Question: What did Peter mean when he spoke of the “restitution of all things” in his second sermon to Israel?
Answer: The Greek word translated “restitution” is apokatastasis, occurring only in Acts 3: 21, while the verb form is found in Acts 1: 6. It means bringing something back to a former state or condition. What that something is can be determined by the context, and by a comparison with related Scriptures.
“Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began” (Acts 3: 21).
This implies the restoration of all that Adam lost through the fall, since the restitution was spoken by all the holy prophets since the world began.
It is clear that the fall had serious anthropological and cosmological effects. Not only did mankind become subject to death and disease, but he lost the dominion over creation which he was originally given (Psalm 8). The whole creation was made subject to vanity (Romans 8: 20).
We know that Christ was Son of God from all eternity. He was “eternally begotten of the Father.” But have we really fleshed out in our own minds the significance of His role as Son of Man?
The Incarnation of Christ (Virgin Birth) established Him as “Son of Man” (Second Adam). That means He has everything that the first Adam lost through sin. In Christ, we see man restored to his pre-fall state.
Throughout Christ’s ministry He was seen healing the sick, casting out devils, and even controlling the forces of nature (Matt. 8: 27; Mark 7: 37; etc.). Because He is the Son of Man, He has that dominion that Adam forfeited. Because He is coming back as the Son of Man, we can rest assured that that dominion will be restored.
There are some folks who claim that we have this dominion now, and all we need to do is grab the bull by the horns and start taking over. Some of these vocally pushy people talk about “Christian economics,” the application of Old Covenant law to all facets of life, and the need to “reclaim our Christian heritage.”
What they are ignoring, however, is the Dispensational shift that occurred in the first century. Under the Old Covenant, Israel were told to possess the land and show no mercy to the Canaanites (Deuteronomy 7: 16). Under the New Covenant, we are told to “turn the other cheek” and pray for those who despitefully use us (Matt. 5: 39, 44). We are no longer following Moses. We are following Christ.
Christian economics is practiced by laying up treasure in heaven (Matt. 6: 19-21). We reclaim our Christian heritage, not by infiltrating board meetings, but by separating from the world and worldly principles, and submitting ourselves unto Him who was delivered for our offenses and raised again for our justification (Romans 4: 25).
No servant is greater than his Master (Luke 6: 40). If Christ the Head of the church suffered while on earth, so must the Body (the church). We must enter the kingdom through many tribulations (Acts 14: 22). Dominion is not a present possession but a reward unto those that have been faithful unto the end. The Cross is the only path to the Crown.
Christ is not only the Son of God and the Son of Man. He is the Son of David. That means that according to the terms of the Davidic Covenant (2 Samuel 7), He will sit on the throne of Jerusalem over the kings of the world. In the present Dispensation, man is sitting on the throne. Christ is seated on His Father’s throne in heaven (Revelation 3: 21), while man is ruling the world. It is “man’s day” (1 Corinthians 4: 3). This is the main reason why the world is so messed up.
Every time you put your trust in a politician you are expressing the hope that man will somehow “get it right” after all. But it never really works out, does it? That’s because man is not fit to rule things in his fallen state. Even the kings of Israel and Judah found this out the hard way.
Today it is as it was. The state of things will one day culminate when the Beast whose number is 666 is exalted above all earthly powers (Revelation 13). He will be displaced and defeated by the King of Kings; at which time the kingdoms of this world will become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of His Christ (Revelation 11: 15).
As Son of God, Christ exercises universal dominion. As the Son of Man, He exercises creation-dominion. As Son of David, He will have throne-dominion over the kings of the earth. The kingdom will be administered through the nation of Israel, and Christ will rule with His bride (the church) from the heavenly Jerusalem (Micah 4: 8; Matt. 19: 28; Revelation 2: 27; 3: 12, etc.).
In the “restitution” spoken of by Peter, all of these concepts blend together into one harmonious message. The nation only had to repent and accept Him in order for the kingdom to be established (Acts 3: 19-21). We believe they had 40 years to do this, and when they didn’t the parousia was postponed. They will accept Christ the “second time” — when he comes again — just as they did Moses and Joseph, who were types of Him who was to come (see Acts 7: 13). Once Israel says “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matt. 23: 39), then the times of restitution will begin.