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Acts 3:21

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

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.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

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 deithat 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 apokatastaseōsdoes 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.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
The absolute necessity of repentance is to be solemnly charged upon the consciences of all who desire that their sins may be blotted out, and that they may share in the refreshment which nothing but a sense of Christ's pardoning love can afford. Blessed are those who have felt this. It was not needful for the Holy Spirit to make known the times and seasons of these dispensations. These subjects are still left obscure. But when sinners are convinced of their sins, they will cry to the Lord for pardon; and to the penitent, converted, and believing, times of refreshment will come from the presence of the Lord. In a state of trial and probation, the glorified Redeemer will be out of sight, because we must live by faith in him.
Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 769

At last Jesus was at rest. The long day of shame and torture was ended. As the last rays of the setting sun ushered in the Sabbath, the Son of God lay in quietude in Joseph's tomb. His work completed, His hands folded in peace, He rested through the sacred hours of the Sabbath day. DA 769.1

In the beginning the Father and the Son had rested upon the Sabbath after Their work of creation. When “the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them” (Genesis 2:1), the Creator and all heavenly beings rejoiced in contemplation of the glorious scene. “The morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy.” Job 38:7. Now Jesus rested from the work of redemption; and though there was grief among those who loved Him on earth, yet there was joy in heaven. Glorious to the eyes of heavenly beings was the promise of the future. A restored creation, a redeemed race, that having conquered sin could never fall,—this, the result to flow from Christ's completed work, God and angels saw. With this scene the day upon which Jesus rested is forever linked. For “His work is perfect;” and “whatsoever God doeth, it shall be forever.” Deuteronomy 32:4; Ecclesiastes 3:14. When there shall be a “restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3:21), the creation Sabbath, the day on which Jesus lay at rest in Joseph's tomb, will still be a day of rest and rejoicing. Heaven and earth will unite in praise, as “from one Sabbath to another” (Isaiah 66:23) the nations of the saved shall bow in joyful worship to God and the Lamb. DA 769.2

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Ellen G. White
The Great Controversy, 301

When the Saviour was about to be separated from His disciples, He comforted them in their sorrow with the assurance that He would come again: “Let not your heart be troubled.... In My Father's house are many mansions.... I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself.” John 14:1-3. “The Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him.” “Then shall He sit upon the throne of His glory: and before Him shall be gathered all nations.” Matthew 25:31, 32. GC 301.1

The angels who lingered upon Olivet after Christ's ascension repeated to the disciples the promise of His return: “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” Acts 1:11. And the apostle Paul, speaking by the Spirit of Inspiration, testified: “The Lord Himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the Archangel, and with the trump of God.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16. Says the prophet of Patmos: “Behold, He cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see Him.” Revelation 1:7. GC 301.2

About His coming cluster the glories of that “restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” Acts 3:21. Then the long-continued rule of evil shall be broken; “the kingdoms of this world” will become “the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ; and He shall reign for ever and ever.” Revelation 11:15. “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.” “The Lord God will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations.” He shall be “for a crown of glory, and for a diadem of beauty, unto the residue of His people.” Isaiah 40:5; 61:11; Isaiah 28:5. GC 301.3

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Ellen G. White
The Acts of the Apostles, 57-60

This chapter is based on Acts 3; Acts 4:1-31.

The disciples of Christ had a deep sense of their own inefficiency, and with humiliation and prayer they joined their weakness to His strength, their ignorance to His wisdom, their unworthiness to His righteousness, their poverty to His exhaustless wealth. Thus strengthened and equipped, they hesitated not to press forward in the service of the Master. AA 57.1

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Ellen G. White
The Story of Redemption, 248-50

This chapter is based on Acts 3 and 4.

A short time after the descent of the Holy Spirit, and immediately after a season of fervent prayer, Peter and John, going up to the temple to worship, saw a distressed and poverty-stricken cripple, forty years of age, who had known no other life than one of pain and infirmity. This unfortunate man had long desired to go to Jesus and be healed, but he was almost helpless, and was removed far from the scene of the Great Physician's labors. Finally his earnest pleadings induced some kind persons to bear him to the gate of the temple. But upon arriving there he discovered that the Healer, upon whom his hopes were centered, had been put to a cruel death. SR 248.1

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