Sunday, 19 December 2021
So when Peter saw it, he responded to the people: “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this? Or why look so intently at us, as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk? Acts 3:12
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).
It was just seen how the people ran together in amazement at what had taken place. Now, their attitude concerning this miracle becomes clear. They have misunderstood what the Source of the miracle actually is. It is something Peter will correct in his words ahead. As such, he begins with, “So when Peter saw it.”
This refers to the previous words, “all the people ran together to them.” The implication is that they think that what happened was because of the miraculous power of Peter and John. Running to them may have included words like, “Explain how you did it,” or “Let us see more of this.” Whatever it was, something clued Peter into the fact that the multitude thinks it was the apostles who are behind the healing. As such, it says, “he responded to the people.”
The Greek more literally reads, “he answered to the people.” However, saying this, the Bible’s use of “answering” someone is not the way we use the term today. It can mean to answer, as in a response, but it also means “to take up a conversation.”
It also can be an answer based on an inferred, but unstated question. This is probably the case here. Even if the questions speculated on a moment ago were not actually asked, the expression of the people alone would be sufficient to elicit such an answer. With that in mind, Peter begins his discourse with, “Men of Israel.”
The Greek reads, “men, Israelites.” This is their defining clan and culture. Today, the term “Jew” is applied in the same manner, coming from the predominant tribe of Judah. However, before that became the customary identification, being an Israelite was the first and most important designation. It is to this group of people, descended from Jacob – who is Israel – that the next words are spoken, “why do you marvel at this?”
This is the same word used to describe the state of the people in Acts 2:7 –
“Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, ‘Look, are not all these who speak Galileans?’”
Peter could look at the faces and tell what was on their minds. There was the same sense of confused wonder that he had seen among the people when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples at Pentecost. At that time, Peter seized the opportunity to tell the people about the marvelous workings of God in Christ. Such will be the case again now. But to continue to settle their minds first, he asks again, “Or why look so intently at us.”
The verb is the same as in Acts 3:4. The beggar fixed his eyes on Peter and John when he thought he would receive alms from them. Now, the people have intently fixed their gaze upon them, looking for an answer to what now so greatly perplexed them. With these questions carefully directed to the multitude, Peter is able to begin to redirect their attention to the One who is the Healer of the crippled beggar. He does this by asking, “as though by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?”
Peter implicitly denies their having performed the miracle under either their own “power” or “godliness.” The word translated as “power” signifies might, strength, ability, and so on. They lacked the medical skills to heal the man, they lacked the power to heal him, and so on. There was nothing in them that could account for the healing.
The word translated as “godliness” is introduced into Scripture, eusebeia. Other than this one use in Acts, it is seen only where it is used heavily by Paul in the pastoral epistles, and then four times by Peter in his second epistle. The word “godliness” is probably the best possible translation. It signifies piety or a right-hearted response towards God.
By asking in the manner he has, denying such power is their own, Peter is clearly indicating that the healing was not something connected to these traits in either he or John. Rather, an explanation of where the miracle stemmed from must be provided.
Life application: Peter and John could have immediately seized upon the moment and drawn attention to themselves. But before that is even hinted at, they rightly redirect the people’s attention away from themselves.
Who is it that deserves the attention, praise, and acclamation for the things that have been done through you? If you are a faithful follower of Christ, it is always right to redirect compliments given to you about your abilities and capabilities to the Lord. It is He who fashioned humanity, and you are a human being. It is He who knows you would be born when you were, what your DNA makeup would be, that you would receive His offer of Jesus, and so on.
As such, everything ultimately stems from Him, and He should be given the credit for all good things that stem from your life. It can be hard to not accept praise, especially when you put a lot of effort into the things you do. And you can be complimented at a time when it catches you off guard. At such a time, you may accept the compliment without even thinking about it.
But if we can be of the mind to continuously redirect praises and the like to the Lord, we do well. Let us endeavor to do this. And by doing so, it would be hoped that those who hear our words will truly want to know why we are so willing to give credit to Him. One never knows where the first opportunity to share the gospel will arise. And this attitude may be just the place.
Heavenly Father, help us to live our lives in a manner that will ultimately be pleasing to You and glorifying of You in the sight of others. This is good and right, so help our minds to be always tuned into this attitude. Amen.