Acts of the Apostles 3.1-10

At this point in Luke’s account Peter has just finished his speech to his fellow Jews attempting to persuade them that the Galileans they see are not drunk, but are filled with the Holy Spirit as was prophesied by the prophet Joel. As a result about 3,000 of those who heard him recognized Jesus as the Messiah and joined the Christian community.

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. And a man who had been lame from his mother’s womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. 4 But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, “Look at us!” And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. 6 But Peter said, “I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene—walk!” 7 And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. 8 With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. 9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God; 10 and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

While the events of this passage are fairly straightforward I do want to point out a couple of things about it. First, the word “now” at the beginning of verse 1. When an attempt is made to chronologically layout the events of a Biblical book, or books (e.g. the Gospels), one of the criteria used to determine where a particular event falls chronologically is if any progression of time is given from the previous event. So if an account has an event A and then event B follows A in the account and begins with something like “following this” we know that chronologically event B follows event A. However, if an account has an event C and then event D follows event C in the account, but begins with something like “now” it gives us no indication as to where event D falls chronologically in the account; even though it follows event C in the account it may well have occurred before event C chronologically. So if we were to attempt a chronology of the events of the Acts of the Apostles it would begin with the events of chapter 1, and following that would be chapter 2, but when we came to chapter 3 we would put it off to the side until we had gone through the rest of the events and determined as much chronologically as we could from them before attempting to insert these events into the chronology.

This leads me to an important point regarding Bible study: the order of events as related in a narrative is not necessarily indicative of their chronology. The authors of Scripture were not primarily concerned with recording an exact succession of events as a biography or history might, but rather were using the events to make point; they were concerned with showing what the events meant, not recording the exact order of the events. So when we read a Biblical book we should be linking the different events through what they reveal: about the people they are describing, and also about God. The Scriptures tell a story and it is grasping and understanding this story and our place in it that is the goal of Bible study, not the organizing and memorizing of facts and events. This is why, I think, the authors of Scripture composed their accounts they way they did, because they were concerned with showing people how they should live as a result of these events. If their primary concern were to have the people simply know events a chronological account would have sufficed, but I do not believe this to have been their primary concern.

Second, a man who had previously been unable to walk was made to walk. The lame walking was prophesied by Isaiah (Isaiah 35.6a) as one of the events that was to occur during Israel’s restoration under Messiah. Jesus has already been identified by Peter as the Messiah (see ch. 2), and here we see Jesus identify himself as Messiah by healing a lame man through Peter. This is now the second indication to Israel that the kingdom they are expecting to be inaugurated by the Messiah has come and is present among them.

Also, note where this event took place: in the temple. This is important because it identifies for us that the audience of Peter’s next speech is primarily, or entirely, Jewish. And we will look at Peter’s speech in the next post.

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