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Acts 1-3    Listen Podcast

 

An introduction to Acts
Acts was written by Luke as a continuation of his gospel. While addressed to an unknown Christian named Theophilus, it is a history of the early church after the ascension of Jesus. The Book of Acts is inspired by the Holy Spirit to be an accurate account of the activities of the early church. The question is: Can it be regarded as more than that? I mean, to what extent should we adopt the Book of Acts as a doctrinal book? In other words, are the words and events found in Acts to be heeded and emulated as absolute doctrine without further validation from the epistles of the New Testament?

To answer that question, let's analyze it in the light of what we understand about Old Testament scripture. For example, II Samuel is a God-inspired account of David's life. However, it is not an endorsement of all David's activities as those that should be emulated...or even necessarily respected. We understand that II Samuel is an accurate account of a man, David, of whom it is said in I Kings 14:8 (see notes), "...who followed me [God] with all his heart." What about the central characters of the Book of Acts? Can we assume that each action by James, Peter, Paul and the other Apostles was infallible just because it was recorded in the Book of Acts? We don't assume that about David in II Samuel, but we do acknowledge that the inspiration of scripture guarantees that it is an accurate record of David's actions - good or bad. That has to be the case with the Book of Acts also.

The characters in the Book of Acts were fallible men who were continuing the ministry commissioned by Jesus himself. Not everything they did and said, as recorded in the Book of Acts, is necessarily to be adopted as doctrinal practice any more than everything David did and said is to be so regarded. As a matter of fact, Paul speaks of Peter in Galatians 2:11 (see notes), "But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed." Paul shows us that Peter had faults.

Here's what we do with the Acts of the Apostles. The Epistles (letters) of the New Testament to Believers were inspired by the Holy Spirit to be doctrinal for us. We see the doctrine in these letters and then get an insight into the historical setting in which these doctrines were being practiced by seeing these practices in the Book of Acts. For example, we see the qualifications for a deacon in I Timothy 3 (see notes), but we need Acts 6 (see notes) to see the necessity that prompted their selection. I was once a member of a very small congregation that believed every church, regardless of size, should have exactly seven deacons - no more, no less. This number had been adopted because this was the number chosen in Acts 6 (see notes). The Book of Acts was not meant to be used in that fashion. We may look at actions by the notable characters of this Book and weigh them against the doctrinal content of the Epistles of the New Testament in order to determine how we'll apply doctrinal principles. It's a dangerous precedent to use the Book of Acts as a one-stop doctrinal book.

What happened for the six weeks after the resurrection? (Acts 1:1-11)

1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach,
2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen:
3 To whom also he shewed 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:
4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me.
5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.
6 When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power.
8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.
9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight.
10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel;
11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.

The "former treatise" of verse 1 is a reference to the Gospel of Luke. Jesus taught his disciples for 40 days (verse 3) after his resurrection prior to his ascension in verses 9-11. Luke includes a bit of overlap with his Gospel account of Luke 24:49-51 (see notes) where he reported the ascension of Jesus. In that account, Luke gives the last-minute instructions from Jesus prior to his resurrection, "And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high." Luke recaps those instructions again here in Acts 1:4, "And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me." It is interesting to note that the disciples in verse 6 once again seek the answer to the most frequently pondered question of Jesus' entire ministry, "Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?" Keep in mind who Jesus Christ is - the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies of the Messiah (Christ i.e. anointed one) who is to rule the earth from Jerusalem upon the restored throne of David. They want to know if Jesus plans to initiate this kingdom and rule right now. The answer: not right now. Then, as his last words before his final first-advent ascension, he commissions his disciples in verse 8 with instructions to take his message world wide; these instructions coincide with those we commonly refer to as "The Great Commission" found in Matthew 28:16-20, Mark 16:15-20 and Luke 24:44-53 (see notes). These instructions are in contrast to the near-exclusive outreach to Jews only during the earthly ministry of Jesus. The ability to effectively proclaim this message will be facilitated by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, to be made manifest in Acts 2 (see below) a few days later.

Finally, in verses 9-11 we see the ascension with the promised return by, presumably, two angels. Their comments regarding the ascension of Jesus are quite precise in verse 11, "Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven."

This last meeting with Jesus' disciples takes place on Mount Olivet. Therefore, based upon verses 9-11, it is to be assumed that these comments mean that Jesus' return will be:

Incidentally, if you wondered where the crucifixion became known as the "Passion of Christ," here it is in verse 3 (KJV), "To whom also he shewed 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:" The Greek word (pascho) translated passion there is used 42 times in the New Testament, but only translated "passion" one time. It is almost always translated "suffer."

What took place between the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus?
Thursday, Nisan 14 Jesus was crucified
Sunday, Day 3 Jesus resurrected
Day 11 Jesus appears to the eleven in John 20:26-29
Day 43 Jesus ascended to Heaven (The "40 days" of Acts 1:3)
Day 52 The Festival of Pentecost - The formal beginning of the Jerusalem church
The disciples gathered in the upper room for ten days between the ascension and the Feast of Pentecost in Acts 2.

Let's make special mention of Acts 1:8 here since it becomes an important motivation for the actions of the remainder of the Book of Acts.

Acts 1:8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.


It is unlikely that the thousands of Jews who received Christ on the Day of Pentecost had any idea that they would be sharing their new-found faith in Christ with Gentiles. However, the command of Christ here in Acts 1:8 is quite clear - Samaritans...and...Gentiles ("uttermost part of the earth"). This commission unfolds quickly in the Book of Acts; the Samaritans are evangelized in Acts 8 (see notes) and the Gentiles (Cornelius) in Acts 10 (see notes). Afterward, Paul goes everywhere preaching to anyone who will listen - Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles.

Allow me to add a plausible speculation here regarding the motivation of these early Believers. From the commission of Acts 1:8, it seems likely that these early disciples thought that the evangelization of the Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles was all that stood in the way of the Kingdom Age. I make that observation based upon the question that was asked in verse 6. They want to know if now is the time to establish that Kingdom on earth. Jesus replies with this commission. That would understandably lead many of them to conclude that as soon as these mentioned were evangelized, the Kingdom could be established. That may serve to explain many of the actions of these early disciples.

A Sabbath day's journey

In Acts 1:12, we see a reference to "a Sabbath day's journey." The scripture itself does not define for us the exact length of a journey away from home an observant Jew was permitted to take on the Sabbath day. Using extra-scriptureal sources, we are able to make this determination based upon the writings of Josephus. This Jewish historian defines the distance between the Mount of Olives and Jerusalem to be five "stadia" (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 20, Chapter 8, Section 6). That would make "a Sabbath day's journey" a distance of approximately 1,000 yards.

What to do while waiting in this room...choose an apostle to replace Judas (Acts 1:12-26)

12 Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey.
13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James.
14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.
15 And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)
16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.
17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry.
18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out.
19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.
20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick let another take.
21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us,
22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.
23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias.
24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen,
25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place.
26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles.

It's ten days before the Feast of Pentecost, and the disciples have been told (verse 4) not to leave Jerusalem, "but wait for the promise of the Father." Luke recorded Jesus' words like this in Luke 24:49, "And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high."

While in the upper room, Peter takes charge. He decides to replace the fallen Judas Iscariot rather than just wait as they were instructed to do. In verses 21-22 Peter, through deductive reasoning, outlines the qualifications for a replacement Apostle as follows: he must be an eyewitness of Jesus' ministry from John's baptism to the ascension including the resurrection. Then they cast lots to choose between two candidates who meet this criteria. Matthias won the lottery. That's right; it wasn't a vote to elect; it was more like throwing dice. That's what "casting lots" means. For a more complete look at the practice of casting lots, click here. In the Old Testament they depended upon God to direct the outcome. Incidentally, if the Book of Acts is to be used as a doctrinal book on its own (see the discussion in the introduction above), shouldn't Christians be making important decisions today based upon the use of a lottery? After Peter quotes David as his justification (Psalms 69:25, see notes; Psalm 109:8, see notes) for doing so, they now have their twelfth Apostle. When you take a look at those two Psalms, you must admit that Peter used a lot of latitude in selecting those two verses as justification for his actions.

Here's a problem though. Paul claimed to be an Apostle, and he uses similar criteria in I Corinthians 9:1 (see notes), "Am I not an apostle? am I not free? have I not seen Jesus Christ our Lord? are not ye my work in the Lord?" Does he mean that he should be numbered with the other eleven as the twelfth Apostle instead of Matthias? Well, let's look at I Corinthians 9:5 (see notes), "Have we not power to lead about a sister, a wife, as well as other apostles, and as the brethren of the Lord, and Cephas?" Does it not appear that Paul is comparing his apostleship to that of the original eleven? So, based upon his Damascus-road experience of seeing Jesus there, Paul seems to be indicating that he meets the criteria for Jesus-selected apostleship. Now, for those who would maintain that both Matthias and Paul were Apostles by that standard criteria, look at the words of Jesus in Matthew 19:28 (see notes), "Verily I say unto you, That ye which have followed me, in the regeneration when the Son of man shall sit in the throne of his glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel." But wait! There's more. We see the New Jerusalem which is established in Revelation 21. Look at Revelation 21:14 (see notes), "And the wall of the city had twelve foundations, and in them the names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb." So, who's the twelfth Apostle, Matthias or Paul? Is it possible that Peter over stepped his authority by selecting a successor to Judas based upon the lottery? Isn't it more likely that the Jesus-selected Paul is to be the name written on one of those foundations in the New Jerusalem rather than Matthias?

Get some water! Their hair's on fire! (Acts 2:1-13)

1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.
2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.
3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.
6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.
7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?
9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,
10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?
13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

Of course the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus are bigger events, but we're talking church history here. The Feast of Pentecost came each year 50 days after the first Sabbath following the Passover. Therefore, it always fell on a Sunday. As 120 of Jesus' disciples are gathered in a room in Jerusalem on this no-work Jewish holiday, the Holy Spirit is manifested among them in a three-fold miracle:

The three-fold miracle on the Day of Pentecost:

By the way, when people talk about having the Pentecostal experience present in their church services, how many of the three miracles of the Day of Pentecost are present? If you say one, let me remind you that those languages spoken were heard as real languages (verse 8), not unknown. Now how many? If this discussion interests you, click here to see the summaries on I Corinthians 12-13 (see notes) and I Corinthians 14 (see notes) for additional perspective regarding "speaking in tongues."

The miracle of the Day of Pentecost facilitated the message which Peter preached inviting these Jews to receive Christ as Savior. I'm relatively certain that Peter is exercising here an authority which was given to him by Jesus himself in Matthew 16:13-20 (see notes). Jesus told his disciples in Acts 1:8 (see above) to take the Gospel message to Jerusalem (done), and Samaria (happens in Acts 8:9-25, see notes), and to the "uttermost part of the earth" (aka Gentiles - happens in Acts 10:24-48, see notes). On all three occasions it was Peter who was entrusted to deliver the message of the Gospel preceded by miracles. Therefore it seems logical that the "keys" of Matthew 16 are used on these three occasions to open the Gospel door to the whole world.

Who can explain what just happened here? (Acts 2:14-41)

14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:
21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:
23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:
24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
25 For David speaketh concerning him, I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved:
26 Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope:
27 Because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, neither wilt thou suffer thine Holy One to see corruption.
28 Thou hast made known to me the ways of life; thou shalt make me full of joy with thy countenance.
29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day.
30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
31 He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
32 This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.
33 Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.
34 For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand,
35 Until I make thy foes thy footstool.
36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.
37 Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?
38 Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.
39 For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.
40 And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation.
41 Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

Peter can explain the three-fold miracle of the Day of Pentecost. As a matter of fact, it's his job to explain it. I'm convinced that's the authority that had been given to him back in Matthew 16:13-20 (see notes). Furthermore, Jesus seemed to have reinforced this authority in John 21:15-17 (see notes). Peter stands up to preach for the sake of the Judeans who were mocking them in verse 13. He starts out by saying, "It's too early to be drunk!" What a way to start a message. Then he explains the provisions of the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34 (see notes), while not naming it specifically. He does, however, make reference to Joel 2:28 (see notes) to explain the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in their midst, "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:" While that prophecy is not to be fulfilled until the days leading up to the second coming of Jesus at the end of the Tribulation, the internalization of God's spirit in Believers is the aspect of the New Covenant that Peter is accentuating here.

The Dual Usage of LORD/Lord in the New Testament

Peter quotes Psalm 110:1 in Acts 2:34 when he says, "The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand." In the Old Testament, it is common usage in English Bibles to write "LORD" in all capital letters when translating the Hebrew word "Jehovah" aka "Yahweh" (the unique name of the God of the Jews). When the Old Testament Hebrew word is "adown" (or a variation thereof, meaning "master"), the first letter only is capitalized when it refers to God, and no letters are capitalized when it refers to a man, depending on context. However, in the New Testament, there is no unique translation for the Old Testament "Jehovah." The same Greek word, "kurios" is used to convey both Old Testament renderings ("Jehovah" or "master") as is the case in Acts 2:34 where "kurios" is used in both occurrences. Context only is used to differentiate them. Since it is a direct quotation of Psalm 110:4, we conclusively know that both Old Testament Hebrew words are used here; therefore, the typeface in Acts 2:34 makes the differentiation for us. Since "kurios" is used 747 times in the New Testament, sometimes describing the role of "Jehovah" and sometimes contextually meaning "master," it is important to examine the context in which the word "kurios" is translated "LORD/Lord/lord" in every instance in order to ascertain the correct idea which is to be conveyed by the usage within the passage.

Peter preaches a powerful message including proofs that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah. He even quotes David from Psalms 16:10 (see notes) in verses 27, 31, and then from Psalm 110:1 (see notes) in verses 34-35. Peter pulls no punches in accusing the crowd of thousands who were now listening that they had crucified the Messiah in verse 36, "Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." When Peter gets to the invitation, three thousand are saved and baptized. It turns out to be a great day at church...and it all happened on a Sunday. As a matter of fact, this event goes down in history as the formal birth of the New Testament church.

Peter's invitation to receive Jesus as savior in Acts 2:38 merits some explanation. Peter says, "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost." Many today have disregarded the circumstances and have built elaborate extra-scriptural doctrines upon these words. First of all, some have concluded (without supporting scripture from the epistles) that water baptism is essential as a requirement to one's actual salvation experience. In other words, they conclude that one is not actually saved until after water baptism. There is no other scripture to support this notion. For a fuller discussion on water baptism, see the notes on Romans 6:1-14 by clicking here.

Now, what about the invitation to "repent" in that verse? First of all, understand this: Saving faith is saving faith...period. Galatians 2:16 (see notes) says, "Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ..." That "faith of Jesus Christ" package includes "repentance." Here Peter emphasizes repentance because these aren't your typical non Believers; they are already religious, but have rejected Jesus as the Messiah up to this point. So...Peter appropriately invites them to "repent" (Greek: "metanoeo" meaning "to change one's mind or attitude"). These Jews were missing an important component in their traditional religious persuasion - the Messiah prophesied in their own scriptures. They weren't just missing Jesus, they had rejected him - turned their backs on him. Now it's time for them to turn around i.e. accept that Jesus really is their long-awaited Messiah.

So...why did he invite them to be baptized here if not as a condition of salvation? It was undoubtedly a matter of practice. Our modern-day paradigm for an invitation consists of standing in front of our seats while listening to a plea for people to move to the aisle, come down front and profess Jesus as their savior. With thousands gathered around shoulder to shoulder listening to Peter preach, there were no aisles - no place for 3,000 people to stand down front. Therefore, the ONLY practical way to identify with Christ that day was to go ahead and follow Peter down to the river and be baptized by water. That's their way of identifying with Christ on that occasion. You will notice that the invitation of Acts 3:19 (see below) did not include baptism. Peter proclaims that the receipt of the Holy Spirit comes at salvation in his invitation (see notes on I Corinthians 12:13). For a thorough explanation of what it means to be "saved," click here.

They shared everything (Acts 2:42-47)

42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.
43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.
44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,
47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

These early Believers were excited about the Lord's workings in their midst. Notice verses 46-47, "And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved." They went to the temple to share daily as well as from house to house. They were excited about the Christian life.

Notice the practice of these new Believers in the aftermath of the Pentecostal experience:

These new Believers were excited about life in Christ. As seen in these verses, their daily-living practices were completely absorbed in serving Christ and fellowshipping with those who do. It is likely that these early Christians thought that the Kingdom Age could start at any time. The disciples had asked the question regarding the timing of the beginning of the Kingdom on earth in Acts 1:6-7. In reply, Jesus issued them the evangelism commission of Acts 1:8. It seems plausible that they probably thought as soon as those people mentioned there were evangelized, the Kingdom Age could begin. Therefore, why do they need earthly possessions? They just wanted to get to the task at hand.

Peter heals a lame man (Acts 3)

1 Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.
2 And 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;
3 Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple asked an alms.
4 And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us.
5 And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them.
6 Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.
7 And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.
8 And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.
9 And all the people saw him walking and praising God:
10 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 unto him.
11 And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.
12 And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?
13 The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob, the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.
14 But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;
15 And killed the Prince of life, whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.
16 And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.
17 And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.
18 But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets, that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.
19 Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;
20 And he shall send Jesus Christ, which before was preached unto you:
21 Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.
22 For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you.
23 And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.
24 Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.
25 Ye are the children of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham, And in thy seed shall all the kindreds of the earth be blessed.
26 Unto you first God, having raised up his Son Jesus, sent him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from his iniquities.

Peter and John go to the temple where they see the lame man there begging as usual. Peter gets right to the point in verse 6, "Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk." And he does! He goes right into the temple with Peter and John to the amazement of those standing around watching. I feel a message coming on! Peter recognizes an opportunity to preach and gets right to the facts in verse 14, "But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you." If that wasn't clear enough, Peter says to the crowd of Jews in verse 15 that they had "killed the Prince of life." Whoa! That's some heavy preaching! Isn't Peter afraid someone is going to get a little angry at statements like that? No worry; Peter is empowered and emboldened by the Holy Spirit. Peter's message, like that of Acts 2, is a historical progression of God's working with Israel to bring the Messiah and salvation to them. The bottom line is the same: You need to receive Jesus Christ as your savior. Now Peter drives the point home once again: This lame man was healed through faith in this very same Messiah/savior whom you crucified.

The invitation of Acts 3:19 requires some explanation, "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out." Peter is preaching to an audience gathered at the temple. We assume, therefore, these are practicing Jews gathered there at the "hour of prayer" (verse 1). Again, as on the Day of Pentecost, these aren't your typical non Believers; they are already religious, but have rejected Jesus as the Messiah up to this point. So...Peter appropriately invites them to "repent" (Greek: "metanoeo" meaning "to change one's mind or attitude") and "be converted" (Greek: "epistrepho" meaning "to turn around or turn toward"). In other words, they were missing an important component in their traditional religious persuasion - the Messiah prophesied in their own scriptures. They weren't just missing Jesus, they had rejected him - turned their backs on him. Now it's time to turn around (repent and be converted) and see that Jesus, after all, is their long anticipated Messiah. Peter's invitation is not a typical invitation for salvation because these weren't typical people to whom he was speaking. However, the "faith of Christ" (see discussion above) is what is needed for salvation here; a component of the "faith of Christ" is repentance.

Incidentally, notice the clear reference in verse Acts 3:22-23 to the prophecy of Moses concerning the Messiah, "For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people." Peter is making a clear reference to Deuteronomy 18:15-22 (see notes) where Moses prophesies the coming Messiah. Jews in the first century all looked forward to the time when Deuteronomy 18:15-22 would be fulfilled. Peter proclaims to them that this has already happened in the person of Jesus Christ. For more information on this prophecy of Moses, see the article entitled, "Moses prophesied the Messiah."


For commentary on another passage, click here.


Copyright 2003-2011 by Wayne D. Turner