Acts 3 healing - where did it occur?

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Puritan Board Freshman
I am preaching on Acts 3:1-10 soon, am having a hard time discerning the location of the healing. Did it take place outside the beautiful gate? or outside the temple altogether as they both were approaching? The text is not abundantly clear.

The fact that Peter ended up preaching near Solomon's porch indicates that perhaps they remained in the court of the gentiles the entire time, else they would have gone into the court of women through the beautiful gate only to come out again as the crowds were milling after the healing. If that is where the teaching happened then it seems that the crowd would have gathered at the sight of the healed man entering into the OUTER courts.

But are the outer courts even considered part of the temple proper? When it says the beggar entered the temple with the apostles, would that have referred to entering the temple through the beautiful gate?

Thanks in advance!

Ed Walsh

Puritan Board Senior
I am preaching on Acts 3:1-10 soon, am having a hard time discerning the location of the healing. Did it take place outside the beautiful gate? or outside the temple altogether as they both were approaching? The text is not abundantly clear

I think the short answer is that we don't know for sure.
Richard. Lenski (Lutheran) is always helpful for this kind of question. Below is his comment on verses 1 through 10.


The miracle is notable in itself but is recorded chiefly because of its effect. It aroused the Sanhedrin to its first opposition against the apostles. Luke has no indication as to the time that intervened between Pentecost and this miracle. For doing good Peter and John receive evil.

1) Now Peter and John were going up into the Temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth. And a man, being lame from his mother’s womb, was being carried, whom they were placing day by day at the door of the Temple, the one called Beautiful, to ask alms from those going into the Temple, who, on seeing Peter and John about to go into the Temple, began requesting to receive alms.

We follow the preferred reading which has ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό concluding 2:47, and not opening 3:1. The A. V. does the reverse and therefore concludes 2:47 with τῇ ἐκκλησία, a dative that is found in several texts. The textual evidence is in favor of the reading translated in the R. V. To put the phrase at the head of 3:1 makes it too emphatic, since the very mention of “Peter and John” shows that they were “together.” We are prepared to find them so. In his list in 1:13 Luke has grouped them together (correct the A. V.); they act together in Luke 22:8; John 13:24, 25; 18:16, 17; 20:2, etc.; 21:21, 22. So we repeatedly find these two together in the story of Acts. A close friendship unites them. By nature they were entirely different. Peter was impetuous, John serene. Thus they supplement each other. Diamond polishes diamond, writes Rieger, and it may well happen that each enhances the luster of the other. God often uses the friendship of believers for the good of the church, especially the friendship of highly gifted men; witness the working together of Luther and Melanchthon.
These two were in the act of going up into the Temple at the hour of prayer. In 2:15 we find mention made of the service held at 9 A. M., here the one held at 3 P. M. is referred to. The Jews counted twelve hours for the day, starting with 6 A. M.; so their ninth hour was 3 P. M. which was called the evening sacrifice. Already in 2:46 we see how the disciples adhered to the Temple and its services. They continued this practice until the Lord himself eventually made it impossible. The Jews always spoke of going “up” to or into the Temple, no matter what the elevation was from which they started. This was said in an ethical sense. The Temple did not occupy the highest elevation in the city.

2) Simultaneous with their going into the Temple, as a second imperfect informs us, a lame beggar “was being carried” into it on some sort of a litter; τις is only our indefinite article “a” man. “Lame from his mother’s womb” states that he was born lame, had never walked during the forty (4:22) years of his life. He seems to have been injured at birth so that his ankle bones (v. 7) had not developed or were misshapen. His congenital lameness, especially at the age he had now reached, rendered him incurable. The first two imperfects are descriptive of actions in progress. Peter and John overtook the men who were carrying the beggar in. This very likely occurred somewhere in the large court of the Gentiles. The imperfect in the relative clause expresses customary action as the added phrase shows: “whom they were placing day by day,” etc. Relatives or friends did this, and it was quite a task to carry the beggar such a distance and back home again. Israel was to have no beggars (Deut. 15:4), but the Jews were omitting the weightier matters of the law such as judgment, mercy, and faith, Matt. 23:23. We meet beggar after beggar.

This one had his regular station at the gate called “Beautiful,” Ὡραία (θύρα or πύλη), from ὥρα, “timely” and thus “blooming,” “beautiful.” Josephus, Wars, 5, 5, 3, describes it as being much higher than the other gates and as being adorned with magnificent silver and gold plates. The Talmud calls it Nicanor’s gate after its donor. This great gate was the only one that led from the court of the Gentiles surrounding the Sanctuary and the Temple buildings proper into the court of the women and through this to the court of the men. Opposite this gate was Solomon’s Porch, a colonnade. Fourteen steps led up to a gallery, that ran around the three sides of the women’s court, and five more steps from this gallery to the gate “Beautiful”; on two sides of the women’s court other less imposing gates afforded entrance. We at once see that, while it was work to carry the beggar so far and also up those steps, he certainly had the most promising place for begging. The infinitive with τοῦ denotes purpose.

3) Not waiting until he was deposited in his usual place but already when Peter and John were about to go into the Temple, perhaps before they ascended the steps, this beggar “began requesting to receive alms.” This imperfect is not iterative (R. 884) but inchoative: the beggar “began to request,” and the tense also holds us in suspense as to the outcome of what he began which was anything but what he expected. The verb itself expresses respectful asking. There is no reason for connecting this request with the liberality manifested toward fellow believers by the Christians described in 2:44, 45, as though the beggar knew all about that and expected some of that liberality to be shown him. This man was begging in his usual way and was accosting people even before he got to his regular station. “Began requesting alms” would be enough; “to receive” is circumstantial and indicates the outstretched hand that is anxious to take whatever might be offered. Luke draws the picture well.

Here's the balance of the comment through verse 10 in case you are interested

4) Now Peter, earnestly looking on him, with John, said, Look on us! And he began to give heed to them, expecting to receive something from them.

Δέ continues the story but introduces a new action which was so different from that which the beggar usually experienced. Peter is the spokesman and later performs the miracle, but John is with him in both. This earnest look of the apostles does not mean, “looking through to the innermost bottom of the heart in order to discover the proper receptivity.” Interpretations such as that are due to the view that miracles require faith in advance. This view is here carried to the point of making Peter and John look into the beggar’s very heart, which would itself be a miracle. The simple fact is that Peter and John saw only a poor, pitiable cripple and his outstretched, begging hand before them. But why this earnest and intent look? We know of but one answer. The apostles had often seen this cripple begging at the gate “Beautiful,” they may even have dropped him a coin now and then. To heal him had not entered their minds. Why not? Because the Lord had not put it into their minds to do such a thing. The apostles did not perform miracles just when and where they thought advisable. In every case they were moved to do so by the Lord and by his Spirit. It is because the Lord so moved them that they now fixed their full attention on the cripple whom they had seen so often on previous days.

Hence also their order to the beggar to look on them which was uttered with the peremptory and authoritative aorist imperative. This beggar must pay close attention to the apostles.

5) And he does. “He began to give heed to them,” ἐπεῖχεν (supply τὸ νοῦν), but only in the same way as any man might do when his attention is thus aroused. So little was the thought of faith of any kind in his mind that he supposed only that something would now be given to him, something more than the ordinary small coins he usually received. This is one of a number of plain cases in which faith does not and is not intended to precede but rather follows the miracle.

6) But Peter said: Silver and gold is not mine; but what I have I give to thee. In the name of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene, be walking! And having grasped him by the right hand, he raised him up, and at once his feet and ankles were made firm. And leaping up, he stood and began to walk. And he went with them into the Temple, walking and leaping and praising God.

Peter speaks of “silver and gold,” the more valuable coins, because the beggar evidently expected an unusually valuable gift from them and because he thought them wealthy. It is a rather hasty conclusion on the basis of this word to suppose that the apostles were themselves dependent on alms; for John had a home and was able to support Jesus’ mother (John 19:27). Peter means, “I have no wealth.” But the cripple has no time to be disappointed, for Peter immediately adds, “But what I have I give to thee,” leading the cripple to wonder what that might be. He had his gift from the Lord—miraculous healing as the seal of the gospel message, that definite form of healing for this particular person as it was indicated to both these apostles by the Lord.

Without adding a single word of explanation, without doing anything to awaken or to increase faith, Peter utters the command that conveys its own power of compliance: “In the name,” etc. Here again is this pithy and significant phrase ἐν τῷ ὀνόματι κτλ., which is so often interpreted in inadequate ways. It does not mean “by the authority of,” etc. (R. 649); nor does it mean this in some places and something else in others. See ὄνομα in 2:21 and this phrase in 2:38. Here, as always, the sense is: “in connection with the revelation of Jesus,” etc. In addition to what has been said when considering 2:21 and 38 we may state that “name” in the sense of “revelation” not only comprehends Jesus and all his power and grace but also conveys him to us for our apprehension. Paul is acquainted with the phrase “in Christ” or “in the Lord,” and uses it often; in the expression “in the name of Jesus Christ” “name” stresses the vital connection with the person Jesus Christ. The power and the grace that make him “Jesus Christ” (“both Lord and Christ,” 2:36) are revealed in all that truly makes us know him, that shines out from him, and that is his NAME, the source from which all blessings, also this miracle of healing, flow. On “Jesus” see 2:22; on “Christ,” 2:36; the two combined in 2:38; on “the Nazarene,” 2:22. “In the name of Jesus Christ, the Nazarene,” suddenly brought to the cripple’s mind all that he had ever heard about this wonderful person.

“Be walking!” is the present imperative to express enduring action; he is to have the power of walking now and always. Here is no “if” or “but”; here is no process or slow mending. We all know that even when limbs are sound, no human being can at once walk, leap, caper, jump, who has never done so before. The thing must first be learned. But the cripple is not to learn, he is to walk perfectly from the very first instant. Let that feature of the miracle have its just due. In no way did the miracle depend upon the man’s faith or will or understanding. Of course, he was to know, to believe, and to act, but all these came about as a result of the healing, they were not conditions or requisites to the healing.

7) Peter grasped him by the right hand, the very hand he was holding out for alms, only in order to raise him up, to make him stand and to walk at once. If Peter and John had walked away, the cripple would have discovered that his feet and his ankles were normal and that he could walk. But no interval was to occur. Peter’s effort raised the man from the ground; instantly his limbs were firm, sound, strong, ready to serve their natural purpose. The member grasped is properly in the genitive: took hold “of the right hand.”

8) Peter did not need to exert much effort, of himself the restored cripple, “leaping up, stood and began to walk” (inchoative imperfect). Luke’s description is vivid. R. 1116 writes: “It is not clear why the present participle occurs, ἐξαλλόμενος, unless it is to note that he kept on leaping and walking alternately.” One would expect the aorist, “having leaped up, he stood.” The aorist “stood” is constative: without falling he stood upright. Then the imperfect notes that he began to walk, to do just what Peter had told him to do.

He accompanied the apostles as they proceeded up the steps and on through the gate Beautiful, walking, of course, but also leaping and jumping every now and then, overjoyed at the blessing given him even without his asking, praising God who had made him so rich in Jesus’ name. But what about us who have enjoyed sound limbs all our lives? So many blessings, so little realization and gratitude! The cripple’s first walk took him into the Temple, the very purpose for which we should use our feet, keeping them always in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

9) And all the people saw him walking and praising God; moreover, they kept recognizing him that this was the one sitting for the alms at the Gate Beautiful of the Temple, and they were filled with amazement and excitement at what had come to him. But he holding to Peter and John, all the people ran together to them at the porch called Solomon’s, dumbfounded.

It seems that v. 9, 10 describe what occurred before the Temple service, and v. 11 what occurred after it was over and the people had dispersed. When Luke says that all the people saw him “walking and praising God” he tells us that the man drew general attention to himself. Even after the restored cripple had come to the men’s court he continued walking around instead of standing still like the other men and kept calling out words of praise to God. Thus everybody saw him.

10) For a man to act thus was unusual, yet in itself such conduct would not have attracted so much attention. People would only have wondered as to what made him act in this way. By means of the iterative imperfect Luke tells us that, as he thus moved about, group after group recognized him as the very man they had so often seen “sitting for the alms,” the article to indicate the alms they had given him from time to time at the Gate Beautiful. They had not seen him sitting thus with his deformed feet and ankles this afternoon—here he was among them, walking around and praising God. Luke uses two nouns to convey the effect; both are strong: θάμβος, “amazement” that came with a shock, and ἔκστασις, “excitement” that throws the mind off its balance. They stared uncomprehendingly at the change that had come over the man.

Lenski, R. C. H. (1961). The Interpretation of the Acts of the Apostles (pp. 126–130). Minneapolis, MN: Augsburg Publishing House.
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Puritan Board Freshman
Brilliant, thank you very much Ed! That they met in the court of Gentiles, went in through the gate and then came out to Solomons portico where Peters discourse took place seems to be the likeliest scenario.

Much appreciated!
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