ACTS - CHAPTER 3
Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough
2000 James Melough
“Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer,
being the ninth hour.
going into the temple, obviously to pray, at the Jewish hour of prayer, reminds us
that until AD 70, when the temple was destroyed, and Jewish autonomy brought to an
end, there was one order for believing Jews, and another for believing Gentiles.
The Jewish believers continued to observe the Levitical ritual, because the
millennial kingdom was still being offered, and Scripture makes it clear that in that
coming glorious age the Levitical ritual will be reinstated, see, e.g., Ez 40-48.
It is a mistake to believe that all that was done in the apostolic age is the
normal order for the whole Church age.
“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 of them that
entered into the temple;”
have drawn attention to the fact that this lame man is a picture of the nation of
Israel, his inability to walk being simply a figure of Israel’s spiritual state.
She too was unable to “walk” spiritually before God, and the fact that his
condition went back to his birth, declares that Israel’s state was of similar
duration. His daily presence at the gate of the temple points also to
Israel’s spiritual condition. Her days
too were spent in occupation with the things of the law, of which the temple was the
center. His lying “at the gate” adds
another brush stroke to the spiritual picture. As he apparently never got beyond the gate, neither did the nation
of which he is a type. For all her
attempts at law-keeping, Israel as a nation still remained separated from God: she
lacked the faith which alone enables a man to enter in through the “Beautiful
gate” (the gate of life). His
destitute state is an equally apt picture of Israel’s spiritual poverty.
emphasis upon its being the ninth hour has also significance, for nine is 3 x 3, the
number of resurrection. The healing of
the man is a picture of the spiritual resurrection Israel might have had as a nation
had she exercised the lame man’s faith. Sadly,
she lacked that faith, so that fulfillment of the type awaits another day, almost
upon us, when another generation of that same nation will trust in Christ, and enter
into the enjoyment of her long promised millennial blessings.
is of further significance that when this man was healed he was over forty years old,
see 4:22, and forty is the number of testing. This
was Israel’s testing time. She could, through faith, have enjoyed the spiritual experience
portrayed in the revival of the impotent man, but her blind eyes would see no further
than the literal miracle, nor will similarly blind eyes today discern any
significance beyond the literal in any part of Scripture.
healing should surely have reminded them, as it has so many others, of what was
written in their own Scriptures, “Then shall the lame man leap as an hart....” (Isa
immediate, and complete healing of the man refutes the spurious claims of those
professing to possess the gift of healing today. That gift was for the apostolic age only.
Not one such reported instantaneous and complete healing has ever been
verified today, in spite of all the false claims to the contrary.
“Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.”
not his consciousness of need prompted the man to ask an alms, there would have been
no communication between him and God’s servants, and therefore no healing.
So must it be with Israel before she can be blessed.
She must be made first to see her need. And
so is it with every man. There can be no
salvation until there is confession of need.
“And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John said, Look on us.”
secured the attention of Peter and John, through the confession of need (expressed in
his request for alms), the power of God is immediately available to bring this poor
beggar blessing greater than he had ever imagined possible.
And so is it with every man willing to acknowledge his need by confessing
himself a sinner.
command, “Look on us,” calls to mind the experience of the serpent-bitten
Israelites in the desert. They too were
simply bidden to look - on the uplifted brazen serpent (figure of Christ made sin for
us, and lifted up on the cross), and their healing was immediate.
The look of faith that sees in a crucified Christ the Substitute Who has died
in my place for my sins, is all that is needed to bring God’s pardon, and gift of
eternal life. Not that there was
any healing power in them, except in so far as they were simply God’s instruments.
There is no power in the evangelist to save.
The power lies in the gospel he preaches, as it is written, “For I am not
ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every
one that believeth....” (Ro 1:16).
“And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.”
is clear that his expectation didn’t rise higher than the hope that he might
receive the gift of a coin. Like many
another before and after him, his primary concern was with his immediate need of the
necessities of life. He had possibly
become so accustomed to begging that the lameness which necessitated such a life
style, was rarely thought of. So is it
generally. The cares of life occupy all
the attention, to the exclusion of any consideration of the spiritual malady which
has produced the conditions under which men must live here on earth.
But only when man is led to see that sin is the root of all his trouble, is
there any hope of his being saved.
“Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I
thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”
should note, that as almost invariably in Scripture, the normal order relative to the
worth of silver and gold is reversed: silver, the metal of lesser value, precedes
gold - and not without reason. Silver is
the Biblical symbol of redemption; gold, of glory.
There can be no glory until sinners first receive redemption through faith in
the Lord Jesus Christ. Even in Peter’s
declaration of his own literal state, his language preserves the spiritual truth: he
could as little bestow the spiritual equivalent as he could the literal wealth: he
was only God’s instrument.
is instructive to note his description of the One Who alone can meet this man’s
need. First he emphasizes the importance
of the name, reminding us of the importance God attaches to that name.
Long before His birth, the prophet was bidden to write, “His name shall be
called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of
Peace” (Isa 9:6). Just prior to His
birth, Mary’s husband Joseph was commanded, “Thou shalt call his name JESUS
(Savior): for he shall save his people from their sins” (Mt 1:21).
And Peter, being questioned by the Sanhedrin in regard to this very miracle,
declared, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name
under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Ac 4:12).
he used the Lord’s human name Jesus (Savior), to tell the man that the Jesus Whom
Israel had rejected, was the One through Whose name he was about to be healed, not
only of his lameness, but also of his sins (for there is no doubt that the man was
healed of both).
he hastened to add the Lord’s title, Christ (the anointed).
The Jesus Whom Israel had rejected was more than they had imagined, i.e., just
the son of Joseph the carpenter. He was
the Son of God, the Anointed One, Israel’s Messiah, earth’s King.
of Nazareth.” Nazareth means a
branch: preservation, meanings which should have evoked in the minds of the Jews
to whom the Lord presented Himself, memories of what was written in their own
Scriptures, for there are no less than six references to the Messiah under the figure
of a branch, see comments on 2:22.
believers today can see so clearly the significance of Nazareth as the city with
which the Lord is so frequently associated, then there was no excuse, except wilful
blindness, for the Jews to fail to discern that significance.
He of Whom Nathanael disparagingly asked, “Can there any good thing come out
of Nazareth?” (Jn 1:46), was none other than “the man whose name is The
BRANCH,” the One apart from Whom there is no “preservation” for men.
rise up and walk.” Peter had no power
to give such a command save only as the man had faith to believe in the name of the
Lord Jesus Christ. Nor is there any
other way to be saved. The Philippian
jailor, crying out “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” was commanded, “Believe
on the Lord Jesus Christ....” (Ac 16:30-31).
“And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his
feet and ankle bones received strength.”
helping the man to his feet may not be taken to imply power on the part of the
evangelist to save anyone. The spiritual
equivalent of that helping hand is the use of Scripture and prayer to help the
convicted, struggling sinner put his faith in Christ.
immediate healing belies the teaching that one can grow into salvation.
The struggle to come from the moment of conviction to the new birth may take a
long time with some, a relatively short one with others, but the new birth itself
doesn’t occur until the man puts his trust in Christ - and that takes but an
instant. There is no such thing as becoming a believer gradually, in spite
of what some teach to the contrary. No
such conversions are to be found in Scripture.
fact that “immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength” assures us
that faith in Christ brings to every believer the power to walk as becomes his new
state. Salvation is not dependent on our
ability to maintain a certain standard of perfection in our daily living.
Jesus Christ has assumed the responsibility of bringing every believer safe to
heaven, so that we can rejoice in what Jude has written, “Now unto him that is able
to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his
glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Savior, be glory and majesty,
dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen”
“And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple,
walking, and leaping, and praising God.”
leaping is in dramatic contrast with his former state, and serves to demonstrate the
difference between the new life in Christ, and the believer’s former state. The new
life is as described by the Lord Jesus Christ when He said, “I am come that they
might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (Jn 10:10).
being said also that he “stood,” speaks of the believer’s new standing.
Each born again man stands on the secure foundation of Christ’s perfectly
and walked.” This is something he had
never done before. The believer too has
been raised up with Christ to do something he has never done before: to walk in
newness of life (Ro 6:4).
and entered with them into the temple.” Every
word continues to point to the difference between the man’s former and present
state. He walked into that temple at the
gate of which he had lain for so many years as a helpless beggar -
and he entered as a worshiper! So
is it with every believer. He too may
have lain figuratively “at the gate of the temple,” begging.
The life of many a moral, but unconverted man centers around his “church.”
Busied with religious activities and good works, he is as one hoping by these
things to win from the hand of God access to heaven. Only when he is born again does
he discover that his faith has not only saved him from hell, and fitted him for
heaven: it has made him a priest whose privilege it is to “enter into the holiest
by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way, which He hath consecrated for us,
through the veil, that is to say, his flesh” (Heb 10:19-20).
walking ... leaping ... praising God.” All
of this points to the activity of the new life.
His continuing to walk points to a consistent walk or manner of life: leaping
points to the quality of the new life: it is abundant; and his praising God is what
ought to be the normal response of every redeemed heart for God’s “unspeakable
should we overlook that he walked into the temple with new companions, Peter and
John. He who professes to be a believer,
but who continues to enjoy the companionship of the unconverted, makes his life a
contradiction of his profession. One of the marks of a genuine conversion is that the convert loves
those who also belong to Christ, see e.g., (Jn 13:34-35; 1 Jn 3:14).
going into the temple continues to remind us that this was still a Jewish age in
which the Levitical ritual was legitimate for Jewish believers, for the simple reason
that the millennial kingdom was still being offered to Israel, and in the Millennium
the temple worship will be restored.
“And all the people saw him walking and praising God:”
speaks of testimony, and demonstrates the folly of refusing to testify of God’s
saving grace, to all who cross our path. No
man can truly understand what blessings are involved in conversion, without wanting
to tell others how they too may be saved from hell, and fitted for heaven.
“And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of
the temple: and they were filled
wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.”
people witnessed a dramatic change, both physical and spiritual, in that man’s
state. A question we might well ask
ourselves is whether those who knew us prior to conversion, see anything in us that
is now different.
“And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people
ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.”
holding Peter and John points to the fervency of the love that should unite
believers. He was unwilling to be parted
from those whose faith he now shared. Such
love marked the early apostolic Church, but sadly it was of brief duration.
being recorded that he and Peter and John were in that part of the temple called
Solomon’s porch, has also something to teach us, for Solomon means peaceableness.
All who know Christ as Savior stand metaphorically in the same place: they
have a peace “which passeth all understanding” (Php 4:7), a peace that the world
can neither give nor take away.
“And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why
marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or
holiness we had made this man to walk?”
addressing them as “men of Israel” continues to emphasize that it was a Jewish
age in which the millennial kingdom was being offered; and his disclaiming any credit
for the miracle reminds us that this is to be the attitude of every servant of God:
the servant is simply the instrument: all the power is with God, and He is to be
given the glory.
word of caution may perhaps be in order here. Peter’s
disclaiming holiness on his part is not to be construed as teaching that God will use
any man regardless of his state, as His instrument.
He won’t. Scripture makes it
very clear that God requires holiness in His people; as it also makes clear that
power is diminished in proportion as the indwelling Holy Spirit is quenched or
“The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers,
hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of
Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.”
is quick to identify himself with his Jewish audience, and to make sure that the Lord
Jesus Christ is given all the glory for this miracle.
But he doesn’t hesitate to make them aware of their guilt in regard to that
same Christ: it was they, who in spite of Pilate’s desire to free Him, demanded His
death. However much some would attempt to exonerate the Jews from blame
relative to the Lord’s death, God puts the blame squarely where it belongs.
The Jews were responsible.
“But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be
granted unto you;”
emphasizes the enormity of their sin by contrasting the nature of the One they had
rejected with that of the one they had chosen. They had chosen a murderer rather than the One Who was Holy and
Just (righteous), and it is to be noted that Satan is characterized as a murderer,
“He was a murderer from the beginning” (Jn 8:44).
The truth taught throughout Scripture is that he who rejects Christ as Savior
and Lord, chooses Satan as his master.
“And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof
we are witnesses.”
rejecting Christ, they were choosing death, as is every man who rejects Him.
to the gospel is the fact of Christ’s resurrection, which Peter here emphasizes,
declaring himself and John to be witnesses of that very event, for the truth is that
if Christ has not been raised there is no hope for any man.
Regarding this, Paul declares in 1 Co 15:14-15, “And if Christ be not risen,
then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God....”
evidence of Christ’s resurrection stood before them in the form of this once
impotent man. A dead Christ could not
have performed such a miracle; and as he goes on to declare, it was the power of a
living Savior which had made the man whole.
“And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye
see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in
the presence of you all.”
name has such power as that of Jesus. Isaiah
declared, “His name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The
everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Is 9:6); and in Mt 1:21 the angel
commanded Joseph, “Thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people
from their sins.” But to remind us
that He Who was Jesus was also God, we read in Mt 1:23, “They shall call his name
Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” What is of crucial importance, however, to men condemned by sin,
is the power in that name to deliver them, that assurance coming from the lips of
Peter, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under
heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Ac
and beyond the physical healing which was evident to the whole multitude, was the
spiritual healing which natural eyes could not discern.
The man’s “perfect soundness” included that of his soul and
spirit, as well as his body. The same
faith that brought “perfect soundness” to that impotent man long ago, brings the
same healing to believing men and women today, the healing of the body awaiting that
day of the Rapture when He “Shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned
like unto his glorious body....” (Php 3:21).
“And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your
prophets had foretold two comings of the Messiah, one in humility, as God’s Lamb to
die and make atonement for sin; the other in power and glory, as the Lion of Judah,
to establish His kingdom and reign for 1,000 years.
Israel had concentrated on the latter to the exclusion of the former, so much
so that when He came as God’s Lamb, they failing to recognize Him, crucified Him;
but God, gracious and patient, was willing to count that act one of ignorance; and in
unfathomable mercy implored them now to believe and trust Him as Savior, so that
their sins might be forgiven, and they thus enabled to enter into the kingdom, the
first thousand years to be spent on the millennial earth, to be followed by eternity
in the new heaven and earth (Re 21:1).
willingness to count their murder of Christ an act of ignorance, is foreshadowed in
the OT in connection with the cities of refuge, see Numbers 35.
When a man had accidentally (in ignorance) killed another, he could run into
one of the cities of refuge, and as long as he stayed within its boundary, could
remain there in safety until the death of the high priest, at which time he was to
return to his own city. To go beyond the
city boundary before the death of the high priest, however, rendered his life forfeit
at the hand of the avenger of blood.
have seen in this a symbolic picture of Israel’s experience.
Israel is the manslayer: Christ, the Victim; and as God says here in 3:17,
they did it in ignorance. But now
through the preaching of the gospel they were to learn that He had died as their High
Priest, and through faith in Him, they could begin the journey home to their own
city, heaven. The manslayer in a city of
refuge, however, might refuse to return to his own city upon hearing of the death of
the high priest, thus making it as though the high priest hadn’t died, so that he,
the manslayer, then became guilty of wilful disobedience.
Israel, refusing to believe the gospel, made it as though Christ, the High Priest
hadn’t died, and the result was that when they left the “city of refuge” (left
earth and went out into eternity) they were in the same position spiritually as was
the manslayer who left the city of refuge before the death of the high priest: both
must die, the one, at the hand of the avenger of blood; the other, at the hand of an
angry God Whose mercy had been spurned.
preaching of the gospel to Israel up until AD 70, was the equivalent of the
announcement in the cities of refuge of the death of the high priest.
But sadly, Israel sealed her doom by refusing to believe, so that as far as
she was concerned, it was as though Christ hadn’t died; and the result was that
when she was driven out of her land (her city of refuge) in AD 70, she died as a
nation; and when the unbelieving members of that rebellious nation come to the end of
their lives and have to leave this “city of refuge” (earth), they go out to
eternal death, as do all who refuse to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior.
“But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his
prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.”
noted above, the Lord’s sufferings and death were clearly foretold by the prophets,
so that Israel ought to have recognized Him as her Messiah.
Christ, in His birth, life, death, and resurrection fulfilled what the
prophets had written.
“Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out,
when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;”
necessity of repentance is a truth largely ignored by the preachers of the spurious
gospel that is so popular today. Briefly
stated, to repent is to have such a change of heart that it produces a changed life.
It implies the forsaking of sin. The
popular “gospel” preached today, however, so far from calling for repentance,
makes conversion largely an intellectual matter in which the “convert” simply
gives assent to a set of facts relative to Christ, but doesn’t have to drastically
alter his lifestyle. Scripture, however,
makes it very clear that a changed life is to be the evidence of a changed state, see
e.g., Jas 2:14-26.
be converted is simply to be turned around. Having
once walked on the “broad way” that leads to hell and the lake of fire, the
believer walks on the “narrow way” that leads to heaven.
KJ rendering is ambiguous here, seeming to indicate that the sins will not be blotted
out until the “the times of refreshing shall come.”
A believer’s sins - past, present, and future - are all forgiven the moment
he trusts in Christ. And while the
application here is certainly individual, the context makes it clear that Peter is
speaking primarily of the nation. The
“times of refreshing” are generally understood as being the Millennium.
Literally what this verse is saying is that Israel’s repentance as a nation
would bring the millennial kingdom with all its blessings, the Millennium being
“the times of refreshing.”
“And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:”
national repentance and conversion which would bring them the millennial kingdom
would of course bring them also their Messiah, but Peter reminded them that Jesus
Whom they had crucified was their Messiah. “... which before was preached unto you” refers to the
preaching of the OT prophets.
“Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things,
which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
times of restitution of all things” is generally understood to refer, not to the
Millennium, but to the eternal state when there will be a new heaven and a new earth;
and the fact that heaven is to be Christ’s dwelling place until then, confirms,
that contrary to what many believe, the Lord Jesus Christ (and we with Him) will rule
over the millennial earth from the heavenly Jerusalem, not the earthly city in
Palestine. And Peter continues to
emphasize that all of this has been declared by the OT prophets.
“For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God
raise up unto you of
brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto
quotation is from De 18:15,18-19, and while clearly it is impossible go into details
here concerning the resemblance between Moses and the Lord, we might note a few
points of similarity. The birth of each
was associated with the sentence of death pronounced by the ruler of his day.
Pharaoh decreed the death of all Hebrew male children; Herod did likewise
regarding those born in Bethlehem and the surrounding district.
was a secondborn, see Ho 11:1; Ex 4:22; Mt 2:15; and as has been noted in other
studies, the firstborn (representative of the old nature) is always rejected in
Scripture, while the secondborn (representative of the new nature) is always made the
channel of blessing. Israel was God’s
firstborn, Ex 4:22, and was rejected, so that as to His human birth, the Lord was
God’s secondborn, the Channel of blessing to all men.
As a resurrected Man, however, He is “the firstborn from the dead” (Col
1:18), “... the firstborn among many brethren” (Ro 8:29), the first to rise from
the dead never to die again.
beauty is attributed to each, see Ac 7:20; Ps 45:2; Ca 5:10-16, etc.
was ordained to be the deliverer of Israel, but following his rejection by that
nation, each went to the Gentiles and received a Gentile bride.
returned and delivered Israel. So will
preceded Moses’ deliverance of Israel. The
terrible Tribulation judgments will precede Christ’s deliverance of that same
“And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that
prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.”
who rejected the words of Moses perished; and those who reject the One Who is the
living Word will also most certainly perish. It
is interesting to note the emphasis the Lord laid upon the words of Moses, see the
words of Abraham to the rich man in hell, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets,
neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead” (Lk 16:31).
Israel became the striking demonstration of this truth, for she refused to
believe the gospel even in the face of incontrovertible evidence that the Lord had
risen from the dead.
“Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many
as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.”
were being reminded that what Peter and the others preached was nothing less than
what had been declared by their own prophets. They had no excuse for refusing to believe on Christ.
“Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made
with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the
earth be blessed.”
continues to point to the truth that in the beginning of the apostolic age God was
dealing exclusively with Israel; for having shown them that what he preached was only
what the prophets had also preached, Peter proceeded to emphasize the link that bound
the nation to the words of the prophets. It
was they (Israel) who were addressed by the prophets, and it was Israel that God
through Abraham had brought into a covenant relationship with Himself.
blessings enumerated in the covenant, and reiterated by the prophets, were all to
come through Abraham’s “seed”; but as is made clear in Ga 3:16, that “Seed”
is Christ, the Jesus Whom they had rejected and crucified, but Whom God had raised up
from the dead.
choice of Israel first, however, didn’t exclude the Gentiles from blessing.
The prophets had repeatedly foretold the blessing of the Gentiles, but it was
God’s intention that Israel should be the channel through which that blessing would
flow out to the Gentiles, and Israel’s disobedience cannot frustrate that purpose.
In a soon-coming day (the Tribulation) it will be from converted Jewish lips
that the whole world will hear again the gospel of the kingdom, and believing
response to that gospel will result in multitudes of Jews and Gentiles passing out
from Tribulation judgments into millennial blessing.
noted already, all of this could have been two thousand years ago.
It was Jewish unbelief alone that has caused it to be postponed, as it will be
Jewish belief that will bring fulfillment, still future, though surely not far off.
“Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you,
in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.”
confirms what we have noted already. In
the beginning of the apostolic age, Israel alone was offered the kingdom first, so
that she might then be the means of leading others into its blessings.
But it is emphasized that there could have been blessing for neither Israel
nor the Gentiles apart from the death and resurrection of Christ, for the simple
reason that the one people as much as the other needed to have their sins put away,
and apart from the death and resurrection of Christ, remission of sin was impossible.
Sin carries with it the sentence of death.
Man’s life has been forfeited through sin.
At Calvary, the man Christ Jesus, yielded up that life on man’s behalf.
He who believes that truth, is counted by God as having died in Christ.
But while Christ’s death brings remission of the believer’s sins: His
resurrection brings the assurance of eternal blessing; and God here uses Peter to
emphasize, that apart from the remission of sin there can be no blessing.
For Israel, as for all men, repentance and conversion must precede blessing.