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Acts 3:1-4:31 – Healing the Lame Man

Summary

After Peter and John heal a man and preach in the Jerusalem temple, they come to the attention of religious authorities who admonish them not to speak of Jesus. Peter and John return to their sisters and brothers in the faith, and they all pray for boldness of speech rather than silent tongues.

Analysis

This long passage tells about Peter and John's healing of a man lame for forty years and the consequences of that public healing. The healing at the temple is itself important as an example of the wonders and signs mentioned in 2:43. It is also important as a parallel to Jesus' healing a paralyzed man in Luke 5:17-26. The power of the Holy Spirit is available to Peter to provide experiences and glimpses of the coming reign of God, even as Jesus did. This story is also noteworthy for four additional reasons. First, it shows the public character of the apostles' mission. The man is healed at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, where he resides by day, necessarily coming into contact with many people to receive alms. Second, the story clarifies that the power given to the apostles to do signs and wonders is from Jesus and for the purposes of God. They have not become powerful in themselves, nor do they work magic. Third, we get a glimpse of the life within the community of believers, as the disciples return from the public arena to speak of what has happened and to pray together. These verses remind us of the nature of this community and the power available to it from God. Finally, the "bold" speech of the apostles is highlighted in 4:13, 29, 31. Such speech, which might also be translated as "free" or "confident," was not expected of uneducated persons of a low social class. It is seen as a marvel by the authorities (4:13) and as a great gift from God, and therefore a marvel, by the community (4:29, 31).

Part of the message Peter speaks to the people of Jerusalem presents a succinct and unusually worded picture of God's promised salvation (3:17-26). These verses offer the possibility of repentance for what was done in ignorance. God had long planned that salvation would come through a "prophet like Moses" from among the Jews and had said this quite directly in Scripture (Deuteronomy 18:15). God had also promised in Scripture that in Abraham "all the families of the earth shall be blessed" (Genesis 12:3). God keeps these promises in Jesus of Nazareth and manifests them now in the community of believers. When Jesus returns, there will be a time of "universal restoration" (Acts 3:21). This is the time when all families of the earth shall be blessed. Such present and future blessing, refreshment, and restoration are connected with repentance, whether from ignorance or wickedness, so that one's sins are "wiped out" and life in the community of God's people can be engaged.

Acts 3:1-4:31

Peter Heals a Crippled Beggar

3One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon. 2And a man lame from birth was being carried in. People would lay him daily at the gate of the temple called the Beautiful Gate so that he could ask for alms from those entering the temple. 3When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked them for alms. 4Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, ‘Look at us.’ 5And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. 6But Peter said, ‘I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,* stand up and walk.’ 7And he took him by the right hand and raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. 8Jumping up, he stood and began to walk, and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9All the people saw him walking and praising God, 10and they recognized him as the one who used to sit and ask for alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

Peter Speaks in Solomon’s Portico

11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s Portico, utterly astonished. 12When Peter saw it, he addressed the people, ‘You Israelites,* why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we had made him walk? 13The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our ancestors has glorified his servant* Jesus, whom you handed over and rejected in the presence of Pilate, though he had decided to release him. 14But you rejected the Holy and Righteous One and asked to have a murderer given to you, 15and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16And by faith in his name, his name itself has made this man strong, whom you see and know; and the faith that is through Jesus* has given him this perfect health in the presence of all of you.

17 ‘And now, friends,* I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah* would suffer. 19Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, 20so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah* appointed for you, that is, Jesus, 21who must remain in heaven until the time of universal restoration that God announced long ago through his holy prophets. 22Moses said, “The Lord your God will raise up for you from your own people* a prophet like me. You must listen to whatever he tells you. 23And it will be that everyone who does not listen to that prophet will be utterly rooted out from the people.” 24And all the prophets, as many as have spoken, from Samuel and those after him, also predicted these days. 25You are the descendants of the prophets and of the covenant that God gave to your ancestors, saying to Abraham, “And in your descendants all the families of the earth shall be blessed.” 26When God raised up his servant,* he sent him first to you, to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.’

Peter and John before the Council

4While Peter and John* were speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple, and the Sadducees came to them, 2much annoyed because they were teaching the people and proclaiming that in Jesus there is the resurrection of the dead. 3So they arrested them and put them in custody until the next day, for it was already evening. 4But many of those who heard the word believed; and they numbered about five thousand.

5 The next day their rulers, elders, and scribes assembled in Jerusalem, 6with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John,* and Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly family. 7When they had made the prisoners* stand in their midst, they inquired, ‘By what power or by what name did you do this?’ 8Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders, 9if we are questioned today because of a good deed done to someone who was sick and are asked how this man has been healed, 10let it be known to all of you, and to all the people of Israel, that this man is standing before you in good health by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,* whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead. 11This Jesus* is
“the stone that was rejected by you, the builders;
   it has become the cornerstone.”*
12There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved.’

13 Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John and realized that they were uneducated and ordinary men, they were amazed and recognized them as companions of Jesus. 14When they saw the man who had been cured standing beside them, they had nothing to say in opposition. 15So they ordered them to leave the council while they discussed the matter with one another. 16They said, ‘What will we do with them? For it is obvious to all who live in Jerusalem that a notable sign has been done through them; we cannot deny it. 17But to keep it from spreading further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.’ 18So they called them and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19But Peter and John answered them, ‘Whether it is right in God’s sight to listen to you rather than to God, you must judge; 20for we cannot keep from speaking about what we have seen and heard.’ 21After threatening them again, they let them go, finding no way to punish them because of the people, for all of them praised God for what had happened. 22For the man on whom this sign of healing had been performed was more than forty years old.

The Believers Pray for Boldness

23 After they were released, they went to their friends* and reported what the chief priests and the elders had said to them. 24When they heard it, they raised their voices together to God and said, ‘Sovereign Lord, who made the heaven and the earth, the sea, and everything in them, 25it is you who said by the Holy Spirit through our ancestor David, your servant:*
“Why did the Gentiles rage,
   and the peoples imagine vain things?
26 The kings of the earth took their stand,
   and the rulers have gathered together
     against the Lord and against his Messiah.”*
27For in this city, in fact, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, gathered together against your holy servant* Jesus, whom you anointed, 28to do whatever your hand and your plan had predestined to take place. 29And now, Lord, look at their threats, and grant to your servants* to speak your word with all boldness, 30while you stretch out your hand to heal, and signs and wonders are performed through the name of your holy servant* Jesus.’ 31When they had prayed, the place in which they were gathered together was shaken; and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke the word of God with boldness.

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v 2.2.7
10 February 2011

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