Acts 1:6
When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, will you at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(6) Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom?—More literally, art Thou restoring . . . Before the Passion the disciples had thought that “the kingdom of God should immediately appear” (Luke 19:11). Then had come the seeming failure of those hopes (Luke 24:21). Now they were revived by the Resurrection, but were still predominantly national. Even the Twelve were thinking, not of a kingdom of God, embracing all mankind, but of a sovereignty restored to Israel.

Acts 1:6-8. When they, therefore, were come together — That is, after he had led them out of the town to the mount of Olives, and was come to that part of the mountain which was above Bethany, (see Luke 24:50,) being full of expectation, that he had brought them thither with a view to some remarkable transaction; they asked him, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? — Wilt thou now break the Roman yoke from off our necks, and immediately erect the kingdom of the Messiah? Their minds were still full of a temporal kingdom to be erected by Christ, in which the Jews should have dominion over all nations; and “they seem to have expected, that when the Spirit was in so extraordinary a manner poured out, and the world, according to Christ’s prediction, (John 16:8,) convinced of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment, the whole nation of the Jews would own him for their Messiah, and not only shake off its subjection to the Romans, but itself rise to very extensive, and, perhaps, universal dominion. The word αποκαθιστανεις, [here rendered wilt thou restore,] intimates the shattered and weakened state in which Israel now was. And I cannot but think,” says Dr. Doddridge, “our Lord’s answer may intimate, it should at length be restored, though not immediately, or with all the circumstances they imagined.” And he — Waving a direct answer to this curious question, and leaving it to the Spirit of truth and wisdom, which was shortly to be given, to rectify the mistaken notions on which they proceeded in it; said, It is not for you, &c. — It will not be of any use to you, in your work; to know the times or the seasons — Of the restoration of the kingdom to Israel. Besides, this is one of the things which the Father hath thought fit to conceal from mortals, in the abyss of his own omniscience. This only is of importance for you to know, that you shall receive power — Fortitude, strength, and ability; after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you — In his various gifts and graces; and by these aids ye shall be witnesses unto me — Both by word and deed, by preaching and suffering, and by various miracles, which you shall be enabled to perform; both in Jerusalem and in all Judea, &c. — 1st, You must begin at Jerusalem, where the Holy Spirit shall be poured out upon you in his extraordinary gifts, in the presence of multitudes of its inhabitants, and of strangers assembled there to celebrate the feast of pentecost; where you shall be enabled to do many miracles, and where many will receive your testimony, and they that do not will be left without excuse. 2d, Your light shall from thence shine through all Judea; where before you laboured in vain. 3d, Thence you shall proceed to Samaria, though at your first mission you were forbidden to preach in any of the cities of the Samaritans. 4th, Your usefulness shall not be confined to these countries, but shall be extended to the utmost part of the earth, and you shall be blessings to the whole world.1:6-11 They were earnest in asking about that which their Master never had directed or encouraged them to seek. Our Lord knew that his ascension and the teaching of the Holy Spirit would soon end these expectations, and therefore only gave them a rebuke; but it is a caution to his church in all ages, to take heed of a desire of forbidden knowledge. He had given his disciples instructions for the discharge of their duty, both before his death and since his resurrection, and this knowledge is enough for a Christian. It is enough that He has engaged to give believers strength equal to their trials and services; that under the influence of the Holy Spirit they may, in one way or other, be witnesses for Christ on earth, while in heaven he manages their concerns with perfect wisdom, truth, and love. When we stand gazing and trifling, the thoughts of our Master's second coming should quicken and awaken us: when we stand gazing and trembling, they should comfort and encourage us. May our expectation of it be stedfast and joyful, giving diligence to be found of him blameless.When they therefore were come together - At the Mount of Olives. See Acts 1:9, Acts 1:12.

Wilt thou at this time ... - The apostles had entertained the common opinions of the Jews about the temporal dominion of the Messiah. They expected that he would reign as a prince and conqueror, and would free them from the bondage of the Romans. Many instances where this expectation is referred to occur in the gospels, notwithstanding all the efforts which the Lord Jesus made to explain to them the true nature of his kingdom. This expectation was checked, and almost destroyed by his death Luke 24:21, and it is clear that his death was the only means which could effectually change their opinions on this subject. Even his own instructions would not do it; and nothing but his being taken from them could direct their minds effectually to the true nature of his kingdom. Yet, though his death checked their expectations, and appeared to thwart their plans, his return to life excited them again. They beheld him with them; they were assured that it was the same Saviour; they saw now that his enemies had no power over him; they could not doubt that a being who could rise from the dead could easily accomplish all his plans. And as they did not doubt now that he would restore the kingdom to Israel, they asked whether he would do it at that time? They did not ask whether he would do it at all, or whether they had correct views of his kingdom; but, taking that for granted, they asked him whether that was the time in which he would do it. The emphasis of the inquiry lies in the expression, "at this time," and hence, the answer of the Saviour refers solely to the point of their inquiry, and not to the correctness or incorrectness of their opinions. From these expectations of the apostles we may learn:

(1) That there is nothing so difficult to be removed from the mind as prejudice in favor of erroneous opinions.

(2) that such prejudice will survive the plainest proofs to the contrary.

(3) that it will often manifest itself even after all proper means have been taken to subdue it. Erroneous opinions thus maintain a secret ascendency in a man's mind, and are revived by the slightest circumstances, even long after it was supposed that they were overcome, and in the face of the plainest proofs of reason or of Scripture.

Restore - Bring back; put into its former situation. Judea was formerly governed by its own kings and laws; now, it was subject to the Romans. This bondage was grievous, and the nation sighed for deliverance. The inquiry of the apostles evidently was, whether he would now free them from the bondage of the Romans, and restore them to their former state of freedom and prosperity, as in the times of David and Solomon. See Isaiah 1:26. The word "restore" also may include more than a reducing it to its former state. It may mean, wilt thou now bestow the kingdom and dominion to Israel, according to the prediction in Daniel 7:27?

The kingdom - The dominion; the empire; the reign. The expectation was that the Messiah the king of Israel would reign over people, and that thus the nation of the Jews would extend their empire over all the earth.

To Israel - To the Jews, and particularly to the Jewish followers of the Messiah. Lightfoot thinks that this question was asked in indignation against the Jews. "Wilt thou confer dominion on a nation which has just put thee to death?" But the answer of the Saviour shows that this was not the design of the question.

6-8. wilt thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?—Doubtless their carnal views of Messiah's kingdom had by this time been modified, though how far it is impossible to say. But, as they plainly looked for some restoration of the kingdom to Israel, so they are neither rebuked nor contradicted on this point. When they therefore were come together; either the one hundred and twenty, mentioned Acts 1:15, or the five hundred, mentioned 1 Corinthians 15:6.

That they might more readily obtain an answer, they join in the question,

Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? Which was taken away by the Romans, and by Herod, and they expected should be restored to them by the Messiah; understanding the prophecy, Daniel 7:27, to this purpose. When they therefore were come together,.... That is, Christ, and his eleven apostles; for not the hundred and twenty disciples hereafter mentioned, nor the five hundred brethren Christ appeared to at once, are here intended, but the apostles, as appears from Acts 1:2.

they asked of him, saying, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? The kingdom had been for some time taken away from the Jews, Judea was reduced to a Roman province, and was now actually under the power of a Roman governor. And the nation in general was in great expectation, that upon the Messiah's coming they should be delivered from the yoke of the Romans, and that the son of David would be king over them. The disciples of Christ had imbibed the same notions, and were in the same expectation of a temporal kingdom to be set up by their master, as is evident from Matthew 20:21 and though his sufferings and death had greatly damped their spirits, and almost destroyed their hopes, see Luke 24:21 yet his resurrection from the dead, and his discoursing with them about the kingdom of God, and ordering them to wait at Jerusalem, the metropolis of that nation, for some thing extraordinary, revived their hopes, and emboldened them to put this question to him: and this general expectation of the Jews is expressed by them in the same language as here,

"the days of the Messiah will be the time when , "the kingdom shall return", or "be restored to Israel"; and they shall return to the land of Israel, and that king shall be exceeding great, and the house of his kingdom shall be in Zion, and his name shall be magnified, and his fame shall fill the Gentiles more than King Solomon; all nations shall be at peace with him, and all lands shall serve him, because of his great righteousness, and the wonderful things which shall be done by him; and whoever rises up against him God will destroy, and he shall deliver him into his hands; and all the passages of Scripture testify of his and our prosperity with him; and there shall be no difference in anything from what it is now, only "the kingdom shall return to Israel" (i).

(i) Maimon. in Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 11. sect. 1.

{3} When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time {e} restore again the kingdom to Israel?

(3) We must fight before we triumph, and we must not search curiously after those things which God has not revealed.

(e) To the old and ancient state.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Acts 1:6. Not qui convenerant (Vulgate, Luther, and others), as if what follows still belonged to the scene introduced in Acts 1:4; but, as is evident from συναλιζ., Acts 1:4, comp. with Acts 1:12, a new scene, at which the ascension occurred (Acts 1:9). The word of promise spoken by our Lord as they were eating (Acts 1:4-5), occasioned (μὲν οὖν) the apostles to come together, and in common to approach Him with the question, etc. Hence: They, therefore, after they were come together, asked Him. Where this joint asking occurred, is evident from Acts 1:12.[98] To the ΜΈΝ corresponds the ΔΈ in Acts 1:7.

ἘΝ Τῷ ΧΡΌΝῼ Κ.Τ.Λ.] The disciples, acquainted with the O. T. promise, that in the age of the Messiah the fulness of the Holy Spirit would be poured out (Joel 3:1-2; Acts 2:16 ff.), saw in Acts 1:5 an indirect intimation of the now impending erection of the Messianic kingdom; comp. also Schneckenburger, p. 169. In order, therefore, to obtain quite certain information concerning this, their nearest and highest concern, they ask: “Lord, if Thou at this time restorest the (fallen) kingdom to the people Israel?” The view of Lightfoot, that the words were spoken in indignation (“itane nunc regum restitues Judaeis illis, qui te cruci affixerunt?”), simply introduces arbitrarily the point alleged.

εἰ] unites the question to the train of thought of the questioner, and thus imparts to it the indirect character. See on Matthew 12:10, and on Luke 13:23.

ἘΝ Τῷ ΧΡ. ΤΟΎΤῼ] i.e. at this present time, which they think they might assume from Acts 1:4 f.

ἀποκαθιστ.] See on Matthew 17:11. By their Τῷ ἸΣΡΑΉΛ they betray that they have not yet ceased to be entangled in Jewish Messianic hopes, according to which the Messiah was destined for the people of Israel as such; comp. Luke 24:21. An artificial explanation, on the other hand, is given in Hofmann, Schriftbew. II. 2, p. 647.

The circumstance that, by the declaration of Jesus, Acts 1:4 f., their sensuous expectation was excited and drew forth such a rash question, is very easily explained just after the resurrection, and need occasion no surprise before the reception of the Spirit itself; therefore we have not, with Baumgarten, to impute to the disciples the reflection that the communication of the Spirit would be the necessary internal ground for all the shaping of the future, according to which idea their question, deviating from the tenor of the promise, would be precisely a sign of their understanding.

[98] Concerning the time of the question, this expression ἐν τῷ χρόνῳ τούτῳ gives so far information that it must have occurred very soon after that meal mentioned in ver. 4, so that no discussions intervened which would have diverted them from this definite inquiry as to the time. Therefore it was probably on the same day. The τούτῳ is thus explained, which sounds as a fresh echo of that οὐ μετὰ πολλ. ταύτ. ἡμ.Acts 1:6. οἱ μὲν οὖν: the combination μὲν οὖν is very frequent in Acts in all parts, occurring no less than twenty-seven times; cf. Luke 3:18. Like the simple μέν it is sometimes used without δέ in the apodosis. Here, if δέ is omitted in Acts 1:7 after εἶπεν, there is still a contrast between the question of the Apostles and the answer of Jesus. See especially Rendall, Acts of the Apostles, Appendix on μὲν οὖν, p. 160 ff.; cf. Weiss in loco.συνελθόντες: the question has often been raised as to whether this word and μὲν οὖν refer back to Acts 1:4, or whether a later meeting of the disciples is here introduced. For the former Hilgenfeld contends (as against Weiss) and sees no reference to any fresh meeting: the disciples referred to in the αὐτοῖς of Acts 1:4 and the ὑμεῖς of Acts 1:5 had already come together. According to Holtzmann there is a reference in the words to a common meal of the Lord with His disciples already mentioned in Acts 1:4, and after this final meal the question of Acts 1:6 is asked on the way to Bethany (Luke 24:50). The words οἱ μὲν οὖν συνελθ. are referred by Felten to the final meeting which formed the conclusion of the constant intercourse of Acts 1:3, a meeting thus specially emphasised, although in reality only one out of many, and the question which follows in Acts 1:6 was asked, as Felten also supposes (see too Rendall on Acts 1:7-8), on the way to Bethany. But there is no need to suppose that this was the case (as Jüngst so far correctly objects against Holtzmann), and whilst we may take συνελθ. as referring to the final meeting before the Ascension, we may place that meeting not in Jerusalem but on the Mount of Olives. Blass sees in the word συνελθ. an assembly of all the Apostles, cf. Acts 1:13 and 1 Corinthians 15:7, and adds: “Aliunde supplendus locus ubi hoc factum, Acts 1:12, Luke 24:50”.—ἐπηρώτων: imperfect, denoting that the act of questioning is always imperfect until an answer is given (Blass, cf. Acts 3:3), and here perhaps indicating that the same question was put by one inquirer after another (see on the force of the tense, as noted here and elsewhere by Blass, Hermathena, xxi., pp. 228, 229).—εἰ: this use of εἰ in direct questions is frequent in Luke, Blass, Grammatik des N. G., p. 254; cf. Acts 7:1, Acts 19:2 (in Vulgate si); it is adopted in the LXX, and a parallel may also be found in the interrogative ה in Hebrew (so Blass and Viteau).—ἐν τῷ χρόνῳ τούτῳ: such a promise as that made in Acts 1:5, the fulfilment of which, according to Joel 2:28, would mark the salvation of Messianic times, might lead the disciples to ask about the restoration of the kingdom to Israel which the same prophet had foretold, to be realised by the annihilation of the enemies of God and victory and happiness for the good. As in the days of old the yoke of Pharaoh had been broken and Israel redeemed from captivity, so would the Messiah accomplish the final redemption, cf. Luke 24:21, and set up again, after the destruction of the world-powers, the kingdom in Jerusalem; Weber, Jüdische Theologie, pp. 360, 361 (1897). No doubt the thoughts of the disciples still moved within the narrow circle of Jewish national hopes: “totidem in hac interrogatione sunt errores quot verba,” writes Calvin. But still we must remember that with these thoughts of the redemption of Israel there mingled higher thoughts of the need of repentance and righteousness for the Messianic kingdom (Psalms of Solomon, 17, 18; ed. Ryle and James, p. lviii.), and that the disciples may well have shared, even if imperfectly, in the hopes of a Zacharias or a Simeon. Dr. Edersheim notes “with what wonderful sobriety” the disciples put this question to our Lord (ubi supra, i., p. 79); at the same time the question before us is plainly too primitive in character to have been invented by a later generation (McGiffert, Apostolic Age, p. 41).—ἀποκαθιστάνεις: ἀποκαθιστάνω, a form of ἀποκαθίστημι which is found in classical Greek and is used of the restoration of dominion as here in 1Ma 15:3; see also below on Acts 3:21 and Malachi LXX Acts 4:5. On the form of the verb see W.H[101], ii., 162, and on its force see further Dalman, u. s., p. 109. “Dost thou at this time restore …?” R.V.; the present tense marking their expectation that the kingdom, as they conceived it, would immediately appear—an expectation enhanced by the promise of the previous verse, in which they saw the foretaste of the Messianic kingdom.

[101] Westcott and Hort’s The New Testament in Greek: Critical Text and Notes.6. wilt thou … restore] Literally, dost thou restore (or art thou restoring), but the English future gives the sense.

the kingdom to Israel] The question was asked when all the Apostles were gathered together, so that the enquiry was not dictated by the mistaken notion of some single member. It shews, as do many other remarks and questions (cp. Luke 24:21, &c.), how far the Apostles were even yet from comprehending the spirituality and universality of the work to which Christ was sending them. A temporal kingdom confined to Israel is what they still contemplate. The change from the spirit which dictated the question in this verse, to that in which St Peter (Acts 2:38-39) preached repentance and forgiveness to all whom the Lord should call, is one of the greatest evidences of the miracle of Pentecost. Such changes can only come from above.Acts 1:6. Συνελθόντες, having come together) They thought that they would more easily obtain a reply when asking jointly.—τούτῳ) at this interval (period), viz. that which was coming after not many days.—τὴν βασιλείαν, the kingdom) the seat of which is Jerusalem, Acts 1:4, but the full extent of it most comprehensive, Acts 1:8, and the nature and inward character of it more divine than the construction which the interrogators were at the time putting on the words of the Lord; Acts 1:3 at the end. Luke 22:16, “I will not anymore eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”—τῷ Ἰσραὴλ, to Israel) The dative bears the emphasis. The apostles, taking the fact for granted, were asking concerning the time: and in a like manner the reply, which follows immediately after, is framed.Verse 6. - They therefore, when for when they therefore, A.V.; him for of him, A.V.; dost thou for wilt thou, A.V.; restore for restore again, A.V. Dost thou at this time, etc.? It appears from Luke 19:11 and Luke 24:21, as well as from other passages, that the apostles expected the kingdom of Christ to come immediately. It was most natural, therefore, that, after the temporary extinction of this hope by the Crucifixion, it should revive with new force when they saw the Lord alive after his passion. They had doubtless too been thinking over the promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit "not many days hence." Restore. (Comp. restitution, Acts 3:21; and see Matthew 17:11.) Asked (ἐπηρώτων)

The imperfect, denoting the repetition and urging of the question.

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