Acts of the Apostles
07 - Acts 3:1-12
Acts of the Apostles: 07 - Acts 3:1-12
In this class, we will discuss Acts 3:1-12 and the significance of Peter and John going to the temple to pray and the healing of a crippled beggar at the temple gate.
[Darris McNeely]: We are at the third chapter of the Book of Acts. We’ve covered the first two, it’s taken us a while to get through that. But never fear, we will be able to get through all of the books as we are working here. But we’re at a point where the apostles, Peter and John, are going to go into the temple in Jerusalem, and there’s going to be a dramatic healing. And now we’re going to begin to see the Church enter into some conflict with the Jewish authorities primarily in the next couple of chapters here in Acts.
The first two, kind of a setup, Christ’s final instruction and ascension, the day of Pentecost, Peter’s sermon. And now they’re going to get into some problems as they run afoul of the Jewish authorities who are not compatible. Now, keep in mind, the Church as we are reading about here in the Book of Acts originates among the Jewish community in Jerusalem here in the first century. Predominant members are all Jews at this time. Certainly, the apostles are so far as we know in every detail and the membership that has come about.
In terms of looking at the Church, let’s say, if you were an outsider looking at the Church at that time, you wouldn’t really know what’s going on. In other words, if you were a Gentile, let’s say, a Roman authority in the city of Jerusalem, you would look at this as something internally among the Jewish community. And you wouldn’t be saying, “Wow, this new church has started up.” that wouldn’t be the case.
It’s not how the Romans looked at it. They didn’t pay much attention to the Jews unless the Jews started acting up. They were certainly not interested in the Jewish religion, they couldn’t understand it. They didn’t have any idols. The Romans had plenty of idols. They kept the day of rest called the Sabbath. They would not eat pork, and that was a huge matter for the Romans, they loved their pork. And so they looked at the Jews with a great deal of skepticism, but as long as they kept in line, they were okay with them. And they kind of kept them managed.
Now, this individual named Jesus has been crucified. They’ve gotten beyond that, but they are probably monitoring or seeing this movement take place. But they look at it as something within Judaism. Now, the Jews, the rabbis, the Sanhedrin, the leadership of the Jewish temple and community, they see something different. And that’s what we’re going to begin to look at. They understand, at least some of the leaders do, that this is a movement that they cannot endure.
First of all, that’s why they killed Jesus because He had a following and He was teaching against them and certainly claiming to be the Messiah, which they didn’t agree to. They engineered His death at the hands of the Romans. And now these followers have not gone away. They’ve, if anything, gotten stronger, they’ve come together, and they have thousands of other Jews following them. And so the tension within the Jewish community is even stronger.
And some understand fully what is happening, and that is something new has developed, particularly this Pharisee that we’ll meet in a few chapters called Saul. He understands viscerally why this movement must be stamped out because it strikes at the very heart of Judaism and their identity.
Anytime you mess with anybody’s identity, you’ve got a big problem there. And so the identity of Judaism and the Jewish leadership is being hampered by the teaching, as well as they see that their authority within the community is being undermined. That’s another problem. And so this is what we’re going to begin to deal with as we see the Church come into more prominence now with a dramatic healing that takes place.
And so let’s go ahead and open up to Chapter 3 of Acts and begin reading here with what is going on. It says in verse 1 of Acts 3.
Acts 1:3 Acts 1:3To whom also he showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God:
American King James Version×“Peter and John,” Two of the original apostles and prominent ones. We are going to see Peter and John very prominently in these opening chapters. We’ve already seen Peter stand up twice, the first chapter when they had to select a replacement for Judas, and in the second chapter when he gave a sermon on Pentecost. Now, John comes into it and they too will be the primary here for several chapters in and out of the story, so we’ll be talking about them. They “go up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.”
All right. And so I’m going to put a slide up here that hopefully everybody will be able to see. I know those that are watching this later online, these slides are added in in post-production, so they’ll see the fullness of it.
But this is a scale model of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus. We have a map up here that I referred to here, the temple and the city of Jerusalem at the time of Jesus. And hopefully, you’re able to see these pictures. Had I printed them off for you, you’d have a little bit better view of them, I realize. But this is a scale model that is kind of a prominent feature for tourists when they go to Israel. And it depicts the temple as it was at the time of Jesus and the Church here in the Book of Acts.
Just by putting into context, this is what we call the second temple. The first temple built by Solomon, at the time of King Solomon is called the First Temple, it was destroyed by Babylon. As we’ve been reading Daniel, we’ve talked about that. The Jews on their return to Jerusalem under Cyrus the Great and the Persian period, they begin to rebuild the temple.
And then later, the temple is kind of refurbished by a man named Herod the Great. And we will begin to hear about him at least in this. Herod the Great founds a dynasty of leaders of kings. He’s appointed the king over Judea by the Romans and he rules by their agreement under the Roman rule.
And Herod the Great is not a Jew, but he wants to cultivate the friendliness of the Jews. And so he does pour a lot of money into refurbishing the temple to make it look as this particular picture shows it. He expands this entire area that we today call the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, on which the temple stood.
And the basic outline and perimeter of that is still intact. When you go to Jerusalem, you go to the Temple Mount, you walk around the basic perimeter as it was at the time of the first century. The temple is long gone, and the other buildings of the temple are long gone. And we have two Islamic mosques on the Temple Mount today. But this scale model gives you a bit of an idea. We’re going to look at this because of the geographic indicators that we have here in the first few verses.
Now, it says that they “go up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.” Let’s talk for a moment about what they’re doing. They’re going to the temple. Why? If you understand the New Covenant teaching, New Covenant theology, at Christ’s death, the great curtain in the temple that divided the Holy of Holies from the inner chamber was rent in two or it supernaturally divided in two at the moment of Christ’s death. Signifying that in a sense, that whole system now was done. And Christ through His sacrifice provides the ultimate sacrifice for all that went on in the temple, with the priests and the offerings and everything else. All of that was no longer necessary spiritually. However, we find the Church meeting in the environs of the temple, and Peter and John are going up to the temple at the hour of prayer.
Now, this is 3:00 in the afternoon, this is the timing of this, the ninth hour. Well understood as the time of the evening offering, which began at 3:00 in the afternoon as we reckon our time. Why are they going up? Well, it’s their custom, number one, they’re Jews. And, you know, the Jews are still keeping the Sabbath, they still keep the festivals, and the rituals of it are a part of their heritage, their religion, and everything else. And it’s the focus of prayer.
As to what Peter and John and the others in the Church may understand deeply at this particular point in time in the early days of the Church, in terms of the theological significance of everything that has taken place, they understand quite a bit because Peter has given one strong sermon, he’s going to give more. Let’s go ahead and say that they understand there’s no longer a need for sacrifices, but they’re going up there to pray. And Scripture doesn’t tell us that they may or may not engage in the sacrifices.
We will see later in the Book of Acts that the Apostle Paul some years later will go up to the temple and he will make an offering according to the law, and that’s where he’s arrested. There’s no way in the world you would say that Paul at that time recognized that the efficacy of that offering had any spiritual value because he’d already at that time written and preached a lot about Christ and His sacrifice and what that meant.
But he was still taking part in it, it was a part of... certainly, as we would look at it, they would say the Scriptures, we’d say the Old Testament. And there’s nothing wrong, there’s not a sin being engaged here. There’s no problem with it. And as long as the temple stood, we could imagine that members in the Church went into the temple in some way or form or the other. But it was a unique moment. There is no temple today, there’s no priesthood, so it’s a moot point for us. And we have the understanding of how to apply the Scriptures to the setting which we are in under the New Covenant in that way. So that’s just a few comments to kind of understand they’re going there and other things that we will read as we make our way through Acts.
Now, I’ve already said it’s at the ninth hour, which is 3:00. Now, it’s an interesting time. There are a number of different things that have happened already from Scripture regarding the timing of 3 p.m. and the evening sacrifice. This is what it’s called when it’s initially given back in the law, it is the evening sacrifice.
And when you read about it back in Exodus 29:41 Exodus 29:41And the other lamb you shall offer at even, and shall do thereto according to the meat offering of the morning, and according to the drink offering thereof, for a sweet smell, an offering made by fire to the LORD.
American King James Version×, for instance, we’re not going to turn there. But the evening sacrifice, that is understood to be the ninth hour. King David composed a particular psalm, it’s the 141st Psalm that was talking about the evening sacrifice at this particular time. And so what I’m doing is kind of showing you other scriptural references to the timing here.
And of course, Christ died at the very hour, the ninth hour, or the time of the evening sacrifice. Matthew’s account shows that very clearly (Matthew 27:46 Matthew 27:46And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
American King James Version×) that that’s when Christ literally expired on the cross. When we go back to the Book of Kings and the story of Elijah and his confrontation with the prophets of Baal, the sacrifice of Elijah was offered at the time of the evening sacrifice (1 Kings 18:29 1 Kings 18:29And it came to pass, when midday was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.
American King James Version×).
And so there’s just at least a connection in terms of the time. I’m not trying to connect all these together to make any greater point of significance other than it was just they were...these things happened at that time. Elijah was making a sacrifice praying to God, certainly, Christ was even at the moment of His death talking to the Father. The Davidic Psalm is a prayer.
When we look at Daniel 9:21 Daniel 9:21Yes, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
American King James Version×, we haven’t got there yet, but the Angel Gabriel is sent to answer Daniel’s prayer at that hour, the evening sacrifice in Daniel 9:21 Daniel 9:21Yes, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation.
American King James Version×. So, there’s another marker of an event that took place at that time. And Daniel had been praying for a long time for understanding. So prayer is connected to all of these references going back through Scripture. When we get to Chapter 10 of Acts, Acts 10:3 Acts 10:3He saw in a vision evidently about the ninth hour of the day an angel of God coming in to him, and saying to him, Cornelius.
American King James Version×, Cornelius, the Gentile Centurion in the city of Caesarea, we will read he is praying at the time of the evening sacrifice in the ninth hour as well.
And so, when we find here in Acts 3 that Peter and John go up at the ninth hour, it is an hour of prayer, we’re certainly learning that this is a customary time of a sacrifice and a prayer. And we see a number of events connected to it from Scripture at this particular time. So, it’s all a good study and an understanding of what has happened at that time with some of these events there.
I think...you know, what do we draw from it? I would say that God answers prayer at any time of the day. We don’t have to pray at the time of the evening sacrifice or 3:00 in the afternoon, that’s not the point that we’re making here. God answers prayers of the faithful at any time. So, there’s no time stricture on that. But we have some notable examples of what is taking place here at this particular time.
You’ll also read in Daniel when he...I think is in Daniel 6, when the edict came from the Persians to not pray to anyone but the Persian king. Well, Daniel goes to his apartment, opens his windows, and prays toward Jerusalem, or that would be toward the temple. And that was his custom. So, he wasn’t going to be deterred by the edict from the king, but he faces there. Do we need to face Jerusalem anytime we pray? No, that’s not the point.
I do remember I spent a summer in 1971 in Israel working at the archeological dig at this very site here in the Temple Mount area. And we stayed in a hotel, and I would make it my custom to pray facing the Temple Mount area, that was just my preference at that particular time.
If you ever go to Jerusalem, you will invariably go to what is called the Western Wall. And the Western Wall is the only remnant of the outer wall of the Temple Mount, not the temple, but the outer wall of the Temple Mount from the period of the first century. It’s the only remnant of it there and it’s a focal point for Jewish prayer. You’ve probably seen the pictures of the Jews praying at the Western Wall that, you know, is quite often.
You can go right up to it. If you’re a lady, you have to go to one side, men are on the other side, so there’s segregation at the Western Wall. And you go up to that wall...I didn’t put a picture of it in here. But you can go up to that wall and there are cracks in there. And you will see little tiny pieces of paper stuck in those cracks.
What they are, are prayers of pilgrims and people who have gone there, Jews and Gentiles and anybody from around that will go up there. They will put a prayer, write it down, fold it up really small, and put it into the wall. And they may pray and Jews are going through their particular ritual prayers, you see that all the time. And so people still pray toward the temple or toward the side of the temple.
If you go down further into the temple area in another tour of what is the Western Wall, you will come into a particular point where it is in direct alignment with where the temple was, the temple here, as they gauge it, and the Holy of Holies, therefore. And you will find Jews down underground in this tunnel praying getting as close as they can to the Holy of Holies in the temple. They can get a little bit closer there than they can in the plaza where the Western Wall is. But you’ll see Jews doing that in there. And we were on a tour, we just kind of skirted around them and kept on going.
So, this is an important piece of real estate as we look at this. Now, let’s get back into the text and see then what happens here at this ninth hour and a very dramatic situation. It says in verse 2, “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 from those who entered the temple” (Acts 3:2 Acts 3:2And 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;
American King James Version×).
So, he was invalid, dependent upon people’s generosity for money, and had been from his birth. And obviously, everybody knew. He was probably there every day and he was a fixture there. You go to Jerusalem today, you’ll see people still begging on the Temple Mount. I’ve got a picture here of that later. And beggars through Jerusalem, they still do that.
And one may choose to give somebody something, but in this case, Peter didn’t give them any money. Verse 3 says, “When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple...” (Acts 3:3 Acts 3:3Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.
American King James Version×). So, they weren’t in the temple, and that’s an important marker here. Peter and John were going into the temple. We’ll talk about that. “He asked for alms, [for money], and fixing his eyes on him with John, Peter said, ‘Look at us.’ And he gave him his attention expecting to receive something.” In other words, money. “Peter said, ‘Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give to you, in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk’” (Acts 3:3-6 Acts 3:3-6  Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.  And Peter, fastening his eyes on him with John, said, Look on us.  And he gave heed to them, expecting to receive something of them.  Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
American King James Version×).
A dramatic healing of this man that everybody knows. This is going to cause a great deal of hubbub as we say among people as we’ll get into it. But let’s pause for a moment. I want to talk just a little bit about the temple geography. If you go back up to verse 2, it says that “He was laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful.” We might as well take some time here at this point in the story to talk a little bit about the temple geography because it fits now and it’s an important part of the biblical record to understand.
What is this temple, or this gate, called Beautiful that we’re talking about? If you can look at the pictures that we have on the wall, you’re looking at the temple from, let’s say, the perspective of the Mount of Olives on the east, so you’re looking to the west. And you will see here the front gate of the temple, you will see an outer court there, and then the larger walls around the temple. And there are three different gates that we’re looking at there within that picture.
This slide shows the furthest one to the front is what is called the Shushan Gate. And then inside the wall of the Temple Mount at the gate into the temple, there’s another one called the Eastern Gate. And then inside another court is what is called the Corinthian Gate.
So, with the rebuilding by Herod upgrading the temple, the gates, which are very important part of the architectural features of any building and particularly a temple, whether it’s pagan, or the temple of God, gates were very important. Money would have been donated by, in some cases, rich people to...or even locations to make possible the building of these gates, and certain names would be attached to them.
And so there’s three different gates that are mentioned here. And this is looking at it from the east toward the west and how it is typically looked at. This is a close-up of the Eastern Gate that would likely not have been the gate called Beautiful in this particular reference because the invalid probably wouldn’t have been able to go into the temple this far because he was maimed. And there were certain strictures as to how far people could go.
We’re not told whether this man is a Jew or a Gentile in this case, but he’s an invalid. And this is one of the gates right here. He certainly would not have gone into where the Corinthian Gate is just before the one gate that then finally takes you into the sanctuary into that particular court. I think that’s the court of the women there. He wouldn’t have been able to go.
Now, I’m showing you these because some scholars identify these gates as the gate called Beautiful, but we don’t have enough information from the Scriptures and even from every source, it’s debatable as to where exactly we are talking about when it comes to the gate called Beautiful. The Scripture tells us that “He entered in with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God,” which means he got closer then into the temple area than he had been when he was laying there begging for money.
So, you know, these are possibilities that scholars would say. Some focus on the Eastern Gate there at the beginning, as the place that he was near and not able to go any further into that. There’s another school of scholarly thought that puts the gate called Beautiful. And again, these are kind of gold-plated type gates or bronze, they are beautiful in their architectural features. That’s why our knowledge of them from the ancient texts leads somebody to believe that and it could be.
There’s another possibility of the location of the gate called Beautiful and this puts it on the southern wall of the temple area. If I were to look at it here on the map, the Beautiful Gate would be right here in one point of view on the eastern end. But now we’re moving around to the southern outer wall and the southern gates that go on. There’s a double gate there. And that double gate is right here. And it’s shown...well, there’s two sets of double gates, but the one that some scholars look at and think could have been the one referenced here in Acts is the one to the left, that one right there.
And that is...some say...the primary advocate of this particular location, which puts it on a completely different perspective as opposed to the Eastern Gate down here on the southern wall, a man named Leen Ritmeyer. Leen Ritmeyer is a design archaeologist, he’s probably the foremost expert on the Temple Mount. I’ve read several of his books. I have a picture of his drawing that he has of the temple in my wall at home that I bought a number of years ago.
And he puts it right here on the southern wall as the Beautiful Gate. And the reason he says that is because, inside that gate, there were some very ornate mosaics and design in a multi-dome. I think there were four different domes inside there. And he says that these were quite beautiful at that point. And it makes sense for him to say to put it there on this end because it was a major entry into the temple.
And if you’re a beggar wanting money, you want to get your location. It’s all Location, location, location, right? How many have you ever passed on the road, the interstates or the streets of our cities, people with their sign out, “We’ll work for food, need money”? And you notice locations where they are, that’s valuable real estate. They get choice places.
There was one that I...when I would run my circuit from Fort Wayne to Indianapolis, get off on the south end of Indianapolis to go down to where our church was located at that time, had to get off the interstate and come up to exit. And every week, I mean, every day there was somebody there with a sign-up looking for money. But you see different people there through the days. And I always thought, they got this leased out, you know, it’s...you know, forgive me, we may have to edit this part out of the film. But, you know, different individuals there. But anyway, it was a prime piece of real estate.
So, to get the point of making this here is Leen Ritmeyer’s thesis that the Beautiful Gate here of Acts 3 is on the southern wall is interesting to consider. I have a personal buy-in to it and that is because that’s exactly where I spent my summer in 1971, right there at the double gate, digging dirt for a whole summer in my college career. I’ve got pictures of that.
And if what he’s saying is true, I got up into this area where these domes were and saw it because one day, we...is it proper to use the word sneaked or snuck? But we went under the wall. And we were told not to do that but, you know, when you’re 21 years old, 20 years old to tell you not to do that in a historical site like this, why not? So we did. And we got in there and actually saw what might have been all of this. You can’t see it today, it’s all been sealed off. The Arabs have a very tight control of that. But the reason they didn’t want us going up in there is because the political situation was quite tense at that time.
And so his view makes sense. The other view that it’s on the eastern wall has some validity to it as well. But the southern wall is the area also, and again, I think Ritmeyer says this, that is a likely location where Peter gave the sermon in Acts 2, and then the thousands were baptized because all out in this area here in this plaza area where these mikvehs, these baptismal pools or cleansing pools. And so there’s an interesting connection there that makes it plausible to consider as to where this particular gate was located and what it meant.
We have some historical references to consider on all of them and everybody’s got a point of view. But as you learn when you deal with archaeology and their interpretation of what they find in all these sites, one expert has a view and then three other experts have three different views. And there may be validity in each one. So, as you study all of it, you still learn something from all of these individuals.
This is another view looking toward the east of this model of the temple and Jerusalem as it was in that time. I’ll bring this up because, if you look in the far end of the Temple Mount area, you see what is called the Colonnade of Solomon, which is where we move next in the story. This is a closer-up view of that with the lame man who now moves into the temple with Peter and John. As we look at the text here.
“Peter says, ‘Silver and gold I don’t have, but what I do have I give you.’” He then says, “‘In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.’ And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength” (Acts 3:6-7 Acts 3:6-7  Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
 And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
American King James Version×).
And so it’s a dramatic instantaneous healing. Peter puts his hand down and takes him by his right hand. So, this gentleman had to do something himself. He had to put up his hand, then in faith, obey what Peter said, which was to rise up. He had never done that. Keep that in mind.
And so he is, in a sense, taken in by Peter’s persona, his words, “In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.” And he’d no doubt had heard of this Jesus who had been crucified and the stories of His resurrection, but it didn’t register with him and probably meant little to him at that moment. But he’s taken by Peter’s force and his direct command. “He stands up and his feet and ankle bones receive strength.”
Some make a comment here, which I think is good as well. Luke’s detail of the anatomy, “His ankle, and his feet received strength.” Remember, Luke is a doctor. He’s the beloved physician. And as he writes, he writes from his own background knowledge and he’s anatomically correct.
“The man then, leaping up, stood and walked, and entered the temple with them, walking, leaping, and praising God” (Acts 3:8 Acts 3:8And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.
American King James Version×).
So, they go into the temple. And again, whether it’s from the Eastern Gate out here, or the Southern gate, depends on the interpretation. Again, Leen Ritmeyer’s interpretation is this makes more sense because he goes into the temple and he would have gone in through the passageways and up onto the Temple Mount. So, at any rate, he’s going to wind up over here in this area of the colonnades called Solomon’s Colonnade.
“All the people saw him walking and praising God. Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him” (Acts 3:9-10 Acts 3:9-10  And all the people saw him walking and praising God:
 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 to him.
American King James Version×).
And so the word gets around. A lot of people would have been here at the hour of prayer, it was probably the most populous time of the day when people would have been in the temple. And so it was not by accident that this was the moment that certainly Peter and John were going there. They didn’t go there to perform a miracle, but God brought it all together for His purpose. And Peter had the acumen, the spiritual acumen to know that this was an opportunity. And he didn’t do it on his own name, he did it in the name of Jesus. And he told the man to rise up and walk.
Now, this is the first recorded healing that we have here in the Book of Acts. Peter just does it. That’s not like he’s had any training on it, it’s a part of his ministry, it’s a part of how his perception of God, of Christ, of the power of the Spirit, and of their role as apostles, and God working powerfully within them at this moment that causes him to make the direct statement and not even equivocate.
The way Luke writes it, he says, “I don’t have money, but what I have, in the name of Jesus, stand up and walk.” And it’s a very direct, very forceful command that he gives. And again, that’s why I think you think from the point of the lame man, he’s so taken by it that there’s no room for discussion, argument, or I can’t or, you know, this is impossible, he just does it.
And sometimes faith is like that. Faith is not difficult, it’s not rocket science. It is not something we necessarily always have to think we have to build up. Faith should be a natural byproduct of our relationship with God, faith in any part of our life, not just when it comes to healing, faith to obey, faith to stand up for the truth. That should be, in a sense, part of our nature to respond to God in confident, hope, and faith to His word. That’s how faith should work, and it encompasses all parts of our life. And now something has happened that is now drawing attention to the apostles and therefore to the Church as they run.
It says, “As the lame man who was healed held on to Peter and John.” So, they’re still all together. “All the people ran together to them in the porch, which is called Solomon’s, greatly amazed” (Acts 3:11 Acts 3:11And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together to them in the porch that is called Solomon's, greatly wondering.
American King James Version×).
And so these pictures show where that...that’s pretty well known, Solomon’s porch or Portico is on the eastern end of the Temple Mount. Now, there’s no remains of that there today. Even if you go there, you can still get a picture of it. And this is the area, huge pillars creating a shaded area ideal for gathering, and people gathering for meetings or discussions and conversation here within the temple precincts, this is where they go. And it provides then an opportunity for Peter when he sees it, in verse 12, he responded to the people.
Let me pause there for a moment and take a minute to just talk briefly about this matter of healing. I’ve already said that this is the first recorded one that we have in the Book of Acts, we’re going to see others. We’re going to see people raised from the dead. And the question...it’s a good time to talk a little bit about miracles, healing, in this case, a very dramatic healing of someone that is there. When you look at this particular story, you have to put it in the context of the beginnings of the Church, the attention that it draws, and the...as to the purpose of it.
When we go back to the healings that Jesus did in His ministry, it was certainly an act of compassion for people who were suffering. And that’s mentioned in the Gospels. And it drew attention to Christ’s ministry and to His words. And no question about that, they followed Him and people came to be healed.
But remember, at the end of Christ’s ministry, how many people were there in the room with Him? It wasn’t hundreds, wasn’t thousands, was 120 who were still with Him. The many who follow Him in Galilee, the 5000 that He fed on one occasion, and the other multitudes of healings, we find there’s 120 with Him, you know, with the nucleus of the Church.
So, those miracles, as important as they were, served the moment to draw attention to Christ, to His ministry, and to His Word. And the same thing we can say is functioning here. This is now drawing attention to the Church. The Church is kind of in a launch mode.
And if you know anything about rocket...this is rocket science, about rocketry, how much energy is expended when a rocket has to get off the launch pad. I mean, that’s where the bulk of the energy is to get it off the pad up, and then ultimately into orbit. Once it gets into orbit, it’s out of the flow of gravity and so the rockets are not as big. But to get that going.
And the Church, in a sense, is launching at this point. And this provides a means for attention to be drawn to the Gospel, to God, to Christ, to His resurrection, to His power, and to everything else. And it’s going to function that way as we see other examples. Peter is going to raise a woman from the dead and that’s going to also give encouragement to people.
And so when we think about that...you know, today we say, “Why don’t we see healings today?” And we get into these discussions. And sometimes we should back away from it, put what we read in the New Testament setting and even in the Old Testament into the perspective of the time. And without having it deter our faith, we let it build our faith because it’s the same God working today that has worked then.
And while we may not see something as dramatic as this. And I’ve never raised anyone from the dead, nor do I know any minister in the Church of God who has raised anybody from the dead that we could have, that we could have, you know, in some of our prayers and our anointings, some people who have suffered or are suffering could be healed dramatically.
There have been some in years in the past. We have...people have survived cancer. People have been healed of things that have been diagnosed by doctors, and after anointing, x-ray shows that it’s not there. I’ve heard those stories from members through the years. While at the same time, people have died from cancer or some other disease.
But we see the same thing in the Scriptures. We’re going to see two prominent ministers die, Stephen, and James, the brother of John, God allowed those and many others that we don’t even hear about in the Book of Acts, while Peter raises Dorcas back to life, or however long she lived at that time. All of those serve particular purposes just as any anointing and healing does today.
You should be anointed when you are sick and obey the command in James, “If you’re sick, call for the elders of the church.” We have a duty before God to do that. God still heals today. We are commanded to put our life into God’s hands and trust in Him. And so we should continue to do that, and do that while at the same time people will seek whatever other treatment may be available to them as they make their decisions regarding that.
And as we discuss it, as we talk about it, as we look at these examples, let’s pray the Church would have more faith. Let’s pray for people continually who are suffering. And if God’s decision is that their suffering is for His particular purpose beyond our understanding, we must also accept that, and even at times when tragedy happens and bad things happen that are unexpected in people’s lives. None of this is evidence that God is not with us, doesn’t hear our prayers, or that the Church may be even lacking in some way. We should understand the context of the setting of the first century. And we should also understand our experience and our understanding within the context of the 20th and 21st century with what we have.
But probably all I should say about that at this time. But sometimes questions come up about this in other events and we’ll have time to talk about more examples as we move forward. This one brought attention to the Gospel and to the Church. And it results in some persecution, to be honest. And we don’t know anything else about this man where he winds up. But here’s what Peter does. In verse 12, he responds to the people. Peter never missed an opportunity to give a sermon and to speak his mind as to what was taking place.
“Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness, we had made this man walk?” (Acts 3:12 Acts 3:12And when Peter saw it, he answered to the people, You men of Israel, why marvel you at this? or why look you so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?
American King James Version×).
So, Peter doesn’t take credit for it. No minister should ever. And so far as I know none do in the Church, take credit for any healing or whatever. We always anoint in the name of Jesus Christ. We claim the sacrifice of Christ when we anoint. We put the attention off of ourselves. It’s not which minister you ask, it’s that is he a minister? And you’ve fulfilled the command to call for the elder, you’ve done your job, then God will honor that, you’ve done what you should do.
Peter deflects the adoration of the people off of himself and onto God, which is the true source of the power. And he had been humiliated enough by this point because of his denial of Christ three times on the night of Christ’s arrest, that he had learned his lesson. And I think a lesson for us as well is very important here that when we get our eyes off of ourselves, and when we think about what God can do, what God is doing, and let Christ work in us through His power, then we can be an effective instrument in God’s hands. And that’s not just the ministry, that is all of us as disciples.
So, when we get our mind off of ourselves and our petty life, as important as your petty life is, and my petty life is, you know, in the whole scheme of things compared to God, it’s not too much. And the more we get our mind on God and we deflect attention away from us, our intellect, our abilities, our persona, our charisma, whatever it might be, put it onto God and give God the credit, God can do more through us.
And that’s what Peter is doing here. And he understood what his limitations were, where they ended, and God, he understood picked him up and carried him forward the rest of the way. And he’d learned that dramatically. And it’s a very important lesson for us to learn as we focus on this as well.
So, Peter is getting into a detailed message here. I think it might be best just to leave that for our next session so that we don’t skimp on this. These initial sermons that Peter gives are full of a great deal of teaching for us. And so, in our typical journey through Acts, we only cover a few verses, but that’s the way it works. So, we’ll cut it there and pick it up in the next session, next class with verse 13.