Thursday, 9 December 2021
And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; Acts 3:2
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).
As seen in the previous verse, Peter and John went together, up to the temple at the hour of prayer. It was at the ninth hour that this occurred. At this particular time, Luke next records, “And a certain man.”
Based on the surrounding words, it is apparent that this man was well known and easily identifiable to those who came and went. This is first certain because of the words that he was “lame from his mother’s womb.”
The verb is a present participle. It says he “was being lame.” Rendering this verb correctly is important because someone can be lame from his mother’s womb but be fixed by a doctor. “Craig was lame from his mother’s womb, but Dr. Voitenko was able to correct that.” In this case, the lameness continued on without correction, even until the time of this account. Of this man, it says he “was carried.”
Again, the verb needs correction. It is imperfect. He was “being carried.” This means that it was a regular event, from day to day without any end to the ordeal. It wasn’t just that he was carried there one particular day, but that it was a regular and ongoing thing. Both of these thoughts are especially noted by Luke to ensure that it is understood by the reader that what occurred was not a setup by the apostles. Rather, the man was lame, he remained lame, and he was being carried from day to day.
It is this particular man, in this particular situation, “whom they laid daily.” Now, for the third time, the verb needs correction. It is again imperfect. It reads, “whom they were laying daily.” Saying, “they laid daily,” could indicate 20 years ago. “Craig used to be laid daily at this spot.” That is not the intent at all. It had happened, and it was continuing on without any end in sight – “Craig is being laid daily at this spot… poor guy! His misery goes on and on.”
It is this ongoing action that occurred “at the gate of the temple.” The man is being continuously laid, from day to day, at a place where countless multitudes would pass by. At the pilgrim feasts, the numbers would be staggering. But even on regular days, the same people who were inclined to go to the temple would see him every day.
And, because it is the ninth hour, he was there at the hour of prayer when many who would come for this specific purpose would be going by. That was seen in the citation of Luke 1:10 in the previous commentary. This man would be a notable fixture that would be unmistakably recognizable when the coming events had taken place. In the case of the gate, of which there were many, he was daily laid at the gate “which is called Beautiful.”
The word “gate” literally signifies a “door.” The gates of the temple could be shut with a door anytime it was deemed necessary, both from a customary standpoint, or out of necessity, such as during an emergency. The latter is seen later in Acts 21–
“And all the city was disturbed; and the people ran together, seized Paul, and dragged him out of the temple; and immediately the doors were shut.” Acts 21:30
It is at the door of the temple that this man was customarily laid. Of the placement of this gate (door), Albert Barnes provides suitable information –
“In regard to this gate there have been two opinions, one of which supposes that it was the gate commonly called Nicanor, which led from the court of the Gentiles to the court of the women (see Plan in notes on Matthew 21:12), and the other that it was the gate at the eastern entrance of the temple, commonly called Susan. It is not easy to determine which is intended; though from the fact that what is here recorded occurred near Solomon’s porch (Acts 3:11; compare the Plan of the Temple, Matthew 21:12), it seems probable that the latter was intended. This gate was large and splendid. It was made of Corinthian brass, a most valuable metal, and made a magnificent appearance (Josephus, Jewish Wars, book 5, chapter 5, section 3).”
There at this spot, the man was laid in order “to ask alms.” This was a regular practice at the time, and it was also something that occurred elsewhere throughout the Roman empire. It is still seen today in areas of the world. People that are handicapped in one way or another are laid in public places where they will have the best opportunity to receive pity from those passing by. It was the regular daily occurrence in this man’s life. There he would be laid, and there he would anticipate something to be handed to him “from those who entered the temple.”
As they were entering the temple, it would be a time when they probably felt most inclined to be generous, especially because the Lord’s presence would be especially felt by them in this place. Everything about the verse gives us the sense that the man would have been well known, his condition would have been fully understood by many multitudes, and it was a state that had no anticipation of ever changing.
Life application: The wording in the verse certainly gives us the sense that the man’s state, and his placement at this location, was one that had been going on for a long time. As such, it is quite possible, even highly likely, that Jesus Himself had passed by this man during His ministry. He had only ascended recently, and the man was a regular at this particular spot. For all we know, Jesus may have stopped and talked to him. It is all speculation, but it is not at all improbable. And yet, He had not healed this man.
God works in His own timing and for His own purposes. If Jesus had previously healed this man, it would not have changed the hearts of those who had seen His countless other signs and wonders. But by allowing this sad state of the man to continue until after His crucifixion, it would add a great deal of credibility to the fact that His name had power, and that His ministry was being carried on by His apostles.
If you are personally struggling with something debilitating in your life, even something that has been ongoing for an extended period of time, it doesn’t mean God is uncaring. He may have you in that state to continue to bring Him glory. If you think of your pains, trials, woes, and afflictions in this light, you will be more responsible in how you respond to them. So be wise and be willing to allow the Lord to be glorified through your woes.
He has promised us so much more in the life to come. Do you believe that? If so, then allow Him to be glorified through your temporary afflictions in this one.
Lord God, may our lives be used to bring glory to You. Yes, be glorified in us, O God. Amen.