"Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother's womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple; who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, 'Look at us.' So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, 'Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk.' And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them--walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. Then they knew that it was he who sat begging alms at the Beautiful Gate of the temple; and they were filled with amazement at what had happened to him" (Acts 3:1-10).
About 3 P.M. in the afternoon, Peter and John went to the temple. A great number of people would have been coming to the temple at that time, since it was a period of prayer. A man who had never walked was carried (either by family members or friends) to the temple (specifically to the gate known as "Beautiful"). Since he had been lame from birth, the locals were aware of his condition and the severity of it. No doubt they saw him at the temple gate regularly. The lame man, unable to work, sat in a strategic spot to beg for the necessities of life. This man had never walked, and he was "over forty years old" (4:22). The people's knowledge of his condition is significant since it will underscore the genuineness of his healing and prove that there was no deception involved in the miracle Peter worked (no one pretends to be lame for 40 years!).
The man asked Peter and John for alms. Peter's words led the lame man to believe that he was about to receive something from them of a material nature. Peter admits that he doesn't have money to give the man, but he has something else he will share--the power to enable the man to walk! Peter healed the man by the authority of Jesus. It was by the name of Jesus that Peter commanded the man to "rise up and walk." Peter did not desire to draw attention to himself; rather, he wanted the glory and honor to go to Jesus the Christ. As Peter lifted the man up to a standing position, his feet and ankles received strength immediately (not eventually) for the first time--strength enough to walk and even jump with joy! The man was healed completely and instantaneously (as is the case with other genuine healings the Bible records) from a problem that had burdened him tremendously for over four decades!
This context shows Peter to be quite a bit different from some modern "faith healers" in a couple ways:
Why was this miracle performed? Certainly compassion is one reason, but it is likely not the main reason. The intended design of the miracle was to get the people to listen to the apostle's teachings, so that they might believe and obey. In addition to changing a man's life physically, a crowd gathered as a consequence of this miracle. The people saw the man who was formerly lame praising God and they were amazed at his physical transformation. Peter will preach another powerful sermon soon to an attentive audience!
Why was this miracle recorded? Although we cannot know for certain why it was written down for us (as opposed to other miraculous works the apostles were doing; cf. 2:43; 5:12), perhaps one reason is that it serves as background information for the first recorded persecution of the early church. We will have more to say about this when our study enters into Acts 4.