When they therefore were come together - It is very likely that this is to be understood of their assembling on one of the mountains of Galilee, and there meeting our Lord.
At this time restore again the kingdom - That the disciples, in common with the Jews, expected the Messiah's kingdom to be at least in part secular, I have often had occasion to note. In this opinion they continued less or more till the day of pentecost; when the mighty outpouring of the Holy Spirit taught them the spiritual nature of the kingdom of Christ. The kingdom had now for a considerable time been taken away from Israel; the Romans, not the Israelites, had the government. The object of the disciples' question seems to have been this: to gain information, from their all-knowing Master, whether the time was now fully come, in which the Romans should be thrust out, and Israel made, as formerly, an independent kingdom. But though the verb αποκαθιστανειν signifies to reinstate, to renew, to restore to a former state or master, of which numerous examples occur in the best Greek writers, yet it has also another meaning, as Schoettgen has here remarked, viz. of ending, abolishing, blotting out: so Hesychius says, αποκαταστασις is the same as τελειωσις, finishing, making an end of a thing. And Hippocrates, Aph. vi. 49, uses it to signify the termination of a disease. On this interpretation the disciples may be supposed to ask, having recollected our Lord's prediction of the destruction of Jerusalem, and the whole Jewish commonwealth, Lord, Wilt thou at this time destroy the Jewish commonwealth, which opposes thy truth, that thy kingdom may be set up over all the land? This interpretation agrees well with all the parts of our Lord's answer, and with all circumstances of the disciples, of time, and of place; but, still, the first is most probable.
Wilt thou at this time - 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 would free them from the bondage of the Romans. Many instances where this expectation is referred to 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 Luke 24:21, and it is clear that his death was the only means which could effectually change their opinions on this subject. Even his own instructions would not do it; and nothing but 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, his return to life excited them again. They beheld him with them; they were assured that it was the same Saviour; they saw now that his enemies had no power over him; they could not doubt 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 that 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 favor 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 ascendency in a man‘s mind, and are revived by the slightest circumstances, even long after it was supposed that they were overcome, and 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 Isaiah 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 Daniel 7:27?
The kingdom - The dominion; the empire; the reign. The expectation was that the Messiah the king of Israel would reign over people, and that thus the nation of the Jews would 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.
[Sermon at Lansing, Michigan, September 5, 1891.]Read in context »
This chapter is based on Acts 2:1-39.
As the disciples returned from Olivet to Jerusalem, the people looked on them, expecting to see on their faces expressions of sorrow, confusion, and defeat; but they saw there gladness and triumph. The disciples did not now mourn over disappointed hopes. They had seen the risen Saviour, and the words of His parting promise echoed constantly in their ears. AA 35.1Read in context »
Just before leaving His disciples, Christ once more plainly stated the nature of His kingdom. He recalled to their remembrance things He had previously told them regarding it. He declared that it was not His purpose to establish in this world a temporal kingdom. He was not appointed to reign as an earthly monarch on David's throne. When the disciples asked Him, “Lord, wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” He answered, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power.” Acts 1:6, 7. It was not necessary for them to see farther into the future than the revelations He had made enabled them to see. Their work was to proclaim the gospel message. AA 30.1
Christ's visible presence was about to be withdrawn from the disciples, but a new endowment of power was to be theirs. The Holy Spirit was to be given them in its fullness, sealing them for their work. “Behold,” the Saviour said, “I send the promise of My Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” Luke 24:49. “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence.” “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Acts 1:5, 8. AA 30.2
The Saviour knew that no argument, however logical, would melt hard hearts or break through the crust of worldliness and selfishness. He knew that His disciples must receive the heavenly endowment; that the gospel would be effective only as it was proclaimed by hearts made warm and lips made eloquent by a living knowledge of Him who is the way, the truth, and the life. The work committed to the disciples would require great efficiency; for the tide of evil ran deep and strong against them. A vigilant, determined leader was in command of the forces of darkness, and the followers of Christ could battle for the right only through the help that God, by His Spirit, would give them. AA 31.1Read in context »
This chapter is based on Acts 2:1.
When Jesus opened the understanding of the disciples to the meaning of the prophecies concerning Himself, He assured them that all power was given Him in heaven and on earth, and bade them go preach the gospel to every creature. The disciples, with a sudden revival of their old hope that Jesus would take His place upon the throne of David at Jerusalem, inquired, “Wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?” Acts 1:6. The Saviour threw an uncertainty over their minds in regard to the subject by replying that it was not for them “to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power.” Acts 1:7. SR 241.1Read in context »