The Outline of Chapter Three
Acts chapter 3 tells us of a man who had experienced a terrible tragedy in his life—one that would perhaps depress and defeat most people. Fortunately, this man was graciously granted deliverance. This story is a beautiful illustration of what Christ has done for every born-again child of God. It also pictures what He desires to do for every lost sinner. Our Savior can literally transform the tragedy of a life fettered by sin into a life set free by salvation. What a thrilling thought and truth that is.
As we study the course of events in this man’s life, we should realize the great power of Christ to transform, and our responsibility to proclaim that transforming power. May our hearts be thrilled today as we think back to how the Lord has transformed our own lives.
Verse 1 – Here we see the Importance Of Prayer. The Apostles were still observing Jewish traditions. Psalms 55:17 states, “Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray . . .” There were three specific times of prayer that all orthodox Jews observed: 9:00 a.m., 12:00 noon, and 3:00 p.m. The exact time is given here (the ninth hour or 3:00 p.m.). See Matthew 27:45, 46.
Verse 1a – Peter and John represent two extremes in Christian service. Peter was impulsive. He often spoke before he thought. John on the other hand was reserved and patient. Here they make quite a team. One was able to supply what the other lacked. Equal opposites often attract each other.
Verse 1b – The Temple was referred to as “the house of prayer” by Jesus (Mark 11:17; Isaiah 56:7; Luke 18:10). The House of Worship should primarily be a place of prayer. Private Prayer should be a preparation for Public Performance.
Verse 2a – Here we find a poor, frustrated, helpless and hopeless man. He was born a cripple and after 40 years (4:22), he still had to be carried by someone else to the place of begging. This man was alive physically, but lame. His condition is a picture of all those outside of Christ. They are unable to walk with God. He was so close to the Place of Prayer, but knew nothing about the Power of Prayer nor the Peace of God.
This man was seeking Material help, not realizing he had a greater need. He was looking for Money, but he needed a Miracle. I wonder how many people attend our church services desperately needing spiritual help and go away empty?
There is another great question implied here. Can a Christian be lame from his birth? Is it possible to be spiritually alive and yet not be spiritually healthy? See III John 1-4. It is possible to have a possessing heart and at the same time to have paralyzed hands and feet. It is possible to believe, and yet not be useful in the work of the Lord. This man was not responsible for his physical condition. But no Christian can say this about their spiritual condition.
(v. 2b, 3) This man was taken day after day to the place where charity was expected. This was his only means of livelihood. This was all he had to look forward to every day. He begged before and after services hoping that spiritual devotion would cause many to give. He expected nothing greater than a small amount of money from anyone. One wonders why he had not come when Christ was in Jerusalem? But he received more than he sought on this particular day.
This brings us to the Exciting Cure (v. 4-8). His eyes were darting from one worshipper to another, hoping to gain their attention. When Peter and John stopped and looked directly at him, and said, “Look on us,” the beggar must have been shocked. He must have thought, “Boy, I am going to get a big sum from these two.” (Verse 5 definitely indicates this.)
His expectation dropped when he heard Peter say, “Silver and gold have I none!” The beggar probably had more money than Peter. But Peter had something that the beggar desperately needed but did not know it. Peter was not apologizing for what he did not have, but was magnifying the greatness of what he had. He indicates that he has something more precious than gold. Remember, poverty is no barrier to usefulness. It has always been the men without silver and gold who have given the world the most. Peter gave his all – just like the widow.
Now notice the Helping Hand. Peter reached down to the helpless beggar. This was an encouragement for the beggar to reach up. Jesus always took the initiative and so should we. There are folks all around us looking for a helping hand - UP
The cure was neither partial nor prolonged, but immediate and complete. Now the secret to this healing is found in the last part of verse 6. It was done “in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.” Peter simply brought Jesus Christ into the picture. Notice John 14:13; 15:16, 23, 24. “. . . for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me” (Phil. 4:13). There is power in that Name. Plead it and then lend a helping hand.
The phrase, “his feet and ankle bones received strength,” is filled with medical terms that only a doctor would use. The phrase describes the coming suddenly into socket of something that was out of place. This was impossible outside of Divine intervention.
The man was not only Restored Physically but also Redeemed Spiritually. We see him standing, walking, leaping and praising God in the Temple. This is a good sign that a life has been transformed by the name of Jesus. Notice that he was not praising Peter, but God!
Verses 9-11 are interesting. The people saw him walking and leaping and they knew that he was the former beggar that most had avoided for years. Now they came running to him amazed at his actions and wondering how it all happened. The world is always astonished when the power of God shows forth in the life of a believer.
The healing of the lame man drew a crowd around the three men. Solomon’s Porch, which was on the east side of the Temple, was a corridor where Jesus had ministered (John 10:23) and where the Church worshiped (Acts 5:12)
I. THE TRAGEDY OF A MAN’S LIFE
A. Notice This Man’s Serious Defect. (V. 1, 2a)
B. Notice This Man’s Sad Dependence. (V. 2b)
Acts 3: 2b “…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;”
Look where this poor, lame beggar was “deposited” each day. The gate called “Beautiful” was for this cripple, a place of both beauty and bounty, for people coming into the temple to pray were perhaps inclined to be more generous here than in other places. However, where one begs makes him no less a beggar. Just like this man, many people of our day are sitting in beautiful edifices, wrapped in their beggarly rags of self- righteousness and spiritual darkness, having never fully realized their true condition before God. They are lost.
There’s another significant fact about where this beggar was sitting. The gate Beautiful was one of nine gates that led through a partition known as “The Middle Wall of Partition.” Gentiles, nor even Jews, who were physically deformed in any way, were allowed beyond this point, by penalty of death. They were never allowed into the main temple area – another picture of those who are lost. They are separated from God because of their sin, with no way to get to Him (Isa.59: 2). Jesus has broken down the wall. (Eph. 2:13, 14)
C. Notice This Man’s Sole Desire. (V. 3)
NOTE: The word “alms” refers to “gifts of compassion”. This poor beggar was looking merely for a coin or two—just enough to sustain life. But God wanted this man to have not mere existence of life, but eternal life through faith in Christ. This man was looking only for his next crust of bread. But God wanted to give him the Bread of Life (John 6: 35).
II. THE TRANSFORMATION OF A MAN’S LIFE
A. We Find This Man Looking. (V. 4)
B. We Find This Man Listening. (V. 5, 6)
C. We Find This Man Leaping. (V. 7 – 8)
D. We Find This Man Lauding The Lord. (V. 9)
III. THE TESTIMONY OF A MAN’S LIFE
A. The Man’s Transformation Was Obvious To Others. (V. 10 – 11)
B. The Man’s Transformation Was An Opportunity For Outreach.
1. Peter spoke of Denial (V. 12 – 15)
2. Peter spoke of Deliverance. (V. 16)
3. Peter spoke of Decision. (V. 17 – 20)
Peter takes advantage of the situation and simply reminds them of known facts. Peter’s Impromptu Proclamation (Sermon) is found in verse 12-26.
In his first sermon Peter had to explain the miracle of Pentecost and here in his second sermon we find him explaining the miracle of healing.
The first thing Peter does is to assure the crowd that he and John had not done this miracle in their own power or holiness. They did not have the power nor perfection to accomplish such a thing as this and he wanted the people to know it.
He then tells them how and why the miracle was accomplished. “The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our father (even our God) hath glorified his Son Jesus.” The Jewish people prided themselves on their knowledge of the Scriptures, but they were ignorant of the true significance of Scripture.
This miracle was performed by the God of Israel and it was done so that God’s Son, Jesus, might be glorified. Peter points the crowd away from himself to Jesus. Like John the Baptist, Peter was saying, “I must decrease, but He must increase.”
He explains it further in verse 16. “It was by faith in this name which is above every name that this lame man has been made whole.” You people of Israel have known this lame man for years. Here he stands before you whole. No one can deny that a miracle has been performed before your very eyes. But understand this, that our God, the God of Israel, performed this miracle and He did it in order that His Son, Jesus, might be glorified. Jesus is the apple of God’s eye and He wants His Son to be exalted on every possible occasion. Therefore, Peter moved to exalt the Son of God.
Note the names and titles used to speak of Jesus. He is:
He starts in verse 13 with a reference to His Son, Jesus and ends in verse 26 with the same title; all these other titles and names being inserted between these two poles. They were looking for a Ruler; God sent them a Redeemer. They wanted a Sovereign; God sent them a Savior.
Each of these names and titles are chosen carefully so as to exalt the Savior. Let us take a closer look at these names.
Three times God’s voice proclaimed Jesus to be His Son. When Jesus was baptized God spoke from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Again at the transfiguration of Jesus, God spoke from heaven saying, “This is my beloved Son, hear ye him.” And again in Psalm 2:7, “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.” This verse is quoted twice by the writer of Hebrews (Heb. 1:5; 5:5).
It should be noted however, that most Greek scholars are agreed that “Son” would be more accurately translated, “Servant.” Peter addresses himself to this in verse 18 where he says that Christ has fulfilled the role of suffering servant which has been prophesied by the prophets, “This same Jesus whom ye delivered up is the Suffering Servant of God, of whom Isaiah the prophet wrote” (Is. 53).
The Holy One (v. 14)
Jesus is often referred to as the Holy One. In Acts 4:27 and 30, He is called the Holy Child Jesus. In Luke 1:35 he is referred to as “That Holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God.” In Psalm 16:10, “Thou wilt not suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.”
This Holy One is holy in both His human and divine nature. He is the source of all holiness.
The Just One (v. 14)
This is a title depicting the justice and righteousness of His person as well as the performance of His office as Messiah. See Acts 7:52 and James 5:6.
It speaks of an attribute of righteousness which is His and which He imputes to us.
The Prince of Life (v. 15)
The word “Prince” is author, originator or pioneer. He is the author, or originator of all life. The word for “life” is the Greek word “Zoe” meaning spiritual life as opposed to “Bios” biological life. Putting the two together we see that Jesus as a pioneer went into the realm of the dead and by His resurrection provided spiritual life for all believers.
The Name (v. 16)
This refers to the total person that Jesus was within Himself. This is a term meaning “The God of the Hebrews.” It is a title for Jehovah (Yahweh). The word “name” is identified with Yahweh, God Himself.
The Christ (v. 18)
This word is the Greek form of the Hebrew word for Messiah. He is “The Christ,” “The Messiah,” “the Anointed One,” – The hope of Israel and all of mankind.
The Lord (v. 19)
This expresses the Sovereignty or Lordship of Christ, the One who possesses supreme authority over all of creation. He is absolute over all things. Therefore Peter says in verses 19 and 21 that a time of refreshing is coming when there will be a restitution of all things. That is, the One who is Lord over all will restore all things.
Ephesians 1:10, “In the fullness of time he will gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth; even in Him.”
Jesus Christ (v. 20)
Jesus is the English spelling of the Greek word meaning “Jehovah saves.” “Thou shalt call his name Jesus, for he shall save his people from their sins.”
Christ is the English spelling of the Greek word “Christos” which in turn is the Greek spelling of a Hebrew word meaning “Messiah” or “Anointed One.”
Jesus is His Human name, while Christ is His Divine title; He is “Jesus, the Anointed One.”
The Prophet (v. 22, 23)
Jesus is the Prophet like unto Moses who was to come. Moses himself prophesied this coming prophet and Peter quotes from this prophecy from Deut. 18:15-19. Likewise all the prophets from Samuel also foretold these days (Acts. 3:24).
The Seed of Abraham (v. 25)
Here Peter quotes from Genesis 12:3. Please note that “seed” is in the singular referring to one particular seed out of the many seeds of Abraham.
Paul interprets it for us in Galatians 3:16, “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many, but as of one, and to thy seed, which is Christ.”
God’s Son, Jesus (v. 26)
Here he repeats the name with which he started in verse 13. Again the word for “Son” is “Servant.”
Peter has used these many names and titles so as to exalt the Savior. Someone has counted over 250 different names and titles ascribed to Jesus. There is no better way to exalt the name of Jesus than through the names given to Him that describe His person and work.
His name is above every name, and before this name every knee shall bow, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
In exposing their sins, he shows how they opposed and rejected each of these names and titles of Jesus, which in turn meant that they had rejected the Messiah himself.
Notice the contrast he draws between the acts of God and the acts of men. Here Peter uses terms that these Hebrews readily understood, because they come from the Old Testament.
Note how they reacted to these names.
To add to their guilt Peter points out their privileged position and advantages they had enjoyed as Jews. Peter says in essence:
“God was the God of our Father, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Our prophets have prophesied and taught us these truths for centuries. We are the children of these prophets and also children of the Covenant which God made with our fathers. From our ancestry came the Seed which was to bless all nations. And unto us God sent His Son Jesus that through Him our iniquities would be removed. But what did you do? You delivered Him up to be crucified.”
Calvary may have been man’s last word, but the Empty Tomb was God’s last word.
Having exalted the Savior and exposing their sins, Peter then calls them to salvation.
“Repent ye therefore (i.e., because of your sins), and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out” (v. 19).
Notice that he doesn’t say anything here about baptism as he did in Acts 2:38. Yet by repentance their sins can be blotted out without baptism. This is national repentance, not individual.
5. He Expounds the Scriptures (v. 22 – 26)
The emphasis in these verses is on the prophets who had announced the coming Messiah. Peter quotes from Moses (Deut. 18:15, 18, 19)