According to Acts, Peter and John arrive at the Temple at the “hour of prayer” (Acts 3:1). When a disabled man at the entrance asks for alms from the disciples, Peter heals him “in the name of Jesus of Nazareth” (3:6). Not only does the formerly lame man begin to walk, but he leaps to his feet, and then continues “leaping and praising God” (3:8). These references to “leaping” (ἅλλομαι; hallomai) may seem like an odd detail until readers return to Israel’s Scriptures. The prophet Isaiah describes a scene of miraculous healing that marks God’s salvation for Zion. The lame man leaps as a sign that the prophetic promises to Israel in Isaiah’s day are being reaffirmed through the healing powers of Yeshua.
As Peter and John were traveling to the Temple, “a man lame (χωλός; cholós) from birth was being carried… [to] the gate of the Temple” (Acts 3:2). After the disciples heal the man and he arises, Luke notes that “his feet and ankles were made strong immediately and leaping up (ἐξάλλομαι; exállomai) he stood and began to walk. And he entered the Temple with them, walking and leaping (ἅλλομαι; hallomai) and praising God” (3:7-8). The man’s repeated leaping recalls the prophecy of Isaiah, which promises the people of Israel, “[God] will come and save you. The eyes of the blind will be opened, and the ears of the deaf unstopped. The lame (χωλός; cholós) will leap (ἅλλομαι; hallomai) like a gazelle, and the tongue of the mute sing for joy” (Isa 35:4-6 LXX). When the lame man leaps in Acts, readers are reminded that God is working through Jesus’ disciples to reaffirm the salvation wrought for Israel in Isaiah’s day.
The broader context of Isaiah’s words also resonates with the narrative in Acts. Just as Luke notes that the healed man’s once frail “feet and ankles” were “strengthened,” before Isaiah describes the lame leaping, the prophet declares, “Strengthen the weak hands and feeble knees” (Isa 35:3 LXX). Though the Greek terms in Isaiah and Acts are different, the theme of strengthened limbs alongside the “lame” (χωλός) person’s “leap” (ἅλλομαι) secures the link between the texts. More, Isaiah goes on to describe a highway by which Israel’s exiles will return home called the “Way (ὁδὸς; hodòs) of Holiness” (Isa 35:8 LXX). Thus, it’s fitting that Luke refers to the Jesus movement as the “Way” (ὁδός; hodòs) throughout Acts (9:2; 19:9, 23; 24:14, 22; cf. 16:17; 18:26). These linguistic parallels show that, for Luke, the miraculous events that Isaiah promises for Israel’s returned exiles are happening again in the healing work of Jesus’ followers.