Lectionary Year B
May 7, 2000
Acts 3:12-19



[My observations are mainly based on Bailey/ Vander Broek "Literary Forms in the NT." (pp. 182ff; 191ff)].

In Acts 3:11-21, we seem to be dealing with the genre of "sermon." [JEA - in anticipation of step III: is the genre here linked to that of the "sermons" in Acts 2, 5, 10, and 13 as well?]. A sermon emphasizes theological as well as scriptural examples, ends in exhortation, and most often consists of a threefold structure:

1) theological and scriptural examples or proofs (vv. 13-15)
2) conclusion based on evidence (vv. 16-18)
3) exhortation (vv. 19-21: Therefore, repent ...)

According to Bailey/ Vander Broek, the basic elements of a sermon (at least in the NT world) consist of exposition and exhortation; thus, providing the "postmodern" interpreter with a window into the early church and its employment of ancient rhetoric. In my opinion, the authors raise three important questions for proclamation today, following their observations:

1) Why is exposition authoritative for the hearers? 2) Why can the hearers be expected to heed exhortations? 3) Why does exhortation flow from exposition?


The major portion of the questions that arose for me while reading this pericope pertain to verses 14-21:

v. 14
* who is the Holy and Righteous One?

v. 15
* did the people present actually kill Jesus? * who is the "Author of life (A.o.l.)?" * how can the A.o.l be killed? Are God and the A.o.l two different figures? Why does God need to raise the A.o.l.? Is God not the A.o.l.? Can the A.o.l. not raise himself? What kind of A.o.l is this who does not have power to raise himself? Are Peter and John credible witnesses?

v. 16
* What is faith in a (his) name? How can a name make a human being strong? * Why does faith through Jesus (him) give perfect health? Is faith something that is mediated?

v. 17
* How come they do not know?

v. 18
* Why did the Messiah have to suffer?

v. 19
* Why should audience repent and turn (to God) just because one man, the Messiah, suffered? Why not repent on account of somebody else's suffering? Why repent at all and of what? * How can one man's suffering wipe out sins? What are "sins," their sins?

v. 20
* Does there have to be suffering in order for restoration to occur? * Why does God have to send the Messiah, Jesus? Did not Peter just say that the Messiah died?

v. 21
* So, where is this Messiah, in heaven or on earth or in the grave? * What does "universal restoration" mean?

Diction, Syntax

v. 11-12 participle plus "de" ... part. plus "de" + aorist (main verb) ---> narrative (setting up direct speech)

v. 13 direct speech question ---> present tense appeal to tradition ---> aorist ---> retelling of past event

v. 15 * on "ho theos aegeiren ek nekron" ---> aorist ---> resurrection = one time event in the past! * faith is a present fact (theoreite kai oidate) i.e. they see the result of the resurrection (the lame walk, ...) * faith is also a given (edoken)

[direct speech: dominated by result clauses and relative pronouns/clauses (hypotaxis)]

The verb tenses in this pericope switch from present, participles, aorists ==> historical facts seem to shape present reality (a preliminary observation)

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