ACTS OF THE APOSTLES.
The First Persecution.
SUMMARY.--Peter and John at the Temple. The Lame Man Healed. The Wonder of the Multitude. Peter Preaches Christ to Them. The Prophet Like Unto Moses.
1. Peter and John. These two apostles were very closely associated in the early work of the church. They are often named together. Into the temple. The Jewish Christians still continued to observe many of the rites of Jewish worship, and, in addition, they preached Christ to the multitudes in the temple courts. It was years before they were fully emancipated from Judaism. At the hour of prayer. The ninth hour, three o'clock P.M., the hour of the evening sacrifice, when devout Jews were accustomed to gather at the temple to pray. The miracle that follows is one of many (see 2:43 ), but is recorded because it led to the first persecution.
2. Laid daily at the gate . . . called Beautiful. Generally thought to be the gate opening towards the Mount of Olives. Josephus, who calls it the gate of Nicanor, describes it as wonderfully rich and beautiful (Jos. Ant. 15:11). It was common for the unfortunate to be placed at gates where their condition would appeal to the multitudes entering for worship. Then, public charities were almost unknown, and the helpless were compelled to beg.
6. Silver and gold have I none. Though the early church had poured out its gifts abundantly ( 2:45 ), Peter had not enriched himself, and was a poor man, presenting a great contrast to the popes who claim to be his successors. It is related that Thomas Aquinas came to Rome and visited Innocent IV. He looked somewhat amazedly upon the mass of plate and treasure which he saw there. "So," said the pope, "you see, Thomas, we cannot say as did St. Peter of old, 'Silver and gold have I none.'" "No," said Aquinas, "neither can you command, as did he, the lame man to arise and walk." Peter had that which the popes have not. In the name of Jesus Christ. Christ worked his miracles in no one's name. The power was his own, but with the apostles all things were done in Christ's name, and the power ascribed to him.
7. He took him by the right hand. To encourage and strengthen his faith. He was bidden to "arise and walk in the name of Jesus Christ," and thus to show his faith in act. He did, and was healed in doing so.
8. Leaping up, stood. His alacrity and eagerness are shown in the language used.
9, 10. The people . . . were filled with wonder. They had often seen the lame beggar, but now saw him "walking, and leaping and praising God," and did not know how he had been healed.
11. Ran together . . . in the porch that is called Solomon's. The marvel assembled a concourse who gathered in Solomon's porch, a great covered portico of the temple, built on foundations that had been reared by Solomon, and hence called by his name.
12. Ye men of Israel. Peter seized the opportunity to preach Christ.
13. The God of Abraham. The God of the patriarchs whom they all worshiped hath glorified his Son Jesus. They delivered him to Pilate, and denied him when Pilate would release him, but demanded a murderer, instead of the Holy One, and slew him. This One God had raised and glorified. A wonderful contrast; a terrible arraignment.
15. We are witnesses. The Twelve, all of whom had seen the risen Lord. Observe how prominent in the early preaching is the resurrection and the apostolic witness to it.
16. His name. Not Peter's power, but Christ's name, had done all. Through faith in his name. Not only the faith of Peter and John, but the faith created in the lame man. In an act of faith he was made strong. "The faith alike is in the healer and the healed."--Plumptree.
17. I wot. I know. It was in ignorance of the majestic personality of Jesus that they slew him. Their rulers, ignorant also, might have known better had they not blinded themselves by prejudice. God "had foreshown all these things by the prophets," even that Christ should suffer. See Isaiah, chapter 53 Dan. 9:26 .
19. Repent ye therefore. The same command given on the great occasion of Pentecost ( 2:38 ). Repentance is not sorrow, but the fruit of sorrow ( 2 Cor. 7:10 ). Those, on Pentecost, pierced to the heart were told to repent. Judas sorrowed unto death, but did not come to repentance. Repentance is an internal change resulting, not from remorse, but from conviction of sin and godly sorrow for it. The Greek term means a change of mind. It is the change of determination or will, the resolve to turn from sin to God, what, in religious language, is often styled "a change of heart." And be converted. In the Revision, Turn again. The Greek term is not passive, but active. The command is to do some act, not to have something done to us. The Greek term (Epistrepho) occurs thirty-nine times in the New Testament and is uniformly in the active voice. A false idea is given in the Common Version by making it passive. To repent, or change the heart, is the internal change wrought by faith, and this is to be followed by a definite act, to turn. If one is on the wrong road, is convicted of this, repents of it, the result is an act, to "turn," and then to go the right way. This figure applies to the sinner. Convicted of sin, repentant, there must be some outward act of turning. That act, following repentance, is given in Acts 2:38 . The penitent is required to be baptized, and then to go on in the new way following Jesus. "Baptism is not here expressly named, as in 2:38 , but was now understood of itself, seeing that thousands had been baptized, and the thought is suggested in the figurative expression in order that your sins may be blotted out, namely, by the water of baptism."--Meyer. "In a similar exhortation ( 2:38 ) Peter adds, 'Be baptized,' but this would now be understood."--Dean Howson. See 22:16 . When the times of refreshing shall come. The Revision is correct, "That so there may come," etc. In 2:38 the steps are, (1) Repentance, (2) baptism, (3) remission of sins, (4) the gift of the Holy Spirit. Here, the order is (1) Repentance, (2) to turn, (3) the blotting out of sins, (4) the seasons of refreshing. One passage aids in interpreting the other.
20. And he shall send Jesus Christ. Again we have to turn to the Revision for the meaning. The great hope of the Jews was the Messiah. He had come, been rejected, and had returned to heaven. His return will be prepared for by repentance, and turning to the Lord. The blotting out of sins, the seasons of refreshing, and the return of Christ are all, in some measure, dependent on their repentance and turning. The Christ appointed is even Jesus, the crucified One.
21. Whom the heaven must receive. Until all the work predicted by the prophets had been accomplished. The times of restitution. The restoration (Revision). The moral restoration of the world. Christ will come in person, not before, but after the millennium is ushered in ( Rev. 20:11-15 ).
22. A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up. See Deut. 18:15-19 . Like me. In that he is the Mediator of the New Covenant as Moses was of the Old.
23. Shall be destroyed. The Jews could be saved only by hearing Christ. Nor can we be saved otherwise.
24. And all the prophets also from Samuel. "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." Samuel is named because he was the founder of the schools of the prophets.
25. Ye are the children of the prophets. The natural heirs of their promised blessings. And of the covenant. The covenant of Christ made with Abraham, in which the Savior was promised ( Gen. 12:3 ). This covenant was older than that of Sinai.
26. Unto you first. To Israel first in order, before the Gentiles, but Peter here recognizes the fact that the Gospel is also for other races. Sent him to bless you. Not in person, but by the preaching of Christ as the Savior from sin. The best of all blessings is "the turning of them from iniquity," as that brings all others.