corner graphic

Bible Commentaries

James Nisbet's Church Pulpit Commentary

Acts 3



Verse 14


‘The Holy and Righteous One.’

Acts 3:14 (R.V.)

It is when we look back that we understand. Never can that have been more true than it was with Jesus’ disciples after His Resurrection. To put it shortly, Christ’s Resurrection was a great victory, as His Death had seemed to be a great defeat. The one reversed the other.

What was it we have to ask which won when Christ rose? What was it which His victory stamped, as with God’s own seal with true gold?

I think the first answer which the disciples would have made would have been—‘goodness.’ The battle had been fought between good and evil, and the good had won; and now, looking back to Christ’s life and to His death, they saw in these the glory of goodness, or how worth while it is to be good.

The goodness of Jesus Christ, can we speak more particularly about it?

I. It was a perfect and shining goodness.—We know the difference between what is first-rate in any business and what, though it is good, has no first-rateness. First-rate work is its own evidence. A first-rate speaker can command any audience, when a moderately good one will not get a hearing. And so it is with character.

II. More than this, it is plainly the chief thing in Jesus.—People are known by their strong points: one for his cleverness, another for his wit, a third for his bravery, and so on. But beyond all doubt the note of Jesus was goodness.

III. But there is an idea that goodness is dull; that it is a tame or pale thing; that it wants relish and flavour. Now, to think such things of Jesus would not be so much irreverent, as utterly dull and foolish. Goodness in Him had a keenness like the edge of the finest blade; it had a glow like fire; it held men like a spell; the lowly bearing and the quiet speech could not hide the force and intensity below. No life ever meant so much, was so full of meaning.

IV. And if still we try to get the secret of this goodness, we find this, that in Him goodness was not thinking of itself.—In Him goodness did not compare itself with others in order to make their faults show up; it simply sought to be like God, and do His will, and sought an opportunity to bring every one to do the same, waking up the goodness in them; even in those who had been very bad.

Has goodness in us any likeness to what it had in Him?

Bishop E. S. Talbot.


‘Goodness with many of us is a thing of certain times and places. We are good, perhaps, at home, but not consistent when we get among other men and their ways; or well conducted in public, and on show, but not in private, when our tempers and the truth of us are seen. But true goodness is of one piece; one spirit runs through it all; it goes with a man everywhere. Such was the goodness of Christ.’

Verse 19-20


‘Repent ye, therefore, and be converted, that your sius may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord, and He shall send Jesus Christ.’

Acts 3:19-20

There is a mis-translation in this passage. It is in one word, and that a monosyllable; and the error, to all appearance, seems absolutely insignificant. But insignificant as it seems, it is really grave enough to change the whole meaning of the speaker, and to deprive us of a very important piece of instruction which it gives us concerning the will and purposes of God. The word is the word ‘when’; it ought to be, ‘in order that.’ ‘Repent ye, and be converted, in order that the times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.’

I. Let us notice, then, as our first point, that the Lord Himself is encouraging us to expect a very different state of things—a far brighter and happier state of things—than that in which we find ourselves at present placed. There has been, ever since the world began, a long chain of prophets—men Divinely empowered to declare the Divine will; and these men with one unanimous voice, from the very first day until the time when all prophetic utterance died away in silence, have spoken of what is coming. But for this expectation, which they have helped to create and keep alive, it would, perhaps, have been impossible for the people of God to retain heart and hope in the face of the powerful and continuous opposition with which they have had to contend.

II. In the second place, it is part of real religion to be dissatisfied with the present state of things, and to aim at making it better. Of course on such a subject as this, there is division amongst those who profess and call themselves Christians. There are some, for instance, who do not care. With others it is different. They cannot rest when within sight and hearing of the disorganised condition of the human race without making some earnest attempt to remove, or at least to mitigate, the mischief. Which of the two classes most resemble our Lord Jesus Christ?

III. Next in order comes the question: How shall we each of us play our part in this great contest between good and evil?—What are we to do? There are various ways: this opens to some, that opens to others. Perhaps we might classify them as indirect and direct methods of doing good. But when all is done we yet need those who are prepared to grapple with the very centre and core of the difficulty, by bringing into it the personal Christ, and the Gospel of the grace of God.

—Rev. Prebendary Gordon Calthrop.


‘All the mischief, and sin, and sorrow from which the world suffers, may be traced to one single cause, which we may venture, I think, to term “moral dislocation.” The world is like a machine, which somehow or other has broken loose from the central controlling and guiding principle, and is gone awry. The parts are all there—the wheels, the pistons, the cranks, the bands, the pulleys; but they are in antagonism with each other, instead of working harmoniously together, and the result is confusion and disaster. Or to drop the metaphor: the source of our trouble is the collision of the human will with the Divine will.’


Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Acts 3:4". Church Pulpit Commentary. 1876.

Commentary Navigator
Search This Commentary
Enter query in the box below
To report dead links, typos, or html errors or suggestions about making these resources more useful use our convenient contact form
Powered by Lightspeed Technology