Bruce, F.F. The Book of Acts Revised. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988. Kindle Electronic Edition. “Acts 2” “ I. The Birth of the Church (1:1-5:42)” “C. An Act of Healing and Its Consequences (3:1-4:31)” pp. 76-100.
Bruce notes that Acts 2:43 explained that the apostles were used to do various wonders. In chapter 3, we begin to have recorded details of some (Bruce 1988, 76). This first, at a gate of the temple, was about the time of afternoon prayer and sacrifice, which Bruce places about 3 p.m. He suggests the gate may be one leading to the Court of Women, which Josephus describs as being very elaborate. Peter’s gift to the beggar he met there was healing, provided by Jesus (Bruce 1988, 77). The man who was healed not only moved enthusiastically, but was shouting praise to God. In verse 9, the actions drew a crowd. Bruce points out that the people were accustomed to seeing the beggar. They knew he had always been lame. They also understood that he was not healed due to any skill the apostles had. They recognized this as a miraculous healing and accepted the apostles’ testimony that it was performed by Jesus (Bruce 1988, 78). This healing was accompanied by a declaration of forgiveness, as Jesus had commanded his apostles.
In verses 11-26 Peter addressed the people gathered in Solomon’s Colonnade. Bruce assigns this to after the regular afternoon prayer and sacrifice, as people left the inner parts of the temple (Bruce 1988, 80). He also observes that, though the place is called Solomon’s Colonnade, it did not exist at the time of Solomon. Peter made it clear in verse 12 that the healing was not due to any power resident in the apostles. Rather, this was the outcome of God’s glorification of Jesus. Peter then explained the humiliation, death, resurrection, and exaltation of Jesus. Peter did hold those in Jerusalem accountable for turning Jesus over to the Romans to be killed. However, the crucial issue is that they “refused to acknowledge him as [your]divinely appointed King and Savior” (Bruce 1988, 81). The rejection of Jesus as Messiah, then, was used to call the people to seek pardon from God (Bruce 1988, 82). The Messiah would give a time of refreshment and forgiveness when his people look to him in faith (Bruce 1988, 84). Bruce does emphasize that those who respond in faith are a minority. Though the number is significant, it is not the preponderance of the people of Jerusalem. Only some look to Jesus for forgiveness (Bruce 1988, 85). Verses 22 and following point out the fact that the prophets looked forward to the Christ. There was a continuous promise of one to come who would be very like Moses (Bruce 1988, 86). Bruce notes that in this speech, Peter views Jesus in terms of “Son of David,” as well as the “Servant” of God and poosibly an “Elijah” figure, a forerunner of the kingdom of God. “The various christologies were all integrated by the overriding acknowledgement of Jesus as Lord in a sense implying universal sovereignty” (Bruce 1988, 86).
At the outset of chapter 4, the priests arrested Peter and John as a result of their teaching (Bruce 1988, 89). Bruce observes the mention of the Saducees in verse 2. Since they did not accept the idea of resurrection, they would naturally have been hostile toward the apostles’ teaching. Since it was near the end of the day, Peter and John were detained overnight. Despite the efforts of the priests, a large number of people were added to the number of believers.
Peter and John were brought before the council the following morning, as recorded in verses 5 and following. Bruce suggests that the meeting location would likely be in a building just west of the temple. He also considers that not much time has passed between Pentecost and these events (Bruce 1988, 91). The controversy did not seem to have gone away with Jesus’ death. Peter testified that the man had been healed by Jesus, who was raised from the dead. Bruce notes that “[t]he apostles are technically on the defensive, but actually they have gone over to the attack” (Bruce 1988, 92). Peter describes the identity of Jesus as the Messiah and claims that he is now glorified at God’s right hand. Because he is glorified, he can bring healing and all other sorts of deliverance (Bruce 1988, 93). Although Peter and John showed no signs of training as rabbis, they spoke clearly and forcefully. This caused the Sanhedrin to take them more seriously than they might have otherwise (Bruce 1988, 94). There was no way to ignore the healing. The court conferred in chambers briefly. The court could not prohibit healing. But they did prohibit teaching. “It is particularly striking that neither on this nor on any subsequent occasion did the authorities take any serious action to disprove the apostles’ central affirmation the resurrection of Jesus (Bruce 1988, 95). Bruce concludes that the authorities did not have any means of pursuing this argument. Therefore, they dismissed the apostles and told them not to teach more in Jesus’ name (Bruce 1988, 96). Peter and John, of course, were not willing to stop teaching in the name of Jesus. They were persuaded that he was correct. The apostles then rejoined the other Christians and, in prayer, called upon God in the words of the Scripture (Bruce 1988, 98). As a result of the Sanhedrin’s action, the apostles were moved to increased boldness (Bruce 1988, 99). The apostles record a sign which increased their confidence.