What does Acts 3:17 mean?
ESV: “And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers.
NIV: Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders.
NASB: And now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your rulers also did.
CSB: "And now, brothers and sisters, I know that you acted in ignorance, just as your leaders also did.
NLT: Friends, I realize that what you and your leaders did to Jesus was done in ignorance.
KJV: And now, brethren, I wot that through ignorance ye did it, as did also your rulers.
Verse Commentary:
Peter's concept of guilt may sound harsh. He is speaking to a crowd of Jews in Solomon's Portico, across from the temple. It's likely many of them are residents of Jerusalem and were present at the Passover when Jesus was crucified. It doesn't follow that they were all part of the crowd who demanded Jesus be crucified and Barabbas be released (Matthew 27:20–23). But God interacted with the Jews collectively: if they obeyed Him as a whole, He blessed them as a whole; if they rebelled against Him as a whole, He punished them as a whole (Deuteronomy 28:1–6, 15–19). Their corporate identity resulted in corporate culpability. That is why Daniel, a righteous God-follower, could confess the sins of the Jews as if they were his own (Daniel 9:1–19).

Now, Peter explains that they are guilty of Jesus' murder even though they acted in ignorance. Granted, "ignorance" is a relative term. The people of Israel—and especially their religious leaders—had the Jewish Scriptures that prophesied the description of the Messiah (Isaiah 7:14; 9:6; Zechariah 9:9). But because they did not have a strong relationship with God, they could not recognize that Jesus was their Savior (John 15:21). Later, Paul will explain that the prophecies about Jesus' death (Psalm 22:16–18; Isaiah 50:6; 53:3–7; Zechariah 12:10) were fulfilled because the perpetrators didn't understand the prophecies: "For those who live in Jerusalem and their rulers, because they did not recognize him nor understand the utterances of the prophets, which are read every Sabbath, fulfilled them by condemning him" (Acts 13:27).

We sometimes try to bargain our way out of guilt for our sins. We claim we didn't know; or we didn't have a choice; or although we were part of a group that espoused those beliefs, we weren't present at that particular time when the beliefs were manifested as harm to another. The Bible is clear: we are born sinful (Psalm 51:5). Certainly, there are mitigating circumstances, and accidents do happen. But if our leg is broken, it doesn't matter whether it was entirely our fault, or entirely someone else's fault—we go to the doctor and get it taken care of. So, when we sin, we need to deal with it. We must repent, accept Jesus' forgiveness, and ask Him to work in our heart so we grow in righteousness.

We should also be grateful that His death gave us these options. Pride and defensiveness just get in the way. Jesus says, "Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:3). Those who willingly acknowledge their spiritual bankruptcy before God will be welcomed into the world where His grace and love reign. That's an overwhelming reward for just being honest with ourselves.
Verse Context:
Acts 3:11–26 transcribes the sermon Peter gives at the temple. While Peter and John enter the temple to pray, Peter heals a lame beggar who has asked for alms. The man is healed and leaps up, praising God (Acts 3:1–10). When this catches the crowd's attention, Peter explains that the healing power did not come from them but from Jesus of Nazareth whom the Jews killed. The results are mixed; the Jesus-followers gain unwanted attention from the Jewish officials (Acts 4:1–3), but five thousand men plus women find faith in Jesus (Acts 4:4).
Chapter Summary:
Acts 3 is comprised of two sections: the healing of a lame man and the explanation of that healing. First, a man who has been lame his whole life approaches Peter and John to beg from them at the temple. When Peter heals him in Jesus' name, a crowd gathers around. Peter gives witness to Jesus (Acts 1:8) and tells the crowd that Jesus' authority and power healed this man. Looking back as modern readers, we see how, as the man's body symbolically ''repented,'' or turned away, from its broken form into freedom of movement, so the people can repent from their broken thoughts, actions, and beliefs, and find freedom from sin.
Chapter Context:
Acts 3 contains the second major speech of Jesus' followers. In Acts 1, Jesus ascended into heaven. In Acts 2, His followers received the Holy Spirit and gave such witness to Him that three thousand people believed in Him. Here, Peter explains that Jesus' power and authority have healed a lame man, and Jesus can heal sinful hearts, as well. This moment will bring the fledgling church to the attention of the Sanhedrin: the Jewish ruling court. There, Peter and John will set the example for all Jesus-followers. Jesus told them to be His witness (Acts 1:8); nothing a human authority can say will stop them.
Book Summary:
The summary of the book of Acts is provided in Jesus' words in Acts 1:8: ''But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.'' In Acts 2:1–13, the Christ-followers receive the Holy Spirit. Acts 2:14—7:60 describes the rapid growth of the church in Jerusalem. Chapters 8—12 find Jewish persecution inadvertently spreading the gospel throughout Judea and Samaria. And in chapters 13—28, Paul and his companions spread the good news throughout the Roman Empire.
Accessed 4/15/2024 11:44:35 PM
© Copyright 2002-2024 Got Questions Ministries. All rights reserved.
Text from ESV, NIV, NASB, CSB, NLT, KJV © Copyright respective owners, used by permission.
www.BibleRef.com