We continue this discussion of postmillennialism in the paper titled "Some Comments on Prophetic Scriptures Yet To Be Fulfilled by Bill Hamon and Acts 3:19-21 with Mal. 4:5, 6; Matt. 17:11; Rev. 10:7; and 11:15" here in Part 3.
I'll quote part of what Wayne Grudem says on postmillennialism ("Systematic Theology" [Zondervan, 1994], pages 1110, 1111). "According to this view, the progress of the gospel and the growth of the church will gradually increase, so that a larger and larger proportion of the world's population will be Christians. As a result, there will be significant Christian influences on society, society will more and more function according to God's standards, and gradually a 'millennial age' of peace and righteousness will occur on the earth. This millennium will last for a long period of time (not necessarily a literal, one thousand years), and finally, at the end of this period, Christ will return to earth, believers and unbelievers will be raised, the final judgment will occur, and there will be a new heaven and new earth. We will then enter the eternal state.
The primary characteristic of postmillennialism is that it is very optimistic about the power of the gospel to change lives and bring about much good in the world. Belief in postmillennialism tends to increase in times when the church is experiencing great revival, when there is an absence of war and international conflict, and when it appears that great progress is being made in overcoming the evil and suffering in the world. ...." That viewpoint suffered a great setback after World Wars I and II.
The post-millennial view of David Brown and his interpretation of Acts 3:21 and of Mark 13; Matthew 24:
(I would have referred to his discussion of Matthew chapter 24, but he chose to discuss Mark chapter 13 in this commentary. The two chapters have very much in common. I'll mention the name of the commentary, etc. as we continue.) If David Brown (and all those who hold the postmillennial viewpoint) didn't interpret large parts of Matthew chapter 24 as being fulfilled when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem in AD 70, it would obviously contradict the idea that the Christian church will take over to a very significant extent before the Lord returns.
I'll quote the key relevant sentence from David Brown's commentary on the book of Acts, in the third volume of the three volume set, "A Commentary on the Old and New Testament," by R. Jamieson, A. R. Fausett, and David Brown (1802-1880) [Eerdmans, 1984 reprint]. First I'll quote a few sentences from pages h and i from the Foreword in Volume 1. "His [David Brown's] first book was probably his most famous, at least it caused the most discussion, 'Christ's Second Coming: Will it be Premillennial?' ... It was written distinctly from a postmillennial standpoint, and was, without a doubt, the most scholarly work written on this subject from this viewpoint the English world had seen up to that time."
Now I'll quote the key relevant sentence where Brown is discussing the meaning of the words, "whom [the] heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things" of Acts 3:21: "This far-reaching expression is probably meant to comprehend the rectification of all the disorders of the fall, and the interval 'until' that consummation embraces (as Bengel remarks) the whole period between the Ascension of Christ and His Second Coming in glory (page 20)." Hamon would agree with most of that sentence, if not all of it.
Matthew chapter 24 and Mark chapter 13 don't fit the postmillennial view if you interpret these chapters in a literal futuristic sense (which I'm quite sure Jesus intended). I'll give a few examples of how Brown interpreted this super-important teaching that was given by the Lord Jesus Christ the last week of His life before the cross, as He sat on the Mount of Olives. (Matthew chapter 24 is discussed verse-by-verse in a paper on my internet site.)
I'll quote part of what Brown regards as the primary meaning of the coming of the Son of Man with the clouds of heaven, and with great power and glory, and with the trumpet of God, and with His angels, to gather the elect who will be raptured from the earth at that time, which is pictured in Matt. 24:30, 31; Mark 13:26, 27. "...He seems to us, by 'the Son of Man...coming in the clouds with great power and glory,' to mean, that when judicial vengeance shall once have been executed upon Jerusalem [in AD 70, from Brown's point of view], and the ground thus cleared for the unobstructed establishment of His own kingdom, His true regal claims and rights would be visibly and gloriously asserted and manifested. ...."
And I'll quote part of what Brown says about the primary interpretation of the gathering of the elect of Mark 13:27; Matt. 24:31 (which speaks of the angels gathering them to Christ, when He comes with the clouds, with the trumpet, etc.): "... Lightfoot [another well-respected commentator] thus explains it: 'When Jerusalem shall be reduced to ashes [by the Romans in AD 70], and that wicked nation cut off and rejected, then shall the Son of man send His ministers with the trumpet of the Gospel, and they shall gather His elect of the several nations, from the four corners of heaven: so that God shall not want a Church, although that ancient people of His be rejected and cast off [that viewpoint lends itself to anti-Semitism]; but that ancient Jewish Church being destroyed, a new Church shall be called out of the Gentiles,' But though something like this appears to be the primary sense of the verse, in relation to the destruction of Jerusalem, no one can fail to see that the language swells beyond any gathering of the human family into a Church upon earth, and forces the thoughts onward to that gathering 'at the last trump,' to meet the Lord in the air, which is to wind up the present scene. Still, this is not, in our judgment, the direct subject of the prediction; for the next verse limits the whole prediction to the generation then existing" (page 195). I believe these are good examples of poor exegesis/interpretation, for whatever reason.
It has often been pointed out that those holding a postmillennial viewpoint (and the amillennial viewpoint) often interpret the Bible in figurative (non-literal) ways when the literal interpretation makes the best sense. Although the Bible includes quite a bit of figurative language, that language is typically obvious, and it is often explained by other passages in the Bible. We must make it a top priority item to seek God for His interpretation of every passage. The Bible wasn't given for us to be creative and come up with our (or some demon's) interpretation (cf. 2 Pet. 1:20; 1 Tim. 4:1). For one thing, we ministers are going to have to answer to God for what we teach. All Christians are going to have to answer to God for what we believe, not to mention for how we live.
Something is certainly wrong when most Christians, and especially ministers, are so sure that what they (and their segment of the body of Christ) happen to believe is true. All of us need to humble ourselves before God and be open to be corrected by Him. It is very much better to be corrected now than when we stand before Him.
Let's Go on to a Verse-by-Verse Study of Acts 3:19-21:
The interpretation given here is the dominant interpretation found in the evangelical commentaries. As I mentioned, I always use the NASB, 1995 edition, unless otherwise noted.
"Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away [cf. Isa. 43:25; 44:22, 23], in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord [The "Lord" here refers to God the Father (note that God the Father sends the Lord Jesus in the next verse), as it does several places in Luke and Acts, which was written by Luke (cf., e.g., Acts 2:39; 4:24, 26, 29 and Luke 1:16, 32, 46, 66; 2:15; 4:12; 10:27; and 20:37).] [[The apostle Peter was speaking to the people of Israel, not long after the crucifixion of the Lamb of God and His resurrection, ascension, and His having poured forth the promised gift of the Holy Spirit, starting on the Day of Pentecost. These words were aimed at the people of Israel as a nation; it would be years before the Christian church realized that God had opened the door of new-covenant salvation to Gentiles (to Gentiles who did not first have to become Jews through being circumcised, etc., etc.).
A large number of prophecies in the Old Testament mentioned that Israel must repent before the nation will experience new-covenant salvation in the Messiah and the outpoured Spirit. (Many of these prophecies didn't specifically mention the new-covenant, or the Messiah, or the outpoured Spirit, but many of them mentioned one, or more, of these things.) Many such prophecies showed that the end-time remnant of the nation Israel (the remnant that will be left after God intensely judges them at the end of this age) will inherit that salvation.
My eschatological papers on the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah (that are available on my internet site) contain some important examples. I'll list several examples (the passages I list here are all discussed in the papers; and there are many more such passages in the Old Testament): Isaiah chapter 2; chapter 27 (the sub-headings in the chapter of my paper on Isaiah that discusses Isaiah chapter 27 verse-by-verse are very important passages on this topic: "Isaiah 10:20-23 and Romans 9:27-29" and "Isaiah 59:19-21 and Romans 11:25-27"); Isaiah chapter 29; Jer. 3:14-19; 23:3-8; chapters 30, 31; 32:36-44; and chapter 33. Also see, for example, Joel 2:30-32; Zechariah chapters 12-14; Matthew 23:39; Revelation 11:13 (these passages [with the exception of Matt. 23:39, which is easy to interpret] are all discussed in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture"). It is significant that most of the judgment and salvation that is prophesied in the passages I have listed here, starting with Isaiah chapter 2 (and many more passages could be listed), will take place AFTER the Lord Jesus returns. However (as we'll discuss later in this paper), Israel will be judged and reduced to a repentant remnant BEFORE the Lord Jesus returns.
The "times of refreshing" of Acts 3:19 speak of the obvious blessings that will come to Israel when they repent and are saved with new-covenant salvation, at the end of this age. Back in Peter's day, they didn't realize that this present age would last some two thousand years. There were some reasons for thinking that He would return in their lifetime. I agree with the most common viewpoint that the "times of refreshing" spoken of here will start AFTER the Lord Jesus returns and that they are included in the "restoration of all things" of verse 21. Several commentators who agree that the "times of restoration of all things..." will take place AFTER the Lord Jesus returns believe the "times of refreshing" will precede the "times of restoration of all things...." That's a rather minor point for the purposes of this paper, but I am quite confident that the times of refreshing are part of the restoration of all things of Acts 3:21.]] (20) and that He [God the Father] may send Jesus, the Christ appointed for you [[It was clear, in that context, that the apostle Peter was speaking of the second coming of the Lord Jesus. As I have discussed in some detail in my eschatological writings, I believe the Lord Jesus will return at the time of the sounding of the seventh, and LAST, trumpet of the book of Revelation (Rev. 11:15), which will sound right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. (Significantly, that is the same trumpet mentioned in Matt. 24:31; 1 Cor. 15:52 [where the apostle Paul spoke of "the LAST trumpet"]; and 1 Thess. 4:16.) The resurrection of the saints who have died before that time (including the saints of the Old Testament), the glorification, and the rapture will take place at that time. (For a start see my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture: A Verse-by-Verse Study of Key Prophetic Passages" and my paper, "Twenty-Four Articles on the Mid-Week Rapture," which serves as a good introduction for the book. The twenty-four articles are available individually on this Christian article site. I have been teaching the mid-week rapture since about 1970.]] whom heaven must receive until the period [a plural form of the Greek noun chronos; I prefer the translation "times" of the KJV; NKJV] of restoration [The NKJV has "restoration"; the NIV has "to restore"; the Amplified Bible has "complete restoration"; and the KJV has "restitution," which is comparable in meaning. The BAGD Greek Lexicon translates, "until the time for restoring all things to perfection."] of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. [[It has always seemed clear to me that the apostle Peter was speaking of the glorious things that will come to pass for Israel [I had a footnote: We now know that we Christians (whether Jewish or Gentiles) are part of God's true Israel [see Rom. 11:17-27; the glorious woman of Rev. 12:1-5 is a symbol for God's true Israel; see my book on Rev. 12:1-5; I believe Rev. 12:5 is the most important verse in the Bible to show when the rapture will take place.] ]], and the whole world to some extent, including the present physical world, AFTER the Lord Jesus returns.
I'll quote three sentences from what French l. Arrington says regarding this restoration ("The Acts of the Apostles" [Hendrickson, 1988], page 43), "Restoration should not be taken to indicate the final conversion of all sinners nor simply a restoration of the kingdom of Israel, but a bringing back of all things to their original and perfect order. Jesus must remain in heaven until the time that everything is to be restored. When he is sent back into the world, that perfect order envisioned by the prophets will be established (cf. Rom. 8:19-21; Rev. 21:5; 2 Pet. 3:13)." Note that Peter said "times"; God won't be done with His work of restoring all things about which God spoke through the mouth of His holy prophets until He has created the new heaven and new earth of Rev. 21:1, after the millennial kingdom and the great-white-throne judgment.
The new heaven and new earth of Rev. 21:1 is a much higher existence than what Adam had in the Garden of Eden. For one thing, Adam's body and that entire creation was limited to the physical elements that God created on a temporary basis. Our new bodies and the new creation will be created of God's heavenly, glorified elements (cf., e.g., 1 Cor. 15:42-53; Phil. 3:20, 21; Rev. 20:11; 21:1, 18, 21).
I'll also quote a few sentences from what Darrell L. Bock says here ("Acts" [Baker, 2007], page 177), "...with his return comes 'the season of the restoration of all things.... .... The anticipated end was seen as establishing again the original creation's pristine character [and more than that]. This restoration is what Jesus brings with his return, an idea given later development in Rev. 19-22 but whose roots Peter declares here are already evident in that 'of which God spoke through the holy prophets of old.' ... ...the new world and the messianic creation in a final and complete restoration. In the NT this idea is discussed in Matt. 19:28; Rom. 8:18-23; and Heb. 2:5-8. The point is that God has already indicated what the end will be like. So, to learn about the future, Peter urges them to read what God has already said through the prophets about the new era the eschaton would bring. ...."
I briefly discussed above two eschatological viewpoints that have influenced some Christians to adopt (what seems to me) to be an unnatural interpretation of Acts 3:21: the postmillennial viewpoint (Bill Hamon fits here to some extent, like he said) and the viewpoint that all people, or at least most people, including those who have died already, will ultimately be saved. Their repentance and salvation are considered to be a big part of "the restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient times." However the prophets didn't prophesy of the salvation of all people. There are a large number of verses that speak of God's judgment and removal of the unrepentant unbelievers/wicked.
The "restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient times" includes the following things; all of the things listed will take place AFTER the Lord Jesus returns, which includes the things that will take place at the time He returns (I'll supply more details than would be required for those who are interested in the details):
For a start, quite a few commentators make the point that the "restoration" of Acts 3:21 parallels the "regeneration" (new birth) of Matt. 19:28; Rom. 8:18-25; and other verses. I agree.
The resurrection of all people, some "to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt" (Dan. 12:2 [see under Daniel chapter 12 in my book]; cf., e.g., John 5:29; Acts 24:15). The New Testament often speaks of the resurrection of the believers/the righteous (see, for example, Luke 14:14; 1 Cor. 15:50-53 [1 Corinthians chapter 15 is discussed verse-by-verse in a paper on my internet site]; 1 Thess. 4:13-18; and Rev. 12:5 ]). Revelation 20:5, 11-15 show that the resurrection of the unbelievers will not take place until the end of the millennial kingdom (these verses are discussed in my paper on Revelation chapters 20-22).
All true Christians who will have died before the Lord Jesus returns, and all the believers from Old Testament days (they are all part of God's true Israel [discussed in the last footnote, back about two pages]) will be resurrected with glorified bodies at the time the Lord Jesus returns, at the time of the sounding of the seventh and last trumpet, right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week. And all true Christians who will be living on the earth at that time will be glorified. The glorified believers will all be raptured together in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air at that time ((cf., e.g., 1 Thess. 4:13-18; Rev. 12:5 [this super-important verse, which includes the birth into the fullness of eternal life when the believers are resurrected (if they have died) and glorified, and the rapture (using the same Greek verb for the catching up/rapture that is used in 1 Thess. 4:17), is discussed in substantial detail in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture"])).
We will be reigning (reigning includes judging) with the Lord Jesus from the time we (the members of God's true Israel who will have been saved before that time) are glorified and raptured to meet the Lord in the air (cf., e.g., Rev. 2:26, 27; 3:21; 12:5; 17:14; 19:14, 19 [these verses are all discussed in my book and/or my papers on the book of Revelation on my internet site]). Those who become Christians and members of God's true Israel after the rapture, and who stay faithful to the end of the seven-year period (including those who will die as martyrs) will all be glorified and begin to reign, along with those who began to reign in the middle of the seven-year period (cf., e.g., Rev. 15:2; 20:4; and Isa. 66:8 [these verses are all discussed in my book, for one place]).
Israel being saved as a nation is also included in the "restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient times" of Acts 3:21, speaking of the salvation of the often-mentioned elect end-time remnant of the nation. They (at least many/most of them will be reduced to a repentant remnant before the Lord Jesus returns, but they will not become Christians until after He returns and the rapture takes place. See, for example, Isa. 10:20-23 with Rom. 9:27-29 (see under Isaiah chapter 27 in my paper on Isaiah on these verses, and in my paper on Romans chapters 9-11); Joel 2:32; Mic. 5:3 (see my book on these verses; pages 156-158 on Joel 2:30-32 and the chapter on Micah 4:9-5:6); Zech. 14:2-5 (see on these verses in the chapter on Zechariah chapters 12-14 in my book); Matt. 23:37-39 with Luke 21:20-24 (Luke 21:20-24 are discussed under Rev. 11:2 in my book); Rom. 11:25-27 (see my paper on Romans chapters 9-11; verses like Rom. 11:12, 15 show that Israel must repent and be saved as a nation before this world can experience "life from the dead"); and Rev. 11:13 (see on this verse in my book in the chapter on Revelation chapter 11). Revelation 7:1-8 show how God will protect the elect end-time remnant of Israel and keep them alive during times of great shaking, especially during the days of the short great tribulation of Matt. 24:21, 22 that will take place before the Lord Jesus returns and they are saved (see my papers on Revelation chapters 1-10 and on Matthew chapter 24).
In Rev. 12:6-13:18 we see the end-time remnant of Israel. They will have become Christians by the time we see them here. They will be living on the earth throughout the second half of Daniel's 70th week, after Satan has been cast down to the earth, right in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, and "having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time" (Rev. 12:12), and when Antichrist will be reigning on the earth (Rev. 13:5).
They will know much of God's protective, loving care during those three and one-half years (cf. Rev. 12:6, 14-16), but those will be very difficult years, and there will be many martyrs (cf. Rev. 12:12, 13, 17; 13:7, 15-17; 20:4; Dan. 7:7, 19-21; 12:5-10 [Revelation chapters 12, 13 and Daniel chapters 7, 12 are discussed in my book; Rev. 20:4 is discussed in my paper on Revelation chapters 20-22]). Daniel 12:10 is significant in that it speaks of the end-time remnant of Israel being "purged, purified, and refined" during those difficult years, as do Zech. 13:1-6, 9. Zechariah 13:9 speaks of the refining fire of the second half of Daniel's 70th week. (Zechariah chapters 12-14 are discussed in my book.)
Revelation 14:6, 7 show that the gospel will still be proclaimed after the mid-week rapture; many Gentiles will also become Christians after the rapture. (I should emphasize that it would be very foolish for anyone to put off submitting to God and the gospel now if they have an opportunity to submit to Him now. So too, it is very dangerous for Christians to put off repenting where repentance is required.) They will be united with the end-time remnant of the nation Israel, who will have become Christians, even as Jews and Gentiles are united in the Body of Christ now.
We can see the Christians living on the earth after the rapture in Rev. 12:17, for example. That verse shows that the devil will be waging intense war against them. The devil will be using Antichrist in that warfare from the time he gives him "his power and this throne and great authority" in the middle of Daniel's 70th week (Rev. 13:2), right after he is cast down to the earth. Revelation 12:17 makes is clear that the devil is attacking Christians in that is says he is attacking those "who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus [they testify that He is their Savior and Lord]."
Here's some good news! All true Christians who will be living on the earth in the middle of Daniel's 70th week will be kept out of that "hour of [great] testing" (Rev. 3:10) through being taken in the mid-week rapture. That is God's idea, and we are supposed to be thankful for it! We Christians who live for God in the days before the rapture get our adequate share of trials and testings.
Based on most of what the New Testament teaches, we don't expect people to be saved after the Lord Jesus returns and the day of judgment begins (and many Christians don't believe any people will be saved after He returns), but this is a dominant theme in the Old Testament, and this theme is confirmed in the all-important book of Revelation.
The Old Testament prophets repeatedly speak of God's coming to judge the world at the end of this age (cf., e.g., Isa. 35:4; 66:15-24 [see my paper on Isaiah on Isa. 66:15-24]; Zech. 14:3-15 [see in the chapter on Zechariah chapters 12-14 in my book]; and Mal. 3:1, 5; 4:1-6 [these verses are discussed in a paper on my internet site]. Frequently the prophets speak of God's judging Israel at the end of this age (they often speak of His judging them through the nations) and saving the end-time remnant of Israel, and of His judging the nations and saving the end-time remnant of the nations (my eschatological papers on the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah are filled with examples). We can clearly see the end-time remnant of the nations after God's end-time judgment of the world in the book of Revelation (Rev. 15:3, 4; 20:3; cf., e.g., Rev. 21:24-27; 22:2; Matt. 25:31-46). (On these verses from the book of Revelation see my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture," and my papers on the book of Revelation; on Matt. 25:31-46 see my paper on Matthew chapter 25. Also see my paper, "More Regarding God's Salvation Plans for the Nations/Gentiles.")
Later in this paper (when we briefly discuss Matt. 17:11 and Mal. 4:5, 6, verses that Hamon and Plumptre believe cover the restoration of all things that Acts 3:21 speaks of), we'll discuss the things that God will use to reduce Israel to a repentant remnant that will be ready (at least many/most of them will be repentant and ready) to receive the Lord Jesus when He comes to them in the middle of Daniel's 70th week, right after the rapture.
Another important aspect of God's restoration of all things (of Acts 3:21) that will take place AFTER the Lord Jesus returns is the judgment and removal of all unrepentant rebels from the earth. There are a very large number of such prophecies in the Old Testament (see, for example, Isa. 2:12-22; 11:1-5; 13:6-16; 24:1-23; and Joel chapter 3 [these passages from the book of Isaiah are all discussed in my paper on Isaiah]); and there are many such prophecies in the New Testament ((see, for example, Matt. 13:36-43; 16:27; 24:36-41 [those who "will be taken" in verses 40, 41 will be taken in the rapture]; Acts 17:30, 31; 1 Cor. 15:20-28 [The reign mentioned in 1 Cor. 15:25 will begin when the Lord Jesus returns; the "last enemy," death, of 1 Cor. 15:26, won't be abolished until the end of the millennium (see Rev. 20:14); as I mentioned 1 Corinthians chapter 15 is discussed in a paper on my internet site.]; 2 Thess. 1:3-12; and Revelation chapters 16-20 and many other verses of the book of Revelation [on 2 Thess. 2:1-12, see the last chapter of my book; Revelation chapters 16-20 are discussed in papers on my internet site])).
Revelation chapters 16-20 include the judgment and removal of Babylon, the great harlot, which is a symbol for the world (whose god is the devil [John 12:31; 14:30; 2 Cor. 4:4]), which includes all the things people have been seduced by, and live for, instead of God and His truth and righteousness, including all false religion, very much including false Christianity. God devoted some three chapters of the book of Revelation to His judgment of Babylon, the great harlot. This is a big part of His end-time judgment of the world. He will judge Babylon, to some significant extent, through Antichrist (see Rev. 17:16, 17). Revelation chapters 16-20 also include the seven bowls of wrath, the destruction of Antichrist and his followers after gathering them to Armageddon; the judgment of the Gog and Magog rebellion at the end of the millennium; the great-white-throne judgment at the end of the millennium and the casting of death and Hades and those whose names are not found in the book of life into the lake of fire.
We will continue discussing God's restoration of all things that will take place AFTER the Lord Jesus returns in Part 4.