Acts 1:6 – “Will You Now Restore the Kingdom to Israel?”

In Acts 1:6, some disciples wonder if Jesus was now going to “restore the kingdom to Israel.” This question is reminiscent of the Olivet Discourse in Luke 21:5-37, where the disciples ask about the coming judgment on the Temple. When they asked “when will this happen” in Luke 21, Jesus’ answer implied that it would happen very soon, within a generation (Luke 21:32).

What prompts the question is Jesus’ command to remain in Jerusalem until they are baptized with the Holy Spirit “not many days from now.” As Keener observes, talk of the Spirit’s outpouring was de facto eschatological in character” (Acts, 1:682). Many texts from the Hebrew Bible indicate that the eschatological age would be characterized by the Spirit of God on all his people (Joel 2:28-31, which Peter quotes in the next chapter, but also Isa 42:1, 44:3, 59:21). If the Spirit is coming, then the time of the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel must be soon.

Return of the KingAfter the resurrection of Jesus, it was only natural for the disciples to think that Jesus would now enter the Temple in the power and glory of his resurrection and begin to reform the religion of Israel and begin the process of evangelizing the nations. This was a clear expectation of the Messiah’s activity. Beginning with the people of God, Messiah would either convert the enemies of Israel or destroy them. On a historical level, the question the disciples ask resonates with many other Jews living in the mid 30’s A.D.

The verb translated “restore” here (ἀποκαθίστημι) is a key eschatological term. It appears in Malachi 4:6 (LXX 3:23) and LXX Daniel 4:26, and it anticipates Acts 3:21 where the word appears in an eschatological context. The hope of Israel was that the kingdom would be restored to them as the prophets had predicted (Isa 2:2, 49:6; Jer 16:15; 31:27-34).

Isaiah 2:2-4 In the last days the mountain of the Lord’s temple will be established as chief among the mountains; it will be raised above the hills, and all nations will stream to it. 3Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways, so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion, the word of the Lord from Jerusalem. 4He will judge between the nations and will settle disputes for many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore.

In fact, Luke began his first book with the hope of the coming Messiah in the Song of Zechariah (Luke 1:69-74) as well as the words of Simeon in the Temple (Luke 2:24-32).

The disciples expect Jesus to tell them that he is in fact about to restore the Kingdom and take his father David’s throne in Jerusalem. Much like the crowds in Luke 19:11, the disciples expect the Kingdom of God, as described by the prophets, to arrive at that moment.

Yet it is no surprise when Jesus reminds them it is not for them to known when the kingdom will be restored. The idea of an interim period between the present and the coming kingdom is well known in Second Temple Period Judaism. For example in 4 Ezra 4:33-37 the prophet asks “How long and when will these things be? Why are our years few and evil?” The answer in this late first century text is that “the time of threshing is delayed for the righteous—on account of the sins of those who dwell on earth.” The interim is to be used wisely. The new age will certainly dawn, but in the meantime the righteous will continue to labor. Many of Jesus’ parables have a similar theme (the Ten Virgins in Matt 25:1-14, for example).

As for the disciples, they are called to be witnesses to the good news of Jesus in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria, and all the earth. To some extent, the kingdom is about to begin in the Temple in a manner which is not unlike what many expected. That the kingdom would be given to a group of Galileans rather than a faction within Judaism (Pharisees, Essenes, etc.) was not expected at all. These men are quite literally the most unlikely group of people to be commissioned with the task of announcing the Messiah to Israel and then the rest of the world!

15 thoughts on “Acts 1:6 – “Will You Now Restore the Kingdom to Israel?”

  1. The coming Kingdom of Jesus Christ will be an awesome thing. And the wild thing about it, prophecy is telling us that its a the door. Why do you think He is sitting at the right hand of God right now? Interceding for us and waiting for the Father to give the word to go get his bride. The Church Age is almost over with the signs giving us conformation of that. Next stop is the Rapture of the Church!

  2. I find it more understandable having read this blog post and reflecting on what the disciples were expecting in Jesus’ last moments with them before ascending. Jesus charged them to stay in Jerusalem until the Promise of the Holy Spirit came (Acts 1:4). Shortly after mentioning this the disciples ask if Jesus would be restoring the kingdom at this time to Israel (Acts 1:6). In response Jesus states it’s not for them to know the times or season which the Father has put in place (v7). Then Jesus says BUT when the Holy Spirit does come you will receive power and will be witnesses to Me throughout Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the earth.”

    Here’s what I find most interesting. In Luke 17:20, the Pharisees asked Jesus when the kingdom of God would come, and Jesus stated that “the kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, ‘see here! or ‘See there!’ For indeed, the kingdom is within you”. What did Jesus mean by that? How could the Kingdom of God be in them? I personally believe Jesus was hinting to the Holy Spirit being the Kingdom within. Jesus did not mean to directly say the kingdom was within the religious teachers, rather, the Holy Spirit would build the Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven (Matt. 6:10). Luke 17 goes on to describe the last days and additionally, how many will think they have figured out when Jesus is coming again, but in reality, they have no clue.

    Acts 1:4-8 has a similar setup in that Jesus commands them to stay in Jerusalem until they have received the promise of the Father, which is the Holy Spirit. The disciples being eager asked if it was indeed now that Jesus would restore the Davidic kingdom to Israel, and Jesus says that is not for you to know BUT you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes and then you will be witnesses to Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth (v8).

    I do not think it a coincidence that there seems to be two parts when it comes to the kingdom of God coming. I think Jesus was implying we could expand the Kingdom of God due to the Holy Spirit’s power in us. Perhaps this is why he often stated in his ministry, “the kingdom of God is near” (Matt. 3:2, 4:17, 10:7, Mark 1:15, Luke 10:9). Why would Jesus send out the disciple to Israel’s lost sheep, to proclaim that the Kingdom is near? That’s fairly controversial to hear as a Jew! It would seem evident that the disciples did not quite understand what He meant by that, they thought in reference to Isaiah’s prophecy (2:2-4, 9:6-7). The Davidic kingdom has yet to come to this day and I do not find Jesus’ statements of the kingdom of God being near to mean when He comes back. There was depth and weight in those words that we should look deeper into.

    These are just my thoughts in comparing and contrasting Jesus response to the Pharisees and what Jesus said often to his own disciples. There will be a day, not just to restore the Kingdom to Israel but to have the Lord’s kingdom reign over all nations when He returns.

  3. I think most people overlook Jesus time after the resurrection because the resurrection was so significant. His ministry continued after his death, and it needed to continue because many people were confused about what had happened to this messianic figure. Jesus ascension needed to happen in order for the Holy Spirit to take place on earth. Peter speaks about this during Pentecost in verse 35 saying “Then raised to the heights at the right hand of God and receiving promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he poured out the spirit he had just received.”

  4. I think many people tend to grow frustrated with the idea of Christ’s return. Not that He will return, but rather people want to know when. As verse 7 says, it is not for us (or the disciples) to know. People always try to figure out when Christ is coming back or when the world is going to end, and I think that leads people to focus on the wrong things. We need to be focused on Christ, serving Him, and serving others as well.
    The fact that people try to come up with elaborate codes and conspiracies saying when Christ is returning, I think, is rather disrespectful to God’s authority. I think was Christ was doing in this passage is setting up the inception of the church and allowing it to start to take hold. When the Holy Spirit comes down on them, they now have the power to go out and witness to others all throughout Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria. This is something that today we can also recognize – that when we have the Holy Spirit, we now are able to go and evangelize to others who do not yet know Christ and the Gospel. So, while it was not yet the time to restore the Kingdom of Israel in Acts 1:6, we know that we are here to serve Christ and the church until it is time for Christ’s return. Trusting in God’s plan is key, even if we don’t know what/when it is.

  5. Understandably, the disciples remained confused about the role of Jesus and the nature of God. Today, since we have the full Bible and thousands of years of scholarship, science, philosophy, archeology, etc., we have a much fuller understanding of who Jesus was and His role in the restoration of mankind. We understand now – thanks to the divine revelation of the Church to Peter and then the missionary work of Paul – that Christ’s role within the story of first-century Jerusalem was not to establish an earthly kingdom but to instead establish a new path to enter the Heavenly Kingdom. The disciples still found themselves confused when Jesus informed them that knowledge of His second coming and of the end times is to be withheld from them until the day (Acts 1:7). However, Jesus gives them a new goal to look forward to… the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost (Acts 1:8). This event, of course, would start the Christian Church. So in a way, the coming of the Holy Spirit to Peter and the rest of the 120 who were in the Upper Room WAS the start of a new earthly kingdom… but it would be a kingdom of Christians and not just a kingdom of Israel.

  6. If I were also one of the disciples of Jesus in the time of Jesus day, I’ll probably would asked the same question as the disciple, “will you know restore the kingdom of Israel”? I think it is a fair question to ask as a Jewish person, because the future restoration of the Kingdom of Israel was repeatedly proclaims by many Prophets. According to,

    Jeremiah 30:18
    ‘Behold, I will restore the fortunes of the tents of Jacob
    And have compassion on his dwelling places;
    And the city will be rebuilt on its ruin,
    And the palace will stand on its rightful place.

    The Israelite has a completely different perspective on this future restoration, of course they believes the Messiah will come in the lines of David as a King to restore the Kingdom; and their intuitive sense of understanding was the physical restoration of the Kingdom of Israel, rather than the spiritual aspect. Indeed, God will physically restore the Kingdom of Israel when the appointed time comes. But however, the people of Israel has overlooked the spiritual aspect of the restoration of their souls, which Christ Jesus did it by atoning our sin on the cross. And because of their misinterpretation of the Messiah was which ultimately lead their rejection and crucifixion to Jesus on the Roman cross, because their expectation of the Messiah was to be a king and to dominate the Roman Empire and ultimately restore the Kingdom, but Jesus message was completely differents! In addition, he told them to destroy the Temple of Jerusalem and to be rebuilt in three days. Which was very offensive things which ultimately lead to accusation from the Pharisee. Jesus was talking about the spiritual aspect of kingdom restoration where Christ will be their King to those who put their faith on him. This is why he said wait in Jerusalem where the Sprit will come and you all will be filled with the Holy Spirit. Even the Son does not know when the future restoration of Israel Kingdom will happen, nor will it necessary for his disciples, what matter was to be filled with the Holy Spirit.


  7. The disciples were obviously quite confused when it came to understanding when the Kingdom of Israel would be restored. Therefore, Jesus needed to continue his ministry, even after his death and resurrection, to help them gain more clarity. The disciples sought a clear answer as to when Jesus would “restore the Kingdom to Israel” (Acts 1:6), and “when will these things be” (Luke 21:7). Jesus, instead, addresses a more urgent event needing to take place before the coming of the Kingdom: The coming of the Holy Spirit and the spreading of the Gospel “in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Long explains how the disciples must have automatically assumed after Jesus’ resurrection, he would begin to “reform the religion of Israel and begin the process of evangelizing the nations” (paragraph 3). In a way, the disciples were correct in thinking this but had the wrong kind of execution in mind. Jesus knew the Father planned to include the disciples, and eventually us, into his ministry; but being sinful by nature, needed to first gift us the power of the Holy Spirit to begin evangelizing to the nations. Many of Jesus’ parables to the disciples were about laboring, whether it be fishing (Matt 4:19), harvesting (Matt 9:37-38, John 4:35), or any other kind of work or preparation (Matt 25:1-14). Jesus did not tell these parables as moral lessons but as orders for his work to be done before the restoration of the Kingdom to Israel. The Kingdom of God is coming (Matt 6:10) and soon (Mark 1:15); so how are we, the workers, fulfilling those orders today?

  8. It always amazes how Jesus doesn’t do what we expect Him to. We expect the Son of God to come as a man of nobility, but He comes as a poor baby (Luke 1:35). We expect Him to free His people from their human oppressors, but He frees them from their spiritual bondage (Rom. 6:22). We expect Him to reign in an earthly sense, but He reigns at the right hand of God (Acts 7:55). Not only did the Jews have expectations of what Jesus would do, but we often have expectations of what Jesus should do that He doesn’t.
    Looking at Jesus’ life through the lens of history makes it easier to see what different passages and prophecies about the Messiah meant. The Jews did not have that luxury, and their understanding of the future changed their perception of what the Messiah would do. They read that God would restore His kingdom among the nations, and that people would go to Israel to praise God (Isa. 2:2). Their understanding that the Spirit of God would be poured out when this happened led them to believe that it would happen when Jesus was resurrected (Long). But Jesus defies their expectations, and says that the restoration of Israel is still yet to come.
    This passage just reminds me that we often expect God to do what we want when we want it, but God has His own plan, and He will act when He wants. He has His own timing, and does not rely on us for that.

  9. After reading more about the account of the Ascension, I can see how the disciples must have been confused or unsure what was going to happen next. Seeing that Jesus had risen from the dead and fulfilled what the prophets had said earlier, they wanted to know what the next step was. I think it is often forgotten that Jesus was still with them 40 days after the resurrection before his ascension and continued to teach and speak about “the kingdom of God” (Acts 1:3) After Jesus talked about being baptized with the Holy Spirit “not many days from now” (Acts 1:5), they asked when he would restore the Kingdom to Israel. I think this is an appropriate question, and one that I certainly wonder about and would have asked. His answer, one that is not surprising to us, is that they are not to know exactly when. Instead, he steers the question to what they should be focused on instead: the receiving of the Holy Spirit and spreading the Gospel. Even though Jesus did not directly answer their question, I think in a way he did. Without the coming of the Holy Spirit, restoration of the kingdom to Israel could not occur in the way that God designed it to. Although the disciples expected an answer regarding driving out Roman armies (Polhill), this answer shows them that their focus should be to spread the Gospel and further the kingdom of God. When reflecting on this, I can see how that could be difficult to do or take in with the limited information the disciples have. We have the whole Bible to see how God continues to work with the help of the Holy spirit in others. The disciples, however, had to go on what Jesus said and continue to trust him and follow out his instructions.

  10. As I noticed in another person’s comment, I agree with that they said in that is understandable how the disciples might have been confused about what Jesus fulfills and the nature of God. I also agree that we have a much better understanding about the role of Jesus and the nature of God, because today we have a copy of the full bible. Not only do we have the full bible but we also tons of years of study, and other things along those lines to help us understand it all. So, I really agree with that comment in that aspect. In the blog post itself, the part that stuck out the most to me was when you talked about how it could be seen as normal for the disciples to assume that Jesus would enter the Temple in power and glory of his resurrection and begin reforming the religion of Israel and begin evangelizing the nations. I feel like that really ties back to beginning of this comment on how we are seeing that the disciples don’t have a complete understanding of Jesus’ roles. They don’t realize that bringing reformation to the religion of Israel and evangelizing to nations are not the only roles that Jesus is fulfilling in his life. The disciples were confused on what was really going to happen when Jesus’ resurrection. In the ESVSB notes it talks about how Jesus comes and corrects the disciples on their believes of what was going to happen after his resurrection, this is what it says. “Jesus corrected them, not by rejecting the question, but by telling them that they would receive power from the Holy Spirit, not in order to triumph over Roman armies but to spread the good news of the Gospel throughout the world” (Polhill 2008). This quote from the notes is telling us that Jesus clarified that he wanted the people to evangelize and spread the good news of the Gospel to others, not that he was going to be the evangelizing for them they thought.

  11. When I think about the coming of the messiah, I think about (obviously) the events described in revelation. What bothers me about this, is what I hear from other people on this topic. I for one, am not concerned as to when Jesus will return, and I only know that He is perfectly capable to return at any moment. However, many are not content with that, and strive to figure out every minute detail. What I love time and time again about who Jesus was/is is that He doesn’t work how we anticipate Him working. We try our hardest to “plan out” and speak objective terms and try to narrow down the year or the date that we will be “returning home”, but that just isn’t’ how it works. Just like when I make plans for the weekend, and I end up having something else pop up that I didn’t plan for, for example, my car breaking down. Many times, people push God into their little “box” just as the disciples did when they (and every Jew) assumed that the Messiah was going to ride in on a white horse and essentially burn Rome to the ground(Acts 1:6). What I always get from this scripture is this level of healthy pressure. We should live and go about our lives (with peace and trust in Jesus), but with a level of pressure to live out a lifestyle worthy of the Gospel and telling those around us about the good news of Jesus Christ. Even if Jesus isn’t “restoring Israel” quite yet, there is work to be done, so we should keep moving and not waiting around (Acts 1:8). “they would receive power from the Holy Spirit, not in order to triumph over Roman armies but to spread the good news of the gospel throughout the world.” (Polhill, 2080).

  12. Thomas Hill

    After learning that the disciples wondered if God was going to restore the kingdom of Israel he said “Within a generation” (Luke 21:32). They figured this much simply because the spirit of God was coming which means the restoration of the kingdom of Israel was going to happen. The followers of Jesus had high expectations that once Jesus returned that he was going to instantly get to work. From my realization God’s people wanted Him to give people two options which were to either follow him or be destroyed… and that is exactly what He did. However, God didn’t exactly tell them when this was going to happen he just told them within a generation.

  13. When I read this Blog post it made me think was God going to rebuild Israel. I mean they all thought God was coming and spirit was rising in this post and this just my opinion that they thought he was going to rebuild the Kingdom of Israel and was going to follow through what he said to them. Everyone was expecting Jesus to come back and just save them and as great as that sounds it just wasn’t going to happen, Why? I feel like God wanted to teach them something i don’t know what it was but I feel like he wanted his followers to grow and to live right by him even if he wasn’t around anymore just like with us he wants us to live right and push to be the best we can be even when we think he not paying attentio

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