The Second Stabbing Sermon

Acts 3:11-36

And 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 do you marvel at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk? “The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered up, 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. “And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. “But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He has thus fulfilled. “Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. “Moses said, ‘THE LORD GOD SHALL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED in everything He says to you. ‘And it shall be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ “And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. “It is you who are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.’ “For you first, God raised up His Servant, and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”

We are in a series on the book of Acts. In fact, in the missive section of russellpmissives.com, we are constantly in a series because that’s how considering the context works, one considers the context. And in the context of Acts we have seen Jesus glorified through the healing of a lame beggar. This one who was not expecting a healing but spare change. Nevertheless, he had a divine date with destiny so that Peter could explain to the masses that which we have now read. This is not only my opening to today’s text but also my conclusion from last time. The healing of the lame beggar was not only a great gift for the lame beggar but for those present. Many mega-church pastors proclaim healing to make money but Jesus heals with the intent of changing people’s minds. Like the mega-church pastors, the people present were thinking earthly and not heavenly, presently without considering the past, or the future.

This is now the second time that Peter proclaims that to which the prophets all promised; “the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He has thus fulfilled.” I love the word, fulfilled, it means that we don’t have to look any further to the future for fulfillment. For the astute students of prophecy, Jesus not only fulfilled direct prophecy but also typifies the typology found in the Old Testament. Today’s text is confirmation of this. Notice Peter also says, “likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. It is you who are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.’”

Here I go again; the dogmatic dispensationalists argue that “the church is a parenthetical plan until the time of the gentiles is complete, then Israel will return to the land and God will reestablish his covenant with them.” While Paul does write that, “a partial hardening” of Israel has happened, we see that in the context of Peter’s second stabbing sermon, that “all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days.” Though Jesus found everything out of order when he came during his first coming, none of it was a suprise to God, in fact, Peter points out that all of these goings on were predicted by the prophets. We certainly saw that in our study of Matthew. It clearly continues in the context of Acts. The very early church, was all Jewish, whether native born or proselytes. But according to pre-tribulational, dispensationalist dogma, the early church could not have been the early church, because it was far from parenthetical, it was what all the prophets promised.

Quickly, Expository Exegesis of Examples Enlightens; Paul quotes and explains Isaiah: “For the Scripture says, ‘WHOEVER BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.’ For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, abounding in riches for all who call upon Him; for ‘WHOEVER WILL CALL UPON THE NAME OF THE LORD WILL BE SAVED.’ How then shall they call upon Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent? Just as it is written, ‘HOW BEAUTIFUL ARE THE FEET OF THOSE WHO BRING GLAD TIDINGS OF GOOD THINGS.’ However, they did not all heed the glad tidings; for Isaiah says, ‘LORD, WHO HAS BELIEVED OUR REPORT?’ So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have; ‘THEIR VOICE HAS GONE OUT INTO ALL THE EARTH, AND THEIR WORDS TO THE ENDS OF THE WORLD.’ But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? At the first Moses says, “I WILL MAKE YOU JEALOUS BY THAT WHICH IS NOT A NATION, BY A NATION WITHOUT UNDERSTANDING WILL I ANGER YOU.’ And Isaiah is very bold and says, ‘I WAS FOUND BY THOSE WHO SOUGHT ME NOT, I BECAME MANIFEST TO THOSE WHO DID NOT ASK FOR ME.’ But as for Israel He says, ‘ALL THE DAY LONG I HAVE STRETCHED OUT MY HANDS TO A DISOBEDIENT AND OBSTINATE PEOPLE.’ I say then, God has not rejected His people, has He? May it never be! For I too am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel? ‘Lord, THEY HAVE KILLED YOUR PROPHETS, THEY HAVE TORN DOWN YOUR ALTARS, AND I ALONE AM LEFT, AND THEY ARE SEEKING MY LIFE.’ But what is the divine response to him? ‘I HAVE KEPT for Myself SEVEN THOUSAND MEN WHO HAVE NOT BOWED THE KNEE TO BAAL.’ In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to God’s gracious choice.”

The emphasis added is clearly mine but it’s so that we can clearly see the context. And in clearly seeing the context, I hope that the pallet of our minds is clear; as in; clean and open to consider the context and not dogma or traditions of the minds of men. Clear from cultural clutter and clear from preconceived notions and presuppositions. With that, it’s back to considering the context, because although the genre is the rudder that steers the ship, author’s aspirations to his audience are apex, expository exegesis of examples enlightens and before we can divide rightly the word of truth, we have to consider the context– context is king, figuratively speaking.

The context is that a lame beggar was healed in the name of Jesus. A lame beggar from birth, the people all knew exactly who he was. “And 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 do you marvel at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk?’”

Good question. We would not have known that they were thinking this way if Peter had not asked the question; it saved Luke time when writing. It’s also a good question because it is a good question, why did they think this way? Peter continues to address this but first we notice that the lame beggar, who leaped to his feet and walked, praising God, is clinging to Peter and John. And that makes sense, through them, he was healed. But we also must remember the context–he was praising God. Peter’s question rings true. But Peter, and we, will come back to this. First, Peter has a bit of housekeeping and background to say.

We’re going to continue to consider the context by reading this question again, particularly paying attention to whom Peter is speaking. “Men of Israel, why do you marvel at this, or why do you gaze at us, as if by our own power or piety we had made him walk? The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered up, 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.”

Another reminder of the context, it’s likely been only 7 weeks or so, since Jesus was crucified. That event would have been fresh in everyone’s mind. The people present probably pursued a path to purge this from their minds but Peter reminded them. Despite what has been said on a prophecy program by a devoted, dogmatic dispensationalist, Peter once again proclaims, “Men of Israel…the God of our fathers, has glorified His servant Jesus, the one whom you delivered up, and disowned in the presence of Pilate.” Actually, it’s much worse than that, I only summarized, using only Peter’s words, to prove a point that contradicts dispensationalist dogma. Notice the full context. Pilate was set to release Jesus but they, the men present, who are descendants of Israel, demanded that the murderer Barabbas be released in Jesus’ stead. Do I need to go back to the book of Matthew? Remembering that the genre steers the ship and context is king, while expository exegesis of examples enlightens; think. Were these literally some of the men who yelled, “Barabbas, Barabbas,” and when asked by Pilate what he should do with Jesus yelled, “crucify him, crucify him?” The genre is historical-narrative and not apocalypse, I strongly suggest that Peter is being literal. Some of the people present, were present at Christ’s crucifixion. How can I be positive? Peter proclaims as much in the context, notice; “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.”

While the church is not parenthetical, parts of Peter’s proclamation and preaching are, at least in English. In the sentence, “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,” there are three parenthetical phrases. Any of the three could be removed and the sentence would still retain its current meaning. All of this is to explain that the English language captures Peter’s proclamation but not fully; it leaves some doubt which is clarified by the context but clarified better by looking at the Greek. Simply put, they were witnesses to it all. Their disowning of Jesus, their asking for a murderer, Jesus being put to death by them and his resurrection–the apostles were witnesses to it all. We were not there, we rely on Peter’s preaching and proclamations and on the prophet’s promises, not on presuppositions and preconceived notions, or dubious dogma.

Peter continues; “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.” The healed lame beggar bears witness to Jesus. Peter continues to point to Jesus and not himself. He reminds them that the lame beggar was healed in the name of Jesus. They knew the man, they saw him begging for years, but now they have witnessed him walking and Peter proclaims that it was a miracle made in the name of Jesus, the one who they disowned and killed, right before their eyes. Can we agree that the people present are heavily involved in this scenario as Peter is portraying it?

“And now, brethren, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers did also. But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ should suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.”

There’s always a “but,” isn’t there? Peter almost gives them an excuse but then reminds them of something; the prophets. They certainly did act in ignorance but that is not really a good excuse, especially in their case–they should have seen this coming. But even so, Peter, as we have already seen, explains that God fulfilled the prophets through the sufferings of Christ. Therefore, Peter exhorts them to change their minds, to repent, so that they may have their sins forgiven. Or as Peter puts it, “Repent therefore and return, that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.” Peter is Jewish and he is speaking to a Jewish audience, therefore he sounds like, and refers to the Old Testament.

But this in no way suggests that they are about to go on hiatus to make way for a parenthetical “church age.” Nevertheless, it does have a hint of haste, doesn’t it? What is this coming of a period of restoration? Again, Peter is proclaiming prophetic fulfillment, using types and shadows that they would understand. The context bears witness, notice; “Moses said, ‘THE LORD GOD SHALL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED in everything He says to you. ‘And it shall be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ “And likewise, all the prophets who have spoken, from Samuel and his successors onward, also announced these days. “It is you who are the sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with your fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘AND IN YOUR SEED ALL THE FAMILIES OF THE EARTH SHALL BE BLESSED.’ “For you first, God raised up His Servant, and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.”

As Peter harkens back to Abraham and Moses, the reader is reminded of the rise and fall of Israel throughout her history. How much moreso would the men of Israel, the people present remember the times of trouble and the times of restoration? History repeats itself and Peter is proclaiming this. Nevertheless, as Peter knows well, the time for their restoration is now. Peter was present in Matthew 24, where Jesus promised persecution and tribulation on his generation. Peter, using that which they know and have been taught, ceases the opportunity to snatch souls from the fire. In an unbelievable, Holy Spirit inspired, turn of events, the hapless Peter is proclaiming the truth to his fellow countrymen–first. My guess is, based upon further information in Acts, Peter didn’t understand everything which he was saying.

“For you first, God raised up His Servant, and sent Him to bless you by turning every one of you from your wicked ways.” Peter probably thought that he was speaking of subsequent generations. But there is little doubt in my mind that he was speaking about all of the other nations which were about to become partakers of Jesus’ blood and sacrifice. I base this on the continuing context of Acts and the law and prophets, such as Paul wrote, which we saw earlier. It’s one of the sublime strings that is woven into the fabric of the Bible. Not only was it predicted but it was promised. It’s one of the most misunderstood concepts in the Bible. God’s relationship between Israel and the nations in the Old Testament juxtaposed to Jesus’ relationship with the nations and Israel in the New Testament. But this is because we listen to dogma rather than consider the context. That is, there is no juxtaposition between the nations and Israel and there never was, not in God’s plan and purpose. It’s Peter’s purpose to present this, regardless if he is aware of it or not.

I know that you have your doubts, even though the Old Testament is replete with references to the stranger and to the alien who resides with Israel. We remember when God tells Israel to wipe out the nations but forget about the times he reminds them that it is not because they are good and the nations are bad, but because the nations were wicked. Peter now calls them wicked. I can sense that I am loosing you, let’s look at it through the lens of the fathers of the people present. Was Adam Jewish? Or was Seth, was Jared, Enoch, Methuselah, Noah, Lamech, Shem, Terah, Abraham or Jacob, Jewish? When did the law come in? Why did the law come in, according to Paul? “The law came to increase the trespass but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more.” It was never about a certain tribe other than Jesus was a descendant. Let me state it in another way. Using a very conservative approach, where the earth is very young and the genealogies are complete, the time before the Law and the time after the Law together are almost twice as many years as the Law. To put it another way; it’s almost as if the Law was parenthetical between the fathers and the gathering of the church. This is one of the details that should give us a cause for pause. Yet, the New Testament is clear, Jesus was, is and will for eternity, be the focus. The law and the prophets were nothing but a shadow to the substance of Christ.

 

 

 

 

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