What does Acts chapter 3 mean?Jesus has ascended (Acts 1:9) and His followers have received the promised Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1–4). They are in the beginning stages of their mission: being Jesus' witnesses in Jerusalem (Acts 1:8). They have already spoken to a group of Jews from around the Roman Empire (Acts 2:14–41). Their group of 120 people quickly grew to about three thousand (Acts 1:15; 2:41). In Acts 3, Peter and John live their lives as Jewish Christ-followers and respond to their environment accordingly.
As good Jews who are staying in Jerusalem, they go to the temple to pray. While there, they see a lame beggar who asks for alms. They want to help, but they don't have any money. As Christ-followers, and specially empowered by the Holy Spirit, they have the ability to provide help beyond what the other worshipers can provide. In Jesus' name, they can heal the man and cause him to walk. The man is a familiar figure in the area, and the people quickly notice (Acts 3:1–10).
A crowd gathers around Peter and John, wanting to know how the man was healed. Peter ties in what the people see to the power and purpose of Jesus. He immediately rejects any idea that the healing was performed by his own power. It is Jesus' power and authority who healed the man—the same Jesus whom the Jewish nation rejected and traded for a murderer. Peter's faith in Jesus' name healed the man (Acts 3:11–16).
Peter goes on to outline how the Jewish people have continually rejected Jesus. They killed Him. They ignored the writings of the prophets that would have told them Jesus was their Savior. They even ignored Moses, who wrote the very law they were at the temple to fulfill. They were blind to the fact that this Jesus is the fulfillment of God's initial promise to their first patriarch: Abraham. The fact that all these things are in the Jewish Scriptures should have alerted the Jews to who Jesus is. Fortunately, there's still time to accept Him (Acts 3:17–25).
Since the time of John the Baptist, the message has always been "repentance for the forgiveness of sins" (Mark 1:4). With repentance will come refreshment and restoration. The Jews will be blessed—not by finding freedom from Roman rule—but freedom from their own wickedness (Acts 3:26).
Peter's message to the Jews on the Temple Mount follows the style found elsewhere in Acts. His sermon on Pentecost took the people's confusion about the disciples speaking in different languages and showed them how this is a sign of the Messiah (Acts 2). Stephen turns a charge of wanting to destroy the temple (Acts 6:13–14) into an accusation that the Jews crucified Jesus unjustly (Acts 7). Paul spent time in Athens and was able to show how the Greek gods suggested the existence of the Creator God who would one day judge the world (Acts 17:16–34). None of these sermons are non-sequiturs—they are not random or chaotic responses. They all take the situation at hand and show how it applies to Jesus.