19] “Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, 20] and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, 21] whom heaven must received until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” (NKJV)
Peter has finished the second part of his message, in which he declared the underlying truth of the Crucifixion, namely, that it wasn’t just the result of frustrated rage or ignorance, but rather that it was in perfect accord with and accomplished the will of God, a will revealed in all the prophets, v. 18.
Now Peter begins to press home these truths to the lives and hearts of his hearers. Here is a free translation of vs. 19-21:
“Repent, therefore, all of you, and return (to God) so that this sin may be wiped away, so that refreshing times may come from the presence of the Lord, and (so that) He may send to you the One having before been prepared, Christ Jesus, whom heaven must receive until times of restoration, of which (times) God formerly spoke by (the) mouths of His holy prophets.”
Because this is such an important section and has more than obvious bearing on the subject of NT prophecy, this post will be more of a word-study than usual.
1. The Command, v. 19a.
Repent. What is “repentance”? “Repent” is the translation of “metanoeo”, which means “to undergo a change in frame of mind or feeling.” This is not just “being sorry for your sin,” as some have put it. Nor is it simply a change of opinion about something. “Metanoeo” is a compound of two words:
“meta” – with, on the same side as
“noeo” – to perceive with, observe attentively, comprehend. The noun form is used to refer to “the mind”.
True repentance, therefore, is to take the same view of something, in this case, sin, as God does. Many people are “sorry” for their sin only because they are suffering the consequences of that sin, or are afraid of those consequences. This might also be likened to the “remorse” convicted criminals are supposed to “show” for their crimes, though many of them would go right back or do go right back to those crimes or others if given the chance. They, criminals and sinners alike, do not see it, however, as God sees it, as something utterly hateful and wicked, and deserving of judgment. As one of the Puritans used to say, “Anything better than hell is more than I deserve.” Most folks in our day expect quite firmly to go to “a better place” when they die. Thus they are lost, for, as our Lord said to some folks in His day who thought they were better than some others, “Unless you repent, you shall all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3, 5.
Return. Although “conversion” is implied in this word, there’s more to it than that. The word in the original is in the active voice, and we do not “convert” ourselves. The word is “epistrepsate,” which means, “to turn back, round, to bring back, convert.” It is made up of two words:
“epi” – which generally means, “upon”.
“strepho” – to twist, turn, change (as of substance, Revelation 11:6).
Peter, thus, is urging upon his hearers a “turning toward,” or “back,” in short, a “return” to God, from whom they have turned away by crucifying His Son. Inward change, that is, “conversion,” is implied in this “return”.
Thus we see the two aspects of repentance.
- There is indeed an inward change of character and nature. The person who once lived in defiance of or disregard for God now becomes submissive and obedient to the divine will as revealed in Scripture.
Implicit in this inward change, but separate from repentance, is the element of saving faith, through which the person is enabled to trust in and rest on the shed blood and imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ as the only ground or reason for the forgiveness of his sins and of his acceptance before God.
- There is an outward change in attitude and conduct, so that the person no longer pursues sinful or worldly things, but is concerned with living for God.
“To God” was supplied in the translation as the One to whom they were to “return,” because vs, 13 and 18 show God to have been actively involved in the Crucifixion and the Resurrection of our Lord.
2. The Consequences, vs. 19b-21.
Cleansing, “So that this sin may be wiped away,” or blotted out,” v. 19b.
The phrase “this sin” is generally translated “your sins.” And while it is correct that true repentance and faith bring the forgiveness of sin, that is, “salvation,” Peter is here speaking of the particular sin of crucifying the Messiah. Yet, in the marvelous grace of God, even this sin may be forgiven through the repentance and faith to which Peter exhorts his hearers. How true is Romans 5:20, where sin abounded, grace abounded much more !
“may be,” v. 19, does not express doubt or uncertainty, but translates words which state, not the mere possibility of forgiveness, but of its absolute certainty. Biblical salvation is not “I hope,” but “I have”!
At the same time, the tense of the verb is such that Peter asserts that this blessing will not be theirs apart from repentance. There is only one way of salvation! Contrary to perhaps the majority view today, it does matter what you believe!
“wiped away,” v. 19, translates “exaleiphtheenai:” to obliterate, wipe away. This, in turn, is a compound of:
“ex” – out of, from.
“aleipho” – to anoint (with oil or ointment).
It is a stronger word than the word translated “remission” and occurs only five times in the NT: Acts 3:19, Colossians 2:14, Revelation 3:5, 7:17, 21:4, translated in some form of “wiped” or “blotted,” as in “out” or “away.”
The Christian is not “just forgiven.” His sin is blotted out, wiped away, gone forever, never again to be charged against us, Romans 8:33.
Coming, vs. 19b-21.
- refreshing. There are several viewpoints as what “times of refreshing” means. Some think it refers to the sense of relief from the guilt of sin that a converted person feels, or to those times of spiritual enjoyment or refreshment which they feel from time to time. We believe that Peter is referring to the actual 2nd Coming of our Lord and that if Israel had indeed “repented” at that time that our Lord would have returned. Since they did not, however, all such discussion is moot.
- restoration, v. 21, from “anakatastaseos:” to restore, a restitution or restoration (of a thing to a former state or condition). SInce Peter develops this thought in a particular direction in the rest of his remarks in this chapter, we will only say here that the Scriptures seem clearly to teach a “golden age” which cannot simply be dismissed as referring to eternity or to some “spiritual” something or other.
Matthew 19: 28 supplies an analogy. In v. 28, our Lord promised the twelve, “Assuredly I say to you, that in the regeneration, when the Son of Man sits on the throne of His glory, you who have followed Me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.” (It is impossible for me to see how this is “fulfilled” in any way in “the church.”)
The word we’re interested in is “regeneration.’ It’s the translation of “palingenesia:” “palin” – “again,” and “genesis” – birth.” It’s the word our Lord used with Nicodemus when He told him he needed to be “born again”. According to His statement in Matthew, there will be a “regeneration” of society and of the earth itself during the Millennial reign of Christ, which will indeed continue into and culminate in eternity, but will be entered into before then. Cf. Isaiah 65:17-25,
17] “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth;
And the former shall not be remember or come to mind.
18] But be glad and rejoice forever in what I create;
For behold, I create Jerusalem as a rejoicing,
And her people a joy.
19] I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
And joy in My people;
The voice of weeping shall no longer be heard in her,
Nor the voice of crying.
20] “No more shall an infant from there live but a few days,
Nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days;
For the child shall die one hundred years old,
But the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed.
21] They shall build houses and inhabit them;
They shall plant vineyard and eat their fruit.
22] They shall not build and another inhabit:
They shall not plant and another eat:
For as the days of a tree, so shall be the days of My people,
And My elect shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23] They shall not labor in vain,
Nor bring forth children for trouble:
For they shall be the descendants of the blessed of the LORD,
And their offspring with them.
24] “It shall come to pass
That before they call, I will answer”
And while they are still speaking, I will hear.”
25] The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
The lion shall eat straw like the ox,”
And dust shall be the serpent’s food.
They shall not nor destroy in all My holy mountain,”
Says the LORD.
Just typing these verses out makes my heart almost burst with longing.
Believers are said to be “a new creation,” 2 Corinthians 5:17, yet we still carry within ourselves evidence of the old creation. Only death will finally end that old creation. The Millennial reign of Christ will include the “old creation” of this world as we know it. How else will Satan be able to quickly gather together the nations which are in the four corners of the earth in one final act of rebellion, Revelation 20:7? 2 Peter 3:10 and Revelation 20:11 describe the “death” of this planet. Revelation 21 describes the “new creation” of a new heavens and earth.