Acts 3:1 MEANING

Acts 3:1

(1) Now Peter and John went up.--Better, were going up. The union of the two brings the narratives of the Gospels into an interesting connection with the Acts. They were probably about the same age (the idea that Peter was some years older than John rests mainly on the pictures which artists have drawn from their imagination, and has no evidence in Scripture), and had been friends from their youth upward. They had been partners as fishermen on the Sea of Galilee (Luke 5:10). They had been sharers in looking for the consolation of Israel, and had together received the baptism of John (John 1:41). John and Andrew had striven which should be the first to tell Peter that they had found the Christ (John 1:41). The two had been sent together to prepare for the Passover (Luke 22:8). John takes Peter into the palace of the high priest (John 18:16), and though he must have witnessed his denials is not estranged from him. It is to John that Peter turns for comfort after his fall, and with him he comes to the sepulchre on the morning of the Resurrection (John 20:6). The eager affection which, now more strongly than ever, bound the two together is seen in Peter's question, "Lord, and what shall this man do?" (John 21:21); and now they are again sharers in action and in heart, in teaching and in worship. Passing rivalries there may have been, disputes which was the greatest, prayers for places on the right hand and the left (Matthew 20:20; Mark 10:35); but the idea maintained by Renan (Vie de Jesus, Introduction), that St. John wrote his Gospel to exalt himself at the expense of Peter, must take its place among the delirantium somnia, the morbid imaginations, of inventive interpretation. They appear in company again in the mission to Samaria (Acts 8:14), and in recognising the work that had been done by Paul and Barnabas among the Gentiles (Galatians 2:9). When it was that they parted never to meet again, we have no record. No account is given as to the interval that had passed since the Day of Pentecost. Presumably the brief notice at the end of Acts 2 was meant to summarise a gradual progress, marked by no striking incidents, which may have gone on for several months. The absence of chronological data in the Acts, as a book written by one who in the Gospel appears to lay stress on such matters (Luke 3:1; Luke 6:2), is somewhat remarkable. The most natural explanation is that he found the informants who supplied him with his facts somewhat uncertain on these points, and that, as a truthful historian, he would not invent dates.

At the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour--sc., 3 P.M., the hour of the evening sacrifice (Jos. Ant. xiv. 4, ? 3). The traditions of later Judaism had fixed the third, the sixth, and the ninth hours of each day as times for private prayer. Daniel's practice of praying three times a day seems to imply a rule of the same kind, and Psalm 55:17 ("evening and morning and at noon will I pray") carries the practice up to the time of David. "Seven times a day" was, perhaps, the rule of those who aimed at a life of higher devotion (Psalm 119:164). Both practices passed into the usage of the Christian Church certainly as early as the second century, and probably therefore in the first. The three hours were observed by many at Alexandria in the time of Clement (Strom, vii. p. 722). The seven became the "canonical hours" of Western Christendom, the term first appearing in the Rule of St. Benedict (ob. A.D. 542) and being used by Bede (A.D. 701).

Verse 1. - Were going up for went up together, A.V. and T.R. Peter and John. The close friendship of these two apostles is remarkable. The origin of it appears to have been their partnership in the fishing-boats in which they pursued their trade as fishermen on the Sea of Galilee. For St. Luke tells us that the sons of Zebedee were "partners with Simon," and helped him to take the miraculous draught of fishes (Luke 5:10). We find the two sons of Zebedee associated with Peter in the inner circle of the Lord's apostles, at the Transfiguration, at the raising of Jairus's daughter, and at the agony in the Garden of Gethsemane (see also Mark 13:3). But the yet closer friendship of Peter and John first appears in their going together to the palace of Caiaphas on the night of the betrayal (John 18:15), and then in the memorable visit to the holy sepulcher on the morning of the Resurrection (John 20:2-4), and yet again in John 21:7, 20, 21. It is in strict and natural sequence to these indications in the Gospel that, on opening the first chapters of the Acts, we find Peter and John constantly acting together in the very van of the Christian army (see Acts 3:1, 3, 11; Acts 4:13, 19; Acts 8:14, 25). The hour of prayer; called in Luke 1:10, "the hour of incense," that is, the hour of the evening sacrifice, when the people stood outside in prayer, while the priest within offered the sacrifice and burnt the incense (see Acts 2:46, note). Hence the comparison in Psalm 141:2, "Let my prayer be set before thee as incense, and the lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice."

3:1-11 The apostles and the first believers attended the temple worship at the hours of prayer. Peter and John seem to have been led by a Divine direction, to work a miracle on a man above forty years old, who had been a cripple from his birth. Peter, in the name of Jesus of Nazareth, bade him rise up and walk. Thus, if we would attempt to good purpose the healing of men's souls, we must go forth in the name and power of Jesus Christ, calling on helpless sinners to arise and walk in the way of holiness, by faith in Him. How sweet the thought to our souls, that in respect to all the crippled faculties of our fallen nature, the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth can make us whole! With what holy joy and rapture shall we tread the holy courts, when God the Spirit causes us to enter therein by his strength!Now Peter and John went up together into the temple,.... These two disciples were intimate companions, and great lovers of each other; they were often together: they are thought, by some, to have been together in the high priest's palace at the trial of Christ; and they ran together to his sepulchre, John 18:15 and they now went together to the temple, not to attend the daily sacrifice, which was now abolished by the sacrifice of Christ, but to attend to the duty of prayer, which was still in force, and that they might have an opportunity of preaching Christ, where there was a number of people together:

at the hour of prayer; being the ninth hour, or three o'clock in the afternoon. This was one of their hours of prayer; it was customary with the Jews to pray three times a day, Daniel 6:10 which, according to the Psalmist in Psalm 55:17 were evening, morning, and at noon; to which seems to answer the three times that are taken notice of by Luke in this history: that in the morning was at the third hour, as in Acts 2:15 or nine o'clock in the morning; that at noon was at the sixth hour, as in Acts 10:9 or twelve o'clock at noon; and that in the evening at the ninth hour, as here, or three o'clock in the afternoon. Not that these were times of divine appointment. The Jews (o) themselves say,

"there is no number of prayers from the law, and there is no repetition of this or that prayer from the law, and there is no , "fixed time" for prayer from the law.''

But according to the traditions of the elders,

"the morning prayer was to the end of the fourth hour, which is the third part of the day--the prayer of the "Minchah", (or evening prayer,) they fixed the time of it to answer to the evening daily sacrifice; and because the daily sacrifice was offered up every day from the ninth hour and a half, they ordered the time of it to be from the ninth hour and a half, and it is called the lesser "Minchah"; and because in the evening of the passover, which falls upon the evening of the sabbath, they slay the daily sacrifice at the sixth hour and a half, they say, that he that prays after the sixth hour and a half is excused; and after this time is come, the time to which he is obliged is come, and this is called the great "Minchah"---lo, you learn, that the time of the great "Minchah" is from the sixth hour and a half, to the ninth hour and a half; and the time of the lesser "Minchah" is from the ninth hour and a half, until there remains of the day an hour and a quarter; and it is lawful to pray it until the sun sets.''

So that it was at the time of the lesser "Minchah" that Peter and John went up to the temple; which seems to be not on the same day of Pentecost, but on some day, or days after; it may be the sabbath following, when there was a great number of people got together.

(o) Maimon. Hilch. Tephilla, c. 1. sect. 1. Ib. c. 3. sect. 1, 2, 4. Vid. T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 26. 2.

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