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David Guzik :: Study Guide for Acts 3

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A Lame Man Healed

A. The healing of the paralytic at the Gate Beautiful.

1. (Act 3:1-3) The request of the paralyzed beggar.

Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.

a. We were told many signs and wonders were done through the apostles in Acts 2:43; this chapter gives a specific example, one of the many.

b. At the hour of prayer: Apparently, Peter and John saw no problem in continuing their Jewish custom of prayer at certain hours of the day.

i. Morgan points out that Peter and John were not going to the temple at the hour of sacrifice, but at the hour of prayer which followed the afternoon sacrifice.

ii. Calvin saw a missionary intent in what Peter and John did: "Furthermore, if any man ask, whether the apostles went up into the temple that they might pray according to the rite of the law, I do not think that that is a thing so likely to be true, as they might have better opportunity to spread abroad the gospel."

c. The gate of the temple which is called beautiful: The Jewish historian Josephus describes a gate made of fine Corinthian brass at the temple, seventy-five feet high with huge double doors, so beautiful that it "greatly excelled those that were only covered over with silver and gold." (Cited in Stott)

d. To ask alms: The lame man simply wanted to be supported in the condition that he was in. God wanted to completely change his condition.

i. When Peter and John gave him no money, we might have heard him complain: "You don't care about me. You won't support me. Look at the mess I'm in." But Peter and John have no interest in supporting him in his mess. They want to transform his life by the power of the risen Jesus Christ.

ii. "It is not the Church's business in this world to simply make the present condition more bearable; the task of the Church is to release here on earth the redemptive work of God in Christ." (LaSor)

2. (Act 3:4-10) The healing of the lame man.

And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, "Look at us." So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, "Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk." And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them; walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

a. The lame man was correct in expecting to receive something from them, but he received much more than the monetary donation he would have been satisfied with!

i. Many of us haven't even come to the place where we really expect something from God. This is faith, plain and simple, even if the man was expecting the wrong thing.

ii. Better yet, we should expect the right things from God. We are so often ready to settle for much less than God wants to give us, and our low expectations often rob us.

b. Silver and gold I do not have: Peter didn't have any money, but he did have authority from Jesus to heal the sick (what I do have I give to you). Peter knew what it was like to have God use him to heal others, because Jesus had trained him in this (Luke 9:1-6).

i. For some people, to say silver and gold I do not have is about the worst thing anyone can say. They feel the church is in ruins if it must say "silver and gold I do not have." But how much worse it is if the church does not have the spiritual power to say, "In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk"?

ii. There is a story about a humble monk walking with a Roman Catholic cardinal at a time in the Middle Ages when the Roman Catholic church was at its zenith of power, prestige and wealth. The cardinal pointed to the opulent surroundings and said to the monk, "We no longer have to say, silver and gold I do not have." The monk replied, "But neither can you say, In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk."

c. Peter said, what I do have I give you. He gave the lame man power in the name of Jesus, but he could not give it unless he had it in his own life. Many people want to be able to say rise up and walk without having received the power of Jesus in their own lives.

d. And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up: It was one thing to say, "rise up and walk," but it was another thing entirely to so boldly take the man's hand and lift him to his feet. At this moment, Peter was receiving the gift of faith described in 1 Corinthians 12:9. This is a supernatural ability to trust God in a particular situation.

i. This wasn't something Peter did on a whim or as a promotional event; he did it under the specific prompting of the Holy Spirit. God gave Peter the supernatural ability to trust Him for something completely out of the ordinary.

e. Immediately his feet and bones received strength: Strength did not come to the lame man until Peter said "rise up and walk," and not until Peter took him by the right hand and lifted him up.

f. Entered the temple … walking, leaping, and praising God: As soon as he was healed, the formerly lame man did three good things. First, he attached himself to the apostles (entered the temple with them). Secondly, he immediately started to use what God had given him (walking, leaping). Finally, he began to praise and worship God (praising God).

g. Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms: If this man was more than 40 years old (Acts 4:22), and had been crippled since birth, and was a familiar sight at this temple gate (Acts 3:10), then Jesus must have passed him by many times without healing him. Why? Because God's timing is just as important as His will, and it was for the greater glory of God that Jesus heal this man from heaven through His apostles.

B. Peter preaches to the gathered crowd.

1. (Act 3:11-12) Introduction: Why do you think we have done something great?

Now as the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch which is called Solomon's, greatly amazed. So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: "Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?"

a. When Peter saw it, he responded to the people: Peter wisely takes advantage of the crowd, but he knew that the phenomenon of the miraculous in itself brought no one to Jesus, it merely aroused interest. Though they were greatly amazed, they weren't saved yet!

i. Peter knew that saving faith did not come by seeing or hearing about miracles, rather faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God (Romans 10:17).

b. Peter denies that the healing is due to either his power or godliness. Many "healers" today who would never claim to heal in their own power still give the impression that healing happens because they are so spiritual, so close to God, or so godly. Peter knew that it was all of Jesus and nothing was of him.

c. Why do you marvel at this? Peter's point is simple: Jesus healed all sorts of people when He walked this earth, so why should it seem strange that He continues to heal from heaven?

2. (Act 3:13-18) Peter preaches Jesus.

"The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all. Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled."

a. Peter makes it clear which God he is speaking of; this is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

i. In our modern world, there are so many different (and strange) ideas about God, it is helpful for us to be clear about which God we serve and speak about. We can say "God" when talking to someone else, without realizing that our idea of God and their idea of God are completely different. Perhaps it would be helpful for us to more carefully define the God we are speaking of: The God of the Bible, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

b. His Servant Jesus: The greatness of Peter's sermon is that it is all about Jesus. The focus on the sermon is not on Peter or anything he has done, but all about Jesus.

c. Whom you delivered up and denied: Peter boldly lays the guilt of Jesus' death squarely where it belongs. Pilate, the Roman governor, was determined to let Him go, but the Jewish mob insisted on the crucifixion of Jesus (John 18:29-19:16).

i. Were the Jews guilty of the death of Jesus? Yes, but so were the Gentiles. The Romans would not have crucified Jesus without the Jews, and the Jews could not have crucified Jesus without the Romans. God made certain that both Jew and Gentile shared in the guilt of Jesus' death. In fact, it was not political intrigue or circumstances that put Jesus on the cross. It was our sin. If you want to know who put Jesus on the cross, look at me - or look in the mirror.

ii. Peter was not afraid to confront their sin, and he shows amazing boldness. "One commentator says that the miracle of the speech of Peter is a far more wonderful one than the miracle wrought in the healing of the man who lay at the Beautiful Gate." (Morgan)

d. Asked for a murderer to be granted to you: One of the ironies of the crucifixion of Jesus is that while the crowd rejected Jesus, they embraced a criminal and a murderer named Barabbas (Luke 23:13-25, John 18:39-40). Peter is boldly confronting this audience!

e. And killed the Prince of life: Of course, the Prince of life could not remain in the grave, and the apostles are united witnesses of the fact of His resurrection.

f. And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong: Peter says that it is in the name of Jesus that this man has been made whole. This means more than Peter said, "in Jesus name." It means that Peter consciously did this in the authority and power of Jesus, not the authority and power of Peter. Peter will not even take credit for the faith that was exercised in the healing (yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness).

i. "In Semitic thought, a name does not just identify or distinguish a person, it expresses the very nature of his being. Hence the power of the person is present and available in the name of the person." (Longenecker)

g. I know that you did it in ignorance: Peter recognizes they called for the execution of Jesus in ignorance of God's eternal plan. This does not make them innocent, but it does carefully define the nature of their guilt. If we sin in ignorance, it is still sin, but it is different from sin done with full knowledge.

h. He has thus fulfilled: Despite all the evil they did to Jesus, it did not change or derail God's plan. God can take the most horrible evil and use it for good. Joseph could say to his brothers, "you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good." (Genesis 50:20) The same principle was at work in the crucifixion of Jesus and is at work in our lives (Romans 8:28).

3. (Act 3:19-21) Peter's call to repentance.

"Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began."

a. Repent therefore: As he did in his first sermon (Acts 2:38), Peter calls upon the crowd to repent. He is telling them to turn around in their thinking and actions.

i. Repentance does not describe being sorry, but describes the act of turning around. And as he used it in chapter two, here also Peter makes repent a word of hope. You have done wrong, but you can turn around to get it right with God!

b. And be converted: Conversion is a work God does in us. Being a Christian is not "turning over a new leaf," it is being a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17).

c. Blotted out has the idea of wiping ink off of a document. Ink in the ancient world had no acid content and didn't "bite" into the paper. It could almost always be wiped off with a damp cloth. Peter is saying that God will wipe away our record of sin just like that!

d. What are the times of refreshing Peter spoke of? He is referring to the time when Jesus returns and rules the earth in righteousness. Peter goes so far as to say, "that He may send Jesus Christ," thus implying that if the Jews as a nation repented, God the Father would send Jesus to return in glory.

i. Peter makes it clear that Jesus will remain in heaven until the times of restoration of all things, and since the repentance of Israel is one of the all things, there is some sense in which the return of Jesus in glory will not happen until Israel repents.

ii. Peter is essentially offering Israel the opportunity to hasten the return of Jesus by embracing Him on a national level, something that must happen before Jesus will return (Matthew 23:37-39; Romans 11:25-27).

iii. One may raise the hypothetical question, if the Jews of that day would have received the gospel on a national level, then would Jesus have returned way back then? Hypothetically, this may have been the case, but there is no point in speculating about something that didn't happen!

4. (Act 3:22-26) Peter warns of the danger of rejecting Jesus.

"For Moses truly said to the fathers, 'The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.' Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, 'And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.' To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities."

a. For Moses truly said to the fathers: The Jews of Peter's day were aware of this prophecy of Moses (recorded in Deuteronomy 18:15, 18-19), but some thought that the Prophet would be someone different than the Messiah; Peter makes it clear that they are one and the same.

b. Every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed: The destruction promised in the prophecy would become the legacy of this generation of Jews. Many, but not all, of this generation rejected Jesus twice over.

c. Hidden in the idea of the promise to Abraham (all the families of the earth shall be blessed) and in the words to you first is the undeveloped theme of the extension of the gospel to all the world - even Gentiles.

d. Sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities: God's desire to bless us and to do good for us also includes His desire to turn us all away from our sins.

i. Just as the lame man was hindered by expecting something from God, but expecting the wrong thing, so it was with the Jewish people at this time. They were expecting the Messiah, but not the right kind of Messiah. They were looking for a political Messiah, not one to turn every one of you from your iniquities. Are you expecting the right things from God today?

© 2001 David Guzik - No distribution beyond personal use without permission

Study Guide for John 1 ← Prior Book
Study Guide for Romans 1 Next Book →
Study Guide for Acts 2 ← Prior Chapter
Study Guide for Acts 4 Next Chapter →

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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