3:1 Now Peter and John were going up to the temple area for the three o’clock hour of prayer. 2 And a man crippled from birth was carried and placed at the gate of the temple called “the Beautiful Gate” every day to beg for alms from the people who entered the temple. 3 When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked for alms. 4 But Peter looked intently at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” 5 He paid attention to them, expecting to receive something from them. 6 Peter said, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, (rise and) walk.” 7 Then Peter took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles grew strong. 8 He leaped up, stood, and walked around, and went into the temple with them, walking and jumping and praising God. 9
When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the one who used to sit begging at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, and they were filled with amazement and astonishment at what had happened to him. 11 As he clung to Peter and John, all the people hurried in amazement toward them in the portico called “Solomon’s Portico.” 12
When Peter saw this, he addressed the people, “You Israelites, why are you amazed at this, and why do you look so intently at us as if we had made him walk by our own power or piety? 13 The God of Abraham, (the God) of Isaac, and (the God) of Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified his servant Jesus whom you handed over and denied in Pilate’s presence, when he had decided to release him. 14 You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked that a murderer be released to you. 15 The author of life you put to death, but God raised him from the dead; of this we are witnesses. 16 And by faith in his name, this man, whom you see and know, his name has made strong, and the faith that comes through it has given him this perfect health, in the presence of all of you. 17
Now I know, brothers, that you acted out of ignorance, just as your leaders did; 18 but God has thus brought to fulfillment what he had announced beforehand through the mouth of all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away, 20 and that the Lord may grant you times of refreshment and send you the Messiah already appointed for you, Jesus, 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of universal restoration of which God spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old. 22
For Moses said: ‘A prophet like me will the Lord, your God, raise up for you from among your own kinsmen; to him you shall listen in all that he may say to you. 23 Everyone who does not listen to that prophet will be cut off from the people.’ 24 Moreover, all the prophets who spoke, from Samuel and those afterwards, also announced these days. 25 You are the children of the prophets and of the covenant that God made with your ancestors when he said to Abraham, ‘In your offspring 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 each of you from your evil ways.”
4:1 While they were still speaking to the people, the priests, the captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees confronted them, 2 disturbed that they were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead. 3 They laid hands on them and put them in custody until the next day, since it was already evening. 4 But many of those who heard the word came to believe and (the) number of men grew to (about) five thousand. 5
On the next day, their leaders, elders, and scribes were assembled in Jerusalem, 6 with Annas the high priest, Caiaphas, John, Alexander, and all who were of the high-priestly class. 7 They brought them into their presence and questioned them, “By what power or by what name have you done this?” 8 Then Peter, filled with the holy Spirit, answered them, “Leaders of the people and elders: 9 If we are being examined today about a good deed done to a cripple, namely, by what means he was saved, 10 then all of you and all the people of Israel should know that it was in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead; in his name this man stands before you healed. 11 He is ‘the stone rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone.’ 12 There is no salvation through anyone else, nor is there any other name under heaven given to the human race by which we are to be saved.” 13
Observing the boldness of Peter and John and perceiving them to be uneducated, ordinary men, they were amazed, and they recognized them as the companions of Jesus. 14 Then when they saw the man who had been cured standing there with them, they could say nothing in reply. 15 So they ordered them to leave the Sanhedrin, and conferred with one another, saying, 16 “What are we to do with these men? Everyone living in Jerusalem knows that a remarkable sign was done through them, and we cannot deny it. 17 But so that it may not be spread any further among the people, let us give them a stern warning never again to speak to anyone in this name.” 18 So they called them back and ordered them not to speak or teach at all in the name of Jesus. 19
Peter and John, however, said to them in reply, “Whether it is right in the sight of God for us to obey you rather than God, you be the judges. 20 It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.” 21 After threatening them further, they released them, finding no way to punish them, on account of the people who were all praising God for what had happened. 22 For the man on whom this sign of healing had been done was over forty years old. 23 After their release they went back to their own people and reported what the chief priests and elders had told them. 24
And when they heard it, they raised their voices to God with one accord and said, “Sovereign Lord, maker of heaven and earth and the sea and all that is in them, 25 you said by the holy Spirit through the mouth of our father David, your servant: ‘Why did the Gentiles rage and the peoples entertain folly? 26 The kings of the earth took their stand and the princes gathered together against the Lord and against his anointed.’ 27 Indeed they gathered in this city against your holy servant Jesus whom you anointed, Herod and Pontius Pilate, together with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, 28 to do what your hand and (your) will had long ago planned to take place. 29 And now, Lord, take note of their threats, and enable your servants to speak your word with all boldness, 30 as you stretch forth (your) hand to heal, and signs and wonders are done through the name of your holy servant Jesus.” 31 As they prayed, the place where they were gathered shook, and they were all filled with the holy Spirit and continued to speak the word of God with boldness. 32
The community of believers was of one heart and mind, and no one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they had everything in common. 33 With great power the apostles bore witness to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and great favor was accorded them all. 34 There was no needy person among them, for those who owned property or houses would sell them, bring the proceeds of the sale, 35 and put them at the feet of the apostles, and they were distributed to each according to need. 36 Thus Joseph, also named by the apostles Barnabas (which is translated “son of encouragement”), a Levite, a Cypriot by birth, 37 sold a piece of property that he owned, then brought the money and put it at the feet of the apostles.
5:1 A man named Ananias, however, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property. 2 He retained for himself, with his wife’s knowledge, some of the purchase price, took the remainder, and put it at the feet of the apostles. 3 But Peter said, “Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart so that you lied to the holy Spirit and retained part of the price of the land? 4 While it remained unsold, did it not remain yours? And when it was sold, was it not still under your control? Why did you contrive this deed? You have lied not to human beings, but to God.” 5 When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last, and great fear came upon all who heard of it. 6 The young men came and wrapped him up, then carried him out and buried him. 7
After an interval of about three hours, his wife came in, unaware of what had happened. 8 Peter said to her, “Tell me, did you sell the land for this amount?” She answered, “Yes, for that amount.” 9 Then Peter said to her, “Why did you agree to test the Spirit of the Lord? Listen, the footsteps of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out.” 10 At once, she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men entered they found her dead, so they carried her out and buried her beside her husband. 11 And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. 12
Many signs and wonders were done among the people at the hands of the apostles. They were all together in Solomon’s portico. 13 None of the others dared to join them, but the people esteemed them. 14 Yet more than ever, believers in the Lord, great numbers of men and women, were added to them. 15 Thus they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and mats so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them. 16 A large number of people from the towns in the vicinity of Jerusalem also gathered, bringing the sick and those disturbed by unclean spirits, and they were all cured. 17
Then the high priest rose up and all his companions, that is, the party of the Sadducees, and, filled with jealousy, 18 laid hands upon the apostles and put them in the public jail. 19 But during the night, the angel of the Lord opened the doors of the prison, led them out, and said, 20 “Go and take your place in the temple area, and tell the people everything about this life.” 21 When they heard this, they went to the temple early in the morning and taught. When the high priest and his companions arrived, they convened the Sanhedrin, the full senate of the Israelites, and sent to the jail to have them brought in. 22 But the court officers who went did not find them in the prison, so they came back and reported, 23 “We found the jail securely locked and the guards stationed outside the doors, but when we opened them, we found no one inside.” 24
When they heard this report, the captain of the temple guard and the chief priests were at a loss about them, as to what this would come to. 25 Then someone came in and reported to them, “The men whom you put in prison are in the temple area and are teaching the people.” 26 Then the captain and the court officers went and brought them in, but without force, because they were afraid of being stoned by the people. 27 When they had brought them in and made them stand before the Sanhedrin, the high priest questioned them, 28 “We gave you strict orders (did we not?) to stop teaching in that name. Yet you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and want to bring this man’s blood upon us.” 29
But Peter and the apostles said in reply, “We must obey God rather than men. 30 The God of our ancestors raised Jesus, though you had him killed by hanging him on a tree. 31 God exalted him at his right hand as leader and savior to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins. 32 We are witnesses of these things, as is the holy Spirit that God has given to those who obey him.” 33 When they heard this, they became infuriated and wanted to put them to death. 34 But a Pharisee in the Sanhedrin named Gamaliel, a teacher of the law, respected by all the people, stood up, ordered the men to be put outside for a short time, 35 and said to them, “Fellow Israelites, be careful what you are about to do to these men. 36 Some time ago, Theudas appeared, claiming to be someone important, and about four hundred men joined him, but he was killed, and all those who were loyal to him were disbanded and came to nothing. 37 After him came Judas the Galilean at the time of the census. He also drew people after him, but he too perished and all who were loyal to him were scattered. 38 So now I tell you, have nothing to do with these men, and let them go. For if this endeavor or this activity is of human origin, it will destroy itself. 39 But if it comes from God, you will not be able to destroy them; you may even find yourselves fighting against God.”
They were persuaded by him. 40 After recalling the apostles, they had them flogged, ordered them to stop speaking in the name of Jesus, and dismissed them. 41 So they left the presence of the Sanhedrin, rejoicing that they had been found worthy to suffer dishonor for the sake of the name. 42 And all day long, both at the temple and in their homes, they did not stop teaching and proclaiming the Messiah, Jesus.
This talk is by Gregory Wolf
Speech by Gamaliel in chapter 5 – leave the Christians alone. He was a Pharisee and teacher of the Law, one of the greatest teachers. Teacher of Paul as well. He left the door open to what the Christians were proclaiming.
Look at chapters 3-5 as if Luke were presenting the legal case for Christianity.
Begins in chapter 3 with the healing of a crippled man. Healings continue after Jesus. Healing done in Jesus’ name.
“Why do you look so intently at us as if we had made him walk by our own power or piety? … By faith in his name, this man, whom you see and know, his name has made strong, and the faith that comes through it has given him this perfect health, in the presence of all of you.” Acts 3:12, 16
If Jesus is still healing people, then clearly – he is not dead but is risen.
Peter interprets the OT prophecies that apply to Jesus: the Messiah would suffer, be raised up, salvation through him, message of repentance.
Peter turns the tables on them – instead of pleading his own innocence he lists all of their sins against Jesus – handing him over to Romans, demanding his execution, Peter calls for their repentance.
“Repent, therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be wiped away, and that the LORD may grant you times of refreshment and send you the Messiah already appointed for you, Jesus”. Acts 3:19-20
In chapter 4 the Sanhedrin orders Peter to be arrested. Peter repeats the same essential testimony – the Sanhedrin is amazed. A case for the presence of the Holy Spirit in these ordinary men.
“When they take you before synagogues and before rulers and authorities, do not worry about how or what your defense will be or about what you are to say. For the holy Spirit will teach you at that moment what you should say.” Luke 12:11-12
How do we experience the power of the HS in our lives? HS will give us words in times of trouble.
Chapter 4 concludes with another description of the early church life. Barnabas appears. Concrete example: “Barnabas … sold a piece of property that he owned, then brought the money and put it at the feet of the apostles.” Acts 4:36,37 This is in stark contrast with the story of Ananias and Sapphira in Chapter 5
They secretly held back some of the proceeds. Perfect discipleship contrasted with imperfect discipleship. Can God be found even in imperfect communities??????? Acts suggests yes. At the end of the story “And great fear came upon the whole church and upon all who heard of these things. Acts 5:11.
Ekklesia = church, the term appears for the first time. Despite all of our problems God is active there.
“Thus they even carried the sick out into the streets and laid them on cots and mats so that when Peter came by, at least his shadow might fall on one or another of them. A large number of people from the towns in the vicinity of Jerusalem also gathered, bringing the sick and those disturbed by unclean spirits, and they were all cured.” Acts 5:15-16
Worth noting: a healing spirit emanates from the very being of Peter, not by any action of Peter but of Jesus. Similar to the story of the woman with hemorrhages in the Gospel of Luke 8:43-48
The same holy Spirit is active in both Jesus and Peter.
Another arrest of Peter and disciples. Angels, messengers from God. Jesus in Garden of Gethsemane and to apostles in jail. Freed to continue to testify.
With the chapter 6 story of the martyrdom of Stephen the mission to the Jews / in Jerusalem comes to an end. From there it is outward bound. Continues to this very day. Up to us to testify and to heal.
Bruce, F F. The Acts of the Apostles: Greek Text with Introduction and Commentary. Third Revised and Enlarged Edition. (William B Eerdmans, Grand Rapids MI, 1990).
Pelikan, Jaroslav. Acts. Part of the Brazos Theological Commentary on the Bible series edited by R. R. Reno. (Brazos Press, Grand Rapids MI, 2005)
Willimon, William H.. Acts. Part of the Interpretation Bible Commentary for Teaching and Preaching series edited by James L. Mays and Paul J. Achtmeier (NT). (John Knox Press, Louisville, 1988).
Cure of crippled beggar
Cured in the name of Jesus the Nazorean.
Willimon p. 44: “The path to significant prayer is a way that goes straight through, not around, human misery.”
Outline of speech:
- The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob has glorified Jesus whom you handed over to the Romans
- You denied the Holy and Righteous One and asked for Barabbas
- God raised him from the dead – we are witnesses
- His name has made this man strong and given him health
- You acted out of ignorance, as the leaders did
- God has fulfilled a prophecy of a suffering messiah
- Repent and be converted – for forgiveness of sins
- This all has been testified to by earlier prophets
- In your offspring all the families of the earth will be blessed.
Before the Sanhedrin
Their arrest and trial mirrors somewhat the events of the Passion of Jesus.
Note that the Sadducees take the initiative due to the claim that Jesus had risen from the dead.
F. F. Bruce p. 148: “We are imperfectly informed about Sadducean theology; what is recorded relates mainly to points on which they differed from the Pharisees. They rejected the accumulated ‘tradition of the elders’ which the Pharisees cherished, holding that the written law should be preserved and applied without modification. It may be for this reason that they were reputed to be more severe in judgment than the Pharisees. They repudiated as innovations the Pharisaic belief in angelic and demonic hierarchies, and also the hope of bodily resurrection.”
Speech by Peter:
- The cripple was cured by the power of the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean whom you crucified
- God raised him from the dead.
- He is the stone you rejected, now become the cornerstone
- There is no salvation though anyone else.
So, they ask themselves – “what are we going to do with them?” Can’t deny the whole thing – too many people know about it. Give them a stern warning never to use that name again. Disciples respond: “It is impossible for us not to speak about what we have seen and heard.”
F. F. Bruce p. 142: the text in Greek here and elsewhere in Luke is clear that there was no magic in the mere use of the name of Jesus – what is intended is that faith in Jesus / name of Jesus is key (and the Holy Spirit).
Pelikan p. 73: “The events of divine revelation and the faith that they evoke carry with them an inner obligation and an urgent need, which is altogether different from any kind of “external coercion”, to “speak of what we have seen and heard” and to confess the faith … is the source of the urgency and of the “boldness” that mark the life and the witness of the church as they are described here in these opening chapters of Acts.”
Prayer of the Community
This prayer sets out the idea that all was part of the Divine plan from the beginning, that the Holy Week events were a result of “the nations” and “people of Israel” in collusion.
A whole array of positions and possibilities are laid out in the early church on why Jesus died and what it all meant – some get mentioned once or twice and never again, others endure.
The whole place shook with the presence of the HS – as at Mt. Sinai, many other OT manifestations of God.
Life in the Christian Community
Having everything in common a sign of their confidence in the coming of the Kingdom, a conviction that the “great reversal” needed to be lived out now. As the later complaint that Greek widows were being neglected in comparison to the Hebrew speaking widows would establish – things weren’t perfect, even then.
Pelikan p. 80: ‘The question of Peter to Ananias in 5:4, ‘While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal?’ – … – would appear, moreover, to prove that the ‘communism’ of the primitive Christians coexisted with some sort of acknowledgement of the right of private property and that the community of goods described here and earlier is to be seen as voluntary rather than compulsory, …”
Ananias and Sapphira
To lie in the presence of the HS – not a good move. The HS present so fully and powerfully… However, the early church lacked a full doctrine of the Trinity. Pelikan p. 84: “Whatever may have been the creedal form or forms in use during the first century, the doctrine of the Trinity eventually came to be seen as the only way to speak about Jesus Christ as the church had always been doing and to affirm the deity of the Holy Spirit, without sacrificing the biblical monotheism that was confessed, also by Christ himself (Mark 12:29), in the words of the Shema (Deut. 6:4): ‘Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD.’”
Signs and Wonders of the Apostles
The HS present so powerfully that miracles and cures and conversions were happening almost without the apostles / disciples even knowing about them – which is exactly the point the author is establishing. It was not through any knowledge or work of theirs but the power of the HS that animated the early church.
Trial before the Sanhedrin
A second trial and a miraculous escape from jail. Instead of fleeing the disciples remain on Temple grounds. Not afraid. Testimony: you killed Jesus by hanging him on a tree; God raised him up, God then exalted him to His right hand as leader and savior, “to grant Israel repentance and forgiveness of sins”, we are witnesses to all of this.
Gamaliel – a very respected early rabbi / teacher stands up: if this is from God it will endure, if it is not, it won’t. Paul (Acts 22:3) studied under him.
F. F. Bruce p. 175: There was a Gamaliel the Elder and a Gamaliel II (who lived around 100ad). The second one was either the son or grandson of the Elder. The Elder is the one who taught Paul and is represented in Acts. “The doctrine preached by Gamaliel is sound Pharisaic teaching; God is over all, and needs no help from men for the fulfilment of His purposes; all men must do is to obey, and leave the issue to Him.”