“18 “But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. 19 “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord; 20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you, 21 whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.” (Acts 3:18-21)
It’s that last part about sending Jesus from heaven and the events surrounding it that is the subject here. As Peter tells of the resurrected Christ who has ascended to heaven, he says that heaven must “receive” Him, Jesus remaining there until a particular time. When would Jesus no longer stay in heaven? The same time as when Jesus appears again and when “times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.” As much as I appreciate Peoples New Testament commentary, I don’t think they got it right on this. Quote:
“The times of restitution. The restoration (Revised Version). The moral restoration of the world. Christ will come in person, not before, but after the millennium is ushered in (Re 20:11-15).”
The words “after the millennium is ushered in” indicates something yet in the future as though the millennium is not yet in progress. I’m not certain on Peoples position, but I know that the Premillennialists believe that not only is Christ appearance a future prospect, but also is the millennial Kingdom of Christ. For some reason Premillenialists ignore or fail to see the relevance of passages that indicate the Kingdom is spiritual and the 1000 year reign (a symbolic number from Revelation) has been a reality since Jesus ascended into heaven (hover over these text and consider what they say: John 18:36; Mt. 3:2; Mt. 16:16-18; Rev. 1:6; Rev. 5:10; Col. 1:13; Acts 2:30,34). To the Premillenialists therefore the “restoration of all things” would be a restoration of things on earth with the thousand year reign of Christ on earth. Not every denominational commentator agrees with the doctrine called Premillinnialism. Wesley, who lived prior to the modern 19th century incarnation of Premillenialism presents a more careful view.
“The apostle here comprises at once the whole course of the times of the New Testament, between our Lord’s ascension and his coming in glory. The most eminent of these are the apostolic age, and that of the spotless Church, which will consist of all the Jews and Gentiles united, after all persecutions and apostacies are at an end.”1
Wesley seems to have a better grasp on this subject as his words “after all persecutions and apostacies are at an end” correspond with the Biblical view that Jesus must reign over His kingdom UNTIL all enemies are defeated. Revelation 20 and following and 2 Peter 3:9 and following shows that the final judgment follows the glorious return of Christ and not the establishment of an earthly kingdom. This is my understanding of these matters as I believe that Peter knows that Jesus is reigning over His kingdom (See Acts 2 to learn who is seated in the place of authority and rule from heaven) and Peter knows that the 2nd coming of Jesus will usher a restoration that entails God’s destruction of this heaven and earth and the establishment of a new heaven and earth (2 Peter 3:10,11,12,13,14). Peter and John are preaching about that the 2nd coming of Jesus will be times of refreshing with Jesus in the heavenly abode. This was their understanding as revealed by the Holy Spirit and from Jesus’ own words.
“If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.” John 14:3
With the restoration of all things there will be no sin, no pain or suffering. This will be the reality for Believers in heaven. Romans 8:22-23 points to he the period “the creation groans for” when Believers enjoy the “redemption” of their bodies. John’s Revelation says that the redeemed in heaven will enjoy the times of refreshing ” 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying,
“Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, 4 and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:3,4)
Lord, come quickly!
John Wesley on Acts 3:21