Wednesday, 8 December 2021
Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. Acts 3:1
Note: You can listen to today’s commentary courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)
You can also read this commentary, with music, courtesy of our friends at “Discern the Bible” on YouTube. (Click Here to listen), or at Rumble (Click Here to listen).
Acts 3 opens with a great verse to demonstrate why the book of Acts is descriptive in nature and doesn’t prescribe doctrine. Because that is what some will suddenly claim concerning verses that will soon come up in Acts 3. Acts 2 ended with these words –
“So continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and simplicity of heart, 47 praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily those who were being saved.” Acts 2:46, 47
The apostles and disciples would meet in the temple. That now continues to be seen with the words, “Now Peter and John.” These two (along with James) spent a great deal of intimate time with Jesus. While the other apostles were left behind, Jesus would take them to witness various events in His ministry, such as –
“Now after six days Jesus took Peter, James, and John, and led them up on a high mountain apart by themselves; and He was transfigured before them. 3 His clothes became shining, exceedingly white, like snow, such as no launderer on earth can whiten them. 4 And Elijah appeared to them with Moses, and they were talking with Jesus. 5 Then Peter answered and said to Jesus, ‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; and let us make three tabernacles: one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah’— 6 because he did not know what to say, for they were greatly afraid.” Mark 9:2-6
“But when Jesus heard it, He answered him, saying, ‘Do not be afraid; only believe, and she will be made well.’ 51 When He came into the house, He permitted no one to go in except Peter, James, and John, and the father and mother of the girl. 52 Now all wept and mourned for her; but He said, “Do not weep; she is not dead, but sleeping.’ 53 And they ridiculed Him, knowing that she was dead.” Luke 8:50-53
Luke specifically notes the two preparing for Christ’s final Passover meal as well –
“Then came the Day of Unleavened Bread, when the Passover must be killed. 8 And He sent Peter and John, saying, ‘Go and prepare the Passover for us, that we may eat.’
9 ‘So they said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare?”’
10 And He said to them, ‘Behold, when you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house which he enters. 11 Then you shall say to the master of the house, “The Teacher says to you, ‘Where is the guest room where I may eat the Passover with My disciples?’”” 12 Then he will show you a large, furnished upper room; there make ready.’
13 So they went and found it just as He had said to them, and they prepared the Passover.” Luke 22:7-13
Peter and John will also be seen together in Acts 4 and Acts 8. Of these two apostles Luke next says they “went up together to the temple.” This is where the believers were said to gather daily, and so it is the standard thing they would be expected to do. However, Luke adds in specific information to be considered, saying it was “at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour.”
This would be at 3pm. It is the time of Israel’s evening sacrifice, and it is the hour that Christ died on the cross –
“Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. 45 Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. 46 And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, ‘Father, ‘into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ Having said this, He breathed His last.” Luke 23:44-46
This was a common time for the people to gather and pray, but it was also a time that other great events in Israel’s history are recorded to have occurred. One of these events is found in 1 Kings 18 –
“And it came to pass, at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, ‘Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that You are God in Israel and I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word. 37 Hear me, O Lord, hear me, that this people may know that You are the Lord God, and that You have turned their hearts back to You again.’
38 Then the fire of the Lord fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench. 39 Now when all the people saw it, they fell on their faces; and they said, ‘The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!’” 1 Kings 18:36-39
Prayer was customarily made at this time and also at the time of the morning sacrifice. These were the times when the incense was presented in the temple as first specified to Moses in Exodus 30 –
“Aaron shall burn on it sweet incense every morning; when he tends the lamps, he shall burn incense on it. 8 And when Aaron lights the lamps at twilight, he shall burn incense on it, a perpetual incense before the Lord throughout your generations.” Exodus 30:7, 8
That this time of incense and sacrifice was also the time of prayer is then noted in Luke 1 –
“So it was, that while he was serving as priest before God in the order of his division, 9 according to the custom of the priesthood, his lot fell to burn incense when he went into the temple of the Lord. 10 And the whole multitude of the people was praying outside at the hour of incense.” Luke 1:8-10
It is at this specific hour that Luke records the events that will follow.
Life application: In Acts 3, there will be a miraculous healing. It is not uncommon, especially for Pentecostals and Charismatics, to claim healing over another based on the recorded healings found in Acts. The logic is that these things occurred in Acts, and they can claim the same healing power now. Thus, they are taking such verses as prescribing healing power for believers in Christ.
The pick and choose nature of such things is found, quite clearly, in the fact that none of these same people specifically go to church at the ninth hour to pray. Nor do they follow a host of other things done by the apostles as recorded in Acts 3 or elsewhere. One can see that by selectively choosing verses from Acts, pulling them out of their intended context, and applying them to Christian life today, any number of aberrant doctrines can be conjured up.
But the record of these events in Acts was never intended to prescribe anything. They simply give us a historical account of what happened during the early establishment of the church.
Remember this as You read the Bible. Ask yourself: “Who is being addressed?”, “Why are the events recorded?”, “What dispensation is being referred to?”, and so on. In maintaining a proper perspective concerning the context, you will avoid great error in your doctrine.
Lord God, how wonderful it is to be in Your presence and to be able to pray to You anytime and anywhere we choose. In fact, Your word tells us to pray without ceasing. As this is so, we know that You are ever attentive to our prayers. Thank You for such comforting reassurance. All glory to You! Amen.