Acts 3

CHAPTER III.

Peter and John go to the temple at the hour of prayer, and heal

a man who had been lame from his mother's womb, 1-8.

The people are astonished, and the apostles inform them that it

was not by their own power they had healed the man, but through

the power of Jesus of Nazareth, whom they had crucified, 9-16.

Peter both excuses and reproves them, and exhorts them to

repentance, 17-21.

Shows that in Jesus Christ the prophecy of Moses was fulfilled;

and that all the prophets testified of Jesus and his salvation,

22-24;

and that, in him, the covenant made with Abraham is fulfilled;

and that Christ came to bless them by turning them away from

their iniquities, 25, 26.

NOTES ON CHAP. III.

Verse 1. Peter and John went up together] The words επιτοαυτο,

which we translate together, and which are the first words in this

chapter in the Greek text, we have already seen, Ac 2:47, are

added by several MSS. and versions to the last verse of the

preceding chapter. But they do not make so good a sense there as

they do here; and should be translated, not together, which really

makes no sense here, but at that time; intimating that this

transaction occurred nearly about the same time that those took

place which are mentioned at the close of the former chapter.

At the hour of prayer] This, as is immediately added, was the

ninth hour, which answers, in a general way, to our three

o'clock in the afternoon. The third hour, which was the other

grand time of public prayer among the Jews, answered, in a general

way, to our nine in the morning. See Clarke on Ac 2:15.

It appears that there were three hours of the day destined by

the Jews to public prayer; perhaps they are referred to by David,

Ps 55:17: EVENING and MORNING,

and at NOON, will I pray and cry aloud. There are three distinct

times marked in the book of the Acts. The THIRD hour, Ac 2:15,

answering, as we have already seen, to nearly our nine o'clock in

the morning; the SIXTH hour, Ac 10:9, answering to about

twelve with us; and the NINTH hour, mentioned in this verse, and

answering to our three in the afternoon.

The rabbins believed that Abraham instituted the time of morning

prayer; Isaac, that at noon; and Jacob, that of the evening:

for which they quote several scriptures, which have little

reference to the subject in behalf of which they are produced.

Others of the rabbins, particularly Tanchum, made a more natural

division. Men should pray, 1. When the sun rises; 2. when the sun

has gained the meridian; 3. when the sun has set, or passed just

under the horizon. At each of these three times they required men

to offer prayer to God; and I should be glad to know that every

Christian in the universe observed the same rule: it is the most

natural division of the day; and he who conscientiously observes

these three stated times of prayer will infallibly grow in grace,

and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ our Lord.

Verse 2. A-man lame from his mother's womb] The case of this man

must have been well known: 1. from the long standing of his

infirmity: 2. from his being daily exposed in a place so public.

It appears that he had no power to walk, and was what we term a

cripple, for he was carried to the gate of the temple, and laid

there in order to excite compassion. These circumstances are all

marked by St. Luke, the more fully to show the greatness and

incontestable nature of the miracle.

The gate-which is called Beautiful] There are different opinions

concerning this gate. Josephus observes, Bell. Jud. lib. v. cap.

5, sect. 3, that the temple had nine gates, which were on every

side covered with gold and silver; but there was one gate which

was without the holy house, and was of Corinthian brass, and

greatly excelled those which were only covered with gold and

silver: πολυτητιμηταςκαταργυρουςκαιπεριχρυσουςυπεραγουσα.

The magnitudes of the other gates were equal one to another; but

that of the Corinthian gate, which opened on the east, over

against the gate of the holy house itself, was much larger:

πεντηκονταγαρπηχωνουσατηναναστασιντεσσαρακονταπηχειςτας

θυραςειχεκαιτονκοσμονπολυτελεστερονεπιδαψιλεςπαχος

αργυρουτεκαιχρυσου. for its height was fifty cubits, and its

doors were forty cubits, and it was adorned after a most costly

manner, as having much richer and thicker plates of silver and

gold upon them than upon the other. This last was probably the

gate which is here called Beautiful; because it was on the outside

of the temple, to which there was an easy access, and because it

was evidently the most costly, according to the account in

Josephus; but it must be granted that the text of Josephus is by

no means clear.

Verse 4. Look on us.] He wished to excite and engage his

attention that he might see what was done to produce his

miraculous cure, and, it is likely, took this occasion to direct

his faith to Jesus Christ. See Clarke on Ac 3:16. Peter and

John probably felt themselves suddenly drawn by the Holy Spirit to

pronounce the healing name in behalf of this poor man.

Verse 5. Expecting to receive something of them.] Because it was

a constant custom for all who entered the temple to carry money

with them to give to the treasury, or to the poor, or to both.

It was on this ground that the friends of the lame man laid him at

the gate of the temple, as this was the most likely place to

receive alms.

Verse 6. Silver and gold have I none] Though it was customary

for all those who entered the temple to carry some money with

them, for the purposes mentioned above, yet so poor were the

apostles that their had nothing to give, either to the sacred

treasury, or to the distressed. The popish writers are very

dexterous at forming analogies between St. Peter and the pope; but

it is worthy of note that they have not attempted any here. Even

the judicious and generally liberal Calmet passes by this

important saying of the person whom he believed to have been the

first pope. Thomas Aquinas, surnamed the angelical doctor, who

was highly esteemed by Pope Innocent IV., going one day into the

pope's chamber, where they were reckoning large sums of money, the

pope, addressing himself to Aquinas, said: "You see that the

Church is no longer in an age in which she can say, Silver and

gold have I none?" "It is true, holy father," replied the

angelical doctor, "nor can she now say to the lame man, Rise up

and walk!" This was a faithful testimony, and must have cut deep

for the moment. One thing is very remarkable, that though the

saints of this church can work no miracles while alive, they work

many when dead; and it is the attestation of those post mortem

miracles that leads to their canonization. Thomas a Becket, who

did no good while he lived, is reported to have done much after

his death. Many have visited his tomb, and, in days of yore, many

were said to be healed of whatsoever disease they had. The age is

more enlightened, and the tomb of this reputed saint has lost all

its power.

Verse 7. Immediately his feet and ancle bones received strength]

The suddenness of the cure was the proof of the miracle: his

walking and leaping were the evidences of it.

Verse 8. Walking and leaping, and praising God.] These actions

are very naturally described. He walked, in obedience to the

command of the apostle, rise up and walk: he leaped, to try the

strength of his limbs and to be convinced of the reality of the

cure: he praised God, as a testimony of the gratitude he felt for

the cure he had received. Now was fulfilled, in the most literal

manner, the words of the Prophet Isaiah, Isa 35:6:

The lame man shall leap as a hart.

Verse 9. And all the people saw him] The miracle was wrought in

the most public manner, and in the most public place, and in a

place where the best judgment could be formed of it; for, as it

was a Divine operation, the priests, &c., were the most proper

persons to judge of it; and under their notice it was now wrought.

Verse 11. Held Peter and John] He felt the strongest affection

for them, as the instruments by which the Divine influence was

converted to his diseased body.

In the porch that is called Solomon's] On this portico see Bp.

Pearce's note, inserted in this work, Joh 10:23.

Verse 12. As though by our own power] δυναμει, Miraculous

energy.

Or holiness] ηευσεβεια, Meaning religious attachment to the

worship of God. Do not think that we have wrought this miracle

by any power of our own; or that any supereminent piety in us

should have induced God thus to honour us, by enabling us to work

it. Instead of ευσεβεια, holiness, the Syriac of Erpen,

Armenian, Vulgate, and some copies of the Itala, have εξουσια,

power or authority; but the first appears to be the legitimate

reading.

Verse 13. The God of Abraham, &c.] This was wisely introduced,

to show them that HE whom they called their God had acknowledged

Jesus Christ for his Son, and wrought this miracle in his name;

and, by thus honouring Jesus whom they slew, he had charged home

the guilt of that murder upon them.

Denied him in the presence of Pilate] ηρνησασθε, Ye have

renounced him as your king, and denounced him to death as a

malefactor, when Pilate, convinced of his perfect innocence, was

determined, κριναντος, judged it proper and just, to let him go.

Pilate wished to act according to justice; you acted contrary to

justice and equity in all their forms.

Verse 14. Ye denied the HOLY ONE] τοναγιον. A manifest

reference to Ps 16:10:

Thou wilt not suffer thy HOLY ONE to see corruption; where the

original word Chasideyca, thy HOLY ONE, is translated by

the Septuagint, τονοσιονσου, a word of the same import with

that used by Peter.

And desired a murderer] Barabbas: the case must have been fresh

in their own remembrance. Like cleaves to like, and begets its

like: they were murderers themselves, and so Christ calls them,

Mt 22:7, and they preferred a murderer to the

holy and righteous ONE of God.

Verse 15. And killed the Prince of life] τοναρχηγοντηςζωης,

The author of this life: not only implying that all life

proceeds from Jesus Christ as its source, but that the life-giving

influence of that religion which they were now proclaiming came

all through him. αρχηγος signifies a prime leader or author, a

captain, from αρχη, the beginning, head, or chief; and αγω

I lead. In Heb 2:10, Christ is called αρχηγοςτηςσωτηριας, the

Captain of salvation. He teaches the doctrine of life and

salvation, leads the way in which men should walk, and has

purchased the eternal life and glory which are to be enjoyed at the

end of the way. So the Jews preferred a son of death, a destroyer

of life, to the Author and Procurer of life and

immortality!

Whereof we are witnesses.] They had now wrought a most striking

miracle in the name of Christ, and immediately proposed themselves

as witnesses of his resurrection from the dead; the miracle which

they had thus wrought being an unimpeachable proof of this

resurrection.

Verse 16. And his name] JESUS, the Saviour: through faith in his

name, as the Saviour, and author of life, and all its concomitant

blessings, such as health, &c. It is not quite clear whether the

apostles refer to their own faith in Jesus, or to the faith of the

lame man. It is true Christ had promised that they should perform

miracles in his name, Mr 16:17, 18. And that whatsoever they

asked of the Father in his name, he would grant it, Joh 16:23.

And they might have been led at this time to make request unto God

to be enabled to work this miracle; and the faith they had in his

unlimited power and unchangeable truth might have induced them

to make this request. Or, the faith might have been that of the

lame man; the apostles, in the time they desired him to look on

them, might have taught him the necessity of believing in Christ

in order to his healing; and the man's mind might have been

prepared for this by the miracle of the gift of tongues, of which

he must have heard; and heard that this mighty effusion of the

Spirit had come in the name and through the power of Christ.

However the faith may be understood, it was only the means to

receive the blessing, which the apostles most positively

attribute, not to their power or holiness, but to Jesus Christ

alone. Faith always receives; never gives.

Verse 17. I wot] οιδα, I know. Wot is from the

Anglo-Saxon, [A.S.] to know; and hence wit, science or

understanding.

Through ignorance ye did it] This is a very tender excuse for

them; and one which seems to be necessary, in order to show them

that their state was not utterly desperate; for if all that they

did to Christ had been through absolute malice, (they well knowing

who he was,) if any sin could be supposed to be unpardonable, it

must have been theirs. Peter, foreseeing that they might be

tempted thus to think, and consequently to despair of salvation,

tells them that their offence was extenuated by their ignorance of

the person they had tormented and crucified. And one must suppose

that, had they been fully convinced that this Jesus was the only

Messiah, they never would have crucified him; but they did not

permit themselves to receive conviction on the subject.

Verse 18. But those things-he hath so fulfilled.] Your ignorance

and malice have been overruled by the sovereign wisdom and power

of God, and have become the instruments of fulfilling the Divine

purpose, that Christ must suffer, in order to make an atonement

for the sin of the world. All the prophets had declared this; some

of them in express terms, others indirectly and by symbols; but,

as the whole Mosaic dispensation referred to Christ, all that

prophesied or ministered under it must have referred to him also.

Verse 19. Repent ye therefore] Now that ye are convinced that

this was the Messiah, let your minds be changed, and your hearts

become contrite for the sins you have committed.

And be converted] επιστρεψατε, Turn to God through this Christ,

deeply deploring your transgressions, and believing on his name;

that your sins may be blotted out, which are not only recorded

against you, but for which you are condemned by the justice of

God; and the punishment due to them must be executed upon you,

unless prevented by your repentance, and turning to him whom ye

have pierced. The blotting out of sins may refer to the ceremony

of the waters of jealousy, where the curse that was written in the

book was to be blotted out with the bitter water.

See Clarke on Nu 5:23. Their sins were

written down against them, and cried aloud for punishment; for

they themselves had said, His blood be upon us, and upon our

children, Mt 27:25; and unless they took refuge in this

sacrificial blood, and got their sins blotted out by it, they

could not be saved.

When the times of refreshing shall come] Dr. Lightfoot contends,

and so ought all, that οπωςανελθωσικαιροιαναψυξεως, should be

translated, THAT the times of refreshing MAY come. αναψυξις,

signifies a breathing time, or respite, and may be here applied to

the space that elapsed from this time till the destruction of

Jerusalem by the Romans. This was a time of respite, which God

gave them to repent of their sins, and be converted to himself.

Taking the word in the sense of refreshment in general, it may

mean the whole reign of the kingdom of grace, and the blessings

which God gives here below to all genuine believers, peace, love,

joy, and communion with himself. See Clarke on Ac 3:21.

Verse 20. Which before was preached unto you] Instead of

προκεκηρυγμενον, before preached, ABCDE, fifty-three others,

both the Syriac, all the Arabic, the Armenian, Chrysostom, and

others, have προκεχειρισμενον, who was before designed, or

appointed; and this is without doubt the true reading. Christ

crucified was the person whom God had from the beginning appointed

or designed for the Jewish people. It was not a triumphant Messiah

which they were to expect; but one who was to suffer and die.

Jesus was this person; and by believing in him, as thus suffering

and dying for their sins, he should be again sent, in the power of

his Spirit, to justify and save them.

Verse 21. Whom the heaven must receive] He has already appeared

upon earth, and accomplished the end of his appearing; he has

ascended unto heaven, to administer the concerns of his kingdom,

and there he shall continue till he comes again to judge the quick

and the dead.

The times of restitution of all things] The word αποκαταστασις,

from απο which signifies from, and καθιστανειν, to establish

or settle any thing, viz. in a good state; and, when απο is

added to it, then this preposition implies that this good state,

in which it is settled, was preceded by a bad one, from which the

change is made to a good one. So in Ac 1:6, when the disciples

said to Christ, Wilt thou at this time restore again

(αποκαθιστανεις) the kingdom to Israel? they meant, as the Greek

word implies, Wilt thou take the kingdom from the Romans, and give

it back to the Jews? Now, as the word is here connected with,

which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets, it

must mean the accomplishment of all the prophecies and promises

contained in the Old Testament relative to the kingdom of Christ

upon earth; the whole reign of grace, from the ascension of our

Lord till his coming again, for of all these things have the holy

prophets spoken; and, as the grace of the Gospel was intended to

destroy the reign of sin, its energetic influence is represented

as restoring all things, destroying the bad state, and

establishing the good-taking the kingdom out of the hands of sin

and Satan, and putting it into those of righteousness and truth.

This is done in every believing soul; all things are restored to

their primitive order; and the peace of God, which passes all

understanding, keeps the heart and mind in the knowledge and love

of God. The man loves God with all his heart, soul, mind, and

strength, and his neighbour as himself; and thus all the things of

which the holy prophets have spoken since the world began,

relative to the salvation of any soul, are accomplished in this

case; and when such a work becomes universal, as the Scriptures

seem to intimate that it will, then all things will be restored in

the fullest sense of the term. As therefore the subject here

referred to is that of which all the prophets from the beginning

have spoken, (and the grand subject of all their declarations was

Christ and his work among men,) therefore the words are to be

applied to this, and no other meaning. Jesus Christ comes to raise

up man from a state of ruin, and restore to him the image of God,

as he possessed it at the beginning.

All his holy prophets] παντων, all, is omitted by ABCD, some

others, one Syriac, the Coptic, AEthiopic, Armenian, and Vulgate.

Griesbach leaves it out of the text, and inserts the article των,

which the Greek MSS. have, in the place of παντων. The text reads

thus: Which he hath spoken by his holy prophets, &c.

Since the world began.] απαιωνος; as αιων signifies complete

and ever-during existence or eternity, it is sometimes applied, by

way of accommodation, to denote the whole course of any one

period, such as the Mosaic dispensation.

See Clarke on Ge 21:33.

It may therefore here refer to that state of things

from the giving of the law; and as Moses is mentioned in the

next verse, and none before him, it is probable that the phrase

should be so understood here. But, if we apply it to the

commencement of time, the sense is still good: Enoch, the seventh

from Adam, prophesied of these things; and indeed the birth, life,

miracles, preaching sufferings, death, resurrection, ascension,

and reign of Jesus Christ, have been the only theme of all

prophets and inspired men from the foundation of the world.

Verse 22. Moses truly said unto the fathers] On this subject the

reader is requested to refer to the note, See Clarke on De 18:22. From

this appeal to Moses it is evident that Peter wished them to understand

that Jesus Christ was come, not as an ordinary prophet, to exhort

to repentance and amendment, But as a legislator, who was to give

them a new law, and whose commands and precepts they were to obey,

on pain of endless destruction. Therefore they were to understand

that the Gospel of Jesus Christ was that new law which should

supersede the old.

Verse 24. All the prophets from Samuel] Dr. Lightfoot observes:

"We have Moses and Samuel mentioned together in this place, as

also Ps 99:6, because there were few or no prophets between these

two, 1Sa 3:1, and the apparition of angels having been more

frequent; but, after the decease of Phineas, it is a question

whether there was any oracle by Urim and Thummim, through the

defect of prophecy in the high priests, till the times of Samuel.

But then it revived in Abimelec, Abiather, &c." The Jews have a

saying, Hieros. Chagigah, fol. 77. Samuel was

the chief of the prophets. Perhaps it was in reference to this

that Peter said, All the prophets from Samuel, &c.

Verse 25. Ye are the children of the prophets] This is the

argumentum ad hominem: as ye are the children or disciples of

the prophets, ye are bound to believe their predictions, and obey

their precepts; and not only so, but ye are entitled to their

promises. Your duty and your interest go hand in hand; and there

is not a blessing contained in the covenant which was made with

your fathers but belongs to you. Now, as this covenant respected

the blessings of the Gospel, you must believe in Jesus Christ, in

order to be put in possession of all those blessings.

Verse 26. Unto you first, God, having raised up] As you are the

children of the prophets, and of the covenant, the first offers of

salvation belong to you, and God thus makes them to you. The great

mission of Jesus Christ is directed first to you, that you may be

saved from your sins. God designs to bless you, but it is by

turning each of you away from his iniquities. The salvation

promised in the covenant is a salvation from SIN, not from the

Romans; and no man can have his sin blotted out who does not

turn away from it.

1. We may learn from this that neither political nor

ecclesiastical privileges can benefit the soul, merely

considered in themselves: a man may have Abraham for his father,

according to the flesh; and have Satan for his father, according

to the spirit. A man may be a member of the visible Church of

Christ, without any title to the Church triumphant. In short, if a

man be not turned away from his iniquities, even the death of

Christ profits him nothing. His name shall be called JESUS, for he

shall SAVE his people FROM their SINS.

2. If Christ be the substance and sum of all that the prophets

have written, is it not the duty and interest of every Christian,

in reading the Scriptures, to search for the testimony they bear

to this Christ, and the salvation procured by his death?

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