Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.Acts 3:1-10. Healing of the lame man at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple
1. Now Peter and John went up together] The word together has been transferred to the previous verse. See the last note. The verb is in the imperfect tense, and would be more correctly rendered were going up. The Temple stood above the city on Mount Moriah.
into the temple] While earnestly labouring for the spread of Christ’s teaching, they did not cast off regard for that schoolmaster which had been appointed to bring men to Christ.
at the hour of prayer] The preposition indicates the period of time towards which their movement tended, and may be well rendered for the hour, &c. They were on their way, and would get there at the time appointed for prayer.
We read in Scripture of three specified hours of prayer, in accordance with which the Psalmist speaks of his own custom (Psalm 55:17), “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray.” And in like manner Daniel prayed “three times a day” (Daniel 6:10). The hour of morning prayer was the third hour, and Peter went up to the housetop to pray (Acts 10:9) about the sixth hour, which was noon, and the evening prayer was this to which Peter and John were going up.
being the ninth hour] At the Equinox this would be three o’clock in the afternoon, but when the daylight was longer it would be later, so that if there were 18 hours day and 6 hours of darkness, each hour of the day would be an hour and a half long, and the hours of the night only half an hour each. At such time the ninth hour would be at half-past four.
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 of them that entered into the temple;2. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb] There is the verb expressed in the original, and it should be translated a certain man who was, &c.
was carried] i.e. regularly every day, and the position in which he had been daily set for the greater part of his forty years’ life (see Acts 4:22) made it certain that he would be widely and well known. So Bartimæus sat by the wayside to beg (Mark 10:46).
whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful] The gateways of the Temple gave admission to the inner court from the court of the Gentiles and the court of the women; there were three on the north and the same number on the south, but the Beautiful Gate meant in this verse was probably the gate on the east which led from the court of the women. The other gates, Josephus says (B. J. v. 5. 3), were overlaid with gold and silver, but this one was “made of Corinthian bronze, and much surpassed in worth those enriched with silver and gold.”
Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.3. asked an alms] Alms is singular number, and was in early times spelt almesse, which is derived from the Greek ἐλεημοσύνη, which in German becomes Almosen = a gift of charity.
And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.4. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him, &c.] And doubtless, like Paul at Lystra (Acts 14:9), “perceiving that he had faith to be healed.” For the man’s first act after his cure—“he entered into the temple” (Acts 3:8)—may be taken as an indication of his devout frame of mind.
And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.
Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.6. Silver and gold have I none] The Apostles, we may see from this, made no claim for themselves upon the contributions of the richer converts.
but such as I have give I thee] Better literally, what I have that give I thee. We are nowhere told how much time had passed since the day of Pentecost, and it is probable that this was not the first miracle which Peter wrought (see Acts 2:43). For he speaks as not without experience of what works God will enable him to do. His language is that of firm assurance, “what I have,” though in a moment he adds “In the name of Jesus Christ.”
Jesus Christ of Nazareth] According to St John’s account, the name Nazareth was included in the title on Christ’s cross (John 19:19), and we can see that the place was despised in the eyes of the Jews (John 1:46) from Nathanael’s question to Philip. This despised origin, as well as the shameful death of Jesus, was a stumbling-block to the Jews.
rise up and walk] The best MSS. have only the last verb walk. So that the arguments which have been based on these words to shew that St Luke in the Acts has drawn his picture here from what is recorded of Christ’s language (Luke 5:23) in the Gospel, fall to the ground.
And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ancle bones received strength.7. his feet and ankle bones] The words in the original are found nowhere else in the N. T. They are of a technical character, and their use, together with the other features of exact description of the cripple’s case, indicate that we have before us the language of the physician (Colossians 4:14). And it is hardly possible to dwell too strongly on indications of this kind, which indirectly mark in the history something which is likewise noted in the Epistles. Those who would assign the second century as the date of the composition of the Acts, must assume for their supposed writer the keenest appreciation of every slight allusion in the letters of St Paul, and at the same time an ability to let his knowledge peep out only in hints like that which we find in this verse. Such persons, while rejecting all that is miraculous in the story as we have it, ask us to believe in such a writer as would himself be almost a miracle, for his powers of observation and the skill with which he has employed them.
received strength] Though from want of use, they must have been withered before.
And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.8. and he leaping up stood] There is no hesitation in the man’s manner; he does not question the power, but obeys at once.
entered with them into the temple] He doubtless felt that this was the best visit he could make with his new powers, and he would be the more anxious to go there as Peter and John were going too.
leaping] For delight at his new strength he cannot put it too much in exercise. This exultant use of the gift was a part of his “praising God.”
We can hardly fail to see, if we compare the narrative of this miracle with that of the similar one wrought at Lystra by St Paul (14), to which we have already referred, that St Luke has used faithfully the materials with which he was furnished by “eye-witnesses,” and has given the accounts as he received them without any colouring of his own. In this chapter we have a description such as a painter would desire; the scene is brought vividly before us, and all the characters are in lively action. It is just such an account as we find in St Mark’s Gospel of the cure of the demoniac child (Mark 9:14-27), and both are quite in accord with all that we know of St Peter’s mode of speaking, and from St Peter it is most probable that the narrative in this chapter is derived. On the contrary, the story of the cure wrought at Lystra by St Paul is told in the fewest possible words and with no touch of the graphic power of which this description is so full. The difference bespeaks the faithfulness of the writer of the Acts, and shews us that he has left the narratives as they came to his hand, without any attempt to stamp on them an individuality of his own.
And all the people saw him walking and praising God:9. all the people saw him] There was abundance of testimony to the reality of the cure, and that by many persons who had seen the cripple for years. This the Jewish authorities (Acts 4:16) admit.
And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him.10. and they knew that it was he, &c.] The same verb is rendered (Acts 4:13) they took knowledge, and that sense is perhaps the better here. It can hardly have been intended to say that the whole of the people knew the man.
And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering.11–26. St Peter’s discourse to the crowd
11. And as the lame man which was healed held Peter, &c.] The oldest MSS. give And as he held Peter, &c. The additional words have crept in from some marginal note of explanation.
the porch that is called Solomon’s] As the name of Solomon was so intimately connected with the Jewish Temple, it is natural enough that one of its porches (or cloisters) should be called after him. There is no account of any such porch in Solomon’s own Temple, but Josephus tells us (Ant. xx. 9. 7) that there was an eastern porch in Herod’s Temple called by this name. The mention of this feature in the building is a sign that the writer, from whom St Luke drew, was one acquainted with the localities about which he speaks, and that the account was written before the fall of Jerusalem, or he would not have said is called, or if he had done so would have been convicted of inconsistency of language by those to whom his work was first presented.
And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?12. when Peter saw it] i.e. their wonder, as may be inferred from his opening words.
he answered] Often used although no previous remark or question precedes. Cp. Acts 5:8, where Peter is said to have answered Sapphira, though she had said nothing, as far as we are told, and where the Apostle’s words are a question.
why marvel ye at this?] Probably we should supply man, because the pronoun at the close of the verse is only the personal and not the demonstrative, and we should read “made him to walk,” and not as the A. V. “made this man to walk.”
look ye so earnestly] The verb is rendered “to fasten the eyes on” in Acts 3:4.
by our own power] As he had done to the cripple, so also he makes it clear to the crowd that the name of Jesus is the power by which he has wrought.
The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.13. hath glorified his Son Jesus] The Greek is not υἱός but παῖς, and should be rendered Servant, and this would carry the mind back, as St Peter no doubt intended, to Isaiah 42:1, “Behold my servant whom I uphold,” a passage which St Matthew (Matthew 12:18) applies to Jesus.
denied him in the presence of Pilate] alluding to Pilate’s question (John 19:15), “Shall I crucify your king?” to which they answered, “We have no king but Cæsar.”
when he was determined, &c.] Rather, when he had given sentence to release him. For Pilate had pronounced Jesus innocent (John 19:4).
But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;14. But ye denied the Holy One and the Just] Whom even the demoniac (Mark 1:24) had confessed to be “the Holy One of God.”
desired a murderer] Barabbas, who had committed murder, Mark 15:7; Luke 23:19.
And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.15. the Prince of life] The same word applied to Jesus (Hebrews 12:2) is rendered “author and finisher of our faith,” and in the same epistle (Acts 2:10) “the captain of their salvation.” It is probably in the latter sense that St Peter, whose thoughts are on the Resurrection, uses the word here, thinking of Christ as the firstfruits of them that slept (1 Corinthians 15:20), but the other sense, that “in him was life” (John 1:4), is also embraced in the word.
whom God hath raised] Better, whom God raised, i.e. once for all.
whereof we are witnesses] The relative is here better referred to Christ, “of whom we are witnesses.” Not merely did they bear witness of the Resurrection, though that was a most important portion of their testimony, but of all Christ’s teaching and deeds. Cp. Acts 1:22, where Matthias was chosen to be such a witness.
And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.16. And his name, &c.] There is more force in retaining the order of the Greek, And through faith in his name, his name hath made strong this man whom ye see and know. This use of name = power, and even as an absolute equivalent for God, is very Jewish; cp. Acts 4:12. The usage grew out of such passages as Psalm 106:8, “He saved them for His name’s sake.” In the literature of the Jews great power was attributed to the name of God even when only inscribed, e.g. as it was said in tradition to have been on the rod of Moses. By this power he is reported to have wrought the miracles in Egypt and in the wilderness. But St Peter’s language here explains that it is no such power of which he is now speaking, for the name of Jesus does not work the miracle per se but only because of the faith of the believer.
the faith which is by him] St Peter uses the like expression (1 Peter 1:21), “You who by Him do believe in God.” Christ is “the author and finisher of our faith.”
And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.17. I wot] This antiquated word is the present tense of the verb to wit (A. S. witan) = to know, and its past tense is I wist. Had I wist = had I known.
through ignorance] Ignorance has many degrees and can arise from many causes. The Jewish multitude were ignorant from want of teaching, their rulers from mental perverseness in looking only on one part of the prophecies concerning the Messiah. Yet of both these it may be said that through ignorance (i.e. want of knowledge, however caused,) they crucified Jesus.
But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.18. by the mouth of all his prophets, &c.] The best MSS. connect the pronoun his with the next clause. Read, by the mouth of all the prophets that his Christ should suffer. The purpose of the whole of the Scripture is to set forth the redemption of men through the suffering of Christ. So that from the first mention of the bruising of the heel of the seed of the woman (Genesis 3:15), there had been a constant chain of testimony that the Christ should suffer.
he hath so fulfilled] Turning your evil deed to a purpose of salvation.
Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;19. Repent ye therefore] i e. because you see the greatness of your offence.
and be converted] Lit. turn again, i.e. from the evil of your ways. The word convert has received much ongrowth of meaning since the A. V. was made. The same word is well rendered (Acts 11:21), “a great number believed and turned unto the Lord.”
when the times of refreshing shall come] ὅπως ἂν cannot be translated when the times … shall come, but that the times … may come. These particles indicate a purpose, the accomplishment of which still lies in doubt. So the Apostle’s argument is, Repent, that your sins may be blotted out, that in this way (i.e. by your penitence) the times of refreshing may come. The particles are rendered in this sense Acts 15:17, “that the residue of men might [better may] seek after the Lord.”
times of refreshing] The Greek word signifies “appointed times,” i.e. which God hath appointed and which He keeps in His own power, but which the penitence of men will hasten. They are called “times of refreshing,” i.e. peace and blessedness, for the Apostle describes them afterwards as the coming of the Christ. But by the prophecies which he quotes he shews that the refreshing is for those only who repent (Acts 3:23) and hear the prophet whom God sends. The anticipation of a speedy return of Christ from heaven was common among the first believers. St Peter here does not directly state this opinion, but we can see how current it was from St Paul’s second Epistle to the Thessalonians, where he finds it necessary to warn the Christians of that Church against the disquiet which the immediate expectation of the second Advent was causing among them.
And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:20. and he shall send] The construction is continued from the previous verse. Read, and that he may send.
In the rest of this verse both the order of the words and the reading of the Tex. Rec. is different from that of the best MSS. The sentence should read: the Christ which was appointed for you, even Jesus. Not only is this the more authoritative reading but it agrees with the proofs which St Peter presently cites (Acts 3:25), “Ye are the children of the covenant which God made with our fathers.” The Christ, the Messiah, had been appointed and promised unto the Jewish nation, and now the promise of the covenant is fulfilled in Jesus.
Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.21. whom the heaven must receive] and retain, as we are witnesses that He has been taken up into heaven.
until the times of restitution] Better, restoration of all things, i.e. at Christ’s second coming. But this phrase, “the restoration of all things,” is used in two senses in N. T. First it is said (Matthew 17:11; Mark 9:12) that Elias must “first come and restore all things.” There it signifies the beginning of Christ’s Kingdom. As Christ’s death was for all men’s redemption, the restoration of all things may be said to have begun then. In the present verse the words have reference to the time when the course of that restoration shall be completed.
which God hath spoken] Better, of which [i.e. times] God hath spoken.
all his holy prophets] All is omitted in the best MSS.
since the world began] See Acts 3:18.
For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.22. For Moses truly said] Truly is here the rendering of the particle μέν, and is likely to be misunderstood, as though it meant verily. Read For indeed Moses said. Here the Apostle cites the prophecies to which he has been alluding. First from Deuteronomy 18:15 he points out that the prophet who had been promised was to be of their brethren, as Moses had been. This was a comparison which the Jews themselves were fond of making, and they often identified the prophet of whom Moses spake with the Messiah. Thus the Midrash Rabbah on Ecclesiastes 1:9 says, “Rabbi Berakhiah in the name of Rabbi Yizkhak [Isaac] says: ‘As was the former redeemer so shall the latter redeemer be.’ While of the former redeemer it is said (Exodus 4:20), ‘And Moses took his wife and his sons and set them upon an ass,’ so of the latter: for it says (Zechariah 9:9), ‘He is lowly and riding upon an ass.’ And while the former redeemer brought down manna, as it says (Exodus 16:4), ‘Behold I will rain bread from heaven for you,’ so the latter redeemer will bring down manna. For it says (Psalm 72:16), ‘There shall be abundance of corn in the land.’ And as the former redeemer caused the well to spring up (see Numbers 21:17), so the latter redeemer shall also cause the waters to spring up. For it says (Joel 3:18), ‘A fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, and shall water the valley of Shittim.’ ”
him shall ye hear] i.e. those who have “ears to hear” when the prophet comes and speaks. The next verse shews that all the nation were not included in the “ye.”
And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.24. all the prophets from Samuel] To other prophecies St Peter only makes a general reference. We learn (Midrash Shemuel, c. 24) that Samuel was called by the Jews “Rabban,” the chief and teacher of the prophets, and there are several reasons why he is put in this foremost place. (1) We never read of a school of the prophets before his time. (2) His mother Hannah is the first person in Holy Writ who speaks of the Messiah (1 Samuel 2:10), “God’s anointed.” (3) Jewish tradition says that the man of God who came to Eli (1 Samuel 2:27) was Elkanah. The Targum on 1 Samuel 10:12, “But who is their father?” explains father by Rabbi, and refers the word to Samuel, so that the question in that verse would imply: “Why do you wonder at Saul among the prophets? Who is it that instructs the prophets? Is it not Samuel? And has not Saul been with him just now and been anointed by him?” All this could be said without the speaker having any knowledge that Saul was to be king. For the use of father as = teacher or Rabbi cf. Elisha’s cry to Elijah (2 Kings 2:12), “My father, my father.”
as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days] The verbs are aorist. Read, as many as spake they also told of these days. The latter verb is without the preposition προ in the best MSS., and so is not = foretold but told. The prophet was one who spoke for God, gave a message from Him, but was not necessarily a foreteller of the future.
Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.25. Ye are the children [better, sons] of the prophets] i.e. of the same race, and therefore what the prophets spake is meant for you. The prophet foretold by Moses is raised up for you.
and [sons] of the covenant] Therefore, heirs to its promises and its obligations. So (2 Kings 14:14) hostages are called literally sons of the pledgings or compacts.
saying unto Abraham] Genesis 22:18.
Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.26. Unto you first] That the Jews might first receive the blessing themselves, and then spread it abroad.
God, having raised up] Not spoken here of the resurrection of Jesus, but recalling the promise of Moses (Acts 3:22) that a prophet should be raised up and sent unto the people.
his Son Jesus] his Servant (as Acts 3:13). The best authorities omit Jesus.
sent him to bless you] by the times of refreshing alluded to Acts 3:19. The way and means to which blessing is to be by the repentance and turning again to which the Apostle has been exhorting them.