Acts 3: Giving to the Needy

He [a lame man] asked them to give him some money. . . . The man stared at them, expecting to get something from them.  “I haven’t got any silver or gold,” Peter said, “but I’ll give you what I have got.  In the name of the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, get up and walk!”  (3:3-6)

We have all heard it a thousand times: “Hey man, can you spare a little change?”  More often these days I get an elaborate story involving a broken down truck several miles away and how there is a need for money to “fix my truck.”

Much ink has been spilled on the topic of helping the needy.  There are many different perspectives on whether to help or how best to help.  There is no need to rehearse the arguments here.

This is what struck me in this chapter instead:

You are the children of the prophets, the children of the covenant with God established with your ancestors when he said to Abraham, “In your seed shall all the families of the earth be blessed.” (3:25)

We are the “children of the prophets” who spoke about caring for the needy almost as much as they did singular devotion to God.  We have received a legacy from Abraham that includes a calling to give to or “bless” the nations.  Well, I know, actually this was talking about the Jews.  But we have been grafted into the olive tree of Israel, haven’t we (Romans 11:16-21)?  Spiritually, we are talking about our family history too, right?  So, giving is a part of our spiritual heritage.

And give to this lame man is exactly what Peter did.  However, Peter did not give the man what he was asking for.  Instead of getting what he requested, this man receives what he needs.  Money is a small blessing compared to healing and wholeness.  Maybe he was so demoralized by his ailments that he had given up hope for anything more than pity.  Maybe it was just easier to beg for denarii.  Regardless, in line with his heritage, Peter gave.

Peter also gave in such a way that God received the credit.  Peter and John were evidently receiving honor for the miracle (3:12).  But they deflected the attention from themselves back to the “God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob — the God of our ancestors” (3:13).  They gave to the needy and God received the glory.

Lord, give us compassionate, giving hearts — to your glory!

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10 thoughts on “Acts 3: Giving to the Needy

  1. Eddy Efaw

    We are “children of the prophets, the children of the covenant with God established with your ancestors” Yes! “Giving is our spiritual heritage” YES! “Peter also gave in such a way that God received the credit” Wow.

    We emphasized the point you make here about us modern day, “Gentile Christians” being connected to the family of God established in Israel in our Sunday school classes a few weeks back. What a different approach to these early chapters of Acts. It was also brought out how many significant moments in the lives of the spiritual giants of the Old Testament involved the Spirit of God. (I wish I could remember them all here now.) Our Power source is part of that spiritual heritage as well and can give us all that we need to activate our lives in service to our world that will ultimately give glory to God.

    * This is my favorite blog post of yours so far Jason! LOVE your observations of deeper points in what I’ve read so many times! Thank you!

    • Thanks Eddy!

      You mentioned that the Spirit was involved in so many big events of the OT (Creation, Gideon, Samson, David, the Exile, and others) and you are SO right! The amazing and humbling thing to me is how that Spirit came and went in the OT. The Spirit in the OT showed up from time to time to make pivotal moments happen. We, on the other hand, through the power of the cross and the privilege of baptism, have the HS every single minute of every single day. WOW!

      • Eddy Efaw

        And another amazing change would be that instead of the Holy Spirit coming to just key OT individuals now EACH Christian (Jew AND GENTILE!) has the Spirit of God IN them! We have to get that into our heads as modern day believers and let it activate our daily lives.

  2. Melanie

    I love that idea—giving to others to glorify God. Sometimes I give because something is needed and because giving makes me feel good. And, oh yes, may God be glorified. But I think I personally miss the mark on the intentionality of glorifying God through giving.

  3. Trent Williamson

    I’m with Eddy – this is by far my favorite post. I love the idea of giving as a part of our spiritual heritage and in ways that glorify God. That kind of takes the pressure and spotlight off of US!!!

    I love this blog and the way it is making me think!

  4. Eddy Efaw

    Ditto to both Melanie and Trent’s comments!

  5. V13 – The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God of our fathers, has glorified his servant Jesus.
    I think my hypothesis is right, Jesus is only a servant. I this this verse is very clear.

    V16- “By faith in the name of Jesus, this man whom you see and know was made strong. It is Jesus’ name and the faith that comes through him that has given this complete healing to him, as you can all see.”
    The word “through him” make me think he talking about “the teaching of Jesus”, as earlier verse talk in Mark.

    V19- Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord. This verse again make me wonder;
    Salvation of Christianity is about repent, and turn to God.
    Why people keep telling me about God need to kill his son to make sure sin is being wipe out. Wipe out mean 100% forgiven, right?

    v20- “and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you–even Jesus.”
    The word “even” make me think, Christ is only Jesus. As mention in OT, sometime word Christ (Messiah) also being refered to prophet.

    V22- I still remember this verse, the point where most Muslim state that “Moses are more similar to Muhammad in many way rather than Jesus”. So many debate Muslim-Christian talking about this verse.

    V24 – Every prophet talk about this day.
    V25- It coming from heir of Abraham, need to be linked to chapter of Deut.

    V22- 26, A most debating verse. It end with:
    “When God raised up his servant, he sent him first to you to bless you by turning each of you from your wicked ways.”
    So, in this verse, there was certain rules need to be meet:
    – God raise up his servant like Moses (v22), but the verse start with “When”, which is mention about future.
    He sent him 1st to bless you
    And by turning each of you from wicked ways.

    Hypotesis:
    If he is Jesus pbuh,
    it just make Jesus a “servant” of God
    The result is “by turning each of you from your wicked ways.” It true in his second coming.
    This will held on a second coming (because it talking about future).

    If he is talking about Muhammad pbuh,
    He is already a servant of God
    He is more similar in many way to Moses.
    his result is “by turning each of you from your wicked ways”. All Mecca turning to Islam from Paganism.

    A tough chapter again.

    • V.16 — “Name” is a common way to say the presence or person of, that is, it is through Jesus that this person has healing. This is only confirmed but he next clause, “the faith that comes through Jesus”, in other words the faith that person develops because of Jesus. So, the point is that this beggar was healed because and through Jesus. Jesus is becoming more and more powerful as the story continues.

      V.19 — If all that needs to happen for a person to be cleansed of sin is that Jesus needs to die, then every human on earth is saved/cleansed. That is what one Christian writer named Deitrich Bonhoeffer (who died in the Nazi concentration camps fighting against the tyranny of Hitler) called “cheap grace.” If this is true, the 2/3rds of the world that are not Christians are showing absolutely no respect or regard to God for what he has done, meaning that His work is taken for granted and abused. Instead the BIble describes it this way: God has done all of the work necessary to save humans. He has paid the entire price. There is nothing we can do to add to it, and there is nothing lacking in the sacrifice of Jesus. However, God still wants to see that people really do want to be saved/cleansed. He wants to see one thing: a dependent trust that says “I will repent of living a life for myself and I will obey God’s will, however imperfectly.” This faith does not add something to the work of Jesus. It does not save us. But it is still necessary, more so as a way to show a person’s heart is true. So 100% cleansing of any and all sin has already taken place, but whether it gets applied to a person is up to one simple decision to ask for it with a true heart.

      V.22 — This mention of “one like Moses” seems to be pretty clearly talking about Jesus in the context of this chapter. How is Muhammad more like Moses than Jesus was?

      V.26 is also in the past tense. When Peter said this he thought this raising up had already taken place, in his mind. The best explanation would be the life and ministry of Jesus that had just culminated with the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. You could call this the First Coming of Christ. It makes almost no sense for Peter to mention Muhammad here. Muhammad also did not come to the Jews first and was not interested in turning the Jews from their wicked ways.

  6. How is Muhammad more like Moses than Jesus was?
    I think I have a copy from other blogs regading prophet like Moses.
    http://hifzanshafiee.wordpress.com/2011/10/12/a-prophet-like-moses/

  7. This Holy Spirit is something else!

    Peter and John are talking to the same people who had Jesus killed months or maybe a year or two before this story. If there is anyone they might want to “be wiped out from the people” it would be these guys. But there is so much love in this passage! Come, turn to Jesus. You are “first in line.”God wants to “pour out showers of blessing to refresh you.”

    WOW! What an incredible Spirit that can protect even from bitterness and judgmentalism.

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