Before-and-after photographs are common tools in advertising. The “before” shot usually pictures someone who is overweight, balding, or wrinkled. In the “after” shot the subject is slimmer, has more hair, or the wrinkles have been smoothed out.
Today’s passage provides an “after” portrait that shows how much Peter changed as a result of Pentecost. Peter and John were arrested for preaching the gospel in the temple courts, something that seems to have been their daily practice (Acts 2:46). During this visit a miracle drew the attention of those officials who were responsible for maintaining order within the temple precincts (v. 1).
The officials were particularly disturbed by the nature of the Apostles’ message with its emphasis on Christ’s resurrection. Some were Sadducees, an influential group who rejected the idea of bodily resurrection. They were part of the governing body known as the Sanhedrin, the same group that had handed Jesus over to the Romans for crucifixion.
In view of this, Peter’s boldness was remarkable. On the night of Christ’s betrayal Peter had been too terrified to identify publically with Jesus. He denied the Savior three times. Now he openly identified himself as a follower of Jesus, declaring that He was the source of the healing of the lame man in the temple courts. Despite threats Peter also gave notice that he would continue to preach in Jesus’ name (vv. 18–19).
How do we explain the change in Peter’s behavior? The temple leaders who were astonished by both Peter and John “took note that these men had been with Jesus” (v. 13). Yet the same could have been said of Peter on the night Jesus was betrayed. Since then a new factor had been introduced into Peter’s life. He experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.