“While he was clinging to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the so-called portico of Solomon, full of amazement. But when Peter saw this, he replied to the people, “Men of Israel, why are you amazed at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?”
The lame man ran up and down the temple and then hugged Peter and John. The result was everyone in the temple came together to see this wonder. The reason that they all ran together was because they all wanted to see what this was all about. This was worth investigating, and this was the background for Peter’s sermon. Peter had them all gather in one place. A portico was a porch leading into the temple with a roof structure supported by columns or walls.
Now we have Peter’s second sermon. Immediately it became important for Peter to explain something: the fact that this man had health for the first time in his life, had the use of his limbs and could run and walk, did not in itself mean anything. The miracle was not important. There was something that happened to this man at the same time which was infinitely more important than the miracle—eternal life. Peter explained that the most important thing that happened to this man that day was the fact that he was now a child of God, a member of the family of God, and the possessor of eternal life. Then Peter began the message which came as a result of this miracle, a message which was delivered in the temple to religious people and a message which was so successful that five thousand religious people believed in Jesus Christ as Savior.
When Peter saw that the crowd was amazed at the miracle more than that which accompanied the miracle which was eternal salvation he had to speak up and explain the event that took place. Realizing immediately that there was going to be a misunderstanding and that the miracle was going to be blown out of its proper proportions, he took steps to rectify the situation and he began to speak.
These were religious people who were amazed at the miracle and gazed at Peter and John, which needed some commentary. Looking earnestly meant they were staring intently, looking at them as though they were super men. They were already developing a case of hero-worship for Peter because he was responsible for the miracle, along with the apostle John. We know this from their words, “as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?” The word piety means holiness. They were saying that Peter accomplished this in his own power, therefore he had a supernatural power, and this power must undoubtedly be accompanied by his holiness, i.e. Peter could do this thing because he was so holy, because he was such a wonderful person. He then made it clear that it was not because of his holiness or his human power, it was instead divine power. Peter understood that he did not perform miracles because of some greatness in himself. It therefore became important at that moment to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to this group of unbelievers.
The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation for the unbeliever, and God’s Word (Bible doctrine) is the power in the life of the believer when he is learning and applying it. (Romans 1:16; II Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12) John 4:24, tells us to worship God in Spirit (the filling of the Holy Spirit) and in truth (Bible doctrine). Without the power of the Holy Spirit the believer has no spiritual life.
“The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered and disowned in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release Him. But you disowned the Holy and Righteous One and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, but put to death the Prince of life, the one whom God raised from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses. And on the basis of faith in His name, it is the name of Jesus which has strengthened this man whom you see and know; and the faith which comes through Him has given him this perfect health in the presence of you all.”
When Peter said Abraham, Isaac and Jacob he would have gotten their attention by discussing the foundation of the Jewish race which would lead him right into a sermon regarding salvation. Let’s remember that the thing that made Abraham a Jew was not his physical birth. Abraham was born a Gentile but became a Jew by means of regeneration (faith in Christ); he believed in the Lord Jesus Christ. (Genesis 15:6) Abraham had a number of sons. His first one, Ishmael, will always remain a Gentile because he was an unbeliever. But his second son, Isaac, became the line of the Jews because he was a believer. The difference between Ishmael and Isaac was a difference of attitude toward the Christ. Isaac had twins: Esau who was a Gentile and Jacob who was a Jew. So the line goes down through Jacob. Esau and Jacob were twins, and yet one was a Gentile and one was a Jew. The difference between them was faith in Christ. When Peter said the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, he immediately emphasized the Cross because Abraham was a believer, Isaac was believer, and Jacob was believer. This is the story of Romans 9:6-14, and this tells us why all Israel is not Israel. It explains, then, the principle of regeneration as the basis of the foundation of the Jewish race. The reason for regeneration as the foundation of the Jewish race is because God had a special mission for them in the Old Testament. You have to be born again to proclaim the Gospel. This is the difference between a physical race and a spiritual race.
“Has glorified His servant Jesus, means it was God the Father whose plan it was to send the Son. The Lord Jesus Christ died on the Cross. Three days later He rose again from the dead. Fifty days after the Resurrection the Church Age began on the day of Pentecost. Now, just a few days after Pentecost Peter was standing in the temple proclaiming the Lord Jesus Christ. And remember that on the night before He died it was Peter who denied Jesus Christ three times. Now he stands boldly before a large crowd, and it had to be an exceedingly large crowd because as a result of this message 5000 people are going to believe in Jesus Christ. These were religious, legalistic people, the results of the teachings of the scribes and the Pharisees, those who had been condemned by Jesus Himself. These are the ones who in their religious arrogance had rejected Christ as Messiah and Savior and who had been responsible in part for His crucifixion. So when Peter stood up before them and said the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, he was emphasizing something that they did not understand with regard to the performance of this miracle. He immediately got back to the right emphasis – eternal life. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob meant physically they were dead but their souls and spirits were in the presence of God the Father, and they were waiting there for the Resurrection.
The word “fathers” refers to all Jews of the past who had believed in Jesus Christ. Peter was making a contrast between Jews in the past who were believers and Jews who were standing in the temple as unbelievers. Peter accuses those who were listening as having a part in the betrayal of Jesus. The words delivered up mean to betray. It wasn’t merely Judas who betrayed Him. Judas could not have betrayed Him were it not for the attitude of the people. They betrayed Him, and in that sense Peter was saying to the thousands of religious Jews gathered in the temple, “you have all betrayed Him.”
The word disowned is the mental attitude behind their betrayal. They rejected Him as their Messiah (Savior). Many of the people who were standing there had seen Jesus performing miracles, they had heard the messages of Jesus, and they had watched Him as He went through the streets of Jerusalem preaching.
Pontius Pilate was the procurator of the province of Judea. While he was a weak man, he was a fair man. He gave Jesus a fair trial and pronounced Him innocent. When he pronounced Him innocent many of these people who are now gathered in the temple were the ones who cried, “Crucify Him.” And 5000 of those people who cried out those words were going to believe in Him before the sun goes down that evening. Peter told them the truth in love.
The fact that these unbelievers were still alive and were hearing this message was a fantastic thing. Thousands of those people who had cried for His crucifixion were actually going to become believers. The Holy One means that Christ was separated unto the Father for a specific mission. God the Father had separated Jesus Christ to be the Savior of the world. Righteous One means He was perfect. God the Father found Him just. Pontius Pilate found Him innocent. He was examined by Rome and found to be innocent; He was examined by God and found to be just; He was qualified, therefore, to become the Savior of the world. He was called the Prince of life because He provides eternal life.
Resurrection is the answer, and resurrection means divine approval of what Jesus Christ did on the Cross. God’s plan called for His physical, bodily resurrection. The uniqueness of the resurrection of Jesus Christ sets Him apart from all the religious leaders of all time. The leaders of all major religions are dead. However, Jesus Christ is alive. Furthermore, Christianity is not a religion, it is a relationship. The word “religion” comes from two Latin words, “re,” which means “back” and “ligio,” which means, “to bind,” Combined, they mean “to bind back.” This is exactly what religion teaches - that we must bind ourselves back to God. However, the Bible teaches that it is impossible to bind ourselves back to God. The exact opposite is actually true - God binds us back to Himself in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ.
And on the basis of faith in his name is a reference to the Lord Jesus Christ. Faith has to do with the way of salvation. There is only one way of salvation: believe on the Lord Jesus Christ. He is now telling what happened to the man who was crippled and healed. This was the explanation. The miracle was nothing compared to the salvation this man received. Peter was so excited about this himself. We can conclude that this man was probably saved prior to or simultaneous with the miracle of healing. The matter of healing was simply a matter of the decision of Peter. Behind the healing of this lame man was what the Lord could do: give him eternal life.
Eternal life is God’s life (one of His attributes) imputed to the human spirit of the believer (its home) at the moment of salvation. This imputation of eternal life occurs simultaneously with the imputation of the human spirit. Though we possess eternal life the very moment we trust Christ as Savior, we do not use it until we enter the eternal state. Eternal life has more to do with eternity than life on earth and it is the life of God that creates the capacity to receive and appreciate eternal rewards. Since it is God that imputes eternal life to the believer, it is a matter of grace. Therefore, eternal life is not deserved nor can it be earned. This means that anyone who has believed in Christ for salvation (regardless of their current spiritual status) possesses eternal life. It also means that believers are secure in Christ forever. (John 5:25-26; 11:25-26; 14:6; I John 5:11-13)
Another result of the imputation of eternal life to the believer is the guarantee of a resurrection body. Theologically we call this Ultimate Sanctification and it will occur at the Rapture of the Church. This resurrection body is said to be like that of Christ’s resurrection body. This means the believer will no longer possess a sin nature, and therefore he is no longer able to produce human good. In our resurrection bodies we will be able to produce only divine good. The imputation of eternal life assures the believer of an eternal relationship with God. (Philippians 3:21; I Thessalonians 4:13-17; I Corinthians 15:51-57; I John 3:2)
Eternal life means living in a state of eternal peace and happiness for every believer regardless of his eternal rewards. Some believers will reign over cities and some will not, but we all will live in magnificent mansions. Though our primary motivation for the execution of the Christian Way of Life should always be our personal love for God, knowing that there are degrees of reward in Heaven should also motivate our advance to spiritual maturity. In God’s system of reward and blessing, a believer must never forget that proper motivation and proper protocol are the keys to successfully appropriating them. A right thing must always be done in a right way in order to be right.