Acts 3:5

Sunday, 12 December 2021

So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Acts 3:5

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).

In the previous verse, Peter fixed his eyes on the beggar who had asked for alms and called out to him, “Look at us.” Now, in response to that, Luke records, “So he gave them his attention.”

The verb is imperfect and should say something like, “So he began to give them his attention.” The action began and is continuing into the present. This clearly shows that even though the beggar saw Peter and John as is recorded in verse 3:5, he didn’t really “see” them. He simply noticed that they were there and immediately did what beggars do. He asked for alms. His care was not on “who” in particular was going by, but that potential givers were going by, regardless as to who they were.

Now, with Peter calling for him to give them his attention, he began to notice them for “who” they were. This still doesn’t mean he has made a mental note of who they really were as people, but that he has gained their attention and so he was going to give them his attention. This is as common as Brits in the UK. When one stands to profit from another, more attention is given in hopes of securing the deal, or even for increasing the amount that may be offered. Luke’s use of the imperfect brings this to life. And the reason for his attention being given to the apostles is then explained with the words that he was “expecting to receive something from them.”

The verb is a present participle. He began to look at them because he was anticipating alms to be delivered to him. One can get the mental idea of what was going on in the man’s head. “I had better start directing my attention at these guys because they are about to hand me some silver.” A full gaze of attention from him may come if they handed him ten silver coins, but a quick look up and then back down may come if they handed him a small copper coin. The response of the beggar will now be fully brought forth by how the hand is filled.

Life application: When sharing the gospel, there are as many reactions to it as there are people who are willing to listen. And those who are willing to listen may only be doing so because they are too shy to tell the one sharing the message that they are not really interested. Once the message starts to be presented, the person hearing the message will give cues as to whether he is actually interested in hearing what is said or not.

What happened with this beggar is just what needs to happen with the person being given the gospel. His attention needs to be fixed. There should be no other distractions, and no more than two people should be there. And even if there are two people, only one should do the talking. If there are more than two people, the presentation will be intimidating. If more than one is talking, the message will be confused in the mind of the hearer.

Once the hearer has his attention directed to the one who is speaking, the speaker needs to be attentive to the body cues. The eyes, the feet, the arms… each part of the person will give cues as to his state of mind. Is he fidgeting? He is nervous. Is he backing up? He is scared. Are his arms crossed in front of him? He feels exposed and maybe threatened. Are the eyes darting around? He wants the conversation to just end so he can get away.

Ten thousand little cues will tell you if you are having an impact or not. If you are not, then you need to redirect your approach so that the person will feel comfortable, not threatened, welcomed, and so on. This is what Peter and John have done, and it is how we are to do such things as well. The attention must be focused, direct, caring, and of personal value to the hearer.

You have the greatest “alms” in the world to give to this person, if you can get him to understand that he is a beggar in need of them. Sin is the problem, we are desperately in need of the kind hand of the Lord to cure it, and the gospel is the gift that we cannot do without. Be ready with this message at all times. Pass on the gift of eternal life that was secured for the person standing before you through the shed blood of Christ.

Lord God, help us to be responsible with sharing the gospel message. None can do without it, and all who come must do so through it. So, Lord, give us wisdom in sharing this all-important message of life and hope. Amen.