In the book of Acts we read:
19 "Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord;
20 and that He may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you,
21 whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.”
(Acts 3:19-21 — emphasis mine)
The following are the key Greek terms used in verse 19.
- καιροὶ: Times as is in the right time or a season.
- “to cool by blowing”, “to refresh”, “to relieve”, “to strengthen”.
- It also denotes the drying out and healing of a wound which the surgeon has left exposed to the air when bandaging a broken limb.
- “liberatio n”
Translation — “Times of Refreshing”
To understand this passage, context means everything. Peter and John have just healed a man who was lame. It states that
7 “And seizing him by the right hand, he raised him up; and immediately his feet and ankles were strengthened
8 With a leap he stood right up and began to walk and he entered the Temple with them and was walking and leaping and praising God.
9 And the people saw him walking and praising God
10 And they recognized him as the lame man who used to sit at the Beautiful Gate and beg alms, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.
Peter then responded to the people…
“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that the times of refreshing may come from the face of the Lord.”
This is the only use of the phrase "times of refreshing" in the Old or New Testaments.
The “times” and the “refreshing” that Peter speaks of in this passage are in the present age. The “face of the Lord” was just present in the healing of the lame man. Peter is now challenging the people as to whether it is present in them? Peter’s point is it will only come if they repent and turn that their sins may be wiped away. In this the “times of refreshing” may come by the “face” or “presence” of the Lord.
Then in verse 21 we read;
“That He may send Jesus, the Christ, appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until times of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.” (Acts 3:21 — emphasis mine)
The following are the key Greek terms used in verse 21:
- χρόνων: Times as is in the right time or a season.
- ἀποκαταστάσεως : restoration not only of what was previous, but to a perfect state as existed before the fall.
Translation — “Times of Restoration”
This refers to “time as a duration”. Thus the “times of restoration” speaks to the lasting nature of a world restored to its original purpose.
So in these three verses, Acts 3:19-21, we have the tension between what “already is” and the “not yet fully”.
Those, like the lame man, who believe, come to the “face of the Lord” and are refreshed, in the here and now. And yet they still reside in a fallen and broken world.
However, there will come a time when all things will be restored. When those who participate in the “times of refreshing” will also participate in the “times of restoration”. While those who stand outside the “times of refreshing”, will stand outside the “times of restoration”.
This is a clear warning from Peter to those in the Temple who have seen the healing of the lame man. Many of them are waiting for the “times of restoration”. In so doing, they are missing out on the current “times of refreshing” in which they could participate and partake.
Peter’s point is they should not wait for the “times of restoration” and expect to be included in this new world. Rather, in order to participate in the restoration to come, they must repent and turn so the “times of refreshing” may come from the “face of the Lord”. Once they participate in the “times of refreshing”, here and now, they are assured they will also participate in the future “times of restoration”.
So we also are not to passively wait for things to change and then hope to participate in the restored new world. Rather, we are to actively participate in the restoration of all things in the future, by participating in the “times of refreshing”, here and now. And we do this through repentance that allows us to partake of the presence of the Lord — or literally, to have the very “face of the Lord” take up residence in the events of our lives, today, here and now as it will in the times of the restoration of all things.
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