Peter Speaks in Solomon’s Portico
11 While he clung to Peter and John, all the people, utterly astounded, ran together to them in the portico called Solomon’s. 12 And when Peter saw it he addressed the people: “Men of Israel, why do you wonder at this, or why do you stare at us, as though by our own power or piety we have made him walk? 13 The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, the God of our fathers, glorified his servant Jesus, whom you delivered over and denied in the presence of Pilate, when he had decided to release him. 14 But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, 15 and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses. 16 And his name—by faith in his name—has made this man strong whom you see and know, and the faith that is through Jesus has given the man this perfect health in the presence of you all.
Observations and Reflections
The fact that the people ran to the portico of the Temple complex means that they were likely already in the courtyard but gathered around the portico to heard Peter speak. This location would have been inside of the gate “called beautiful” but not fully inside of the temple complex. Rather, it was in the courtyard surrounding the Temple, along the Eastern Wall where the gate called beautiful was located. The portico that bores Solomon’s name was due to the fact that it was the only remaining part of the previous Temple, belonging to Solomon. All but the eastern wall was destroyed by the invasion of the Babylonians 6th century BCE.
This Eastern wall was decorated in Peter’s time with various memorabilia from previous great leaders of Israel, likely sectioned off by individual. King Solomon would have likely had a very large section of this wall dedicated to him.
“This hill was walled all round, and in compass four furlongs, [the distance of] each angle containing in length a furlong: but within this wall, and on the very top of all, there ran another wall of stone also, having, on the east quarter, a double cloister, of the same length with the wall; in the midst of which was the temple itself. This cloister looked to the gates of the temple; and it had been adorned by many kings in former times; and round about the entire temple were fixed the spoils taken from barbarous nations; all these had been dedicated to the temple by Herod, with the addition of those he had taken from the Arabians.” (Antiquities of the Jews, Book 15, Ch. 11.3)
The preaching by Peter appears to have taken place almost as soon as they entered the outer gate, which seems to be the most likely place for it considering the beggar followed them into the gates.
Peter’s address to the crowd that was so amazed by the healing was not a message of kindness. He reiterated that they traded Jesus for a murderer and had Jesus crucified. However, they witnessed God raise Jesus from the dead and the beggar’s healing is yet another proof that Jesus rose from the grave.
Having just seen Jesus crucified but still seeing miracles performed in his name was likely jarring for those present, such as any of the religious leaders. If they were not persuaded by Peter’s reasoning on the day of Pentecost then perhaps a miracle would wake them up. The religious elites wanted to get rid of Jesus and his disciples, but they were not able to do either of those things. Moreover, the disciples returned even more bold and powerful.
The people are in amazement at the miracle Peter and John performed. This man who had been unable to walk, was suddenly up on his two legs and was walking around as if no ailment had ever been a part of his life. It was astounding and the people were eager to know more about what had taken place.
Peter, once again addresses the crowd with boldness and courage. He goes straight to the heart of the matter and that is to speak on the power of Jesus Christ that was at work in their lives and how this miracle was not of their own doing, but of the mighty hand of God. He speaks once again on their Jewish background and what was foretold long before about the coming of Jesus Christ and all that He had done.
Peter does not sugar coat this miracle as some unexplainable phenomenon. He calls for his audience to understand that they have just witnessed the power of Jesus Christ working. They bring attention to the fact that the healing of this man has come from the man in whom they thought was a phony, blasphemer and false prophet. This power that is being portrayed is being enacted by the true Savior of this world, who defeated death and is alive and at work still today.
Peter is yearning for the people to understand that it is Jesus Christ alone who is behind the work of this miracle, past miracles and many more to come. He is also the Savior that enacted the greatest miracle of all, that was done on the cross. He died for our sin, rose again and is alive today.
[Featured image is from the Holy Land reconstruction in The Israel Museum]