It didn’t happen quite like that

Would you look at that! What a coincidence that Peter and John were carrying on with their lives normally when out of nowhere an opportunity appeared for them to teach the gospel. Wouldn’t it be great if we had that too? But it didn’t happen quite like that. Read the biblical text once, then twice:

Now Peter and John were going up to the temple at the time for prayer, at three o’clock in the afternoon.
Acts 3:1 NET

Unjustified conclusions are often drawn from the biblical text. The verse above informs us when Peter and John went up to the temple, “at the time for prayer,” but it doesn’t disclose the reason why they went there. It’s common to hear people say that they also went to the temple to pray.

When Luke wants to indicate purpose, he knows very well how to do it. In Acts 20:7, for example, the author affirms that they met “to break bread.” At this moment, the objective became clear. But Luke doesn’t say this in Acts 3:1.

So why do Peter and John go to the temple at this hour? It may be that they went for a moment of prayer, but it would have been with the church, which used the temple at this point in its history for some of its meetings. It may be.

Another good possibility is that Peter and John, going two by two, just as Jesus had sent them on the preaching journeys, were fulfilling the Lord’s mission to be his witnesses in Jerusalem, according to Acts 1:8. For they knew there would be many people in the temple at this hour who needed to hear the message of Christ.

In other words, they went to preach the gospel, which they in fact did, after the Lord created the opportunity, when they cured the paralytic. It was not by accident that they went to the temple, and all of a sudden, wound up speaking the gospel. It was all planned!

Ought we not to do the same? We’re used to going to church (and that’s why we read the verse above in such terms), but are we used to standing up and speaking of repentance and salvation on purpose?

Father, we have the gospel in our hands, by your grace. May we go to where the people are and proclaim the message all the time, as Jesus commanded. Amen.

Hold this thought: I will make plans and go to where people are, for the opportunity to teach the gospel.


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