The Book of Acts records the missional work of God in various cities in the Roman Empire. Acts 2 reveals that the missional work of God begins when God’s Spirit swoops down, gives voice to the first followers of Jesus, and forms it into a missionally-shaped community. Acts 3 continues that story. As we read the Book of Acts in search of missional theology, we are reading The Acts of the Apostles (Abingdon New Testament Commentaries)
as our guide. I find Beverly commentary’s clear and dead-set on commonsensical readings of the text. Her reading also brings out ideas for local church communities. (I have a list of suggested commentaries on Acts here.)
Once again, we have the pattern of “act/event” and “interpretation/Word,” and once again it is Peter. Here is Acts 3:1-10:
One day Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time of prayer–at three in the afternoon. Now
a man crippled from birth was being carried to the temple gate called
Beautiful, where he was put every day to beg from those going into the
temple courts. When he saw Peter and John about to enter, he asked them for money. Peter looked straight at him, as did John. Then Peter said, “Look at us!” So the man gave them his attention, expecting to get something from them.
Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, they
recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple
gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement
at what had happened to him.
The man is at the Temple gate because there he would be seen by the traffic of people and have more chance for almsgiving. Surrounded by the glitter of the Nicanor Gate and the gold of the Temple, and knowing that he had none of those things, Peter tells the lame man he will give him what he’s got: a share in the power of God now at work. And here we get a big idea for missional theology: what Peter has is what we have, and it is nothing other than the gift to act in the name of Jesus Christ.
Furthermore, the impact on the begging lame man was to demonstrate his change, to declare his praise of God, and to participate in the new community of God.
More than just the messianic community hears of this. As with 2:47, the “people” hear and this refers to all those around, messianic or not. A missional community is a witnessing community, and it witnesses to God.