaiah 42 and 52:13-53:12). “The concept of the ‘servant of the Lord’ was well-known in Israel because of Isaiah 53 and other texts.” (Boice)
c. Whom you delivered up and denied: Peter boldly set the guilt of Jesus’ death squarely where it belonged. Pilate, the Roman governor, was determined to let Him go, but the Jewish mob insisted on the crucifixion of Jesus (John 18:29-19:16).
i. This does not mean that the Jewish people of that day alone were responsible for the death of Jesus. They Romans – Gentiles – were also responsible. The Romans would not have crucified Jesus without pressure from the Jewish leaders, and the Jews could not have crucified Jesus without Roman acceptance of it. God made certain that both Jew and Gentile shared in the guilt of Jesus’ death. In fact, it was not political intrigue or circumstances that put Jesus on the cross; it was our sin. If you want to know who put Jesus on the cross, look at me – or look in the mirror.
ii. Peter was not afraid to confront their sin, and he showed amazing boldness. “One commentator says that the miracle of the speech of Peter is a far more wonderful one than the miracle wrought in the healing of the man who lay at the Beautiful Gate.” (Morgan)
iii. Yet notice the contrast. In God’s estimation Jesus is the exalted Servant, promised centuries before in the Hebrew Scriptures. In man’s estimation Jesus was only worthy to be tortured and crucified.
d. Holy One: Here Peter exalted Jesus as God. The term Holy One is used more than 40 times in the Old Testament as a high and glorious title for Yahweh, the covenant God of Israel.
e. Asked for a murderer to be granted to you: One of the ironies of the crucifixion of Jesus is that while the crowd rejected Jesus, they embraced a criminal and a murderer named Barabbas (Luke 23:13-25, John 18:39-40). Peter boldly confronted this audience.
i. When Peter spoke of sin, he used the word you several times. In the sermon on the day of Pentecost it is recorded that he only used it once (Acts 2:23).
· You delivered up and denied
· You denied the Holy One and the Just
· [You] asked for a murderer to be granted to you
· [You] killed the Prince of Life
f. And killed the Prince of life: Of course, the Prince of life could not remain in the grave, and the apostles were united witnesses of the fact of His resurrection.
3. (16) How the man was healed.
And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
a. And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong: Peter said that it was in the name of Jesus that this man has been made whole. This means more than Peter said, “in Jesus name.” It means that Peter consciously did this in the authority and power of Jesus, not in the authority and power of Peter. Peter would not even take credit for the faith that was exercised in the healing (yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness).
i. “In Semitic thought, a name does not just identify or distinguish a person, it expresses the very nature of his being. Hence the power of the person is present and available in the name of the person.” (Longenecker)
b. Through faith in His name: When God’s people really do good in this world, they do it through faith in His name. The temptation is always to do things trusting in something or someone else.
· To trust in good intentions.
· To trust in talents and gifts.
· To trust in material resources.
· To trust in reputation and prior success.
· To trust in hard work or smart work.
i. Instead, we must always trust in and do good through faith in His name.
4. (17-18) Explaining the sufferings of Jesus.
Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled.”
a. Yet now, brethren: Though Peter spoke boldly to them about their sin, he didn’t hate them. He didn’t say, “Yet now, you filthy disgusting wretches.” He still connected to them as brethren. Notice that twice Peter had accused them of denying Jesus (3:13, 14) – something Peter had himself done.
b. I know that you did it in ignorance: Peter recognized they called for the execution of Jesus in ignorance of God’s eternal plan. This did not make them innocent, but it did carefully define the nature of their guilt. If we sin in ignorance, it is still sin; but it is different from sin done with full knowledge.
c. He has thus fulfilled: Despite all the evil they did to Jesus, it did not change or derail God’s plan. God can take the most horrible evil and use it for good. Joseph could say to his brothers, “you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20) The same principle was at work in the crucifixion of Jesus and is at work in our lives (Romans 8:28).
5. (19-21) Peter calls them to repentance.
“Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.”
a. Repent therefore: As he did in his first sermon (Acts 2:38), Peter called upon the crowd to repent. He told them to turn around in their thinking and actions.
i. Peter spoke boldly to them about their sin, but he didn’t just want to make them feel bad. That wasn’t the goal. The goal was to encourage them to repent and believe.
ii. Repentance does not describe being sorry, but describes the act of turning around. And as he used it in chapter two, here also Peter made repent a word of hope. He told them that they had done wrong; but that they could turn it around and become right with God.
b. And be converted: Peter knew the necessity of conversion, of God’s work of bringing new life to us. Being a Christian is not “turning over a new leaf,” it is being a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17).
i. Boice says that be converted is better translated, “turn to God” – or, even better, “flee to God.” Boice connects this with the imagery of the cities of refuge in the Old Testament, and thinks Peter told them to flee to Jesus as their place of refuge.
c. That your sins may be blotted out: This was the first benefit of repentance Peter presented to them. The one who repents and is converted is forgiven their sins, and the record itself is erased.
i. Blotted out: This has the idea of wiping ink off of a document. Ink in the ancient world had no acid content and didn’t “bite” into the paper. It could almost always be wiped off with a damp cloth. Peter said that God would wipe away our record of sin just like that.
d. So that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord: This was the second benefit of repenting and turning to God. In speaking of “times of refreshing,” Peter referred to the time when Jesus will return and rule the earth in righteousness. Peter went so far as to say, “that He may send Jesus Christ,” thus implying that if the Jewish people as a whole repented, God the Father would send Jesus to return in glory.
i. Peter made it clear that Jesus will remain in heaven until the times of restoration of all things, and since the repentance of Israel is one of the all things, there is some sense in which the return of Jesus in glory will not happen until Israel repents.
ii. Peter essentially offered Israel the opportunity to hasten the return of Jesus by embracing Him on a national level, something that must happen before Jesus will return (as in Matthew 23:37-39 and Romans 11:25-27).
iii. One may raise the hypothetical question, if the Jews of that day had received the gospel as a whole, would then Jesus had returned way back then? Hypothetically, this may have been the case, but there is no point in speculating about something that didn’t happen!
iv. In a lesser (though glorious) sense, God sends times of refreshing to His people today. We should pray for and believe God for seasons of revival and refreshing.
6. (22-26) Peter warns of the danger of rejecting Jesus.
“For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.”
a. For Moses truly said to the fathers: The Jewish people of Peter’s day were aware of this prophecy of Moses (recorded in Deuteronomy 18:15 and 18:18-19), but some thought that the Prophet would be someone different than the Messiah. Peter made it clear that they are one and the same.
b. Every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed: The destruction promised in the prophecy would become the legacy of this generation of Jews. Many of this generation (certainly not all) rejected Jesus twice over.
i. This is the third blessing that comes from repenting and turning to God – being spared this promised judgment.
c. And of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham: Hidden in the idea of the promise to Abraham (all the families of the earth shall be blessed) and in the words to you first is the undeveloped theme of the extension of the gospel to all the world – even to the Gentiles.
d. Sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities: This is the fourth blessing that comes from repenting and turning to God. Jesus blesses us from heaven, and does this by turning us away from our sins. God’s desire to bless us and to do good for us also includes His desire to turn us all away from our sins.
i. The lame man at the Beautiful Gate wanted something; but God wanted to give him something much greater. The same was generally true of the Jewish people Peter preached to. They expected the Messiah in a certain way, but God wanted to give them something much greater. They looked for a political and military Messiah, and not so much one to turn every one of you from your iniquities. It shows how important it is for us to expect the right things from God.
© 2012 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission