Sunday, July 08, 2018

Acts 3 Explanatory Notes

For about 13 weeks now I have been studying Acts. Here are my notes and videos on the previous chapters covered:

Acts 1
Acts 2

[I am changing my format a little starting this week. I will be doing daily podcasts (Monday through Friday) on the English translation of a chapter a week of Acts. These will be available to everyone on my Patreon site. Then the equivalent videos will be available on YouTube for everyone showing the Greek from which I am translating, possibly with a little extra engagement with the Greek at the end. Finally, I will continue my deeper dive material on Saturdays for patrons only (i.e., those who donate at least $5 a month to the cause on Patreon).]

Here are some notes on Acts three, with the video links at the bottom.

B. Manifestations of the Spirit in Jerusalem (3:1-8:3)
     1. The Healing of the Lame Man (3:1-4:31)
          a. The Healing (3:1-26)

1) The Event (3:1-10)
  • Acts 3 is a consequence of the Spirit coming in Acts 2. They have spoken boldly as a result. They received the ability to speak in other languages on the Day of Pentecost. Now the power of the Spirit (cf. 1:8) that leads to witness will show itself in a miraculous sign. Such signs were understood to demonstrate the endorsement of God and entailed an implicit comparison with Jesus (cf. 2:22). Just as Jesus did signs through the power of the Spirit, now Peter and John would perform signs through the power of the Spirit.
  • 3:1. The continued use of the temple by the Jerusalem apostles seems significant. They do not preach against the temple. Acts 21:24 seems to imply that they continued to sacrifice there. In general, it seems unlikely that they as yet understood Christ's death to imply the finality of sacrifices. Christ's death probably at this point was only stood to have the power to reset the spiritual state of contemporary Israel, not to atone for the sins of the whole world as we find finally in Hebrews.
  • Notice again the significance that prayer plays in Luke's theology.
  • 3:2. Those who were unable to fend for themselves, such as this lame man, had to rely on the generosity and grace of others for their survival. This man lives off the "acts of mercy" or alms that are given to him at the temple.
  • There is some debate as to which entrance Luke has in mind by the "Beautiful Gate." Most scholars opt for the Nicanor Gate that separated the Court of Women from the Court of Israel. However, traditionally it is identified with the more outer Shushan Gate.
  • 3:3-5. The normal exchange takes place between a beggar and someone entering. Peter and John are mentioned as a unit, although Peter does all the talking. The fact that Peter speaks to him makes the lame man think they are going to give something to him.
  • 3:6. This verse has often been used as an indictment of a church that has become affluent but lacks spiritual power. A legend is especially told of an exchange between Thomas Aquinas and the Pope in the thirteenth century. The Pope remarks to Thomas that the church no longer need say it lacks silver and gold. Then Thomas responds, "But can we still say rise up and walk?"
  • 3:7-10. The man is healed, a consequence of the coming of the Spirit in Acts 2. 
  • 3:8. The response of the man is appropriately to praise God. They continue into the temple to worship.
  • 3:9-10. The people recognize him and see the sign. They are filled with wonder and amazement. 
2) The Sermon (3:11-26)
  • 3:11. As on the Day of Pentecost, the people come together to see and inquire about the powerful event that has taken place. People come "together," which seems to happen often in this part of Acts.
  • Solomon's Portico seems to be the part of the temple in which the Jesus followers will gather regularly. This was on the eastern side of the Court of the Gentiles.
  • 3:12-26. The rest of the chapter is the second sermon of Acts, also delivered by Peter.
  • 3:12-16. In the first half of the sermon, Peter explains what has happened.
  • 3:12. Peter makes it clear that they have not performed this miracle on the basis of their own power or godliness. 
  • 3:13. God has performed the miracle in order to glorify Jesus. There is a sense of the continued vindication and legitimization of Jesus by God. 
  • Peter and John are addressing Jews, and God is identified as the God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the fathers of Israel. This comment implies again the continuity of what God has done through Jesus and what he was doing with Israel in the past.
  • The use of the word pais suggests that Isaiah 53 and the suffering servant is in the background here.
  • 3:13-14. By contrast, they handed him over. They denied him, even though Pilate would have released him. They asked for a murderer instead and in effect killed Jesus (3:15).
  • 3:14. Jesus is the "holy and righteous one." Although it is not clear, Richard Hays would like to think that Romans 1:17 is thinking of Jesus as the "righteous one will live because of his faithfulness" in Habakkuk 2:4.
  • 3:15. Jesus is called the "author of life," an implication of his resurrection for Luke.
  • God raised Jesus from the dead. This is the climax of all the sermons of Acts, except for Stephen's sermon, which was ended abruptly.
  • The apostles are witnesses of the resurrection. This is in fact what an apostle is, someone who witnessed the resurrection who is sent to give witness to that event.
  • 3:16. Faith in the name of Jesus is the mechanism that has brought the power of healing to this man. The name is the source of power. Jesus' name authorizes the miracle.
  • 3:17-26. This is the second half of the sermon, in which Peter tells them how they should respond to the event.
  • 3:17. More than once in Acts, the idea is presented that God is willing to overlook the ignorance of the past, as long as the audience responds in repentance (cf. 17:30). Interestingly, Peter even suggests that the rulers of Israel even acted in ignorance.
  • 3:18. The theme that these events were all part of God's foreknowledge and plan is mentioned, a common theme in the sermons of Acts. Isaiah 53 seems to have been a key text for Acts foretelling Jesus' sufferings.
  • 3:19. Here is the course of action the crowd needs to take (cf. 2:38). They need to repent. The "you" is plural, perhaps suggesting especially a corporate repentance of Israel here. 
  • 3:20. The result will be times of refreshing will come. It is quite possible that these words are directed at Israel. If Israel will corporately repent, then God will restore the kingdom to Israel, as the disciples inquired in 1:6. 
  • Intrinsic to this refreshing is the sending of Israel's Messiah, the Christ, back from heaven. If Israel will return to God, God will send Jesus back to reign on earth and Israel will experience a time of restoration and "refreshing" (cf. Rom. 11:26-27). Unfortunately, as the book of Acts moves forward, the Jews increasingly reject the good news.
  • 3:21. The plan is for Jesus to wait in heaven at God's right hand until the appropriate time for this restoration to take place.
  • 3:22-23. Peter understands Deuteronomy 18:18-19 to be a prophecy of Jesus. (It is sometimes speculated that when the Book of the Law/Deuteronomy was discovered during the reign of Josiah in 2 Kings 22:8, this passage could have been understood to be about him.) John 6:14  and 7:14 also seem to identify Jesus with this passage (cf. John 1:21, 25). Did John know Acts?
  • Peter's version of the quote does not follow either the Hebrew or Septuagint text exactly.
  • Peter's sermon seems to connect the verses in Deuteronomy with the later reign of Jesus after he returns from heaven.
  • 3:24. Peter invokes prophecies of Jesus in the Old Testament, starting from Samuel. It is not clear whether he means Samuel's anointing of David as king or whether he means the book of Samuel. 2 Samuel 7:14 for example is taken in a spiritual sense to foreshadow Jesus in Hebrews 1:5. Most of the Scripture fulfillments in relation to Jesus are OT passages taken in a "fuller sense."
  • 3:25. As in Paul, Acts 3 sees in Genesis 12:3 a foreshadowing of the good news reaching the Gentiles. Peter perhaps foreshadows that as well in this verse. All the families of the earth will be blessed because of the covenant God made with Israel.
  • 3:26. The good news is "to the Jew first" (cf. Rom. 1:16), and Israel is first to get a chance to turn from its wickedness. God blessed them by sending his "servant" Jesus to them first. 
  • God raised Jesus, his "servant." Once again, the word for servant/son here (pais) evokes the suffering servant of Isaiah 53.
Patron videos (now public)
Videos on English of Acts 3
Acts 3:1-13
Acts 3:14-26

Videos on Greek of Acts 3
Acts 3:1-3
Acts 3:4-6
Acts 3:7-8
Acts 3:9-11
Acts 3:12-13
Acts 3:14-15
Acts 3:16-18
Acts 3:19-21
Acts 3:22-24
Acts 3:25-26

1 comment:

Martin LaBar said...

A thorough job.