Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a man lame from birth was being carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple that is called the Beautiful Gate to ask alms of those entering the temple. Seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, he asked to receive alms. And Peter directed his gaze at him, as did John, and said, “Look at us.” And he fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them. But Peter said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” (Acts 3:1-6 ESV)
The depth of Peter’s statement will be neglected if we don’t pay close attention to it. It’s possible that because this verse is in the middle of a story, the reader will not look for any significant theology in it. However, we find several interesting points being made here:
1) The lame man, who couldn’t make a living, begging outside the temple.
2) His desire: financial. No doubt he wanted to be healed, but it’s unlikely he thought this was possible. He might have heard about Jesus, but it doesn’t appear that he sought him out or knew of the Apostles.
3) He did not think in terms of the supernatural. He wasn’t expecting Peter to heal him, he thought he was just an ordinary man. Peter was ordinary, but had the aid of an extraordinary God.
4) He was expecting something from them, but it was material, not immaterial. He was expecting alms, not healing. This appears to be the case, until the next verse.
5) It appears implied in context that the man got up at Peter’s request, with faith in the promise that he would walk because of Jesus. The text simply doesn’t say if he had faith or not at this moment. What it does say is that the man complied with Peter’s command, and he was healed. Then, he demonstrated thankfulness and praised God. It’s safe to say conversion happened, the bigger miracle is salvation, not physical healing.
Now for the amazing part of Peter’s statement:
“I have no silver or gold.”- Peter was not able to give him anything that would help his financial condition. It’s interesting how many of us feel the same way about ministering to others. We say we are lacking finances, or time, or anything to donate. Peter didn’t stop there; he wasn’t thinking materially. He was mindful of Christ, of eternal life, and had a healthy perspective on what matters when it comes to helping others.
“But what I have I give to you.” – He wasn’t saying that healing was less than money, he also wasn’t strictly talking about healing. The Holy Spirit was going to save him! It was not like he was saying, “I don’t have any money, but I know something that might also work.” He wasn’t giving him something less than money or possibly equal in value, he was giving him something greater. Do you understand this? You may not have time or money, but if and when you do encounter people, you have the gospel!
“In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth”- The gospel is the point here, the name of Jesus Christ. There is no other name that saves us (Acts 4:20), no other name that we call Lord (Phil. 2:10), and no other name that secures us (see Jude). The name of Jesus, whom Peter calls here Jesus of Nazareth, is life changing. Jesus the human being, who is also God, is alive and at work in us!
Without Jesus Christ, none of what happened was possible. Do you realize the power of the God you have faith in? Do you know that the same Holy Spirit who lived in Peter lives in you also? Can you see why you need to share the gospel with others? This passage is not just about a physical healing, it’s about receiving the greatest healing: salvation in Jesus Christ.
And he took him by the right hand and raised him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were made strong. And leaping up he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God. and recognized him as the one who sat at the Beautiful Gate of the temple, asking for alms. And they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him. (Acts 3:7, 8, 10 ESV)