We are in a series that seeks to examine what “heaven” refers to in the NT, and we are particularly searching to see if “heaven” is the eternal destiny. In other words, is heaven the intermediate state or the divine control room that must be distinguished from the “new heavens and the new earth,” or is “heaven” one term used for what can also be called the new heavens and the new earth? To do this, we pause for nearly every reference to heaven in the NT.
Today we look at Acts 3:21, one of the more revealing texts so far. In context:
Acts 3:17 ?And now, friends, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did also your rulers. 18 In this way God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, that his Messiah would suffer. 19 Repent therefore, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, 20 so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah appointed for you, that is, Jesus, 21 who must remain in heaven until the time of universal restoration that God announced long ago through his holy prophets.
First, as a result of the resurrection but even more the ascension, Jesus is “in heaven.”
Second, heaven for Jesus is a place where he is waiting until he returns to the earth.
Third, when he returns there will be a time of “universal restoration.”
Fourth, this restoration was “announced long ago through his holy prophets.”
I suggest today for your consideration that “universal restoration” (Greek: apokatastaseos panton) could well be what John will call the “new heavens and the new earth.”
So, after Jesus’ time in heaven he will return to earth for the restoration of all things.