“Friends, I realise that what you and your leaders did to Jesus was done in ignorance. But God was fulfilling what all the prophets had foretold about the Messiah—that He must suffer these things. Now repent of your sins and turn to God, so that your sins may b e wiped away. Then times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord, and He will again send you Jesus, your appointed Messiah. For He must remain in heaven until the time for the final restoration of all things, as God promised long ago through His holy prophets. Moses said, ‘The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from among your own people. Listen carefully to everything He tells you.’ Then Moses said, ‘Anyone who will not listen to that Prophet will be completely cut off from God’s people.’ “Starting with Samuel, every prophet spoke about what is happening today. You are the children of those prophets, and you are included in the covenant God promised to your ancestors. For God said to Abraham, ‘Through your descendants all the families on earth will be blessed.’ When God raised up His servant, Jesus, He sent Him first to you people of Israel, to bless you by turning each of you back from your sinful ways.”Acts 3:17-26
The aggressive, condemnatory speech has now softened to be conciliatory and explanatory. Peter tells the audience, whom he accused of handing Jesus over to Pilate and rejecting Him, despite Pilate’s willingness to let Him go, that they did what they did in ignorance. While accusing them of rejecting the Holy and Righteous One, in favour of a murderer and of killing the Author of Life, Peter tells them they are still children of the prophets and included in God’s covenant. And therefore likely to receive times of refreshing and forgiveness if they will only repent. It seems like a remarkable turn around given the nature of the accusations in the earlier segment of this speech. Remember that all this is taking place at Solomon’s Colonnade following the healing of the lame man. Yes, I guess some may see a mismatch here. Why are there not more references to the healing and power of God being poured out through the Holy Spirit? The only references to the miracle appear in the bread of the shock-sandwich I referred to in Gem 1402. Peter opens his speech with, “What is so surprising about this? And why stare at us as though we had made this man walk by our own power or godliness?” Then he closes his tirade toward them with, “Through faith in the name of Jesus, this man was healed—and you know how crippled he was before. Faith in Jesus’ name has healed him before your very eyes.” These are the only references to what was a major miracle. It is like the miracle goes by unnoticed in order to give a chance for Peter to give a little speech about Jesus. Like a Bollywood movie that breaks into song at the drop of hat, so Peter breaks into preaching at the sign of any miracle.
As I asked in the earlier questions I suggested for this segment:
- Why is the speech so unconnected to the Miracle?
- It is like the speech could have been on any occasion. Did Peter really make this speech at the scene of this miracle?
The incongruity of the lack of significant reference to the healing and the accusatory tone of Peter’s comments. have led some critics to suggest this is an excuse for Luke to add theological teaching about Jesus, Christian doctrine, at any opportunity – a canned “Jesus speech” squeezed in anywhere there was an opportunity. Do the two parts of this speech belong together? Did Peter really launch into a tirade of condemnation at his audience only to tell them they should repent and if they did, everything would be alright? Especially given the heinous nature of what he accuses them of doing? This is not the only time that we will encounter this kind of speech in the Book of Acts. All through the Book at various times we come across theological speeches of which many have questioned the validity. In short, did this really happen like this? Were these words actually spoken by Peter or did this doctrinal teaching come from another source, not Luke? To some it just seems a little unconnected, over the top religious. Any chance to slip in the standard Christian teaching into what was a valid historical story.
Why too the mismatch in the tone between verses 13-15 and 17-26?
This is a feature of the Book of Acts so it is best I address the issue from the outset.
- Why is it that Acts is like that?
- What part do all these speeches play?
- And why are they so anti-Jewish?
These kinds of statements in the Bible have led to Jewish persecution at the hand of Christians down through the ages. It is the strong nature of the condemnation of the Jews themselves at the hands of fellow Jews which makes it seem so incongruous.
I am sure some of you readers will wonder why I have focused on this aspect for this Gem. Let me tell you, there is more condemnation to come, and stronger in nature. Hence my reason to address the issue now up front. Why is much of this speech making such condemnatory accusations of the Jewish people? I am going to leave you with these thoughts “overnight” in order to prompt you to do some thinking about it. What is going on here and why did Peter take this approach? Why indeed do we have such strong condemnatory language in one part followed by a segment which appears almost like a pat on the back with some soothing words that it will be alright. Christianity can seem a bit like that. Strong condemnation for the worst of criminals and then suddenly it is all alright because they have repented in prison and are now Christians so that makes it all alright.
What do you think about this? Does it upset you as it does some of the critics of Christian teaching?
I don’t like innuendos hanging in the air. I like to address the unasked questions. The question that all of us want to ask, but none dare come out with the challenge. Paul is very much like that in his writings. He spends a lot of time asking the unasked rhetorical questions in order to state clearly the issues that everyone has in their minds but no one dares to bring out. Well, now I have, therefore I give you time to think about it before we move on. It is best we do that in handling the Book of Acts because we are going to meet this kind of issue again and again.
Think about it.
People who are wrong can be hard to correct. People who are right can be hard to live with.Anon
The only people who listen to both sides of an argument are the neighbours.Anon
You don’t have to attend every argument you’re invited to.Anon
One mustn’t criticise other people on grounds where he can’t stand perpendicular himself.Mark Twain
Don’t be so open-minded your brains fall out.Rick Godwin
You can’t change the outcome, you have to change the narrative. It’s the truth that sets you Free!T D Jakes