Grace Bible Church
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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
October 23, 2005
Proof of Apostleship
In our study last week we saw the continuing response of the people to the events that occurred on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came and about 3,000 believed Peter’s sermon and were saved and baptized. They then laid the foundation of basic church life as they continued devoting themselves to the apostles teaching, fellowship, the breaking of the bread (a reference to the Lord’s Supper here), and to prayer. Their fellowship went way beyond socialization to daily being of one mind together in the temple as well as sharing meals together from one house to another with gladness, sincerity of heart and praising God, and also sacrificially caring for the needs of one another. All of this caused them to have favor with the people and seeing the Lord add to the church daily those who were being saved. In addition, the Lord was causing a sense of awe among the people through the wonders and signs that were taking place through the apostles. Acts 3 gives us the specifics of one of those wonders and signs and the opportunity it gave Peter to proclaim the gospel to those present.
The Setting (vs. 1). Verse 1 gives us the setting for what will take place on this day. “Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth [hour,] the hour of prayer.” Peter and John are often together and take a lead in ministry. Remember that they, along with James, formed Jesus’ inner circle (Matt. 17:1; Mark 5:37; 9:2; 13:3; etc.) and Paul comments in Gal. 2:9 that they were “reputed to be the pillars” of the church in Jerusalem. In Acts 8 we will find that it will be Peter and John that are sent to Samaria in response to the report that the Samaritans had also received the word of God.
We must also remember that these early Christians are also still Jewish and continue on with many of their normal practices including going to the temple to pray. Their habit was to gather three times per day, morning, noon and at the time of the evening sacrifice which was the ninth hour, or 3 O’Clock by our reckoning.
The Beggar (vs. 2,3). Verses 2 & 3 tells us about a beggar that they encounter. 2 “And a certain man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. 3 And when he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he [began] asking to receive alms.”
This man had been crippled all of his life. Friends of his would carry him to the gate of the temple so that he could beg for alms from the people. There would have been several good places for begging, but this would have been one of the most effective because those entering the temple would have already been in a mindset for giving alms as they went in to pray or offer their sacrifices.
The particular location they would place him was at a gate called “Beautiful.” It is thought that this was probably the Nicanor gate on the east side of the temple that separated the Court of the Women from the Court of the Gentiles. This particular gate was noteworthy because it was made of Corinthian brass and was very large. Josephus comments that it took 20 men to close the doors.
When this beggar saw Peter and John coming to the temple he begins to ask them for alms.
The Response of Peter ( vs. 4-7). Peter’s response was not what this man could have ever imagined. Verses 4-7 report, 4 “And Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze upon him and said, “Look at us!” 5 And he [began] to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.
The first response of Peter and John is to stare at him in much the same way as they had stared at Jesus when He ascended into heaven (same verb, ajtenivzw / atenizô as in 1:10). Until now, Peter & John were just nameless people to beg alms from, so the beggar was not really paying attention to them. Peter calls upon him to “Look at us!” The man does so expecting to get something from them.
6 But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene– walk!” 7 And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened.”
Since this man had been at this gate on a daily basis begging for alms, we do not know why he had not met Jesus at some earlier time, or if he had met Jesus why he had not been healed earlier. We can be certain that he had heard from others about the miracles of healing that Jesus had performed, but being lame he could not have searched for Jesus himself. We also do not know what Peter saw in the man while he was staring at him, but we do know from verse 16 that there was some indication of faith on this man’s part. Perhaps it was the reaching up to take Peter’s right hand in response to Peter’s words.
Several things should be noted in what Peter says. First, Peter did not have either silver or gold. Though the people in the church were even selling off the property and possessions to care for the needs of the other believers, neither Peter or John were reaping financial reward from it. Their needs were being met, for it is right for them to earn their living from the gospel (1 Cor. 9:14), but they were not gaining wealth from it as is the practice of many TV and radio preachers today. What a “minister” does with his finances tells you a lot about his own integrity, and Peter warns in 2 Peter 2 about false teachers who exploit their followers. Many such false teachers are around today.
Second, notice that Peter makes it very clear that what he was doing was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene. To do something by the “name” of someone is to do it by virtue who that person is. It is by their authority and power and in keeping with their character and will.
Using this full description leaves no doubt about the particular person Peter was talking about. This is the one named Jesus, who is the promised Messiah, known as a man from Nazareth.
Next, notice that Luke, a physician, describes in detail the events of this healing. Peter takes him by the right hand and lifts the beggar up. There is an immediate strengthening of this man’s feet and ankles. Verse 8 further describes what this man was able to do immediately.
The Response of the Beggar (vs. 8) “And with a leap, he stood upright and [began] to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.” This is not a case of Peter pulling the man up, but as Peter begins to lift him up the man feels the strengthening and stands up with a leap and begins to walk. Remember that this man had been lame from birth. He had never done this before. This is also a miracle of not just medical healing, but also immediate training of his brain to be able to walk. People have learn to walk, and every parent knows there a lot of falls as their little ones learn that ability. This man’s first step is a leap up and the text says that he continued to do so. He followed Peter and John into the temple walking and leaping and praising God. He had received something not only better than silver and gold, but undoubtably beyond his greatest dreams.
There are those that claim to be faith healers around today. Please compare their claims of healing to what Peter and John do here. They brought healing immediately and completely in the name of Jesus Christ to a man that had no expectation of it. We will see these same kinds of healing again later on in our study of Acts. That is not what modern faith healers do.
The Response of the People (vs. 9,10). Verses 9 & 10 record the immediate response of the people. 9 “And all the people saw him walking and praising God; 10 and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to [beg] alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” The people recognized him immediately because they had been seeing this lame beggar by the Beautiful Gate on a daily basis. Now he is walking around in the temple and praising God. No wonder they were filled with wonder and amazement. But that was exactly what the miracles, signs and wonders of the apostles were supposed to cause.
The Setting (vs. 11). Verse 11 tells us, “And while he was clinging to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement.” Word traveled quickly and while the healed man is still with Peter and John a large crowd gathered under the large porch area that surrounded the Court of the Gentiles.
The Questions (vs. 12). Verse 12 tells us that Peter took advantage of the situation and spoke to the crowd beginning with two questions. “But when Peter saw [this], he replied to the people, “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?”
Peter addresses them as “Men of Israel” which recognizes them as God’s people who would know the Scriptures. Who other than devout Jews would be in the temple at 3 in the afternoon? His questions are rhetorical and a bit of a very mild rebuke but they set up the explanation he will give for what they are seeing. The first question simply points out that seeing miracles of this nature should not surprise them. They would know that miracles are part of their history as a nation and they also would have seen miracles performed by Jesus in the very recent past. The second question points them away from themselves and toward Christ. It was obvious that they could not have done such a miracle on their own. As pointed out in chapter 2 they were easily recognized as Galileans. This miracle had to have a power source some place else, which is what Peter explains in the rest of his sermon.
The God of Our Fathers & His Servant (vs. 13a)
Peter begins with an historical tie and then brings them to the present. The first part of verse 13 says, “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus.” This opening phrase points back to the foundation of Judaism in God’s covenant with first three patriarchs: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This same God of their fathers has glorified His servant, which Peter also identifies as Jesus.
The designation “His servant” is a Messianic title from Isaiah 53 that they should have recognized. In that passage the prophet presents the Messiah as the suffering servant that would bear the sins of the people so that they might be made righteous. It is a powerful passage that also foretells many of the details of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial. It is one of the passages that practicing Jews will avoid if possible because of its clear implication that Jesus is the Messiah.
The name “Jesus” is also significant for it is the Greek term for the Hebrew name “Joshua” which means, “the Lord is salvation.” That is exactly what the Angel told Joseph in Matthew 1:21, “and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins.”
The Sin of the People (vs. 13b-15a). People cannot be saved from sin until they recognize that they are sinful, and Peter does not mince words in pointing out their sin starting in verse 13. God’s servant, Jesus, Peter tells them is the One “whom you delivered up, and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. “But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of life.”
Pilate had made several attempts to release Jesus (Luke 23:16-22) for he had found him to be innocent and declared him to be so many times (Mark 15:14; Luke 23:4, 15, 22; John 18:38; 19:4, 6). Despite Pilate’s reason and efforts to release Jesus, the Jewish leaders had worked the crowd into a mob that continually cried out for Jesus’ crucifixion. Even when offered a choice to free Jesus or Barabbas, a man convicted of insurrection and murder, they cried out for Barabbas’ release and for Jesus’ crucifixion. Peter points out that Jesus is the Holy and Righteous One, which is another Messianic reference, yet they denied Him. In the end Pilate proved to be weak for he gave into the pressure and blackmail threatened by the Jewish leaders to have Jesus crucified. Peter makes is clear that they bore responsibility for their actions in this.
This passage also has several paradoxes. Though Jesus is God’s servant, He is exalted. Though Jesus is the deliverer, the people deliver Him up for crucifixion. They disowned the Holy and Righteous One while instead taking in an unholy and unrighteous murderer. They asked for the life of a murder, but wanted to put to death the Prince of life. However, Peter points out in verse 15, the Prince of life did not stay dead.
The Resurrection (vs. 15b). “the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses.”
The term, “Prince of life,” could also be translated as “author” or “originator” of life. The One who is the source of life could not be kept in the grave, and Peter and John are witnesses that God raised Jesus from the dead.
If Peter’s sermon had ended here, then these people would have left condemned without hope. They had participated in the murder of the Messiah, who was now alive again. What would Jesus justly seek to do to them for their crime?
The Faith that Brings Healing (vs. 16). Peter now turns the corner in his sermon to explain the miracle they were seeing while laying the foundation for the message of hope he will then give. “And on the basis of faith in His name, [it is] the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which [comes] through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.”
This beggar who had been lame from birth had been healed on the basis of faith in the name of Jesus Christ. Whose faith is the basis of the healing? Just as in James 5, it is both the strong faith of the one bringing the healing and the small faith of the one being healed. Peter and John had great faith believing that Jesus could and would heal the man. The lame man had a simple faith that trusted Peter’s words and expressed itself in reaching up to take Peter’s right hand.
Faith itself is incapable of anything, though there are many people around today that would like you to believe that faith is the source of power. However it is not faith, but the object of faith that has power. It is not my belief, but Jesus in whom I believe that enables me to accomplish anything. As mentioned earlier, “name” is a reference to all that person is and what is according to their character and will by their authority and power. Here the faith is in the person of Jesus Christ and in what is in keeping with His will and power. In this case it was that this lame beggar would be restored to perfect health. Take note again here that this healing was instantaneous and complete and it had taken place in their presence. The visible evidence was the formerly lame man that was now walking around praising God.
Faith in the correct object was the key to this man’s healing. Faith in the correct object is also the key to man’s salvation from sin.
The Hope of the Prophets (vs. 17-26)
Their Ignorance (vs. 17, 18). In verse 17 Peter points that their actions and been born out of ignorance. 17 “And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also.” That is an important point because if their sin and been willful defiance, then Numbers 15 requires that those who commit such intentional sin would be cut off from the people. Even the rulers were ignorant. Paul comments in 1 Corinthians 2:8 that ” if they had understood it, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory.” This is not to imply that their ignorance is an excuse that removed their guilt, but rather that though they were guilty, there was room for forgiveness. They had a basis for hope.
Peter goes on to explain in verse 18 that Jesus’ suffering and death had been foretold by the prophets. “But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He has thus fulfilled.” Just as Peter had explained in his sermon on the day of Pentecost, Jesus’ death was not an accident, but according to the determined plan of God though it was carried out by evil men.
Repentance (vs. 19). In verse 19 Peter tells them what they must do in response to their sin. “Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.”
Peter calls them to repent and return. Repentance is a change of mind. It addresses the mental state of the individual as they recognize their error and turn from that to embrace the truth. True repentance is always evidence by corresponding changes in actions because what is believed will always manifest itself in behavior. In this case, it is turning from their wrong beliefs about Jesus which had resulted in their participation in His murder, and turning to the truth about Jesus which would result in their living for Him. Peter emphasizes the point by adding the command to “return” (ejpistrevfw / epistrephô) which is often used to describe sinners turning to God.
The result of repentance is the wiping away of sins. The record of the sin is removed. The file is deleted. God will remember it no more (Heb. 8:11). Forgiveness of sins is based in turning from sin and self-righteousness to having faith in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The consequence of repentance will be the good works which are in keeping with repentance.
Peter also adds that this repentance also opens the door that “times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” The sinful soul that finds forgiveness in Jesus Christ certainly also finds great refreshment for their soul in Christ. However, the context here would link this to future blessings during the millennium kingdom. Peter expands on this in verses 20 & 21.
Future Blessings (vs. 19b-21). “and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21 whom heaven must receive until [the] period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.”
The coming millennial kingdom is part of many Old Testament prophecies. It is a common theme even in the judgement passages. While God will judge the nation for its sins, there is always hope given to those that will repent for there will be a future time of restoration and blessing. We saw that in our discussion of Joel’s prophecies a few weeks ago. Jesus had declared in His lament over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:39 that that city would not see Him again until they would say, “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!” That will not happen until Israel repents and acknowledges Jesus as the Messiah. Zechariah 12:10-14:21 describes that time in detail. It is a time of judgement on the wicked, deliverance of the righteous and restoration of all things. It will be more than just a change in government, but a time of renewal of the earth as well as described in Joel 4:18, Amos 9:13-15; and Isaiah 35 among many passages. The hope of this future restoration is something these Jews would have know very well.
The Predicted Prophet (vs. 22-24)
They would also have known the prophecy of Moses in Deut. 18:15-19 of a prophet like him that was to come. Peter comments on this in verses 22-24. “Moses said, ‘The Lord God shall raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed in everything He says to you. 23 ‘And it shall be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ 24 “And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and [his] successors onward, also announced these days.”
It was generally agreed that this prophet predicted by Moses would be the Messiah. They would need to pay attention to this prophet, for as Peter points out here, to fail to heed what this prophet would say would result in their destruction. The rest of the prophets from Samuel onward had talked about the same things. Peter’s point throughout this sermon is that Jesus is that prophet.
Present Blessings (vs. 25, 26). Peter concludes his sermon with the hope that repentance would bring blessings even for the present time. “It is you who are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ 26 “For you first, God raised up His Servant, and sent Him to bless you by turning every one [of you] from your wicked ways.”
These Jews already had the blessing of having the revelations of God given to them through the prophets. They had the blessings of God’s covenant with Abraham through whom all the earth would be blessed. Jesus is that promised blessing. They also now had the additional blessing of having the gospel given to them first. God had raised up His servant, Jesus Christ, who came to bless them by turning them from their wicked ways. The key to blessing again comes back to repentance. From Peter’s standpoint, the stage was set for their repentance which would open the door for the fulfillment of the rest of the prophecies. Jesus would return and the times of restoration of all things would begin. Would they heed the warnings and take advantage of the blessings by believing what God was telling them? Their sins could be forgiven and they would be assured of an eternal future with the Lord. Or would they continue on their own path that would surely lead to destruction? As Proverbs 14:12 states, “there is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.”
Peter’s sermon is still just as relevant for today. The gospel call is still the same. It is to the Jew first, for that is God’s priority, but it is also for the Gentile (Rom. 1:16). Man is born dead in trespasses and sin and is under God’s just condemnation for them. Unless there is repentance every man will suffer God’s eternal judgement. But in Jesus Christ, whom God raised from the dead, there can be confident assurance for an eternity with Him in heaven and His blessings for the present. Do you have that assurance for both eternity and the present? If not, you can by placing your faith in Jesus Christ and walking with Him.
The healing of the lame man should not have been a surprise to these Jews. Jesus had healed many in the three previous years as well as performed many other miracles, signs and wonders. All of them pointed to the fact that Jesus was the promised Messiah (John 10:25-38). This miracle performed through Peter demonstrated that He was Jesus’ apostle and that Jesus was working through him. They need to heed his words. The times predicted by the prophets was at hand. Were they ready? Are you ready?
Sermon Study Sheets
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help.
– draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch.
Older Children –
Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up. 2) Count how many times Jesus is mentioned. Talk with your parents about the miracle of the lame man being healed. What did it prove?
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others in discussing Acts 3. Why were Peter and John going to the temple? Describe the condition and situation of the beggar? Why didn’t Peter or John have any money? What did Peter give to the man? How was he able to give it? What is the significance of someone’s name or title? What was the immediate response of the beggar? Describe the nature of the miracle performed. Contrast that with what modern “faith healers” do. What was the response of the people? How did Peter take advantage of this situation? What was the purpose of the Peter’s questions in verse 12? What is the significance of the title “My servant”? What is the significance of Jesus’ name? What specific sins did Peter lay upon the people? What paradoxes occur in verses 13-15? What was the basis of the healing of the lame man? How did the lame man demonstrate faith? Why weren’t these people condemned without hope for their murder of Jesus? What is the basis for having your sins wiped away? What are the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messianic kingdom? What are judgements? What are its blessings? What is the evidence that Jesus is the predicted prophet of Dt. 18? What is repentance? Describe.
Sermon Notes – October 23, 2005
Proof of Apostleship – Acts 3
The Setting (vs. 1)
The Beggar (vs. 2,3)
The Response of Peter ( vs. 4-7)
The Response of the Beggar (vs. 8)
The Response of the People (vs. 9,10)
The Setting (vs. 11)
The Questions (vs. 12)
The God of Our Fathers & His Servant (vs. 13a)
The Sin of the People (vs. 13b-15a)
The Resurrection (vs. 15b)
The Faith that Brings Healing (vs. 16)
The Hope of the Prophets (vs. 17-26)
Their Ignorance (vs. 17, 18)
Repentance (vs. 19a)
Future Blessings (vs. 19b-21)
The Predicted Prophet (vs. 22-24)
Present Blessings (vs. 25, 26)
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