Acts: For the Cause of Christ #6
A Healing and a Witness
Introduction:Review of Chapter 2:41-47
Last week we looked at the example given for us of the early church in Jerusalem. We saw the highlights of the keeping to the teaching of the Apostles and fellowship. We saw how fellowship included meals (including the Lord’s Table) and prayer. We saw how some the fellowship and love was shown. By the selling of personal property and goods for the needs of other members of the church. By worshipping together in public (at the temple) and spending time together in each other’s home. We saw that the Jewish community in large viewed the church in a good way. The following is an example of 2:43. Acts 2:43 says that the Apostles were doing signs and wonders in public before the rest of Jerusalem
Today we are looking at an example of one of those wonders. It’s like Luke told us what was going on, then provided a specific example to show what he meant by the apostles doing signs and wonders. But as well see in a couple of weeks, this miracle lead to some resistance.
1. The Healing of the crippled man – v1-10
We find Peter and John heading to the Temple for the afternoon prayer service at about 3pm, this would be the 9th hour from sunrise (about 6am). This is an example of 2:46 where we are told that the church meet in the temple daily.
On their way into the temple they passed a crippled man who was sitting next one of the gates, which was called the Beautiful Gate. This man was crippled from birth, the literal meaning is “from the mother’s womb”. This gives the idea that he had this damage while he was still inside his mother. Fortunately for him, there was no 1st century Planned Parenthood of Jerusalem to pressure his mother into an abortion. I keep referring to him as crippled rather than lame or paralyzed, because this was probably damage to his feet and ankles, and maybe knees or hips. This may have been some birth deformity. However he was crippled, he was unable to get to the Temple by himself. We see that he was being carried to the Temple gate, this may have been his normal place.
We are told that he is set there by the Beautiful Gate everyday to beg for coins. We see that he was by the gate called Beautiful. We are not sure where exactly this gate was located. There are two views: the first being that this was the gate that lead from the Court of women to the Court of Israel or Court of Men, this gate was named the Nicanor Gate sometimes called the Corinthian Gate as it was cover in Corinthian bronze and had lots of ornate carvings. This gate was larger than other gates. The other view is that the Beautiful Gate was the Shushan Gate which was a gate that led from the Court of the Gentiles to the Court of Women. Either way this was a good place for him to be at to get coins. He was asking the devoted worshippers as they were heading into a daily service for coins. Giving to beggars was taken seriously by the Jewish worshippers as they believed that God would honor giving to the beggars as an act of compassion.
We see the crippled man is there, working his corner if you will, as Peter and John are entering the Temple and he calls out for coins. The verb used shows that this is a repeated appeal for coins, so this may have been an ongoing appeal to Peter and John or just a repeated cry to all those passersby.
Luke now begins to focus on Peter as he calls for the beggar’s attention. This was to let the man know that a response to his plea was coming. The beggar turns to the two Apostles. The term used here as the beggar turns to Peter means “to be especially observant”. This term is used in 1 Timothy 4:16 as an instruction from Paul to Timothy. The crippled man turns probably hopeful to receive coins from Peter and John. But what he receives is so much better.
Peter tells the cripple he doesn’t have any silver or gold, but something better, a surprise, a call to be healed. In the Greek construction of the sentence the phrase of silver and gold is at the beginning for greater emphasis. Remember what we saw last week in chapter 2, the Apostles are live modestly with the church community which shared goods among its members. No longer would this man need to be carried to the Temple to beg for coins. The force of the verb walk shows that the ability will continue for the rest of his life. There is a story told about the medieval theologian Thomas Aquinas as he visited Pope Innocent II one day as the Pope was counting a large sum of money. The Pope said, “You see, Thomas, the church can no longer say, ‘Silver and gold have I none.’” Thomas replied, “True, holy father, neither can she now say, ‘Rise and walk.’”
Peter was now doing the work that Jesus had done during His ministry, but Peter an only do this as a mediator of what Jesus alone has the authority to do. Peter’s gift enabled the man to live and take care of himself. This is how the church should engage the larger community, by showing compassion in visible ways that help, but can develop people’s capabilities.
Verses 7 and 8 are proof of the healing. Peter lifts the man up with his right hand. It’s possible that the cripple had lifted his right hand expecting coins, instead Peter grabs it and lifts him up. The healing took place as Peter grasped his right hand, this allowed him to walk into the temple for the first time in his life. Muscle atrophy would normally take 2-3 months or even up to 6 months of rehab therapy and exercise to develop or redevelop occurred instantly. This idea of immediate healing is common in Luke’s writings on miracles. We see it in his gospel account in 1:64; 4:39; *5:25; 8:44,55; 13:13; and 18:43. This man was not only walking, he was leaping and praising God for his healing. Luke’s use of repeating verbs indicating movement stress the success of the healing. One source says, “The newly healed man knows that God has been at work and that God had been at work through Jesus. He has received an new kind of alms” (Bock, Darrell L., BECNT, © 2007, p. 163).
Now we begin to see the reaction to the healing in verse 9 and 10. All the people at the temple recognized the man as the crippled beggar who would sit at the Beautiful Gate. The people were filled with amazement and wonder at this sight. The Greek words used here for amazement and wonder are not used in this combination anywhere else in the New Testament. The word for wonder is used in two other places in the New Testament, all in response to miracles being performed. The word for amazement appears in 6 other places. in the New Testament, this term describes someone who is emotionally impacted by the experience. The miracle has drawn a crowd, but not created faith. This miracle needs to be explained.
2. Peter gives his second recorded sermon – vv11-26
Here in verse 11 we’re not sure of the timing here, as we don’t have a reference given in the text. This may have been after the prayer service as Peter and John were leaving the Temple, they may not have even made it in yet and this was causing a commotion during the service which could be another reason for the chief priests to intervene as they did. We do know that we’re are in a different section of the Temple complex called Solomon’s Colonnade or Portico. This was on top of one of the walls dividing the Outer court and the Inner court. This was an area that was commonly used for teaching at the Temple, Jesus Himself taught here in John 10:23. While here the healed man was clinging to Peter and John, perhaps to show the crowd who it was that healed him.
Peter, in verse 12, takes the opportunity of the crowd drawing around him and the healed man praising God to correct any misunderstanding that he had anything to do with the miracle and to proclaim Jesus. He asks the crowd why they were so amazed at the miracle. Had they been paying attention during the recent days they wouldn’t have been surprised at the miracle or been staring at John and himself. Peter is trying to correct the idea he and John had special powers or were more godly that God was persuaded to act because of them. In verse 13 Peter invokes an image of the God of PRomise, the God of the nation with his phrase “God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob”. He also identifies himself as a Jew by birth by calling God “the God of our father[or ancestors]”. This makes himself and the audience objects of the Promise. He is saying that God is at work in a new way for His people. This new work includes the glorification of Jesus, God’s servant. The word servant used here is not the common word we hear, but is used as a title. This makes Jesus one who is commissioned by and serves God. Peter is tying Jesus to The Suffering Servant in Isaiah 52 and 53. Peter is tells the crowd of Jesus’ (The Servant’s) glorification and then tells of His suffering. This is similar to how Isaiah talked about the Servant in his prophecy. Peter hold the crowd (the Jews of Jerusalem) responsible for Jesus’ death. His wording here, fits with Luke’s account of the Passion in Luke 23:13-25.
Peter continues to explain who Jesus was to the crowd in verse 14 and 15. Here he calls Jesus “The Holy and Righteous One”, then titles are rooted in the language of the Old Testament. So every Jew around him knew exactly what Peter was inferring about Jesus. Peter tells them they had denied their king and savior when Pilate had was ready to release Him. The crowd had asked for a murder’s life be spared over the Author, the Source of life. That’s backwards! Peter goes on that though the crowd had Jesus killed, God raised Him, and this was something He and the other Apostles could testify to.
Peter answers the question he raised in verse 12, here in verse 16. The power that healed the crippled man came from the name of Jesus, and the cripple had exercised faith on the name tapping into the power. There are arguments about whose faith is referenced here. Some say it was the faith of the Peter and John, some say it was the faith of all three men, but the cripple is a key part of the passage. Peter said it was the power from the name of Jesus, but the name points to the person. Peter validates the healing by reminding the crowd that they know the man healed, they had seen him day after day at the entrance of the Temple begging for coins. Peter mentions faith to drive home the fact of the healing and that God is working through Jesus.
Peter closes the first part of his sermon in verses 17 and 18. He calls them brethren, or brothers and sisters, this ties back to their shared Jewish heritage, that he is part of as well. He tells them that they, the people, the nation, and their leaders acted of ignorance when Jesus was killed, but that this still fulfilled God’s plan. Here we see a glimpse of human responsibility and divine purpose or sovereignty working side by side. Even though they had acted out of ignorance, ignorance does not remove the need to repent. Their ignorance was the failing to understand, not from a lack of opportunity to understand. Peter then begins to show that the Messiah had to suffer as part of God’s plan, though this thought was not expected in Judaism, and he references the Old Testament Scripture. Peter is trying to get the crowd to alter its view of Jesus.
Peter begins his closing statements and begins to apply what he’s been saying here in verse 19. While faith was the key in verse 16, repentance is the key here in 19. He issues a double imperative, a double command: repent and turn back. Repent “stresses the need to change direction or change one’s mind about where one is” (Bock, 175). While turning makes the same point it shows that the idea is ending up inline with God. Turning’s result is the blotting out or wiping away of sin. Blotting or wiping out is another term for forgiveness. We see that the early church already had a variety of terms to describe responding to the Gospel. This term means “wipe away”, “erase”, “obliterate”. Darrell Bock explains the term this way, “It was used of washing papyri to remove letters written in ink…Peter offers the opportunity to have the penalty of sin removed completely” (Bock, 175).
In verses 19 through 21 we see a promise to the individual, the forgiveness of sins, adn to the Nation of Israel, times of spiritual refreshing. Peter is actually calling for a national repentance from Israel, since the nation, through its leaders, denied Christ and had Him killed. The idea was that if the Nation repented. Christ would return and fulfill the rest of the Prophets. “Three blessings are offered in verse 19-21: the forgiveness of sins, the promise of times of refreshing, and the opportunity to participate in the rerun of the Messiah Jesus brings all of this over time…The process starts with forgiveness and runs through Jesus’ return” (Bock, 178).
Peter now begins using specific passages and examples from the Old Testament to show what he is saying is true. He first reminds them of Moses’ messianic prophecy by quoting Deuteronomy 18:15, 18-19. This will get Jewish attention as Moses is held as the first and greatest prophet of Israel. The context of this passage is the establishment of prophets of God being raised up to communicate to the people after Moses. The statement had, by this time, been viewed as a messianic statement long before the Apostles and the early church. Peter continues in verse 24 to say that Samuel and the rest of the Prophets all foretold of the messianic days. Though Samuel is not recorded with a specific Messianic prophecies, he anointed David King, spoke of the establishment of David’s kingdom and promises that he made to David were fulfilled in Jesus.
Peter closes in verse 25 and 26 by reminding them they should have accepted Jesus as the Messiah as they are the descendants of the Prophets and children of the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen 12; Gen 15). Peter has shown the Jesus is the particular seed of Abraham that would bless all nations through Israel.
- The healing of the cripple is a living example of new life in Christ
- Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah
- Faith on Jesus as the Messiah is the only way
- Repent for salvation, there is no excuse
- We must accept Jesus and turn from our sins to be healed of being a spiritual cripple.