1. Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.
Here we see these two chiefest of the apostles, Peter and John. These two are listed together seven times in the book of Acts, and John is always listed after Peter. In Greek, the more important name is listed first, so Peter is considered the leader at this point. These two apostles are going together into the temple at one of the hours of prayer. Remember in Acts 2:42, we read that those who believed the apostles’ word and fellowshipped together continued in the prayers. These were the set hours of prayer in the temple, which were at the third, sixth, and ninth hour, or 9:00AM, noon, and 3:00PM by our reckoning. This event took place just prior to the last of these, as the verse states it took place at the ninth hour. In our relationship with God, we have no earthly temple, and our prayers are done any time, not at set hours. We are not, and cannot be, a continuation of what God was doing with these men, for we have no part in such an activity as this.
As we read this, we are reminded that these men, the apostles, and all they were doing and accomplishing was connected with the temple, and with the religion God gave to the nation of Israel. Many wish to make out that the apostles rejected the temple and all it stood for after the death of Christ. Yet the record here, and the record throughout the book of Acts, is utterly contrary to this. It is clear that those who teach this do so out of wishful thinking rather than from Biblical evidence.
2. 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;
Now we are introduced to this certain lame man. This man, as we read, was apparently malformed, since he had been lame from his birth. Work in Israel was hard to find for men who were whole and healthy, and so men like this had little choice in trade. Thus this man was a beggar, and it seems he was a common fixture at the temple, as we read that he was daily laid, probably by friends or family, at this same gate of the temple, which is called Beautiful. Here, he plied his trade by asking alms of those going into the temple. Probably those who were entering into the place of worship of the God Who wrote in the law that the people of Israel were to care for the poor among them, would be in the mood for giving to such a one as they entered that temple. Thus this man probably did fairly well at begging here.
3. who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms.
It just so happens that on this day this lame beggar asks an alms of Peter and John as they go into the temple. Of course, if he had known who these men were who were passing into the temple in front of him, he may have asked them for much more. Yet we have no reason to believe that this lame man had any idea whom these two men were among all the crowd of Israelites that was entering the temple for the hour of prayer. To him, they were just two more who might give to him in his need.
We know that this lame man had no idea of whom he had just asked an alms, yet he has an excuse, for Peter and John would have looked much like all the other temple worshippers in Jerusalem at that time. Yet we, by contrast, can look at them from God’s perspective, so we have little excuse for not giving these men the proper honor which they are due. Our Lord Jesus said of John the Baptizer, “For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” (Luke 7:28) Today very few seem to have any grasp of what it means to be in the kingdom of God. Thus, though they might understand what the Lord was saying of John, they have little understanding of what He was saying regarding those in the kingdom of God.
The kingdom of God is the government of God, and to be in the kingdom means to be in the government. I do not believe that to be living under the government as a citizen is the same thing as being in the government. For example, I am a citizen of the United States of America, but I am no part of its government. This is said in full cognizance that I have the right to vote. This right allows me to participate in the government, but it does not make me a part of it. So to apply this to the Scriptures, those who are in the kingdom, I believe, are those who have authority in it, not just those living under it.
Now as I said in dealing with chapter 2, the Acts period was the beginning of the kingdom of God. Peter and John were in that government, and they were far from the least in it. These were men of whom the Lord Jesus had said:
“Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” Matthew 19:28.
He had promised regarding them:
“Assuredly, I say to you, whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven. Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.” Matthew 18:18-19.
He had also given them amazing power.
“If you forgive the sins of any, they are forgiven them; if you retain the sins of any, they are retained.” John 20:23.
How can we read such things of these men and yet deny the power and authority they had? If they could bind or loose a thing on earth and God would do the same in heaven, if they could ask anything in the Lord’s name and the Father would do it, and if they could forgive and retain sins, then these were the most powerful of people on earth. Yet there are many around us who try to make them out to be nothing more than the ministers or missionaries of today. This is not a realistic view of these apostles! These men had power, and were indeed some of the most powerful men who had ever walked the face of the earth.
Some try to make the claim that we could do the same miracles the apostles did if only we had enough faith. Yet when we understand the position these men had, we can see how foolish such a viewpoint is. We do not have a bit of the power and authority that God granted to the Lord’s apostles. If God had made such statements as those quoted above of us, we could have faith regarding them, and we would be able to do the things these apostles did. But the Lord never said such things to us, and we have no such authority. Let us be satisfied with the place and position God has given us, and give to the apostles the honor that they are due. These are not men such as we have among us today. These men had the authority of God, and they were going to use it in respect to this lame man.
4. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.”
Peter and John had not particularly caught this man’s eye, and there was probably a whole crowd of people moving into the temple just at that time as they were arriving for the time of prayer. Thus, it seems the man asked an alms of them, and then quickly switched his attention to others who were passing by. Now, though, Peter and John fasten their eyes upon him, and demand his attention. He may have taken little notice of them, but they had taken notice of him, and now he would receive something from God, and it would be far more than he bargained for.
5. So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them.
The lame man still has no more expectation than of receiving some monetary gift. Remember, that is what he was there for, and there was nothing in the appearance of Peter and John to clue him in that they might give him something more. When they drew his attention, he probably figured they planned to give him some larger than usual gift, and perhaps wanted to make a display of it for the crowd passing by.
6. 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.”
Peter acts with no explanation and no warning. He does nothing to awaken this man’s faith. He does not tell him that he first must believe and then he will be healed. Instead, Peter just speaks the word, and the power goes forth to make this man well.
Peter’s words speak to the reality of what God had given him. He had no silver or gold. The Companion Bible notes that Rabbinical ruling said it was unlawful to carry a purse into the temple. At any rate, money was not the gift God had granted him. Rather, He had given him the power of the Holy Spirit, and he now puts that power to full use in proclaiming this man well. The Lord had promised His disciples, “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” These were the men to whom the Father had promised and had given that Spirit. Moreover, that Spirit was not given according to their worthiness or ability. As Ephesians 4:13 tells us, that Spirit was given to bring them all “to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.” It was His greatness that was measured in this great miracle, not their ability as healers. In this, as in all things they did, the apostles acted fully on His behalf.
Notice that Peter does this miracle in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Nazareth was a little town with a bad reputation. Thus, calling Him a Nazarene was a way that His enemies often mocked Him. Yet now in the name of Jesus of Nazareth Peter performs this great miracle. Men might have given this town a bad reputation, but now God is going to change all that. He is going to show by this miracle the truth that this One from Nazareth is His Own Son.
7. And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
Peter takes him by the right hand, probably the very hand he had held out for alms, and lifts him up. God then steps in and acts, and His actions are not slow, for we read that immediately this man’s feet and ankle bones received strength. Apparently it was a weakness in his feet and ankle bones that had caused this man to be lame from birth. Now, after decades of being a cripple, his condition is reversed, and he receives the strength he needs to walk.
8. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them—walking, leaping, and praising God.
Apparently, Peter did not need to lift him all the way to his feet. Peter began to lift him up, but he completed this himself, leaping up to his feet. Remember from verse two that this man was lame from birth. It is well known that even with perfectly healthy limbs, no one is able to walk and leap who never has before. Balance is a tricky thing, and walking is a skill that must be learned patiently and carefully over time, as anyone who has ever seen a child learning to walk surely knows. No one whose legs had been repaired after never walking could just jump up and walk. Moreover, beyond walking it takes even more skill to leap. Yet Peter’s command to this man was not just to be healed, but to walk, and God’s power went forth to make him do so. He received, not just healing, but a Divine impartation of knowledge, so that he knew how to walk and leap as well as one who had been doing it all his life.
Now it seems that Peter and John calmly continue to make their way into the temple. This time, however, they are accompanied by the overjoyed formerly-lame man, who follows them walking and leaping and praising God. His former place was outside the gate of the temple, but now with his new ability to walk, his first steps bring him into the temple of the Lord. He must have been quite a sight among the relatively solemn crowd entering the temple courts to pray.
9. And all the people saw him walking and praising God.
This might describe what the people saw as they entered the temple for the service of prayer. When one entered the temple at this time of the prayer service, it would have been customary to stand quietly and reverently in one place as you prayed to God, for in their culture they prayed standing up. Only in times of great emotion would they prostrate themselves on the ground before God as they prayed. That was probably almost as rare then as it is now, however.
Now as these people come in and stand to pray, their attention is arrested by one man who does not act in the usual way. Instead of standing, he continues to walk around, and instead of praying quietly, he is loudly praising God.
10. 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.
The man’s odd behavior had drawn the people’s attention, and they all recognized him. This man had been taking his place at the Beautiful gate of the temple for many years, and these people were probably in the habit of attending the service of prayer daily, most of them multiple times a day. Probably most of the people near him were those who customarily entered by the Beautiful gate, as the push of people into the temple probably would have kept them relatively together. Thus, they all would have passed into the temple past this beggar many times, and he would have been a familiar and easily recognizable person to them.
Most of the claimed healings of today are done by calling people out of a crowd to be healed whom most in the crowd have never seen before, and will probably never see again. Many healing services are broadcast on television, and the viewer can never even meet the people healed in the flesh. In such circumstances, who can confirm that the person healed was ever infirm in the first place, or that he was truly healed if he was? The false healers of today rely on this inability to verify their claims. Yet no one in this crowd could say that a real healing had not taken place. They all knew this man, and they all knew that he had been lame. Now, he was clearly seen walking and praising God, and they could have no doubt that something miraculous had occurred.
11. 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.
It seems from what is said that the prayer service is over, and that the people are now making their way out of the temple. The lame man, however, grabs unto Peter and John. Remember, he still does not have much knowledge of what has happened to him, so he does not want to let those who healed him leave until he can learn more about them. This draws the people’s attention to all three of them, and the people run together into the place called Solomon’s porch, still in great wonderment because of the healing of the lame man.
The place here called Solomon’s porch was actually more of a covered walk. Peter and John were probably making their way out of the temple this way when the lame man stopped them. Now, the people want to hear from them more about what has happened. The lame man cannot tell them, for he does not know himself. Peter will now become the spokesman, and will give them God’s word on the situation.
12. 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?
Peter sees their interest, and he uses the opportunity to speak the inspired words of God to them. Oftentimes our encounters with men of the world might begin with little more than curiosity on their part. It is well if we can use such opportunities to turn their attention to the more crucial things of God.
Peter speaks to the people as men of Israel. This was the name God gave to the man Jacob, and was a term of great honor. Israel was a prince with God, and it is as men of Israel that Peter calls upon these men to consider what has just happened. Men of the world might simply look upon some miracle as this as a sensational occurrence. They might learn about it to satisfy their curiosity, give some honor to those who had performed it, and then go their way. But as men of Israel, Peter calls upon them to consider these things on a deeper level than this. This event gave these men the opportunity to learn about God’s truth, and they should, as Israelites, seek God’s truth regarding this healing.
First, Peter asks them why they marvel. For the person of faith, such an event should not produce great surprise or wonder. Instead, it should be a sign to them that something significant has taken place, and their Godly response should be to seek to find out how it is that God would have them respond to it.
Next, Peter asks them why they look so earnestly on him and John. It was not by their own power or holiness that they had made the lame man walk. People of the world always tend to credit the miracle worker more than the one who gave the power to work the miracle. The visible agent always seems to get the most credit and praise. Yet those whose hearts are set on God understand that all miraculous occurrences must either be His work, or the work of His enemies, and they will always consider them as such.
13. 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.
This title of the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob is the great name for God that the Lord spoke to Moses in the wilderness at the burning bush in Exodus 3:6, 15, and 16, and in Exodus 4:5. It indicates the God Who worked powerfully with these men, and Who gave them great and many promises. This God, Peter declares, has glorified His Servant Jesus.
The word translated “Servant” here is paida, and can mean “Child” or “Servant.” It is rare that Jesus is called God’s Child rather than God’s Son. Yet here I think it is used to emphasize that the Lord Jesus, though He was descended from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as were they all, was also descended from God. This made Him far more than any other Israelite.
God had glorified His Child Jesus. Yet what a contrast what the people of Jerusalem had done to Him was to this! God had glorified Him, but they had delivered Him up and denied Him in the presence of Pilate, even when he was willing to let Him go. Of course, not every man of Jerusalem had been present or done this, but their leaders had done it, and so they all bore some responsibility. And to have responsibility for this wicked action was a woeful thing indeed!
Notice the direct blame that Peter places upon these people here. In Acts 2, Peter was speaking to the crowd at the great feast of Pentecost, when all Israel had come together to Jerusalem for the feast. Now, the feast is over, and all the crowds have left. Now, Peter is speaking to Israelites who were actually dwelling at Jerusalem. It is these whom Peter blames directly for the death of Christ. It was these people who had brought it about, and who had denied the Lord before Pilate.
14. But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you,
Peter sets forth their crime in stark and uncompromising terms. He does not color it, or seek to soften the accusation. They had denied the Holy One, even the Just One. Instead, they had desired for themselves a murderer. The word for “to be granted” is charisthenai, and is related to charis, which means grace. Barabbas certainly deserved the fate of crucifixion, since he was a bloody murderer. Yet they had desired grace for Barabbas, and demanded his rightful penalty instead be placed upon the Holy and Just One Whom God had sent to them. This was a terrible crime, an awful perversion of justice, and a heavy weight of guilt upon the people whom Peter was accusing.
15. and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses.
They had killed the Prince of life. The word for “Prince” here is the Greek archegon, from archegos. This word means author or originator, or the first cause of something. Thus, Peter is calling the Lord Jesus the Author of life. By this the contrast is made even stronger, and the magnitude of their crime is stated in terms that leave no doubt as to their overwhelming guilt. They had desired grace for a murderer, one who takes life, and they had killed the One Who was the originator of life itself. This was the ultimate in injustice, and God had shown His opinion on the matter when He raised the Lord Jesus from the dead. This certainly proved that He did not deserve death in God’s sight.
Peter claims that he and John are the proof of this. They are witnesses of what happened. They have seen that Jesus Christ is raised from the dead. If Peter had been lying in making such a bold statement, it is certain that he and the others would not have stuck with their claim later on when persecution came. These men were not telling a story they had concocted. This had really happened. Jesus Christ really was alive, and the people of Jerusalem bore the guilt for His unlawful death.
16. 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.
The word “name” here needs to be understood. One’s name has to do with one’s character and reputation, for this is the “name” that one has among other people. For example, if you had a name for being an honest man, that would be what people thought about you. Your name also carries your authority. If one person does something in another person’s name, it is assumed that the other person is the one who gave him the authority to do it. Of course, the one in whose name the work is done is also ultimately responsible for the work. It is his character and reputation, if you will, that is on the line when this work is done.
So it was the name of Jesus Christ, that is, His power that had made this man strong. This power had come through faith in His name, the very faith that Peter and John had. We know what great faith Peter had in the name of the Lord Jesus, as we can read about it in Matthew 16:16-17.
“Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’
Jesus answered and said to him, ‘Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.’”
Peter knew what the Lord’s true character was, and he had complete faith in it, as did John. It was by working through this faith that God had made this man strong.
Peter emphasizes the fact that they can all see this man, and that they all know him and who he is. This was not a man whom none of them knew or recognized. They did not have to take his word for it that he had been healed. They all knew him, and knew very well the fact that he had been unable to walk. Thus, Peter’s message speaks most powerfully to them. He emphasizes to them, therefore, that it was faith which is by Jesus Christ that had given this formerly lame man perfect soundness in their presence.