1 “Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer,
being the ninth hour.” Were going up for went up together, Authorized Version
and Textus Receptus Peter and John. The close friendship of these two apostles is
remarkable. The origin of it appears to have been their partnership in the
fishing-boats in which they pursued their trade as fishermen on
For Luke tells us that the sons of Zebedee were “partners with Simon,” and helped
him to take the miraculous draught of fishes (Luke 5:10). We find the
two sons of Zebedee associated with Peter in the inner circle of the Lord’s
apostles, at the Transfiguration, at the raising of Jairus’s daughter, and at
the agony in the
yet closer friendship of Peter and John first appears in their going together
then in the memorable visit to the holy sepulcher on the morning of the
Resurrection (John 20:2-4), and yet again in John 21:7, 20-21. It is
in strict and natural sequence to these indications in the Gospel that, on
opening the first chapters of the Acts, we find Peter and John constantly
acting together in the very van of the Christian army (here – vs. 1,3,11;
ch. 4:13,19; 8:14, 25). The hour of prayer; called in Luke 1:10, “the
hour of incense,” that is, the hour of the evening sacrifice, when the people
stood outside in prayer, while the priest within offered the sacrifice and
burnt the incense (see ch. 2:46, note). Hence the comparison in
Psalm 141:2, “Let my prayer be set before thee as incense, and the
lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice.”
Habits of Public Prayer (v. 1)
The Lord Jesus set the example of regular attendance on the synagogue
services; and both He and His apostles seem to have daily attended at the
temple at the appointed “hours of prayer,” when they were resident in the
“holy city.” Some illustrations may be given of the prayer-habits of both
Jews and Mohammedans; and the value, but also peril, of customs of
public prayer may be pointed out. We read in Scripture of three specified
hours of prayer, in accordance with which the psalmist speaks of his own
custom (Psalm 55:17). 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 house-top to pray (ch.10:9) about the sixth
hour, which was noon; and the evening prayer was this to which Peter and
John were going up. We fix attention on the fact that, though the apostles
had the new personal “life in Christ,” they found public religious service
and duties still demanded their attention. Soul-life, spiritual life, still needs
for its culture “public prayer” and “united worship.”
public. Both are necessary. Each helps the other. Since men are not
isolated individuals, their personal and private devotions cannot satisfy all
their needs and claims. And since the individual can never be lost in the
crowd, public devotions can never adequately express the precise personal
needs. Our Lord taught us the duty and value of private prayer
CULTURE, AND TO THE DUTY OF WITNESSING FOR GOD. Take
first to “personal culture.” In private devotion there is danger of morbid
introspection; public prayer fills our thought with God rather than man.
When alone the self-sphere may become too prominent; when we join with
others we are helped to forget self in common sympathies, desires, and
prayers. At home communion and petition are prominent in our prayers; in
the assembly of God’s people the prominent thing is intercession. Besides
this, in public worship we are influenced by holy sentiment, and swayed by
high emotions, and realize the joy of the Divine life. These things bear most
directly on healthy soul-culture. Further, it is our bounden duty to make
solemn public declaration of our belief in God, and submission to His
authority and rule. Such a declaration we make in the act of going to and
joining in public prayer and worship. Our “houses of prayer,” and our
“hours of prayer,” and our “millions of worshippers,” still attest
belief in God; and every one should feel jealous lest the fullness and
clearness of that testimony should be in the least degree impaired. Deal
with modern neglect of worship, and the custom of half-day worshipping.
PUBLIC PRAYER. Herein we have the example of our Lord, of His
apostles, and of the saints through all the ages. It would be difficult to find
the case of one eminently holy man or woman, in all the Christian history,
who held lightly or neglected the public worship and ordinances of the
Church. (It just doesn’t happen – CY – 2016) Such habits should be formed
and well watched over in early life. Those united together as friends, as
husbands and wives, should help each other to maintain the habits. For they
bear good influence:
Ø on family life,
Ø on social life, and
Ø on national life.
The constant association with Divine things has a gracious and hallowing
influence, and renews every earnest purpose to live the godly life. The
formation and maintenance of such good habits is, further, a sign of
self-mastery in the spirit of loyalty and obedience to God. And such
self-mastery is the very beginning and necessary foundation
of all HIGH MORALITY and VIRTUE. It guarantees that effort will be
made to enthrone God and duty over bodily passion, and over all life-
come to share in worship “to be seen of men.” We may put the sensual (or
sensuous) above the spiritual. We may find our hearts satisfied with the
ceremonial. We may pride ourselves upon our regularity. Our very
familiarity with worship-forms may lead to repetition without thought or
feeling. The Judaism of the time of our Lord presents a painful instance of
how sadly the life may go out of a national religion, leaving only the formal
observance of ever-multiplying rites and ceremonies. And the
Mohammedan, dropping prostrate at the sound of the muezzin, and
incoherently muttering words of prayer, warns us of the insidious and fatal
peril of formalism in public religion. The life we can put into
public worship must be the life which has been touched, quickened, and
cultured by God into strength, in our prayer-chamber at home. We cannot,
with any surety, get life at public worship; but we can always bring it with
us to the worship. The law works broadly, and it may be thus briefly
stated: The nourished and kept soul has life for worship. Then “forsake
not the assembling of yourselves together, as the manner of some is,”
(Hebrews 10:25) and see to it that you carry to the sanctuary of God
hearts beating high with love and reverence and trust.
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 of
them that entered into the temple;” That was lame for lame, Authorized
Version; door for gate, Authorized Version. Door. If any distinction is intended
between the θύραν – thuran - door here and the πύλη – pulae – gate of v. 10
(which is not certain, as θύρα is often used for a gate), we must
understand θύρα of the double doors of the gate described by Josephus.
Perhaps the lame man leaned against one of the open doors. Which is called
Beautiful. It is not certain what gate this was. In the ‘Dictionary of the
Bible’ it is described as “the great eastern gate leading from the court of
the women to the upper court,” following apparently Josephus, ‘De Bell.
Jud.,’ 5. 5:3. But it is impossible to reconcile Josephus’s two accounts —
that in the ‘
says distinctly that there were ten gates — four on the north, four on the
south, and two on the east. In the latter he says there were three gates on
the north, three on the south, and one on the east. In the former he says
that fifteen steps led up from the women’s enclosure to the great gate,
exactly opposite the gate of the temple itself (ἄντικρυ τῆς τοῦ ναοῦ πυλῆς –
antikru taes tou naou pulaes); in the latter he says very distinctly that women
were allowed to enter through the great gate on the east. With such
discrepancies in the description of the only eye-witness whose evidence has
been preserved, it is impossible to speak with certainly. But it seems probable
that there were two gates on the east — one the beautiful and costly gate of
Corinthian brass, elaborately described by Josephus, through which the women
did pass; the other the greater gate, just opposite to and above the beautiful
gate (ἡ ὑπὲρ τὴν Κορινθίαν – hae huper taen Korinthian), leading from the court
of the women to the inner court; and that Josephus has confounded one with the
other in his descriptions. Anyhow, the beautiful gate was probably on the east.
Its correct name is said to be the gate of Nicanor. The temple. It must be
remembered that the whole platform, including the porches, and the courts
of the Gentiles and of the women, and the outer court and the court of the
priests, was called τὸ ἱερόν – to hieron – sanctuary; temple; sacred place;
the actual house was called ὁ ναός – ho naos – shrine; sanctuary; temple;
that part of the ἱερόν to which only Israelites were admitted, was called τὸ ἅγιον –
to hagion - sanctuary. Josephus also divides the precincts into the first, second,
and third ἱερόν. The description of this lame man laid at the gate of the temple
to ask alms is very similar to that in Luke 16:20 of Lazarus laid at the rich man’s
gate; only that the word for laid is Luke ἐπέβλητο – epeblaeto – was laid; had
been cast, and here is ἐτίθουν – etithoun – laid; they placed.
The Kinship between Religion and Charity (v. 2)
From the exegetical portion of the Commentary materials for the
introduction may be obtained. Such introduction should treat of the
suffering poor in the East, showing how necessarily dependent they were
upon promiscuous charity. With their condition may be contrasted the care
for the poor in all Christian lands, and the provision of hospitals and
institutions for their relief. Some account may also be given of Herod’s
temple, and the position of the gate called Beautiful. Josephus says the
other gates were overlaid with gold and silver, but this one, which was
probably the gate on the east, which led from the court of the women, was
“made of Corinthian bronze, and much surpassed in worth those enriched
with silver and gold.” It may further be shown how this miracle, wrought
by the agency of Peter, resembles the gracious miracles of healing
wrought by our Lord Himself. The picture of this poor and hopelessly
suffering man suggests the following topics for meditation:
BODILY DISABILITIES FOR SOME MEMBERS OF THE HUMAN
FAMILY. This, as a fact, may be variously illustrated, and it may be
shown, from our Lord’s teachings, that neither bodily infirmities and
disabilities, nor earthly calamities, are necessarily direct results of personal
sin or fault. They are oftentimes hereditary consequences of ancestral sin.
They are often products of circumstances and conditions of life, over which
the sufferer had no control. They may be regarded as the great sin-burden
lying on the race, and borne more evidently by some members for the sake
of all. So long as the race is sinful, it must have the character of its
sinfulness marked and impressed by manifest, painful, unsightly, revolting,
and apparently hopeless forms of “suffering” all around it. The “suffering”
as well as the “poor” we have always with us.
FAMILY UPON THE BROTHERHOOD AND CHARITY OF OTHERS.
For, if we look upon them aright, we regard them as bearing the common
burden, and so bearing our burden. We might have been among the blind,
or dumb, or lame, or idiotic, or paralyzed; and it is never enough that we
thank God for our freedom from special disabilities; our thankfulness only
finds its natural and proper expression in caring for, helping, and relieving
the disabled and distressed. Sufferers, wherever they are found, should
touch our hearts with tender emotions. We should have such an open,
sensitive heart as can take them all in. It is well if we show special interest
in some particular class of sufferers — the orphan, incurable, lame, sick
children, deaf and dumb, etc. To take a higher ground, our Lord is the
great Sufferer, and so the head of all sufferers. Therefore, for His sake, and
as showing our tender sympathy and love for Him, we should take His
suffering brethren into our love and care. “Doing it to the least of the
brethren is doing it to him.” (Matthew 25:40,45) “He that loveth God
[his Father] should love his brother also.” (I John 4:21)
SUCH CHARITY TOWARD THE DISABLED FROM THE
RELIGIOUS. It is a fact that systematic efforts for the welfare of the
naturally disabled are only found in lands where Christian thought and
feeling prevail. It may be illustrated and enforced:
Ø That this connection between religion and brotherly charity is natural It
is the fitting impulse of “human kindness” that leads us to care for others,
but it is the special impulse of that new feeling that comes with personal
and saving relations with Christ.
Ø That this connection is right. Urged as such by Divine command and
Divine example, as well as by the example of all noble and holy men.
Ø This connection has been, in Christian lands, fairly well met. Show into
how varied spheres Christian benevolence and charity may now run. Ask
earnestly, and with direct applications — Is it true, individually for us, that
our piety has cultured into holy vigor our charity? If not, it is of little
worth to us or to others.
3 “Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an
alms.” To receive an alms for an alms, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus.
The Received Text has ἐλεημοσύνην λαβεῖν – eleaemosunaen labein.
4 “And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.”
Fastening his eyes (ἀτενίσας … εἰς αὐτόν – atenisas eis auton – looking
intently….into him). Compare Luke 4:20, “The eyes of all were fastened upon
Him (ἤσαν ἀτένιζοντες – aesan atenizontes – were looking intently);” and
ibid. ch. 22:56, “looking steadfastly.” Luke also uses the phrase in here in v. 12;
ch.1:10; 6:15; 7:55; but it is found nowhere else in the New Testament except
II Corinthians 3:7,13.
5 “And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of
them.” From for of, Authorized Version.
6 “Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee:
In the name of Jesus Christ of
Authorized Version; what I have that for such as I have, Authorized Version;
walk for rise up and walk, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus. In the name
of Jesus Christ of
explains in vs. 12 and 16, where he shows that they did not work the miracle
by their own power or godliness, but that the lame man was healed by the
Name of Jesus, in which he believed. So our Lord said of Himself, “I am come
in my Father’s Name” (John 5:43; compare ibid. ch.10:25) Observe the full
designation of our Lord as “Jesus Christ of
Nazoraiou – the Nazarene), as in ch. 4:10, and compare Matthew 2:23. The faith
which was the condition of the healing (ἐπὶ τῇ πίστει – epi tae pistei – on the faith;
belief - v. 16) embraced the humiliation and cross of the Christ (as expressed in
the word the Nazarene) as well as His power and glory.
Spiritual Riches (v. 6)
“Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee:
in the name of Jesus Christ of
suggestive on the subject of the state of man. The contrast between the man lying in
squalid misery at the gate of the temple and the splendors of the religious edifice.
What was that religion which could bear to see such sights daily, and had
no message for the poor? All gospels must be tried by this test: preach
them to the poor. The men who wrought the miracle had learned to cast
themselves on God for the things of this world. They were as poor as the
beggar, yet rich in the gifts of God. They had access to the Church’s
offerings, yet, with a very unpriest-like self-denial, could say they had
nothing. At the gate of the temple, at the hour of prayer, learn this great
lesson of Divine endowment and prosperity.
was it? The Holy Ghost filling all the nature. Consider the two men, Peter
and John. What wealth of knowledge, insight, power over the souls of
others! Even in external aspects, the results upon the life of the world
traceable to these two names, immeasurable; yet they were both fishermen
which enabled them to heal one whom the world could not lift up. Surely
an infinitely greater gift to be able to work such works than any of those
distinctions of literary genius or artistic skill which the world so
extravagantly rewards. Such wealth is ours as believers, in greater or less
degree — a wealth which no man can take from us, which grows by prayer
and effort, which cannot die with us; “their works do follow them.”
(Revelation 14:13) The Church should seek this wealth of the Spirit,
not, as the false Church has done, the wealth that perishes, lest the money
should perish with it.
WORLD from its ruin. Show that both CHURCH and STATE have failed.
The temple may have beautiful gates, but be full of hideous idolatry and
shame. The State may abound in silver and gold, and yet present to the eye
such lamentable pictures of helplessness, revealing its own impotence, as the
poor beggar, daily passed by at the most public place and the most sacred place
of the city. The present aspect of both the professedly religious world and the
social condition of our great populations demand a confession of man’s
inability to produce a really happy society. Here there is:
Ø The Name of Jesus Christ proclaimed as the new power that is wanted,
as a redemption of the world from sin, setting spiritual life at the root
of all other life, healing the miseries of men with compassion and
wonderful works, promising the entire renovation both of body and
soul IN ANOTHER WORLD!
Ø The true Church holds the lever in its hand by which the world shall be
lifted up. We want the two apostles, the Petrine spirit of faith, the
Johannine spirit of love. We must speak clearly and without reserve,
in the Name of Christ, not in the name of ecclesiastical power and
ritualistic display, to the poorest, and without greed of filthy lucre;
and we must prepare to put forth such energy and gifts as we have,
all alike, and in the spirit of fellowship; then we shall fill the world
with praise, and the lame man shall leap as a hart, and the tongue of
the dumb sing (see Isaiah 35., as a prediction of the Church’s power
over the world). The message is individual to the rich and to the poor,
“Rise up and walk.” No life is true life which is not blessed of God.
Responsibility in the Possession of Power (v. 6)
Travelers tell us that one of the saddest things to be seen in Eastern
countries is the crowding of beggars in the approaches to Mohammedan
mosques, and at the gates of cities and large houses; many of them
presenting the most painful and revolting pictures of human suffering. The
stationing of beggars, especially maimed beggars, at the gate of the temple,
was evidently suggested by the persuasion that the feelings of those who
were proceeding to, or had been engaged in, an act of solemn worship,
would be more inclined to charity and benevolence than at ordinary times.
Notice the words actually spoken to the beggar by Peter, and consider
(1) The consciousness of power, and
(2) the responsibility of conscious power.
Peter felt that he had something. He knew that he could benefit and bless
the sufferer, if not in the precise way which the man anticipated. The
common power of “silver and gold” Peter had not; the far better power,
to heal, Peter had. What we so greatly need is to awake to the
consciousness of the power that we have in Christ Jesus; to believe in the
abundant and varied powers with
individual Christian are endowed. We should expect to see signs of power
in each other, as fellow-Christians. God never renews any man by His Spirit
without also endowing him with a gift, or talent, in trust. Powers differ in
different men. Each man has his own.
Ø Wealth is a power — a dreadful power, if it has not been first laid on
the altar of Christ, and then taken up and used as His; a glorious power
if, on starting life, the soul has made a great covenant with Christ, and
solemnly vowed that whatever may be gained shall be consecrated to
Ø Intellect is a power. Every man who knows a little more than his
neighbor has a power. He can teach, he can enlighten, he can lead.
But a man may have little money and little mind, and yet have the
trust of that far higher thing — spiritual power. He may be
able to lay hold of, and use for the blessing of others, the “great
power of God.” That “spiritual power” lies dormant too often in us.
We need something to work in us as in Peter, and waken the
consciousness of our trust; something stirring in us mighty impulses,
shaking us out of our apathy and selfishness, compelling us to say,
o “A witness for Christ has to be made, and I must help to make it;
o a work for Christ has to be done, and I must help to do it;
o the world has to be won for Christ, and I must set to work to
win the little piece of the world in which God has been
pleased to put me!
to us are for our giving away to others. All God’s strength is for use.
Ø If He makes an arm strong, it is for work.
Ø If He makes a voice strong, it is that it may plead with others for Him.
Ø If he makes a heart strong, it is that it may inspire others to nobler things.
There is no Divine blessing that is intended to rest with us. All blessings that
flow to us are to flow through us, gain force from us, and flow on in refreshings
beyond us. If you are compelled to recognize the fact that you could:
o you could give,
o you could teach,
o you could sympathize,
o you could cheer,
then upon you rests a solemn responsibility. What you can do for Christ and
for His brethren, you are bound, by all holy persuasions and considerations,
to do. Such as you have, by gracious trusts from God, that you must be ever
ready to give and spend and use for the service and the blessing of others.
Ø Silver and gold I have and such I provide for you!
Ø Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have I give to you!
7 “And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his
feet and ankle bones received strength.” Raised for lifted, Authorized Version;
his ankle-bones for ancle bones, Authorized Version. Luke’s medical knowledge
discerns the cause of the lameness — a weakness in the anklebones.
8 “And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple,
walking, and leaping, and praising God.” And leaping up, he stood, and began
to walk, for and he, leaping up, stood and walked, Authorized Version; he entered
for entered, Authorized Version. Into the temple (τὸ ἱερόν). He passed through the
gate, and mounted the fifteen steps which led into the ἅγιον (see note to v. 2).
9 “And all the people saw him walking and praising God:”
10 “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.” Took knowledge of him for knew, Authorized
Version. Wonder and amazement (θαμβους - thambous – wonder; awe ); any very
strong emotion of awe, or admiration, or astonishment. It occurs elsewhere only in
Luke 4:36, where it describes the awe and amazement which came upon those who
witnessed the casting out of the unclean spirit from the man in the synagogue at
Textus Receptus, and is rendered “astonished” in the Authorized Version, but is
omitted in the text of the Revised Version; elsewhere only in Mark. 1:27; 10:24,32.
Ἕκθαμβοι – ekthamboi – greatly wondering; over-awed - occurs once in v. 11 of this
chapter; and ἐκθαμβέομαι – ekthambeomai - in Mark 9:15; 14:33; 16:5-6; ἔκστασις –
ekstasis – trance; ecstasy, an ecstasy, mostly used of a state of transport, as ch.10:10;
11:5; 22:17. But in the Septuagint (Genesis 27:33), Mark 5:42; 16:8; and Luke 5:26,
it is used, as here, for a violent emotion of astonishment and amazement.
The Healing of the Lame Man (vs. 1-10)
in company to the temple at the evening hour of prayer. Here we see:
Ø The fellowship of different orders of minds in Christ. None more diverse
in character and temperament than the impulsive Peter and the
Ø Prayer one of the bonds of this fellowship, as expressed in the beautiful
hymn, “How blest the tie that binds!”
Ø An example of the profit of set times and seasons for worship. (See on
the three times of daily prayer — the third, sixth, and ninth hours —
Daniel 6:10 and Psalm 55:18.) And the good also of a fixed place
of prayer. The temple, the synagogue, the Church, or the meeting-house;
each has its hallowed and happy associations. How greatly devotion is
helped by the imagination, and the imagination how dependent upon
association, must be obvious to all.
Ø The path of true devotion is often found to be the path that leads to
useful service to others.
independent activity in which so much of the enjoyment of life consists, he
is the type of a deeply pitiable class. To have health is so great a blessing,
because it carries with it that of command over one’s powers, and
therefore freedom and independence. He was helplessly dependent —
borne by others. Such sufferings remind us of the presence of moral evil,
which can neither be explained nor explained away. But there are
compensations. The lame man had friends. Seldom does such misery fail to
stir up pity and enlist help. Outward evils are ever balanced in the Divine
wisdom by inward good. We never know the kindness of man to man till
sickness and sorrow reveal it. They carried him to one of the splendid
gateways of the temple, that he might be in the way of the charitable
droppings of alms from those that went in. The religious duty of almsgiving
was preached up by the rabbis incessantly and in the strongest way — even
to excess, as we may see from Lightfoot and other authors. One noted
saying was that God suffered the poor to exist that rich men might earn
heaven. Our theological and our practical views of the subject have
changed. But at least we have a good example here: we should exert
ourselves to place the sufferer within reach of help. The great problem of
true charity is to bring the supply and the need into practice. If the
intention be loving and good, something better often comes of it than is
hoped for, as in this case. The sufferer, intent upon the minor boon,
receives the higher blessing. So does a living Divine purpose shape our
actions to nobler ends than we designed.
Ø The human means. The apostles fix their eyes earnestly upon the
sufferer. Thus his attention is aroused; his thoughts are collected; he is
brought into a concentration of thought and feeling. It is not to the
wandering mind that God reveals either His thought or His power. The eyes
must be lifted up to the quarter whence help comes. He who is conscious
of bearing God’s message to the souls of men may cry, “Look on me; listen
to me!” Faith is not passive; it is an energy, expressed by looking, listening,
coming, doing. Thus only can the electric chain be completed; the healer
and the healed be brought into vital contact. Directions must be complied
with as the first condition of physical healing and of spiritual salvation. The
best gift we have for our fellow-men is the gift of the head and heart. This
is lasting; others perish in the using. We cannot lose the memory nor the
blessing of good words. If we have no money to give in alms, we may
make our fellow-man rich from our heart. Intelligence and sympathy are
what all men want, and none are thankless for. We reap ingratitude where
we have not really shown our heart. The best spiritual gifts recognize the
worth of the recipient. Let us treat men as our equals — beings possessed
of will. There are possibilities before them; let us reckon upon them and
believe in them, thus inspiring them in their weakness with such healthy
Ø The Divine power in the human means. We cannot command our fellowmen
except in the name of some authority which both he and we are
subject to. He who can rest his appeals upon the firm words, “By order,”
or “In the name of the queen,” or the like, has a might over wavering wills.
Really to govern means first to have obeyed. The “Name” here signified a
vast reality. “Jesus Christ of
heaven and earth; supreme, unrivalled, purely loving and beneficent. As
ministers of Christ, we are servants of the Almighty, channels of charity,
agents of a kingdom that must prevail. This power will be felt both by
words and deeds.
the Divine agency to save with the sufferer’s will to be saved.
§ The weak feet and joints became firm;
§ the formerly prostrate one leaped up and stood;
§ from this proceeded to walk; and
§ finally went with the healers into the temple, exultingly
to render praise to God.
The thankful heart is the best sacrifice we can offer to God.
Without it, the best crown of the blessing He designs to confer is not
attained. If men see our state changed, but not our heart, God is
defrauded of His glory and His due in us. The joy of the comforted
heart is the best proof of the love of the Comforter. He means our
freedom and our joy; what if we disappoint His thought, so that it
flowers not and bears no fruit?
Ø Popular observation. They identified the man. They compared his
present and past condition. Comparison is the foundation of our
knowledge of truth.
Ø Popular reasoning. They argued that the change could proceed only
from one cause, and that Divine. The quality of changes points to the
quality of the cause. Extend this reasoning, and the best, as the most
popular, argument for Christianity is this: THE CHANGES
PRODUCED THE CHANGES PRODUCED BY IT IN MAN’S
CONDITION PROVE IT TO BE OF DIVINE ORIGIN!
Ø Popular amazement and ecstasy. Such are the words of the historian.
Wonder is the reflection of the unusual and the unexpected in the mind.
And this passes into ecstasy or transport when through the sensuous the
supersensual, when through the natural the supernatural, appears. If all the
course of life were common and familiar, God would be forgotten. Were
wonders incessantly repeated they would become no longer wonders, and
their power were lost. God shows His hand now and again that the spell of
custom may be broken; hides it that we may reflect on what we have seen.
Mingled fear and joy ever attend Divine revelations; fear in the thought of
our utter dependence, joy in the thought that in that very dependence lies
our hope and our deliverance.
Helplessness and Healing (vs. 1-10)
In this interesting incident we have an illustration of the urgent spiritual
necessities of our race, and of the sufficiency of the gospel to meet them.
gate of the temple a lame beggar, who asked alms of all that entered (vs.
2-3). What a striking contrast is here! — the large, strong, handsome gate,
wrought by the most skilful workmen, intended to add beauty and
attractiveness to the magnificent temple, an object of keen, universal
admiration; and, laid down at the foot of it, a poor, ill-clad, deformed,
helpless beggar, fain to find a miserable existence by asking the pity of all
that passed through. Such contrasts has sin introduced into this world. If
we look on this whole fabric of nature as a temple in which God manifests
His presence, and on our earth, with all its loveliness and grandeur, as one
of its beautiful gates, then we see, in strongest and saddest contrast with it,
stricken, helpless, deformed human nature — man brought down to the
very ground, unable to sustain himself, the pitiful object of compassion: we
behold the fair workmanship of God with all its exquisite beauty, and we
see sinning, erring, suffering, fallen man by its side.
illustration of this can be found than in a man lame from his birth (v. 2)?
One born to the heritage of mankind, viz. that of voluntary, happy activity;
of walking, running, moving, whithersoever he would, with free power of
motion, in all acts of duty, pleasure, affection; — this man doomed to utter
helplessness, his deformity or disease becoming more rigid and incurable as
the months and years pass by! What a picture, this, of our human spirit,
created to enjoy the heritage of a holy intelligence, viz. that of free and
happy activity in all the ways of righteousness, piety, usefulness; of moving
joyously along all the paths in which God invites His children to walk; yet,
from the very beginning, being utterly unable to walk in the way of His
commandments, to run in the paths of wisdom and of peace, incapable of
doing that for which it was called into being, and becoming more rigidly
and hopelessly fixed in its spiritual incapacity year by year.
Ø It demands attention. “Peter... with John, said, Look on us” (v. 4).
The gospel of Christ has a right to make this same appeal to all men. No
seeking, struggling soul has a right to be regardless of its offers. The
beneficent and mighty works of Jesus Christ; the profound spiritual truths
He uttered; the beautiful and exalted life He lived; the strange and wondrous
death He died; the message of love He left behind Him; the adaptation,
proved by twenty centuries of human history, of His system to the deepest
wants of human nature; — all these conspire to give to the gospel of God
the right to demand attention — to say, “Look on me;” see whether there
is not in me the help and healing which you need.
Ø It disclaims certain offices. “Silver and gold have I none,” etc. (v. 6).
The gospel does not offer to do everything for man which it may be
desirable should, in some way, be done. It does not propose
o to effect renovation by revolutionary social changes, or
o to bring about immediate improvement in the outward conditions
of a man’s life, or
o to guarantee bodily health or immunity from temporal trouble and
domestic loss. It tends to ameliorate the condition of mankind in
every way, and ultimately it does so; but its first promise, and that
by which it is to be tested and judged, is not of this order.
Ø It offers one essential service. “In the Name of Jesus Christ rise up and
walk” (v. 6). It says:
o to the stricken, wounded soul, “Wilt thou be made whole?”
o to the soul burdened with a sense of sin, it offers pardoning love
and spiritual peace;
o to the heart oppressed with care and fear, it offers a Divine refuge
in which to hide;
o to the soul struggling with temptation, an almighty Friend;
o to the weary traveler, a home of rest and joy.
Whatever is the one imperative thing, that the gospel of Christ presents;
but its offer is inward, spiritual, heavenly.
Ø Healing to him that had been helpless.
Ø Gratitude showing itself in praise.
Ø Interested attention on the part of those outside: “They were filled with
wonder and amazement;” they were in a state most favorable for the
reception of the truth. When we make an appeal to Christ, we are not to be
satisfied until we have found spiritual recovery; until our souls are filled
with the spirit of thanksgiving; until our restoration has told upon our
neighbors as well as on ourselves.
The Apostles Workers of Miracles (vs. 1-10)
General introduction. The witnessing vocation of apostles required
miracles — as signs of the
authority; as appeals to the world, and to the Jewish people especially, to
accept the new doctrine; as corresponding in some measure to the miracles
of our Lord, and so perpetuating the blessing of His ministry which He
Himself promised in His last discourses, “Another Comforter, that he may
abide with you for ever” (John 14:16). Consider the miracle itself.
Ø Purely benevolent. Performed on a beggar, helpless, miserable,
altogether unconnected with the new society, unable to reward his
Ø Conspicuously real. At a public spot — the temple; at the ninth hour,
when worshippers would throng to the place; on one well known to the
whole city; daily laid as a public object of pity; helped by no one before,
but now helped through Christ; born lame, therefore not laboring under
merely temporary infirmity; not even asked for by the sufferer, but
offered freely by the apostles, as by a sudden impulse of the Spirit.
Ø Upon the man himself. It raised him up physically and spiritually at the
same moment. God often thus speaks to the soul through the body, both
by afflictions and by visitations of mercy. It turned his wail of misery
into songs of joy. Take the description of the work upon the man as
typical of the course of gracious work, the bestowment of a new life
and strength, first putting us on our feet with sudden leap of heartfelt
gladness, of faith; then “beginning, to walk,” feeling the new limbs
like a child; then walking forward into the temple; then “walking and
leaping and praising God,” the conscious participation in blessings
making us the ministers of joy to others, filling the temple with praise.
Ø Upon the apostles and through them on the Church and on the world.
The important place of the miracle as evidence of the Divine mission of
the messengers. They themselves could scarcely have known what they
could do until, by impulse of the Spirit, they put forth the energy. The
believers who were sharers with apostles of the gifts of the Spirit would
henceforth expect great things.
attention and incipient faith. “The people saw him,” etc. (vs. 9-10).
Although miracles regarded alone would never convert the world, yet
in connection with the Word of God they powerfully arouse the minds
of men. “Wonder and amazement” are God’s agents in awakening the
soul and preparing the ground for the seed of eternal life. Another great
effect of the miracle was corrective and didactic (instructive). No one
could doubt that the apostles were no self-seekers, no fanatics, no
ambitious founders of a new sect but simply heralds of the gospel.
What they did was “in the Name of
Jesus Christ of
They began their work upon the poor, they appealed to the
impotent and the helpless, they proclaimed their own poverty, and yet
invited men to riches such as the world knew not. They showed
themselves the sympathizing brothers of all mankind, ready to give
such as they had to give, without money and without price, a pattern
of simplicity and spirituality.
11 “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.” He for the lame man which was healed, Authorized Version and
Textus Receptus. The words of the Textus Receptus are thought to have crept into
the text from the portions read in church beginning here, which made it necessary
to supply them. Held; by the hand or otherwise; not have to in the spiritual sense.
The porch that is called Solomon’s. Josephus tells us that King Solomon built
up with masonry only the eastern side of the temple enclosure, and that
upon the artificial foundation thus formed one στοά - stoa – portico; porch, or
covered colonnade, was built, the other sides of the temple in Solomon’s time
being naked and bare of buildings, but that in process of time, and by an
enormous expenditure of treasure, the ground was filled up, leveled, and
made firm by the masonry of huge walls all round, and then the circuit of
buildings was completed. This eastern στοά, or colonnade, was called
Solomon’s porch (see John 10:23). Greatly wondering; ἔκθαμβοι
(over-awed - see note on v. 10).
The Unexpected Gift (vs. 1-11)
In one of those rapturous passages in which Paul tries to make human language
express adequate thoughts of God, he speaks of God as “able to do exceeding
abundantly above all that we ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20). In saying so he
does but mark, in one aspect, the distance between the finite and the infinite, and
show how far the bounty of the infinite Giver outruns the desires of those who
receive His gifts. (“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my
ways higher than your ways” – Isaiah 55:9) The whole revelation of God’s
dealings with mankind is A CONTINUAL ILLUSTRATION OF THIS TRUTH!
How could it ever have entered into the mind of Abram to ask to be made the
father of many nations, to be the father of the faithful in all ages and in all
countries, to be the head of God’s elect people, and to have his life and his
words and his deeds handed down to the posterities through endless time?
How could it ever have entered into the mind of
be led dry-shod through the
from heaven, to receive the Law from Sinai, and to be put into possession
of a rebellious and fallen world to ask that the only begotten Son of God,
their Maker and Lord, should be incarnate and expiate their guilt by dying
for their sins upon the cross? The section before us supplies another
instance of this exceeding grace of God. A poor cripple, lame from his
mother’s womb, had for upwards of forty years lived in hopeless and
helpless infirmity. In the merry days of youth, while his companions and
equals in years were sporting and gamboling in all the freeness of joyous
spirits and supple, elastic limbs, he was bound down to his pallet, like a
bird confined in a cage, or a dog chained in his kennel. In early manhood,
while others went forth to their work and to their labor, earning their daily
bread by honorable industry, he was reduced to be a beggar, living in
constrained inactivity upon the precarious bounty of others.
And so it was at the present time. Every day he was carried by some kind
hands and laid at the Beautiful gate of the temple, in the hope that those
who passed to and fro to the house of God would look with pity upon his
misery and minister to his wants. They must have been sad and dreary
hours passed in expectancy and frequent disappointment; watching the
countenances of the passers-by; overlooked by some, turned away from
with proud contempt by others; sharply refused by this well-dressed but
hard-hearted Sadducee, and occasionally receiving a mite or a farthing from
that ostentatious Pharisee; doubtful whether he would carry home enough
to supply his daily meal and his necessary raiment. On this occasion he saw
two men about to go into the temple. Perhaps their aspect awakened the
hope that there were kind, loving hearts beneath their humble garb. Or,
maybe, he merely uttered the usual monotonous prayer like that of the
Italian beggars, “Date qualque coea per l’amor di Dio.” Anyhow, we may
be sure that his utmost hopes did not go beyond receiving some small coin
at their bands. But when, in answer to the words from Peter’s lips, “Look
on us,” he had looked up and probably stretched out his hands to receive
the expected alms, instead thereof he heard the words, “In the Name of
Jesus Christ of
whole. No longer a cripple, no longer chained down to his bed, no longer a
prisoner, he sprang to his feet, he walked, he leapt, he danced for very joy,
and, singing praise as he went, he entered the holy courts. Here there was
an instance of God doing unto men exceeding abundantly above all that
they ask or think. Here we have a type of the exceeding riches of God’s
grace, resulting in unlooked-for mercies to the children of men. Let us take
note of it, and frame our estimate of God’s character accordingly. Nothing
more elevates the tone of a man’s religion than a worthy conception of
God’s goodness. It stimulates his love, it kindles his adoration, it raises his
hopes, it intensifies all his spiritual emotions. Low conceptions of God’s
nature beget a low standard of love and service. There is nothing like a true
view of the infinity of the love of God, and of the unsearchable riches of His
grace in Jesus Christ, to lash all the sluggish emotions of the heart into a
holy and healthy enthusiasm. “Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it,” (Psalm
81:10) is another mode of expressing the same blessed truth; and “Thanks be to God
for His unspeakable gift,” (II Corinthians 9:15) is the language of those whose
experience coincides with the revelation which God has given of Himself in His holy
12 “And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of
though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?”
At this man for at this, Authorized Version; fasten ye your eyes for look ye so
earnestly, Authorized Version; godliness for holiness, Authorized Version;
him for this man, Authorized Version. The him at the end of the verse requires
that the man should have been previously mentioned. The Authorized Version
felt this, and so, having taken ἐπὶ τούτῳ - epi touto - on this - as at this, they
rendered αὐτόν – auton – him - by this man, as if Peter had supplied the
want of the verbal mention by pointing to him. Fasten ye your eyes. (For
the use of ἀτενίζετε – atenizete - ye are looking intently, ye are stretching;
look ye so earnestly - see note on v. 4.)
13 “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.” Servant for Son, Authorized Version; before the face for in the presence,
Authorized Version; had for was, Authorized Version; release Him for let Him go,
Authorized Version. The God of Abraham, etc. The continuity of the New Testament
with the Old Testament stands out remarkably in Peter’s address. He speaks to the
done to their fathers in days gone by. He does not seem conscious of any
break or transition, or of any change of posture or position. Only a new
incident, long since promised by the prophets, has been added. “He thrusts
himself upon the fathers of old, lest he should appear to be introducing a
new doctrine” (Chrysostom). God... hath glorified His Servant Jesus.
Servant is manifestly right. It is the constant meaning of παῖς – pais - in the
Septuagint; son is always υἱός – huios - (see v. 26; ch. 4:27, 30).
In Matthew 12:18 the Authorized Version has “servant.” (For the Old Testament
usage, see Isaiah 42:1; 52:13; 53:11). Delivered up; παρεδώκατε – paredokate –
give up different from the ἔκδοτον – ekodoton – given up of ch.2:23 (where see note).
The word is applied to the action of Judas in delivering up Jesus into the hands of
the chief priests (John 19:11), and to the action of Pilate in sending Jesus
to execution (Luke 23:25; John 19:16). Here it is spoken of the whole
action of the Jews in procuring the death of Jesus. Denied before the face
of Pilate. The reference is exact to Luke 23:13-23. To release Him. There
is a verbal agreement with Luke 23:16-17, 20.
14 “But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to
be granted unto you;” Holy and righteous One for Holy One and the Just,
Authorized Version; asked for for desired, Authorized Version.
15 “ And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead;
whereof we are witnesses.” Raised for hath raised, Authorized Version.
The Prince of life; a remarkable title here given to our Lord, to bring out the
contrast between him whom they preferred and Him whom they rejected.
Barabbas was a murderer, one who took away human life for his own base ends;
the other was the Prince and Author of life, who was come into the world,
not to destroy men’s lives, BUT TO SAVE THEM! This title, taken in connection
with the preceding declaration, “God hath glorified His Servant Jesus,” seems
almost to be a reminiscence of our Savior’s prayer, “Father,… glorify thy Son,
that thy Son also may glorify thee: as thou hast given Him power over all flesh,
that He should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given Him” (John
17:1-2). Jesus Himself in very many places dwells upon His own great
prerogative of giving life:
ever;” (ibid. v. 51)
have life in Himself;” (ibid. v. 26)
have eternal life;” (ibid. ch. 3:14-15)
springing up into everlasting life.” (ibid. ch. 4:14)
The word ἀρχηγόν – archaegon – prince; inaugurator - applied to Christ is
found also in ch. 5:31, and in Hebrews 2:10; 12:2, rendered the
“Author or Captain of their salvation,” “of our faith.” Whereof we are
witnesses (see ch.2:22, note). The marginal rendering of whom is
equally literal, and may be defended by reference to ch. 1:8; 13:31;
but the rendering whereof is in accordance with the more frequent phrases
(ch. 5:32; 10:39, etc.). The meaning is practically the same.
The Apostolic Witness to Christ (vs. 13-15)
Our Lord distinctly appointed the apostles as His witnesses (ch. 1:8;
Luke 24:48). In these their early sermons or addresses, we may find
the points which they considered were specially entrusted to them to
declare. They would be sure to give first the basis or foundation facts on
which the Christian system rested, and then gradually unfold the various
doctrines which were embodied in those facts. Their central, foundation
fact was their Lord’s resurrection. (“And with great power gave the apostles
witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon
them all.” – ch. 4:33). It even seems that, at first, the Resurrection stood out more
prominently before the apostles’ minds than the sacrifical death. The precise
proportions and relations of the Christian truths became matters of later adjustment;
and, indeed, we are still trying to get them complete and satisfactory. Very many of
the modern doctrinal controversies and sectarian disputes are occasioned by a failing
sense of the proportions and relations in the whole of truth; some things are
exaggerated and some underestimated; men fight hard for pieces of truth,
as if they were the whole. The true work, worthy to engage all our thought
and heart, is the fair estimate of all the various pieces, and the skilful
setting of each in its fitting place. In the early preaching of the apostles may
also be noticed how they seem to stand aside, so that CHRIST, THEIR LORD
AND MASTER, ONLY, may be seen and honored. In this following the example
of that Master, for He seemed ever to be stepping aside in order THAT MEN
MAY FULLY SEE THE FATHER! And in this also showing to us what is
the essential spirit of all Christian preaching. The preacher’s self must never be
prominent; we may only set forth “Christ Jesus the Lord.” The scene in
“Solomon’s porch,” or portico, may be described. It was on the eastern
side of the temple, and consisted of a double row of Corinthian columns,
about thirty-seven feet high. It was, like the porticoes of all Greek cities, a
favorite place of resort, especially as facing the morning sun in winter
(John 10:23). In this same portico Jesus Himself had taught. The
prominent points concerning the Lord Jesus presented by Peter are:
word Son would be better Servant, and then the passage (Isaiah 42:1),
“Behold my Servant, whom I uphold,” is at once brought to mind. In
addressing the Jews, it was necessary to show that no claim was made for
Jesus Christ as a new and independent God; the teaching of His divinity was
consistent with both the teaching of the Divine Unity, which was the Jews’
great truth, and the teaching of the Divine Trinity, which is the great
Christian truth. To the Jew a new God must be a false God, for Jehovah is
one. Messengers of Jehovah they could receive. Manifestations of Jehovah
they could accept. The conception of the “Son of God” was not to them an
impossible one. And therefore our Lord so earnestly pressed that the
Father God had sent Him; and the apostles urge that Jehovah’s seal of
acceptance rested on Him and on His work. This truth is needed still. We
cannot rest in the salvation wrought by Christ unless we can fully see that
IT IS GOD’S SALVATION!is God’s (see <430316>John 3:16).
Peter gives the fact that Jesus was “delivered up;” and the aggravation of
the fact — the clamors of malice actually overcame the natural sense of
justice in the Roman governor. In reminding the people of this, Peter
declares the Moral character of their act; and charges home upon the
people the guilt of the judicial murder of no less a person than the national
Messiah. For the actual denial of Christ, see John 19:15; and for the
purpose of Pilate to release Christ, ibid. v. 4. The fact of the denial is
made the basis of the appeal for repentance. The fact of the crucifixion is
urged as the guarantee of His actual death. Such enemies as they were
would never leave their work imperfect.
GOD. (v. 14.) The personal innocence of Jesus aggravates the iniquity
of those who secured His death; but it also bears directly upon the work of
redemption that He wrought. Had He to bear the true burden of penalty for
His own sins, He could not be the efficient Burden-bearer for others. Had He
spot, stain, or blemish, He could not be the acceptable sacrifice for humanity,
which must be the “Lamb without blemish.” The personal innocence
and perfect virtue of the Savior is related in Hebrews 7:26 – Who is “holy,
harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and made higher than the
LIFE. (v. 15.) For the term “Prince of life,” see ch.5:31; Hebrews 2:10; 12:2.
It means, “He who is the source whence life and salvation flow.” The chief
thought in Peter’s mind is that of the Resurrection. He who conquered death
is “Prince of life,” and has power to give life. John also says, “In Him was
life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Our Lord Himself said,
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” (ibid. ch. 14:6); “I am come that
they might have life” (ibid. ch. 10:10); “I give unto them eternal life.”
(ibid. v. 28) The worthy apprehension of what Christ is, and can do, makes
the Jewish denial and crucifixion of Him a most hateful crime; and our
long neglect of Him our unspeakable shame (Hebrews 2:3-4).
ARE, ONCE FOR ALL, AND SUFFICIENTLY, DECLARED IN HIS
RESURRECTION. (v. 15) There are important inferences to be drawn
from the fact of the resurrection, and especially this one:
Ø JESUS IS THE CHRIST!
Therefore to Him every knee should bow, and to Him every sin -burdened
heart should seek. So it is seen that the apostles were true preachers, model
Ø they set Jesus forth, and
Ø they bid all eyes look to Him.
(I highly recommend Spurgeon’s sermons:
o Life for a Look;
o Sovereignty and Salvation;
o The Life Look
all from Isaiah 45 – this website – CY – 2016)
16 “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.”
By faith in His Name hath this for His Name through .faith in
His Name, Authorized Version: the order of the words is changed from that of
the Authorized Version, to bring it into accordance with the order of the Greek,
but with a great loss of force in English; behold for see, Authorized Version;
through for by, Authorized Version. Yea, the faith; rather, and the faith. The two
propositions are not the same. The first affirms that it is the Name of Jesus which
has given him strength, objectively; the second that the faith (subjective) which
is through or by Him hath given him perfect soundness. There is some obscurity in
the exact meaning of ἡ πίστις ἡ δι αὐτοῦ - hae pistis hae di autou - the faith the
through Him. Some compare I Peter. 1:21, and make God the object of the faith
of His witnesses, Peter and John. Others understand that the faith in the Name of
Christ was wrought in Peter and John by or through Christ’s ministry and
resurrection. But it is much more consonant with other passages (ch.14:9; 16:31, etc.;
Matthew, 15:28, etc.) to understand the faith to be that of the man who was healed;
and then the phrase, “which is through Him,” will denote naturally that it was
through Jesus Christ that the man’s faith brought him into contact, so to speak,
with God who healed him. In the same spirit we read that the lame man “praised God”
(vs. 8-9) for the cure effected through the Name of Jesus Christ; and Peter says (v. 15),
“Whom God raised from the dead.” The interpretation of the phrase ἡ δι αὐτοῦ -
hae di autou – the through him - depends upon whether we supply an active or a
passive word. The faith which acts, or works, or moves through him is one way of
understanding it; the faith which is wrought or produced through him is the
other. The first is preferable. This perfect soundness; pointing to what
they saw with their own eyes while the man was leaping and dancing
before them (ὁλοκληρίαν – holoklaerian - perfect, unimpared soundness, used
only here in the New Testament; it is a medical term).
The Power of Faith (v. 16)
“And His Name,” etc.
Ø His personal merit as Redeemer. He Himself worked miracles; not as
a mere instrument in the hands of God, but as Divine. When He left the
world, He appointed His apostles to be His representatives, giving them
all power in heaven and earth in His Name. He ascended to the right
hand of God as an accepted Savior, and from thence sends down the
Ø His royalty as Head of the Divine kingdom. The sufferings of the world
belong to its state of ruin, though not caused by the sin of the individual.
about “the restitution of all things.” The heavens are opened. The light
comes down into the darkness.
Ø His Name as an object of faith. The spiritual draws up the lower world
into itself. To believe is to lay hold of the hand which exalts us. As Peter
laid hold of the lame man by the right hand and raised him up, so the
representatives of Christ lay hold of a dying world; and whosoever
believeth in Him shall not perish, but rise with him into a new life.
Ø From the Church upon the world. By listening to the world’s cries, and
directing the souls of men to the true Help. By taking the sufferers by the
hand and calling down upon them the blessing of God. By proclaiming
everywhere the gospel of “perfect soundness,” in lieu of the world’s
false gospels of imperfect remedies, and as a free gift of God to man.
The Church should not rest satisfied while there is little manifestation
of the power of faith in the works accomplished. Why are we content
to go to and fro to the temple, and see the wretchedness of fellow-
creatures, without attempting to remove it? Why is any enterprise
reckoned impossible? No limits to the successes of the Church when
she is filled with faith. We want to lead the world “leaping and
praising God” into the temple of his truth. We shall do it, not by
argument, not by ritual, not by excitement, but by the putting forth
of the power of the Holy Ghost.
The Power of Christ’s Name (vs. 6,16)
The Revised Version, in its rendering of v. 16, sets the Name forth even
more prominently than the Authorized Version. It reads, “And by [or, ‘on
the ground of’] faith in His Name hath His Name made this man strong.”
This represents the actual order of the Greek words. The incident is so
graphically described by Luke, that a suggestive picture of the scene may
be given as introduction. The point of difference between this and our
Lord’s miracles which needs attention is this: Our Lord required signs of
faith before He wrought His miracles Peter did not wait for such signs in
this object of the healing power. Two reasons may help to explain the
difference. Peter had to show the faith which he and the other apostles
had in Christ. Signs of their faith were just then the important thing, rather
than signs of the man’s faith. As our Lord acted directly, and not as an
agent, He could give entire attention to the receptivity, of the
objects of His power. And we may also say that the miracle was wrought
rather for the people’s sakes than for the man’s. It was a call to them to
give heed to the apostles’ witness; and therefore Peter was, properly,
more concerned about the influence of the miracle on the people than even
about the moral condition of the lame man. Peter acted on a sudden
impulse of the Holy Ghost which dwelt in him, and it was fitting that he
and the rest of the disciples should keep themselves open to the Spirit’s
leadings, ready to follow and obey the inward inspirations and monitions.
Compare Paul’s response to Divine direction, in ch. 16:6-10. We
need, in these days, to recover our lost faith in the presence and lead of
God the Holy Ghost, and to win the attitude of watching for His gracious
guidance. “As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of
God. Peter s explanation of the miracle is that it was wrought in the
“power of Christ’s Name.” This we endeavor to understand.
A name should be the expression of what a thing is, or what a man is.
Nowadays names of persons are conventional and without significance;
they are fixed by accident or by sentiment. In olden times they held
meanings, and were appropriate to individuals; so a name was an
explanation or revelation. In sympathy with this it is said that the redeemed
are to have a “new name” on their foreheads. (Revelation 22:4) It will
gather up into an expression their privilege and their joy as the fully redeemed.
F. W. Robertson, in his sermon on ‘Jacob wrestling’ (First Series, p. 41), says,
“In the Hebrew history are discernible three periods distinctly marked, in
which names and words bore very different characters. In the first of these
periods names meant truths, and words were the symbols of realities. The
characteristics of the names given then were simplicity and sincerity. The
second period begins about the
time of the departure from
characterized by unabated simplicity, with the addition of sublimer thought
and feeling more intensely religious. The third period was at its zenith in
the time of Christ — words had lost their meaning, and shared the hollow,
unreal state of all things. Jacob lived in the first age, when men are sincere
and truthful and earnest, and names exhibit character. To tell Jacob the
Name of God was to reveal to him what God is and who.” “The use of
Name as the equivalent of power is very Jewish. It 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.” The Name of “Jesus of
Messiahship, His mission, His infinite worthiness, His accepted work, and
His present power. Or, we may say, it stands for Him, and sets Him forth as
the present Redeemer, “able to heal and to save unto the uttermost.”
would be a familiar association to the Jew.
Ø God was in the bush, but Moses only had His Name.
them only in His Name.
They worshipped a God whom they never saw, and only could “exalt by
His great Name, JAH.” And so Jesus Christ was gone out of the sphere
of the senses. Really, however, present still, spiritually present, and working
gracious and mighty works through faith in His Name. This is all we have of
Christ — His Name. And yet for us too it is the grasping of the spiritual
reality of His presence.
the Name. “The Name did not work as a formula of incantation; it
required, on the part both of the worker and receiver, faith in that which
the Name represented — the manifestation of the Father through the Son!
The most striking illustration of the apostle’s faith in Christ’s Name, i.e.
Christ’s actual presence and power to heal, is found in the recovery of
Aeneas (ch.9:34). Peter spoke as if he saw Christ there, saying,
“AEneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole.”
outward and material healings are but illustrations of what Christ is now
doing in moral spheres, in our hearts and lives, if we will, by faith, open to
Him. And what is called faith is simply this: soul-opening to the living
Saviour, who, in His Divine power and grace, can come in, and heal, and
cleanse, and save. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock,” (Revelation
3:20) Are you open to Christ? In all healing and saving work, man may be
the agent, but the power lies in the Name, which gathers up for us
a present living Savior.
17 “And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did
also your rulers.” In for through, Authorized Version. I wot that in ignorance, etc.
Mark the inimitable skill and tenderness with which he who had just wounded by
his sharp rebuke now binds up the wound. All sternness and uncompromising
severity before, he is all gentleness and indulgence now. They were only
their grievous sin. They did it in ignorance (compare Luke 23:33; I Timothy 1:13).
Only let them see their error and repent of what they had done, and their
forgiveness was sure.
18 “But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all
His prophets, that Christ should suffer, He hath so fulfilled.”
The things for those things, Authorized Version; foreshowed or before had
showed, Authorized Version; the prophets for his prophets, Authorized Version
and Textus Receptus; His Christ for Christ, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus;
He thus fulfilled for He hath so fulfilled, Authorized Version. He even excuses their
ignorance by showing how the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God was
brought about through it (compare Genesis 45:5).
Man’s Ruling and God’s Overruling (vs. 17-18)
Peter admits that the rejection of Christ was done through ignorance,
but he does not allow that this is a sufficient excuse. Ignorance has many
degrees, and may arise from many causes. It may be willful. It may be a
consequence of cherished prejudices, and then it is guilty ignorance. 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. For the treatment of the relation of “ignorance”
to “guilt,” compare Paul’s teachings in ch. 17:30; I Timothy 6:13.
The point which Peter dwells on in these verses is, that in the
rejection and crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah, men appeared
to act on their own will and to carry out their own plans; but the deeper
fact was that they accomplished the Divine purposes and fulfilled the
divinely given prophecies. Scripture writers do not discuss the harmony
between Divine sovereignty and man’s free-will; but they show us man
acting freely, and then draw aside the veil, and show us God’s purpose
accomplished by that very action that seemed to be so free. And the
explanation is this — that all God’s plans are formed upon perfect
consideration of all that will occur; and this includes the Divine knowledge
of how men will act, in their free will, in particular circumstances. To Him
who knows man altogether, the precise way in which every man will act,
under every set of possible circumstances, must be fully anticipated. On
this we may further dwell, and gain some apprehension of the Divine order.
motive. He may be moved by differing motives. He will act upon that
which seems to be strongest. The strength of a motive greatly depends on
the disposition and character which it urges. There appear to be a vast
multitude of motives. Probably they could be greatly reduced by
classification. The complexity and difficulty of knowing how a man will act
in given circumstances does not arise from our inability to estimate his
motives, but from our inability to judge how particular motives will
influence him. We can tell by what considerations the Sadducees,
Pharisees, and priests were moved to secure the death of Jesus. It is this
acting of men on motive that gives moral character to their acts, and so
brings on them the possibility of guilt.
CHARACTERS ARE KNOWN TO GOD. The circle of motives that can
possibly appeal to man’s moral nature God completely spans. The precise
circumstances under which motives urge in any given case, He fully knows
and accurately weighs. The force which, under every set of circumstances,
every motive will gain on every particular character and disposition, He
perfectly estimates. And, though it is an almost impossible conception, we
must conceive of God as looking down the long “stream of time,” leaving
His creatures free to act in all situations, and yet knowing beforehand the
decision of every free will in every conceivable case. This is the marvel of
THE DIVINE FOREKNOWLEDGE!
ESTIMATE. Especially apply to the redemptive plan. In view of what
would happen, and what men would do, the plan of redemption in the slain
Lamb was formed before the foundation of the world. (Revelation 13:8)
Man worked out his own prejudice and passion in the crucifixion of
Jesus of Nazareth, and God worked out His plan of saving the race by
THE SACRIFICE OF HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON! That we might
know of this overruling, the prophecies of Messiah were given. So we
see how man’s guilt remains in his freedom to act on motive; and yet
God’s purposes remain unchanged by all men’s willfulness,
since the willfulness was all foreknown and estimated.
19 “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.”
Turn again for be converted, Authorized Version, with no difference in sense;
that so there may come seasons of refreshing for when the times of
refreshing shall come, Authorized Version. Turn again. The turning to God is the
consequence of the change of mind (μετάνοησατε – metanoaesate – repent ye).
That so there may come; rightly for the Authorized Version. “when,” etc., which
the Greek cannot mean. What Peter conceives is that if
in the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ, then there will come AT ONCE those times of
refreshing, those blessed days of righteousness, and peace, and rest, and
universal joy, which are the characteristics of Christ’s kingdom as foretold
by the prophets.
Those days are delayed by THE UNBELIEF OF
Seasons of refreshing. The Authorized Version “times of refreshing” is manifestly
right, though there is no article in the Greek. “Seasons of refreshing” seems very
vague and vapid, note the phrase καιροὶ ἐθνών – kairoi ethnon – seasons, eras of the
nations, the times of the Gentiles (Luke 21:24). Compare the παράκλησιν τοῦ Ἰσραήλ –
χρόνων ἀποκαταστάσεως – chronon apokatastaseos - times of restoration.
Conversion (v. 19)
“Repent ye therefore,” etc. The universal requirement. Rulers and people.
Ignorant and educated. Near the kingdom, or far off. The end to be aimed
at by all Christian effort and enterprise. The application of all mighty
displays of Divine power. The real beginning of individual spiritual life, and
of a true Church.
Ø Spiritual change. Not a mere ritualistic sensation, or educational
development of the character, but being “born again.” Repentance,
change of mind, on the ground of facts acknowledged and promises
received. The announcement of the gift of God prepared the way for
the call to repentance. The kingdom of heaven is at hand, therefore
repent; pass through the gate into life.
Ø Man’s co-operation with God. “Repent and turn again” (Revised
Version), “that your sins may be blotted out,” etc. No amount of feeling
is conversion; no enlightenment of the mind, or even devoutness of spirit,
supersedes the change of life. The sins and guilt are blotted out by the
blood of Christ, their burden is removed from the conscience, the heart,
and the life (“no more conscience of sins” – Hebrews 10:2), when
repentance and faith introduce the sinner into the state of grace. What
the apostle appealed for was a real coming out of the old state into the
new. We must not be satisfied with mere religiousity, instead of
decided confession of Christ before men. Direct the Word to the
individual: “Repent ye.” The participation of privilege as children
of Abraham, as members of the favored nation, no release from the
obligation to repent. The Church itself needs revival and change.
Ø The great fact. Conversion is a reality, already seen.
The Spirit of God is already poured out. The beginning of the new life
is before our eyes. Others are changed, why not ye?
Ø The offered blessedness — the blotting out of sins. The sense of pardon
is the spring of the new life.
Ø The promised future. “Seasons of refreshing.” Return of Jesus Christ.
Restitution of all things.
20 “And He shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:”
And that He may send the Christ… even Jesus for and He shall send Jesus Christ,
Authorized Version; who hath been appointed (προκεχειρισασθαι – prokecheirisasthai –
to fix upon beforehand, ch. 22:14; 26:16) for you for (προκεκηρυγμένον –
prokekaerugmenon – before was preached; one having been heralded before) which
before was preached unto you, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus. Who hath
been appointed, etc. Jesus is already designated and appointed and made (ch. 2:36)
both Lord and Christ, but His glorious presence with His Church is deferred for a time,
during which He is in heaven (v. 21). The Revised Version is surely very infelicitous
here, as if there were several Christs,
one of whom was appointed for
21 “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.” Restoration for restitution, Authorized Version; whereof for which,
Authorized Version; spake for hath spoken, Authorized Version; His for all His,
Authorized Version and Textus Receptus. Whom the heaven must receive. This is
clearly right, not as some render it, who must occupy heaven. The aorist δέξασθαι –
dexasthai – to receive seems to point to the moment when, at the Ascension, He was
carried up into heaven (Luke 24:51). The restoration of all things (ἀποκαταστάσεως
πάντων – apokatastaseos panton – of restoration of all things). This must be the
same operation as our Lord speaks of in Matthew 17:11: “Elias truly
shall first come, and restore all things” (ἀποκαταστήσει πάντα – apokatastaesei
panta – shall be restoring all things ); and from the words of Malachi (Malachi 4:5-6)
it would seem to be a moral or spiritual restoration preparatory to the coming of
the Lord. If so, the time of restoration is not exactly synchronous with the times of
refreshing, but preparatory to them; preparatory, too, to that restoration of
the kingdom to
however, Peter includes in his view the immediately following times of “the presence
of the Lord,” just as in Mark (Mark 1:1) the preparatory mission of John the Baptist
is included in the phrase, “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” Whereof God
spake. The antecedent to “whereof” is “the times” (v. 24).
The Human and the Divine (vs. 11-21)
Human and Divine elements are here crowded together, as indeed they are
in most if not all of the events of our life. We look at:
Ø Excitement. The man who had been lame, in the excitement of joy and
gratitude, “held Peter and John” (v. 11), and “all the people ran
together… greatly wondering” (v. 11). In the region of the Divine is
calmness, serenity, peace; in that of the human is agitation, disturbance,
Ø Instrumentality. (v. 12.) We do not effect anything of ourselves; we
are co-workers with God. We depend on His Divine assistance, on the
cooperation of forces that are acting around and within us, in virtue of His
energizing power, for the accomplishment of our humblest undertakings.
How much more emphatically is this the case in the sphere of sacred
usefulness, in the communication of spiritual life! There should be, there
must be, as in the case of Peter and John, fitness for the work and
obedience to the word and will of Christ; but after all it is not “our own
power or holiness” that “makes any man to walk” in the ways of God.
Ø Guilt qualified by ignorance. Peter charges his hearers with positive and
terrible crime (vs. 13-15); he does, indeed, make the abatement which is
due to ignorance (v. 17): they did not “kill the Prince of life,” knowing
that it was He whom they were crucifying. But they remained in guilty
ignorance of His origin, His character, and His mission; and their ignorance,
if it palliated, did not excuse their crime. We also often “know not what we
do” when we wrong the innocent, when we sin against ourselves, when we
rob God of the glory due to His Name. Our ignorance is not left out of the
account by the Holy and the Just One; nevertheless He adjudges us to be
verily guilty, and He condemns us.
Ø Penitence. (v. 19.) We are to be changed in our mind, and be
converted or turned from our evil ways to those which are right, pure,
Ø Faith. (v. 16.) Peter says that “faith in the Name” of Jesus Christ had
given the lame man that “perfect soundness” which they all beheld. He
does not say, or is not reported as saying, that these “men of Israel” must
believe in Him whom they had guiltily slain, but that was either implied or
expressed in his address to them. “Repentance toward God, and faith
toward our Lord Jesus Christ,” is the testimony borne by apostles “both to
the Jews, and also to the Greeks” (ch. 20:21).
Ø Overruling wisdom. (v. 18.) What God had shown beforehand needed
to be done, He had, in the ordering of His holy providence, caused to take
place. Through all these things
which happened at
hand of man had so large a share, there ran a thread of Divine agency; so
that purposes of heavenly love and wisdom were after all fulfilled. He still
“makes the wrath of man to praise Him.”
Ø Glorifying the Just and Holy One. (vs. 13, 15.) God is bringing many
sons unto glory, as well as the “Captain of our salvation.” He will ensure
the ultimate acquittal and honoring of those who are reviled and wronged.
“Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness.”
Ø Restoration. (vs. 12, 19-21.) It was the Divine hand, and no human
magic, which healed this lame beggar (v. 12) It is the hand of God which
gives such blessed recuperative power to our bodily system, and which
raises the sick man from the bed of suffering, weakness, acute disease, to
newness of physical life. It is God who grants to the condemned but
penitent spirit restoration to His loving favor (“that your sins may be
blotted out”), and it is He who will one day grant to a renovated world
“times of refreshing,” the reappearance of Jesus Christ in His heavenly
power and glory (vs. 20-21). There is a sense in which:
o there is much that is marvelous in the working and outworking
of God; it is so far beyond our finite understanding. But there is
also a sense in which
o there is nothing surprising in any acts of restoration or renovation we
witness. It is only what we should ask for and expect of Him. “Why
marvel we” at that?
Times of Refreshing and of Restitution (vs. 19,21)
These two words refer to the same time. Without doubt the Apostle
Peter, as well as all the disciples, and the whole apostolic Church, regarded
the coming of Christ as near at hand, but still always as something future.
This ‘coming of Christ’ is to be conceived as coinciding with the ‘times of
refreshing,’ and His sojourn in the heavenly world closes with His return to
the earth for the completion of His work. The conversion of men, therefore,
and the diffusion of faith in Christ, are the conditions of the speedy
approach of that blessed time” (compare II Peter 3:9-13). Respecting the
sense of the term ‘restitution of all things,’ no doubt can arise if we keep
steadily in view the relation of the Redeemer to this sinful world: Christ is
the Restorer of the fallen creation, and therefore the word ‘restitution’
derives from His redeeming power its peculiar meaning, viz that of bringing
back to an originally pure condition. The Revised Version materially
improves the reading of these verses: “Repent,… that so there may come
seasons of refreshing from the presence of the Lord.” “These times or
seasons of refreshing, and those ‘times of restitution or (restoration) of all
things which God hath spoken,’ both seem to refer to the same great hope
of the Church, and are connected with the second sending forth of Jesus
Christ from heaven to earth.” Peter had clearer ideas of the Messianic
kingdom, but he was still hampered by the national and temporal figures
under which it had been prophesied. His purpose evidently is to urge the
audience to an immediate acceptance of Christ, as the way to bring on the
establishment of the long-promised and glorious Messianic time. And the
point of impression for us is this — Man’s penitence, obedience, and faith
prepare the way for the coming of Christ’s kingdom, and the fulfillment of
Divine promises. The faster
would Jesus return to
preach the gospel, and persuade men to repent, at home and abroad.
HAND. God is ever “waiting to be gracious,” as it were watching for
opportunities of giving men His rich spiritual blessing. Revivals are always
close by, when men’s hearts are made humble and open and seeking. Does
an individual soul set itself upon humiliation and prayer? the “times of
refreshing” are at hand for it. Does a Church unite in confession and
supplication? the “times of refreshing” will come in response to its cry.
And this assurance should act as a moral persuasion, and urge men to seek
for higher and better things. “We are not straitened in God.” He would
bless us more abundantly if we were more truly ready for the blessing. “He
is able to make all grace abound,” (II Corinthians 9:8). Taking “times of
refreshing” as seasons to be realized now by the soul and by the Church, we
may obtain illustrations from the Old Testament history, especially instances
occurring in the later years of the national decline, such as the reformations
under Hezekiah and Josiah. Or from the New Testament, especially dealing
with Pentecost. Or from the Christian ages, noticing that such “times” take a
variety of form and character. Sometimes they are prominently intellectual,
as illustrated in the revival under Luther and the Port Royalists; sometimes
they are prominently practical, as illustrated in the revival under St.
Bernard; sometimes they are prominently emotional, as illustrated in the
revival under Whitefield, and in the Scotch and Irish revivals of recent
times. Such “times of refreshing” are necessary to the proper culture of our
spiritual life. Under present conditions, the maintenance of good is so
difficult. Oftentimes even holy purpose wanes, and we become weary in
well-doing. So in all departments of life we need revival times. Such are
our summer restings, our sabbaths, birthdays, etc. If we will but set
ourselves in proper attitudes of humility and seeking, we shall find God’s
“refreshing times” ever at hand. The grace is ready, waiting for you if you
will TURN! Forgiveness is ready. The door of the new kingdom is open
ready. ETERNAL LIFE IS READY! God waits but your up-look to come
in, and save, even you. (Revelation 3:20) Repent, that the good times may
come for you.”
We should get some fitting ideas of the great plan for the recovery of
the fallen race of man. Unquestionably the world is a fallen, disordered,
ruined world. But God has gracious purposes concerning the “restitution,”
or setting right, “of all things.” And OUR LORD’S DEATH began the
restoration of all things. Our Lord’s present spiritual work in the “heavenlies”
— the moral and spiritual spheres — is the presidency of the restoring work.
Then we must conceive of SOME GLORIOUS DAY OF RESTITUTION
when the Divine plan and purpose shall be FULLY ACCOMPLISHED!
We can only gain very imperfect and unworthy ideas of what that day will be;
but we may gain deep impressions of our own relation to its on-coming, and
of our own duty to hasten the glorious time (II Peter 3:12), by seeing to it
that the work of restoring grace is fully wrought in our hearts, lives, and
spheres, and that the gospel of the living Savior is so widely preached
that “every knee may be brought to bow to Him.” There is a true sense
in which we may hasten the day when the Redeemer “shall see
of the travail of his soul, shall be satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11) and shall
“deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father.” (I Corinthians 15:24)
We may give ourselves to Christ, and make one more sinner won. We may
speak of Christ to others, persuade them to repent and believe, and so help
to multiply the number of the saved, who shall be acknowledged in that
22 “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.”
Moses indeed said for Moses truly said unto the fathers, Authorized Version and
Textus Receptus; the Lord God for the Lord your God, Authorized Version and
Textus Receptus; from among for of, Authorized Version; to Him shall ye hearken
for Him shall ye hear, Authorized Version; speak for say, Authorized Version.
Moses indeed said. Peter now verifies his assertion about the prophets in the
previous verse by quoting from Moses, and referring to Samuel and those that
came after. A prophet, etc. The quotation is from Deuteronomy 18:15-19.
That this was understood by the Jews to relate to some one great prophet who
had not yet come, appears from the question “Art thou that prophet?” (John 1:21),
and from the saying of the Jews after the miracle of the loaves and fishes, “This
is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world” (John 6:14; 7:40).
Peter here teaches that that prophet was none other than CHRIST HIMSELF
who was like unto Moses in the fullness of the revelation given
unto Him, in His being a Mediator between God and the people, in being the
Author of a new law — the law of faith and love, in building a new
tabernacle for God to inhabit, even the Church in which HE WILL DWELL
FOR EVER AND EVER! (see Hebrews 1:1-2).
23 “And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that
prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.” Shall be for come to pass,
Authorized Version; shall not hearken to for will not hear, Authorized Version;
utterly destroyed for destroyed, Authorized Version. Utterly destroyed. The Greek
ἐξολοθρευθήσεται – exolothreuthaesetai – shall be being utterly exterminated –
occurs frequently in the Septuagint for the Hebrew phrase, “cut off from his people”
(Genesis 17:14); but in Deuteronomy 18:19, the phrase is quite different, “I will
require it of him.” Peter here gives the sense, not the ipsissima verba, and thereby
marks the extreme gravity of THE SIN OF UNBELIEF! (see John 3:18).
24 “Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after,
as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.”
Them that followed for those that follow, Authorized Version: they also told
for have likewise foretold, Authorized Version. From Samuel, etc. Samuel and
οἱ καθεξῆς hois kathexaes – those that follow - seems to denote what the Jews
called “the former prophets” — the authors of the historical books. The whole
phrase, therefore, comprehends “all the prophets” (of whom Samuel and
οἱ καθεξῆς were the first), to whose testimony concerning Himself our Lord
appeals (Luke 24:27, 44).
Moses’ Witness to the Christ (vs. 22, 24)
The first reference of Moses in the words used (Deuteronomy 18:15)
should be carefully noticed. The higher Messianic references of the Old
Testament usually underlie an immediate relation to historical events or
individuals. As the words stand, taken with their context, they seem to
point to the appearance of a succession of true prophets, as contrasted with
the diviners of Deuteronomy 18:14; and, even with Peter’s interpretation
before us, we may well admit those prophets as primary and
partial fulfillments of them. It seems that the Jews were fond of comparing
the promised Messiah with their great prophet and lawgiver, Moses. Of
this one specimen may be given from the rabbinical writings. “Rabbi
Berakhiah 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
dwells upon the fact that the coming Messiah should be like him. This
comparison may be opened in the following particulars : —
of Jewish race. And He was, as a fellow-man, able to understand and to
sympathize with those whom He led. He was a man of like passions; “in
all points tempted as we are; able to succor them that are tempted.”
(Hebrews 4:15; 2:18) The importance of the actual humanity of our Lord
in the theological systems of Paul and John should be fully unfolded. And
the additional interest of His being a Jew may be pointed out. The history
of the Jews shows that they have a singular power of adapting themselves to
all climes, languages, nations, and societies; and that which is true of them
is true of our Lord’s gospel, as bearing, so markedly, the Jewish stamp. It can
adapt to all the conditions of mankind, and be preached to every creature.
to bring a people out of bondage, deliver them in a glorious and Divine
manner, and lead them until their full redemption was complete in the
may be urged that, as the Redeemer, our Lord asks the same surrender to
Him, in trust, that Moses asked.
Moses. He took the entire person, life, and relations of the people into his
regulations, settling rules for their moral, social, national, and ecclesiastical
conditions. And so we come “under Law to Christ,” who covers with His
“new commandments” the whole of our lives and associations. “One is our
Master, even Christ.” (Matthew 23:10)
the term “prophet” — one who comes between God and the people, as
instructing them in the Divine will. Both Moses and the Lord Jesus taught
the people concerning:
Ø character, etc.
chief national tribunal. And God has “committed all judgment to the Son.”
He “shall judge the quick and dead.” “We must all appear before the
judgment-seat of Christ.” “He that despised Moses’ Law died without mercy
under two or three witnesses: of how much Sorer punishment, suppose ye,
shall he be thought worthy, WHO HATH TRODDEN UNDER FOOT THE
SON OF GOD and hath counted THE BLOOD OF THE COVENANT…..
an unholy thing, AND HATH DONE DESPITE UNTO THE SPIRIT OF
GRACE! (Hebrews 10:28-29)
25 “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.” Sons for children, Authorized Version;
your for our, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; families for kindreds,
Authorized Version. Ye are the sons of the prophets, meaning that they
inherited all the promises made by the prophets to their fathers. Just as in
ch. 2:39 he said, “The promise is unto you and to your children”
(compare Romans 9:4; 15:8). He thus enforces the solemn obligation of
giving heed to what the prophets had said concerning Christ and His
kingdom. In thy seed (see Galatians 3:16). This covenant, into which
God entered with Abraham, with an oath (Genesis 22:16, 18), and
which was a repetition and amplification of the covenant and promise
already recorded in Genesis 12:1-3; ch. 15; 17:1-8, was made πρὸς τοὺς
πατέρας – pros tous pateras – toward the fathers, with a view to, in the
direction of, the fathers, so as to include them and their children after them.
It was now fulfilled to those whom Peter was addressing, as is set forth in the
The True Importance of Ancestry — What It Is (v. 25)
These words were some of those addressed by Peter to a crowd of
wondering and admiring spectators, and of attentive hearers also. These
were gathered for him by the fret of the man whom he had delivered from
his lameness resolving to cleave as long as he could to the side of his
deliverer. The “common people” did on this occasion gladly hear Peter, as
formerly they gladly were wont to hear his Master and their own. We are
grateful to be able to recall these circumstances and this connection of the
text; because on certain other occasions Peter, Stephen, and Paul, and
many a time Jesus himself, had to refer to the ancestry of the Jews in order
to point severest reproof and condemnation unrelieved. But it is not so
now. Reproof and condemnation are only partly aimed at here. We have
reminding may seem but an humble one. But how true the friend
sometimes who undertakes it — who waits not for some grand occasion of
instructing, of informing you of what you did not know, or of charming
you with the latest discoveries of science or applications of art, but who
simply brings afresh to your thought what you had long known!
Ø Conscience is such a friend when we will listen to it. It does not teach
what is new, but does remind and remonstrate. God’s Holy Ghost is
such a Friend when you will listen to Him. He both reveals the new
and brings to remembrance the old, specially those dear old words,
of priceless value, of Jesus.
Ø The written and spoken Word of God is such a friend. How many of
its messages are but the pronounced repetitions of your own reason,
experience! They are your own judgment and observation, now ushered
in with all the added impressiveness that comes from the “endorsement”
of the Divine page and pen.
And now Peter tells his hearers no new thing. They had long ago known it, and
had built much upon it. They built, though too ignorantly, large part of their
hopes of salvation upon their being the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Their trust was in the covenant God made with Abraham. Their great charter
was “Moses and the prophets.” But had it not often come to this, that they
eagerly remembered their boasted rights but kept a poor memory for their
duties? They would enforce their claims, ignore the correlative demands upon
themselves, long more than due! “We have Abraham to our father,” was
their ever-ready cry; yet they had “killed the prophets,” and “stoned them
that were sent to them,” and had “crucified the Prince of life.” “Of Him,”
says Peter, “all the prophets spoke,” from Moses the greatest, and Samuel
the second greatest. And surely you won’t forget that “you are the children
of those prophets,” and won’t consent to act unworthily of that
relationship! Was not this a word of reminding in due season? And was it
not put very kindly by Peter to his congregation? Perhaps all the same tone
of thought, all the same suggestion for memories, awake enough at the
point of rights and claims, but that fade at the point of duty and
responsibility, characterizes to a very large degree the present day. Men do
not forget they are Englishmen; they do not forget to boast their freedom.
Are they touched in one of these or the like respects, they resent it as
though the apple of their eye was touched. But they forget they are the
children of those who got these things for them “through much
tribulation;” who fought, suffered, died, for their privileges. They forget
they are the children of Reformers and Protestants, who “resisted even
unto blood,” and for conscience’ sake were burned at the stake; that they
are children of those who loved, spake, and did the truth, cost what it
might. It was a very effective point which Peter made when, viewing it as a
kindly reminder, he said, “Ye are the children of the prophets.”
at all necessary to construe the text as the language of stern rebuke, yet it
may imply some rebuke. And this deserves rebuke, when men are so
willing to touch human life at all its points of contact with pleasure, self-
interest, honor, privilege, but are so very shy of it at its points of contact
with duty, effort, sacrifice. With the many, the strongest bent, deepest
inclination of their life is still but what they can get and have, what they can
say or think to the advantage of themselves. The choice is a mournfully
sorry one, when it is considered to what it comes:
Ø for its one-sidedness it earns rebuke.
Ø for its cowardice it earns rebuke.
Ø for its certain unprofitableness it earns rebuke.
And not least does it earn rebuke because of its higher opportunities forfeited,
and nobler passions and principles wasted and alienated. The harvest is too
surely reaped, of disappointment, vanity, and vexation of spirit, or self-stricken
darkness itself. But let some one begin life from the diametrically opposite
standpoint. Let him accept the theory that life is for duty, that it is responsible
for the vaster advantages with which it began than those with which it was
begun by preceding generations, that it calls for work more strenuous, and
sacrifice more willing, and self-surrender more entire by very virtue of the
honor and advantage it has drawn from its own forefathers; and that life
is shaped for high ends. It will not fail of real fruitfulness; it will not expire,
a sorrow and a shame. The gentle suggestive rebuke couched in the text
touches the essential difference between two such lives. You are not the
children of possession, and of ease, and of the “rest and be thankful”
school; you are the descendants of a nobler strenuous, solemn race. They
had large brains, they had bone and muscle about them, sinew and nerve
were firm and firmly tied, and their heart was capacious. Ay, to other sort
men oft-times prefer to trace their lineage; but to this sort, the kindly rebuke
of Peter, of the Word and Spirit of God, of His providence, and of our own
conscience, should oftener turn us and our ambition.
PEOPLE OF EXTRAORDINARY DIGNITY AND PRIVILEGE. It will
be granted that the Jews were such a people. Yet, with all their honor and
splendor, their unique religious privileges, and their preeminent political
prestige, it must be allowed that they show but a faint type of ourselves.
They rose to a pinnacle of national greatness, and GREAT WAS THEIR
FALL but it was no mystery. The beginning of it was plain, the course of
it was plain. It was often pointed out by priest, prophet, preacher, and by
that man of the people themselves, who “was an Israelite indeed.” Yet they
wrought their own downfall, and cruelly undermined their own proud position,
because they lost ear, heart, and pride for that which was their glory, and to
its announcement greatly preferred to sound their own trumpet. But were
there ever heirs like ourselves? Was there ever an heritage like ours? Of
what prophets are we the children, when we think of the accumulations of
knowledge, of conviction, of attestations of God’s existence, providence,
government, revelation, which the stream of time has been bearing down,
richest freights to our shores? In such sense we are children of no obscure
parentage, “citizens of no mean city, owning to a history of unsurpassed
significance. Ages and centuries of the past bend their surprised gaze upon
us; they compass us about with CLOUDS OF WITNESSES (people at the
Judgment). And when the gentle reminding is passed, and the suggested rebuke
seems to fail, one thing only remains — impassioned appeal, a summons that
must wake all but those who are securely dead. Live we, then, worthily of our
antecedents, mindful of our responsibilities as heirs of such a past. Let us flee
from unfaithfulness, and scorn the seductions of ease and luxury. Let us purge
ourselves from vanity, perverseness, and self. Let us pray for a divinely
opened eye, mind, heart. And show by God’s grace that we have not
forgotten, but on the contrary do make it our business to remember, whose
“children we are.”
26 “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.”
Servant for Son Jesus, Authorized Version and Textus Receptus; your for His,
Authorized Version. Unto you first. In virtue of the covenant, the first offer of
salvation was made to the Jews (see ch. 1:8; 13:26, 46; Luke 24:47; Romans 2:10,
etc.; compare Matthew 15:24). His Servant (as in v. 13). As regards
the phrase, “having raised up,” however natural it is at first sight to
understand it of the raising from the dead, the tenses make it impossible to
do so. Nor could it be said that God sent Jesus to bless them after His
resurrection. We must, therefore, understand ἀναστήσας – anastaaesas –
raising as to be equivalent to ἐξαγείρας – exageiras - , and to mean
“having appointed,” set up, raised up (as the English word is used, Luke 1:69;
Romans 9:17). In this sense God raised up His Servant by the incarnation, birth,
anointing, and mission to be the Savior. To bless you; to fulfill to you the blessing
promised to Abraham’s seed. In turning away, etc., deliverance from sin
being the chief blessing which Christ bestows upon His people (so ch. 5:31,
repentance is spoken of as Christ’s great gift to
second great apostolic sermon.
The Two Judgments (vs. 12-26)
“The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward
appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart (I Samuel 16:7). “That
which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God”
(Luke 16:15). “The stone which the builders rejected, the same is
become the head of the corner”. (Luke 20:17)The above passages, with
many others, call our particular attention to the frequent contrariety
between the judgment of men and the judgment of God. The section before
us gives two striking examples of this contrariety.
to the cause of the healing of the lame man, and the truth as declared by
the apostles. The men of
by their own power or holiness. Their blind, carnal mind could not see
beyond what lay just before them. They mistook the instrument for the
cause. They could not see the power of Jesus Christ in heaven working
through the hands of His servants on earth. And this is a type of a widely
extended human error or false judgment. In the judgment of carnal men,
however sharp their intellectual sight may be, everything is material, and
the visible matter has no invisible spirit behind it. Famines, pestilences,
earthquakes, are in their view natural phenomona with which the hand of
God has nothing to do. Success or defeat in war, prosperity or adversity to
the individual or the nation, are owing exclusively to the wisdom and
prowess of men, not to the blessing or chastening of God. And it is even so
in the Church. They see only the outward visible signs, and they ignore the
inward spiritual grace. Holy baptism is a sign, a ceremony, a rite. It has,
maybe, a certain significance, a certain admonitory or teaching power in
their eyes, but they ignore the active, quickening energy of the Holy Spirit
in the sacrament. The bread and wine in the Lord’s Supper are emblems,
symbols, tokens, but they apprehend not the body and blood of Jesus
Christ “which are verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful” at
the Lord’s table. Sermons, if eloquent, able, and stirring, are things of
natural power in their estimation, but they do not take into account the
effectual working of the Holy Ghost accompanying the Word preached,
and making it the power of God unto salvation. And so it is throughout,
both in the world and in the Church. The carnal judgment of men takes into
account only the natural and the material; those who have the mind and
judgment of Christ recognize the supernatural and spiritual agency of God.
the judgment of man and the judgment of God is that which is so pointedly
put by Luke, both here and in his Gospel: the preference given by the
Jews to Barabbas over Jesus Christ. “Ye denied the Holy and Righteous
One, and asked for a murderer to be granted unto you, and killed the
Prince of life; whom God raised from the dead.” Here, then, we have the
Lord Jesus, the well-beloved Son of God; in whom He was well pleased;
who always did those things that pleased Him; to whom He said, “Sit thou
on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool;” whom God exalted
far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name
that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; to
whom he has given “a name which is above every name; that at the name of
Jesus every knee should bow… and that every tongue should confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” That was the
judgment of God. Now let us see the judgment of men concerning this
same Jesus. He was in the world, in all the simplicity of His spotless
righteousness, in all the dignity of His sinless humanity, in the majesty of the
Son of God; the fullness of wisdom, of love, and of pure goodness beamed
forth in His every word and work, but “He was despised and rejected of
men.” He was reviled as a blasphemer, as one that had a devil, as a
gluttonous man and a winebibber, as a friend of sinners, as a seditious,
turbulent man, as one that was not worthy to live. So He was brought
before the judges of the earth, accused, arraigned as a criminal; smitten,
buffeted, scourged, spit upon, condemned; led forth to execution,
numbered with the transgressors, nailed to the cross, left to die amidst the
jeers and taunts of His murderers. And when Pilate himself offered to
release Hhim, the offer was met with the cry, “Not this man, but Barabbas;”
and Barabbas was a robber. That was the judgment of man. And have we
not here a type of the frequent contrariety between the judgment of men
and the judgment of God? The things, the persons, the characters, that God
approves, find no favor with a corrupt and perverse world; the things, the
persons, the sentiments, that God disapproves, receive the praise of men.
The opinions of the day, the voice of the multitude, the prevailing tone of
thought amongst men, are no safe criterion of worth and truth. We must
ever remember that there are two judgments, the judgment of man and the
judgment of God, and that these are often diverse the one from the other.
It should be our constant prayer that God’s Holy Spirit may give us “a
right judgment in all things;” so that, on the various questions of interest
which engage the thoughts of our own generation, we may be found in
harmony, not with the conceits of men, but with the all-seeing mind of
The Greatness of Jesus Christ (vs. 22-26)
These verses may be regarded as attesting the unapproachable greatness of
the Lord Jesus Christ; they invite us to think:
PRECEDED HIM, BUT WAS GREATER THAN HE. (v. 22.)
Ø A greater Legislator than Moses, for His laws should last as long as time
Ø a better Man, for He was absolutely without sin;
Ø a worthier Leader, conducting out of a harder bondage into a truer freedom,
and unto a land of greater promise.
REFLECTION OF HIM IS THE RUIN OF OURSELVES. (v. 23.) To
be ignorant of some human teachers is to lose a valuable heritage, a
precious treasure, excellent and elevating enjoyment; but to refuse His
friendship, to reject His service, is to cut ourselves off from the source of
eternal truth, is to abandon ourselves to the course which ends in spiritual
SCRIPTURE. (v. 24.) “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
Rightly read, “all the prophets” testified of Him, and pointed on to those
days in which He lived, suffered, died, and rose again.
BLESSING. (v. 26.) What would we give to those whom we would fain
serve? Health, fortune, power, fame, human love? Jesus Christ blesses by
“turning away every one from his iniquities.” What a transcendent blessing
is this! Consider:
sin from each individual soul.
fear Him, to love Him, and to strive to please Him, is the only way to
escape from a state of sin), and entrance upon eternal life (for the sphere
of sin is the region of death, and to be delivered from the former is to
enter the kingdom of life, the life which is spiritual and eternal).
1 John. 3:5-6).
SALVATION FIRST TO THOSE WHO HAD REJECTED HIM.
(v. 25-26.) They to whom Peter spoke were “the children of the prophets;”
but they had “denied the Holy One and the Just,” and “killed the Prince of
life.” Yet to those who had so shamefully abused their privileges the
apostle said, “To you first,” etc. Jesus came to “call sinners to repentance,”
to restore those who had fallen the furthest, to cleanse the most leprous, to
raise the spiritually dead, to win those most utterly estranged and most
bitterly opposed to Himself. So great a Conqueror is He.
Witness of Peter to Jesus (vs. 11-26)
A great congregation, in the mood of wonder and prepared to listen, is
before him. He who had once denied his Master in a moment of weakness,
is now enabled with great power to give testimony of Him.
APOSTLES. The note of a genuine mission. The false prophet and the
magician neglect nothing that will enhance their supposed supernatural
character. The apostles insist that they are but men, have no power of
themselves, are the agents merely of a higher will. So, too, peculiar piety
on their part is disclaimed. They did not aim at the reputation of saints;
they refused to encourage the natural delusion that they must be better than
other men. This was not the way to popularity, but the simple course of
honest witnesses for God.
Ø God is the faithful God, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, God of their
fathers; these were dear and time-honored appellations. With these is now
connected that of Father of Jesus. Thus the recent is united with the most
ancient past. One unfailing bond of Divine constancy and love knits the
ages into unity, and makes history the unfolding of an increasing purpose.
(“Known unto God are all His works from the beginning of the world.”
Ø His love is illustrated by the contrast with human hate. They had
repudiated the Holy and Just One, and had begged the life of a murderer in
His stead. Blindly they had hurried the “Author of life” to an ignominious
doom. But who can contend against God, His power, nay, rather, His love?
The purpose of life is victorious over human passion, and God will not
suffer men to work out their suicidal intents to the full. The Resurrection,
be it insisted, then, is the crowning proof of indefeasible constancy and will
to save men in their own despite.
Ø The energy to heal ever flows from THE RISEN CHRIST! Faith is the
condition of being blessed. It is the movement of the whole soul towards
the Divine Benefactor. It is the junction of the human with the Divine will,
and is the one principle of salvation.
contains a Divine logic. Every study of it is idle which does not end with
the question — What is the meaning for the present? (“Now all these things
were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”
I Corinthians 10:13) What resolve is to be taken? What duty now to be
discharged? The paths of experience converge towards one goal.
Ø The crucifixion of Jesus had been an act of ignorance. They “knew not
what they did;” neither people nor rulers. It was a mitigation of the crime,
and divinely recognized. The acts of wrath are blind, and just judgment
distinguishes between the evidences of passion and the evidences of
ingrained perversity in man’s acts.
Ø It was at the same time a fulfillment of prophecy. God permits evil
means to work out holy ends. The happiest revolutions have often sprung
from momentary ignition of wrath and resentment. The feeble human heart
expends its little explosive force, and silently makes an opening for the
march of a higher purpose. It was necessary that Christ should suffer.
Every pleasure is the reaction from a pain; every birth proceeds from
travail; there is no deliverance without spiritual struggle. The most
spiritual, the most living personality, must agonize and suffer most. This is
the law. In the suffering of the “Leader of life” it finds its highest
expression. Thus did Divine will confront human freedom, and the futility
of resistance is shown. The very efforts of blind passion to defeat that will
serve only to elicit its meaning. Like blows upon a vibrating substance,
human sins draw deeper music from the heart of God.
cannot influence the fixed course of things, it is wisdom to be influenced by
it. If the Divine purpose is not to be bent aside for us, we must bend before
it. We cannot change the course of fate, but we can change the course of
our thoughts and actions. To persist in discovered error is like fighting
against the stars in their courses.
“If I willfully keep my conscience in darkness and continue
in errors which I might easily know to be such by a little
thought and searching of God’s Word, then my conscience
conscience can offer me no excuse, for I am guilty of
blindfolding the guide which I have chosen and then,
knowing him to be blindfolded, I am guilty of the folly
of letting him lead me into rebellion against God.
Sin, is only unforgivable when it is persisted in as sin. The constant promise
of the gospel is that sin shall no longer be reckoned to a man, i.e. viewed as
a fact of his life, when it has been corrected by the will. Our deeper thought
teaches us that there is no time for God. Our “now” and its self-determination
is the question. One solemn moment of decision converts the error of the way
into the direction of truth and right.
Ø They are of indefinable grandeur and attraction. We cannot fully
analyze the contents of any Divine promise. Its riches exceed definition
and thought. At the same time, every promise has leading hints to guide
faith and expectation. Here “times of refreshing” and the “sending of
Jesus” form such hints.
Ø They point to a goal of history. “The times of the restitution of all
things.” The golden age of paganism was in the remote past; that of
good, upon nothing less sure than DIVINE WILL and is the subject of
prophetic oracles. To define is to limit and to narrow and to impoverish
our noblest ideals. Let us be content, as Peter teaches elsewhere, to
accept prophecy as a “light shining in a dark place, until the day dawn.”
(II Peter 1:19)
Ø They are designed to guide conduct, not to explain the future fully. The
prediction in the Law cited by Peter received many changing
interpretations in the long course of its existence. The actual highest
fulfillment was not recognized when it came. God ever fulfils Himself
unexpectedly. Meanwhile the delay of fulfillment keeps thought and
Ø The growth and increasing emphasis of prophecy. The sound dies not,
but gathers in volume as it goes, filling the earth. Do we heed its sound
now? Is there no voice of God for us in the instruction and warnings of
the greatest spirits of our time? Every teacher who bids us strive and
aspire towards the ideal, the
and is charged with a measure of oracular power for his generation.
prophets.” God has spoken to us. Behind us lies the past, with its
wonderful lore, its yet unsatisfied yearnings. We too are included in the
DIVINE COVENANT of blessing. The process of events set in motion by
the eternal Cause continues itself in us. The seed of His loving thoughts
becomes fertile anew in the spirits of each succeeding generation, and
appears in new blossom and fruit. Till “all countries of the earth” shall thus
be sown and impregnated with the thoughts of God, the process shall
continue. Away, then, with a dead theology which seeks for inspiration
only in the fulfilled, not also in the fulfilling and the to be fulfilled. Let us
believe in God, not merely because we know that He stirred in men’s souls
in days of yore, but because we feel Him stirring in our own souls now.
be concentrated that it may be diffused. Other nations have had light, but
and in the turning from sin, men are in the way of all good, of growing
good; the negation of evil is the affirmation of the principle of the spirit.
A Great Sermon to a Wondering Multitude (vs. 11-26)
Ø Different from that previously gathered, which was made up of devout
men chiefly, who were interested in the strange phenomenon of the
tongues. This was a mingled multitude, partly of temple worshippers,
partly of passers-by, including, therefore, many who were present, at the
Crucifixion, who had shouted “Crucify Him!”
Ø Their state of mind. Greatly wondering, ready to be taught, gazing
inquiringly at the apostles, almost worshipping them. Strange that they
should be so affected after having beheld the miracles of the Lord.
Probably already deeply touched and filled with remorseful feelings
by the Crucifixion, beginning to believe in the Resurrection, and so
filled with alarm lest they had incurred the righteous wrath of God.
Peter “saw it,” that is, the signs of an awakened mind and softened
heart. He “answered,” perhaps cries of astonishment and inquiry.
THE MESSIAHSHIP OF JESUS as proved by it, and its practical bearing
on those present.
Ø The facts of the gospel are set face to face with the words of Scripture.
The agency of man is shown to be entirely under the control of an
greatness and graciousness of the faith is at once clearly revealed. The
miracle falls into its place as a sign of the Divine working. It is the
Name of Christ to which all is to be ascribed. As the multitude were
unconscious agents in fulfilling the prophecies, so the apostles are
simply ministers proclaiming the gospel, inciting their brethren to
The nearness of the
call to repentance and faith. The tremendous responsibility of such a
time is declared. If God has been working, how can He pass by
the willful disobedience and neglect of those to whom such a
message is sent?
Ø The day of grace is heralded. While the guilt of a Savior’s crucifixion
is boldly pronounced, the gate of life is flung wide open. Peter uses his
key well. Times of refreshing and gladness will come if impenitence
does not hinder them. Jesus has been sent to bless you, not to curse
you; to offer up the blood He shed on your behalf, not to call it down
upon your heads, as you did in your blind passion. It was an appeal from
fear to faith. Behold the power, but understand that the power is not
death, but life. Believe and live. A truly gospel message.
Ø Thoroughly pervaded by the spirit of faith. Look, not on us, nor on the
healed man, but on Christ. The power and the holiness (or “godliness,”
Revised Version), is not ours, but God’s. We are mere earthen vessels.
The excellency of the power is God’s. (II Corinthians 4:7) The firm
persuasion which gave boldness to the preacher was not mere natural
eloquence, or physical strength, or temporary elevation in the eyes of
the multitude; but a scriptural faith, which rested on THE FULFILLED
PROMISES OF GOD which saw the facts in the light of eternal truth,
which grasped the hope of the future — “the restoration of all things.”
Ø Directness of appeal. They were not afraid of their faces. They spoke to
their consciences. The guilt of the crucifiers is charged home upon them.
We succeed best with men when they feel our hand grappling their
conscience; if only they believe in our sincerity and faithfulness. Yet
the apostles could not know how such a charge would be taken. Wonder
might be changed in a fickle multitude into self-justification and rage
against the prophet who said, “Ye are the men.” Compare in this
respect the New Testament prophets with those of the Old Testament.
(Nathan – II Samuel 12:7).
Ø Sympathy and love to souls. Nothing like inhuman pressing the charge
or denunciation. They are “brethren” still. They did it “in ignorance.”
They can yet be blessed and saved. There is “perfect soundness” for
them if they will have it.
Ø Inspired wisdom and heavenly skill. They were “taught of God” how
to speak. The startling message comes first, “Ye are guilty;” then the
Scripture exposition leading on to the loving appeal at the conclusion.
Our last note should always be love. (“But speaking the truth in love”
Ephesians 4:15) Yet the golden thread of gospel faithfulness must run
through all. The model of preaching is to make Christ the beginning,
middle, and end. But let it be Christ the Savior from sin; not Christ
the mere Teacher, or Example, or Mystery of God; but the Messenger
of peace to dying souls. The sermon, doubtless, is given only in
rough sketch, for it probably occupied some time, as the miracle was
wrought about three o’clock in the afternoon, and the sermon was
interrupted in the evening. There was time for a discourse of more
than an hour, so that we may suppose the facts and arguments
considerably amplified in the delivery. It would seem that some two
thousand were converted between the day of Pentecost and the close
of Peter’s sermon in Solomon’s porch. It is, therefore, likely that a
large proportion of that number owed their conversion to this sermon;
and they were many of them of the populace. Their identification with
the Church would, therefore, give great weight to the message, which
would be remembered and repeated in substance through the city, and
hence handed down to the writer of the Acts. We cannot do better than
study such models of simplicity and earnestness, if we would be blessed
with similar success among the people.
God raised up His Son (Servant); God sent Him.
Ø The twofold aspect of the Divine character thus presented to us.
* Love desiring to bless;
* righteousness requiring the putting away of iniquities.
ALL is from the Father.
Ø The whole gospel must be preached, or its true success cannot be
realized. The mutilated Christianity of our time is proving itself
* We must lead the hearts of men to a person;
* we must teach them dependence on a power;
* we must call them to newness of life, a life already
made manifest through Christ, both in His history and in the
history of His people.
Peter’s Second Sermon and Its Results — One Evening’s Good Work
(v. 1-ch. 4:4)
The history contained in the Acts of the Apostles continues to be a record
of Peter’s lead. This great honor is bestowed on the active, earnest,
impetuous disciple of the days of Jesus’ flesh. And it must be accepted as a
certain proof that his repentance had been deep and sincere. The name of
his loving companion and old brother disciple John is now introduced. But
nothing that he may have either said or done is noticed with any
particularity as yet. That he did contribute something in both of these sorts,
however, is evident from the language of vs. 3 and 11 in this chapter, and
ch. 4:1,13,19. The continued happy and hearty co-operation
of the two is meantime worthy of notice, and tells its own tale; and if a
conjecture is to be hazarded at all, none but the most natural need be
repaired to — that John was feeling the quiet and reverent way to a service
which he loved with his whole heart, and willingly yielded the precedence
to another, Peter, whom he saw, ever since the issue of the race of the
sacred sepulcher, if not before, to be a born pioneer. The really central fact
of this portion of Scripture is another sermon from Peter, with its occasion
so significant and its results so gladdening. Let us notice:
discoursing on the description of what had been were not yet come. Peter
founds his discourse on something to which he literally pointed his hearers,
saying, “Ye see and know” it. Nor has Peter now the hard task of exciting
attention and interest. These are abundantly excited. Deeds have gone
before words, certain practice has gone before doctrine. The subject is
invested with life and reality all round, and Peter undoubtedly has the
grand advantage of speaking to ears that want to listen, because mind and
heart are inquiring. Four general observations respecting the miracle as a
whole should be made.
Ø This miracle is the first recorded as wrought by the apostles in the new
Ø It most distinctly professes to be wrought “in the Name of Jesus Christ
Ø It created a widespread interest, and awakened prompt and close
Ø It is characterized by certain among the whole number of those who
considered and investigated it as “a notable miracle,” and one which
they “could not deny,” though with the very best wishes to deny it.
Ø It is a large and evidently altogether miscellaneous assembly.
Ø It is an assembly who immediately look as though they attributed the
miracle to “power” or to “holiness,” or both.
Ø It is an assembly who, in their wonder, excitement, and probably, also,
genuine gratitude, are ready to attribute that “power” and “holiness” to
Ø It is an assembly guarded and corrected upon this matter without an
unnecessary moment’s delay.
or forcibly some figure in the landscape, no portrait some feature of
countenance, than does this once spoken, now written, sermon bring out
forcibly and faithfully certain truths. Note:
Ø The grand subject of it. “Jesus Christ” (vs. 13, 18, 20). And
o the transcendent relationship belonging to Jesus is with
unqualified emphasis now asserted. He is the “Son of the God
of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob.” He is the “Son of
the God of our fathers.” Before the death of Jesus, Peter had
boldly borne most unequivocal testimony to his own faith in
the “Christ, the Son of the living God” (Matthew 16:17;
John 6:69), and, it may be supposed, to that of his fellow-disciples
at the same time. And Peter had been in that act blessed with the
great reward of hearing his Lord’s own estimate of the special
grace bestowed upon him. “Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona:
for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father
which is in heaven.” Be this so, it is equally certain that this
“generation” of the “Son Jesus” had not only not been publicly
preached to the people, but had in a sense been suppressed.
Far otherwise now. Jesus has suffered, risen, ascended. And His
right and dignity in this most cardinal respect is to be
o The names to which Jesus has entitled Himself by character,
by sufferings, and by achievements are boldly spoken. He is
“the Holy One and the Just… the Prince of life, whom God
hath raised from the dead;” and He is “that Prophet.”
o His treatment at the hands of men, and even of those who were
at the moment the hearers of Peter, with all the aggravations
of it, is enlarged upon. It is not only the fearless fidelity of Peter
that is worthy of note here. Beyond and below this, the method
itself is to be noted, which consists in going to the very root of
the disease, probing it to the core. Thus Peter, looking at thee
guilty in the face, says, “Whom ye delivered up, and denied
Him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to
let Him go. But ye refused the Holy One and the Just, and
desired a murderer to be granted unto you; and ye killed
the Prince of life.” And yet it is “His Name… that
hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know… and
given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.”
There is in all this no slurring over of the guilt, of the
aggravations of it, or of the fact that those who were there
and then listeners were the abettors of it or accessories to it.
o His very contrary treatment at the hands of His Father, God, is
brought into prominence. “God… hath glorified His Son Jesus,
… God hath raised Him from the dead… and to you first hath
sent Him to bless you.” This all, involved the vital point. The
Jew who could have brought himself to believe that God was thus
“well pleased” in Jesus, would have been the first to condemn
himself; and with swift force is this, therefore, brought
down upon him, in that incontestably he ought to have believed
and seen long ago. The Jew is answerable for his guilt and folly,
let them be mixed in whatever proportions. Let his “ignorance”
bear what proportion it may to the sum total of his fault, his
ignorance was his own look out, was not necessary, was
inexcusable, and the smart of the consequences of it he
must now become acquainted with and must wince beneath it.
Peter sees the door opened for him, and he enters in. He has
his hearers now. The link that often seemed missing to them,
who had no eyes to see aught except a negation, is found, and
Peter is determined that eyes shall no longer pretend being shut
to it. With such crushing effect betimes do circumstances prove
providences, and the sudden glorious crisis at the Beautiful gate
that evening at nine o’clock crowds with conviction and
humiliation and shame many a conscience, many a heart.
Things are rapidly reversing now. This is the hour of Jesus.
Peter now puts on his head one crown of glory — the crown
of thorns in the past!
o Lastly, the inherent force of Jesus is asserted. His is a Name —
there can, there shall be no denial of it, no mistake about it —
above every name. With a certain power of repetition, which
is not “vain repetition,” does Peter state it: “And His Name
through [by-the- method of] faith in His Name yea, the faith
which is through Him,” is what hath given this man
“this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.” In which
grand and emphatic statement these two gospel axioms may
§ that Christ is the one Object on which faith may try her
virtue — “My faith would lay her hand on that dear head
of thine:” and,
§ that Christ is the one Object whose virtue — “for virtue
went out of Him” — it is worth faith’s while to try.
There is unsurpassed virtue in Christ, and the access to
that virtue, the method of drawing upon it, is by faith.
So there is unsurpassed virtue in faith also. Christ, and
Christ alone, meets, and meets abundantly, the want of
man, of any and every man. Faith, and faith alone, brings
Christ and man so together that the one imparts and the
other receives all that can be needed, asked, desired. This
must be called the kernel of the apostle’s sermon now.
And it is the kernel of Christianity. This is the essence
and distinctiveness of Christianity. And beyond a doubt
this it is that constitutes its unwelcomeness to a proud
world’s heart, its inexpressible welcomeness to an humble,
stricken heart, that only asks one thing — if now at last
its unfathomed depth and unceasing craving may be
worthily, sufficiently filled.
Ø The appeals that follow upon it. Peter is, indeed, all the while earnestly
appealing to the people; but this appeal is no mere declamation, either
vague or impassioned. It is grounded, firmly grounded, upon other
o The first appeal is to events quite recent — to a history within the
actual knowledge of all the nation, but most of all of the city of
His betrayal and repudiation by “His own,” His suffering,
resurrection, and glorification, at least in so far as the
Ascension was concerned.
o The second appeal is to their own “oracles,” and the prized stores
of their own treasured prophecies. Peter well knew the just
purchase he gained in confronting his audience with quotations
from their prophets (vs. 18, 21-22, 24-25).
o The third appeal is one made to their own conscience. This
consisted not only in the plain and uncompromising manner in
which Peter brought to their remembrance their most recent
offences against their own conscience, partly under the cover
of ignorance in their crucifying of Christ, but beside this in
his direct naming of them as sinners. He exhorts them not as
“the ninety and nine” “which needed no repentance,” but
emphatically as those who needed to “repent,” needed to
“be converted,” needed “the blotting out of their sins,” needed
the “sending of that very Jesus Christ” who had been “preached
unto” them, though hitherto in vain; needed the warning of that
terrible prophecy, that said, “The soul that heareth not shall be
destroyed from among the people;” needed to be reminded that
they were the “children of the prophets” and of a most
venerable “covenant;” and needed to be reminded, withal, of
the last highest touch added to their privilege and their
responsibility, in that to them “first God had sent his risen Son,”
to offer them first the fullness of that richest “blessing,” which
consisted in the “being turned away each from his iniquities” –
glorious diversion indeed! There is not a sentence but was a
message to the conscience. Not a sentence but what must have
“pricked the heart.” And not a sentence but what would have
been a winged barbed arrow, except for the mercy that each
time took the aim, and which mercy was as “purposed” as the
arrow’s aim was deliberate. Such a marshalling of allegation
against hearts and consciences, and the living men to whom
they belonged, rarely had been, rarely has been. But
when it has, true it is that it is in part material that it has
occurred — in the matter of men’s treatment of Christ and
of their own souls. Withal Peter did not distrust the influence of:
o the appeal to hope. Through all the faithfulness of plain speaking
and the severity of naked truth, kindliness seems to betray itself,
and to wish to make its deeper existence felt. The prompt
disclaiming of any special and superior power or holiness in
himself and brother apostle was a happy beginning on the part
of Peter, and tended to put to sleep envy and the spirit of a
comparison that would all have added to the smart of the reproof
for conscious wrong-doing. Again, Peter does himself (v. 17)
mitigate in some degree their sin, by the suggestion of their
“ignorance” and of that of their “rulers;” and in the same breath
addresses them as “brethren.” His allusion to the fulfilling of
prophecy amid all the stern facts of the “suffering” of Christ
had also the germ of hopefulness in it. The “blotting
out of their sins,” and the whisper of “the times of refreshing
from the presence of the Lord;” the inspiring quotation of the
“Prophet to be raised up from among their brethren, like unto”
Moses; and the fixing of the fact that it was on these very existing
days that the whole ranks of “prophets from Samuel” downwards
had concentred prophetic attention; and, last of all, the rehearsing
of the old promise to Abraham, clenched by the assertion
of its being now in course and act of fulfilling; — surely all this
was ground thickly sown with the seeds of hope. So absent was
the tone of disparagement and depreciation, when the lips of
Peter spoke most stinging truth! Great is the recuperative
energy of souls, when there is any room for hope left. But
depreciation is a cruel foe to hope, if it take effect;
and if it do not take effect, it is sure to make more irreconcilably
active the spirit of self-defense and of opposition. Nor can we
doubt, nor would we wish to doubt, that the sermon of Peter
showed one grand fulfillment of the promise, that it “should be
given in that same hour what they should speak” to those who
were called by the Spirit to speak for Jesus.
plain augury of what occurred very often in later times. These first effects
are not all discomfiture. Nor are they results that count half and half, with
no clear balance either of gain or of loss. To count nothing on what may
succeed them, the first results show the preachers Peter and John bound,
the Word they preached not bound.
Ø The apostles, who preached, are imprisoned — for what length of time
the sentence discreetly left unsaid. The apostles were laid hands on by
ecclesiastics, committed by self-interest to endeavor to maintain the
status quo in the Church and the world — by one official and by a
few self-styled theologians, driest of the dry and most erring of the
erring (Matthew 22:29; Mark 12:24, 27).
Ø The doctrine they had been preaching was not imprisoned. “Many” who
had heard it “believed.” Fresh wings were given to it to fly abroad.
Either the additional, or more probably the total, number of believers
was now “five thousand” And the imprisonment of Peter and John
is certain to have had these two consequences upon them, viz. that
fresh thought would be stirred up in every one of them, and fresh
utterance of the mouth of every one of them be provoked. Thus it
is very far from being a case of all loss. The “Name of Jesus Christ
Peter had been speaking of our Lord’s resurrection, and it is natural to
connect the expression of the text, “having raised up His Son Jesus,” with
that resurrection. The idea, however, seems to be more general — God
having provided, prepared, given, set forth. Matthew Henry gives the
complete thought: “God, having raised up his Son Jesus, appointed and
authorized Him to be a Prince and a Savior; and, in confirmation of this,
raised Him from the dead, sent Him to bless you, in making tender of His
blessing to you. God raised up Jesus when He constituted Him a Prophet.
Some refer the raising of Him up to His resurrection, which was the renewal
of His commission.” This is Peter’s direct appeal to the Jews, and
declaration of the particular mission of Christ to the Jews. To them the
gospel was first to be preached. Their former Divine revelation was a
gracious preparation of them for the reception of the new revelation. But
the new blessing would not come to them merely as a nation; it would
come to each individual, and to the whole only through the individual, and
depend upon the openness and acceptance of faith. Apostles were to
(1) God is the Savior
(2) He saves by His Son Jesus;
(3) the essence of that salvation is the turning of men away from
is the Medium of the salvation, and God the source. Sometimes the
exigencies of theological systems have led to the practical neglect of this
important distinction. God saves men. God’s love is THE FOUNTAIN
OF REDEMPTION! God’s wisdom fashions the redemptive plan.
(Revelation 13:8) God’s Son executes the redemptive purpose.
GOD IS ALL IN ALL and God must be glorified in all. No apostle puts
this more plainly than Peter. Compare his very forcible language in I Peter 1:21,
“Who by Him do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave
Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.”
earth, and whom He raised from the dead. THIS IS GOD’S WAY OF
SALVATION! IT IS THE ONLY WAY! By both considerations we
are URGED TO ACCEPT IT!
MEN AWAY FROM THEIR INIQUITIES. THE SPECIAL INIQUITY
dealt with here is THE REJECTION AND CRUCIFIXION OF THE
LORD JESUS CHRIST but that is ever regarded as displaying and proving,
in a very impressive manner, THE FALLEN AND RUINED CONDITION
OF MEN! It was such a display of malice, prejudice, and hard-hearted
willfulness, as revealed THE UTTER BADNESS AND CORRUPTION
OF HUMANITY! The root-cause of evil in man is SELF-LOVE, SELF-
SEEKING and SELF-WILL! In these things LIE OUR INIQUITY!
From them we can only be turned by:
Ø the love of another,
Ø the seeking of the good of another, and
Ø the enthronement of the will of another.
Therefore Jesus Christ is set forth, we are bidden to:
Ø look at Him,
Ø know Him,
Ø set our love on Him, and
Ø enthrone Him in our hearts and lives.
He can work a mighty saving work in every heart and every life that is
turned towards Him and opened to Him. And penitence and faith can open
our heart-doors. The way and the means to secure “Divine forgiveness,”
“blotting out of sins”, and “times of refreshing, are that repentance and
turning again” to which the apostle has been exhorting the people. This is
urged first upon the Jews, but IT IS THE CONDITION FOR SALVATION
for Jew and Gentile alike.
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