Were going up for went up together, A.V. and T.R. Peter and John. The close friendship of these two apostles is remarkable. The origin of it appears to have been their partnership in the fishing-boats in which they pursued their trade as fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. For St. Luke tells us that the sons of Zebedee were "partners with Simon," and helped him to take the miraculous draught of fishes (Luke 5:10). We find the two sons of Zebedee associated with Peter in the inner circle of the Lord's apostles, at the Transfiguration, at the raising of Jairus's daughter, and at the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane. But the yet closer friendship of Peter and John first appears in their going together to the palace of Caiaphas on the night of the betrayal (John 18:15), and then in the memorable visit to the holy sepulcher on the morning of the Resurrection (John 20:2-4), and yet again in John 21:7, John 21:20, John 21:21. It is in strict and natural sequence to these indications in the Gospel that, on opening the first chapters of the Acts, we find Peter and John constantly acting together in the very van of the Christian army (see Acts 3:1, Acts 3:3,Acts 3:11; Acts 4:13,Acts 4:19; Acts 8:14, Acts 8:25). The hour of prayer; called in Luke 1:10, "the hour of incense," that is, the hour of the evening sacrifice, when the people stood outside in prayer, while the priest within offered the sacrifice and burnt the incense (see Acts 2:46, note). Hence the comparison in Psalms 141:2, "Let my prayer be set before thee as incense, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice."
That was lame for lame, A.V.; door for gate, A.V. Door. If any distinction is intended between the θύρα here and the πύλη of Acts 3:10 (which is not certain, as θύρα is often used for a gate), we must understand θύρα of the double doors of the gate described by Josephus. Perhaps the lame man leant against one of the open doors. Which is called Beautiful. It is not certain what gate this was. In the 'Dictionary of the Bible' it is described as "the great eastern gate leading from the court of the women to the upper court," following apparently Josephus, 'De Bell. Jud.,' 5. 5. 3. But it is impossible to reconcile Josephus's two accounts—that in the 'Bell. Jud.,' 5. 5. and that in 'Ant. Jud.,' 15. 11. In the former he says distinctly that there were ten gates—four on the north, four on the south, and two on the east. In the latter he says there were three gates on the north, three on the south, and one on the east. In the former he says that fifteen steps led up from the women's enclosure to the great gate, exactly opposite the gate of the temple itself ( ἄντικρυ τῆς τοῦ ναοῦ πυλῆς); in the latter he says very distinctly that women were allowed to enter through the great gate on the east. With such discrepancies in the description of the only eye-witness whose evidence has been preserved, it is impossible to speak with certainly. But it seems probable that there were two gates on the east—one the beautiful and costly gate of Corinthian brass, elaborately described by Josephus, through which the women did pass; the other the greater gate, just opposite to and above the beautiful gate ( ἡ ὑπὲρ τὴν κορινθίαν), leading from the court of the women to the inner court; and that Josephus has confounded one with the other in his descriptions. Anyhow, the beautiful gate was probably on the east. Its correct name is said to be the gate of Nicanor. The temple. It must be remembered that the whole platform, including the porches, and the courts of the Gentiles and of the women, and the outer court and the court of the priests, was called τὸ ἱερόν; the actual house was called ὁ ναός; that part of the ἱερόν to which only Israelites were admitted, was called τὸ ἅγιον. Josephus also divides the precincts into the first, second, and third ἱερόν. The description of this lame man laid at the gate of the temple to ask alms is very similar to that in Luke 16:20 of Lazarus laid at the rich man's gate; only that the word for laid is in St. Luke ἐπέβλητο, and here is ἐτίθουν.
To receive an alms for an alms, A.V. and T.R. The R.T. has ἐλεημοσύνην λαβεῖν.
Fastening his eyes ( ἀτενίσας εἰς αὐτόν). Comp. Luke 4:20, "The eyes of all were fastened upon him ( ἤσαν ἀτένιζοντες);" and Acts 22:1-30 :56, "looking steadfastly." St. Luke also uses the phrase in Acts 1:10; Acts 3:12; Acts 6:15; Acts 7:55; but it is found nowhere else in the New Testament except 2 Corinthians 3:7, 2 Corinthians 3:13.
From for of, A.V.
But for then, A.V.; what I have that for such as I have, A.V.; walk for rise up and walk, A.V. and T.R. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. What Peter meant by "in the Name," he clearly explains in Acts 3:12 and Acts 3:16, where he shows that they did not work the miracle by their own power or godliness, but that the lame man was healed by the Name of Jesus, in which he believed. So our Lord said of himself, "I am come in my Father's Name" (John 5:43; comp. John 10:25) Observe the full designation of our Lord as "Jesus Christ of Nazareth" ( τοῦ ναζωραίου), as in Acts 4:10, and comp. Matthew 11:23. The faith which was the condition of the healing ( ἐπὶ τῇ πίστει, Matthew 11:16) embraced the humiliation and cross of the Christ (as expressed in the word the Nazarene) as well as his power and glory.
Raised for lifted, A.V.; his ankle-bones for ancle bones, A.V. St. Luke's medical knowledge discerns the cause of the lameness—a weakness in the anklebones.
And leaping up, he stood, and began to walk, for and he, leaping up, stood and walked, A.V.; he entered for entered, A.V. Into the temple ( τὸ ἱερόν). He passed through the gate, and mounted the fifteen steps which led into the ἄγιον (see note to Acts 3:2).
Took knowledge of him for knew, A.V. Wonder and amazement ( θάμβος); any very strong emotion of awe, or admiration, or astonishment. It occurs elsewhere only in Luke 4:36, where it describes the awe and amazement which came upon those who witnessed the casting out of the unclean spirit from the man in the synagogue at Capernaum. The verb θαμβέω occurs in Acts 9:6 in the T.R., and is rendered "astonished" in the A.V., but is omitted in the text of the R.V.; elsewhere only in Mark 1:27; Mark 10:24, Mark 10:32. ἕκθαμβος occurs once in Mark 10:11 of this chapter; and ἐκθαμβέομαι in Mark 9:15; Mark 14:33; Mark 16:5, Mark 16:6; ἔκστασις, an ecstasy, mostly used of a state of transport, as Acts 10:10; Acts 11:5; Acts 22:17. But in the LXX. (Genesis 27:33), Mark 5:42; Mark 16:8; and Luke 5:26, it is used, as here, for a violent emotion of astonishment and amazement.
He for the lame man which was healed, A.V. and T.R. The words of the T.R. are thought to have crept into the text from the portions read in church beginning here, which made it necessary to supply them. Held; by the hand or otherwise; not have to in the spiritual sense. The porch that is called Solomon's. Josephus tells us that King Solomon built up with masonry only the eastern side of the temple enclosure, and that upon the artificial foundation thus formed one στοά, or covered colonnade, was built, the other sides of the temple in Solomon's time being naked and bare of buildings, but that in process of time, and by an enormous expenditure of treasure, the ground was filled up, leveled, and made firm by the masonry of huge walls all round, and then the circuit of buildings was completed. This eastern στοά, or colonnade, was called Solomon's porch (see John 10:23). Greatly wondering; ἔκθαμβοι, (see note on Acts 3:10).
At this man for at this, A.V.; fasten ye your eyes for look ye so earnestly, A.V.; godliness for holiness, A.V.; him for this man, A.V. The him at the end of the verse requires that the man should have been previously mentioned. The A.V. felt this, and so, having taken ἐπὶ τούτῳ as at this, they rendered αὐτόν by this man, as if Peter had supplied the want of the verbal mention by pointing to him. Fasten ye your eyes. (For the use of ἀτενίζειν, see note on Acts 3:4.)
Servant for Son, A.V.; before the face for in the presence, A.V.; had for was, A.V.; release him for let him go, A.V. The God of Abraham, etc. The continuity of the New Testament with the Old Testament stands out remarkably in St. Peter's address. He speaks to the "men of Israel," and he connects the present miracle with all that God had (lone to their fathers in days gone by. He does not seem conscious of any break or transition, or of any change of posture or position. Only a new incident, long since promised by the prophets, has been added. "tie thrusts himself upon the fathers of old, lest he should appear to be introducing a new doctrine" (Chrysostom). God … hath glorified his Servant Jesus. Servant is manifestly right (so St. Chrysostom). It is the constant meaning of παῖς in the LXX.; son is always υἱός (see Acts 3:26; Acts 4:27, Acts 4:30). In Matthew 12:18 the A.V. has "servant." (For the Old Testament usage, see Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 52:13; Isaiah 53:11). Delivered up; παρεδώκατε, different from the ἔκδοτον of Acts 2:23 (where see note). The word is applied to the action of Judas in delivering up Jesus into the hands of the chief priests (John 19:11), and to the action of Pilate in sending Jesus to execution (Luke 23:1-56. 25; John 19:16). Here it is spoken of the whole action of the Jews in procuring the death of Jesus. Denied before the face of Pilate. The reference is exact to Luke 23:1-56. 13-23. To release him. There is a verbal agreement with Luke 23:1-56. 16, 17, 20.
Holy and righteous One for Holy One and the Just, A.V.; asked for for desired, A.V.
Raised for bath raised, A.V. The Prince of life; a remarkable title here given to our Lord, to bring out the contrast between him whom they preferred and him whom they rejected. Barabbas was a murderer, one who took away human life for his own base ends; the other was the Prince and Author of life, who was come into the world, not to destroy men's lives, but to save them. This title, taken in connection with the preceding declaration, "God hath glorified his Servant Jesus," seems almost to be a reminiscence of our Savior's prayer," Father,… glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: as thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him" (John 17:1, John 17:2). Jesus himself in very many places dwells upon his own great prerogative of giving life: "I am come that they might have life, and.., have it more abundantly" (John 10:10); "I am that Bread of life;" "I am the living Bread … if any man cat of this bread, he shall live for ever;" "I give … my flesh for the life of the world;" "Ye will not come unto me that ye might have life;" "They that hear shall live;" "As the Father hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself;" "The Son of man be lifted up: that whosoever believeth in him should … have eternal life;" "The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life." The word ἀρχηγός applied to Christ is found also in Acts 5:31, and in Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 12:2, rendered the "Author or Captain of their salvation," "of our faith." Whereof we are witnesses (see Acts 2:22, note). The marginal rendering of whom is equally literal, and may be defended by reference to Acts 1:8; Acts 13:31; but the rendering whereof is in accordance with the more frequent phrases (Acts 5:32; Acts 10:39, etc.). The meaning is practically the same.
By faith in his Name hath this for his Name through.faith in his Name, A.V.: the order of the words is changed from that of the A.V., to bring it into accordance with the order of the Greek, but with a great loss of force in English; behold for see, A.V.; through for by, A.V. Yea, the faith; rather, and the faith. The two propositions are not the same. The first affirms that it is the Name of Jesus which has given him strength, objectively; the second that the faith (subjective) which is through or by him hath given him perfect soundness. There is some obscurity in the exact meaning of ἡ πίστις ἡ δι αὐτοῦ. Some (see Alford, 1.1) compare 1 Peter 1:21, and make God the object of the faith of his witnesses, Peter and John. Others (Meyer) understand that the faith in the Name of Christ was wrought in Peter and John by or through Christ's ministry and resurrection. But it is much more consonant with other passages (Acts 14:9; Acts 16:31, etc.; Matthew, Matthew 15:28, etc.) to understand the faith to be that of the man who was healed; and then the phrase, "which is through him," will denote naturally that it was through Jesus Christ that the man's faith brought him into contact, so to speak, with God who healed him. In the same spirit we read that the lame man "praised God" (verses 8, 9) for the cure effected through the Name of Jesus Christ; and Peter says (verse 15), "Whom God raised from the dead." The interpretation of the phrase ἡ δι αὐτοῦ depends upon whether we supply an active or a passive word. The faith which acts, or works, or moves through him is one way of understanding it; the faith which is wrought or produced through him is the other. The first is preferable. This perfect soundness; pointing to what they saw with their own eyes while the man was leaping and dancing before them ( ὁλοκληρία, perfect soundness, used only here in the New Testament; it is a medical term).
In for through, A.V. I wot that in ignorance, etc. Mark the inimitable skill and tenderness with which he who had just wounded by his sharp rebuke now binds up the wound. All sternness and uncompromising severity before, he is all gentleness and indulgence now. They were only "men of Israel" in verse 12, now they are "brethren." He has an excuse for their grievous sin. They did it in ignorance (comp. Luke 23:1-56. 33; 1 Timothy 1:13). Only let them see their error and repent of what they had done, and their forgiveness was sure.
The things for those things, A.V.; foreshowed or before had showed, A.V.; the prophets for his prophets, A.V. and T.R.; his Christ for Christ, A.V. and T.R.; he thus fulfilled for he hath so fulfilled, A.V. He even excuses their ignorance by showing how the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God was brought about through it (comp. Gem 45:5, and see above, Acts 1:23).
Turn again for be converted, A.V., with no difference in sense; that so there may come seasons of refreshing for when the times of refreshing shall come, A.V. Turn again. The turning to God is the consequence of the change of mind ( μετάνοια). That so there may come; rightly for the A.V. "when," etc., which the Greek cannot mean. What Peter conceives is that if Israel turns to God at once in the faith of the Lord Jesus Christ, then there will come at once those times of refreshing, those blessed days of righteousness, and peace, and rest, and universal joy, which are the characteristics of Christ's kingdom as foretold by the prophets. Those days are delayed by the unbelief of Israel. Seasons of refreshing. The A.V." times of refreshing" is manifestly right, though there is no article in the Greek. "Seasons of refreshing" seems very vague and vapid (see Alford, Acts 1:1, who very appropriately and conclusively cites the phrase καιροὶ ἐθνών, "the times of the Gentiles''(Luke 21:24). Meyer also compares the παράκλησιν τοῦ ἰσραήλ of Luke 2:25, and so in Luke 2:21, χρόνων ἀποκαταστάσεως is rendered "the times of restoration."
And that he may send the Christ … even Jesus for and he shall send Jesus Christ, A.V.; who hath been appointed ( προκεχειρισμένον, Acts 22:14; Acts 26:16) for you for ( προκεκηρυγμένον) which before was preached unto you, A.V. and T.R. Who hath been appointed, etc. Jesus is already designated and appointed and made (Acts 2:36) both Lord and Christ, but his glorious presence with his Church is deferred for a time, during which he is in heaven (Acts 3:21). Tim R.V. is surely very infelicitous here, as if there were several Christs, one of whom was appointed for Israel.
Restoration for restitution, A.V.; whereof for which, A.V.; spake for hath spoken, A.V.; his for all his, A.V. and T.R. Whom the heaven must receive. This is clearly right, not as some render it, who must occupy heaven. The aorist δέξασθαι seems to point to the moment when, at the Ascension, he was carried up into heaven (Luke 24:51). The restoration of all things ( ἀποκαταστάσεως πάντων). This must be the same operation as our Lord speaks of in Matthew 17:11 : "Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things ( ἀποκαταστήσει πάντα);" and from the words of Malachi (Malachi 4:5, Malachi 4:6) it would seem to be a moral or spiritual restoration preparatory to the coming of the Lord. If so, the time of restoration is not exactly synchronous with the times of refreshing, but preparatory to them; preparatory, too, to that restoration of the kingdom to Israel of which the apostles spake to the Lord (Acts 1:6). Probably, however, St. Peter includes in his view the immediately following times of" the presence of the Lord," just as in St. Mark (Mark 1:1) the preparatory mission of John the Baptist is included in the phrase, "The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ." Whereof God spake. The antecedent to "whereof" is "the times" (verse 24).
Moses indeed said for Moses truly said unto the fathers, A.V. and T.R.; the Lord God for the Lord your God, A.V. and T.R.; from among for of, A.V.; to him shall ye hearken for him shall ye hear, A V.; speak for say, A.V. Moses indeed said. Peter now verifies his assertion about the prophets in the previous verse by quoting from Moses, and referring to Samuel and those that came after. A prophet, etc. The quotation is from Deuteronomy 18:15-18. That this was understood by the Jews to relate to some one great prophet who had not yet come, appears from the question "Art thou that prophet?" (John 1:21), and from the saying of the Jews after the miracle of the loaves and fishes, "This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world" (John 6:14; John 7:40). St. Peter here teaches that that prophet was none other than Christ himself, who was like unto Moses in the fullness of the revelation given unto him, in his being a Mediator between God and the people, in being the Author of a new law—the law of faith and love, in building a new tabernacle for God to inhabit, even the Church in which he will dwell for ever and ever (see Hebrews 1:1, Hebrews 1:2).
Shall be for come to pass, A.V.; shall not hearken to for will not hear, A.V.; utterly destroyed for destroyed, A.V. Utterly destroyed. The Greek ἐξολοθρεύω occurs frequently in the LXX. for the Hebrew phrase," cut off from his people" (Genesis 17:14); but in Deuteronomy 18:19, the phrase is quite different, "I will require it of him." St. Peter hero gives the sense, not the ipsissima verba, and thereby marks the extreme gravity of the sin of unbelief (see John 3:18).
Them that followed for those that follow, A.V.: they also told for have likewise foretold, A.V. From Samuel, etc. Samuel and οἱ καθεξῆς seems to denote what the Jews called "the former prophets"—the authors of the historical books. The whole phrase, therefore, comprehends "all the prophets" (of whom Samuel and οἱ καθεξῆς were the first), to whose testimony concerning himself our Lord appeals (Luke 24:27, Luke 24:44).
Sons for children, A.V.; your for our, A.V. and T.R.; families for kindreds, A.V. Ye are the sons of the prophets, meaning that they inherited all the promises made by the prophets to their fathers. Just as in Acts 2:39 he said, "The promise is unto you and to your children" (comp. Romans 9:4; Romans 15:8). He thus enforces the solemn obligation of giving heed to what the prophets had said concerning Christ and his kingdom. In thy seed (see Galatians 3:16). This covenant, into which God entered with Abraham, with an oath (Genesis 22:16, Genesis 22:18), and which was a repetition and amplification of the covenant and promise already recorded in Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 15:1-21.; Genesis 17:1-8, was made πρὸς τοὺς πατέρας, with a view to, in the direction of, the fathers, so as to include them and their children after them. It was now fulfilled to those whom St. Peter was addressing, as is set forth in the next verse.
Servant for Son Jesus, A.V. and T.R.; your for his, A.V. Unto you first. In virtue of the covenant, the first offer of salvation was made to the Jews (see Acts 1:8; Acts 13:26, Acts 13:46; Luke 24:47; Romans 2:10, etc.; comp. Matthew 15:24). His Servant (as in Acts 3:13). As regards the phrase, "having raised up," however natural it is at first sight to understand it of the raising from the dead, the tenses make it impossible to do so. Nor could it be said that God sent Jesus to bless them after his resurrection. We must, therefore, understand ἀναστήσας as to be equivalent to ἐξαγείρας, and to mean "having appointed," set up, raised up (as the English word is used, Luke 1:69; Romans 9:17). In this sense God raised up his Servant by the incarnation, birth, anointing, and mission to be the Savior. To bless you; to fulfill to you the blessing promised to Abraham's seed. In turning away, etc., deliverance from sin being the chief blessing which Christ bestows upon his people (so Acts 5:31, repentance is spoken of as Christ's great gift to Israel). So closed the second great apostolic sermon.
The unexpected gift.
In one of those rapturous passages in which St. Paul tries to make human language express adequate thoughts of God, he speaks of God as "able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think" (Ephesians 3:20). In saying so he does but mark, in one aspect, the distance between the finite and the infinite, and show how far the bounty of the infinite Giver outruns the desires of those who receive his gifts. The whole revelation of God's dealings with mankind is a continual illustration of this truth. How could it ever have entered into the mind of Abram to ask to be made the father of many nations, to be the father of the faithful in all ages and in all countries, to be the head of God's elect people, and to have his life and his words and his deeds handed down to the posterities through endless time? How could it ever have entered into the mind of Israel in Egypt to ask to be led dry-shod through the Red Sea, to be fed in the wilderness with bread from heaven, to receive the Law from Sinai, and to be put into possession of the land of Canaan? Or how could it ever have entered into the thoughts of a rebellious and fallen world to ask that the only begotten Son of God, their Maker and Lord, should be incarnate and expiate their guilt by dying for their sins upon the cross? The section before us supplies another instance of this exceeding grace of God. A poor cripple, lame from his mother's womb, had for upwards of forty years lived in hopeless and helpless infirmity. In the merry days of youth, while his companions and equals in years were sporting and gamboling in all the freeness of joyous spirits and supple, elastic limbs, he was bound down to his pallet, like a bird confined in a cage, or a dog chained in his kennel. In early manhood, while others went forth to their work and to their labor, earning their daily bread by honorable industry, he was reduced to be a mendicant, living in constrained inactivity upon the precarious bounty of others.
And so it was at the present time. Every day he was carried by some kind hands and laid at the Beautiful gate of the temple, in the hope that those who passed to and fro to the house of God would look with pity upon his misery and minister to his wants. They must have been sad and dreary hours passed in expectancy and frequent disappointment; watching the countenances of the passers-by; overlooked by some, turned away from with proud contempt by others; sharply refused by this well-dressed but hardhearted Sadducee, and occasionally receiving a mite or a farthing from that ostentatious Pharisee; doubtful whether he would carry home enough to supply his daily meal and his necessary raiment. On this occasion he saw two men about to go into the temple. Perhaps their aspect awakened the hope that there were kind, loving hearts beneath their humble garb. Or, maybe, he merely uttered the usual monotonous prayer like that of the Italian beggars, "Date qualque coea per l'amor di Dio." Anyhow, we may be sure that his utmost hopes did not go beyond receiving some small coin at their bands. But when, in answer to the words from Peter's lips, "Look on us," he had looked up and probably stretched out his hands to receive the expected alms, instead thereof he heard the words, "In the Name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk." And in an instant he was whole. No longer a cripple, no longer chained down to his bed, no longer a prisoner, he sprang to his feet, he walked, he leapt, he danced for very joy, and, singing praise as he went, he entered the holy courts. Here there was an instance of God doing unto men exceeding abundantly above all that they ask or think. Here we have a type of the exceeding riches of God's grace, resulting in unlooked-for mercies to the children of men. Let us take note of it, and frame our estimate of God's character accordingly. Nothing more elevates the tone of a man's religion than a worthy conception of God's goodness. It stimulates his love, it kindles his adoration, it raises his hopes, it intensifies all his spiritual emotions. Low conceptions of God's nature beget a low standard of love and service. There is nothing like a true view of the infinity of the love of God, and of the unsearchable riches of his grace in Jesus Christ, to lash all the sluggish emotions of the heart into a holy and healthy enthusiasm. "Open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it," is another mode of expressing the same blessed truth; and "Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift," is the language of those whose experience coincides with the revelation which God has given of himself in his holy Word.
The two judgments.
"The Lord seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the Lord looketh on the heart (1 Samuel 16:7)." That which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God" (Luke 16:15). "The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner (Luke 20:17). The above passages, with many others, call our particular attention to the frequent contrariety between the judgment of men and the judgment of God. The section before us gives two striking examples of this contrariety.
I. The first is the contrariety between the judgment of the men of Israel as to the cause of the healing of the lame man, and the truth as declared by the apostles. The men of Israel thought that Peter and John had healed him by their own power or holiness. Their blind, carnal mind could not see beyond what lay just before them. They mistook the instrument for the cause. They could not see the power of Jesus Christ in heaven working through the hands of his servants on earth. And this is a type of a widely extended human error or false judgment. In the judgment of carnal men, however sharp their intellectual sight may be, everything is material, and the visible matter has no invisible spirit behind it. Famines, pestilences, earthquakes, are in their view natural phenomona with which the hand of God has nothing to do. Success or defeat in war, prosperity or adversity to the individual or the nation, are owing exclusively to the wisdom and prowess of men, not to the blessing or chastening of God. And it is even so in the Church. They see only the outward visible signs, and they ignore the inward spiritual grace. Holy baptism is a sign, a ceremony, a rite. It has, maybe, a certain significance, a certain admonitory or teaching power in their eyes, but they ignore the active, quickening energy of the Holy Spirit in the sacrament. The bread and wine in the Lord's Supper are emblems, symbols, tokens, but they apprehend not the body and blood of Jesus Christ "which are verily and indeed taken and received by the faithful" at the Lord's table. Sermons, if eloquent, able, and stirring, are things of natural power in their estimation, but they do not take into account the effectual working of the Holy Ghost accompanying the Word preached, and making it the power of God unto salvation. And so it is throughout, both in the world and in the Church. The carnal judgment of men takes into account only the natural and the material; those who have the mind and judgment of Christ recognize the supernatural and spiritual agency of God.
II. The other example furnished by this section of the contrariety between the judgment of man and the judgment of God is that which is so pointedly put by St. Luke, both here and in his Gospel: the preference given by the Jews to Barabbas over Jesus Christ. "Ye denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted unto you, and killed the Prince of life; whom God raised from the dead." Here, then, we have the Lord Jesus, the well-beloved Son of God; in whom he was well pleased; who always did those things that pleased him; to whom he said, "Sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool;" whom God exalted far above all rule, and authority, and power, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come; to whom he has given "a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow … and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father." That was the judgment of God. Now let us see the judgment of men concerning this same Jesus. He was in the world, in all the simplicity of his spotless righteousness, in all the dignity of his sinless humanity, in the majesty of the Son of God; the fullness of wisdom, of love, and of pure goodness beamed forth in his every word and work, but "he was despised and rejected of men." He was reviled as a blasphemer, as one that had a devil, as a gluttonous man and a winebibber, as a friend of sinners, as a seditious, turbulent man, as one that was not worthy to live. So he was brought before the judges of the earth, accused, arraigned as a criminal; smitten, buffeted, scourged, spit upon, condemned; led forth to execution, numbered with the transgressors, nailed to the cross, left to die amidst the jeers and taunts of his murderers. And when Pilate himself offered to release him, the offer was met with the cry, "Not this man, but Barabbas;" and Barabbas was a robber. That was the judgment of man. And have we not here a type of the frequent contrariety between the judgment of men and the judgment of God? The things, the persons, the characters, that God approves, find no favor with a corrupt and perverse world; the things, the persons, the sentiments, that God disapproves, receive the praise of men. The opinions of the day, the voice of the multitude, the prevailing tone of thought amongst men, are no safe criterion of worth and truth. We must ever remember that there are two judgments, the judgment of man and the judgment of God, and that these are often diverse the one from the other. It should be our constant prayer that God's Holy Spirit may give us "a right judgment in all things;" so that, on the various questions of interest which engage the thoughts of our own generation, we may be found in harmony, not with the conceits of men, but with the all-seeing mind of God.
HOMILIES BY W. CLARKSON
Helplessness and healing.
In this interesting incident we have an illustration of the urgent spiritual necessities of our race, and of the sufficiency of the gospel to meet them. We have—
I. A GREAT AND SAD CONTRAST. They brought daily to the Beautiful gate of the temple a lame beggar, who asked alms of all that entered (Acts 3:2, Acts 3:3). What a striking contrast is here!—the large, strong, handsome gate, wrought by the most skilful workmen, intended to add beauty and attractiveness to the magnificent temple, an object of keen, universal admiration; and, laid down at the foot of it, a poor, ill-clad, deformed, helpless beggar, fain to find a miserable existence by asking the pity of all that passed through. Such contrasts has sin introduced into this world. If we look on this whole fabric of nature as a temple in which God manifests his presence, and on our earth, with all its loveliness and grandeur, as one of its beautiful gates, then we see, in strongest and saddest contrast with it, stricken, helpless, deformed human nature—man brought down to the very ground, unable to sustain himself, the pitiful object of compassion: we behold the fair workmanship of God with all its exquisite beauty, and we see sinning, erring, suffering, fallen man by its side.
II. A PICTURE OF SIN IN ITS STRENGTH. What more forcible illustration of this can he found than in a man lame from his birth (Acts 3:2)? One born to the heritage of mankind, viz. that of voluntary, happy activity; of walking, running, moving, whithersoever he would, with free power of motion, in all acts of duty, pleasure, affection;—this man doomed to utter helplessness, his deformity or disease becoming more rigid and incurable as the months and years pass by! What a picture, this, of our human spirit, created to enjoy the heritage of a holy intelligence, viz. that of free and happy activity in all the ways of righteousness, piety, usefulness; of moving joyously along all the paths in which God invites his children to walk; yet, from the very beginning, being utterly unable to walk in the way of his commandments, to run in the paths of wisdom and of peace, incapable of doing that for which it was called into being, and becoming more rigidly and hopelessly fixed in its spiritual incapacity year by year.
III. THE INTERVENTION OF THE GOSPEL OF GOD.
1. It demands attention. "Peter … with John, said, Look on us" (verse 4). The gospel of Christ has a right to make this same appeal to all men. No seeking, struggling soul has a right to be regardless of its offers. The beneficent and mighty works of Jesus Christ; the profound spiritual truths he uttered; the beautiful and exalted life he lived; the strange and wondrous death he died; the message of love he left behind him; the adaptation, proved by eighteen centuries of human history, of his system to the deepest wants of human nature;—all these conspire to give to the gospel of God the right to demand attention—to say, "Look on me;" see whether there is not in me the help and healing which you need.
2. It disclaims certain offices. "Silver and gold have I none," etc. (verse 6). The gospel does not offer to do everything for man which it may be desirable should, in some way, be done. It does not propose
3. It offers one essential service. "In the Name of Jesus Christ rise up and walk" (verse 6). It says to the stricken, wounded soul, "Wilt thou be made whole?" To the soul burdened with a sense of sin, it offers pardoning love and spiritual peace; to the heart oppressed with care and fear, it offers a Divine refuge in which to hide; to the soul struggling with temptation, an almighty Friend; to the weary traveler, a home of rest and joy. Whatever is the one imperative thing, that the gospel of Christ presents; but its offer is inward, spiritual, heavenly.
IV. THE BLESSED ISSUE. (Verses 7-10.) This was:
1. Healing to him that had been helpless.
2. Gratitude showing itself in praise.
3. Interested attention on the part of those outside: "They were filled with wonder and amazement;" they were in a state most favorable for the reception of the truth. When we make an appeal to Christ, we are not to be satisfied until we have found spiritual recovery; until our souls are filled with the spirit of thanksgiving; until our restoration has told upon our neighbors as well as on ourselves.—C.
The human and the Divine.
Human and Divine elements are here crowded together, as indeed they are in most if not all of the events of our life. We look at—
I. THE HUMAN ELEMENT,
1. Excitement. The man who had been lame, in the excitement of joy and gratitude, "held Peter and John" (verse 11), and "all the people ran together … greatly wondering" (verse 11). In the region of the Divine is calmness, serenity, peace; in that of the human is agitation, disturbance, excitement.
2. Instrumentality. (Verse 12.) We do not effect anything of ourselves; we are co-workers with God. We depend on his Divine assistance, on the co-operation of forces that are acting around and within us, in virtue of his energizing power, for the accomplishment of our humblest undertakings. How much more emphatically is this the case in the sphere of sacred usefulness, in the communication of spiritual life! There should be, there must be, as in the case of Peter and John, fitness for the work and obedience to the word and will of Christ; but after all it is not "our own power or holiness" that "makes any man to walk" in the ways of God.
3. Guilt, qualified by ignorance. Peter charges his hearers with positive and terrible crime (verses 13-15); he does, indeed, make the abatement which is due to ignorance (verse 17): they did not "kill the Prince of life," knowing that it was he whom they were crucifying. But they remained in guilty ignorance of his origin, his character, and his mission; and their ignorance, if it palliated, did not excuse their crime. We also often "know not what we do" when we wrong the innocent, when we sin against ourselves, when we rob God of the glory due to his Name. Our ignorance is not left out of the account by the Holy and the Just One; nevertheless he adjudges us to be verily guilty, and he condemns us.
4. Penitence. (Verse 19.) We are to be changed in our mind, and be converted or turned from our evil ways to those which are right, pure, godly.
5. Faith. (Verse 16.) Peter says that "faith in the Name" of Jesus Christ had given the lame man that "perfect soundness" which they all beheld. He does not say, or is not reported as saying, that these "men of Israel" must believe in him whom they had guiltily slain, but that was either implied or expressed in his address to them. "Repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ," is the testimony borne by apostles "both to the Jews, and also to the Greeks" (Acts 20:21).
II. THE DIVINE ELEMENT.
1. Overruling wisdom. (Verse 18.) What God had shown beforehand needed to be done, he had, in the ordering of his holy providence, caused to take place. Through all these things which happened at Jerusalem, in which the hand of man had so large a share, there ran a thread of Divine agency; so that purposes of heavenly love and wisdom were after all fulfilled. He still "makes the wrath of man to praise him."
2. Glorifying the Just and Holy One. (Verses 13, 15.) God is bringing many sons unto glory, as well as the "Captain of our salvation." He will ensure the ultimate acquittal and honoring of those who are reviled and wronged. "Unto the upright there ariseth light in the darkness."
3. Restoration. (Verses 12, 19-21.) It was the Divine hand, and no human magic, which healed this lame beggar (verse 12) It is the hand of God which gives such blessed recuperative power to our bodily system, and which raises the sick man from the bed of suffering, weakness, acute disease, to newness of physical life. It is God who grants to the condemned but penitent spirit restoration to his loving favor, and it is he who will one day grant to a renovated world "times of refreshing," the reappearance of Jesus Christ in his heavenly power and glory (verses 20, 21). There is a sense in which
The greatness of Jesus Christ.
These verses may be regarded as attesting the unapproachable greatness of the Lord Jesus Christ; they invite us to think—
I. THAT HE WAS LIKE UNTO THE GREATEST OF ALL WHO PRECEDED HIM, BUT WAS GREATER THAN HE. (Acts 3:22.) A greater Legislator than Moses, for his laws should last as long as time itself; a better Man, for he was absolutely without sin; a worthier Leader, conducting out of a harder bondage into a truer freedom, unto a land of greater promise.
II. THAT HIS RELATION TO MANKIND IS SUCH THAT THE REFLECTION OF HIM IS THE RUIN OF OURSELVES. (Acts 3:23.) To be ignorant of some human teachers is to lose a valuable heritage, a precious treasure, excellent and elevating enjoyment; but to refuse his friendship, to reject his service, is to cut ourselves off from the source of eternal truth, is to abandon ourselves to the course which ends in spiritual death.
III. THAT HE IS THE ONE GREAT HERO OF SACRED SCRIPTURE. (For. 24.) "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." Rightly read, "all the prophets" testified of him, and pointed on to those days in which he lived, suffered, died, and rose again.
IV. THAT HE BLESSES WHOM HE SERVES WITH THE SUPREME BLESSING. (Acts 3:26.) What would we give to those whom we would fain serve? Health, fortune, power, fame, human love? Jesus Christ blesses by "turning away every one from his iniquities." What a transcendent blessing is this! Consider:
1. How much it involves; viz. the removal of the penalty and the power of sin from each individual soul.
2. How much it implies; viz. the restoration of each soul to God (for to fear him, to love him, and to strive to please him, is t