In the previous passage (3.1-10) Peter and John went to the temple to pray and upon finding a man who had been lame from birth, through the power of Jesus, made him able to walk. The people at the temple recognized the man and were amazed at what had happened to him. In this passage Peter addresses the crowd that had gathered around him and John.
11 While he was clinging to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement. 12 But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. 14 But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses. 16 And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.
Much like he did in his first speech (2.14-36) Peter here is rebuking the people for not understanding what has taken place. He begins by saying that it was not by his power or John’s power that this man was made to walk (v .12) and then moves on to identify Jesus as the one who made the man walk (v. 16). Peter is very specific in his identification of Jesus, making sure that no one mistakes who is referring to. Peter identifies Jesus as:
- Delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate (v. 13)
- Put to death (v. 15)
- Raised to life (v. 15)
There are a couple of interesting contrasts I wish to point out in this passage. Both of these are being contrasted with the first part of v. 13, “The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus…” In v. 14 the Jews decided to exchange the “Holy and Righteous One” for a murderer.* Instead of worshiping, praising, or otherwise exalting Jesus the Jews decided instead to set a guilty murderer free rather than the innocent Jesus when they were given the opportunity.
Not only did they not set Jesus free when given the opportunity, but they even condemned him to crucifixion (v. 15)! Rather than accept the life that the “Prince of life,” Jesus, offered them they not only rejected him, but had him killed so that no one could accept the life he offered. This of course didn’t work as God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the God of the Old Testament; Yahweh (YHWH, Jehovah); the Jewish God; raised Jesus from the dead.
17 “And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. 18 But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. 19 Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21 whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. 22 Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brethren; to Him you shall give heed to everything He says to you. 23 And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ 24 And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. 25 It is you who are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ 26 For you first, God raised up His Servant and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”
Peter continues his speech by granting to the Jews that they may not have known what they were doing at the time when the crucified Jesus. However Peter does believe, as I stated earlier, that they should be aware of what they did by now. He argues that Jesus’ death and suffering was predicated by the prophets. Isaiah 52.13-53.12 predicts the suffering and eventual death of the Messiah and Peter is arguing here that Jesus was the one who fulfilled this prophecy.
Peter continues his argument, that since Jesus fulfilled the suffering and death that was predicted of the Messiah that they should repent so that times of refreshing will come and the restoration of all things begin. The prophets prophesied that Israel would go into exile for not following the covenant that had established between them and God; this happened during the Babylonian (586 B.C.) and Assyrian (722 B.C.) captivities. Following these captivities the prophets prophesied that there would a restoration when Messiah came, but it first required repentance from Israel. So Peter is exhorting his fellow Jews and saying to them, again, that the Messiah they have been waiting for has come, so they should repent of their lack of faith in Him so that the prophesied restoration may come about; God made this covenant with you (Israel) and your ancestors, that through you the Earth would be blessed, so enter into this blessing so that the world may be restored.
And if you’re curious, Moses’ prophesy referred to in vv. 22-23 is found in Deuteronomy 18.15-19. The statement that God made to Abraham quoted in v. 25 is found in Genesis 12.1-3.
Thus far in the Acts of the Apostles, following the coming of the Holy Spirit, we have seen two sermons by Peter directed towards his fellow Jews arguing that Jesus is the Messiah they have been waiting for. Following his first sermon we saw about 3,000 Jews join the Christian community and be baptized. Will his audience here respond in the same fashion?
Wow, look at that, only took me two posts to get through an entire chapter this time!
* The incident being referred to here can be found in Matthew 27.11-26; Mark 15.1-15; Luke 23.1-25; John 18.28-40.