Acts 3:1-4:31 – Healing the Lame Man


Acts 3:1-4:31


After Peter and John heal a man and preach in the Jerusalem temple, they come to the attention of religious authorities who admonish them not to speak of the resurrected Jesus. Peter and John return to their sisters and brothers in the faith, and they all pray for continued boldness of speech.


This long passage narrates Peter and John’s public healing of a man over 40 years old who had been lame from birth (3:2; 4:22). His healing at the temple gate marks the first example of the wonders and signs mentioned in 2:43. It also  parallels Jesus’ healing a paralyzed man in Luke 5:17-26 as a sign of God’s saving reign This story is also noteworthy for four additional reasons. First, it shows the public character of the apostles’ mission. The man is healed at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, where he resides by day, necessarily coming into contact with many people to receive alms. Second, the story clarifies that the apostles’ power to work miracles comes from Jesus to further God’s good purpose. They have no power in and of themselves and do not trade in magical arts. Third, we get another glimpse of community life, as the apostles return to the congregation from the public arena to report what has happened and to pray together. Finally, the “bold” speech of the apostles is highlighted in 4:13, 29, 31. Such “free” or “confident”  speech was not expected of uneducated people of a low social class. It is seen as a marvel by the authorities (4:13) and as a great gift from God to the believing community (4:29, 31).

Part of the message Peter delivers to the people of Jerusalem emphasizes that God’s salvation would come through a “prophet like Moses” from among the Jews, as promised in  Deuteronomy 18:15 (Acts 3:17-26). God had also promised that in Abraham “all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3). God keeps these promises in Jesus of Nazareth and his community of followers. When Jesus returns, there will be a time of “universal restoration” (Acts 3:21) when all families of the earth will be fully blessed. Such present and future blessing, refreshment, and restoration are connected with repentance, whether from ignorance or wickedness, so that sins are “wiped out” and communal fellowship may flourish.