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Acts 3:11-26
Following the harvest of souls reaped on Pentecost, the believers continued daily in the temple with one
accord - with one mind. Theirs was the mind of Christ, who desired to extend the reconciliation with God
that He had won to those who were still in the darkness, beginning with the Jews in Jerusalem.

Peter and John had gone up to the temple at the afternoon prayer time, and there they had come upon a man
who was lame from his birth, who was laid daily outside the temple gate, begging for alms. In the sight of
all the Jews going into the temple for prayer, Peter offered the man healing in the name of Jesus Christ of
Nazareth.

Believing in the power of that name, the man was healed - and he stood up and walked - and he entered into
the temple, walking and leaping and praising God. The people immediately recognized him as the lame
man who regularly begged for alms, and were astonished at this miraculous healing.

The healing of the lame man was a sign from God to the nation of Israel. Like the lame man, Israel had
never walked with God, from the time of their birth as a nation. Because of their unbelief, Israel was
impotent, powerless and so, like the lame man, had to be carried.

It was the LORD who carried them, and He did so through the Law, by which He kept His nation, and
pictured to them their Savior, the Christ. This is what we saw in the picture of the lame man who was
carried right to the gate of the temple - the Beautiful Gate, which spoke of their Beautiful Savior.

But the lame man was powerless to enter in on his own; and religion made sure he stayed out, as one who
didn’t measure up to its pious standards. Likewise, Israel has tried to gain access to God, based on their
position, as sons of Abraham, and based on their condition, as doers of the Law - but by neither have they
found the power to enter into His presence.

Like the lame man, Israel remains outside the house of blessing, begging alms of others just to sustain their
existence - and they remain under the shadow of that bronze gate - a gate that speaks of judgment.

Now, after more than forty years of being in this condition, the lame man had come to recognize a few
things. The lame man recognized that he was in a condition that would not get well on its own; and he
recognized that he himself could not overcome his condition. And surely, after forty plus years, the lame
man recognized that there was no help coming from the world to heal his condition - the world didn’t care,
and couldn’t heal him, even if it did. No, there was no hope in this world for the lame man.

But Peter and John had offered a hope to this man that was out of this world - the hope to be found in a
name - Jesus Christ. The lame man took what he knew of Jesus, and mixed it with faith, that Jesus could
heal him, just by the power of His name, through His representatives on the earth. What the man believed,
then, is that Jesus is Lord - Sovereign over all heaven and earth - over all circumstances - and over him.

The nation of Israel has always fallen short of that hope, because they still think they can enter in with God
in their own strength; and they think they have a hope in this world. The lame man was over forty years
old when he was healed. In Scripture, forty is the number of testing; of trial. It will take the severe trial
of the Great Tribulation before Israel recognizes that there is no hope for them in this world, and that they
need their Savior, who is Jesus Christ.
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At that time, they will look upon the One whom they have pierced (Zech 12:10), as the lame man looked
upon Peter and John; and as Peter lifted up the man, the Lord will uphold Israel with the right hand of His
righteousness (Is 41:10).

Then Israel, like the lame man, will rise up, established by the Lord as the head of the nations (Deut 28:13,
Ps 47) - that will be the restoration of Israel. And as the lame man was made whole - spirit, soul and body,
so will Israel, as the Lord pours out His Spirit upon them.

In that day, Israel will be a regenerate nation, the redeemed, who walk in the way of holiness (Is 35:8-9) -
and then lame Israel will leap as a hart, and their tongue will sing praises to their God (Is 35:6), and they
shall worship the LORD in the holy mount at Jerusalem (Is 27:13).

So Peter, John and the healed man had gone through the Beautiful Gate into the temple, into the Court of
the Women, where the man then bore witness to the power of Jesus before all the people who were
gathered for prayer. His witness took the form of walking, and leaping, and singing praises to his God, for
this miraculous healing.

Afterwards, the three of them went out of the temple and across the Court of the Gentiles to Solomon’s
porch, a large, covered area of the court.

v. 11 A multitude of people followed Peter, John and the healed man over to Solomon’s Porch, drawn by
their great wonder concerning this miracle. We read that the lame man was holding on to Peter and John;
I’m sure he was sandwiched between them.

Why was he holding on to them? For support? No - remember, this man was completely healed - he
could walk and leap. He needed no support. The word “held” means that he was holding fast to Peter and
John. The man was holding onto them, because there was a bond between them now. That bond is the
unity of the Spirit (Eph 4:3).

In Christ, this man was one with them now; he had joined himself to them, by his faith in Jesus. He had
identified himself with Jesus Christ, as they had; and it was now his defining characteristic. They were all
Christ ones - members of His Body. This bond was reflected in the man’s attachment to them; he would
not let them go; he stood with them.

Now we see the apostles continuing in the footsteps of their Master - having displayed the works of Christ
in the healing, they now will speak the words of Christ, that the people might be drawn to Christ, and be
healed of their sin-sickness. Peter here addresses the common people who have gathered from a national
perspective - a message to the collective nation, to which each member of the nation will have to respond
personally.

v. 12 Literally, Peter said, “Why marvel at this one?” - this man. The healing of the lame man was a
marvel, from man’s perspective - but was it really such a marvel to a person who knew that an all-powerful
God had healed this man? This was an ordinary thing, for God to do. Peter was urging the people to look
past the man, look past the miracle - to the omnipotent One who did it.
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Peter must get the people to look past something else, as well - to look past them, Peter and John. He must
dispel the notion that the apostles had anything to do with the healing - other than to speak and to do as the
Spirit directed. The Jews often thought that wonder workers were able to do miracles because of their great
piety.

The people must not be allowed to think that Peter and John had any special favor with God, based on their
own piety, or righteousness. Peter and John knew that the only righteousness they had was the
righteousness of Christ. And Peter and John had no power in themselves - Jesus worked His power
through them. The apostles were merely conduits of the power of God.

Having directed the thoughts of the people to the One who did heal this man, Peter then began to speak of
Him.

v. 13-15 The Holy Spirit was speaking through Peter to present the facts of the judgment that was
rendered concerning Jesus - the judgment of the Jews, and the judgment of God. He would then use the
miracle to serve as a further proof concerning the true identity of Jesus.

Just as when Peter spoke to the Jews on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit grounded Peter’s words in the
language and pictures of the OT, to make a connection in the Jewish mind between the One with whom
they were familiar from their Scriptures, and Jesus.

Peter began speaking of God - the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob - the God of our fathers.
This description of God would be familiar to the Jews - in fact, Moses used this title for God, when he
recorded the appearance of the angel of the LORD - the preincarnate Christ - in the burning bush (Ex 3:6).
In this way, Peter made it clear that he was speaking of the same God that the Jews, and their Scriptures,
proclaimed.

Peter said that God glorified His Son Jesus. “Son” is an unfortunate translation in the KJV - for this word
is more typically translated as child or servant. Peter was plainly speaking of God glorifying His Servant
Jesus, for the passage presents Jesus as the prophesied Servant of Jehovah (Septuagint: pais Kuriou).

It was the prophet Isaiah who wrote particularly of the Servant of Jehovah. Perhaps the most notable, and
well-known passage, is found in Isaiah 52 and 53. I’d like to just read that through with you.

[Isaiah 52:13-53:12]

v. 13 The very first statement beginning the Servant passage refers to the very end: that the Servant
would deal prudently - He would prosper - that He would be exalted - lifted up - and extolled - again, lifted
up - and He shall be very high. The next two verses give a summary of what would lead up to this
exaltation, and Isaiah 53 gives further details, in typical Hebrew literary form.

v. 14-15 This speaks of the unimaginable suffering that the Servant would endure. His shed blood
would provide cleansing for the nations - healing from sin-sickness - as they took in and believed that His
blood was shed for them.

53:1-3 The Servant of Jehovah would grow up from His youth to manhood. He would appear as an
ordinary man, not as a king or a prince. His people would reject Him.
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v. 4-6 The Servant of Jehovah would suffer vicariously for the sins of the nation of Israel - and for all
men. He would take sin and death upon Himself for all men, so they would not have to die in, and for,
their sins.

v. 7-9 The Servant would be cut off out of the land of the living in death, for the sins of the people. His
body would be buried - it was a true death.

v. 10 He shall die, yet He shall see His seed, and prolong His days. He shall die, yet He shall live again.
This points to the resurrection of the Servant.

v. 11 The Servant of Jehovah would be satisfied with what He had suffered, because it would result in
Life coming out of death - for Himself, and for His seed - those who believe in Him.

v. 12 This speaks of the earthly kingdom that the Servant of Jehovah will share with the regenerate
nation of Israel in the millennial reign. The Jews knew that their Messiah would rule and reign, and them
with Him, and so the Jews should have connected the Servant of Jehovah with Messiah - that He was one in
the same.

So this key passage on the Servant of Jehovah began with His exaltation, then spoke of His rejection and
His suffering and death, then of His resurrection - and finally, of His eventual reign, in the Millennial
Kingdom, through the nation of Israel. Keep this pattern in your mind as we now go back to Acts and look
at what Peter was saying to the Jews.

[Return to Acts]

So God had glorified His Servant, Jesus. “Glorified” here means to manifest the divine character and
attributes. How did God show forth the divine character and attributes of Jesus? Thinking back to the
Servant passage in Isaiah 52, “He shall be exalted, and extolled, and be very high” (Is 52:13).

First, Jesus was exalted in death, as He was lifted up on the cross. Then He was extolled, in His
resurrection - He was raised from the dead. Finally, He is very high - for He ascended to the right hand of
the Father, the highest position in the universe. In this way, the Father showed forth the glorious character
of His Servant Jesus, affirming Him to be who He said He is.

Notice that Peter also began with the end, as Isaiah did - with the exaltation of Jesus. Then, Peter spoke of
what the Jews did to Jesus. What did they do? Verse 13 - They delivered Him up - they denied Him,
rejecting Him as their Messiah - and they killed Him.

The Jews had turned Jesus over to the Roman authorities, with the evil intent of having the Romans put
Jesus to death. You may remember that the Jewish rulers did not have the authority to execute the death
penalty. The only way they could have Jesus put to death was to falsely accuse Him of sedition or treason,
which was punishable by death under Roman law.

Both the rulers and the people were responsible for seeing to it that Jesus incurred the death penalty. Turn
to Luke chapter 23. The Jewish Sanhedrin had turned over Jesus to Pontius Pilate, accusing Him of
treason - that He claimed to be the Christ, a king (Lk 23:1-2). Pilate found no fault in Jesus, and tried to
turn Him over to Herod for judgment; but Herod sent Jesus back. Once again, Pilate was faced with
judging Jesus.
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[Luke 23:12-25]

v. 13-15 Notice that this was done before the rulers as well as the people. Pilate again declared he found
no fault in Jesus, nor had Herod.

v. 16-17 It was a tradition for the governor to release one prisoner at the Passover, to curry the good will
of the people. Pilate sought to make that released prisoner Jesus; but the Jews would have none of it.

v. 18-19 Now, Barabbas had already been judged to be an insurrectionist, who had committed murder
during an uprising in Jerusalem against the Roman government (Mk 15:7).

v. 20-25 Again and again, Pilate attempted to release Jesus; but the chief priests, the rulers and the people
demanded the release of Barabbas, and that Jesus be crucified.

In John’s gospel, we find the reason why Pilate finally relented to the Jews, when he himself had found
Jesus to be innocent. Turn to John chapter 19.

[John 19:12-16]

v. 12 What the Jews were threatening here was not insignificant. They had accused Jesus of treason, for
claiming to be a king. If they were to send word to Caesar that Pilate had let a dangerous criminal go, it
might cost Pilate his position - maybe even his life.

v. 13-16 Once the situation actually became a threat to Pilate, and jeopardized him personally, he
relented to the will of the Jews, and agreed to issue the verdict they desired - death.

Matthew provides additional detail of the judgment by Pilate. Turn to Matthew chapter 27.

[Matthew 27:24-26] The people here were taking full responsibility for Jesus being put to death, as a
nation, throughout their generations (“and on our children”).

[Return to Acts]

As Peter described the actions of the Jews, he laid them in contrast to the One whom they had wronged -
Jesus. Peter spoke of Jesus as the Holy and Righteous One (KJV, “Holy One and the Just”), which reflects
the purity of His thoughts and the righteousness of His actions. These terms were often applied to the
LORD in OT Scripture, with which the Jews would have been familiar.

This was the One whom the people rejected, asking Pilate instead to release Barabbas, a murderer.
“Barabbas” means “son of the father”. Jesus was the Son of His Father, God - and was rejected.
Barabbas was the son of his father - the devil - who was a murderer from the beginning (Jn 8:44).

And Peter added that the Jews had killed the Prince of Life - the ultimate paradox. The Greek word for
“Prince” can mean a leader or author; as well as a pioneer, one who opens up or blazes a trail. In His
exalted state, Jesus is a Prince; and in His work of salvation, He is the author or pioneer, who opened up the
way of salvation for all who call upon His name.
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We find this same Greek word for “prince” in Hebrews 2:10: “For it became Him, for whom are all things,
and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation [that
is, the leader or pioneer of their salvation] perfect through sufferings”.

So here was the One who had come to lead them in the way of salvation - who had blazed the trail for them
- and they had put Him to death. Their crime was all the more atrocious in light of His purity and
righteousness, His grace and mercy.

God had verified the wrongness of the people’s actions by overturning their death sentence. Peter declared
the God raised Jesus from the dead, and that they, Peter and John, were witnesses to Him in His
resurrection. Their witness would have been believable to the Jews, in light of the miracle that they had
just done, in healing the lame man - it showed that God was with them.

Notice that Peter had presented Jesus to these Jewish listeners exactly according to the pattern found in the
Servant passage in Isaiah: Peter spoke first of the exaltation of God’s Servant Jesus, then of His rejection,
His suffering and death, and finally of His resurrection. Later, Peter will speak of the restoration of Israel
as the head nation - which is where Isaiah 53 ends. Peter showed Jesus to be the Servant of Jehovah, the
Messiah, who will rule and reign over all the nations.

Peter then spoke of the miracle which had been done in the presence of these people.

v. 16 It was through the name of Jesus - the name of the once humbled and now glorified Servant of
Jehovah - that this man had been cured; and it was by faith in that same name that the man received,
through Jesus, this perfect soundness - complete healing of the whole man, in spirit, soul and body. All
could plainly see that this man was completely healed. It was a powerful miracle.

Peter impressed upon his audience the power which had wrought the cure resided in Jesus’ name, and that
the man had availed himself of this power by the exercise of faith. The healing, then, required the
response of faith. And so, too, for the nation. But first there must be an admission of their sin.

v. 17-18 Peter said that, what the Jews did, in putting Jesus to death, they did in ignorance. Now,
ignorance is a want of knowledge, which leads to mistaken conduct - to a wrong act.

Now, if someone acts wrongly, because of a want of knowledge - because they were ignorant - is that sin?
Yes - wrong acts are always sin. But if they are done in ignorance, the sin can be forgiven.

The Law of Moses speaks of two types of sin: the sin of ignorance, and the sin of presumption. You can
find these described in Numbers 15:29-30. The sin of presumption is outright, obstinate rebellion against
God, and against His will.

In the Law, there was always a sacrifice that could be offered for the various sins of ignorance; but there
was no sacrifice for the sin of presumption; that soul was cut off from among the people of God (Num
15:30). This is equivalent to the man who refuses to believe in God, and the One whom He sent, Jesus;
that is presumptuous rebellion.
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Peter was saying that these Jews had committed a sin of ignorance. What was it the people were ignorant
of? That Jesus was innocent? Perhaps some were; but most, if not all, of the people were ignorant of the
fact that Jesus was their Messiah; they simply thought Him a great teacher; a good man; a miracle worker -
but when their rulers condemned Him, they went along with them.

From the cross, Jesus had pronounced these words to God: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what
they do” (Lk 23:34). This applied to Jew and Gentile alike, who had both, in ignorance, put to death the
Son of God - the Messiah.

Notice that Peter also said that the rulers were ignorant. Like the people, most of the rulers did not realize
that Jesus was the Messiah; but there were a few who knew exactly who He was.

Once, Jesus had told the rulers in the presence of the people a parable of a master, who owned a vineyard.
The master let out his vineyard to husbandmen, to care for it, and when the time of fruit came, he sent his
servants to receive the fruits. But do you remember what the husbandmen did? They beat and killed the
servants.

Finally, the master sent his son. When the husbandmen saw the son, they said, “This is the heir, come, let
us kill him, and let us seize upon his inheritance” (Mt 21:38). The husbandmen succeeded, but the master
would destroy them, and obtain his fruit through others, in the end. By this parable, Jesus was showing
the rulers He knew that they knew who He was - the heir, the Messiah - and He knew what their intent was
- to kill Him.

So some of the rulers, such as Caiaphas and Annas, were not ignorant; and, as seen in the parable, they
were guilty of the sin of presumption - blatant rebellion against God and His Christ - and would be
destroyed from among the people of God. But Peter was addressing the nation and its rulers collectively,
offering those who did sin in ignorance a divine amnesty for the nation - a free pardon for all who took part
in Jesus’ death, if only they will acknowledge their error, confess their sin, and turn to God in repentance.

Although the nation had put their Messiah to death out of ignorance, God had foreordained that Jesus
would be the sacrifice for sin, and had created the OT record to bear witness to this fact - with incredible
detail.

The OT record discloses the Suffering Servant, as prophesied by Isaiah, and a Righteous Sufferer, as
prophesied by David in the Psalms. Also, the LORD gave a prophecy to David concerning His throne
which speaks of the vicarious sufferings of the One who would rule from David’s throne forever (2 Sam 7).

Peter was showing that the Suffering Servant, the Righteous Sufferer, the Son of David, were all one - in
Israel’s Messiah. This was critical for the nation to understand, as their teachers often did not apply these
passages which spoke of suffering to the Messiah. The nation had to take in that it was necessary for the
Messiah to endure suffering in order to bring salvation to them.

Having definitively shown who Jesus is -


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the Omnipotent One in whose name the lame man was healed;
the Servant of Jehovah;
the Holy and Righteous One;
the Prince of Life;
Israel’s Messiah

Peter had now cleared up the ignorance of the people, if they were willing to see; and that left them with
the blood of their own Messiah on their hands. But there was yet hope.

v. 19-21 Peter commanded the people to repent - to turn away from their sin - and to be converted - to
turn to God. They must have a change of mind concerning Jesus, and receive Him as their Messiah. If
they, as a nation, will agree with God concerning Jesus, God would pardon them of their sins - including
their sin of putting their Messiah to death - and He would bring refreshing to the nation.

“Refreshing” speaks of revival; a recovery of breath. The nation would receive the breath of the Holy
Spirit, and be born in a day, a regenerate nation (Is 66:8). Jesus, their appointed Messiah, foreordained by
God, would return to them again, and set up His kingdom upon the earth, with Israel restored to her former
position as the head of the nations. The time of His return was conditioned upon Israel repenting as a
nation, and receiving Him as their Messiah. When they did, He would return.

Jesus would remain in heaven, until the time came for the restitution of all things, as spoken of by the
prophets. This refers to the fulfillment of all OT prophecy, culminating in a new heaven and a new earth
(Rev 21:1) - also known as the regeneration - which will take place after the Great Tribulation. At that time,
the righteous dead will be resurrected (Dan 12:1-2, Rev 20:4); all the righteous on earth will enter into the
Millennial Kingdom under Christ’s reign; and all creation will have been released from the curse of
corruption (Rm 8:18-23).

This was the final overture that God was making to His nation - to receive their Messiah, and be saved.
Once again using OT Scripture, Peter indicated what would happen if Israel refused.

v. 22-23 Peter was citing here a passage from Deuteronomy 18 which speaks of how the children of
Israel would receive revelations from the LORD God. Back at Mount Sinai, they had feared to hear His
voice directly, and God had spoken through a representative to them - Moses, their redeemer-deliverer and
mediator.

But the people would not have Moses forever - for he was just a man. Through Moses, the LORD God
spoke of a Prophet that He would raise up from among the people - like unto Moses - another redeemer-
deliverer and mediator. This Prophet would speak God’s words to the people. Anyone who did not
hearken to this Prophet’s word - listen and obey them - would be destroyed from among the people. This
Prophet must be believed. The Jews acknowledged that this Prophet must be the Messiah (Jn 6:14).

Jesus came speaking the words of the Father; and His own people did not believe Him. These were the
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final words that Jesus, the Prophet, was speaking to His nation, through His representative, Peter. Each
member of the nation needed to respond in faith to the words of Christ, believing into Him, or they would
be guilty of the sin of presumption - and be destroyed from among the people.

v. 24-26 Peter then spoke of all the prophets - from Samuel onwards, Samuel being the next named
prophet after Moses. They all prophesied of the Coming Christ, and His kingdom that would be set up on
the earth. The Jews were the sons of the prophets - that is to say, the heirs of the promises made by God
through the prophets.

Likewise, the Jews were the heirs of the covenant which God made with the fathers. That covenant is the
eternal covenant which God made with Himself, to bring everlasting Life to men through His Christ - the
Seed through whom all the kindreds of the earth will be blessed (Gen 22:18). Abraham entered into that
covenant by faith, as did Isaac and Jacob, the father of the nation Israel. And that was how Israel must
enter in, to receive the blessings of the covenant - everlasting Life. They must enter in by faith.

The word “made” in verse 25 - “the covenant which God made with our fathers” - commonly means to
arrange and dispose of one’s possessions by will and testament. Another word for a covenant is a
testament - a disposition which a person makes of his possessions in prospect of death.

The people were the heirs of the covenant - the testament of God. An heir is someone who inherits.
When does an heir receive his inheritance? Upon the death of the testator - the one giving his possessions
as the inheritance. Christ is the One who possessed all that Israel needed, and was destined to receive.
He is the testator. Had He died? Yes. So what was needed? For Israel to acknowledge His death - and
to claim their inheritance, by faith.

God had raised up His Servant Jesus out of the nation of Israel - He was the Messiah, the Prophet. Having
secured the blessing of eternal life in His first coming, the Lord offered that blessing first to Abraham’s
family, through whom the Seed Christ had come. If the nation would receive Jesus, times of refreshing
would come; but if they would not hearken to the Prophet, they would be destroyed.

We know that Israel as a nation continued in their rejection of Jesus. The generation that put Jesus to
death was visited by God’s judgment in 70 AD, in the form of their Roman overlords. The Romans
destroyed Jerusalem and the temple. Over one million people were said to have perished; the rest were
sold as slaves throughout the Roman Empire.

But we will see that many of the Jews were delivered from that judgment this day - because they
recognized Jesus as the Servant of Jehovah, and they hearkened to the Prophet, and they were saved.

Next time: Read Acts chapter 4.