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THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES - Chapter 3 - Verse 21
Verse 21. Whom the heaven must receive. The common belief of the Jews was, that the Messiah would reign on the earth for ever, Joh 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, Ac 1:9. The meaning of the expression, "whom the heaven MUST receive," is that it was fit or proper dei that he should ascend. One reason of that fitness or propriety he himself stated in Joh 16:7; comp. Joh 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, Eph 1:20-22, and that he should exercise there his office as a Priest in interceding for his people, 1 Jo 2:1,2; Heb 7:25; 9:24
Ro 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 and Psalm 16, etc., but the fact that he should 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 honour in the presence of God. See Ps 115:3; comp. 1 Pe 3:22, "Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him." Note, Ac 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 restitution of all things. The noun rendered restitution—apokatastasewv—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 sprained or dislocated limb to its former soundness. Hence it is used to restore, or to heal, in the New Testament. Mt 12:13, "And it (the hand) was restored whole, like as the other," Mr 3:5; Lu 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, Mt 17:11; Mr 9:12. Thus in Josephus, (Antiq. ii. 3, 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 things 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 consummation of the work of the Messiah, now begun, but not yet complete; slow it may be in its advances, but triumphant and certain ill its progress and its close.
All things. All things which have been foretold by the prophets. The expression is limited by the connexion to this; and of course it does not mean that all men shall 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 should 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 should 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.
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