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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 1 - Verse 6
Wilt thou at this time, etc. The apostles had entertained the common opinions of the Jews about the temporal dominion of the Messiah. They expected that he would reign as a prince and conqueror, and free them from the bondage of the Romans. Many instances of this expectation occur in the Gospels, notwithstanding all the efforts which the Lord Jesus made to explain to them the true nature of his kingdom. This expectation was checked, and almost destroyed by his death, Lu 24:21. And it is clear that his death was the only means which could effectually check and change their opinions respecting the nature of his kingdom. Even his own instructions would not do it; and only his being taken from them could direct their minds effectually to the true nature of his kingdom. Yet, though his death checked their expectations, and appeared to thwart their plans, yet his return to life excited them again. They beheld him with them; they were assured it was the same Saviour; they saw now that his enemies had no power over him; that a Being who could rise from the dead, could easily accomplish all his plans. And as they did not doubt now that he would restore the kingdom to Israel, they asked whether he would do it at this time? They did not ask whether he would do it at all, or whether they had correct views of his kingdom; but taking that for granted, they asked him whether that was the time in which he would do it. The emphasis of the inquiry lies in the expression, "at this time," and hence the answer of the Saviour refers solely to the point of their inquiry, and not to the correctness or incorrectness of their opinions. From these expectations of the apostles we may learn,
(1.) that there is nothing so difficult to be removed from the mind as prejudice in favour of erroneous opinions.
(2.) That such prejudice will survive the plainest proofs to the contrary.
(3.) That it will often manifest itself even after all proper means have been taken to subdue it. Erroneous opinions thus maintain a secret ascendancy in a man's mind, and are revived by the slightest circumstances, even long after we supposed they were overcome; and even in the face of the plainest proofs of reason or of Scripture.
Restore. Bring back; put into its former situation. Judea was formerly governed by its own kings and laws; now it was subject to the Romans. This bondage was grievous, and the nation sighed for deliverance. The inquiry of the apostles evidently was, whether he would now free them from the bondage of the Romans, and restore them to their former state of freedom and prosperity, as in the times of David and Solomon. See Isa 1:26. The word" restore" also may include more than a reducing it to its former state. It may mean, Wilt thou now bestow the kingdom and dominion to Israel, according to the prediction in Da 7:27?
The kingdom. The dominion; the empire; the reign. The expectation was that the Messiah—the King of Israel—would reign over men, and thus the nation of the Jews extend their empire over all the earth.
To Israel. To the Jews, and particularly to the Jewish followers of the Messiah. Lightfoot thinks that this question was asked in indignation against the Jews. "Wilt thou confer dominion on a nation which has just put thee to death?" But the answer of the Saviour shows that this was not the design of the question.
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