Q. Acts 3:21 says:
“…whom [speaking of Jesus] heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God spoke long ago by the mouth of his holy prophets.” (WEB)
I recently saw a website that says this verse means that the Church has to “restore all things” before Christ can return, so we need to get busy “restoring” things.
I have never in my life read this verse this way. I always assumed it meant that Christ will not return (at the Second Coming) until it’s time to “restore all things,” which I take to mean “until it’s time to establish the Millennial Kingdom following the Tribulation.” Can you elaborate a bit on the proper interpretation of this verse?
A. This interpretation comes from the “Kingdom Now” people who believe that it’s the Church’s responsibility to restore the earth to a universal following of Jesus before He comes back. This view is held by many Pentecostals and Charismatics and cannot be supported by a literal interpretation of scripture.
I believe the only interpretation that can be supported is that there will soon be a rapture of the Church, followed by a time of God’s Wrath, the last half of which is the Great Tribulation, and then the Lord’s return in glory.
The time of restoration of all things spoken of by the Lord in Matthew 19:28 and by Peter in Acts 3:21 refers to the time just after the Second Coming when God will restore the creation to the way it was before the fall of Adam and Eve. This will happen at the outset of Israel’s Kingdom Age which Christians refer to as the Millennium.
The phrase “time of restoration” is meant to tell us that it will take place at the same time as the Lord’s return. That’s why Peter said Jesus must remain in heaven until the time of restoration. The Bible doesn’t say Jesus has to remain in heaven until all things are restored, but only until it’s time for the restoration of all things.