ACTS 3 AND THE PAROUSIA
As we have seen, (see the first article in this series here) the word translated restoration is a distinctive word used by the prophets. Another word, diorthosis, is used to speak of the same thing in the Messianic prediction of Isaiah 62:7. JHVH promised to “establish” Jerusalem and make her a praise at the coming of the Lord in judgment, (v.11-12). Thus, the Old Covenant prophets, in speaking of the restoration of Israel under the Messiah, used apokatastasis and diorthosis as synonyms. The lexicons agree.
Apokatastasis means, “to put back into the original condition,” and diorthosis means, “to restore something to its natural and normal condition.” Ellingworth says the words convey the same ideas. This is significant when we compare Acts 3 with Hebrews 9:6-10.
In Hebrews 9 the writer speaks of the symbolic (prophetic) significance of the Old Testament cultus. Specifically, his focus is on the high priest and his service on the Day of Atonement and then the wider application of the entire liturgical system that stood in, “foods and drinks, various washings, and fleshly ordinances until the time of reformation.”(diorthosis; 9:10).
It is imperative to honor the author’s chronological perspective. When he spoke of the OT system he says, “which is symbolic for the present time” (v.9). The “present time” was his first century generation and not our present day. Otherwise, we must believe that the Old Covenant cultus still stands as a type and shadow of the “good things to come” (Hebrews 10:1-4).
The writer emphasizes the point that as long as the Old Covenant cultus had validity there could be no access to the Presence of God (v.8). He shows that Christ sacrificed Himself and entered into the Most Holy to prepare it for man (v.23-24), and that he was to return “for salvation” to those who “eagerly await Him” (v.28). Christ would appear (the parousia) to bring man into the Presence of God–where the Old Covenant could never bring him.
The Hebrew writer’s point is that the Old Covenant sacrifices and worship signified (prophesied) the coming of better things. As long as the types and shadows had validity–as long as the Old Covenant stood unfulfilled–there was no access to the Father. Those Mosaic institutions were imposed until the time of their fulfillment–the time of “reformation” (v.10). It would therefore be through the fulfillment of the typological significance that the Old System would pass and man would be brought into the Presence of the Father at the parousia (Hebrews 9:24-28). Notice the direct correlation with Acts 3. See my discussion of Hebrews 9 in my formal written debate with Kurt Simmons.
Peter says Christ would come when all that the Old Covenant prophets predicted was fulfilled. Hebrews says the OT was typological, intended to stand only until what it foretold, was fulfilled. Peter anticipated the “restoration of all things”; Hebrews anticipated the “time of reformation.” The eschatological significance of this correlation cannot be over-emphasized.
Consider carefully the following thoughts:
The Greek words apokatastasis (restoration, Acts 3:21) and diorthosis (reformation, Hebrews 9:10) are synonymous terms referring to the same time and event. (Remember that the Old Testament writers–in the LXX- used these words synonymously to speak of the restoration of Israel under the Messiah). Jesus’ Second Coming was to occur at the time of the apokatastasis (Acts 3:21); therefore, Jesus’ Second Coming was to occur at the time of the diorthosis (reformation, Hebrews 9:10), when man would be brought into the Presence of God (Hebrews 9:28).
Jesus was to come at the time of restoration/reformation, (Acts 3; Hebrews 9:10).
But the time of reformation (diorthosis) was the end of the Old Covenant Age (Hebrews 9:10).
Therefore, Jesus’ parousia would occur at the end of Old Covenant prophetic hope, not at the end of the Christian Age!
The Second Coming of Christ, for the purpose of bringing salvation, (Hebrews 9:28), would occur at the time of the restoration (apokatastasis) of all things (Acts 3:21).
But the restoration/ reformation (diorthosis) would occur at the end of the Old Covenant Law and System (Hebrews 9:6-10).
Therefore, the Second Coming of Christ for the purpose of bringing salvation, would occur at the end of the Old Covenant Law and System.
And if He has not come, of necessity, the Law remains valid, man has no salvation. This demands that we understand eschatology as Covenantal and not Historical.
The parousia of Christ would occur at the end of the Old Covenant Law and System. But the Old Covenant Law and system would pass–as seen above– at the time of the fall of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. Therefore, the parousia of Christ would occur at the fall of Jerusalem in A. D. 70.
The Covenantal framework of the parousia is undeniable; Christ’s parousia was to occur at the end of the Old Covenant Aeon–not at the end of time. The parousia was to be the final consummating act of the Old Covenant to bring it to an end and fully establish the New Covenant World of the Messiah. More to come. Be sure to see my book Like Father Like Son, On Clouds of Glory, for an even fuller discussion of Acts 3.
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