The disabled beggar is healed at the gate called Beautiful. Peter, along with John, preaches the second recorded sermon, which is a great overview of OT Scriptures and themes proving Jesus is the Messiah.
As I write in every introduction:
The translation and commentary are mine, just so I can learn. I also offer quick word studies. If you would like to see the verses in many translations, please go to biblegateway.com. And if you would like to study Greek with a short lexicon, go to biblehub.com, and click on the interlinear tab.
At the end of each section and this post, I offer observations for discipleship. How can we apply these truths to our lives?
Links are provided for further study.
A Lame Beggar Is Healed (Acts 3:1-10)
1 Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the time of prayer. 2 And there was a certain man, disabled from his mother’s womb, and he was carried along and placed each day at the temple gate called Beautiful, in order to beg for money from those going into the temple. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to go inside the temple, he asked to receive money. 4 Peter, with John, while he was gazing on him, said, “Look at us!” 5 He looked intently at them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I don’t own silver and gold, but what I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!” 7 When he seized him by the right hand, he lifted him up. Instantly his feet and ankles were strengthened, 8 and he leaped up, stood upright, and walked around. He entered into the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And everyone saw him walking and praising God 10 and recognized that this was the one sitting before the temple’s Beautiful Gate, begging. And they were filled with astonishment and amazement at what had come together for him.
John and Peter went to the temple to pray, at 3:00 p.m. (15:00). The three times of prayer in Judaism (on a sunrise timetable): (1) early in the morning with the sacrifice; (2) at the ninth hour with the evening (afternoon) sacrifice; (3) at sunset. Cornelius received his visitations at the ninth hour (10:3, 30). (Longenecker, comment on v. 1; Bock, comment on v. 1).
Did Peter and John offer animal go up there for the animal sacrifices? Polhill is right: “These had become prescribed times of prayer, and people would come to the temple at the sacrifice times to observe the ceremony and pray. The largest crowds would thus have been found at the times of sacrifice, as Peter and John must have been well aware; for they went to the temple for prayer and for witness” (comment on v. 1). In other words, they went there for prayer with other believers in Jesus and to witness to their unconverted fellow Jews. But some law-keeping followers of Jesus did offer some sacrifices to fulfill their vows of purification (21:26).
The temple—the Colonnade of Solomon (see v. 11, below)—is their meeting place. Call it a mega-church of sorts, because Acts 2:41 says 3000 people were being added to the new Messianic community, and then Acts 4:4 adds 5000 more.
The apostles were regular prayer warriors. Are you?
“prayer”: it is the very common noun proseuchē (pronounced pros-yew-khay) and is used 36 times. Its verb proseuchomai (pronounced pros-yew-khoh-my) appears 85 times, so they are the most common words for prayer or pray in the NT. They are combined with the preposition pros, which means, among other things, “towards,” and euchē, which means a prayer, vow and even a mere wish. But Christians took over the word and directed it towards the living God. I like to believe that they leaned in toward him and prayed their requests fully expecting an answer. It is not a mere wish or heartfelt payer to a pagan deity.
Prayer flows out of confidence before God that he will answer because we no longer have an uncondemned heart (1 John 3:19-24; Rom. 8:1); and we know him so intimately that we find out from him what is his will is and then we pray according to it (1 John 5:14-15); we pray with our Spirit-inspired languages and our native languages (1 Cor. 14:15-16). But that’s what all believers should do; however, too often theory outruns practice. Pray! For a theology on how to respond when God does not answer our prayers, as when James was executed by Herod, see Acts 12 and the very last application section.
Prayer can be (1) for oneself, like overcoming sins and vices in your heart and mind or receiving wisdom from above (James 3:17) and not being double-minded about receiving it (Jas. 1:5-8), but (2) it is also for the needs of the community. It was coming under attack, so prayers were offered. Praying for boldness to reach out and spread the word is wonderful. We should do it more often. (3) Further, prayer brings down the manifest presence of God. God is omnipresent (everywhere) of course, but his presence can make itself felt and experienced. God showed up and shook the place where they were gathered.
Prayer can be visualized like a pebble in a pond, and the ripples go outward. (1) It starts with oneself and one’s needs; (2) then it goes outward to one’s own family and (3) to the Christian community (your home church). (4) It goes out to evangelism and the needs of the world around the community, (5) and finally to parts around the globe. But this prayer here in Acts varies the order, which you may do, if you like. Prayer is ultimately and most deeply a conversation with God.
It is not as easy as tourist companies would have us believe that the exact location of the Gate called Beautiful (or Beautiful Gate) can be pinpointed. It seems that most go with the Nicanor Gate, named after a man who wanted to be thrown overboard with the gate while it was being transported from Alexandria, Egypt, to Jerusalem, during a perilous storm (Longenecker, comment on vv. 2-3). It was called Beautiful because it was more ornately decorated than the other gates, though the other gates were decorated with silver and gold (Bruce, comment on vv. 1-3).
The poor beggar was lame from his mother’s womb. This means “from birth,” which is how the majority of translation have it. He was over 40 years old (Acts 4:21). He was born with his disability. In John 9, a man who was born blind was healed. Some Jews of the time considered defects from birth a sign of a grave sin for which God was punishing him (presumably the parents’ sins) (John 9:1-2) (HT: Schnabel, comment on v. 2). However, it does not matter what disability one has and when one got it. Jesus through his disciples can heal it. Nothing is too hard for him.
“money”: it could be translated as the more religious-sounding “alms.” “[G]iving alms was a responsibility that Judaism took seriously as an expression of compassions that God honored (Luke 11:41; 12:33; Acts 3:3, 10; 9:36; 10:2, 4, 31; 24:17; also Matt. 6:2-4 (Bock, comment on v. 2).
No doubt the nameless man called out to Peter and John. “Hey! Alms! Alms for a poor cripple!” He was used to doing that. But the text is silent, so I won’t push this view.
“fixing his gaze on him”: it comes from the verb atenizō (pronounced ah-teh-nee-zoh) and also means “stare intently or intensely.” Luke is fond of it: Luke 4:20; 22:56; Acts 1:10; 3:4; 3:12; 6:15; 7:55; 10:4; 11:6; 13:9; 14:9; 23:1. Then Paul uses it twice: 2 Cor. 3:7, 13.
You know you have God’s authority when you can stare at satanic attacks right in the face (so to speak). If you cannot, please pray for the inner strength and grace and anointing to be able to stand and not to fold or flag during satanic and broken human attacks (I pray this almost every day). In the power of the Spirit (not soul power), stare down this kind of opposition. Don’t flinch. Peter and John, both fixed their gaze on him. They were perceiving his faith. Did he want to be healed? Jesus asked the paralyzed man at the pool of Bethesda, who had been afflicted with his condition for thirty-eight years, whether he wanted to be healed. “When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he had been in this condition for a long time, he asked him, ‘Do you want to get well?” (John 5:6). And he asked blind Bartimaeus—who was obviously blind, since he was sitting with other blind men—“What do you want me to do for you?” (Mark 10:51 // Luke 18:41). It must never be underestimated that some people are so used to their conditions that they do not want healing. Lots of disabled people sat by the pool of Bethesda, but Jesus healed only one. Lots of people were blind on that day, but Jesus healed only two (Matt. 20:29-34). But in the beggar’s case, Peter and John deeply perceived that he had the desire to get well. See more comments at v. 10. It is not clear whether he had faith, but it is clear Peter and John did.
The man returned the gaze. He was eager to get some money from the two men, whom he did not recognize as apostles. No doubt Peter and John and other apostles went through that gate every day, and no doubt this man sat there for many days? What was special about that day? It was his time. Faith and expectation converged. Maybe the expectation to get money leaked over for something deeper. Or maybe not. But something was different about that day.
Peter proclaims that he did not have the natural means to make him content—silver and gold. But he had something infinitely better: the name of Jesus. In general terms the name stands in for a person and his character and then his authority and power. Authority and power flows out of who he is.
The good news is that God through Jesus can distribute authority to Jesus’s followers (Matt. 10:1; Luke 10:19; John 1:12). We stand in for Jesus when we pray in his name, by his authority and power. Everything is based on who he is—Lord and Savior and Messiah.
Peter did not pray a flowery prayer: “O thou God, if it be thy will to heal him, then I pray that in your sovereignty thou wouldst do this wonderful thing, but only in thy timing in the far-off future.” No. Peter commanded him: “Walk around!”
“name”: this noun stands in for the person—a living, real person. You carry your father’s name. If he is dysfunctional, his name is a disadvantage. If he is functional and impacting society for the better, then his name is an advantage. In Jesus’s case, he has the highest status in the universe, under the Father (Col. 1:15-20). He is exalted above every principality and power (Matt. 28:18; Eph. 1:20-23; Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8). His character is perfection itself. His authority and power are absolute, under the Father. In his name you are seated in the heavenly places with Christ (Eph. 2:6; Col. 3:1). Now down here on earth you walk and live as an ambassador in his name, in his stead, for he is no longer living on earth, so you have to represent him down here. We are his ambassadors who stand in for his name (2 Cor. 5:20). The good news is that he did not leave you without power and authority. He gave you his. Now you represent him in his name—his person, power and authority. Therefore under his authority we have his full authority to preach the gospel and set people free from bondages and satanic spirits and heal them of diseases.
Peter then put action to his words and took him by the right hand and lifted him up. And that’s when the healing happened—instantly or immediately. His feet and ankles were strengthened, which is implied in the Greek that his bones were firmed up. It was a miracle of strengthening and straightening. God can do anything. Nothing is too hard for him.
Recall that Mark 11:22-24 says to speak to the mountain. Often we don’t have to pray to God, when he already gave his authority and power. We can authoritatively command. But sometimes we do have to pray first (Mark 11:24). After you pray to God command the person to be healed and the disease to go. Proving the disease to go is equivalent to Peter taking the man by the hand and lifting him up.
It is clear what Peter and John saw in him. He leaped up. He didn’t whine or listen to fear. “I don’t know if I ready! Maybe I shouldn’t do this!” No. He leaped up. Then he stood firm. And finally he walked around. All this must have happened in just a few seconds—leaping-standing—walking about. Athletes will walk out a slight sprain, testing it. It must have been like that 2000 years ago.
As all three walked into the temple, he couldn’t stop walking and leaping. He added praise to his healing. Once again, this shows that he was ready—that it was that day of all other previous days. A big smile blessed his countenance. His praising God was audible to everyone, so he was shouting his praises. Gratitude is contagious.
Schnabel counts seven verbs in verse 8 alone. After reviewing each one, he writes: “But his [the lame man’s] reaction certainly breaks ‘physionomic convention’—he does not walk slowly, deliberately, like a man, but jumps up and down, with rapid movements, showing no self-constraint. The healed man leaps n exuberant joy and grateful acknowledgement of God miraculous intervention” (comment on v. 8). Enthusiasm at God’s blessing is appropriate.
“recognized”: it is the verb epiginōskō (pronounced eh-pea-gee-noh-skoh, and the “g” is hard as in “get,” and it is used 44 times in the NT). In any case here are the basic meanings, depending on the context: (1) “know exactly, completely”; “know again, recognize”; “acknowledge’; (2) “know, learn, find out, ascertain; notice; perceive, learn of; understand, know, learn to know.” Here the first definition is best.
“astonished” is built into the Greek noun thambos (pronounced tham-bohs) but so is “frightened.” “Amazed” is found in the Greek word ekstasis (pronounced ek-stah-sees) where we get our word ecstasy. But here the modern meaning does not fit, but the Greek dictionary includes the definitions “bewilderment,” “astonishment,” and even “terror.” So once again, people who live in the natural world that does not include obvious miracles can be astonished and even fearful when they see one. It upsets the apple cart, their worldview, what they are used to. But miracles happen today—just like the one that just happened in our text.
“come together”: that is a more or less literal translation, but you can go with the commoner “happened.”
Renewalists who hang out in a miracle environment see them all the time.
Though the words “signs and wonders” are not used here, they did take place.
For a nearly complete list of miracles, signs and wonders in the New Testament and a theology of them, see the post:
I like Schnabel here:
However, believers in Jesus need to reckon more specifically, more typically, and more fervently that Jesus’ power can indeed heal seriously sick people. The power of Jesus continues to heal the sick as he continues to be the risen and exalted Messiah and Lord. At the same time, Jesus’ power did not prevent the Jewish leaders from throwing Peter and John into prison, which happened in the evening of the day on which the lame man was healed (4:3). (p. 199)
I add: in 3:16, faith was present. Something happened in the lame man, for him to be healed. Maybe it was a transference from Peter and John to him. We don’t know. But I suggest that we pray in faith for healing to happen and then leave the results up to God. Finally, as Schnabel wisely says, expect opposition from religious people.
Give the formerly lame man credit. Some people like their infirmity, particularly when they can make money, and begging outside the gate as people went into the temple must have been the prime spot. He may have made lots of money. Recall what Jesus asked the lame man at the Pool of Bethesda: “When Jesus saw him lying there and learned that he was there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be healthy?” (John 5:6). But he sincerely rejoiced at his healing. He did not secretly wish to remain lame and get charity and pity.
Keener: Healing of the lame “is an eschatological gift announcing the arrival of the messianic era (Luke 7:22, recalling Isa 35:5-6, to which Luke also alludes in the ‘leaping’ of Acts 3:8)” (p. 183).
One last point: he was forty years old and was lame from birth. He must have begged at the gate for many years. Jesus must have walked past him while the Lord was in Jerusalem. He did not heal him then. But now was the right time for the man’s healing.
GrowApp for Acts 3:1-10
A.. Have you ever received a miracle from God, like salvation or healing or another provision? Were you as grateful as the former lame beggar was?
Peter’s Proclamation of the Suffering Servant (Acts 3:11-21)
11 While he was clinging on to Peter and John, everyone in great amazement ran together towards them at Solomon’s Colonnade. 12 When he saw this, Peter responded to the people:
“Israelites! Why do you marvel at this, or why do you stare at us as if our own power or godliness has made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied before Pilate, although he had decided to let him go. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One and requested a murderer to be granted to you. 15 You killed the author of life, whom God raised from the dead, whose witnesses we are. 16 It is by faith in his name that this man whom you see and know has been strengthened—his name—and faith through him gave him this perfect wholeness that is right in front of you.
17 “And so now, brothers and sisters, I know that you acted in ignorance, as your rulers did also. 18 But God fulfilled in the manner which he had earlier announced through the mouth of all his prophets—that the Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent therefore and turn back so that your sins may be wiped out, 20 so that times of refreshing from the presence of the Lord may come and that he would send you the one he appointed, Christ Jesus, 21 whom heaven must welcome until the times of reestablishing everything that God had spoken through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.
Some scholars call this discourse Peter’s Colonnade Sermon, as distinct from the Pentecost Sermon. The Colonnade was a covered portico that ran the entire length of the eastern part of the outer temple court, along and just inside the eastern wall of the temple (see 5:12) (HT: Longenecker, comment on v. 11).
Peter introduces the suffering Servant Messiah (Is. 53). In Acts 2:22-40, his first open-air sermon, he unveiled the Messianic Son of David. The earliest Messianic Jews met at Solomon’s Colonnade. It was an open-air mega-church of sorts. It was not everyday that a visible miracle walked right into the temple or close by. The crowd came running towards the one-man commotion—the healed beggar. Healing—a sign and wonder—draws the crowd, so the people can hear about who did it and the kingdom of God.
Peter is about to divert the crowd’s attention from him and John and give all the credit for the healing to the name of Jesus. It is never our own power or spirituality that heals. Peterson notes that devout Jews may believe that God might heal, but God was acting through the piety of the apostles. Therefore, it was imperative that Jesus receive the glory. The lame man was healed in Jesus’s name, not their own power or piety (comment on v. 12).
“stare”: it comes from the verb atenizō (pronounced ah-teh-nee-zoh), and see v. 3 for more information.
This verse should comfort and reinforce those who have a healing ministry. It is not their power or godliness which heals. All they have to do is pray in Jesus’s name, with his authority, let God work, and leave the results up to him. The resurrected and exalted Jesus is the one who heals.
But first he must preach the wrong that they and their leaders did. This is equivalent to Luther and other Reformers who said to preach the law so that it convicts people, but then to be sure to tell them how to escape and have their souls soothed by the grace of God.
Mentioning Pilate is important for us today because a few Greek and Roman and Egyptian and pagan myths spoke of a god who died and was brought back to life, but they always (seemingly) take place in the murky past, without pinpointing anything along an historical timeline that can be checked out. But Jesus’s trial, crucifixion, resurrection, and exaltation to heaven can be pinpointed and checked out—certainly by Peter’s audience. Pilate places the recent events in a verifiable timeline, in history.
“It is possible, therefore, that Jesus’s glorification may have a double meaning in this context. Jesus was glorified by his heavenly exaltation and continues to be glorified by the exercise of his heavenly authority in a healing like this” (Peterson, comment on v. 13). In other words, the heavenly Jesus is directing things from his throne.
“murderer”: Here is the relevant passage in Luke 23:
18 But they yelled in unison, saying, “Away with that one! Release Barabbas to us! 19 (Because of an insurrection that happened in the city and a murder, he was the one thrown in prison.) 20 But Pilate again addressed them, wanting to release Jesus. 21 But they shouted, saying, “Crucify, crucify him!” 22 A third time he said to them, “But what wrong has he done? I have found no legal cause for death in regards to him. Therefore, after I punish him, I shall release him!” 23 But they pressed the matter with a loud voice, demanding that he be crucified, and their shouts prevailed. 24 Then Pilate decided that their demand be done. 25 He released the one who had been thrown in prison because of the insurrection and murder, whom they were demanding, but he handed Jesus over to their will. (Luke 23:18-25)
Deception can run so deeply that a large crowd of people would request a known murderer instead of the holy and righteous one, offered by God himself (Luke 23:18-19, 25). (HT: Peterson, comment on v. 14). But in v. 17, Peter will soften the accusation and tell the assembled crowd that they and their leaders acted in ignorance. So let’s call it deception based on ignorance—maybe willful ignorance or ignorant willfulness.
“holy and righteous”: the terms have a Messianic designation: Acts 22:14; 7:52; 1 John 2:1; Luke 23:47; Matt. 27:19, 24; and in the OT: 2 Sam. 23:3; Is. 32:1; 53:11; Zech. 9:9. In literature outside the Bible it is the same: 1 Enoch 38:2 and 46:3. God is called the holy one (Is. 1:4; 5:19, 24; 10:20; 12:6; 17:7; 29:19, 23:30:11, 12, 15; 31:1, and so on) and the righteous one (Ps. 129:4; Zeph. 3:5; Dan. 9:14 LXX). In Is. 53:11, the servant of the Lord will be the righteous one. All in all, this is high Christology.
“author”: it comes from the Greek noun archēgos (pronounced ar-khay-gaws): a “founder, hero, prince, chief, a first cause, originator.” “Author of life” is good translation, since it speaks of Jesus as originating all of life. It has echoes of creation in Gen. 1:1 and John 1:1-3, and echoes of the NT’s theology of eternal life, particularly John’s. God offers people who love and know him eternal life in the here and now, so it means both life now and life in the age to come. The kingdom breaking into the world system through the life and ministry of Jesus brings life right now. Once again this is high Christology.
Now let’s look at life more closely.
It is the noun zoē (pronounced zoh-ay, and girls are named after it, e.g. Zoey). BDAG is the authoritative NT Greek lexicon, and it says that it has two senses, depending on the context: a physical life (e.g. life and breath) and a transcendent life. By physical life the editors mean the period from birth to death, human activity, a way or manner of living, a period of usefulness, earning a living. By transcendent life the lexicographers mean these four elements: first, God himself is life and offers us everlasting life. Second, Christ is life, who received life from God, and now we can receive life from Christ. Third, it is new life of holiness and righteousness and grace. God’s life filling us through Christ changes our behavior. Fourth, zoē means life in the age to come, or eschatological life. So our new life now will continue into the next age, which God fully and finally ushers in when Christ returns. We will never experience mere existence or death, but we will be fully and eternally alive in God.
“raised from the dead”:
Here are the basics about resurrection in the New Testament:
1.. It was prophesied in the OT (Ps. 16:3-11; Is. 55:3; Jnh. 1:17)
2.. Jesus predicted it before his death (Mark 8:31; 9:9, 31; 10:33-34; John 2:19-22)
3.. It happened in history (Matt. 28:1-7; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8; John 20:1-8)
4.. Power used to resurrect Jesus:
a.. Power of God (Acts 2:24; Eph. 1:19-20; Col. 2:12)
b.. Christ’s own power (John 10:18)
c.. Jesus is the resurrection (John 11:25-26)
d.. Power of the Spirit (Rom. 8:11; 1 Pet. 3:18)
5.. Nature of Christ’s resurrection
a.. The same body that died was raised (Luke 24:39-40; John 20:27)
b.. It was a physical body
(1)) He ate (Luke 24:41-43; John 21:12-13; Acts 10:40-41)
(2)) He could be touched (John 20:27; 1 John 1:1)
(3)) It was a gloried body (1 Cor. 15:42-44; Phil. 3:21)
(4)) He passed through locked door (John 20:19, 26)
(5)) He ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9)
c.. It was also a transformed and glorified body
And for a review of the basics, please click on this post:
You can also go to youtube to find out the evidence for it. Look for Gary Habermas or Mike Licona.
For a table of his appearances and other facts, please see:
His ascension is related to the obedient and suffering Servant of the Lord in Is. 52:13-53:12, which begins with the words, “Behold, my servant … shall be exalted and lifted up and shall be very high.” Is. 42:1 says “Behold, my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights.” (HT: Bruce, comment on v. 13). The Father spoke these words to Jesus at his baptism (Luke 3:22) and on the Mount of Transfiguration (Luke 9:35). In Luke 24:45-47, Jesus gave the apostles a long Bible study about himself, the Messiah. Peter learned his lessons when he had heard about Jesus’s baptism and was there on the Mount and from Jesus’s Bible study.
“To this we are witnesses”: Apologetics means “defense.” Peter is explaining and defending the truth that Jesus is the Author of life and the suffering Servant by appealing to the Messiah’s resurrection. It is the best evidence for the Lordship of Jesus in our lives today. Learn about his resurrection so you can explain it intelligently. Then proclaim his Lordship to your circle of friends.
The Greek is difficult to translate because Luke repeats “name,” as if for emphasis, in a difficult way. I decided to use a long dash to highlight his emphasis. The NIV smooths it out thus: “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’s name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.” (You can go to biblegateway to see other translations.)
But one thing is certain: Luke likes the name of Jesus and ordinary names, to indicate he has done his research. Luke-Acts uses the word name far more often than any other book or section of writings, like the epistles. “Faithful use of Jesus’s name, i.e. as his authorized agents (e.g. 16:18; cf. Luke 9:48; Mark 9:37; Matt. 18:5; James 5:10) differs from magical manipulation (Acts 19:13-15; cf. 8:9-11; 13:8-11) or even the typical rituals of ancient pagan religion. Essentially Jesus continues to act through those who bear his name (Acts 1:1; 9:34); thus the credit belongs to him, not to his agents (3:12-16)” (Keener, p. 184). See v. 6 for a closer look on the name.
“faith”: it needs to be present when healing takes place.
The noun is pistis (pronounced peace-teace or piss-tiss), and it is used 243 times. Its basic meaning is the “belief, trust, confidence,” and it can also mean “faithfulness” and “trustworthy” (Mounce p. 232). It is directional, and the best direction is faith in God (Mark 11:22; 1 Thess. 1:8; 1 Pet. 1:21; Heb. 6:1) and faith in Jesus (Acts 3:16; 20:21; 24:24; Gal. 3:26; Eph. 1:15; Col. 1:4; 1 Tim. 3:13). Believing (verb) and faith (noun) is very important to God. It is the language of heaven. We live on earth and by faith see the invisible world where God is. We must believe he exists; then we must exercise our faith to believe he loves us and intends to save us. We must have saving faith by trusting in Jesus and his finished work on the cross.
Forsaking All, I Trust Him
Let’s discuss the noun, faith, more deeply. These comments apply to the verb, as well: pisteuō (pronounced pea-stew-oh). It is the language of the kingdom of God. It is how God expects us to relate to him. It is the opposite of doubt, which is manifested in whining and complaining and fear. Instead, faith is, first, a gift that God has distributed to everyone (Rom. 12:3). Second, it is directional (Rom. 10:9-11; Acts 20:21). We cannot rightly have faith in faith. It must be faith in God through Christ. Third, faith in Christ is different from faith in one’s ability to follow God on one’s own. It is different from keeping hundreds of religious laws and rules. This is one of Luke’s main themes in Acts, culminating in the Jerusalem Council (Acts 15) and Paul’s ministry for the rest of Acts. Faith in Jesus over faith in law keeping. Fourth, there is faith as a set of beliefs and doctrines, which are built on Scripture (Acts 6:7). Fifth, there is also a surge of faith that is poured out and transmitted through the Spirit when people need it most (1 Cor. 12:9). It is one of the nine charismata or manifestations of grace (1 Cor 12:7-11). Sixth, one can build faith and starve doubt by feasting on Scripture and the words about Christ (Rom. 10:17).
“through it” (name) could be translated as “faith through him” (Jesus). Either way, name stands in for a person’s character and being. The power and authority of the name of Jesus is given to us too (see v. 6, above, for a fuller explanation).
“perfect wholeness” is a wonderful Greek noun that is used only once in the NT: holoklēria (the adjective holoklēros is used only twice: 1 Thess. 5:13 and Jas. 1:4) (pronounced haw-law-klay-ross). And it means wholeness, completeness and soundness. The lame man was thoroughly healed.
Peter lets the people off the hook a little by saying they acted in ignorance. Recall what Jesus said from the cross: “Forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” though he spoke about the Roman executioners. Peter again learned this lesson, when he heard about Jesus’s pronouncement of forgiveness. The crucifixion did not catch God by surprise, as if man had ultimate and the final control over Christ’s life and death. The prophets of old had predicted it.
“Brothers and sisters”: the masculine noun adelphoi (pronounced as it looks) embraces both men and women in this context, just as our word mankind includes women.
“all the prophets” is like saying—the entire thrust and sweep of the prophetic message. It does not say that every verse is directly about the Messiah.
“I know that you acted in ignorance”: Peter references the words of Christ on the cross. “Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Peter must have heard of Christ’s words on the cross from the stories which the very first Messianic Jews recounted—fireside chats and household and public storytelling. “Do you remember when …?” “He once did such and such!”
“in the manner”: it was crucifixion which the rulers had carried out and which God had preordained, to remove the curse of disobeying the law (Gal. 3:13).
Polhill is right to point out four mitigating factors in Peter declaring his fellow-Jews responsible for the death of the Messiah:
In these passages that deal with the Jewish responsibility for Jesus’ death, it should be borne in mind that there are four mitigating emphases. One is this emphasis on ignorance. A second is that Acts nowhere contains a blanket condemnation of the Jews: only the Jerusalem Jews are given responsibility in Jesus’ death. In Paul’s speeches to the Jews of the dispersion, he never charged them with any guilt in Jesus’ crucifixion but made clear that only the Jerusalemites were responsible (cf. Acts 13:27–28; cf. Luke 13:33–34). Third, the Gentiles are shown to have shared in the culpability (“lawless men,” 2:23; Pilate, 3:13). Finally, the suffering of the Messiah was bound up with God’s own divine purposes (v. 18): God foretold it, the prophets had spoken it, and the death of Christ fulfilled it. The mystery of the divine sovereignty worked through the tragedy born of human freedom to bring about God’s eternal purposes for the salvation of humanity (cf. 2:23f.). God took the cross, the quintessence of human sin, and turned it into the triumph of the resurrection. (comment on vv. 17-18)
Here Peter tells them of the path back to God and away from their misguided, ignorant and unrighteous decision to send Jesus to the cross. Everyone’s sins can be wiped out, blotted out, obliterated, removed and erased—all those meanings are held in one Greek verb exaleiphō. It is always good to allow people their time to repent and turn away from their bad choices and actions. Then reassure them of total forgiveness. All their sins can be blotted out. Further, “may be wiped out” is called the divine passive (be wiped out), which means the doer of the verb is God, behind the scenes.
Bock: The term “was used of washing papyri to remove letters written in ink. In ancient times ink did not soak into the paper but remained on the surface, so removing writing was straightforward. This then became the metaphor …. Peter offers the opportunity to have the penalty of sin removed completely” (comment on v. 19).
“repent”: it is the verb metanoeō (pronounced meh-tah-noh-eh-oh), and “to repent” literally means “changed mind.” And it goes deeper than mental assent or agreement. Another word for repent is the Greek stem streph– (including the prefixes ana-, epi-, and hupo-), which means physically “to turn” (see Luke 2:20, 43, 45). That reality-concept is all about new life. One turns around 180 degrees, going from the direction of death to the new direction of life.
See my post:
“must”: It comes from the word dei (pronounced day), and in some contexts it denotes a destiny orchestrated by God, as it does here. (Compare the French il faut, “one must” or “it is necessary,” if you know this language.) The Greek verb means: “it is necessary, one must … one ought or should … what one should do” (Shorter Lexicon). In Luke it often means divine necessity; that is, God is leading things: Luke 2:49; 4:43; 9:22; 12:12; 13:16, 33; 15:32; 17:25; 18:1; 19:5; 21:9; 22:37; 24:7; 24:26, 44; Acts 1:16; 1:21; 3:21; 4:12; 5:29; 9:6, 16; 14:22; 16:30; 17:3; 19:21; 20:35; 23:11; 25:10; 27:21; 27:24, 26. Here heaven opened wide its door to welcome its returning king.
“times”: kairos (pronounced ky-ross or ky-rohss) and chronos (pronounced khah-noss or khroh-nohss) are virtual synonyms, in v. 20 and v. 21, respectively, but some see chronos as a timeline, one thing after another, while kairos has a quality to it, like a season, which may not strictly conform to a timeline. These interpreters may have a point.
“Refreshing”: anapsuxis (pronounced ah-nah-psoo-xees) is used only here in the NT, and it also means “rest” and “relief.” Jews are suffering under Roman rule and a broken world, generally, but if they would repent and accept their Messiah, God would send him back and give them relief and rest. It seems they could hasten or at least be assured of the second coming.
“Reestablishing”: apokatastasis is a noun used only here in the NT and is built on two prefixes apo– and kata-, which together seem to indicate “back from” (apo-), “settle down” (kata-) and the main stem “stabilize” (stasis, where we get our word stasis). The related verbs, apokatastanō and apokathistēmi / apokathistanō (pronounced a-poh-kath-ee-stay-mee and a-poh-kath-ee-stah-noh) have rich meanings: the first one means to “restore” and “reestablish” (Mark 9:12), while the latter two mean “to change to an earlier good state or condition” and “to return someone to a former place of relationship,” “bring back,” “give back,” “restore” (Matt. 12:13; 17:11; Mark 3:5; 8:25; Luke 6:10; 22:51; Acts 1:6; Heb. 13:19) (BDAG). Ultimately God wants to restore things back to the Garden of Eden. The Bible begins in a garden (Gen. 2-3) and ends in the heavenly garden (Rev. 22:1-2). So better yet, God will move things forward just to restore things back to their ideal condition!
“appointed”: it comes from the interesting verb procheirizō (pronounced pro-khay-ree-zoh), combining the prefix pro- (before, in front of) and cheir– (hand), so it could be translated literally as “prehandpicked.” Originally and literally, people voted by raising (stretching out) their hand. In any case, God reached down his hand and anointed Jesus to fulfill a mission. Yes, God ordained in heaven that Jesus would accomplish his mission before he was born as a tiny baby in Bethlehem.
See my post:
Let’s take a deeper look here.
These rich two verses have several possible interpretations. (1) The Jewish people will be restored. However, this is too restrictive because Jesus said that knowing the times and seasons was none of their business (1:7) (the same two Greek words are used in both places) and because Jesus predicted that the Roman armies would surround Jerusalem and destroy it (Luke 21:20). (2) Adam’s loss of glory and paradise needs to be recovered and restored, by the creation of the new heavens and new earth and a new messianic age (Matt. 19:28; Rom. 8:18-23; Heb. 2:5-8; Rev. 19-22). This is a fine interpretation. (3) The times and seasons are in the plural, so it refers not only to the future, but also the present because vv. 25-26 say that Christ is the offspring or seed that blesses the world. This agrees with the thrust of the Gospel of Luke that reveals that Jesus is ushering in the kingdom of God, but it is not yet here fully (HT: Schnabel, comment on vv. 20).
This third interpretation is also strong, which I favor.
A sequence of events with a purpose:
Repentance and turning away → so that seasons of refreshing → God will send the Messiah who is in heaven → Second Coming → Reestablishing everything.
With the word “everything,” we don’t need to worry about the alleged “75%” of OT prophecies that have not been fulfilled. God’s kingdom goes way beyond the tiny nation of Israel. His plan includes Israel, yes, but the plan goes global. Nearly all prophecies have been fulfilled in Jesus or the church. For example Zech. 14:16-21 talks about the entire world celebrating Feast of Booths (Tabernacles) around Jerusalem in a New Age. How many? Two billion people around this tiny city in the New Age? No, sorry, the church replaces and fulfills the old temple, because God’s presence dwells in the church now.
All OT verses that predict that the temple and the priesthood will go on forever have been fulfilled in Jesus, the Great High Priest, and the church (the new tabernacle / temple).
So does vv. 20-21 teach that Jesus is kept in heaven so that people cannot receive dreams or visions or even a visitation from him? No, of course not. these two verses are about his being in heaven in his ascended state until the restoration of all things at his Second Coming. His appearing in dreams or visions or visitations is possible because these wonderful, personal events have nothing to do with his Second Coming.
Now let’s see how the NT teaching about the kingdom of God applies.
When Jesus came the first time and was in the process of inaugurating the kingdom of God, the kingdom came subtly and mysteriously. When he comes a second time, his inaugurated kingdom will be fully accomplished or realized.
Here it is in a flow chart:
________________← This Age –—–→| End of
First Coming → Inaugurated Kingdom → Parousia → Messianic Age / Kingdom Age / The Age to Come
Before the kingdom is fully realized at his Second Coming (Parousia), the kingdom is announced and ushered in by Jesus at the launch of his ministry. So there is overlap between This Age and the Kingdom Age.
A little more expansion, adding in the final judgment.
The Second Coming (Parousia) stops This Age. Then there is one big judgment, in which the righteous and wicked are judged together. One can even say that the final judgment happens during the Messianic Age / Kingdom Age / The Age to Come. All three terms mean the same thing. Finally, the Kingdom which Jesus inaugurated at his first coming will have been fully realized and accomplished at his Second Coming, after judgment. And so after God sweeps aside the wicked and Satan and demons, the New Messianic or Kingdom Age can begin in true and pure and undisrupted rulership.
Bottom line: All of the New Testament (outside of a few contested verses in the Revelation) fully and clearly and consistently teach this flow chart:
___________← This Age ———⸻→| End of
First Coming → Inaugurated Kingdom —→ Second Coming → Judgment → Fully Realized Kingdom Age
What about the Church? The Father and the resurrected and ascended Son and the outpoured Spirit, by means of the inaugurated kingdom, created the church at Pentecost (Matt. 16:18; Acts 2:1-4). It exists in This Age and preaches the gospel of the kingdom. It will be snatched up or raptured at the Second Coming, meet Jesus in the air, descend with him, go through judgment, and then finally will last forever in the Fully Realized Kingdom Age.
Let’s look more deeply at the overlapping This Age and the Kingdom of God. Until and before the Second Coming, we now live in the conflict and battle between This Age and the Inaugurated Kingdom, proclaimed by Jesus during his ministry. (They are not the same things but are at war with each other!) We are in the process of binding Satan and his demonic hordes, by expelling demons from people’s lives but mainly by preaching the gospel, so people surrender to the Son’s Lordship, and then Satan is pushed back and people experience victory in their lives. The gospel and life in the Spirit, coming after Jesus’s ascension in This Age, though happening during the inaugurated Kingdom, are so powerful that saved and redeemed kingdom citizens can experience victory over the power of sin in their lives in This Age. The presence of sin in their lives is not removed until they get their new resurrected and transformed bodies and minds in The Age to Come. The Second Coming stops This Age, which is replaced and displaced with the fully realized Messianic or Kingdom Age or The Age to Come.
Let’s wander just a little way from Luke’s Gospel and discuss other eschatological teachings circulating around the Church today, the American Church in particular.
In Jesus’s teaching throughout the Gospel of Luke, there is no word on a literal thousand-year reign with two comings and “several first” resurrections. And there is no separate rapture that makes the church disappear, before the Second Coming. If Jesus believed in a separate rapture, he would have taught it here; he missed his chance. However, he did not miss his chance and he did not teach it. Therefore, he did not believe in a separate rapture. All of it is too convoluted. Instead, the Gospel and the other three Gospels (and Epistles) present a streamlined picture of salvation history and God’s dealing with his human creation and the return of Christ.
An amillennialist believes that the millennium begins with the Inaugurated Kingdom, but apparently it is quiet and behind the scenes (note, for example, the Parable of the Mustard Seed and its slow growth in Matt. 13:31-32); Satan is not literally bound with chains (as if a spirit being could be), even though Jesus did teach that he bound the strongman (Matt. 12:29; Mark 3:27; Luke 11:21-22). So what this binding means is that Satan cannot now fully stop the advance of the kingdom (as Satan did to the ancient Israelites, except a remnant and except a few breakout moments as seen in Jonah’s revival in Nineveh). Before Jesus came, every nation was bound by satanic deception. However, after Jesus inaugurated the kingdom, even under Islamic and communist regimes, the gospel has a way of infiltrating societies, even if underground. Satan can no longer deceive the nations as he did before Jesus came. Instead, kingdom citizens, surrendered to the Kingship of the King and following him, are plundering Satan’s domain of This Age and rescuing people out of it and transferring them to the inaugurated kingdom of God. The final victory over Satan will be fully manifested at his Second Coming.
In contrast, based on his interpretation of a few verses in Rev. 20, one chapter in the most symbolic book of the Bible, a premillennialist believes that a literal thousand years of Christ (not shown in flow charts) is ushered in at the Second Coming, where there will be peace and harmony. And Satan is literally bound in chains until the end of the thousand years. During the literal millennium, people will still die, so the last enemy (death) is not defeated after all, at the Second Coming (even though Paul said death would be defeated, in 1 Cor. 15:23-26, 51-56). However, the theory of a literal thousand years says that death and Satan are defeated at the end of the millennium, when another resurrection and another judgment will take place.
Never mind, however, that in John 5:28-29 and Matt. 13:41-43 and 25:31-46, Jesus teaches that the wicked and righteous are judged together at the end of This Age, as indicated in the above flow charts. Interpreting literally a deliberately and intentionally symbolic book (Revelation) runs aground quickly. Things soon become convoluted and complicated, in comparison with the nonsymbolic, streamlined Gospel and Epistles.
So then where does the rapture fit in? When all peoples are called out of their tombs and those who are alive also respond to Christ descending from heaven at the Second Coming, they will be “caught up” (the rapture) and meet the Lord in the air (1 Thess. 4:15-17). Then they will descend with Jesus to a new heaven and new earth, which will have been recreated, renewed, renovated or reconstituted. They will be judged, and the wicked will be sent away to punishment, and the righteous will be welcomed into the Messianic Age / Kingdom Age / The Age to Come (as distinct from This Age). In other words, the rapture and the Second Coming happen at the same time and are the same event.
Please see my post:
There is no reason, biblically, to overthink and complicate these verses and insert a separate rapture that happens before the Second Coming. Just because a teaching is popular does not make it right.
Now let’s move on.
I like how Polhill completes v. 21:
The Messiah will come again to restore his kingdom to Israel (Rom 11:25–26). Whether that will be a time of refreshing for Israel depends very much on their repentance and reception of Jesus as the Messiah. What was true for the Jews in Solomon’s Colonnade still holds true today. Only in receiving the Christ of God by repentance and turning to him is there forgiveness, refreshing, and restoration. (comment on v. 21)
Rom. 11:26 says, “all Israel will be saved.” However, this clause is contingent on repentance of Israel: “And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again” (Rom. 11:23).
Conditions apply to this seeming blanket promise.
GrowApp for Acts 3:11-21
A.. Jesus is called the “Author of life.” How has he been the source and director of your life?
B.. Peter promises wiping out of sins and then times of refreshment and restoration in the name of Jesus. How has refreshment and renewal and restoration flowing out of forgiveness impacted your life? How has he restored your life? Tell your story.
The Messiah Is Predicted in the Old Testament (Acts 3:22-26)
22 “Moses said: ‘the Lord God shall raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers. You shall listen to everything that he tells you. 23 And it shall be that every person who does not listen to that Prophet shall be cut off from the people.’ [Deut. 18:15, 18, 19] 24 And all the prophets from Samuel to one after the other who spoke of him announced these days. 25 You are the descendants of the prophets and of the covenant that God established with your ancestors, when he said to Abraham: ‘Even all the families of the earth shall be blessed by your offspring.’ [Gen. 22:18; 26:4] 26 And for you first of all God raised up his servant and sent him to bless you by turning each one away from your wickedness.”
Peter was a “Word guy” or a “Bible guy.” Who knew a humble fisherman from Galilee would have so much Scripture in him? He got a basic education as a child. He may have attended a synagogue where a leader discussed Messianic prophecies. He may have spent time in the local synagogue reading (expensive) manuscripts, in his spare time. And the fireside chats and domestic and public storytelling or preaching surely included passages from Messianic Scriptures. Around 3000 were saved at Pentecost, and no doubt at least a few of them were connecting the Hebrew Bible with the recent events and bringing out Messianic prophecies.
Further, Jesus spent a fair amount of time explaining to two men on the road to Emmaus village how he fulfilled biblical prophecy (Luke 24:25-27). It is a sure thing he did the same with other disciples for the forty days from Passover to before Pentecost.
Jesus is the Prophet promised by Moses, and these Messianic Jews could not fail to bring up that section of Scripture in Deuteronomy. And in the Messiah all the families of the earth will be blessed (cf. Gal. 3:7-8), which brings the Jewish audience back to the first covenant with Abraham (Gen. 12 and 17). The Messiah was the highest and fullest clearest channel of blessing the world (Gal. 3).
Once again Peter told his fellow Jews who did not yet believe in the Messiah Yeshua (Jesus) to repent, because Yeshua lived such a blessed life that he helped people turn away from their wickedness. Turning is a blessing!
Here is a table of Messianic prophecies:
At that link, there is a table of quoted verses in the OT and NT. But Jesus fulfills the types and patterns and concepts of the OT, like the sacrificial system itself. His church fulfills and replaces the temple.
“all the prophets”: see v. 18 for more comments. Keener says that Peter is using hyperbole in the word “all” and then cites a later rabbi who claimed that all the prophets prophesied only about the Messianic era (p. 188, citing B. Ser. 34b; Sanh. 99a; Sabb. 63a).
Peter is hinting that Jesus is the ultimate blessing, since he is the offspring of Abraham. “Offspring” is the collective singular. The chronology: Jews first, and then the Gentiles. Right now, Peter is offering the gospel to his co-Jews. The offer of salvation is offered to the Jews first, which indicates or hints that the offer of the gospel will soon go out to the Gentiles, a lesson Peter is about to learn in Acts 10.
All of this is proto-Paul’s theology, as seen in these verses.
First, like Peter, Paul says the gospel went to the Jew first:
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. (Rom. 1:16, NIV)
Now the gospel goes to the Gentiles.
Second, Paul writes that Jesus is the seed or offspring that blesses the nation:
The promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. Scripture does not say “and to seeds,” meaning many people, but “and to your seed,” meaning one person, who is Christ. (Gal. 3:16, NIV)
Paul, like Peter, is claiming that the singular “seed” refers to Christ (in Greek “seed” is singular), but it is a collective singular. Everyone in Christ spreads the blessing around through preaching the gospel of Christ. Yet, make no mistake: Jesus himself, the singular seed or offspring, is the fullest blessing to the nation of Israel because the gospel is about him and people get saved through him.
Recall that Luke and Paul were traveling companions, so did Luke insert into Peter’s speech Paul’s theology of the collective singular “seed” (or offspring) and the gospel outreach to the Jews first? Or did Peter influence Paul when they met and discussed outreach to the Jews and Gentiles (Gal. 2:7-10)? Why not give Peter credit? How can we be sure that when Jesus gave the apostles a long Bible lesson after his resurrection (Luke 24:44-45; see v. 27), he did not teach that the “seed” (Christ) is the blessing of Abraham? We’ll never know for sure because the texts are silent, but it may be that Jesus did, and this early discourse by Peter reflects it, and then it influenced Paul.
Longenecker sees that this sermon expresses a remnant theology. For him, it is the descendants of Abraham and David who believe in the Messiah who are the blessing (2 Sam. 7:12; Gen. 22:18 and 26:4) (if I understand Longenecker clearly). True. Only Christ is the seed or the descendant or the offspring that is the blessing to humanity. Only people—whether Jew or Gentile—who are in him and live out and proclaim the gospel of the kingdom are the blessing for humanity. Their capacity to bless humanity comes only from being in Christ, who empowers his followers to do this.
GrowApp for Acts 3:22-26
A.. Christ is the blessing for humanity, and being in Christ means you receive his blessing of salvation and repentance. Now you can bless others with this wonderful truth. Do you have a story about someone in your circle of friends and family who has repented and received the blessing of salvation in Christ?
Observations for Discipleship
Miracles of healing are valid today. No cessationism here, please. The lame man’s feet and ankles were strengthened. Hundreds of thousands of similar miracles have happened all over the world. Limbs have grown out, and feet and entire legs have been restored and strengthened. If a critic in the sleepy, self-satisfied Western world denies them, based on his interpretation of a phrase or two in a few verses, then no one across the planet is listening to him, except his like-minded friends.
So why are miracles not happening in the West as often as they do in the developing world? They are happening here, but not in such huge, dramatic numbers. Here’s a possible answer:
Need → Want → Demand → Supply
Need drives want or desire, which drives demands or requests or prayers, and God supplies the miracle. The self-satisfied West can take a pill or get treatment, but such things are rare in the third world. Need drives them to depend on God.
You can have authority and power that Jesus gives. It comes with the privilege of being a Christ follower. “All authority in heaven and earth have given to me. Therefore go…!” If he told us to go, but not equip us, then we are working without his support. No sense to this. He sent out the twelve and the seventy-two and gave them authority and power (Matt. 10:1; Luke 10:19; John 1:12). Those verses are for us. Jesus did not show us his miracles just to entertain us or provoke in us a wish that we could have him do them today, yearning for them, though they will never happen. That is unjust. Rather, he showed us his miracles so we can trust him that he can work like that today. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8).
Learn how to pray for the sick. Be empowered (Acts 1:8). If you have your prayer language (archaically and formerly called ‘tongues’), then use it. If you don’t have it, ask for it. Seek God for it. “Earnestly desire the greater gifts” (1 Cor. 12:31). Your prayer language will enable you to pray the perfect prayer and prepare your spirit for ministry. If you don’t have it and don’t want it, then you can still pray for the sick and watch them recover in Jesus’s name—in his name!
Bock, Darrell L. Acts. Baker Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Baker Academic, 2007.
Bruce, F. F. Acts. Rev. ed. Eerdmans, 1988. (I also used his earlier work Acts of the Apostles: Greek Text with Commentary, Eerdmans, 1951, 1952, 1990, 3rd ed.).
The Greek New Testament. Fifth Revised Edition by Barbara Aland, Kurt Aland, Johannes Karavidopoulos, Carlo M. Martini, Bruce M. Metzger. United Bible Society, 2014.
Keener, Craig, S. Acts. New Cambridge Bible Commentary. Cambridge UP, 2020.
Longenecker, Richard N. Acts. Expositor’s Bible Commentary. Rev. ed. Zondervan, 2007.
Marshall, I. Howard. Acts. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries. Tyndale, 1980.
Parsons, Mikeal C. and Martin M. Culy. Acts. A Handbook on the Greek Text. Baylor, UP, 2003.
Peterson, David G. The Acts of the Apostles. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Eerdmans, 2009.
Polhill, John B. Acts. New American Commentary. Vol. 26. Broadman and Holman, 1992.
Schnabel, Eckhard, J. Acts. Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. Zondervan, 2012.