Acts: Chapter 3

Major Theme:

  • Healing: Miracles were a large part of Jesus’ ministry on earth. So, when Jesus gave his Holy Spirit to the early church and apostles, with His presence and power came the ability to do miracles in his name. In Acts 3 we see that Jesus power is present with his church and that his power can heal anyone and anything, even the lame from birth. But, the physical healing of the lame is not the central theme of this chapter, the central message is in the sermon Peter preaches right after he heals the lame man: simply believe in Jesus to have your soul healed and your sins forgiven. This theme continues into the whole of Acts; whenever something miraculous occurs, a sermon follows on how the healing of the soul, the forgiveness of sins, and a repentant life is true healing and is true power. As you read this chapter pray that Jesus would continually heal you, and use you to be a healer of others. Focus on the truth that Christ, as Peter preached, “is restoring all the things about which God spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets long ago.” Jesus is healing the world now, and will return to heal it completely. Praise be to God.

People:

  • John (vs. 1): was the son of Zebedee, a fisherman on the Lake of Galilee, and of Salome, and brother of James, also an apostle. Peter and James and John come within the innermost circle of their Lord's friends; but to John belongs the distinction of being the disciple whom Jesus loved... The history of the Acts shows the same union between Peter and John. They are together at the ascension on the day of Pentecost. Together they enter the temple as worshipers, (Acts 3:1) and protest against the threats of the Sanhedrin. ch (Acts 4:13) The persecution which was pushed on by Saul of Tarsus did not drive John from his post. ch. (Acts 8:1) Fifteen years after St. Paul's first visit he was still at Jerusalem, and helped to take part in the settlement of the great controversy between the Jewish and the Gentile Christians. (Acts 15:6) His subsequent history we know only by tradition. There can be no doubt that he removed from Jerusalem and settled at Ephesus with Mary (the mother of Jesus), though at what time is uncertain. Tradition goes on to relate that in the persecution under Domitian he is taken to Rome, and there, by his boldness, though not by death, gains the crown of martyrdom. The boiling oil into which he is thrown has no power to hurt him. He is then sent to labor in the mines, and Patmos is the place of his exile. The accession of Nerva frees him from danger, and he returns to Ephesus. Heresies continue to show themselves, but he meets them with the strongest possible protest. The very time of his death lies within the region of conjecture rather than of history, and the dates that have been assigned for it range from A.D. 89 to A.D. 120.

Culture:

Cultural Background

  • The Beautiful Gate: The apostles continued to be practicing Jews; otherwise they would not so readily have enjoyed “favour with all the people” (2: 47). Attendance at the Temple daily at “the ninth hour” (around 3 pm), the time of the evening offering (compare 1 Kings 18: 29, 36), was a mark of piety. The sacrifice of a lamb (compare Exodus 29: 38-42) was accompanied by a service of prayer and praise. As male Jews, the apostles passed through the outer court of the Temple (the court of the Gentiles), up the steps into the court of women (the first of the inner courts) and through it into the court of Israel. The sacrificial ceremony was carried out in the inmost court (the court of the priests), which laymen were not normally permitted to enter. The inner courts, on a higher level than the outer court, were surrounded by barricades to which were fixed notices in Greek and Latin warning Gentiles not to proceed farther on pain of death (compare 21: 28, 29). The “Beautiful Gate” probably pierced this barricade at the top of the steps leading from the outer court into the court of women. It is commonly identified with the “Gate of Nicanor”, made of Corinthian bronze, but of such exquisite workmanship, says Josephus, that it exceeded in value those which were plated with silver and set in gold. The lame man had chosen a strategic position, for practically all Jewish worshipers would pass through that gateway.

Contemplating God:

Voice of the Past:

  • On the Lame Man’s Healing: “What does Peter do? He did not despise the lame man for begging; he did not look instead to heal a rich man; he did not say, if the miracle is not done to someone great and famous, nothing great is done: he did not look to be praised by the lame man, no, nor heal him in the presence of people as to be praised by a crowd; for the man was at the entrance, not where the multitude were in the court. But Peter...upon entering the temple did not proclaim the matter: no, it was by his humility that he attracted the lame man to ask. And it’s amazing the lame man believed so readily...Once healed, he remains with the Apostles, giving thanks to God. And he entered, it is said, with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God. Look how restless he is, in the eagerness of his delight, his words of praise and leaping legs had the Jews baffled. The Jewish leaders could not say this was a hoax....But the beautiful thing about this story is that the lame man believed and was grateful, even after his recovery. And thus when he was lame and when he was healed his faith is shown: faith brought his healing and faith brought his humble praise of God.”

  • On Christ’s Power in Peter: “It is through the saint’s preaching that God’s might and the glory of the kingdom are made known. God’s might is also made known through his acts. For example, when Peter and John made the man lame from birth walk. But with this act of power they preached, “Men and Women of Israel, why marvel at this, as if by our strength and devotion made this man to walk?” And a little later they say that he was made whole in the name of Christ Jesus. The might of the Lord Jesus was made known when the apostles preached his name and showed the world his power!”

Footnotes:

Smith’s Bible Dictionary. “John the Apostle.”

Commentaries on Acts. F.F. Bruce. Chapter 3.

Homilies on Acts. John Chrysostom. Homily 8.

Exposition of the Psalms. Cassiodorus. Psalm 144:12.

Peter ElliottComment