by Greg Williamson © revised 2022
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB © The Lockman Foundation*

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Peter Heals the Crippled Beggar (Acts 3:1-10) | Peter Speaks to the Onlookers (Acts 3:11-26)

Peter Heals the Crippled Beggar (Acts 3:1-10)

The consecrated and the crippled (Acts 3:1-10)

(1) Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the ninth hour, the hour of prayer. (2) And a man who had been lame from his mother's womb was being carried along, whom they used to set down every day at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, in order to beg alms of those who were entering the temple. (3) When he saw Peter and John about to go into the temple, he began asking to receive alms. (4) But Peter, along with John, fixed his gaze on him and said, "Look at us!" (5) And he began to give them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. (6) But Peter said, "I do not possess silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you: In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene -- walk!" (7) And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and his ankles were strengthened. (8) With a leap he stood upright and began to walk; and he entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. (9) And all the people saw him walking and praising God; (10) and they were taking note of him as being the one who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate of the temple to beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.

I. THE MIRACLE (Acts 3:1–11)
  A. Two consecrated men (Acts 3:1): Peter and John go to the Temple to pray.
B. One crippled man (Acts 3:2–11)
    1. The money he requests (Acts 3:2–3): This man, lame from birth, asks Peter and John for money.
2. The miracle he receives (Acts 3:4–11)
      a. The witness of the apostle (Acts 3:4–6): Peter commands the cripple in the name of Jesus to walk.
b. The worship of the cripple (Acts 3:7–8): Walking and leaping, he enters the Temple, praising God.
c. The wonder of the crowd (Acts 3:9–11): The people are amazed at this. [ref]
  • (Acts 3:1) As observant Jews, we find the apostles Peter and John going up to the temple for the usual evening worship service consisting of sacrifice and prayer (about 3 P.M.). [ref] Lenski notes that the "[t]he Jews always spoke of going 'up' to or into the Temple, no matter what the elevation was from which they started. This was said in an ethical sense. The Temple did not occupy the highest elevation in the city." [ref]
  • (Acts 3:2) Peter and John cross paths with a lame beggar who is being carried to his regular spot at the temple. It is the ideal location at which to beg alms, since the temple visitors would be more inclined to give him something.
    ■ As Polhill explains: "The rabbis taught that there were three pillars for the Jewish faith -- the Torah, worship, and the showing of kindness, or charity. Almsgiving was one of the main ways to show kindness and was thus considered a major expression of one's devotion to God. With their minds set on worship, those who entered the temple for the evening sacrifice and prayer would be particularly disposed to practice their piety by generously giving alms to a lame beggar." [ref]
    ■ Dunn: "One of the most impressive features of Judaism past and present is the major emphasis it places on provision for the poor and disadvantaged (classically the widow, orphan and stranger -- e.g. Deut. 24:10–22; Isa. 10:2; 58:6–7; Jer. 7:6; Mal. 3:5). Almsgiving was therefore a principal act of religious responsibility (e.g. Sir. 3:30; 29:12; Tobit 12:9; 14:11); hence also [Acts 9:36, 10:2; 24:17]." [ref]
An Illustration Of Salvation
Warren Wiersbe:
It is easy to see in [the crippled beggar] an illustration of what salvation is like. He was born lame, and all of us are born unable to walk so as to please God. Our father Adam had a fall and passed his lameness on to all of his descendants (Rom. 5:12-21). The man was also poor, and we as sinners are bankrupt before God, unable to pay the tremendous debt that we owe Him (Luke 7:36-50). He was "outside the temple," and all sinners are separated from God, no matter how near to the door they might be. The man was healed wholly by the grace of God, and the healing was immediate (Eph. 2:8-9). He gave evidence of what God had done by "walking, and leaping, and praising God" (Acts 3:8) and by publicly identifying himself with the Apostles, both in the temple (Acts 3:11) and in their arrest (Acts 4:14). Now that he could stand, there was no question where this man stood! [ref]
  • (Acts 3:3-5) "Not waiting until he was deposited in his usual place but already when Peter and John were about to go into the Temple ... [with] outstretched hand that is anxious to take whatever might be offered" [ref] the beggar begins begging Peter and John for "a charitable handout" [ref] (asking to receive alms). While even today most people will choose to avoid eye contact with a beggar [ref], Peter looks straight at this one (fixed his gaze on him) and literally commands his attention (Look at us!). The beggar gives them his attention -- the only thing he can afford to give -- in hopes of receiving something from them. Sproul: "The man looked at Peter and John, watching their hands, watching for the wallet, watching for the money that was about to come, in a state of eager anticipation." [ref]
  • (Acts 3:6-7) Peter and John are moved to give the beggar something that money (silver and gold) cannot buy: "salvation for his soul and healing for his body." [ref] Not waiting for a request to be healed, Peter commands the beggar to get up and walk. Peterson: "The apostles had made up their mind to offer him healing, without waiting for a specific request. In this respect the miracle is unusual. Their initiative would demonstrate the sovereign grace of God, acting through Jesus Christ to rescue and restore those powerless to save themselves (cf. Acts 3:17-26; 4:8-12)." [ref] Taking him by the hand, Peter helps him to his feet (raised him up) and immediately the beggar's once useless legs (his feet and his ankles) are given new life and stength.
  • (Acts 3:6) Peter tells the beggar that he and John have no money (I do not possess silver and gold). As Keener points out: "Many people in the Greco-Roman world were suspicious of potential charlatans who practiced religion or philosophy to acquire wealth for themselves; the apostles' lack of resources (Acts 3:6) helps to confirm their sincerity." [ref]
  • (Acts 3:6) The fact that this miracle takes place in the name of Jesus Christ is highly significant, since "[i]n the biblical sense a name is far more than a label. It represents a person and is an extension of that person's being and personality. To invoke the name of Jesus is to call upon his authority and power." [ref] "The name" of Jesus/the Lord occurs 20 times in the book of Acts (Acts 2:21, 38; 3:6, 16; 4:10, 18, 30; 5:40; 8:12, 16; 9:27, 28; 10:48; 15:26; 16:18; 19:5, 13, 17; 21:13; 26:9) where it is associated with healings and miracles, baptism, forgiveness of sins, witnessing, and persecution. In short, "[t]he 'name' represents the abiding presence of Christ in the community of believers." [ref]
Praying With Confidence
While "in the name of Jesus" is not some sort of magical formula that automatically entitles us to whatever we ask for, including healing, we can "confidently point the needy to the risen Lord and pray confidently for them in his name, knowing that he remains gracious and powerful to heal. In so doing, it is important to remember the perspective that Peter gives in his sermon on this occasion, that God will not restore everything until Jesus returns and his saving purposes are consummated in a new creation (Acts 3:21; cf. Rev. 21:1-5)." [ref] - AC21DOJ
  • (Acts 3:8) First the beggar leaps to his feet, and then he begins walking and leaping and praising God. Since Isaiah's description of the messianic age includes the lame leaping like a deer (Isaiah 35:6), perhaps here Luke is giving "a veiled reference to the man's healing being a sign of the messianic times that had come in Jesus." [ref]
  • (Acts 3:8) As Polhill notes, as a cripple the beggar had been "lame, blemished, and denied access to the inner courts [of the temple] (cf. Lev 21:17-20; 2 Sam 5:8)." Hence his miracle is twofold, inlcuding both "physical healing" and "spiritual acceptance. ... For the first time he was deemed worthy to enter the house of worship. This theme will repeat itself in Acts. Those who were rejected as unworthy for worship in the old religion of Israel found full acceptance in the name of Jesus, whether a lame beggar, an Ethiopian eunuch, a woman, or a Gentile." [ref]
  • (Acts 3:9-10) Unlike the so-called faith healings of today, the beggar "was no staged plant for a healing service. This man was known by everyone in the temple complex because ... he was there every day, and everybody knew he could not walk." [ref]
    ■ As the crowd of onlookers (all the people) realize the man walking and praising God is the same man who only moments earlier was a crippled beggar but is now fully and completely healed, they are quite naturally filled with wonder and amazement. While such a reaction is to be expected, we should be careful to note that it "is not necessarily the same thing as faith in the One who performed the miracle; one can be impressed by the spectacular without responding to what it signifies, the power and the grace of God." [ref] While being shocked and thrown off balance [ref] can lead to saving faith, they should never be mistaken for it.
    ■ That said, Dunn's comments are worth noting: "In describing the resulting astonishment of the people, Luke uses the unusual word ekstasis [NASB: amazement], which elsewhere denotes an ecstatic vision (Acts 10:10;.11:5; 22:17). It can also denote 'astonishment', but its formation (literally 'standing out of oneself') implies a numinous character. In this way Luke evokes again the 'holy' as a quality almost tangibly attaching to the new movement (cf. Acts 5:5, 11, 15). It also provides another point of parallel with his previous account of Jesus (Luke 5:26 being the only other time Luke uses the term)." [ref]
Wonder And Amazement
Someone has said: "Awe is the primary religious emotion." [ref] While the crowd's "wonder and amazement" was not enough in and of itself, it did help to prepare the people to hear Peter's message of salvation (Acts 3:11-26). Many unsaved people today are filled with "wonder and amazement" at the world around them. Like Peter, we can use that as a platform for sharing the message of salvation in Christ alone. And of course we as Christians should allow our own sense of "wonder and amazement" to drive us and dive us: drive us to God's written Word, the Bible, and dive us deeply into it. - AC21DOJ


*Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, © Copyright 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.