The Impotent Man
Acts 3:1-11
Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.…


1. He was impotent, carried by others; and where they left him they were sure to find him. He was not so by any accident, as Mephibosheth, but from the womb; and therefore his case was the more deplorable, and a cure the more improbable. This is a fit emblem of the unregenerate, who are not only spiritually blind, and deaf, and dumb, but tame too; so that they cannot tread the paths of wisdom, or stir one foot in the way to heaven. Good men may be ready to halt, and their feet well nigh slip; but these are always halting and slipping; for their legs, like those of the lame, are not equal. It is not legs and feet that they want, but the right use of them; and this has been their case from their birth. Blessed be God for the promises made to such! "I will assemble her that halteth, and gather her that is driven out. The lame man shall leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall sing."

2. His poverty added to his distress. If help was to be obtained by medicine, he bad not wherewithal to procure it, for he had to beg his bread. And thus it is with sinners. The saints want many things in the present life; but wicked men want everything that is worth having; and the want of a sense of this is perhaps their greatest want. Give me leave to add, that those to whom God shows mercy are also oftentimes like the impotent man, poor in temporals. The poor, says Christ, have the gospel preached to them. Those who are destitute of outward ornaments and comforts are inwardly beautified with Divine grace, and filled with Divine consolations.

3. He had continued long under his disorder, which made his case the more deplorable. Let this afford encouragement to old and accustomed sinners, if they have a sense of the evil of their way, and are in good earnest seeking relief, let them not despair of obtaining it. He who cured old diseases can save old sinners.

4. He was nevertheless in the way of a cure; for he lay at the Beautiful gate of the temple, where the charitable might relieve him, the pious pray for him, and the intelligent afford him their best advice. Thus the impotent sinner should watch daily at wisdom's gates, remembering that God commands deliverance out of Zion, and is there known for a refuge to His people.


1. It was unexpected, and therefore the more welcome. And thus it is in the conversion of sinners. Mercy comes as it did to Zaccheus, to Saul, and to this man: unsought and unimplored!

2. It was instantaneous. Peter does not put him upon a long course of medicine; but takes him by the hand, and lifts him up, Thus, however gradual the work of grace may appear in some converts, yet the implantation of grace is instantaneous. God new creates the soul, as He created the world. He says, Let there be light; and there is light; Let there be life! and there is life.

3. As Omnipotence took it in hand, so it was an easy cure. No violent methods were used: his distorted limbs were not reduced to their proper place by any painful operation. And so the actings of Divine grace upon the soul are as mild and gentle as they are powerful and effectual

4. It was a real and permanent cure. Thus it is when God heals the broken heart, or cures the distempered soul. The one is a miracle of power, the other of grace: and as the former, so the latter is no deception.


1. "He leaped up." Thus it is with the sinner recovered by Divine grace. The word of the Lord, the way of the Lord, the joy of the Lord, and especially the Christ of God, is his strength; and this strength he employs for the purposes for which it is bestowed. "I will go in the strength of the Lord God." Earnestness and intentness of mind is also implied. He not only exerted himself, but did it to the utmost of his power. Thus when a sinner is capable of acting, especially in the warmth of his first love, he will act with all his might.

2. "He stood." Formerly he could not stand without leaning and trembling. He stood ready for action, as one that would hereafter get his livelihood by working, and not by begging. He also stood to show himself to the people.

3. "He walked." This was a new exercise to him. Thus, by the power of Divine grace, those that are spiritually lame are made to walk with God, and before Him; honestly and uprightly, in newness of life; in the light, in the truth, and at liberty. The Spirit is their guide, the Word their rule, the excellent of the earth their companions, glory their end, and Christ their way.

4. "He entered with the apostles into the temple." At the gate of it he had got many an alms from man: now he would enter into it to get an alms from God. From this part of his conduct we may learn —

(1) What place the saints make their chosen residence, the house of God. "My feet shall stand within thy gates, O Jerusalem!" Especially when recovered from disorder, and released from confinement. The first place they will visit is the temple, there to pay those vows which they made in the time of their distress, and present their humble and thankful acknowledgments unto God.

(2) What persons they choose for their companions. Those whom God has made useful to them, as hoping still to receive the benefit of their prayers and instructions. Thus the jailer brought Paul and Silas into his house, and Lydia constrained them to abide in her house.

5. Still "he walked and leaped," like one in an ecstasy and transport, and "praised God." Whence we may observe, that though he loved the instruments, yet he did not praise them. He gave the praise where it was due.Improvement:

1. Let awakened sinners take encouragement from this wonderful instance of Divine grace.

2. Let the saints imitate the example here set before them, in the warmest gratitude and most affectionate praises.

(B. Beddome, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.

WEB: Peter and John were going up into the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.

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