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An Exposition Of The Acts Of The Apostles

ANALYSIS

In this chapter we have an account of the miraculous cure, by St. Peter, of a lame man, with several accompanying circumstances, which placed the reality of the miracle beyond all cavil or dispute, and elicited the wonder and amazement of the people (1–12). The address of Peter, showing that this miracle was brought about, not by human agency, but by the power of Christ and by faith in Him (12–17). His exhortation to penance recommended on several grounds (19–26).

Commentary

1. “Now,” immediately after the occurrences recorded in preceding chap. 2, St. Luke here specifies, in particular, one of the miraculous wonders wrought by the Apostles recorded in a general way, c. 2, v. 43.

“Peter and John went up into the temple.” The Greek places here the words commonly found in the last verse of preceding chapter. “Together.” “Went up.” The Zorobabelic Temple rebuilt by Herod was situated on an elevated part of the city, Mount Moria, the site of the ancient Temple of Solomon. “At the ninth hour of prayer.” This was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon. The followers of our Lord made it a practice to resort to the Temple for devotional exercises. The ninth hour was the time fixed for evening sacrifice. The fixed hours for public prayer in the Temple among the Jews were the third, our 9 o’clock (2:15), sixth (our 12 o’clock), ninth (3 o’clock with us). Daniel “adored three times a-day” (Daniel 6:10). David, evening, morning, and mid-day (Ps. 54:18).

2. “A man lame from his mother’s womb,” and well known as such. Hence, no fear of collusion or deception as to his ailment or subsequent miraculous cure.

“The gate of the temple called Beautiful.” It is not agreed upon among commentators what “the gate,” here termed, “beautiful” referred to. No gate of this name is spoken of by Josephus or other Jewish authors. It refers, according to some, to the gate of Nicanor, leading from the court of the Gentiles to that of the women. It was so called, because, according to a Jewish tradition, the hand of that furious enemy of God’s people was attached to it by Judus Machabæus, as a trophy of the glorious victory be achieved in a battle wherein Nicanor was slain. Josephus tells us (Bell. Ind., c. v. 5, 3), that it was made of Corinthian brass, or overlaid with it, equal in value to gold, and exquisitely wrought. It surpassed all the others in magnificence. Hence, called “Beautiful,” Others say, there is question of the gate called Susan, the principal gate on the east side. On it was sculptured in relief a representation of the city of Susa, the chief city of Persia, as expressive, from the days of Zorobabel, of the loyalty of the Jews to the Persian Powers. This was contiguous to the Portico of Solomon, whither the Apostles repaired after the miracle. Owing to the great concourse of people there it was a place advantageous for asking alms. Hence, some commentators say it was the gate here spoken of.

“That he might ask alms,” &c. From the earliest times it was quite a common practice with mendicants to plant themselves at the gates of churches.

4. “Look upon us” in order to fix his attention on the subsequent miracle, and make him see that the miracle was performed by the Apostles.

6. “I have none.” No private funds of his own for dispensing in charity. The common fund was not at his disposal for such purposes.

“What I have,” given me for the benefit of others. It was not from himself, but owing to the power promised by our Lord (Mark 16:17, 18) and given him, he performed the miracle.

“In the name,” by the power and authority “of Jesus Christ,” &c., whose instrument I simply am, “of Nazareth,” the title commonly given him, the name under which this man may have heard of him, as a crucified malefactor and seducer.

“Arise and walk.” The command conveyed the power of working the miracle by the Apostle.

7. “Forthwith,” instantly. “His feet and soles.” “Soles” in the Greek means “ankle bones” owing to the weakness of which he could not support his body, “received strength.” All the circumstances point to an undoubted miracle. Commentators remark that in the use of terms connected with the human frame, the technical accuracy of Luke, the Physician, is observable.

8. “Leaping up” expresses the joy he felt. It may be also expressive of his first essay at walking. He next “stood,” then “walked,” regularly, like the rest. The fact of his walking, which he was not used to, having been a cripple from a child, is a clear proof of the miracle.

“Praising God,” to whom he knew he was indebted for his cure. For St. Peter did not even pretend that it came from himself. Here, we have a literal fulfilment of the Prophecy of Isaias (35:6) “then, shall the lame man leap, as a hart.”

9. “All the people.” The very crucifiers of our Lord saw the miracle and its suddenness. There could be no collusion or fraud. The Apostles were strangers to the man that was cured. Some of them carried him to the place where he was daily placed to solicit alms from the passers by.

10. “Filled with wonder,” &c. The effect of the miracle on their feelings.

11. “Held Peter and John.” Closely clinging to them in token of gratitude as they were leaving the Temple after prayer.

“All the people” moved by curiosity at what occurred assembled in this place of public resort at the hour of prayer, which furnished St. Peter with a suitable opportunity of preaching the truth of the Christian faith. “Porch,” a covered passage on the east side of the Temple, “of Solomon.” This was a part of the great Temple of Solomon, which escaped demolition at the destruction of Solomon’s Temple by Nabuchodonozor (4 Kings 25:15). It was to the East of the Temple. Hence, called by Josephus the Oriental Portico (Antiq. xx. 9, 7).

12. “Made answer,” does not always mean a reply to a question. Frequently it is used, as here, to signify making a statement or entering on a discourse with or without a previous question.

“Strength or power.” The Greek word for “power” means piety or religious merit. This is preferred by some, as the Vulgate reading would seem to be a more tautology. The Vulgate, however, is preferred by many eminent commentators, as more emphatically describing the feelings of the people who regarded not the piety or personal merits of the Apostles, but their power only.

13. “The God of Abraham,” &c. The friend, the protector and bountiful rewarder of Abraham, &c. Speaking to Moses (Exod. 3:6, &c.) God first called Himself by that epithet.

“The God of our Fathers.” He it is that performed this wonder (v. 16).

“Hath glorified,” honoured His Son, Jesus. “Whom you delivered up” to the Romans to be crucified, “and denied” to be your Messiah, your promised deliverer, “before the face of Pilate,” who, convinced of His innocence, “for he could find no cause in Him,” judged that He should be released. Against the deliberate judgment of a Pagan judge, who through fear afterwards consented to condemn Him, they insisted on His death, thus displaying the intensity of their malice and deliberate hate.

14. “The Holy One.” An epithet frequently applied to our Lord (Mark 1:24; Luke 4:34). The article prefixed in the Greek designates Him as “Holy” of His own essence and Divine nature. Infinite sanctity itself.

“A murderer,” Barabbas. Here their conduct is powerfully contrasted with that of Pilate, a pagan, not favoured with the lights vouchsafed to them.

15. “Author of life.” Our Lord is the source of all life, physical and spiritual. A powerful contrast here between Barabbas, the destroyer of life, and Jesus, the source of it in all.

“God raised from the dead.” The Resurrection of Christ, the foundation of all Christian faith, is frequently insisted on in several passages of the New Testament.

“We are witnesses.” The Apostles, disciples, and several followers of our Lord, amounting to a vast number, saw our Lord after His Resurrection, and conversed with Him. God Himself confirmed their testimony regarding this fundamental truth, with miracles.

16. “In the faith,” &c. The faith of Peter and John. It don’t appear the man cured had any faith or knowledge of Him previously.

“Hath his name,” that is, himself, “strengthened,” by our power and strength, “whom you have seen and known” to be a cripple from his birth.

“Faith which is in Him.” In our Lord Jesus Christ, as author and finisher of our faith.

“Perfect soundness.” The Greek conveys complete restoration to the use of his limbs.

“In the sight of you all.” It is incontestible, and will stand the test of investigation.

17. After having proved, by a freedom of speech truly Apostolic, that they were guilty of the hideous crime of Deicide, and uttered hard truths. He now wishes to extenuate their guilt, addressing them “as brethren,” and by kindness He wishes to inspire them with hope of pardon. He puts forward the same excuse, “ignorance,” which our Lord Himself advanced in their behalf—“they know not what they do.” He by no means insinuates that they were innocent. He had stated the contrary (v. 14). But, with a view of moving them to repentance by the hope of pardon, He says, their crime, in itself enormous, was extenuated by the fact of their not knowing Him to be their long-expected Messiah.

“As did also your rulers.” The chief men among the Jews were more guilty than the masses of the people. From the evidences placed before them, they could have known that He was their long expected Messiah. Blinded by passion, they, in their fury, proceeded to compass the death of a just man, whom a pagan judge pronounced innocent. Had they known Him to be the long expected Deliverer of their nation, they would not have treated Him as they had done. Still, they were not innocent or free from guilt.

18. Anticipating an objection that might suggest itself—viz., if Christ were the Messiah, why suffer Himself to be thus treated? St. Peter shows, if He did not, He could not be regarded as the Messiah at all, since, all the prophets concurred in predicting his death and sufferings. All these occurrences were predicted beforehand, and God caused them to be fulfilled in the manner predicted. Without altogether excusing them or pronouncing them innocent—for they were afterwards called upon to repent for their wickedness—St. Peter prudently mitigates the hard sentence passed upon them, and wishes to excite them to sorrow and the hope of pardon, from the consideration that, although sinning, they were the instruments in carrying out the merciful design of God in the way in which it occurred—viz., through Jewish malice, the redemption of all mankind, themselves included. The foreknowledge of God did not diminish their guilt. For God foresaw it in the way it was to happen—viz., freely, through their deliberate guilt and malice. The Apostle mentions it to inspire them with the hope of pardon. How all the prophets foretold is not so clear. It is understood of the prophets in a general way, or taken on the whole, without stating that each individual prophet foretold it. However, it may be said that they all either literally or mystically, explicitly or implicitly, foretold it. Hence, of our Lord on His way to Emmaus, it is said that “beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded the things said concerning Him” (Luke 24:27).

19. “Therefore,” as your sin so heinous, though extenuated by ignorance, resulted in the redemption of mankind, “repent and be converted” to the Lord, who mercifully ransomed you, in order that, with the hope of pardon in your hearts, “your sins may be blotted out” and cleansed away by a full remission. The idea, according to some, is borrowing from the practice among the ancients of effacing with the blunt end of the stylus, characters impressed on soft wax by the sharp point of same. It also is allusion to the act of creditors blotting out debts due (Coll. 2:14). According to others, the idea is borrowed from the practice of washing parchment and effacing the characters impressed. This would very appropriately apply to the remission of sins in the waters of Baptism.

20. “When the times,” &c. The Greek for “when” is ὁπως—that, or, in order that, signifying the final cause. The passage, which is not free from difficulties in its construction, would mean—in order that the times of refreshment would be accelerated when, after the toils and warfare of this life, they shall be admitted to that everlasting rest, that sabbatism which God enjoys and shares with His servants (Heb. 4:3–7); a refreshment which “shall come from the presence of the Lord.” “Presence of the Lord,” by a Hebrew idiom means the Lord Himself, who is to confer it.

“And He shall send Him,” His eternal Son, “Jesus Christ,” who hath been preached to you.” The Greek word for “preached” means pre-ordained, or marked out by God, at the end of time, at his second coming to judgment, to confirm the promises made your Fathers (Rom. 15:8). The final end of all things is not to arrive, till after the conversion of the Jews (Rom. 11:26–29). The passage would then seem to convey, that the conversion of the Jewish people would have the effect of bringing on the final end of all things sooner, than would otherwise occur, in the designs of God’s Providence.

21. “Whom heaven, indeed, must receive.” It was a common belief among the Jews, that the Messiah would reign on earth for ever (John 12:34). St. Peter meets this prejudice by declaring he ascended into Heaven, as seen by the Apostles and others.

“Until the time of the restoration of all things,” the full restoration of all things had already commenced with our Lord’s coming, to be completed on the day of judgment (2 Peter 3:13). It would be a “restoration” of mankind to the condition destined for them, if man had not fallen.

The visible creation has been deteriorated by sin. It now groans and yearns for its emancipation from the slavery of corruption, to the full enjoyment of the liberty suited to the Sons of God (Rom. 8; 2 Peter 3:10–13). The Apostle in this passage wishes to convey, that if the Jewish nation became repentant and turned to God, the end of all things would soon come, and the human race put in the enjoyment of peace and rest, after being restored to the condition they would have been in, had man originally not fallen, and continued faithful to God.

22. “For, Moses,” &c. Among the other Prophets who prophesied regarding our Lord as their Messiah, was Moses whose authority, as their Lawgiver, was of the greatest weight with the Jews. St. Peter shows here that far from opposing or giving up the Law of Moses—in preaching our Lord, they are only carrying out the express commands of Moses, who himself uttered a prediction regarding Him and inculcated obedience to Him.

“A Prophet shall the Lord your God,” &c., “raise up,” commission, authorize to come to you.

Looking to the context of Deut., whence these words are taken (18:15–17) several commentators include under the word “Prophet” a series of authorized teachers, whom God would, from time to time, send to withhold the Jewish people from the false teachers, Diviners, &c., of the neighbouring Idolotrous Gentiles. Whatever may be the truth of that opinion, the word admittedly, refers to our Lord, who was by excellence the greatest among these teachers. The Jews themselves would seem to understand it so. “Art thou the Prophet?” (John 1.) Moses commands them to obey Him, which they can still do, since He lives and exercises supreme authority in Heaven. They should, therefore, attend to the injunctions of Moses in reference to Him.

“Of your own brethren,” your own race and nation, “like unto me.” There are several points of similarity, not equality. They were not, however, similar in all things, but only in some points, especially as to making known the will of God to the people, both being “raised up,” or commissioned by God to do this. The comparison can be urged no further, nor in other respects. The difference between both being infinite (Heb. 3:3, 7).

23. “It shall be.” It will surely, and, of necessity, take place, St. Peter quotes from Deuteronomy not literally, but only the meaning.

“Which will not hear,” or obey, that Prophet commissioned with authority to declare the will of God.

“Shall be destroyed.” For which it is in Hebrew. “I shall require it of him,” that is, make him answer for it. In the Septuagint, it is, “I shall be present, as an avenger,” shall punish him. The usual way for punishing grievous sinners among the Jews was, by exterminating them from among the people, subjecting them to all the penalties of excommunication; thus depriving them of all the privileges of the Jewish people and cutting them off, which was the greatest punishment inflicted by Jewish law. From this, those present could see that by continuing to disobey our Lord, they would be subjected to the heaviest punishment here and hereafter. Here, in the utter destruction of their city and the attendant horrors, which the Christians being forwarned, escaped by flying to Pella. But as he speaks of the punishment at the final restoration of all things, most likely, there is question of their punishment hereafter, in the day of judgment and the Eternal tortures of Hell. As they could now have recourse to him, although in Heaven, they should do so and repent of their sins.

24. “And.” In Greek means, nay even. Not only Moses, who holds the highest place, but, “all the Prophets,” denoting many of them, in general, without specifying them individually, “from Samuel,” who with all the Prophets that succeeded him, “have told, of those days.” Have distinctly foretold the several occurrences that took place in connection with Jesus of Nazareth, all the events of His life from His birth, from the commencement of His reign on earth, till the final consummation of all things. To these predictions the Jews should pay heed. Likely, from Moses to Samuel no Prophet arose, God was consulted in the interim and gave His responses through Urim and Thummim (Exod. 28:30; Numbers 27:21).

We have hardly any Prophecy of Samuel relating to our Lord, unless it be the famous Prophecy of Nathan, recorded (2 Kings 7:13, 14), which the Jews called and Samuel, (as they considered 1st and 2nd Kings, was written by Samuel, at least in part); and, hence, as recorded by him, this is called Samuel’s prediction. Or, it may be St. Peter refers to some Prophecy of Samuel relating to our Lord, not written, but, known to the Jews.

25. “The children” (in Greek, sons) “of the Prophets,” not that they were the lineal descendants of the prophets. The Hebrew words often mean, as here, those to whom any thing belongs, whether by inheritance or otherwise. The meaning, then, is, they, it is, to whom the oracles of the Prophets appertain, also the Covenant made by God with their Fathers, Abraham (Genesis 12:3; 26:4), Isaac and Jacob.

“Saying to Abraham.” To him were the promises first made. He was the Father of the faithful. “Thy seed,” posterity. This is applied by St. Paul (Galatians 3:15) to our Lord, as it is here by St. Peter.

Kindreds. The Greek (πατριαι) those deriving their origin from one common parent, Jews as well as Gentiles. These latter were the spiritual sons of Abraham, no less than the Jews, “blessed,” rendered happy. They should, therefore, by embracing their Messiah, avail themselves of the promises made, which promises, strictly speaking, could not be a Covenant as between God and His creatures. The solemn promises made by God were, however, called a Covenant, to show their firmness and solemnity.

26. To you first,” &c. In the order of God’s Providence, the Gospel was to be first preached to the Jews, beginning at Jerusalem (Luke 24:47).

“Raising up” does not refer to our Lord’s Resurrection; it only signifies commissioning him, sending him, with authority, as in v. 22.

“That everyone may convert himself,” &c. Here, the prospect of pardon and forgiveness is held out to them, which they may obtain by penance and conversion to God. The Apostle wishes to convey to them, that now, the Messiah having come, they, as well as all the other “kindreds” of the earth, by being converted to Him, may look for happiness, and the pardon of all their sins.








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