Context of Acts 3:18-21. With the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in 2:1-36, the dispensation of the church age had begun. A multitude of Jews put their faith in Christ with the Lord "adding to their number day by day those who were being saved" (v. 47).
The miraculous healing, Acts 3:1-11. To substantiate the work of the Spirit with Peter and John a lame man was healed just outside the temple. The Jewish people began praising the Lord (v. 9). The crowds ran to the two disciples and were "full of amazement" (v. 11).
The reprimand of Peter, Acts 3:11-17. The apostle now gets rather bold and even a bit nasty in pointing out that, from a human standpoint, the nation of Israel was culpable in the death of Christ. Still, in God’s mysterious providence, the Jewish people were used of Him to crucify the Lord in order to bring salvation to Israel. They "disowned" (v. 13) Him, and "put Him to death, the Prince of life" (v. 15a), yet the Lord "raised (Him) from the dead, a fact to which we are witnesses" (v. 15b). But still, His kingship is still going to take place!
Christ is in heaven until the restoration, Acts 3:18-21. Peter alludes to Psalm 110:1-2 when he says "heaven has received UNTIL the period of restoration" (Acts 3:21). Notice that Peter mentions the TWO comings of Christ: He suffered as announced "by the mouth of all the prophets" (v. 18), and He will return to earth for the period of restoration which God spoke "by the mouth of all the prophets" (v. 21).
Now a bit of intellectual and spiritual dishonesty! In their books on preterism, neither Sproul nor Hanegraaff mention or refer to Acts 3:18-21! (The Last Days According to Jesus, R. C. Sproul [Baker, 1998]; The Apocalypse Code, Hank Hanegraaff [Thomas Nelson, 2007]).
The reason Acts 3:18-21 is not mentioned is that the apostle Peter destroys any silly view that the period of restoration is but a spiritualized phase of the second coming of Christ, and, that it took place somehow in a mystical way in 70 AD! This passage of Scripture cries out to point to the coming physical earthly rule (the millennial kingdom) of Christ with the Jews, with His reign in the city of Jerusalem.
Maybe this restoration is about the church age which now, according to these men, is the "new" fabricated kingdom of God! This cannot be because the church has already begun in Acts 2 while this restoration is still something to take place in the future!
A detailed exegesis of Acts 3:18-21 will make it clear that the future messianic kingdom is in view.
The verb to suffer is the Greek word pascho and implies more than physical pain. It refers to the suffering of the soul, and in this context, further points to the suffering inflicted with evil intent. (Thayer)
The death of Christ was fulfilled (plaroo) literally and historically not in some allegorical, spiritualized, and mushy way! So His return will take place the same way—not in a preterist spooky sense as fashioned from the limited mind of those who want to deny His coming earthly reign!
The English "times of refreshing" is really limited in meaning. The Greek word soul-refreshing is anapsuxis and is a compound: ana=up; psuxis= related to the word soul. "When your sins are forgiven, your soul is uplifted, then the Messiah will return to rule over the nation of Israel!" Thayer notes that the word can mean "a cooling off, with the Vulgate using the Latin word Refrigerium. Thayer further notes on this word and on this verse: "Of the Messianic blessedness to be ushered in by the return of Christ from heaven." "The word appears in the Jewish apocalypse 4 Ezra 11:46, where it refers to the final messianic times of Israel’s redemption." (Polhill, p. 134)
The larger point of the passage is that when Israel as a whole repents (which they did not here in the early chapters of Acts) then the Messiah will come from heaven to rule and to reign! This is exactly what the orthodox Rabbis have always taught! The Messiah’s coming is tied to Israel’s repentance.
The Jewish writing Beit Sanhedrin says: "All the calculated ends have already expired and the matter of the coming of the Messiah now depends only on the repentance of Israel. If Israel repents, it will be redeemed." THIS IS WHAT PETER WAS SAYING!
From the face of the Lord. The Greek word here is prosopon and its first meaning is "the face." Why some translations make this "from the presence of …" escapes me! Remember that Christ is presently seated at the right hand of God the Father (Psa. 110:1-2) and is waiting for the fulfillment of history to take place. He will return and reign in Zion as the psalmist says!
"Corporate repentance will lead to the coming of the Messiah in the future." (Barrett, p. 203)
There are two prepositions that work together in this verse and the one above. Israel will find soul-refreshing FROM (apo) the face of the Lord, and the Lord will send FORTH (apo) the Son to reign!
Before appointed is a compound verb: pro=before; cheir=hand, with the idea of raising the hand "to appoint, select." It is a Perfect Passive Participle and is to be translated as "to before choose, before destine, before appoint." As a Participle the idea is that Christ exists as the One destined for this coming and no one else is! The Passive Voice means that the action upon Him comes from the outside, i.e. it is the Father who is doing the sending forth! The Perfect Tense means that He was so appointed in the past and that appointment is now waiting to come about and be fulfilled!
Christ appointed refers not only to the fact that Jesus was the appointed Christ,
Stand in order is normally translated as restoration. It is a compound of three Greek words: apo=on account of; kata=with reference; stasis=to stand. The idea can refer to returning something to its rightful owner. In this case it has to do with giving back to the Messiah what belongs to Him, i.e. His promised kingdom. Thayer says, "The restoration of the true theocracy." Restoration is used by John the Baptist in reference to the establishment of the messianic earthly rule. Elijah will herald Christ’s coming back to earth to reign. The idea is found in Matthew 17:11; Mark 9:12 and it is used by the disciples in Acts 1:6. Josephus uses the word to describe the return from the Babylonian captivity. As a technical medical term it means complete restoration to health. (A. T. Robertson, p. 47)
- God announced by the mouth of His prophets the suffering of the Messiah (v. 18).
- God spoke of the restoration of all things by the mouth of His holy prophets (v. 21).
Blasting preterism Johnson says, "The ‘receiving’ of Jesus into heaven obviously refers to the ascension (1:9-11), which promises his return ‘in the same manner.’" (p. 69) That is, He will come back in a very literal manner to be King over the Jews in Israel. Finally, repentance for the Jews will bring about Christ’s glorious return, and the fulfillment of all prophecies concerning the final restoration of the earthly Messianic kingdom. (Lenski, p. 144)