Expectations of a Jewish Kingdom (Acts 1:4-8)

© 2013 Tony Garlanda

Today's passage (Acts 1:4-9)

And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, ‘which,’ He said, ‘you have heard from Me; for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’ Therefore, when they had come together, they asked Him, saying, ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.’1

Two sessions on this passage due to its importance.

  1. Previous: focus on the historical uniqueness of the Church, the Body of Christ.
  2. Today: focus on the continued expectations of the disciples concerning the restoration of the kingdom to Israel (v. 6).

Previous: Waiting for the Promise of the Father.

  1. Historical uniqueness of the events associated with the opening of the book of Acts.

    1. A New Ministry of the Spirit: baptizing believers into the Body of Christ.

      1. The Holy Spirit had been ministering on the earth since the creation (Gen. 1:2) - or else no one would have been saved.
      2. Prior to the crucifixion, John tells us “the Holy Spirit had not yet been given” (John 7:38-39).
      3. In the upper room: Jesus promises to send another Helper, “I will not leave your orphans, I will come to you.” (John 14:16-18)
      4. Now, Jesus tells them to wait for “the promise of the Father” which we saw was tied to baptising ministry of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:4-5) forming a new spiritual entity: the body of Christ (1Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:27).
  2. Why is this important?

    1. Saves us from spiritual disappointment or even worse, spiritual abuse.
      • Historical context - unique transition: not happening over and over throughout the church age.
      • Believing we need something more.
      • Well-meaning believers guiding or even manipulating us into experiences which are not for today.
      • Confusing a cheap imitation, ecstatic speech, for the true manifestations of the Spirit in Acts: speaking in unlearned human languages.
    2. The nature of the Church in relation to the Rapture.
      • The Church is not the “people of God” throughout all ages: it is a spiritual organism unique to this age.
      • In the same way people were saved by the Holy Spirit prior to His coming to form of the Body of Christ on the Day of Pentecost, so will People continue being saved by the Holy Spirit following the removal of the Body of Christ at the Rapture.
    3. Understand the different programs of God.
      • The Church, the body of Christ, is not to be found in the Old Testament or gospels.
      • Avoid confusing the Church with Israel.
      • Avoid the confusing which results when OT goals and laws given to Israel as if they apply to the Church in this age.
      • Avoid the error of dominion theology: that the goal of the Church is to convert society to a theocracy as Israel originally was.
  3. Clarifications: what I am NOT saying.

    1. I’m NOT saying: That the term “church”, ἐκκλησὶᾳ [ekklēsia], cannot be found in reference to the OT in some translations.
      • In the KJV translation, Stephen makes mention of Moses as, “he, that was in the church in the wilderness with the angel which spake to him in the mount Sina . . .” (Acts 7:38a).
      • What are we to make of this? Doesn’t this refute what I've been saying?
      • Checking other translations: NKJV, ESV, NASB, NIV, HCSB, NET : none of them translate ἐκκλησὶᾳ [ekklēsia] there as “church.”
      • Instead, they use “congregation” (NKJV, ESV, NASB, NET, HCSB) or “assembly” (NIV). Why is this?
      • The translators understand that the term ἐκκλησὶᾳ [ekklēsia], is not a technical term which always means the body of Christ. In some contexts, it simply means a gathering of people, whether believing or not.
      • In Acts 19, ἐκκλησὶᾳ [ekklēsia] is used to describe the gathering of rioters in Ephesus—which were certainly not believers! (Acts 19:32,39,40).
      • Even the KJV uses “assembly” here. So the translation of ἐκκλησὶᾳ [ekklēsia] as if it meant a “church” in the OT simply exhibits the mistaken notion by some on the KJV translation committee that the church began with Adam or Abraham or Moses —rather than the day of Pentecost.
    2. I’m NOT saying: That OT saints were saved differently than we: by means of the regenerating ministry of the Holy Spirit.
    3. I’m NOT saying: That OT saints were less secure in their salvation than we because they were not baptized by the Spirit. Security is founded on God’s election, not ministries of the Spirit which only began on the Day of Pentecost.

Ongoing Expectations of a Jewish Kingdom

  1. Curious exchange between Jesus and the Apostles

    “. . . they asked Him . . . ‘Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?’ And He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority.’” (Acts 1:6-7)

  2. Relationship between OT and NT.

    1. Augustine wrote, “In the Old Testament the New is concealed, in the New the Old is revealed.”5

      • This sounds reasonable at first, until you start thinking more about the last phrase, in the New the Old is revealed.
      • This is true in that it recognizes the nature of progressive revelation.
      • This is manifestly untrue if it implies that the NT is required in order to make plain sense of the OT.
    2. The BIG QUESTION: Can what the OT plainly says be understood without the NT?

      If not . . .

      • How were the OT people of God to understand God prior to the giving of the NT?
      • How could they be held accountable for things which could not be understood without the NT?
      • What does this say about the nature of language — which God invented for the purpose of communication?
      • What does it say about the character of God?
      • How can OT promises be considered reliable if their meaning can be changed—effectively subverted—by the NT?
      • If the NT can essentially change (not just enhance) what God said in the OT, how do we know our promises have been properly understood? What if eternal life doesn’t mean what we think it means? What if it is figurative language and there is no literal resurrection?
  3. Spiritualization - the abuse of normative communication.

    1. “The Old is by the New restricted; the New is on the Old inflicted.”6

    2. An Imaginary Conversation7

      Jesus Pharisees
      1. The [OT] Scriptures testify of Me...
      2. “Where are you in the Scriptures?”
      3. “In types and shadows.”
      4. “How can anyone rightly interpret these types and shadows?”
      5. “By the New Testament.”
      6. “By the what?”
      7. “It won’t be written for about 50 years, and won’t be widely available for longer than that, but you need the NT to rightly interpret the [OT] Scriptures.”
      8. ?!?!?!?? . . . “So until we can read a copy of this NT I guess we can suspend judgment on your claim that the Scriptures testify of you?”

  4. Evidence of Geopolitical Jewish Kingdom8

    1. Throne of David vs. God’s Throne9

      1. Jesus said they were different

        “To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne.” (Rev. 3:21)

        Attribute Throne of David Throne of God
        Beginning David’s lifetime (2S. 7:16-17) eternity past (Ps. 93:1-2)
        Permanence conditioned upon promises (2S. 7:16) unconditional (Lam. 5:19)
        Who Sits Upon? Numerous sinful kings of Judah Jesus only (Ps. 110:1; Heb. 8:1; Heb. 12:2)
        Location on earth, in Jerusalem (Jer. 3:17; 13:13; 17:25) In heaven (1K. 22:19; 2Chr. 18:18; Ps. 103:19; Isa. 66:1)
        Called David’s throne (Jer. 13:13), his throne (Ps. 89:29; Jer. 33:21), the throne of David (Jer. 17:25; Jer. 22:2,4,30) God’s throne, My throne
        Presently Occupied? unoccupied (Hos. 3:4; Mic. 4:9; Mat. 25:31; Rev. 3:21) occupied by Jesus (Ps. 110:1; Mat. 22:44; Mark 16:19; Eph. 1:20; Col. 3:1; Rev. 3:21)

    2. Old Testament10

      We must attempt to stand in the shoes of the original recipients—as if we had no NT. How would it read to them? Is God misleading and deceiving in His communication?

      • Ps. 2:6-8, Yet I have set My King On My holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: The LORD has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You. Ask of Me, and I will give You The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession.’
      • Isa. 9:6-7, For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
      • Amos 9:8-15, “Behold, the eyes of the Lord GOD are on the sinful kingdom, And I will destroy it from the face of the earth; Yet I will not utterly destroy the house of Jacob,” Says the LORD. “For surely I will command, And will sift the house of Israel among all nations, As grain is sifted in a sieve; Yet not the smallest grain shall fall to the ground. All the sinners of My people shall die by the sword, Who say, 'The calamity shall not overtake nor confront us.' “On that day I will raise up The tabernacle of David, which has fallen down, And repair its damages; I will raise up its ruins, And rebuild it as in the days of old; That they may possess the remnant of Edom, And all the Gentiles who are called by My name,” Says the LORD who does this thing. “Behold, the days are coming,” says the LORD, “When the plowman shall overtake the reaper, And the treader of grapes him who sows seed; The mountains shall drip with sweet wine, And all the hills shall flow with it. I will bring back the captives of My people Israel; They shall build the waste cities and inhabit them; They shall plant vineyards and drink wine from them; They shall also make gardens and eat fruit from them. I will plant them in their land, And no longer shall they be pulled up From the land I have given them,” Says the LORD your God.
        • Who are the “they” which possess “the remnant of Edom and all the Gentiles who are called by My name”? Is this to be spiritualized and understood as the Church?
        • No. Why not?
          1. Those who are possessed include “the Gentiles who are called by My name” refers to non-Jewish believers. The Church can’t possess the Church!
          2. The captives being brought back are referred to as “the house of Jacob” and “My people Israel” and distinguished from the Gentiles who are called by His name.
          3. The Church was never pulled up from any land that God gave.
          4. Nor has the Church ever been promised a specific piece of real-estate.
        • Spiritualizing such a passage completely confuses what is being said.
      • Zec. 2:11, “Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” says the LORD. “Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you. And the LORD will take possession of Judah as His inheritance in the Holy Land, and will again choose Jerusalem.
      • Isa. 2:2-4, Now it shall come to pass in the latter days That the mountain of the LORD'S house Shall be established on the top of the mountains, And shall be exalted above the hills; And all nations shall flow to it. Many people shall come and say, “Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, To the house of the God of Jacob; He will teach us His ways, And we shall walk in His paths.” For out of Zion shall go forth the law, And the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. He shall judge between the nations, And rebuke many people; They shall beat their swords into plowshares, And their spears into pruning hooks; Nation shall not lift up sword against nation, Neither shall they learn war anymore.
        • This cannot refer to an eventual heavenly reality because of the presence of sin.
      • Zec. 14:9-17, And the LORD shall be King over all the earth. In that day it shall be-“The LORD is one,” And His name one. . . . And it shall come to pass that everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles. And it shall be that whichever of the families of the earth do not come up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, on them there will be no rain.
        • Again, this cannot refer to a heavenly reality because of the presence of sin.
        • Context: “everyone who is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem” — not 70 A.D.!
    3. New Testament

      1. How to Read the NT
        • Does the NT have to repeat anything previously stated in the OT for it to still hold true?
        • Is it the case that only those things which Jesus explicitly affirms from the OT continue . . . everything else is abrogated, or set aside?
      2. Passages which don’t make sense if there is no geopolitical kingdom centered in Jerusalem.
        1. Jesus initially restricted His ministry to Israel. Why?
          • Mat. 10:5-6, These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying: “Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Mat. 10:5-6)
          • Mat. 15:22-24, And behold, a woman of Canaan came from that region and cried out to Him, saying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David! My daughter is severely demon-possessed.” But He answered her not a word. And His disciples came and urged Him, saying, “Send her away, for she cries out after us.” But He answered and said, “I was not sent except to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”
          • Mark, 7:26-27, The woman was a Greek, a Syro-Phoenician by birth, and she kept asking Him to cast the demon out of her daughter. But Jesus said to her, “Let the children be filled first, for it is not good to take the children's [Jew’s] bread and throw it to the little dogs.”
        2. An ongoing Jewish/Gentile distinction taught by Jesus
          • Mat. 19:27-28, Then Peter answered and said to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You. Therefore what shall we have?” So Jesus said to them, “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.”
          • Luke 21:24, And they will fall by the edge of the sword, and be led away captive into all nations. And Jerusalem will be trampled by Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
        3. A yet-future reign upon the geopolitical throne of David
          • Luke 1:32-33, He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Highest; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.
          • Luke 4:5-7, Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time. And the devil said to Him, “All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish. Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours.” (Luke 4:5-7)
            • Was this a true temptation for Jesus or not?
            • Why didn’t Jesus tell Satan, “the kingdom is within you” or “my kingdom is not from here . . . I’m not destined to have a geopolitical kingdom”?
          • Rev. 3:21, To him who overcomes I will grant to sit with Me on My throne [the throne of David], as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne [the heavenly throne].
          • Rev. 20:4, And I saw thrones, and they sat on them, and judgment was committed to them. Then I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded for their witness to Jesus and for the word of God, who had not worshiped the beast or his image, and had not received his mark on their foreheads or on their hands. And they lived and reigned with Christ for a thousand years.

Problem: omission of full revelation of the OT

Puzzling Kingdom Passages

Because of limited time, this portion of the presentation was taught in adult Sunday school prior to the main service.

  1. Kingdom within you (Luke 17:20-21)

    Now when He was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, He answered them and said, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation; nor will they say, 'See here!' or 'See there!' For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you.” (KJV, NKJV)

  2. Kingdom not of this world

    Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, My servants would fight, so that I should not be delivered to the Jews; but now My kingdom is not from here.” (John 18:36)

  3. Kingdom taken from Israel and given to another nation.

    Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken from you and given to a nation bearing the fruits of it. (Mat. 21:43)


  1. The expectations of the Apostles concerning a restored Jewish kingdom are derived from a normal reading of the Old Testament.
  2. The mistake which both Apostles and Jewish religious leaders made was in focusing exclusively on the victorious kingdom passages and ignoring the many other passages which indicated Messiah would die for the sins of all people.
  3. Over the years, Christians have been guilty of attempting to redefine the meaning of the OT based on an incorrect understanding of NT passages: use spiritual truths in an attempt to erase physical truths.18
  4. If the NT redefines the meaning of the OT, then God is a misleading, equivocating God Who can’t ultimately be trusted to communicate plainly.
  5. If the NT can redefine the meaning of the OT, then why can’t some other revelation come along later to supersede the meaning of the NT in a similar way? For example, the Book of Mormon of the Church of Latter-Day Saints, the Koran of Islam, or Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures of Christian Science?
  6. The spiritual truths concerning entry to the kingdom and its availability in the person of Jesus are not contrary to numerous passages which also teach an eventual geopolitical kingdom centered in Jerusalem.

In our passage today, we see that Jesus does not correct the Apostle’s expectation of a restored Jewish kingdom. Instead, He merely indicates that God has a different program which intervenes between His ascension and return: proclamation of the gospel to all nations by the body of Christ.

Sat Feb 9 21:05:33 2013
SpiritAndTruth.orgb Scan Code


1.NKJV, Acts 1:4-8
2.Ref-0696, ad. loc.
3.Ref-0974, ad. loc.
4.Ref-0399, ad. loc.
5.Ref-0199, p. 23
6.Dan Philips, Twenty Five Stupid Reasons for Dissing Dispensationalism. Biblical Christianity Blog, [http://bibchr.blogspot.com/2006/11/twenty-five-stupid-reasons-for-dissing.html] accessed 20130118.
7.Paul Henebury, Do We Need The New Testament To Understand The Old?. [http://drreluctant.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/do-we-need-the-new-testament-to-understand-the-old/] accessed 20121024.
8.See also https://spiritandtruth.org/teaching/Book_of_Revelation/commentary/htm/topics/millennium.htm.
9.“Several factors indicate that David's throne is separate and distinct from God's throne in heaven. First, several descendants of David have sat on his throne, but only one of his descendants ever sits on the right hand of God's throne in heaven. That descendant is Jesus Christ (Ps. 110:1; Heb. 8:1; Heb. 12:2). Second, David's throne was not established before his lifetime (2S. 7:16-17). By contrast, since God has always ruled over His creation, His throne in heaven was established long before David's throne (Ps. 93:1-2). Third, since God's throne in heaven was established long before David's throne and since God's throne was established forever (Lam. 5:19), then it was not necessary for God to promise to establish David's throne forever (2S. 7:16) if they are the same throne. Fourth, David's throne was on the earth, not in heaven. David and his descendants who sat on his throne exercised an earthly, ruling authority. They never exercised ruling authority in or from heaven. By contrast, as noted earlier, the Bible indicates that God's throne is in heaven. Fifth, the Bible's consistent description of David's throne indicates that it belongs to David. When God talked to David about his throne, God referred to it as ‘thy throne’ (2S. 7:16; Ps. 89:4; Ps. 132:12). When God mentioned David's throne to others, He referred to it as ‘his throne’ (Ps. 89:29; Jer. 33:21), ‘David's throne’ (Jer. 13:13), and ‘the throne of David’ (Jer. 17:25; Jer. 22:2, Jer. 22:4, Jer. 22:30). By contrast, the Scriptures’ consistent description of the throne in heaven indicates that it belongs to God the Father.” Ref-0057, Renald Showers, January/February 2001, p. 30
10.Numerous passages from the OT could be mentioned, but I will focus on just a few key ones in the interest of time.
11.See Isa. 53; Dan. 9:26; Ps. 22.
12.Ref-1328, Luke 17:20-27
13.“The statement that the kingdom is “among you” or “in your midst” suggests, not that the calculation of signs is contrasted with some future incursion of the kingdom, but that the kingdom has already come in Jesus. Some people, however, do not perceive it. Observation of signs cannot show whether the kingdom has come; as it is now at work, God’s rule can be grasped only by faith. The messianic expectations of the opponents of Jesus, who are demanding signs, are wholly inadequate in the face of what Jesus effects with his coming among the people.” Ref-1329, 1176
14.“According to the standard NT Greek lexicon, the phrase 'not of this world' is indicating that Christ’s kingdom does not have its source in this world.” Ref-1308, pp. 101-102
15.Ref-0627, #1620
16.Ref-0055, Michael J. Vlach, Has the Church Replaced Israel in God's Plan? April 2000, pp. 20-21
17.Ref-0785, Timothy L. Decker, Taken and Given: The Israelitish Judgment and Restoration Taught in Mat. 21:43 Volume 14 Number 43, December 2010, 23-44
18.Influenced by a gnostic bias against the goodness of God’s material creation.


NKJVUnless indicated otherwise, all Scripture references are from the New King James Version, copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Ref-0055Mal O. Couch, ed., The Conservative Theological Journal (Fort Worth, TX: Tyndale Theological Seminary, n.d.). [www.tyndale.edu].
Ref-0057Israel My Glory (Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry) [www.foi.org]. See Isa. 46:13.
Ref-0199John S. Feinberg, ed., Continuity And Discontinuity (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1988).
Ref-0399Henry, M. (1996, c1991). Matthew Henry's commentary on the whole Bible : Complete and unabridged in one volume. Peabody: Hendrickson.
Ref-0627Throckmorton, B. H., & Throckmorton, B. H., Jr. (1997, c1992). Gospel Parallels-NRSV : A comparison of the Synoptic Gospels (electronic ed. of the 5th ed.). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.
Ref-0696J. Calvin Calvin's Commentaries (Albany, OR: Ages Software, 1998).
Ref-0785p. 42
Ref-0974Barnes, Barnes' Notes on the New Testament (n.p.: Word Search Corporation, 2007).
Ref-1308Thomas A. Howe, Daniel In The Preterists' Den (Eugene, OR: Wipf and Stock, 2008). ISBN:978-1-55635-237-7c.
Ref-1328Kenneth S. Wuest, The New Testament: An Expanded Translation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1961). ISBN:0-8028-1229-5d.
Ref-1329Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Freidrich, Geoffrey William Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1985).

Links Mentioned Above
a - See https://spiritandtruth.org/id/tg.htm.
b - See https://spiritandtruth.org.
c - See https://spiritandtruth.org/id/isbn.htm?978-1-55635-237-7.
d - See https://spiritandtruth.org/id/isbn.htm?0-8028-1229-5.