What is the Meaning of Acts 3.1-4.31

“Healing of the Crippled Man and Fallout”

Acts 3:1-4:31

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Introduction: Compare Acts 2:22 with 2:43. Chapter 2 concludes with “wonders and signs” and chapter 3 includes one of those signs, the healing of a crippled man.

Summary: The next story in Acts 3 continues for all of chapter 3 and into chapter 4:31. First, Peter heals a man who was crippled from birth (3:1-8). The people witness this (3:9-10) and Peter responds to the people with his second sermon (3:11-26). And unlike his first sermon on the day of Pentecost, Peter and John are arrested (4:1-4). They then appear before the Sanhedrin where Peter makes his defense (4:5-12). The Sanhedrin debate what to do with them (4:13-17) and they decide to release them (4:19-22). Peter and John then return to the believers (Acts 4:23-31).

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So we have a pattern:

  • Healing
  • Arrest
  • Appearance before the Sanhedrin
  • Release

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There is a miracle story, two speeches, and responses.

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Outline[1]

  1. The “Sign” of Peter Healing the Lame Man
    1. The Problem: Man lame from birth (Acts 3:1-3)

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Read Acts 3:1-3

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Where: The Temple

When: 3pm hour of prayer (Ex. 29:39; Num. 28:4)

What: Lame man at Beautiful Gate

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  1. The Miracle: Peter heals the lame man (3:4-8)

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Read Acts 3:4-8

Naturally, Peter and John have no money, since their wealth is common to all believers at this time (Acts 2:44-45). The miracle is far better. An amazing reversal of weakness in the legs. Imagine what was necessary: tendons, ligaments, muscles, bones…. All of this must have been strengthened immediately, because he jumps, stands, and walks! See Isaiah 35:6.

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  1. The Response: The people are amazed (3:9-11)

Read Acts 3:9-11.

The people are amazed, v. 10 and …amazed! V. 11

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Question: was faith required for healing?

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  1. Peter’s Second Sermon (3:12-26)
    1. How the healing happened (3:12-16)

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Acts 3:12-16 12 So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? 13 The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified His Servant Jesus, whom you delivered up and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let Him go. 14 But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead, of which we are witnesses. 16 And His name, through faith in His name, has made this man strong, whom you see and know. Yes, the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

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The miracle did not happen by the apostles’ power, but by the name of Jesus. How does that work? The Jews denied and killed Jesus, but God raised him from the dead and glorify him. Verse 16 is difficult…

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Primary: Jesus died and was raised from the dead. That’s how the healing happened.

Secondary: the Jewish leaders are guilty

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See various versions in BW.

Literally…And on the basis of faith of his name, this whom you are seeing and know, His name strengthened and the faith through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.

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Question: Whose faith? “And on the basis of faith of his name?”

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In the third place, the sign is not a magical event. It involves faith (3:8, 16). Any prior faith in the story, however, is not that of the man healed; there is no evidence of that until after the event (3:8). This, then, is not a faith healing! From Luke’s point of view, to be healed is not the equivalent to being saved (Luke 17:11–19), but healing may evoke faith and result in salvation, as obviously the evangelist believed here (Acts 4:12). If there was any faith prior to the healing, it belonged to someone other than the cripple…

And by [the apostles’] faith in his [Jesus’] name

this one whom you see and know [the beggar] his [Jesus’]

name has made strong,

and the faith [of the apostles] which is through it [Jesus’

name] has given him this wholeness .…[2]

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The point: Physical healing is a picture of spiritual healing. That’s perhaps why the ambiguity of whose faith it is. Faith in his name is brought out as a response to the healing, along with repentance. Since they had faith in Jesus and it heals, you should have faith in Jesus too.

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  1. A call to respond (3:17-26)

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Acts 3:17-26 17 Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. 19 Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20 and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, 21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. 22 For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. 23 And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ 24 Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. 25 You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ 26 To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.”

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Because of the miracle, what does it demand? Repentance.

Instead of rejecting Jesus, they are called upon to received Jesus. Repent/return/turn: Acts 2:38; 3:19, 26; 5:31; 8:22; 9:35; 11:18, 21.

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But why repentance?

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1. Their excuse for denying and killing Jesus was done in ignorance; that is no longer appropriate, therefore repent.

2. Repent to receive forgiveness of sins and so that Messiah can return (see also Luke 13:35; Ro. 2:4; 2 Peter. 3:9). This is that idea that Jesus will return when the last one to be saved is saved.

3. Repent so that one is not destroyed from the people (vv.22-23). Deut. 18:15. Cut off from the people=not saved, not a part of the Messiah’s kingdom.

4. Repent to fulfill duty in Abraham’s covenant: to be blessing to Gentiles (v. 25).

5. Repent to receive God’s promise yourself, as primary position (v. 26).

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  1. Responses
    1. Rulers: Arrest the apostles (4:1-3)

Read Acts 4:1-4

As Peter is speaking, he was rudely (!) interrupted. This begins the response section to Peter’s speech. The rulers (priests, the captain of the Temple guard, and the Sadducees) respond negatively in verses 1-3 because they taught and preached Jesus as being raised from the dead. Sadducees say there is no resurrection of the dead, Acts 23:8, no wonder they had a problem with this.

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In response, the rulers put them in jail until the next day.

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  1. People: Many believe (4:4)

Positively, the people believe and now there are about 5000 believers.

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  1. Peter’s Speech, Before Sanhedrin (4:5-12)

Read Acts 4:5-12

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  1. Setting: Rulers gathered and inquired of the apostles (4:5-7)

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The authorities are listed there in verse 6. Peter’s filled with the Holy Spirit, per Luke 12:11-12; 21:12-15. And the second speech is to the rulers, not the people.

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  1. Peter’s speech (4:8-12)

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And similar to last time, it has two parts: how the healing happened and what it means.

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  1. How the healing happened (4:9b-10)

It’s the same answer: in the name of Jesus. This clearly demonstrates the presence of Jesus, although he has ascended into heaven. This proves our title for the second volume of Luke’s writings: the acts of the ascended Christ.

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Activity is constantly performed in Jesus’ name and his name is constantly appealed to. It is Jesus’ name (His person and work; His whole being) that is at issue: Acts 2:21, 38; 3:6, 16; 4:7, 10, 12, 17f, 30; 5:28, 40f; 8:12, 16; 9:14, 21; 10:43, 48; 15:14, 17, 26; 16:18; 19:5, 13, 17; 21:13; 22:16; 26:9

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  1. What it means (4:11-12)

Now, what the miracle means.

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Acts 4:11-12. How chief? How exalted? To the extent that there is no other name given among men by which we must be saved.

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Exclusive claims of Christ: no other! Not magic or demonic (Acts 8:9-24; 13:6-12; 16:16-18; 19:13-20); not pagan religion (14:8–18; 17:16–34; 19:23–41). Instead, repent and come to Christ.

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  1. Responses (4:13-23)
    1. Authority’s response #1: “Don’t speak in Jesus’ Name” (4:13-18)
    2. Apostles’ response #1: “We cannot” (4:19-20)
    3. Authority’s response #2: Further threats and release (4:21-23a)
    4. Apostles’ response #2: Return to church and report (4:23b-31)

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Read Acts 4:13, 29, 31. There is a note of boldness and confidence in this passage. The authorities are amazed that Peter and John would be so bold even though they were uneducated and untrained. The authorities recognize them as having been followers of Jesus. What is the answer to why they are so bold?

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Acts 4:8 and they were with Jesus!

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You would think that they would reason to the best explanation. A healed man is the evidence of something. What causes a man to be healed of this nature? What else can they say? They saw the man and they have nothing to say in reply Acts 4:14.

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So the Sanhedrin send the apostles out and reach a conclusion Acts 4:16-17 16 saying, “What shall we do to these men? For, indeed, that a notable miracle has been done through them is evident to all who dwell in Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But so that it spreads no further among the people, let us severely threaten them, that from now on they speak to no man in this name.”

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And they call the apostles back in Acts 4:18 And they called them and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

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And now the apostles respond Acts 4:19-20 19 But Peter and John answered and said to them, “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. 20 For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.”

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Either listening to these authorities or listening to God. The choice is to listen to God and to speak what you’ve seen and heard.

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The authorities have no options left. Acts 4:21-22 21 So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding no way of punishing them, because of the people, since they all glorified God for what had been done. 22 For the man was over forty years old on whom this miracle of healing had been performed.

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Obviously, you can’t argue with the evidence. It is a sign. It points to the truth of what Peter is saying. Yet in their stubbornness, the authorities continue to reject the truth and have more of a desire to save their nation from the Romans then to save their own souls.

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However, persecution is increasing. They only received a warning here, but in Acts 5:40 there will be beating and in 7:54-60; 8:1-3 there will be martyrdom and persecution.

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Peter and John return to the disciples and report to them what the chief priests and elders said (Acts 4:23).

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And now the disciples respond. And they respond with prayer. And after the prayer, they are once again filled with the Holy Spirit and they speak the word of God with boldness.

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Luke’s point then seems to be that no matter what the opposition from authorities, through prayer and the filling of the Holy Spirit, boldness will not be impeded. They spoke with boldness before having come to the authorities and now after having met with them, they are bold. Boldness does not depend on the persecution of man but on the filling of the Holy Spirit.

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The disciples pray to the creator Acts 4:24 and to the one who spoke through David in Psalm 2 (4:25-26).

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The apostles interpret Ps. 2:1-2 to refer to the authorities rejection of Jesus.

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Jesus=Lord’ anointed

Kings=Herod

Rulers=Pilate

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Psalm 2 is eschatological (installed King in Zion) and messianic, as here.

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They recognize God’s destiny for Jesus was predetermined.

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Acts 2:23

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Excursus on Predestination

So, what is predestination? It is this: God predetermined believers’ destiny. God predetermined believers’ destiny.

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And in the Scripture, God predetermined that believers would reach …how many destinies…. The Scripture teaches 3 destinies …. So, predestination always goes somewhere. God will make sure that His people arrive at 3 different destinations.  They are …

1.     That we be adopted as sons (Eph. 1:5)

2.     That we be Christ’s inheritance (Eph. 1:11)

3.     That we ultimately be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Ro. 8:29)

Romans 8:29 For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren;

So God predetermined the destiny specifically of believers. The Scripture limits this teaching of predestination to believers only. God predetermined the destination of believers. As one who trusts in Christ, your spiritual destinations are described in Scripture as three things: that you would be adopted as sons, that you be Christ’s inheritance, and that you ultimately be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ.

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Predestination is God’s predetermining the destiny of believers to something specific, to these 3 things.

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1 Co. 2:7 and Acts 4:28 refer to the predestination of Jesus.

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They have 2 requests in verses 29 and 30.

1. Boldness to speak God’s word

2. Signs and wonders

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Verse 31 relates the answer to the first. The second is answered in Acts 5:12, 15-16.

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They requested both, since the signs and wonders authenticated the message.

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Go to BibleTrove.com Home Page from What is the Meaning of Acts 3.1-4.31

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  1. Adapted from Charles H. Talbert, Reading Acts : A Literary and Theological Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, Rev. ed., Reading the New Testament Series (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2005), 35-36.

  2. Charles H. Talbert, Reading Acts : A Literary and Theological Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles, Rev. ed., Reading the New Testament Series (Macon, GA: Smyth & Helwys Publishing, 2005), 38.

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