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Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [1]

1. The term. -The word ‘restitution’ is the Authorized Versionrendering (Revised Version‘restoration’) of the Gr. ἀποκατάστασις, which is found in the NT only in  Acts 3:21, though the verb ἀποκαθίστημι, ‘restore,’ occurs several times (see especially  Matthew 17:11,  Acts 1:6). In the exegesis of  Acts 3:21 two views have been taken of the relation of the phrase ἄχρι χρόνων ἀποκαταστάσεως πάντων (‘until the times of restitution of all things’) to the relative clause which follows, and these two views are reflected in the renderings of the Authorized Versionand Revised Versionrespectively. According to the Authorized Versionrendering the relative pronoun ὦν has πάντων for its antecedent, so that the restitution is a restitution only of those things of which the prophets had spoken. According to the Revised Versionand the great majority of modern commentators the antecedent is χρόνων, so that it was the times of restoration of which the prophets spoke, and the restoration is a restoration of all things in some sense not defined in the context. The sense, however, is suggested by the passages to which the present one evidently refers. The prophet Malachi had foretold that Elijah should be sent as the Messiah’s forerunner ( Malachi 4:5) and that he should effect a work of moral restoration ( Malachi 4:6); and in the Septuagintthis restoring work (Heb. הֵשִיב, English Version‘turn’) of Elijah is expressed by the word ἀποκαταστήσει. On the ground of this saying the expectation of Elijah’s reappearance to herald the advent of the Messiah had become general among the Jews ( Sirach 48:10-11; cf. Schürer, HJP[Note: JP History of the Jewish People (Eng. tr. of GJV).]II. ii. [1885] 156), and when Jesus, after His transfiguration, forbade His disciples to tell any one of their vision of Moses and Elijah on the mount, they asked Him, ‘Why then say the scribes that Elijah must first come?’ ( Matthew 17:10; cf.  Mark 9:11). ‘Elijah indeed cometh,’ was His reply, ‘and shall restore all things’ (ἀποκαταστήσει πάντα,  Matthew 17:11; cf.  Mark 9:12); but He immediately made them understand that Elijah had come already in the person of John the Baptist ( Matthew 17:12 f.).

The ‘restoration of all things’ of which St. Peter spoke was thus not a restoration in the large sense of a Universalist doctrine, but a moral and spiritual recovery of Israel such as Malachi had foretold and St. John proclaimed in preaching the baptism of repentance. That St. Peter at this stage of his career could not have entertained any idea of a universal restoration is proved by his later experiences at Caesarea (Acts 10). And if it is suggested that the phraseology of the verse is due to St. Luke, the writer of Acts, with his much wider outlook, it has to be considered that a close fidelity of the historian to his sources is suggested by St. Peter’s whole speech, embodying as it does a purely Jewish form of Christian expectation quite different from the later perspective of the Church after the door had been opened to the Gentiles and the national life of Judaism had been destroyed.

2. The idea. -A discussion of the NT doctrine of restitution or restoration, however, cannot be limited to an examination of the particular term. The idea of ‘restoration of all things’ is raised not only by this speech of Peter’s but by one or two of our Lord’s utterances, and above all by certain striking statements and declarations in the Pauline Epistles.

(1) The saying of Jesus in  Matthew 17:10 ( Mark 9:11) has been already referred to. But in  Matthew 19:28 we find Him speaking of the ‘regeneration’ (παλινγενεσἰα), when the Son of Man shall sit on the throne of His glory. The word παλινγενεσία in this passage is practically synonymous with the ἀποκατάστασις of  Acts 3:21 (cf. Jos. Ant. XI. iii. 8, 9, where the words are used interchangeably of the national restoration under Zerubbabel). Jesus is referring to that hope of a renovation of heaven and earth which formed part of the Jewish Messianic expectation (Enoch xlv. 4, 5; cf.  2 Peter 3:13,  Revelation 21:1) and was based on  Isaiah 65:17;  Isaiah 66:22. No more here than in Revelation 21, where we have the Apocalyptist’s conception of the ἀποκατάστασις or παλινγενεσία, is there any suggestion of a universal restoration of sinful beings (see  Revelation 21:8;  Revelation 22:11). The same thing must be said of  John 12:32, which is sometimes adduced in the interests of a Universalist doctrine. The context ( John 12:20 ff.) shows the point of the verse to be that the uplifting of Jesus on the Cross (cf.  John 3:14 f.) would draw to Him Gentiles as well as Jews.

(2) It is in St. Paul’s writings, however, and especially in such passages as  Romans 11:32,  1 Corinthians 15:22 ff.,  Philippians 2:10-11,  Ephesians 1:9-10,  Colossians 1:20, that support is chiefly sought for the idea of a universal restoration. But the argument of Romans 11 shows that in  Romans 11:32, as in  John 12:32, ‘all’ means Jew and Gentile alike. In  1 Corinthians 15:22, again, nothing more is asserted than a universal resurrection of the dead, and in  1 Corinthians 15:24-28 what is in view is a subjugation of all forces that are hostile to the Divine Kingdom so that God may be all in all. And if we find that in  Philippians 2:10-11 the adoration of the Exalted Jesus is represented as an act in which the whole creation participates, while in  Ephesians 1:10,  Colossians 1:20 Christ appears as summing up all things in Himself and reconciling all things unto Himself, these soaring utterances cannot be interpreted apart from St. Paul’s emphatic teaching that the wages of sin is death ( Romans 6:23), and that destruction awaits the enemies of the Cross of Christ ( Philippians 3:19). In the light of such texts it seems safe to conclude that the Apostle’s ‘universalism’ implies not a universal redemption of individuals, but a restoration of the disordered world to unity and harmony by an elimination of all discordant elements or a subdual of all hostile powers.

(3) Support for a restorationist doctrine is sometimes sought in those passages of the Pastoral Epistles where it is said that God ‘willeth that all men should be saved’ ( 1 Timothy 2:4), that He is ‘the Saviour of all men, specially of them that believe’ ( 1 Timothy 4:10), that His grace ‘hath appeared, bringing salvation to all men’ ( Titus 2:11). Yet it seeing hardly possible to affirm more here than that the Divine saving purpose brings salvation within the reach of all, while the realization of that purpose depends upon the attitude of the individual to the Divine grace. Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners ( 1 Timothy 1:15); but to obtain mercy men must ‘believe on him unto eternal life’ ( 1 Timothy 1:16). In the same Epistle we read that destruction (ὄλεθρος; cf.  2 Thessalonians 1:9) and perdition (ἀπώλεια; cf.  Philippians 3:19) await those who walk in the way of their own lusts ( 1 Timothy 6:9).

Attractive as it is, the idea of universal restoration finds little support in a careful exegesis. Those who advocate it usually fall back upon conjectures suggested by the hidden possibilities of the future life or general considerations with regard to the grace of Christ and the Fatherly love of God. Even when a case has been made out for Universalism from the direct utterances of the NT, it has to be admitted that the materials for a case against it are abundantly present. To Martensen it seemed that on this subject the Scriptures set before us an unresolved antinomy corresponding to the antinomy between the sovereignty of God and the free will of man. The Divine saving purpose is universal in its scope, but it is conditioned by human freedom. The one entitles us to cherish ‘the larger hope’; the other suggests that in the very nature of man there lies the possibility of final condemnation (Christian Dogmatics, Eng. translation, 1866, pp. 474-484).

Literature.-S. Cox, Salvator Mundi, 1877; F. W. Farrar, Eternal Hope, 1878; O. Riemann, Die Lehre von der Apokatastasis, 1889; S. D. F. Salmond, Christian Doctrine of Immortality, 1895, pp. 449 ff.; 642 ff.; articles ‘Restoration’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible (5 vols), ‘Apokatastasis’ in PRE[Note: RE Realencyklopädie für protestantische Theologie und Kirche.]3.

J. C. Lambert.

Holman Bible Dictionary [2]

Human Restitution The Law required “trespass offerings” to be made for sins against a neighbor (theft, deception, dishonesty, extortion, keeping lost property, or damaging property). Such crimes involved “unfaithfulness” towards God and disrupted fellowship and peace among the people. They were to be atoned for by a guilt offering to God, and “restitution” to the wronged neighbor. Atonement and forgiveness of the sin were received after restitution had been made to the victim. The sin offering to God always followed the act of restitution. Old Testament law established a principle of “punishment to fit the crime” (life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, wound for wound). Restitution was consistent with this concept of equity. The stolen property was to be returned, or “full” compensation was to be made. The guidelines for making complete restitution also included a provision for punitive damages (up to five times what had been lost), justice that moved beyond “an eye for an eye.” Provisions were made for complications in this process ( Exodus 22:3 ). The act of making restitution to a victim was so closely identified with the atoning sacrifice made to God, that the two expressions could be seen as elements of the same command. Neither could stand alone. Specific examples of this law in operation are not found, but the principle in action is found ( 1 Kings 20:34;  2 Kings 8:6;  Nehemiah 5:10-12 ). There is no legal or ritual application of this command in the New Testament; however, the principle of restitution is clearly pictured in the story of Zacchaeus ( Luke 19:1-10 ). Jesus implicitly validated the practice when he admonished followers to “be reconciled” to a brother before offering a gift to God ( Matthew 5:23-24 ).

Divine Restitution The New Testament word is found only once ( Acts 3:21 ) and can be translated “restoration.” It describes the future work of God that will reestablish all “things” to their pristine order and purpose. The implication here is not the restoration of persons, but of the created order, that is, the universal renewal of the earth. This divine restoration will accompany the return and triumph of Christ ( 1 Corinthians 15:25-28 ).

Ken Massey

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [3]

that act of justice by which we restore to our neighbour whatever we have unjustly deprived him of,  Exodus 22:1;  Luke 19:8 . Moralists observe, respecting restitution,

1. That were it can be made in kind, or the injury can be certainly valued, we are to restore the thing or the value.

2. We are bound to restore the thing with the natural increase of it, that is, to satisfy for the loss sustained in the mean time, and the gain hindered.

3. When the thing cannot be restored, and the value of it is not certain, we are to give reasonable satisfaction, according to a liberal estimation.

4. We are at least to give, by way of restitution, what the law would give; for that is generally equal, and in most cases rather favourable than rigorous.

5. A man is not only bound to make restitution for the injury he did, but for all that directly follows upon the injurious act: for the first injury being wilful, we are supposed to will all that which follows upon it.

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary [4]

That act of justice by which we restore to our neighbour whatever we have unjustly deprived him of,  Exodus 22:1 .  Luke 19:8 . Moralists observe respecting restitution,

1. That where it can be made in kind, or the injury can be certainly valued, we are to restore the thing or the value.

2. We are bound to restore the thing with the natural increase of it, that is, to satisfy for the loss sustained in the mean time, and the gain hindered.

3. Where the thing cannot be restored, and the value of it is not certain, we are to give reasonable satisfaction, according to a middle estimation.

4. We are a least to give by way of restitution what the law would give, for that is generally equal, and in most cases rather favourable than rigorous.

5. A man is not only bound to restitution for the injury he did, but for all that directly follows upon the injurious act. For the first injury being wilful, we are supposed to will all that which follows upon it. Tillotson's Sermons, ser. 170, 171; Chillingworth's Works, ser. 7.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [5]

 Job 20:10,18 . The repairing of wrongs done, and the restoring of what one has wrongfully taken from another, are strictly enjoined in Scripture, and are a necessary evidence of true repentance,  Exodus 22:1-15;  Nehemiah 5:1-13;  Luke 19:8 . Restoration should be perfect and just; replacing, so far as possible, all that has been taken, with interest,  Leviticus 6:1-6;  24:21 . In  Acts 3:21 , the time of the "restitution of all things," is the time when Christ shall appear in his glory, and establish his kingdom as foretold in the Scriptures.

Webster's Dictionary [6]

(1): ( v.) The act of returning to, or recovering, a former state; as, the restitution of an elastic body.

(2): ( v.) The movement of rotetion which usually occurs in childbirth after the head has been delivered, and which causes the latter to point towards the side to which it was directed at the beginning of labor.

(3): ( v.) The act of restoring anything to its rightful owner, or of making good, or of giving an equivalent for any loss, damage, or injury; indemnification.

(4): ( v.) That which is offered or given in return for what has been lost, injured, or destroved; compensation.

King James Dictionary [7]

RESTITU'TION, n. L. restitutio.

1. The act of returning or restoring to a person some thing or right of which he has been unjustly deprived as the restitution of ancient rights to the crown.

Restitution is made by restoring a specific thing taken away or lost.

2. The act of making good, or of giving an equivalent for any loss, damage or injury indemnification.

He restitution to the value makes.

3. The act of recovering a former state or posture. Unusual.

Restitution of all things, the putting the world in a holy and happy state.  Acts 3 .

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [8]

RESTITUTION . See Crimes and Punishments, 8 .

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [9]

a term applied in the A.V. in two very different senses.

1. Penal ( שָׁלִם , To Repay,  Exodus 20:1-14, etc.; elsewhere "requite," etc.; but in  Job 20:18, תְּמוּרָה , Exchange, as elsewhere rendered), that act of justice by which we restore to our neighbor whatever we have unjustly deprived him of; a point insisted on under both the old and the new covenant ( Exodus 22:1;  Luke 19:8). Justice requires that those things which have been stolen or unlawfully taken from another should be restored to the party aggrieved, and that compensation should be made to him by the aggressor. Accordingly various fines or pecuniary payments were exacted by the Mosaic law: as,

(1.) Fines, ענש , Onesh, strictly so called, went commonly to the injured party, and were of two kinds: fixed, i.e. those of which the amount was determined by some statute as, for instance, that of  Deuteronomy 22:19, or deu 22:29; and undetermined, or where the amount was left to the decision of the judges ( Exodus 21:22).

(2.) Twofold, fourfold, and even fivefold restitution of things stolen, and restitution of property unjustly retained, with twenty per cent. over and above. He who, by ignorance, should omit to give to the Temple what was appointed by the law for example, in the tithes or first-fruits was obliged to restore it to the priests and to add a fifth part besides, over and above which he was bound to offer a ram for his expiation. Nehemiah prevailed with all those Israelites to make restitution who had taken interest of their brethren ( Nehemiah 5:10-11), and Zacchaeus ( Luke 19:8) promises a Fourfold restitution to ail from whom he had extorted in his office as a publican. The Roman laws condemned to a fourfold restitution all who were convicted of extortion or fraud. Zacchaus here imposes that penalty on himself, to which he adds the half of his goods, which was what the law did not require.

(3.) If a man killed a beast, he was to make it good, beast for beast ( Leviticus 24:18). If an ox pushed or gored another man's servant to death, his owner was bound to pay for the servant thirty shekels of silver ( Exodus 21:32). In the case of one man's ox pushing the ox of another man to death, as it would be very difficult to ascertain which of the two had been to blame for the quarrel, the two owners were obliged to bear the loss between them; the living ox was to be sold, and its price, together with the dead beast, was to be equally divided by them. If, however, one of the oxen. had previously been notorious for goring, and the owner had not taken care to confine him, in such case he was to give the loser another and to take the dead ox himself ( Exodus 21:36).

(4.) If a man dug a pit and did not cover it, or let an old pit remain open and another man's beast fell into it, the owner of such pit was obliged to pay for the beast and had it for the payment ( Exodus 21:33-34).

(5.) When a fire was kindled in the fields and did any damage, he who kindled it was to make the damage good (22:6). (See Damages).

Moralists observe respecting restitution:

(1.) That where it can be made in kind, or the injury can be certainly valued, we are to restore the thing or the value.

(2.) We are bound to restore the thing with the natural increase of it, i.e. to satisfy for the loss sustained in the meantime and the gain hindered.

(3.) Where the thing cannot be restored and the value of it is not certain, we are to give reasonable satisfaction according to a middle estimation.

(4.) We are at least to give by way of restitution what the law would give, for that is a generally equal and in most cases rather favorable than rigorous.

(5.) A man is not only bound to restitution for the injury he did, but for all that directly follows from the injurious act; for the first injury being wilful, we are supposed to will all that which follows upon it.

2. Apocatastasis, a term which, in its Greek form, occurs but once in the New Test. in the phrase "restitution of all things," Ἀποκατάστασις Πάντων ( Acts 3:21). As an event, it is in that passage connected with the "refreshing ( Ἀνάψυξις ) from the presence of the Lord" ( Acts 3:19). The grammatical construction as well as exegetical interpretation of the whole passage has been greatly disputed by commentators (see Meyer, Commentar. ad loc.); but Alford ( Greek Test. ad loc.) regards both these as being decisively settled by the parallel expression of our Saviour that Elijah "will restore all things," Ἀποκαταστάσει Πάντα ( Matthew 17:11). The principal opinions of interpreters are thus summed up by Kuinol (Comment. ad loc.):

(a) De Dieu, Limbach, Wolf, and others understand by the times of "refreshing" and "restitution" (i.e. the predicted period when the due position will be assigned each one), the days of the Last Judgment, the times of affliction to the impious and contumacious, but of relief, quiet, and safety to the saints. In support of this view they adduce the frequent argument of the sacred writers to induce Christians to diligence and hope drawn from the prospect of the last day ( Acts 17:30 sq.;  2 Peter 3:7;  2 Peter 3:11;  2 Peter 3:13 sq.; comp. especially the similar language of  2 Thessalonians 1:7;  2 Thessalonians 2:16), and the fact that Jewish writers were accustomed so to speak of it (Pirke Aboth, 4:17).

(b) Schulz (in his Dissert. De Temporibus Τῆς Ἀναψύξεως , in the Biblioth. Hagan. v, 119 sq.) understands the Time Of Death, the terminus fixed to each man's life, the future rest of the dead in the Lord; a view which Barkey (ibid. p. 411) justly opposes by this, among other considerations, that if this had been Peter's meaning it is strange he had not used clearer and more customary phraseology.

(c) Kraft ( Obss. Sacr. fascic. 9:271 sq.) remarks that Peter on this passage derives his argument not merely from the hope of pardon, but also from the benefits already bestowed by God, and therefore considers this "refreshing" to be the Liberation Afforded By Jesus From The Ceremonial Yoke Of bondage of the Jewish law, an exposition which is well refuted by Barkey (Bibl. Hag. 3:119 sq.), who pertinently remarks that Peter at this very time was not himself free from legal prejudices.

(d) Barkey ( Ibid. v, 397 sq.) thinks these "times of refreshing" are the period of The Delay Of The Divine Judgment Upon The Jews, the time of the divine longsuffering, in which the zeal of the Almighty's vengeance was remitted or relaxed. He regards the expression "Jesus Christ" here as put for "the word of Jesus Christ," and so refers the words "he shall send," etc., to the preaching of the doctrine of Jesus.

(e) In the opinion of Grotius, Hammond, and Bolten, the "times of refreshing" are the time of the freedom of Christians from Jewish persecution and the calamities impending over the wicked and refractory Jews ( Matthew 24:33;  Luke 21:28); while the "times of restitution" are the time of the fulfilment of the predictions concerning the overthrow of the capital and polity of the Jews (comp.  Matthew 24:15;  Matthew 24:30).

(f) Ernesti (in his Opusc. Theol. p. 477), who finds a follower in Dbderlein ( Institutio Theol. Christ. ii, § 223, obs. 6), interprets the term Apocatastasis as meaning a new, greater, and truer Perfection Of Religion, the doctrine of the Gospel clear and free from all shadows of figures and rites; first announced by John, then promulgated by Jesus among the Jews, and finally propagated by the apostle everywhere. This view he fortifies by the observation that "times of restitution" is equivalent to "time of reformation" ( Διόρθωσις ,  Hebrews 9:10).

(g) Also Eckermann ( Theologische Beitrage, 1, ii, 112 sq.) interprets the "apocatatasasis of all things" to mean the universal emendation of religion by the doctrine of Christ, and the "times of refreshing" to be the Day Of Renewal, the times of the Messiah. The same writer, however, afterwards ( Ibid. II, i, 188 sq.) rejects this exposition on the ground that the parallel passages ( Matthew 11:17;  Mark 9:12) speak of Elijah as to precede and rectify Jewish faith and morals. He therefore concludes that Peter was referring to a restoration of the Jewish polity in its original splendor. Yet finally (in his Erkalrung aller dunkeln Stellen des N.T. ii, 184) he returns to his original opinion. (h) Rosenmuller, following Morus, understands the "times of refreshing" to denote happy times, not merely the day of the resurrectioni of the dead, but also spiritual benefits of every kind which Christians enjoy in this and the future life (Morus: the Messianic times), and refers the "times of restitution" (full and perfect fulfilment of prophecy) to the consummation of that auspicious period when all enemies shall be subdued (1 Corinthians 20:25 sq.;  Hebrews 10:12;  Hebrews 10:15; comp.  Psalms 110:1), and every influence opposing true religion removed. Many of these interpretations are obviously fanciful, and most of them too vague, although some contain an element of truth. The word Ἀποκατάστασις signifies Emendation, Restoration To a pristine condition, Change to a better state. (So Josephus, Ant. 11:3, 8; 4:6; Philo, De Decal. p. 767 b; De Rer. Div. Her. p. 522 c. Hesychius and Phanorinus likewise explain it by Τελείωσις ; but the scholiast in the Cod. Nosq. Ad Loc. renders Συμπλήρωσις , Ἔκβασις . In like manner Ἀποκαθιστάνειν signifies to Complete, bring to a conclusion; see the Sept. at  Job 8:6, where it corresponds with שַׁלֵּם ; so in  Genesis 41:13;  Jeremiah 22:8; comp. Polyb. 4, 23, 1; Diod. Sic. 20:34.) By the expression "until the times of the Apocatastasis of all things which God hath spoken," etc., Peter means the time when all affairs shall be consummated, all the prophetical announcements shall be accomplished, including the inauguration of the kingdom of the Messiah and its attendant events, the full extension of the Gospel, the resurrection, judgment, etc. in short, the end of the world (see Olshausen, De Wette, Hackett, and most others, Ad Loc. ) . (See Eschatology).