by Thomas Bass | Les Feldick
Let’s go to Acts Chapter 3 for our study. This is just a few days after Chapter 2. Where do Peter and John go? To the Temple. No one has told them to stop Temple worship. Even though they have come apart from the main stream of Judaism, yet they are still involved in the Temple worship.
“NOW Peter and John went up together into the Temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour.”
Does the Church have any instruction that at a certain hour we all bow down and pray? Most religions did and still do. And Judaism did. The ninth hour was the hour of prayer. And who goes? Peter and John. The average reader misses this. I used to miss those same things, but I started asking questions and my students started asking questions that I couldn’t answer. And here is one of those questions. If this is the beginning of the Church, what are Peter and John doing going to the Temple at a prescribed hour of prayer? The Body of Christ doesn’t have anything like that. So that’s one of the things that made me start thinking. And I started looking, and I didn’t come to the conclusion that I have over night, it took a long time for me to have searched the Scriptures to see what they really say. And as you study don’t be afraid to say, well now what’s going on here? Why is this like this? And that is the way you learn.
“And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the Temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms of them that entered into the Temple;” He was a beggar. Now turn for a moment to Chapter 4 verse 22:
“For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.”
Why am I bringing this up? Who must have walked by this man time and time again in those 3 years of His earthy ministry? Christ. Why didn’t He heal Him? Jesus was leaving all that for this time. That’s the beauty of a Sovereign God, and so Jesus never healed him, knowing that the time would come when Peter and John would pass him by, and this would precipitate a whole group of events. So this forty-year-old man was carried and laid at the gate which is called Beautiful and begged.
“Who seeing Peter and John about to go into the Temple asked an alms. And Peter, fastening his eyes upon him with John, said, Look on us. And he gave heed unto them, expecting to receive something of them. Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee (now watch this):In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”
What should Peter have put in there? If I would have had that power, I would have said, “Now look, in the name and in the power of the Resurrection of Christ rise up and walk.” That is where power is generated so far as you and I are concerned. Peter doesn’t even mention it, he only refers again to Who Jesus was, The Messiah, Israel’s promised King, and Saviour.
“And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up; and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength.” What have you got? A miracle, pure and divine.
“And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the Temple (he was a Jew), walking, and leaping, and praising God: And all the people saw him walking and praising God; And they knew that it was he which sat for alms at the Beautiful gate of the Temple: and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened unto him. And as the lame man which was healed held Peter and John, all the people ran together unto them in the porch that is called Solomon’s, greatly wondering.”
Because this isn’t far removed from Christ’s earthly ministry, they should have been able to put two and two together and say, “These are the fellows that were with Him when He performed all those miracles.” But memories are short aren’t they. Now verse 12:
“And when Peter saw it (the amazement of the people), he answered unto the people, `Ye men of Israel (He was talking only to Jews), why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?’”
Most Jews today won’t admit that Jews back then ever became followers of Christ, but archaeologists are finding evidence every day to the contrary. They are finding especially around the Sea of Galilee that indeed early believers of Christ were Jews. They are finding symbols carved in wood and stone that have the menorah, the candlestick of Israel’s history together with the Cross. Those were Jews who became followers of Christ. Remember most Jews don’t accept the New Testament. Look carefully at verse 13:
“The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob (those three names are for the Jews and the beginning of their Nation. And it was to them that Israel’s Covenant promises were repeated almost word for word. And at the end of the Covenant it was told that Salvation would go to the ends of the earth. And here comes Peter claiming these same Covenant promises out of Genesis), the God of our fathers, hath glorified his Son Jesus; whom ye delivered up, and denied him in the presence of Pilate, when he was determined to let him go.”Peter says you caused Him to be crucified. Now verse 14:
“But ye denied the Holy One and the Just, and desired a murderer to be granted unto you;” Verse 15 is almost identical to the verse back in Chapter 2. “And killed the Prince of life (did that stop God? No), whom God hath raised from the dead; whereof we are witnesses.” What does Peter now set up for these people to believe His name.
“And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong (compare that with what we are to believe for Salvation in I Corinthians 15:1-4. Peter doesn’t make reference to it because that Gospel was revealed to Paul for us. Peter only knows to believe in His name), whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.”
The name implied that Jesus was The Christ, He was The Messiah, He was the promised One according to the Covenant. Which Jesus had tried to tell the Nation of Israel exclusively for three years. They were the ones who had to believe first, and then the Gentiles. But Israel would not believe. Peter is hoping that Israel would wake up and realize that the One they killed was the promised Messiah.
“And now, brethren (Peter could never address Gentiles as brethren. Maybe he did about 30-35 years later when he wrote II Peter, but not at this point in time. They have no idea they are to have anything to do with Gentiles), I wot (know) that through ignorance ye did it (killed The Messiah),as did also your rulers.”
Many years ago I had a retired pastor at one of my classes ask me,“Why did Peter give Israel this option, that they had killed their Messiah in ignorance? And why did Christ from the Cross say “Father forgive them,” and why did Stephen in Chapter 7 say basically the same thing?” Well it took me a while to figure all that out. But I think I’ve come up with the right answer by going back into Israel’s history. According to their law of cities of refuge, if an Israeli farmer was clearing rock off his field, throwing them over a hedge, and one of these rocks hit someone on the other side by accident and killed him, that Israeli could run to a city of refuge and plead with those city fathers about the accident. If they believed him they would send him back home totally set free because what he had done was in ignorance. Now bring that right up to the Cross.
Israel, had she rejected Him, knowing Who He was, God would have had to put them to death by completely destroying them. But since they did it in ignorance, God could continue to deal with them in mercy and Grace. Turn to I Corinthians. Paul is writing to the Gentile Church at Corinth. Paul only writes to believers. He never writes to the unbelieving world. But as he writes to the believers his message is going to go to the unbeliever also.
I Corinthians 2:7,8
“But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery (a secret), even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:” God knew that this apostle to the Gentile world would become a writer of Scripture. Now verse 8:
“Which none of the princes of this world knew (The Jewish leaders didn’t know Who He was, Rome certainly didn’t know): for had they known it they would not have crucified The Lord of glory.” They just didn’t know. Come back to Acts Chapter 3, and Peter is using this as an escape route for the Nation of Israel.
They were guilty of putting their Messiah to death, they rejected Him, and I think Israel is suffering for it to this very day. God’s not through with the Nation, His mercy will come back them. He’s still going to come back and keep His Covenant promises with them as a Nation. But for the past 1900 + years they have suffered so much and still have the Tribulation to go through.
“And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.” Israel should have known, Israel could have known, but they didn’t know. And so consequently they rejected Him.
“But those things, which God before had shewed by the mouth of all his prophets (the Old Testament was full of how He would come, suffer, die, be resurrected and ascend, but Israel couldn’t comprehend all of that),that Christ should suffer, he hath so fulfilled.” You can’t stop God. Oh, He may move slowly, but all of these things had to happen and they did.
“Repent ye therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing (the Kingdom) shall come from the presence of The Lord;” That’s a semi colon, not a period. Verse 20 is a continuation of that same thought.
“And he (God) shall send Jesus Christ which before was preached unto you:”
“Whom the heaven must receive (Ascension – Psalms 110:1) until (this is a time word. There is going to come a time when He is going to leave heaven again, but He would stay there until)the times of restitution of all things (now when is this old planet going to experience the restitution of all things? During the Tribulation. When the mortgage or the scroll in Revelation Chapter 5 is paid off. That is the road map of paying off the mortgage on the earth when the curse will be lifted. Remember Satan has been holding that mortgage for almost 6000 years, ever since Adam fell. But it’s going to be restored to its original condition in the Garden of Eden before sin entered. Now that is the restitution of all things referred to in this verse), which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.”
Even though Peter is expecting The Lord’s immediate return to the Nation of Israel if they would repent, he also recognizes that they are going to go through seven years of restitution. Daniel’s seventieth week. He knew that was all part of the prophetic program. That after the Tribulation, Christ would return. But it was hinging on Israel’s repentance. The Kingdom couldn’t come until the restitution of all things would come to pass. Remember how many times we have looked at Psalms Chapter 2? It tells all about this. They would reject The Messiah, they would put Him to death, God would call him back to heaven, set him at His right hand until His enemies were made His footstool. And the next verse in Psalms Chapter 2 says, then will come His wrath and vexation. And then the next verse says, yet have I set my King upon the holy hill of Zion. All was to flow straight through one right after the other.
But God in His wisdom has interrupted all of this. In this First Advent Israel rejected Him, and God called Him back to glory, Israel continued to reject, although several thousands are saved it was just a drop in the bucket. Peter tells us that ALL must repent and believe on His name. So they kept rejecting and finally we are going to see here in Acts that God is going to send them into dispersion. This happened in 70 A.D. when Titus of Rome destroyed the Temple and Jerusalem. At the present time we are seeing God bring the Jews back to the land. We know that God, after the final rejection, turns to the Gentiles through the Apostle Paul with Salvation by Grace with no connection to Israel’s Law. We call it the Church Age. Calling out a people for His name, the Body of Christ.
We can see it so clearly, but Peter doesn’t understand that nor was it ever intended for him to understand it. All Peter knows is that Israel is still under the Abrahamic Covenant, and if Israel would believe they could have The King and Kingdom as promised in Psalms Chapter 2. But all of Israel had to accept the fact that Jesus was their Messiah. And that is what you have to understand for this to make sense to you.
Always remember that the first part of Acts is nothing but Peter and the Nation of Israel. And then all of a sudden there is a departure, and what is it? The conversion of Saul. Then in Chapter 10, Peter goes to the house of Cornelius a Gentile, and that is all new. Israel is going off the scene, and Gentiles are coming into God’s favor under Grace. Once you see that, The Book of Acts is so exciting to study. Now verse 22. Peter is still sticking to the Old Testament prophets and Covenant programs.
“For Moses truly said unto the fathers, `A prophet shall the Lord of your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me (Christ was a Jew); him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people. Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days.’” What days? The days that have just taken place. And verse 25 is what opened my eyes.
“Ye are the children of the prophets and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying unto Abraham,…”