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Agreeably to this general interpretation of the word as it stands in the present context, Hesychius and Phavorinus state, that one of the senses of Apocatastasis is accomplishment or completion or consummation'. On these very ample authorities, therefore, and according to the plain requisition of good sense, there can be no doubt, that the clause ought to be rendered: Until the times of the accomplishment of all the things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.From this translation, which, with the ancients, I conceive to exhibit the true sense of the original, the inference is sufficiently obvious.
If heaven must receive and retain Christ, UNTIL the full accomplishment of all the things which God hath spoken by the prophets, since the world began, down to the time when the Apostle uttered the passage now under consideration: then, assuredly, the literal second advent of Christ cannot take place until after the complete expiration of the millennian period of blessedness. For Daniel, and Isaiah, and Joel, and Zechariah, all foretell the occurrence of such a period, as immediately following the conversion
According to these Greek Lexicographers, *Αποκατάστασις is τελείωσις.
See Whitby's Comment. in loc. vol. i. p. 605, 606. Mill, in like manner, very justly approves of the rendering adopted by Ireneus and Tertullian. 'AmoкαTαoráσews. Dispositionis, Iren. Exhibitionis, Tertull. RECTE. Mill. Gr. Test. Annot. in loc. Exactly the same rendering, likewise, is rightly adopted by Hardy. 'ATокαтaorários, Completionis omnium, quæ prophetæ prædixerant. Hard. Gr. Test. Annot. in loc.
of Judah and the synchronical overthrow of the great Roman confederacy'. But, according to St. Peter, heaven must retain Christ, UNTIL the accomplishment of all the prophecies which had been delivered anterior to the time when he made such a declaration. Therefore heaven must retain Christ, UNTIL all the ancient prophecies, respecting the millennian period of blessedness upon earth, shall have received their full accomplishment: and, consequently, the literal second advent of Christ cannot occur, until after the close of the same predicted millennian period of blessedness.
(2.) I am quite aware, that the present passage has been claimed as their own by Mr. Mede and his followers, and that an argument has been con→ structed upon it which brings out a directly opposite result but, the mode in which they interpret the passage being utterly inadmissible, the argument framed upon their interpretation will of course be inadmissible also.
By the Restitution of all things, as the phrase stands in our common English version, they understand the paradisiacal renovation of the mundane universe, both physical and moral, as effected by the great conflagration which accompanies the literal second advent of Christ immediately before the commencement of the Millennium: and, from this interpretation of the phrase, they argue, that, since
'Dan. ii. 35, 44, 45. vii. 13, 14, 27. xii. 12. 1-5. xi. 10-16. lx. lxv. 17-25. lxvi. 5-24. Zechar. xiii. 8, 9. xiv.
heaven has received Christ only UNTIL the times of the restitution of all things; then, AS SOON AS the times of this restitution arrive, or (in other words) AS SOON AS the Millennium is on the point of commencing, the Saviour, by the very necessity of the passage, will personally appear from heaven.
Such is their interpretation of the phrase: and such is the argument, which they would build upon that interpretation.
Now, had their interpretation of the phrase been admissible; the argument, constructed upon that interpretation, would doubtless have been perfectly conclusive. But, unfortunately, this is by no means the case.
The phrase itself is, in truth, contextually incapable of bearing any such sense as that of the restitution of the universe. St. Peter's all things have no sort of concern with our terrestrial mundane system. They are solely and simply all the several matters which have been foretold by the prophets from the beginning of the world. Nor, save this, can any other sense be put upon them, except, either by a flagrant violation of grammar, or by a constructively impossible syntax.
The former of these two expedients has been, most unhappily, resorted to by the anonymous authors of the recently published Dialogues on Prophecy.
In the clause, as it stands in our common English version, Until the times of restitution of all things WHICH God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets, these writers make the word
restitution to be the antecedent to the pronoun relative which: and thus, in our vernacular tongue, they compel St. Peter to declare, what assuredly he never did declare, that the alleged restitution HAS been spoken of by all the prophets since the world began1.
Yet a mere mechanical inspection of the Greek original will forthwith satisfy any person who takes the trouble to consult it, that the pronoun which is grammatically incapable of relating to the antecedent restitution.
The latter of these two expedients has been, less blamelessly, resorted to by Mr. Mede.
He would make the relative which agree with the antecedent times: and thus, more mildly, he would persuade the Apostle to declare, that the times of the alleged restitution HAVE been spoken of by all the prophets since the world began.
But the excellent author has not observed, that such a syntax, forced and unnatural in itself, though grammatically possible, is constructively impossible. We may properly say, Until the times CONCERNING which God hath spoken: but we cannot properly say, Until the times WHICH God hath spoken. Now, in Mr. Mede's construction of the
The heavens, say they, have received Christ only until the times of the restitution of all things, which Has been spoken of by all the prophets since the world began. Dial. on Proph. convers. v. p. 164. Here they plainly refer the which pronoun to the antecedent restitution: in other words, since the original Greek runs αποκαταστάσεως πάντων ὧν ἐλάλησεν ὁ Θεὸς, they make the relative ὧν agree with the antecedent αποκαταστάσεως.
clause, the latter is that, which St. Peter says really and actually though Mr. Mede, in his translation, makes him say the former, which in truth he does not say. The preposition concerning is indeed necessary to make the commentator's construction speak good sense: but that preposition is the sole and exclusive property of the commentator himself. St. Peter says simply WHICH; not, what Mr. Mede would make him say, CONCERNING WHICH: and, accordingly, both Irenèus and Tertullian so render the original Greek; referring the pronoun which, as it doubtless ought to be referred, not to the imaginary antecedent times, but to its true antecedent all things1,
'That the matter may distinctly appear, I subjoin the original Greek with the three several translations of Mede and Ireneus and Tertullian.
Αχρι χρόνων ἀποκαταστάσεως πάντων ὧν ἐλάλησεν ὁ Θεὸς διὰ στόματος πάντων τῶν ἁγίων αὐτοῦ προφητῶν. Act. iii. 21.
Ad tempora restitutionis omnium, de quibus locutus est Deus per ós omnium sanctorum suorum prophetarum. Med. Comment. Apoc. de magn. Dei jud. Oper. lib. iii. p. 537. Usque ad tempora dispositionis omnium quæ locutus est Deus Iren. adv. hær. lib. iii. c. 12. § 1. per sanctos prophetas suos. P. 189.
Ad usque tempora exhibitionis omnium quæ locutus est Deus ore sanctorum prophetarum. Tertull. de resurr. carn. § xix. Oper. p. 60.
Mr. Mede renders v by de quibus, as if the original Greek had run πɛpì ŵv: and, in this way only, by the unauthorised insertion of the preposition de, can he, with any regard to sense, make the pronoun ŵy the relative to the antecedent xpóvwv.
Ireneus and Tertullian, on the contrary, most accurately trans