The Divine Lamp

The unfolding of thy words gives light; it imparts understanding to the simple…Make thy face shine upon thy servant, and teach me thy statutes

Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 3:1-10

Posted by Dim Bulb on April 27, 2011

1. Now Peter and John went up into the temple at the ninth hour of prayer.

The ninth hour, which was about 3 p.m., the hour for the evening sacrifice, when a lamb was immolated in the Temple (Ex 29:38; Num 28:3). The Israelites assisted in prayer at this sacrifice. The fixed hours for public prayer among the Jews were the third (9 a.m.), the sixth (12 m.), and the ninth (3 P.M.).

2. And a certain man who was lame from his mother’s womb, was carried: whom they laid every day at the gate of the temple, which is called Beautiful, that he might ask alms of them that went into the temple.

Lame from his mother’s womb. The man was ” above forty years old” (4:22), hence the miracle was very remarkable. The gate . . . beautiful. This was probably one of the gates in the wall which surrounded the Temple enclosure, perhaps on the east, leading from the Mount of Olives. Some think it was the gate leading into the Court of the Women, the outermost court of the Temple. No such gate as ” Beautiful” is mentioned by Josephus or other Jewish authors.

3. He, when he had seen Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked to receive an alms.

Father Callan offers no comment on this verse. Almsgiving was a sacred duty within Judaism (see the Book of Tobit 1:3, 16; 2:14; 4:7-11). For more Jeiwsh background see “Alms” in the online Jewish Encyclopedia. See also The Catholic Encyclopedia article on “Alms and Almsgiving”.

4. But Peter with John fastening his eyes upon him, said: Look upon us.

Peter wished the man to fix his eyes upon the source of the miracle about to be performed in order that he might clearly understand whence came the power that wrought it, and thus be moved to believe in the divine mission of the Apostles. The miracle, however, was intended more for others than for the man himself.

5. But he looked earnestly upon them, hoping that he should receive something of them.

Father Callan offers no comment on this verse. The primary particle δέ (de) used here usually serves as an adversative conjunctive (i.e., “but”, implying a contrast, rather than “and”, implying a connection).  That such is the meaning here is confirmed by the word προσδοκων (prosdokon), translated above as “hoping.” The word would be better translated here as “expecting.”  

The man clearly expects some sort of financial gift, however small, to help alleviate his beggarly condition which, the text suggests, was the result of his lame condition.

6.  But Peter said: Silver and gold I have none; but what I have, I give thee. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, arise and walk.

I have none. The Apostles were leading a life of evangelical poverty in common, and so had no money to give; but in the name, i.e., in the power and authority of Jesus Christ, they could perform miracles, such as this present one.

I have none. The Apostles have not yet become administrators of the donations given for the alleviation of the poor (see Acts 4:32-5:11). The Apostle has shown his trustworthiness in administering true wealth (Luke 16:10-13). The power he and the rest of the Apostles posses is of incomparable value in relation to money (Acts 8:18-24).

In the name of Jesus Christ. The power of the name of the Lord will become a focal point in Peter’s speech to the people in Acts 3:11-26. The healing is the catalyst for that speech and should be seen in intimate connection with it. Concerning the name of Jesus see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, articles 340-345.

Arise and walk. There is an obvious allusion to the theme of Jesus’ resurrection here; it will become explicit in Peter’s speech (Acts 3:15-16).

7. And taking him by the right hand, he lifted him up, and forthwith his feet and soles received strength.

His feet and soles received strength. See Isaiah 35:3~Strengthen ye the feeble hands, and confirm the weak knees. The word here translated as “strength” is εστερεωθησαν, it’s basic meaning is “too solidify”. It is derived from στερεόω (stereoō) and it establishes another connection to Peter’s speech where it is closely associated with the man’s faith (see Acts 3:16). The word is latter used for the establishment of churches in the faith (Acts 16:5).

8. And he leaping up, stood, and walked, and went in with them into the temple, walking, and leaping, and praising God.

And he leaping up &c. See the Greek text of Isaiah 35:6~Then shall the lame man leap as a hart, and the tongue of the dumb shall be free: for waters are broken out in the desert, and streams in the wilderness. Note the staccato use of verbs here to emphasize the effect of the healing (“leaping,” “stood,” “walked,” “went in,” “walking,” “leaping,” “praising”). His act of “praising” suggests that he has become a member of the Church (Acts 2:47). There also may be another allusion to Isaiah 35~And the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and shall come into Sion with praise, and everlasting joy shall be upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and mourning shall flee away (Is 35:10). 

9. And all the people saw him walking and praising God.
10. And they knew him, that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful gate of the temple; and they were filled with wonder and amazement at that which had happened to him.

These verses round out the beginning of the account and provide a lead in to Peter’s speech in Acts 3:11-26; see especially verse 12).

2 Responses to “Father Callan’s Commentary on Acts 3:1-10”

  1. […] Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (Acts 3:1-10). 12:05 AM EST. […]

  2. […] Father Callan’s Commentary on Today’s First Reading (Acts 3:1-10). […]

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