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I have heard it taught that the address of Peter in Acts 3, particularly vv.19-26, is a second offer of the Kingdom to Israel, which, if they had heeded it, would have resulted in the immediate commencement of the Millennium. Could you comment on this?

There seems to be no doubt from Peter’s words that if the nation of Israel had repented then they would have enjoyed "times of refreshing…from the presence of the Lord" (a reference to the blessing of the millennial Kingdom), and God would have sent the Lord Jesus back to reign over them as their Messiah.

We have to remember that things in the Acts were in a transitional state, especially in the earlier chapters. The key to the historical situation in Acts is found in this third chapter where Peter, speaking to Israel, makes an official re-offer of that Kingdom (Acts 3.12-21). Peter’s words here are unmistakable: even their rejection and crucifixion of the King have not utterly lost for Israel their opportunity. If they will repent and turn again, their sins will be blotted out, and Christ shall be sent from heaven to restore all the things spoken of by the Old Testament prophets. Alas, the nation did not repent, so God eventually moved from the Jews to the Samaritans (Acts 8) and to the Gentiles (Acts 10).

We have to understand God’s sovereign purpose, for He certainly knew beforehand that they would reject the Lord Jesus as their King. There is one thing for certain: the unbelief of Israel could not set aside God’s plan as to the Messiah coming and the Millennium commencing. Yet there will be no Millennium for Israel until they turn to the Messiah in repentance and obedience. One verse of prophecy among many is crystal clear as to this: "And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God" (Zech 6.15). Note that this follows the symbolical transaction of the crowning of the high priest Joshua - a picture of Christ in His millennial role as King-Priest. While they remain in unbelief the Messiah will not come to them.

John J Stubbs

Is there a principle in the fact that one Scripture seems to add a condition that is not present in other Scriptures? For example, it would appear that all New Testament Scriptures state that one who leaves a marriage partner and remarries commits adultery, but Matthew adds, "except it be for fornication" (19.19). Another example is on the subject of forgiveness. It would appear that forgiving one’s brother is unconditional, but Luke states, "If he repent, forgive him" (17.3).

It is always wise to take into account the context in which a particular issue is dealt with in the Scriptures.

In both Matthew 5.32 and 19.9 the Lord Himself makes reference to "putting away" on one ground only: "saving for the cause of fornication" – this is recorded only by Matthew since this would have special application to Jewish readers. To the Jews, betrothal was a most solemn and binding contract; indeed, those betrothed were actually spoken of as husband and wife: "Then Joseph her husband…" and, "…fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife" (Mt 1.19,20) – but at this point Joseph and Mary were not married. The record of their marriage is then given: "Joseph…took unto him his wife" (Mt 1.24).

Termination of the betrothal contract prior to marriage is the only "putting away" which the words of the Lord Jesus authorise. In these Scriptures in Matthew the woman is under scrutiny. In Mark 10.11,12 both the man and the woman are included, whilst in Luke a third person is included, "whosoever marrieth her that is put away" (16.18), so here there is a possibility that the "innocent party" is in mind and, if the woman remarries, the person she marries is judged to have committed adultery.

As to the other example of forgiveness, in the so-called "sermon on the mount" which sets out the principles of the coming kingdom, forgiveness by "your heavenly Father" is conditional upon forgiving men their trespasses (Mt 6.14,15). However, in the New Testament epistles we learn that we are to forgive "one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven" us (Eph 4.32). We should be looking for the opportunity to forgive rather than seeking an excuse not to forgive.

In the opening verses of Luke 17, the judgment is against ourselves for sinning against others, but in the verses that follow, the sinning is against us: "If thy brother trespass against thee" (v.3). "If he repent", we are to forgive him. We do not have the ability to read the hearts of men, so when it is a matter of personal offence - whether such repentance is genuine or not is not for us to judge – we leave the matter with God.

So it is not so much "a principle" that one Scripture seems to add a condition that is not present in other Scriptures, but rather it is the context in which the matter is considered.

David E West

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