In this passage, the apostle Peter talked about the restitution of all things. He said, “whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began.” It is true that Christ died as the world’s Redeemer, and therefore He promised restoration to every human by His crucifixion. But Acts 3:21 does not teach that all people will finally be saved and taken to heaven.
Salvation is dependent on human acceptance
God desires that “all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). But unfortunately, not all people will respond to His call and accept His free offer of Salvation. For since the beginning of time, people exercised their free will to reject God and rebel against Him. Clearly, this was seen at the time of Noah (Genesis 6-7), at the time of Christ (John 1:11), and will also be seen at the end of time. In fact, Jesus resembled the people of the end with those at the time of Noah (Matthew 24:37-39).
Also, the apostle Peter said in his second epistle that not all people will be saved. At the end “scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, where is the promise of His coming? … For this they willfully forget: that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of water and in the water, by which the world that then existed perished, being flooded with water. But the heavens and the earth which are now preserved by the same word, are reserved for fire until the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men” (2 Peter 3:7–13).
The wicked will be judged at the second coming
Jesus taught, that at His second coming, He will have to separate between the righteous and the unrighteous. He said, “when the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory. All the nations will be gathered before Him, and He will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divides his sheep from the goats. And He will set the sheep on His right hand, but the goats on the left” (Matthew 25:31-33). The faithful will receive honor and eternal life (Gen. 48:13, 14; Mark 14:62; 16:19; Col. 3:1; etc.). And the unfaithful will receive dishonor and death (Matthew 25:41).
What does Acts 3:21 mean?
This verse simply expresses the idea of a final state in which righteousness will reign over the saints in the New Earth. God will wipe away sin and make things all anew at that time of restoration. “For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth; And the former things will not be remembered or come to mind” (Isaiah 65:17 also 2 Peter 3:12-13; Revelation 21:1). Peter said these words in Acts 3:21 to inspire the believer with hope in the joys of the world to come. These words could bring courage to meet the difficulties of the present life.
In His service,
The BibleAsk Team
Before you go
Jesus loves you and has died for you so that one day you may live with Him forever.
If you’ve not accepted Jesus, you can do so right now. All it takes is one simple prayer, such as this: