Monday, 13 December 2021
Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.” Acts 3:6
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Luke’s precisely worded account of the beggar at the gate called Beautiful has been detailed up to the point where the beggar has now given his full attention to the apostles standing before him. With that being the case, the narrative continues, saying, “Then Peter said.”
Again, it is Peter who speaks. He is the central focus of Acts during the first twelve chapters. Whatever else was going on with the other disciples, Luke’s focus is most especially on Peter, his words, and his actions. Noting John during this account provides adequate testimony for the events that take place. The words of Peter to the beggar are, “Silver and gold I do not have.”
As apostles, and as members of the society of disciples, they would have had access to the money distributed among believers as was noted in Acts 2:45. This distribution will be noted again, such as in Acts 6:1. Having access to this does not cause any conflict with what is stated here. The two were simply going to the temple. There is no reason to assume that they always carried money with them as they went out, nor should any such thought be inferred, as if Peter was somehow not being honest. His words are clear and precise. Peter was not carrying any silver or gold that he could pass on to the man. Despite this, he did have something of value that he could provide. That is seen in the words, “but what I do have I give you.”
The apostles had been given the authority to heal. That is explicitly stated in Mark 16 –
“And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Peter, knowing the words of Jesus, and having been a part of his ministry where those sent forth by Jesus throughout Israel had already accomplished such things (such as in Luke 10:9), was confident that he had the power and ability to continue to do what Jesus said. With this confidence, he next said to the man, “In the name.”
The words set forth the Source of the power and authority. To proclaim a name is to proclaim that person’s position and sphere of influence. To say, “I come in the name of Caesar,” is to proclaim the authority of Caesar. Peter now proclaims a name. As such, he is saying, “I proclaim under the authority of…” And the name he proclaims is that of “Jesus Christ.”
To a Jewish person, the name would mean, “Jesus the Messiah,” meaning, “Jesus the Anointed One.” Peter is proclaiming that the Person he is naming bears the authority and power of the Lord (Yehovah) because He had been anointed as such. This is noted in the prophetic writings of Isaiah, words which would have been well known to the people –
“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me,
Because the Lord has anointed Me
To preach good tidings to the poor;
He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to the captives,
And the opening of the prison to those who are bound;
2 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord,
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
3 To console those who mourn in Zion,
To give them beauty for ashes,
The oil of joy for mourning,
The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness;
That they may be called trees of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” Isaiah 61:1-3
The Lord God, Yehovah Elohim, had promised to anoint One to come who would bring healing and restoration to the people. This is the anticipated Messiah whom Peter now proclaims. But to further define who he is referring to, he adds in the words “of Nazareth.”
The name Yeshua, or Jesus, was a common name in Israel at the time. However, by adding the designation of the town from which He came, it set Him apart more clearly. The term “Jesus of Nazareth,” or the affixing of the location to His name, is used time and again in the gospels to specifically refer to the Lord, such as in Matthew 21:10, 11 –
“And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, ‘Who is this?’
11 So the multitudes said, ‘This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.’”
So notable is the name, that it was purposely placed upon the cross when He was crucified –
“And He, bearing His cross, went out to a place called the Place of a Skull, which is called in Hebrew, Golgotha, 18 where they crucified Him, and two others with Him, one on either side, and Jesus in the center. 19 Now Pilate wrote a title and put it on the cross. And the writing was:
JESUS OF NAZARETH, THE KING OF THE JEWS.” John 19:17-19
This would have been known by almost everyone at this point, and the title is purposefully used by Peter to ensure that there was no doubt about the exact Person he was referring to. So important is this designation, that Peter will again use it when speaking to Gentiles about Him in Acts 10 –
“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: ‘In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. 35 But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him. 36 The word which God sent to the children of Israel, preaching peace through Jesus Christ—He is Lord of all— 37 that word you know, which was proclaimed throughout all Judea, and began from Galilee after the baptism which John preached: 38 how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him. 39 And we are witnesses of all things which He did both in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem, whom they killed by hanging on a tree.’” Acts 10:34-39
With the Name proclaimed, and thus having credited the One to whom the power issues from, Peter next says, “rise up and walk.” It is the same general command given by Jesus at times, such as in Matthew 9:6 and John 5:8. There was someone lame, and Jesus – by the power He possessed – healed the lame. Peter now proclaims that same power by proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Life application: Verses such as these in Acts have led Charismatics and Pentecostals to assume that they have the same power to heal as the apostles did. They claim healing over people and often perform false healings. Or they will claim healing power over someone, but the healing never comes to pass, thus destroying the faith and confidence of those they prayed over.
The first problem with this theology is that they are not apostles of Jesus. The office of apostle no longer exists because Jesus does not personally commission anyone anymore, a necessity for the office. But more, even the apostles – who healed at times – did not have the power to heal at all times. Paul had the power to heal in Acts 14:8-10 and elsewhere. However, he certainly could not heal his own affliction as is recorded in 2 Corinthians 12:7-10. It is said that he left Trophimus sick in Miletus in 2 Timothy 4:20. He also notes his inability to cure Epaphroditus in Philippians 2:25-27. And Timothy, who was with Paul quite often, had an affliction of the stomach, along with other infirmities, that Paul never healed. That is noted in 1 Timothy 5:23.
Such examples are provided, right in the prescriptive epistles, to show us that the power and authority used by the apostles was something that was not to be abused, and it only came at certain times and for reasons set forth by the Lord. When the healing power was there, it may have been evident to them just as the words of prophecy were evident to the prophet. But prophets did not prophesy at all times. They only did so when the Lord spoke through them. Likewise, it is clear that the apostles did not heal at all times, but only when they were somehow prompted to do so by the Lord.
In whatever manner these things occurred, they are not normative for the church age. If we desire the healing of another, we are to pray for it. If the Lord heals, it is His prerogative alone. It is presumptuous and sinful to claim something over another when we have no right to do so. Let us not be found to act in this manner.
Lord God, Your word asks us to pray for the healing of others, but there is no guarantee that it will come to pass. Help us to understand this, and to leave such matters in Your capable hands as we pour out our desires to You. In the end, we know that You will do what is just, good, and right. All things will come out as You determine, and so help us to be satisfied with this knowledge. Amen.