Acts 3:12
And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?
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(12) Why look ye so earnestly on us?—The verb is the same as that in Acts 3:4. The pronoun stands emphatically at the beginning of the verse—Why is it on us that ye gaze?

As though by our own. . . . holiness. . . .—Better, purity, or devotion. The words refer to what may be called the popular theory of miracles, that if a man were devout, i.e., “a worshipper of God,” God would hear him (John 9:31). That theory might be true in itself generally, but the Apostle disclaims it in this special instance. No purity of his own would have availed, but for the Name, i.e., the power, of Jesus of Nazareth.

Acts 3:12-16. And when Peter saw it — When he saw a crowd of people collected together, and found that they were exceedingly affected with the miracle that had been wrought, he took that favourable opportunity to preach Christ unto them, especially as the temple was the place of their concourse; thus sowing the seed of the gospel in the ground that was broken up and prepared to receive it. Ye men of Israel — To whom miracles surely are not, or at least ought not to be, strange things: having been wrought for you as a nation, in multiplied instances, from age to age, and many very evident and signal ones having, during the last three years, been performed before your eyes; why marvel ye at this — As if it were a singular fact, the like of which you had never seen? Why do you wonder at what has now happened, when so much greater miracles have lately been performed among you? The fact was indeed marvellous, and they justly wondered at it, but it was no more than what Christ had done many a time. It was but a little before that Christ had raised Lazarus from the dead: nay, and he had lately risen from the dead himself; why did they not marvel at these facts, and why were they not convinced by them? Observe, reader, stupid and thoughtless people think that strange now which might have been very familiar to them, if they had not been wanting to themselves, and void of consideration. Or why look ye so earnestly on us — With that astonishment which your looks express, as though by our own power we had effected this cure; or by our own holiness had deserved that God should perform it by us. The God of Abraham, and of Isaac, &c. — This was wisely introduced here in the beginning of his discourse, that it might appear they taught no new religion, inconsistent with that of Moses, and were far from having the least design to divert their regards from the God of Israel; hath glorified his son Jesus — Namely, by this miracle, as he also glorified him in his life and in his death, and especially in his resurrection and ascension; whom — When God had given him to you, and when you ought to have received him as a most precious treasure, and to have preserved him with all your power; ye delivered up — To the Romans as a criminal, and denied — Greek, ηρνησασθε, renounced him; in the presence of Pilate — Or, against the face of Pilate, as Dr. Hammond renders it; that is, in defiance of his reasonings with you; when he was determined to let him go — To release him, being fully satisfied he was innocent of the things laid to his charge. But ye denied the Holy One — Whom God had marked out as such; and the Just One — Just even in the judgment of Pilate, declaring that you would not own him as your king, nor even be contented to admit his discharge, when it was offered and pressed upon you by the governor: and desired — With outrageous clamour, one of the most infamous of mankind, a robber, and a murderer, to be granted unto you — To be spared and released. And while you asked for the deliverance of so vile a wretch, you inhumanly and insolently killed the Prince of life — Even him who had life in himself, and was appointed to be the Author of life, spiritual and eternal, and glory, to his followers. Observe the antithesis: You desired a destroyer of life to be released, and Christ the Lord and giver of life to be crucified, as if a murderer had deserved better at your hands than the Saviour! than which a greater affront could not have been put upon him. You did at once a wicked and foolish thing, in taking away his life, who would have been your life and Saviour, thus forsaking and rebelling against your own mercies; and in supposing you could conquer and extinguish in death the Prince of life, who, having life in himself, could soon resume the life he had resigned! Whom God raised — As we know by the certain and repeated testimony of our own senses; and thereby amply vindicated him; whereof we are witnesses — Constituted such by God, in order to the conviction and salvation of others. And his name — He himself, his power and love; through faith in his name — A confidence in him, a dependance on him, a believing application to him, and expectation of power to proceed from him; hath made this man strong — Hath effected a perfect cure of his lameness. Dr. Lightfoot suggests, that faith is twice named in this verse, because of the apostles’ faith in working this miracle, and the cripple’s faith in receiving it. But it seems to relate chiefly, if not only, to the former: they that wrought this miracle by faith, derived power from Christ to work it, and, therefore, returned all the glory to him. By this true and just account of the miracle, Peter both confirmed the great gospel truth they were to preach to the world, that Jesus Christ is the fountain of all power and grace, and the great Healer and Saviour; and recommended the great gospel mystery of our salvation by Christ. It is his name that justifies us, that glorious name of his, the Lord our righteousness; but we, in particular, are justified by that name, through faith in it, applying it to ourselves. Thus doth Peter preach unto them Jesus and him crucified, being a faithful friend of the bridegroom, to whose service he devoted all his interest.

3:12-18 Observe the difference in the manner of working the miracles. Our Lord always spoke as having Almighty power, never hesitated to receive the greatest honour that was given to him on account of his Divine miracles. But the apostles referred all to their Lord, and refused to receive any honour, except as his undeserving instruments. This shows that Jesus was one with the Father, and co-equal with Him; while the apostles knew that they were weak, sinful men, and dependent for every thing on Jesus, whose power effected the cure. Useful men must be very humble. Not unto us, O Lord, not unto us, but to thy name, give glory. Every crown must be cast at the feet of Christ. The apostle showed the Jews the greatness of their crime, but would not anger or drive them to despair. Assuredly, those who reject, refuse, or deny Christ, do it through ignorance; but this can in no case be an excuse.When Peter saw it - Saw the people assembling in such multitudes and wondering at the miracle.

He answered - The word "answer," with us, implies that a question had been asked, or that some subject had been proposed for consideration. But the word is used in a different sense in the Bible. It is often used when no question was asked, but when an occasion was offered for remarks, or when an opportunity was presented to make a statement. It is the same as replying to a thing, or making a statement in regard to some subject, Daniel 2:26; Acts 5:8.

Ye men of Israel - Jews. Compare Acts 2:14.

Why marvel ye at this? - The particular thing which he intended to reprove here was not that they wondered, for that was proper; but that they looked on himself and John as if they had been the authors of this healing. They ought to have understood it. The Jews were sufficiently acquainted with miracles to interpret them and to know whence they proceeded; and they ought not, therefore, to ascribe them to man, but to inquire why they had been performed by God.

Why look ye ... - Why do ye fix the eyes with amazement on us, as though we could do this? Why not look at once to God?

By our own power - By any art of healing or by any medicine we had done this.

Or holiness - Piety. As if God had bestowed this on us on account of our personal and eminent piety. It may be remarked that here was ample opportunity for them to establish a reputation of their own. The people were disposed to pay them honor; they might at once have laid claim to vast authority over them; but they refused all such personal honor, and ascribed all to the Lord Jesus. Whatever success may attend the ministers of the gospel, or however much the world may be disposed to do them honor, they should disclaim all power in themselves, and ascribe it to the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not by the talents or personal holiness of ministers, valuable as these are, that people are saved; it is only by the power of God, designed to honor his Son. See 2 Corinthians 3:5-6.

12-16. why marvel at this?—For miracles are marvels only in relation to the limited powers of man.

as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk—Neither the might nor the merit of the cure are due to us, mere agents of Him whom we preach.

He answered, for he said, an ordinary Hebraism, though no question was put unto him: thus the evangelist tells us that our Saviour answered and said, when there was no previous question spoken of, Matthew 11:25. Nay, Jesus answered and said unto the fig tree, Mark 11:14; that is, he spake powerfully unto it.

Ye men of Israel; an ingratiating compellation, they ever valuing themselves and others on that account.

By our own power or holiness: holiness, were it never so real and great in men, cannot cause the least miracle, although it is itself, all things considered, a very great one.

And when Peter saw it,.... That the people ran to them, and looked wistly upon them, and wondered at what was done:

he answered unto the people, ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? either at this man, who was cured of his lameness, or at the cure itself:

or why look ye so earnestly on us; suggesting, that they ought to look to God, and observe his divine power, and to the Lord Jesus Christ, whom they had crucified, whose apostles they were, and in whose name, and by whose power they had wrought this miracle; which shows that they were not self-seeking and vain glorious men, but discovers great sincerity and integrity, much love to Christ, and great regard to his honour, and to the glory of God:

as though by our own power and holiness we had made this man to walk? as if it was any natural power of theirs; or for any merit of theirs, because of their strict religion and piety; or "laudable conversation", as the Arabic version; because they were mightier in themselves and holier than others, that they had such a faculty of curing lame persons; all which they utterly reject, and place it to a right account in the next verse. Instead of "holiness", the Syriac version reads "authority"; and to the same, or like sense, the Vulgate Latin, which seems most agreeable.

{2} And when Peter saw it, he answered unto the people, Ye men of Israel, why marvel ye at this? or why look ye so earnestly on us, as though by our own power or holiness we had made this man to walk?

(2) Miracles are appointed to convince the unbelievers, and therefore they wickedly abuse the miracles who, standing amazed, either at the miracles themselves or at the instruments and means which is pleases God to use, take an occasion to establish idolatry and superstition by that which God has provided for the knowledge of his true worship, that is, Christianity.

Acts 3:12. Ἀπεκρίνατο] he began to speak, as a reply to the astonishment and concourse of the people, which thereby practically expressed the wish for an explanation. See on Matthew 11:25. Observe the honourable address, ἄνδρ. ʼΙσρ., as in Acts 2:22, Acts 5:35, Acts 13:16, Acts 21:28.

τί θαυμάζετε ἐπὶ τούτῳ;] The wonder of the people, namely, was unfounded, in so far as they regarded the healing as an effect of the δύναμις ἢ εὐσεβ. of the apostles themselves.

τούτῳ] is neuter; see Acts 3:10 : at this. As to the , an, introducing the second question, observe that the course of thought without interrogation is as follows: Your astonishment is groundless, provided that you were reasonably entitled to regard us as the workers of this cure. The is accordingly: or else, if you think that you must wonder why, etc.

ἡμῖν emphatically prefixed: ἰδίᾳ is then correlative.

εὐσεβείᾳ] “quasi sit praemium pietatis nostrae a Deo nobis concessum,” Heinrichs. In us lies neither the causa effectiva nor the causa meritoria.

πεποιηκόσι τοῦ περιπ. αὐτόν] to be taken together: as if we had been at work, in order that he might walk. That this telic designation of that which was done is given with the genitive of the infinitive, is certainly to be traced to the frequent use of this form of expression in the LXX. (see Winer, p. 306 [E. T. 410]); but the conception of the aim is not on that account to be obliterated as the defining element of the expression, especially as even in classical writers this mode of conception is found, and presents itself in the expression ποιεῖν ὅπως. See, e.g., Herod, 1. 117: ποιεῖν …, ὅπως ἔσται ἡ ʼΙωνίη ἐλευθέρη, v. 109, i. 209. Comp. πράσσειν ὅπως, Krüger on Thuc. i. 56. The ποιεῖν is conceived as striving.

Acts 3:12. This address of St. Peter divides itself into two parts, 12–16, 17–26, and although it covers much of the same ground as in chap. 2, there is no need to regard it with Overbeck and Holtzmann as unhistorical: see Blass, in loco, and Feine; the latter points out that St. Peter would naturally, as in chap. 3, take the incident before him as his text, place it in its right light, and draw from it an appeal to repentance and conversion. But whilst we may grant the common and identical aim of the two discourses, to proclaim the Messiahship of Jesus before the Jews, none can fail to see that in chap. 3 the Messianic idea becomes richer and fuller. Jesus is the prophet greater than Moses: Jesus is the fulfilment of the Abrahamic covenant, through which the blessing of Abraham is to extend to all the earth, Matthew 8:11. And more than this: St. Peter has learnt to see in the despised Nazarene not only the suffering servant of Jehovah (παῖς), but in the servant the King, and in the seed of David the Prince of Life. And in the light of that revelation the future opens out more clearly before him, and he becomes the first prophet in the Messianic age—the spiritual presence which the believers now enjoyed, and by which those mighty deeds are wrought, is only a foretaste of a more visible and glorious Presence, when the Messiah should return in His glory; and for that return repentance and remission of sins must prepare the way (see Briggs, Messiah of the Apostles, pp. 31, 32). On St. Peter’s discourses see additional note at end of chapter.—ἀπεκρίνατο: cf. Luke 13:14; Luke 14:3, answered, i.e., to their looks of astonishment and inquiry. The middle voice as here, which would be the classical usuage, is seldom found in the N.T., but generally the passive aorist, ἀπεκρίθη, and so in the LXX. “In Biblical Greek the middle voice is dying, in modern Greek it is dead,” Plummer. Thus in modern Greek, ὑποκρίνομαι in the passive = to answer, Kennedy, Sources of N. T. Greek, p. 155, and Blass, Grammatik des N. G., p. 44.—ὡς πεποιηκόσιν τοῦ περιπατεῖν: this use of the infinitive with the genitive of the article, instead of the simple infinitive with or without ὥστε, to express a purpose, or result as here: “non de consilio sed de eventu” (Blass), may be illustrated from the LXX, Genesis 37:18, 1 Chron. 44:6, Isaiah 5:6.—εὐσεβείᾳ: “godliness,” R.V., as always elsewhere in A.V., i.e., by our piety towards God, as always in the Bible, although εὐσέβεια may be used like the Latin pietas of piety towards parents or others, as well as of piety towards God. It is frequently used in the LXX of reverence towards God, εἰς, so too in Josephus, πρὸς τὸν Θεόν, cf. Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 13:11, Isaiah 11:2, Wis 10:12, and often in 4 Macc. In Trench, N. T. Synonyms, ii., p. 196, and Grimm-Thayer, sub v. In the N.T. the word is used, in addition to its use here, by St. Paul ten times in the Pastoral Epistles, and it is found no less than four times in 2 Peter, but nowhere else. St. Chrysostom, Hom. ix., comments: “Do you see how clear of all ambition he is, and how he repels the honour paid to him?” so too Joseph: Do not interpretations belong to God?

12. when Peter saw it] i.e. their wonder, as may be inferred from his opening words.

he answered] Often used although no previous remark or question precedes. Cp. Acts 5:8, where Peter is said to have answered Sapphira, though she had said nothing, as far as we are told, and where the Apostle’s words are a question.

why marvel ye at this?] Probably we should supply man, because the pronoun at the close of the verse is only the personal and not the demonstrative, and we should read “made him to walk,” and not as the A. V. “made this man to walk.”

look ye so earnestly] The verb is rendered “to fasten the eyes on” in Acts 3:4.

by our own power] As he had done to the cripple, so also he makes it clear to the crowd that the name of Jesus is the power by which he has wrought.

Acts 3:12. Ἀπεκρίνατο, answered) having again obtained an opportunity.—τί θαυμάζετε, why wonder ye?) They had good reason to wonder; but they ought to have recognised the Lord, from whom the benefit had come, and not to stop short and fasten their whole attention upon the mere work itself, or upon the Divine instruments by which it was accomplished.—δυνάμει ἢ εὐσεβείᾳ) Most frequently δύναμις and ἐξουσία are joined. Wherefore the Syriac and some MSS. of the Latin Vulg. have taken up virtute aut potestate, instead of virtute aut pietate: and furthermore some MSS. mentioned in Irenæu[27], inasmuch as these two words seemed synonymous, have omitted et potestate, “and power.” The formation of the words in writing, εὐσέβεια and ἘΞΟΥΣΊΑ, piety and power, is also similar in appearance, especially in the contractions used in writing Latin.[28] These two, virtue and power, are usually looked to by men in the Divine instruments. Wherefore “Peter puts away from himself the attribution of power, whether physical or meritorious, and ascribes the whole to God and Christ the Lord.” So writes H. de Bukentop, lib. ii. de Vulgata, p. 285.

[27] renæus (of Lyons, in Gaul: born about 130 A.D., and died about the end of the second century). The Editio Renati Massueti, Parisinæ, a. 1710.

[28] ABCDde Vulg. Amiat. (the oldest MS.) have ἢ εὐσεβείᾳ.—E. and T.

Verse 12. - At this man for at this, A.V.; fasten ye your eyes for look ye so earnestly, A.V.; godliness for holiness, A.V.; him for this man, A.V. The him at the end of the verse requires that the man should have been previously mentioned. The A.V. felt this, and so, having taken ἐπὶ τούτῳ as at this, they rendered αὐτόν by this man, as if Peter had supplied the want of the verbal mention by pointing to him. Fasten ye your eyes. (For the use of ἀτενίζειν, see note on ver. 4.) Acts 3:12He answered

The question expressed in the people's explanations of surprise.

Men of Israel

Lit., men, Israelites. An honorable and conciliatory form of address. The term Israelite gradually gave place to that of Jew; but Israel was the sacred name for the Jews, as the nation of the theocracy, the people under God's covenant, and hence was for the Jew his especial badge and title of honor. "To be descendants of Abraham, this honor they must share with the Ishmaelites; of Abraham and Isaac, with the Edomites; but none except themselves were the seed of Jacob, such as in this name of Israelite they were declared to be. Nor was this all, but more gloriously still, their descent was herein traced up to him, not as he was Jacob, but as he was Israel, who, as a prince, had power with God and with men, and had prevailed" (Trench, "Synonyms"). So Paul, in enumerating to the Philippians his claims to have confidence in the flesh, says he was "of the stock of Israel." It is said that the modern Jews in the East still delight in this title.

Our own (ἰδίᾳ)

See on Acts 1:7.

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