First Century Conversion
Quarter 2, Lesson 6

Lesson Six

The Sermon in Acts 3

The Situation: Peter and John, two of the apostles, went to the temple at three o'clock one afternoon to pray. This three o'clock daily gathering was a time of Jewish worship. People gathered in the temple courtyards, not in the temple itself. Only priests had access to the temple structure.

Alms were gifts of charity. People with physical disabilities were expected to ask for alms. While begging commonly is considered degrading by many Americans, it was not degrading in first century Jewish society. The disabled person assumed a level of responsibility for his own care. The alms giver expressed his (or her) godliness by helping the disabled person. [Alms giving to Jewish people was an evidence of Cornelius' spiritual interest (Acts 10:2).]

The location is interesting. Numerous suggestions have been made to identify the "Beautiful Gate." Possibly, it was one of the entrances from the court of women [which any Israelite could enter] to the court of Israel [which only Israelite men could enter]. The lame man occupied a strategic location for asking alms. His physical deformity prevented him from entering the court of Israel (see Leviticus 21:17-21). However, he asked the men entering that area for gifts.

Luke said three things about the lame man. He was born lame. He had to be carried. While lame, he daily occupied the same place to ask for gifts.

As Peter and John passed, he asked for a gift. Looking intently at him, Peter said, "Look at us!" Expecting a gift, he gave them his complete attention. Peter said, "I do not have any money, but I have something to give you. In the name of Jesus Christ the Nazarene--walk!"

Peter grabbed the man by his right hand and pulled him to his feet. Immediately, his feet and ankles were strong. Immediately, he stood, walked, and leaped as he praised God. He walked and leaped as he entered the gateway with Peter and John. Previously, he likely was not allowed in that area. His reaction to his healing and the miracle itself attracted attention.

Speaker, audience, and location of the sermon's presentation: Peter presented the sermon in the temple area. The text says he relocated to Solomon's colonnade, perhaps an area near the court of the Gentiles [still in the temple area]. The sermon was presented to a Jewish audience.

The opportunity: Everyone saw this man walking, leaping, and praising God. His joy and gratitude overflowed! He clung to Peter and John. Since he sat in the same place daily at three in the afternoon, many who came daily to the temple for afternoon prayers knew him by sight. They were astonished by what they saw! An adult man born lame, who had never walked, did not suddenly begin walking like a healthy, strong person!

Peter's approach: Peter quickly seized the opportunity. Note he called for the "men of Israel" to listen. He wanted to explain this powerful, wondrous deed. He capitalized on their amazement. He asked, "Why do you stare at us as if we used our power or godliness to make this man walk?"

"The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob did this." Peter took no credit for the miracle. All credit belonged to the God of their ancestors and Jesus' name.

"This God glorified Jesus whom you disowned. You asked Pilate to kill him when Pilate wished to free him. You requested freedom be given to a murderer. In that act, you disowned God's Holy and Righteous One. You are responsible for the death of the Prince of life."

"Faith based in the name of Jesus healed this man known to you. [Note Peter spoke of his faith, not the man's faith.] The faith that comes through Jesus gave this man perfect health."

"I know you and the rulers were ignorant of Jesus' identity. However, God through the prophets foretold that His Christ [Messiah, Anointed One] would suffer, and God kept His promise."

Peter said if they repented and returned, these things would happen. [1] Their sins would be wiped away (verse 19). [2] The Lord would send seasons of refreshing (verse 19). [3] Jesus would return (verse 20). [4] They would have the Christ God promised Israel (verse 20). [5] The restoration of Israel would occur as promised by God through the prophets (verse 21).

Moses prophesied that God would send a prophet like Moses, and Israel should obey everything he said (see Deuteronomy 18:15,18). In fact, all the Jewish prophets spoke of "these days." This was the fulfillment of God's promise to Abraham that all families of the earth would be blessed through a descendant (see Genesis 22:18; Galatians 3:16).

"First, God resurrected His Servant and sent him to you to bless you. [Israel had the first opportunity to be saved through Jesus.] He will bless you by turning you from your evil ways" (verse 26).

"If you do not listen to the prophets and respond to Jesus, you will be destroyed" (verse 23).

Acts 4:1 states the priests, the captain of the temple guard, and the Sadducees ended Peter's sermon.

A comparison: In what ways is the sermon in Acts 3 similar to the sermon in Acts 2? In what ways are the two sermons different?

Considering the audience and the miracle, what evidences did Peter use to focus attention on the origin of the miracle?

Note the sermon appealed for the audience to understand the significance of Jesus. The identity and significance of Jesus was the central point of the sermon. God glorified Jesus. They had rejected Jesus. Jesus was the Holy and Righteous One. Jesus was the Prince [Author] of life. Jesus strengthened the man who had been lame. Jesus was the fulfillment of God's promises to Israel. Jesus was the prophet like Moses that they must obey. Jesus was the descendant of Abraham that would bring a blessing to all families of the earth. God resurrected Jesus to bless them and turn them from their evil ways.

Link to Teacher's Guide Quarter 2, Lesson 6

Copyright © 2001
David Chadwell & West-Ark Church of Christ

previous lesson | table of contents | next lesson