on Acts 3 :21
Whom the heaven must receive - He has already appeared upon earth, and accomplished the end of his appearing; he has ascended unto heaven, to administer the concerns of his kingdom, and there he shall continue till he comes again to judge the quick and the dead.
The times of restitution of all things - The word αποκαταστασις, from απο which signifies from, and καθιστανειν, to establish or settle any thing, viz. in a good state; and, when απο is added to it, then this preposition implies that this good state, in which it is settled, was preceded by a bad one, from which the change is made to a good one. So in Acts 1:6, when the disciples said to Christ, Wilt thou at this time restore again (αποκαθιστανεις) the kingdom to Israel? they meant, as the Greek word implies, Wilt thou take the kingdom from the Romans, and give it back to the Jews? Now, as the word is here connected with, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets, it must mean the accomplishment of all the prophecies and promises contained in the Old Testament relative to the kingdom of Christ upon earth; the whole reign of grace, from the ascension of our Lord till his coming again, for of all these things have the holy prophets spoken; and, as the grace of the Gospel was intended to destroy the reign of sin, its energetic influence is represented as restoring all things, destroying the bad state, and establishing the good - taking the kingdom out of the hands of sin and Satan, and putting it into those of righteousness and truth. This is done in every believing soul; all things are restored to their primitive order; and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, keeps the heart and mind in the knowledge and love of God. The man loves God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength, and his neighbor as himself; and thus all the things of which the holy prophets have spoken since the world began, relative to the salvation of any soul, are accomplished in this case; and when such a work becomes universal, as the Scriptures seem to intimate that it will, then all things will be restored in the fullest sense of the term. As therefore the subject here referred to is that of which all the prophets from the beginning have spoken, (and the grand subject of all their declarations was Christ and his work among men), therefore the words are to be applied to this, and no other meaning. Jesus Christ comes to raise up man from a state of ruin, and restore to him the image of God, as he possessed it at the beginning.
All his holy prophets - Παντων, all, is omitted by ABCD, some others, one Syriac, the Coptic, Ethiopic, Armenian, and Vulgate. Griesbach leaves it out of the text, and inserts the article των, which the Greek MSS. have, in the place of παντων. The text reads thus: Which he hath spoken by his holy prophets, etc.
Since the world began - Απ' αιωνος; as αιων signifies complete and ever-during existence or eternity, it is sometimes applied, by way of accommodation, to denote the whole course of any one period, such as the Mosaic dispensation. See the note on Genesis 21:33. It may therefore here refer to that state of things from the giving of the law; and as Moses is mentioned in the next verse, and none before him, it is probable that the phrase should be so understood here. But, if we apply it to the commencement of time, the sense is still good: Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these things; and indeed the birth, life, miracles, preaching sufferings, death, resurrection, ascension, and reign of Jesus Christ, have been the only theme of all prophets and inspired men from the foundation of the world.
on Acts 3 :21
Whom the heavens must receive - The common belief of the Jews was, that the Messiah would reign on the earth forever, John 12:34. On this account they would object that Jesus could not be the Messiah, and hence, it became so important for the apostles to establish the fact that he had ascended to heaven. The evidence which they adduced was the fact that they saw him ascend, Acts 1:9. The meaning of the expression "whom the heavens must receive," is that it was "fit" or "proper" δεῖ dei that he should ascend. One reason of that fitness or propriety he himself stated in John 16:7; compare John 17:2. It was also fit or expedient that he should do it, to direct the affairs of the universe for the welfare of the church Ephesians 1:20-22, and that he should exercise there his office as a priest in interceding for his people, 1 John 2:1-2; Hebrews 7:25; Hebrews 9:24; Romans 8:34, etc. It is remarkable that Peter did not adduce any passage of Scripture on this subject; but it was one of the points on which there was no clear revelation. Obscure intimations of it might be found in Psalm 110:1-7; Psalm 16:1-11; etc., but the fact that he would ascend to heaven was not made prominent in the Old Testament. 'The words "whom the heaven must receive" also convey the idea of "exaltation" and "power"; and Peter doubtless intended to say that he was clothed with power, and exalted to honor in the presence of God. See Psalm 115:3. Compare 1 Peter 3:22, "Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right banal of God; angels, and authorities, and powers being made subject unto him." See the notes on Acts 2:33.
Until - This word implies that he would then return to the earth, but it does not imply that he would not again ascend to heaven.
The times of the restitution of all things - The noun rendered restitution ἀποκαταστάσεως apokatastaseōs, does not elsewhere occur in the New Testament. The verb from which it is derived occurs eight times. It means properly "to restore a thing to its former situation," as restoring a "strained" or "dislocated" limb to its former soundness. Hence, it is used to restore, or to heal, in the New Testament: Matthew 12:13, "And it (the hand) was restored whole as the other"; Mark 3:5; Luke 6:10. And hence, it is applied to the preparation or fitness for the coming of the Messiah which was to attend the preaching of John in the character of Elias, Matthew 17:11; Mark 9:12. Thus, in Josephus (Antiq., Mark 2:3, Mark 2:8), the word is used to denote the return of the Jews from the captivity of Babylon, and their restoration to their former state and privileges. The word has also the idea of "consummation, completion, or filling up." Thus, it is used in Philo, Hesychius, Phavorinus, and by the Greek Classics. (See Lightfoot and Kuinoel.) Thus, it is used here by the Syriac: "Until the complement or filling up of the times"; that is, of all the events foretold by the prophets, etc. Thus, the Arabic: "Until the times which shall establish the perfection or completion of all the predictions of the prophets," etc. In this sense the passage means that the heavens must receive the Lord Jesus until all thrums spoken by the prophets in relation to his work, his reign, the spread of the gospel, the triumph of religion, etc., shall have been fulfilled. It also conveys the idea of the predicted recovery of the world from sin, and the restoration of peace and order; the con. summation of the work of the Messiah, now begun, but not yet complete; slow it may be in its advances, but triumphant and certain in its progress and its close.
All things - All things which have been foretold by the prophets. The expression is limited by the connection to this; and of course it does not mean that all people will be saved, or that all the evils of sin can be repaired or remedied. This can never be, for the mischief is done and cannot be undone; but everything which the prophets have foretold shall receive their completion and fulfillment.
Which God hath spoken - Which have been revealed, and are recorded in the Old Testament.
Of all his holy prophets - This does not mean that each one of the prophets had spoken of these things, but that all which had been spoken would be fulfilled.
Since the world began - This is an expression denoting the same as from the beginning, meaning to affirm with emphasis that all the prophecies would be fulfilled. The apostles were desirous to show that they, as well as the Jews, held entirely to the prophets, and taught no doctrine which they had not taught before them.
on Acts 3 :21