The Last of the Unrighteous

THE LAST OF THE UNRIGHTEOUS (20:12-15). Many have convinced themselves that death ends all and there is no final justice. Others often ponder over the fact that evil deeds appear to go unpunished in this life while righteous men often have trouble all their days. Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, furnishes insight into these deliberations:

When the sentence for a crime is not quickly carried out, the hearts of the people are filled with schemes to do wrong. Although a wicked man commits a hundred crimes and still lives a long time, I know that it will go better with God-fearing men, who are reverent before God (Ecclesiastes 8:11-12).

Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14).

The time of final judgment has arrived in Apocalypse. Here John witnesses the second resurrection along with the second death. “The dead” refers to those who are spiritually dead at the end of the Millennial Kingdom. As with Armageddon, there will be survivors, after the Battle of Gog and Magog, who hate Christ. They will be judged first.

The only ones not judged at the Great White Throne will be the righteous, the Antichrist, the False Prophet, and the unsaved survivors after Armageddon, who had been separated as “goats” in the judgment as described in Matthew 25. Postmillennialists behold this separation as taking place at the Great White Throne since they do not believe Christ will return to earth to reign.

Several books are used for this judgment. One is the Book of Life (Psalm 69:28; Philippians 4:3; Revelation 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12, 15; 21:27); a second would be the Bible; and a third would be a book where every individual’s words and deeds are recorded since the dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books. In addition, the books might include the books of memory, conscience, character and nature.

This judgment will be just and righteous!

For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:12-13; cf. Matthew 25:41ff; Romans 2:6; 2 Corinthians 5:10).

Next, the dead of all ages are resurrected and judged by Christ. Multitudes that sleep in the dust of the earth awake to shame and everlasting contempt (Daniel 12:2). The sea gave up the dead that were in it, death and Hades gave up the dead that were in them, and each person was judged according to what he had done. Christ holds the keys of death and Hades (Revelation 1:18).

Many people speak as though the unsaved immediately go to Hell once they die. They go to the side of Sheol/Hades known as a place of torment (Luke 16:22-24), to await the final resurrection and the Great White Throne Judgment. The residents of the temporary abode of Sheol/Hades are now cast into the Lake of Fire, which is Hell (geenna, Gehenna), where the fire never goes out according to Jesus:

If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter life maimed than with two hands to go into hell, where the fire never goes out (Mark 9:43).

Hell is the second death, where separation from God is made permanent.

He will punish those who do not know God and do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. They will be punished with everlasting destruction and shut out from the presence of the Lord and from the majesty of his power (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9).

Hell is a place of everlasting punishment and destruction.

And if your eye causes you to sin, pluck it out. It is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye than to have two eyes and be thrown into hell, where ‘their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched’ (Mark 9:47-48).

Hell is a place of darkness and gnashing of teeth.

And throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:50).

Then the king told the attendants, ‘Tie him hand and foot, and throw him outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth’ (Matthew 22:13).

Hell is a place of everlasting torment and unrest.

He will be tormented with burning sulphur in the presence of the holy angels and of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment rises for ever and ever. There is no rest day or night for those who worship the beast and his image, or for anyone who receives the mark of his name (Revelation 14:10-11).

holdingplace

Many perceive that the souls of all believers and non-believers will appear together at one final judgment before the Great White Throne to determine who goes to Hell and who goes to Heaven. However, the Bible does not teach this concept.

Many perceive that all unrepentant sinners will experience an identical degree of punishment in Hell. However, the Bible reveals that a holy and just God will judge every individual sinner according to the deeds of his life and will punish him in Hell according to his works (Jude 13). Jesus taught degrees of punishment:

Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way as you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you (Matthew 7:1-2).

Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the market-places, and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. They devour widows’ houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely (Mark 12:38-40).

That servant who knows his master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what his master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked (Luke 12:47-48).

There is an old adage: “Born once, die twice; born twice, die once.” Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” Are you born again?

The Wicked and Dead

THE LAST JUDGMENT (20:11). Then I saw a great white throne and him who was seated on it. This person can be none other than Jesus Christ, since He affirmed, “the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son” (John 5:22). White stands for righteousness, purity, triumph, and glory. Justice and righteous are yardsticks of this judgment. Those who rejected Christ will find their works will not save them.

All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away (Isaiah 64:6).

Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!” (Matthew 7:21-23).

There is only one-way to escape the Great White Throne Judgment—imputed righteousness by faith.

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith (Hebrews 11:7; cf. James 2:17-26 on faith without works is dead).

This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus (Romans 3:22-24).

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:1-2).

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God (2 Corinthians 5:21).

THE LAST OF THE FIRST CREATION (20:11) “Earth and sky fled from his presence, and there was no place for them” describes the disappearance of the present heaven and earth predicted in 2 Peter 3:10-13:

But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare [burned up]. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat. But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.

A key phrase in Peter’s description is stoiceia (elements) kausoumena (burn up with heat) luyhsontai (shall be loosed). This describes what happens when every atom is split. Now Christ holds all things together (Colossians 2:17).

The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word (Hebrews 1:3).

Creation as we know it will cease, when Jesus says by His powerful word, “Be loose atoms!” Every atom will split; the heavens and earth explode into fire and melt in the heat — not laid bare but katakahsetai (be consumed by fire). God’s Word and salvation last forever, but not heaven and earth, according to Isaiah and Jesus:

Lift up your eyes to the heavens, look at the earth beneath; the heavens will vanish like smoke, the earth will wear out like a garment and its inhabitants die like flies. But my salvation will last for ever, my righteousness will never fail. (Isaiah 51:6).

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away (Matthew 24:35; Mark 13:31; Luke 21:33).

I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished (Matthew 5:18).

The Chaining of Satan

MAN’S ENEMY CAPTURED, BOUND AND INCARCERATED (20:1-3). Since the Archangel Michael defeated Satan, he could be the one who incarcerates the Devil. The imprisonment of the Dragon coincides with the reign of Christ. The names used of man’s archenemy reveal the cessation of cruelty (the dragon); cunning deception (that ancient serpent); malicious slander (the devil) and adversary (Satan).

Only Satan is mentioned here, but it’s likely that the rest of the demons also were bound and thrown into the Abyss, the place of incarceration pending their final sentencing to the Lake of Fire (cf. Matthew 25:41).

In that day the LORD will punish the powers in the heavens above and the kings on the earth below. They will be herded together like prisoners bound in a dungeon; they will be shut up in prison and be punished after many days. The moon will be abashed, the sun ashamed; for the LORD Almighty will reign on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before its elders, gloriously (Isaiah 24:21-23).

Chapter thirty-three of Second Enoch speaks of the history of the world comprising seven thousand years. The first six thousand correspond to the six days of creation; the last thousand form the Sabbath. Other Intertestamental Jewish literature speaks of angels seizing and binding demons in the depths of the underworld. John’s readers of the first century would have understood this imprisonment literally. The destructive influence of the demonic in all areas of human thought and life will be removed. Temptations of the world and Devil will cease for a thousand years; however, the flesh still will have some sway.

At the end of the thousand years, Satan must be set free for a short time. Why? So that God can bring an end of sin prior to His creating the new heaven and earth. All who survive the Tribulation and enter the kingdom in natural bodies are believers. However, despite that and the personal presence of the rule of Christ, many of their descendants will refuse to trust in Him under Paradise-like conditions.

Those who believe Satan is presently bound and that the thousand years indicates present Church history are hard-pressed to prove their point since other passages teach that he blinds unbelievers and attempts to hinder believers (2 Corinthians 4:3-4; 11:13-15; Ephesians 2:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:18; 2 Timothy 2:26).

Additionally, 1 Peter 5:8 warns:

Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

The Reign of the Saints

REIGN OF THE SAINTS (20:4-6). The thrones John saw might recall Daniel 7:9. Tribulation saints beheaded for their testimony are certainly in view. Abel was the first martyred because of the Word of God (Genesis 4:1-10); possibly, OT saints are in view also. Every Christian who overcomes will reign with Christ on the earth as His bride as well.

TWO RESURRECTIONS are mentioned: (1) to life and (2) to death. It appears that all saints of every dispensation will be resurrected by the beginning of the Millennial Kingdom. Blessed and holy are those who have part in the first resurrection. This is the fifth beatitude of Revelation. The second death has no power over them, but they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with him for a thousand years. Is Job’s assurance, your hope?

I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been destroyed, yet in my flesh I will see God; I myself will see him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me! (Job 19:25-27).

Amillennialists view the first resurrection as the life of the departed saints in heaven or the privileges of the saints living on earth. Clearly, Job was not an amillennialists; he anticipated resurrection and a life on earth with his Redeemer.

The Release of Satan

THE LAST TEMPTATION (20:7). When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison. Apparently, the angel unlocks the Abyss and chains that bind the Devil. Satan had no change of heart after a thousand years of captivity. He still hates God; so it will be with everyone who awaits the final judgment.

The reign of righteousness (Law) will not change the hearts of many born during the Millennium, who will rebel against Christ. The heart that rejects Christ continues to harden; whether in the torment of Sheol/Hades or living in Paradise. Like Adam and Eve, those born into the restored Paradise of the Millennial Kingdom will be tempted by the Serpent. They must choose to trust the Lord or reject Him.

The Battle of Gog and Magog

THE LAST INSURRECTION (20:8-9). Through this final test, God will demonstrate that even under Paradise conditions, man harbors rebellious resentment in their hearts. Satan will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. The size of the rebellion against Christ is staggering. In number, they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves, which is Jerusalem.

Many commentators incorrectly identify this battle as the one described in Ezekiel 38-39. Some expositors place Ezekiel’s so-called Gog and Magog prior to the Rapture of the Church, at the middle of the Tribulation, or at end of Tribulation as Armageddon.

Ezekiel’s Gog and Magog cannot come after the Millennium since the clean up period after the battle takes seven years and the dead will be buried over a period of seven months (Ezekiel 39:9-13). At the final battle, there will be no bodies to bury since fire came down from heaven and devoured them.

The End of Satan

THE LAST OF SATAN (20:10). No prophetic world would be complete without a word about the destiny of man’s archenemy. And the devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of burning sulphur, where the beast and the false prophet had been thrown. They will be tormented day and night forever and ever. Hell is a place of eternal punishment. Most likely, the demons are judged at this time and thrown into the Lake of Fire, which is “the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).

What the Millennium is Like

WHAT THE MILLENNIUM IS LIKE. Isaiah 65:20-25 is a brief description of the Millennial Kingdom in which there will be longevity but also death. One who will die at one hundred years will be considered still in one’s youth. Note that the curse of death is not removed in the age to come. Rebellion is still possible. In fact, the new heavens and new earth will be created after the final rebellion, the resurrection of unsaved and the Great White Throne Judgment according to Revelation 20:7-15.

During the thousand-year reign of Christ, the earth returns to conditions prior to the Fall. Animals and nature will have been redeemed as well as man. It will be a time of great joy and rejoicing and deliverance for the people of God, but death and sin will still be present. Christ will “rule all the nations with an iron scepter” (Revelation 12:5), suggesting that all rebellion will be squashed immediately.

The greatness of Christ’s Kingdom will be characterized by universal change in the structure and operation of society in seven areas:

SPIRITUAL IN NATURE. God’s laws will be written on the hearts and minds by the Holy Spirit as the New Covenant is realized in the areas of forgiveness, righteousness, spiritual cleansing, regeneration, and direct knowledge of God (Isaiah 59:20-21; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:24-27).

ETHICAL CONDUCT. Spiritual orientation will bear fruit of ethical conduct. There will be a proper recognition of moral values. The vile person will be recognized for what he is (Isaiah 32:5), and good men and things will be approved. The adjustment of life’s inequalities will occur (Isaiah 40:4; Psalm 73) and retribution for sin will become wholly an individual matter (Jeremiah 31:28-30).

SOCIAL RELATIONS. Christ’s Kingdom will restore perfect social relations. In this society war will be eliminated (Zechariah 9:10) and an era of peace will be ushered in that will last forever (Isaiah 9:7). The arts and industries of war will be turned to uses for the blessing of mankind (Isaiah 2:4). The antipoverty program will work (Isaiah 65:21-23).

PHYSICAL WHOLENESS. Not only spiritual healing will occur, but tangible effects on the physical will be experienced also. There will be the healing of physical ills (Isaiah 33:24; 35:5-6), restoration of long life (Isaiah 65:20, 22), elimination of physical hazards (Isaiah 65;23; Ezekiel 34:23-31), great geological changes from the Tribulation along with changes of climate (Isaiah 32:15-16; 35:7), increased fertility (Isaiah 35:1-2; Amos 9:13), and changes in the animal world (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:25). All creation fell with man and will be restored to Garden of Eden like conditions at the return of Christ (Romans 8:19-22).

POLITICAL CHANGE. The form of government will be a theocracy. God Himself will rule over the earth in the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of David. There will be a central authority for the settlement of international disputes (Isaiah 2:4; Micah 4:3). National security will be assured (Isaiah 32:18). Israelites will be restored permanently to the Promised Land (Amos 9:14-15), resulting in the reestablishment and unification of the nation of Israel (Ezekiel 37), and the place of priority among the nations (Isaiah 60:10-14). It will be a government of peace, tranquility and blessedness, but on the other hand, it is instant destruction of the insubordinate or rebellious (Isaiah 11:1-4).

RELIGIOUS PURIFICATION. The Ruler of this realm will be both King and Priest (Psalm 110). A central sanctuary will be established in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 37:27-28). The Shekinah glory will return to the Temple (Ezekiel 43:1-7). Israelites will become the leaders and teachers in religious matters (Isaiah 61:6). There will be universal worship of Yahweh (Isaiah 66:23), and this worship of the true God will be compulsory (Zechariah 14:16-19).

EXTENT OF RULE. “The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and His name the only name” (Zechariah 14:9). His Kingdom will include all nations of mankind (Psalm 72:8-11). It will last until it merges into the eternal state and goes on forever (Micah 4:7; Psalm 45:6; Daniel 7:13-14; Revelation 22:1-5).

Other Characteristics of the Millennial Kingdom

Blessed Kingdom
Psalm 72;6; Isaiah 2:5-6; 30:23-26; 32:2; 61:3, 7; Ezekiel 34:26-27, 29; Joel 2:23; Micah 5:7
Growing Kingdom
Isaiah 9:3; Hosea 1:10; Micah 2:12
Joyous Kingdom
Isaiah 9:3; 42:10-12; 61:3, 7
Peaceful Kingdom
Psalm 72:2, 7; Isaiah 9:5-7; 49:13; Ezekiel 34:25; Micah 5:10-11; Haggai 2:9; Zech 3:10; 9:10
Priestly Kingdom
Isaiah 61:6
Prosperous Kingdom
Isaiah 4:1; 30:23-26; 35:1-2; 62:8-9; 65:21-23; Jeremiah 31:5, 12; Ezekiel 34:26
Purified Kingdom
Isaiah 32:3-8; Ezekiel 37:23; Micah 5:12-14
Redeemed Kingdom
Jeremiah 23:6; 33:16; Ezekiel 34:27-28
Restored Kingdom
Isaiah 61:4
Safe Kingdom
Jeremiah 23:6; 33:16; Ezekiel 34:27-28; Micah 5:4-5
Spiritual Kingdom
Isaiah 59:20-21; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 36:25-27
Unified Kingdom
Ezekiel 37:21-22, 24; Micah 2:12

The Millennial Kingdom

CHAPTER TWENTY is the most controversial as far as interpretation. Today, three schools of interpretation take over—amillennial, postmillennial, and premillennial at this point. The four interpretive approaches of the previous chapters fade as no approach adheres to a single method of interpretation of the last three chapters. Since the first century, Christians have agreed that Christ is coming again—and there agreement ends! The exposition of these final chapters is arguably the chief controversy in eschatological studies. The student who desires to explore the Scriptures and doctrines on this subject will find valuable The Meaning of the Millennium: Four Views edited by Robert G. Clouse.

Historic Premillennial also known as Chiliasm (from the Greek word for a “thousand years”) was the view of most of the early Christians. Perhaps Papias (A.D. 60-120) was the first post-biblical author to describe the thousand-year visible Kingdom of Christ. Justin Martyr (A.D. 100-165) shared Papias’ millennial expectation in his Dialogue with Thrypo, when he affirmed his expectation that the faithful departed would rise from the dead and reign with Christ for a thousand years in a rebuilt Jerusalem. In his book, Against all Heresies, Irenaeus of Lyons (A.D. 130-200) maintained that when the faithful departed are raised, they would reign with Christ for a thousand years of bliss. Jerusalem would be rebuilt, famine would be unknown, and animals would live in harmony with each other and with man. He expected this to happen after the coming of the Antichrist and the second coming of Christ.

Amillennialists believe there is no thousand-year reign of Christ on earth. Augustine of Hippo, who was converted in A.D. 386, changed his views during his forty-five year writing career. He previously followed the view of most of the earlier Christians, which was known as “Chiliasm,” which he translated into Latin as “Millenarianism.”

In City of God, Augustine viewed the thousand years not as some special future time but “the period beginning with Christ’s first coming,” that is, the age of the Christian Church. Throughout this age, the saints will reign with Christ—not in the fullness of the coming kingdom prepared for those blessed by God the Father, but “in some other and far inferior way.” He said that if God’s people did not now reign with Christ, the church would not now be the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of heaven; however, he did distinguish different meanings for “kingdom” in the Scripture. Because of his newly proclaimed view, the church was viewed as the place where God’s rule was exercised on earth though a papal monarch during the Middle Ages. Augustine’s teaching was so fully accepted that the Council of Ephesus in A.D. 431 condemned belief in the millennium as superstitious.

Augustine said the “first resurrection “of which John speaks is a spiritual resurrection, and it takes place throughout the church’s history as the spiritually dead hear the voice of the Son of God and pass from death to life.” At the second resurrection, those who have not come to new life in this era will pass into the second death with their bodies.

Hence, the thousand years of chapter twenty became a symbolic term for the preaching of the Gospel and the control of Satan’s power between the first and second coming of Christ. Satan was bound at the Cross, but not entirely. He cannot stop the advancement of the Gospel (Luke 11:17-23; Colossians 2:15; Hebrews 2:14). He will be loosed briefly to wreak havoc and to persecute the Church in the end of this present age. The new heavens and new earth will be created immediately after this present age without the reign of Christ on earth. The reign of the departed saints takes place in heaven prior to their resurrection. The older Amillennial view is that of the spiritual reign of believers on earth in the present age (Romans 8:37).

Postmillennialists believe the thousand years (literal or symbolic) immediately precede the return of Christ. Hence, the Gospel will be triumphant in the last thousand years of Church history. Christians, with God’s help, will gradually convert and reform society into a blessed, though not perfect, state. Satan will be bound at some future time when the Gospel reduces the Evil One’s influence to nothing. His final attempt to win the world will fail and a general resurrection and judgment will occur at the coming of Christ. This was the predominated view of most nineteenth century evangelicals and is still held by some Reformed people today. However, with World War I and II, this view lost its popularity among Christians since the world was becoming worse instead of better.

Dispensational Premillennialists believe Christ comes immediately before His thousand-year reign on the earth from the throne of David in Jerusalem. There will be a restoration of the earth. Satan will be bound for this period and his loosing will close the Millennium. A final battle is followed by the resurrection of the dead and judgment of the unrighteous at the Great White Throne. The new heavens and new earth will be created after the Millennium.

HOW LONG IS A THOUSAND YEARS? A thousand years appears three times outside of the Book of Revelation:

For a thousand years in your sight are like a day that has just gone by, or like a watch in the night (Psalm 90:4).

Even if he lives a thousand years twice over but fails to enjoy his prosperity. Do not all go to the same place? (Ecclesiastes 6:6).

But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day (2 Peter 3:8).

Amillennialists and Postmillennialists say a “thousand years” is never used elsewhere in Scripture for an actual number of years, but only to suggest the idea of a very long time; hence, the entire Church Age.

Premillennialists say a “thousand years” is to be taken as literally as three and one half years, forty-two months, and 1,260 days. No number in Revelation has any evidence, which would cause it to be taken other than literally.

ALMOST HEAVEN ON EARTH. For centuries, people have prayed, “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” For all practical purposes, this prayer is answered with the return of Christ. He will come to reign, with an iron scepter, on David’s throne in Jerusalem, as King of kings and Lord of lords. Quoting Amos 9:11-12, James assured the Jerusalem Council that when Christ returns He will restore the kingdom of David.

Simon has described to us how God at first showed his concern by taking from the Gentiles a people for himself. The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written:

“After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things” that have been known for ages (Acts 15:14-18; cf. the Davidic Covenant, 2 Samuel 7:8-16).

Prior to Christ’s ascension, the burning question on the mind of the apostles was “Lord, are you at this time going to restore [apokayisthmi = restore to former state] the kingdom to Israel?” (Acts 1:6). After Pentecost, Peter still looked for this restoration:

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. He must remain in heaven until the time comes for God to restore everything, as he promised long ago through his holy prophets (Acts 3:19-21).

“Times of refreshing” and “restoration of everything” include the theocracy and the perfect state before the Fall of Adam and Eve.