Study Questions and Notes
The New Covenant has been put into effect (Luke 22:20, Matthew 26:28). The disciples have been gathering, fellowshipping and breaking bread together in homes. The curtain has been torn giving them direct access to God (Matthew 27:51).
Why were the Apostles still going to the temple (v. 1)? Peter and John were not going to the temple at the hour of sacrifice, but at the hour of prayer that followed the afternoon sacrifice. They realized that the sacrificial system was fulfilled in the perfect sacrifice Jesus offered on the cross. They were going to pray and worship, not to offer sacrifices. The Temple was their comfort zone. The tearing of the temple curtain when Jesus died symbolized the termination of the old Mosaic order and the beginning of a new order—a great transitional period in Jewish history. It took several decades for God’s people to make the break with Judaism in their thinking and practice.
What do we know about the crippled beggar (v. 2)? The beggar was placed at the Temple gate every day. The lame man had been in his condition for over forty years (4:22). Furthermore, he had to be carried by others. He was totally helpless. His was a “hopeless case.” In the East, it was the custom for beggars to sit begging at the entrance to a temple or a shrine. Such a place was, and still is, considered the best of all stances because, when people are on their way to worship God, they are disposed to be generous to their fellow men.
Peter and John probably went up to the Temple every day to pray. Their paths had probably crossed the beggar’s path many times before. Yet this time was different—they noticed him, they had a meaningful encounter. Why now? They were now being led by the indwelling Holy Spirit. Plus, it was a function of God’s timing—this time they noticed him!
This is the first of fourteen miracles in Acts, the very first one done by the apostles following the ascension of Jesus. The timing of the encounter was determined by God. The audience was selected by God. This was not a private miracle. The sovereignty of God is clearly in view here.
What was the impact of the miracle on the people (vv. 9-11)? They were amazed, astonished, filled with wonder.
Was the faith of the beggar a factor? Was it a prerequisite for healing? No. Of the thirty-five miracles recorded in the Gospel accounts, the faith of the recipient is exercised in only ten of the accounts. There is no cause and effect relationship between faith and miracles.
How did the beggar respond to being healed (v. 8)? Note that the beggar praised God not Peter. What purposes did the healing serve? The miracle created wonder and respect. Miracles are designed ultimately to glorify God.
Why was it important for the apostles to be able to do miracles? To validate that they were men sent from God. To authenticate them and their message. Performing miracles linked them with Jesus; they were able to do the same things Jesus did. To convince the skeptics in the crowd. To establish credibility with the Jewish audience.
Why did the people respond as they did (v. 10)? This was the first miracle done by the apostles. The memory of Jesus doing miracles was fresh in their minds. They now see the same thing happening and they are excited.
Does God do miracles like this today? He does greater miracles today! The greatest miracle of all is “Christ in us”—the regeneration of a fallen heart, the transformation of a human mind, the creation of a spiritually healed person. This is a miracle with eternal implications.
Application: Who are the beggars in your life? Who are the needy? The people we pass by every day and don’t notice? Ask God to place some “beggars” in your path so you may give away what you have been given. We just improve someone’s circumstances in the giving of money. But if we speak of the love of Christ while doing so, changed lives can result. Sharing the gospel is nothing more than “one beggar telling another beggar where to find food.”
How would you characterize Peter’s message in vv. 12-26? Peter’s confrontational message is the same bad news/good news message that we saw in chapter 2. The bad news is that they killed the Messiah. The good news is that there is hope for them—and that hope is offered by the very one they rejected and killed. How do they get that hope? By repenting so their sins may be forgiven (v. 19) and turning to God. Most noteworthy among their sins is that of rejecting and crucifying the Messiah.
What did Peter charge these Jews with (vv. 13-15)? Peter charged these Jews with four things: First, handing Jesus over to be killed. He then pointed out three inconsistencies in the Jews’ treatment of Jesus and contrasted their treatment of Him with God’s. They had condemned Him when Pilate was about to release Him (v. 13). They rejected the Holy and Righteous One out of preference for a murderer, Barabbas (v. 14; Luke 23:18-19). Furthermore, they executed the Author of Life whom God raised from the dead, of which the apostles were witnesses (v. 15).
Who gets the credit? To whom did Peter attribute the power for healing (v. 16)? Jesus. Peter wanted to make sure the people understood that neither he nor John was responsible for the healing. God glorified his Son by the healing (v. 13). It was very important for the first miracle done by the Apostles that people would understand that the healing was by the power of Jesus—the very one they crucified—and not by Peter.
What observations do you have about Peter’s comments in vv. 17-18? If Peter’s charges against his hearers were harsh (vv. 13-15), his concession that they “acted out of (in) ignorance” was tender. He meant that they did not realize the great mistake they had made. Peter undoubtedly hoped that his gentle approach would win a reversal of his hearers’ attitude.
Repentance is a repetitive theme in Peter’s sermons. In both speeches thus far, there has been a call for repentance for the crime of crucifying the Messiah. What does repentance mean? The Greek noun translated “repentance” (metanoia) literally means “after mind,” as in afterthought, or change of mind. Concerning salvation, it means to think differently about sin, oneself, and the Savior than one used to think. Peter’s hearers had thought Jesus was not the Messiah. Now they needed to change their minds and believe He is the Messiah.
What application can we gain from the model of Peter’s sermons? Focus on Jesus. It is noteworthy that in these sermons, Peter did not discuss abstract doctrines or reason about profound theological problems. He presented the person and work of Christ in simple terms.
Who was Jesus sent to first when He was raised from the dead (v. 26)? The Jews. What does that say about God? God is still chasing after the hearts of the Jews despite the way they had rejected them. He has not given up on the Jews. He sent the Messiah for them. What a relentless love! He has the same love for us.
Why does Peter repeatedly quote from the Old Testament? He is speaking to a Jewish audience, showing them that all this was prophesied and promised (v. 24). To encourage them (v. 25). To teach them. To connect the dots and show the link between their heritage and the present day. To show the fulfillment of God’s plan for Jews and all mankind.
Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®) copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. This is copyrighted material provided by Officers’ Christian Fellowship (OCF). Permission is granted for use in local groups.