Today’s passage from Acts is, in terms of form, very similar to the previous chapter. It contains the story of a miraculous occurrence (this time not speaking in other languages, but a healing) followed by an evangelistic speech given in response. Let’s read the miracle story first:Acts 3:1 One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer—at three in the afternoon. 2 Now a man who was lame from birth was being carried to the temple gate called Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the temple courts. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. 4 Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” 5 So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them. 6 Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, <clap clap> but what I do have I give you <clap clap>. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” 7 Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. 8 He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. 9 When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
(If you got the <clap clap> reference, you’re showing your age. If you didn’t, be thankful you’re too young to have lived through it.)
This is a pretty straightforward story. It really just sets the scene for two things: Peter’s speech which follows, and the showdown with the Temple leadership in chapter 4. Lame man asks for something. God’s representative gives him something better than he was expecting. Man is miraculously healed. Crowd goes wild. Seen that pattern before? It’s almost like Peter and John have Jesus’ power and authority…!
Peter then takes the opportunity to explain the significance of the miracle:3:11 While the man held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them in the place called Solomon’s Colonnade. 12 When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Fellow Israelites, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus. You handed him over to be killed, and you disowned him before Pilate, though he had decided to let him go.
There he is, back on the whole “you killed Jesus” theme.3:14 You disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you.
That would be Barabbas.3:15 You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this.
I think they get it, Peter. But here, again, he refers both to the resurrection as vindication of Jesus, and the fact that the apostles are the witnesses to this event.3:16 By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has completely healed him, as you can all see.
It’s not by Peter and John’s power that the man has been healed: it’s by the power of the resurrected Jesus.3:17 “Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders.
A little late to try winning over the crowd if you ask me, and he then continues by reminding them that they should have spotted this:3:18 But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer.
Having shown them the depth of their error, he then offers them the way out:3:19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.
Again, a call to repentance. And he reminds them of the seriousness of this by referring to Moses:3:21 Heaven must receive him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets. 22 For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything he tells you. 23 Anyone who does not listen to him will be completely cut off from their people.
Peter was quoting Deuteronomy. It’s where Moses warns the people that whenever God raises up another prophet, if they don’t listen they’ll be cut off from God’s people. Guess what, implies Peter. You’d better listen to Jesus or you’ll end up being cut off from God’s people.3:24 “Indeed, beginning with Samuel, all the prophets who have spoken have foretold these days. 25 And you are heirs of the prophets and of the covenant God made with your fathers. He said to Abraham, ‘Through your offspring all peoples on earth will be blessed.’ 26 When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”
As God’s people, you’ve got the first call on this. But if you reject it, there are other people in the world…
To think about
Compare Peter’s two speeches – the one here, and the one in 2:14-41. What elements are the same? What might that tell us?