Acts Jewish New Testament and comments of David H. Stern

chapter 3
1. One afternoon at three o’clock, the hour of minchah prayers, as Kefa and Yochanan were going up to the Temple,
One afternoon at three o'clock, the hour of minchah prayers. The Greek for this verse reads, literally, "And Kefa and Yochanan were going up to the Temple at the hour of the prayer, the ninth." By Roman reckoning the day began at sunrise, so the "ninth hour" would have been around 3 PM. According to one Talmudic source (B'rakhot 2bb) the three prayer services were instituted after the fall of the First Temple to replace the sacrifices (see Daniel 6:11 for a comparable custom during the Babylonian Exile). The three services are called Shachurit ("morning"), Minchah ("afternoon"; the word means "gift, offering") and Ma'ariv ("evening"). 

2. a man crippled since birth was being carried in. Every day people used to put him at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, so that he could beg from those going into the Temple court.
Beautiful Gate. The Hebrew word for "beautiful" is "yafeh," and any tourist can enter the Old City of Jerusalem by the "Jaffa Gate"; it is the end of the road from the port of Yafo (Jaffa, Joppa), named for its beauty, on the seacoast south of Tel Aviv. The gate spoken of here may be the Nikanor Gate referred to in the Mishna (Middot 2:3), which led from the Court of the Gentiles to the Women's Court of the Temple. 

3. When he saw Kefa and Yochanan about to enter, he asked them for some money.
4. But they stared straight at him; and Kefa said, “Look at us!”
5. The crippled man fixed his attention on them, expecting to receive something from them.
6. Kefa said, “I don’t have silver, and I don’t have gold, but what I do have I give to you: in the name of the Messiah, Yeshua of Natzeret, walk!”
7. And taking hold of him by his right hand, Kefa pulled him up. Instantly his feet and ankles became strong;
8. so that he sprang up, stood a moment, and began walking. Then he entered the Temple court with them, walking and leaping and praising God!
9. Everyone saw him walking and praising God.
10. They recognized him as the same man who had formerly sat begging at the Beautiful Gate of the Temple, and they were utterly amazed and confounded at what had happened to him.
11. While he clung to Kefa and Yochanan, all the people came running in astonishment toward them in Shlomo’s Colonnade.
Shlomo's Colonnade. See Yn 10:23N. 

12. Seeing this, Kefa addressed the people: “Men of Isra’el! Why are you amazed at this? Or why do you stare at us as if we had made this man walk through some power or godliness of our own?
A personal reaction: the start of Kefa's speech is so Jewish! The crowd had just witnessed an unbelievable miracle, and he asks, deadpan, "What are you all acting so surprised about?" 

13. The God of Avraham, Yitz’chak and Ya‘akov, the God of our fathers, (Exodus 3:6, 15) has glorified his servant Yeshua — the same Yeshua you handed over and disowned before Pilate, even after he had decided to release him.
The God of Avraham, Yitzchak and Ya'akov, the God of our fathers. This phrase is not accidental in Kefa's sermon. Its two parts are found in the first paragraph of the 'Amidah, the central section of the Minchah prayer service (see v. IN), which begins, "Praised be You, Adonai our God and God of our fathers, God of Avraham, God of Yitzchak and God of Ya'akov,..." and which his hearers would just then have been reciting in their minchah prayers in minyans throughout the Temple grounds, much as is done today at the Western Wall ("Waiiing Wall") in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Kefa's point: the very God to whom you have just now been praying in these words has glorified his servant Yeshua. In using the word "servant" Kcla identifies Yeshua as God's suffering servant spoken of in Isaiah 42-53; he makes the same identification at 1 Ke 2:21-25 by citing Isaiah 53. 

14. You denied the holy and innocent one, and instead asked for the reprieve of a murderer!
15. You killed the author of life! “But God has raised him from the dead! Of this we are witnesses.
16. And it is through putting trust in his name that his name has given strength to this man whom you see and know. Yes, it is the trust that comes through Yeshua which has given him this perfect healing in the presence of you all.
His name is not a magic word. Greek onoma corresponds to Hebrew shem, which, biblically, means not just a name but everything that the named individual is and represents — his work, personality, power, authority and reputation. See 2:38N, Mt 28:19N.

Trust, Greek pistis. "belief, trust, firm reliance, firm conviction, faith," corresponding to Hebrew emunah. The Jewish philosopher Martin Buber, though he honored Yeshua his "elder brother," tried in his book. Two Types of Faith, to demonstrate that the pistis of the New Testament and the emunah of the Tanakh are different. He claimed that pistis is primarily mental assent to doctrines and facts, while emunah is a heart attitude of trust that expresses itself in righteous acts. In fact, however, the latter is the only kind of faith God honors, in both the Old Testament and the New. True Messianic faith is not different in character from that of the Tanakh; it means acknowledging who God is and what he has done, believing his promises, relying on him for power to live a holy life, and then living that life.

The Jewish New Testament generally uses the word "trust" instead of "faith" to translate "pistis," because "trust" more clearly signifies to English-speakers the confident reliance on God that generates holy deeds, as opposed to mere mental acknowledgement of facts and ideas. The book of Galatians uses the awkward phrase, "trusting faithfulness," because the message of that book is so dependent on keeping the correct meaning of "pistis" in the forefront of consciousness (see Section (1) of Ga 2:16cN). 

17. “Now, brothers, I know that you did not understand the significance of what you were doing; neither did your leaders.
18. But this is how God fulfilled what he had announced in advance, when he spoke through all the prophets, namely, that his Messiah was to die.
After inculpating his fellow Jews in vv. 13-15 (see 2:22-23&N, 2:36&N) Kefa again calls them brothers (as at 2:29; also see 2:37-41 &N) and mitigates his words: you did not understand the significance of what you were doing. In the Torah, atonement avails only for unintended sins; for sins committed presumptuously there is no atonement (see Numbers 15:22-31, Leviticus 4—5). Even the cohanim and P'rushim involved in the events leading up to Yeshua's execution may be forgiven through-trusting Yeshua, and some availed themselves of the opportunity (6:7,15:5). Also compare 7:60, Lk 23:34.

A second cushion for the shock: this is how God fulfilled what he had announced in advance. The Messiah's death does not end all hope; on the contrary, God intended him to die, be resurrected and return. See 2:22-23&N.

God... announced... through... all the prophets... that the Messiah was to die.
In not specifying the Tanakh passages Kefa assumes his audience is aware of the relevant passages already and has their agreement that they apply to the death of the Messiah; otherwise at this point he would have lost his audience. See Mt 26:24N for a list of these Tanakh prophecies and their New Testament fulfillments. 

19. “Therefore, repent and turn to God, so that your sins may be erased;
Repent and turn to God, literally, "Change your mind and turn." KJV has "Repent and be converted"; but to the modem reader this suggests changing religions, e.g., from Judaism to Christianity, which is not what Kefa was talking about. For at that time "Christianity" as such did not exist; there was Judaism with Yeshua and Judaism without him (the same choice, along with the possibility of rejecting both, faces Jews today). 

20. so that times of refreshing may come from the Lord’s presence; and he may send the Messiah appointed in advance for you, that is, Yeshua.
Times of refreshing, that is, the Messianic Age. Compare the Mishna:
"Rabbi Ya'akov used to say, 'Better is one hour of repentance and good deeds in this world than the whole life of the world to come; and better is one hour of contentment (korat-ruach, "cooling of spirit") in the world to come than all the life of this world.'" (Avot 4:17)

In these "times of refreshing" self-rule will be restored to Israel (see 1:6-8&NN), and the Messiah appointed in advance for you. namely. Yeshua. will return. Kefa's audience, like today's Orthodox Jews, expected the Messiah in the future. Kefa says that the very Messiah they expect will turn out to be Yeshua, and he goes on in the following verses to explain why he doesn't come at once. 

21. He has to remain in heaven until the time comes for restoring everything, as God said long ago, when he spoke through the holy prophets.
He has to remain in heaven at the right hand of God (Psalm 110:1, quoted above at 2:35) until the time comes for restoring everything, both social and natural (Isaiah 11:1—12, Ro 8:18-23), when Yeshua will come on the clouds of Heaven (Daniel 7:13-14). Yeshua said the same thing at least twice, quoting Daniel (Mt 24:30, 26:64). 

22. For Moshe himself said, 'Adonai will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brothers. You are to listen to everything he tells you.
23. Everyone who fails to listen to that prophet will be removed from the people and destroyed' (Deuteronomy 18:15–16).
The same passage, Deuteronomy 18:15-19, is also cited in Stephen's sermon at 7:37. The P'rushim asked Yochanan the Immerser if he was "the prophet" foreseen in this passage (Yn I:21&N). The five thousand whom Yeshua fed wondered the same thing (Yn 6:14&N), as did some of the crowd to whom he offered living water (Yn 7:40). Evidently this passage from the Five Books of Moses was widely understood then as Messianic, and people were looking for its fulfillment.

But in later rabbinic literature this passage of the Torah is minimized in numerous instances of what I call "defensive theology," interpretations developed specifically to counter its New Testament application to Yeshua. Here are five:
(1) The commentary of Rashi (1040-1105) says it means that God will raise up a prophet in Moshe's place, "and so on, from prophet to prophet." That is. the passage does not speak of only a single individual prophet to come, but of the Tanakh 'x many prophets, of whom Malachi was the last.

(2) The Midrash Rabbah, compiled in the 6th to 12th centuries, has nothing on the passage at all, allowing silence to deflect curiosity.

(3) The Talmud (5th century) has an interesting paragraph (Yevamot 90b) which applies it to prophets in general in order to prove that they could abrogate a command of Torah if the need was great enough — using as an example Elijah's building an altar on Mount Carmel. near present-day Haifa and not in Jerusalem where God authorized one, in order to save Israel from idolatry (1 Kings 18:31ff.).

(4) Typical in our age is a popular commentary on the Torah by the former chief rabbi of England. Dr. J. H. Hertz, who says of the phrase, "like me": "Not of the same rank as Moses, but of the line of Prophets of which Moses is the 'father'." In support he cites Deuteronomy 34:10, "And there has not risen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom Adonai knew face to face." Of course, that verse was written centuries before Yeshua and therefore is irrelevant in proving whether or not Moses was prophesying about him.

(5) Perhaps the most obvious well-known example is in the 12th-century creed of Maimonides, especially as epitomized in the poem Yigdal, recited daily in the synagogue. The seventh of the Rambam's creedal statements reads,

"I believe with perfect faith that the prophecy of Moshe Rabbenu [Moses our teacher], peace be unto him, was true, and that he was chief of the prophets [literally, "father to the prophets"], both of those who preceded him and those who came after him." The Yigdal rephrases it,

'There has not arisen in Israel another like Moshe, a prophet who saw his vision clearly."

Was Yeshua "a prophet like Moshe"? Yes, and more. A prophet speaks for God, which Yeshua did; but he also spoke as God. He spoke what the Father gave him to say, as did all the prophets; but he and the Father are one (Yn 10:31). Moshe explained the sacrificial system for atonement; Yeshua was the final sacrifice for sin, the eternally effective atonement. Moshe established the system of cohanhn, with his brother Aaron as the first cohen gadol of the Tabernacle; the resurrected Yeshua is the eternal cohen gadol in the heavenly Tabernacle that served as model for the earthly one (Messianic Jews 7-10). At no point did Yeshua contradict what Moshe said; rather, he clarified and strengthened the Torah (Mt 5:17-2()&NN), made its application plainer (Mt 5:21-7:29), and sometimes himself was the application. See also 2:42N.

You are to listen to everything he, Yeshua, the prophet like Moshe, tells you. Everyone who fails to listen to that prophet will be removed from the people and destroyed. But what if the nation as a whole fails to listen? Then this becomes the kind of Torah violation which leads to the curses of Deuteronomy 28:15-68 (see Ga 3:13&N). The destruction of the Temple (70 C.E.), the expulsion from Jerusalem (135 C.E.) and the centuries of exile typify the punishments suffered by the Jewish people not for deicide and not directly for rejecting Yeshua but for violating the Torah's injunction to listen to the prophet like Moshe, who is Yeshua, "the goal at which the Torah aims" (Ro 10:4&N). But he can still be heard. He speaks through the Tanakh and the New Testament. Those who heed him become part of Israel's remnant (Romans 9-1 l&NN) and are not removed from the people. 

24. Indeed, all the prophets announced these days, starting with Sh’mu’el and continuing through all who followed.
All the prophets announced these days. See the lists of prophecies at Mt 26:24 and in Section VII of the Introduction to the JNT. 

25. “You are the sons of the prophets; and you are included in the covenant which God made with our fathers when he said to Avraham, 'By your seed will all the families of the earth be blessed' (Genesis 22:18; 26:4).
26. So it is to you first that God has sent his servant whom he has raised up, so that he might bless you by turning each one of you from your evil ways.”
You are the sons of the prophets and of the covenant with... A vraham. The point is that for this very reason it is to you First that God sent Yeshua the Messiah. The Gospel is "to the Jew first" (Ro 1:16, KJV). And it is with the Gospel of Yeshua that the promise of v. 25 is fulfilled; for that promise was made to Avraham and his son Yitzchak; and Yeshua is himself, in a midrashic sense, the promised seed who brings the blessing (Ga 3:16&N). The blessing consists in turning each one of you from your evil ways. On the one hand, you must turn (v. 19); on the other hand, God does the turning. Compare Lamentations 5:21, "Turn us to you, Adonai and we shall be turned"; and see Paragraph 2 of 2:22-23N above. Unlike more self-defensive audiences today, the people do not seem to object to being told that their ways are evil; apparently they accept this assessment of themselves and continue listening to Kefa and Yochanan (4:1). 

next chapter...