Acts Bible Study Lesson 21

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Acts Lesson  Audio part 1
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Peter’s Second Sermon (Part 1)

Acts 3:11—18

Peter had just healed the man who was lame from birth. This was a significant sign to the people of Israel, and gave a picture of Israel’s condition. The sign of healing was to get their attention and relate it to the coming Millennial Kingdom. Those going into the Kingdom will be made perfectly whole, physically and spiritually, before the marriage supper of the Lamb. This is why Jesus and His Disciples had a healing ministry as they announced that the Kingdom was at hand.

Many believe the Millennial Kingdom was inaugurate (began) with the arrival of Jesus to this earth. They believe we are now in a stage of continuation, the period between Christ’s first and second coming. It will finally be consummated at the Second Coming when sin will be dealt with. There are many things wrong with this concept. Covenant Theologians totally miss Israel being temporarily set aside, the formation of the Church, the Body of Christ, the Rapture and the seven-year Tribulation. They also see no distinction between the Second Coming and the Eternal State at the end of the thousand years. They use the so-called Lord’s Prayer to indicate that “thy kingdom come, Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” was fulfilled when Jesus was born. If God’s will is being done now on this earth just as it is in heaven, then perhaps heaven will not be the best place to spend eternity. Their theology runs counter to the reality we experience daily living in this sinful world.

As Israel was getting closer and closer to the Second Coming, and the setting up of the Kingdom, There was more and more activity that pointed Israel to these prophetic events. They didn’t have much time left before it would be too late to become a part of the Little Flock of Believers within Israel who will be going into the Kingdom. The healings, signs and wonders were all there to prove the apostles’ message and their authority to speak for God. This particular healing of the lame man is a picture of Israel, lame since birth and in dire need of spiritual healing. The message that was preached by Peter gives Israel great hope of a glorious future, but only if they believe in Jesus Christ as Messiah.

Audience (verse 12)

Peter is once again preaching to Israel, with his first sermon found in Acts 2. There were no Gentiles in sight, and no promises given to any Gentile. God was still dealing with Israel as a nation. All the covenants were still in play. It is always important to understand that sometimes individual Israelites are being addressed, and other times the nation is in view. I believe that Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 was addressed to individual Israelites, and his sermon here addresses the nation of Israel. Obviously, it is impossible to completely separate the people from the nation since the people make up the nation. However, the nation of Israel seems to be in view here because the promise of the times of refreshing (verse 19) is a national promise, not an individual one. There are those who say Acts 2 is for the nation and Acts 3 is concerning individual, but I personally struggle to see it that way. I will not condemn you if you see it differently than I do.

Although there were individual Israelites who believed, it was the nation that rejected their Messiah. We can understand this today by looking at our own nation. Even though most individuals within the United States support Israel, the United States, was a nation, has rejected Israel because those in power have deployed policies that weaken Israel. This same thing happened within Israel. When the leaders rejected the Messiah, the nation rejected Him.

The subject

Jesus Christ was the subject of Peter’s sermon. The Man they rejected and put to death was now alive, to the condemnation of Israel. His resurrection from the dead means that Israel absolutely killed their Messiah. Everyone whom Peter addressed had heard, or witnessed that Jesus Christ had risen from the dead (verse 15). Ironically, the Person who came to give life to Israel was soundly rejected and condemned to death. When Jesus Christ was brought back to life, it was proof that He had the ability to give life to those who believe in Him. Although He was put to death in ignorance, the nation could no longer claim ignorance of who Jesus Christ was.

The accusation (Verses 15—18)

Peter once again points out to the men of Israel that they had killed their Messiah (Acts 2:23). This was quite a bold proclamation since not only was he accusing all the Jews who had gathered at the temple, but he pointed his finger directly to the religious leaders of Israel as instigators of His murder. The only way they could possibly weasel out of this would be to claim ignorance of their deed. This is exactly what Peter said, and the reason they were given another chance to repent.

Peter displayed the healed man as an example of what Jesus Christ was promising to all believing Israel. This man was absolute and indisputable evidence that Jesus Christ was the Man He said He was. The religious leaders should pointed the people to Isaiah 35 to show evidence that Jesus Christ was their Messiah, but instead did everything possible to turn the people away from Him. These were truly bad shepherds (Jeremiah 12:10; 23:1—2) and they were the antithesis of the Good Shepherd who was promised to the house of Israel (John 10:11, 14).

God is lenient toward those who are ignorant. The Apostle Paul was shown God’s mercy because he was ignorant that Jesus Christ was their Messiah (1 Timothy 1:13). The Mosaic Law had provisions for wrongdoing done in ignorance. Those who broke the Law in ignorance were given remedial steps to bring them into a right relationship with God (Leviticus 4; Numbers 15:25—29). Even the whole world was not immediately brought under God’s judgment because the Gentiles had committed sins of ignorance, and God held off in judging them (Acts 17:30).

On the other hand, sins that were done purposefully were not forgiven, but were punished immediately. The man who was gathering sticks to start a fire was stoned to death because he willfully thumbed his nose at the Law and at God (Numbers 15:30—36). This was also why God gave Israel the cities of refuge. They were a safe haven for those who accidentally killed someone. However, those who intended to kill were condemned (Numbers 35:6—28; Exodus 21:12—14).

Peter could preach a message of salvation because the people of Israel killed their Messiah in ignorance. The cities of refuge were types of Christ. Peter was, in effect, telling Israel to flee to their city of refuge (Jesus Christ) to avoid certain death (Isaiah 6:18). Although Israel was once ignorant, they now had absolute proof that Jesus Chris was who he said He was, the Son go God and the Messiah of Israel (Acts 1:3). They could no longer claim ignorance. Rejecting Jesus Christ at this juncture would condemn them to eternal damnation. There was no sacrifice that would cover the sin of rejecting Jesus Christ after becoming enlightened about who He was (Hebrews 10:26).