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It does not seem that Jesus gave a direct answer when the disciples asked him about the Kingdom in Acts 1:6.

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” (ESV)

His response seems much like he avoided the question when he said:

“It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. (ESV)

So, was he avoiding the question? If yes, what is the possible explanation for his action?

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  • Telling someone the answer is not for them to know is not the same as not knowing it, and in that sense avoiding it out of ignorance—the bad kind of 'avoid.' Oct 2, 2018 at 11:14
  • Christ is anything if not consistent (Mark 13:32).
    – Lucian
    Oct 4, 2018 at 11:30

4 Answers 4

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No, I do not believe that Jesus was evading the question. I believe that He deliberately did not answer because the disciples were not ready to receive the answer.

Think about the context of Acts 1:6. He has just spent 40 days with His disciples after His resurrection, teaching them about the kingdom of heaven. He was now ready to be received back to the Father and did not have time to address their misunderstanding about the nature of His kingdom.

Remember, He had already told them that His kingdom was not of this world.

John 18:36

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

So after all this teaching, the disciples still could not receive the truth that the purpose of Christ’s coming was not to restore the earthly kingdom to Israel, which is why Jesus told them the parable of the nobleman.

Luke 19:11-13

Jesus proceeded to tell a parable, because he was near to Jerusalem, and because they [i.e., the people in general and the disciples in particular] thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear immediately. Therefore he said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to receive for himself a kingdom and then return" (emphasis has been added).

Had Jesus been any more explicit, his followers would have had difficulty understanding him.

John 16:12

I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now.

In other words, Christ knew that the disciples would be slow in letting go of their Old Testament Covenant baggage. Jesus did tell them, however, they would soon have another teacher.

John 16:13

13 Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come.

In summary, Jesus was not evading the question. He understood that it would be long time before the disciples would be to fully able understand the NT covenant of grace. The Apostle Peter’s own words in 2 Peter 3 illustrated this fact, admitting that Paul’s teachings were “hard to understand”.

2 Peter 3:16

As also in all his (Paul’s) epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest, as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction.

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  • Jesus told them; they just didn't want to hear it. They kept expecting a political land based kingdom after the wealth and glory of Solomon's kingdom. It is very hard to break thru false expectations. See the post The Fig Tree & The Mountain at ShreddingTheVeil.org. Christ did tell them before hand.
    – Gina
    Oct 2, 2018 at 21:23
  • @ rhetorician Thanks for the edits; I kept most of them. I just changed back the last part as I wanted Peter's statement about Paul's teaching to be left in there.
    – alb
    Oct 15, 2018 at 22:06
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Jesus at that time did not know the answer to that question as recorded at:-

Matthew 24:36

“Concerning that day and hour nobody knows, neither the angels of the heavens nor the Son, but only the Father."

Jesus had to wait for God to inform him of the time etc. etc.. ethos

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The disciples wanted a date to be given to them - hopefully, showing God's kingdom would be 'restored' in they way they supposed it should be restored, and within their lifetimes. Now that Jesus had been resurrected, they were full of expectation that something equally dramatic and miraculous would happen regarding the earthly rule over the nation of Israel. The hated Roman rule could suddenly be smashed, they hoped, with Jesus sitting on a literal throne in the city of David - Jerusalem. Yet Jesus had already said, a few weeks earlier, in response to the question, "Are you the king of the Jews?":

"My kingdom is not of this world; if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence." John 18:33-36 A.V.

When Pilate asked him again if he was a king, Jesus continued giving what others might regard as an oblique answer by pointing out that Pilate had said that. He did not deny it, but said:

"To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice." John 18:37 A.V.

There was a very good reason why Jesus could not give a straight, "Yes I am a king" answer to Pilate. That would have been him incriminating himself in the eyes of the Roman legal authority. So, he answered indirectly by saying his kingdom is not earthly.

There was a very good reason why Jesus could not give a straight, "No, I'm not restoring the kingdom of Israel at this time" to his disciples. The angels that soon appeared after they then saw the resurrected Christ ascend bodily up into the clouds said this same Jesus would return the same way he'd gone up. That would turn out to be the time for a visible restoration of all things, the glorified Son of Man coming with vast armies of angels to usher in the Day of Resurrection and Judgment. They were to look for that return, but in the interim, they had work to do - the commission Jesus gave them immediately before he was taken up. And that work was not just to be carried out in Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria - but unto the uttermost parts of the earth. There was a vital clue as to the extent of Christ's kingly authority!

Suppose Jesus had said that his kingdom would be global, but not be 'seen' until he then returned in glory; the disciples would have thought, "How long will it take us to go global with witnessing to the risen Christ?" And then, when the first generation of Christians died out (with the death of the last apostle, John, some 60 years later) they could have been totally disheartened. Ah, but John was given the Revelation of Jesus Christ, all about Satan the usurper being defeated and the Church vindicated, the saints ruling with Christ the King in heaven! That was Christ's visionary answer, enabling the Church to keep going and spreading the gospel, despite awful persecution, despite still not being given a date. All those who become fixated on working out dates have completely missed the point of the Revelation (hinted at by their looking to an earthly rule and a literal kingdom from a restored Jerusalem and temple.)

No, Jesus did not directly answer his disciples just before returning to Heaven because they had to understand many things first. They had to learn patience, and to stop thinking in terms of an earthly kingdom from an earthly city. He was not avoiding their misdirected question; he was guiding them to see the correct direction to look in. They (like the apostle John) needed to hear the sound behind, and to turn around and discover where that authoritative voice emanated from:

"I was in the Spirit on the Lord's day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet... And I turned to see the voice that spake with me. And being turned, I saw seven golden candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto the Son of man... and his voice as the sound of many waters." Revelation 1:10-15 A.V.

That 'day' of the Lord has been ongoing since Christ's ascension to be at the right-hand-side of the throne of God in heaven whilst simultaneously standing in the middle of it. Those disciples who heed the Revelation, who hear the words of that prophecy, and who then turn, will see the Son of Man as he is now, so glorious that John fell as dead at his feet. They see with eyes of faith that he is returning any day now, when the full restoration of the kingdom will spectacularly take place, so that every knee will bow to him, the King. That is why it is wrong to ask for, or to look for a date (as those early disciples did). Humanly speaking, it's natural, but from the perspective of heaven, we have been told how to hear and where to look in that Revelation. Christians back then, and in every generation following, have thus been enabled to keep going faithfully witnessing to Christ, awaiting their Lord's return. No wonder Christ did not give them a direct answer to their request for "when" that would be!

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This question reminded me of a 32 page booklet on exactly this subject, published in 1995.
Here is its introduction (my emphasis) to The Young Revolutionaries:

To most, those living in Jesus’ day were ancient old men, long, white beards flowing down over their chests, stooped, rheumy-eyed, sad. Millions think of them as ancient sages, soft-spoken “saints,” standing around with hands forming steeples, and a faraway gaze in their sorrowful eyes. All this is nonsense, of course, but it is the concept projected by religious art, statuary, and false teaching. Actually, the disciples of Christ were young men, living in the “here and now,” fully expecting a dramatic overthrow of government, and a violent revolution in their immediate lifetimes!

It would have been cruel to have told them. How much zeal would you and I have for the work of God—the work of witness and warning for our fellowman of impending tribulation, of the heavenly signs, and of the Day of the Lord—if we thought none of it would take place for another 2000 years?

How much enthusiasm would we put into a perceived political or social cause if we thought it would not be realized until twenty generations later? How dedicated, how committed, how determined would you be, if you thought you were working for a new world order that would not materialize until 2000 years after you were dead?

The disciples of Jesus Christ, still tingling with wonderment and astonishment over Christ’s many miraculous appearances following His resurrection, asked Him a question which bears careful scrutiny and understanding.

As He stood before them, He commanded them to “wait for the promise of the Father, which ye have heard of Me. For John truly baptized with water: but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days hence” (Acts 1:4,5).

It is likely they didn’t understand this statement any more than they had many of His enigmatic pronouncements, for they were still carnal. Willing, enthusiastic, but carnal, lacking deep, spiritual perception.

The proof of their lack of understanding follows quickly.

“When they therefore were come together, they asked of Him, saying, ‘Lord wilt Thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel?’” (Acts 1:6).

Their question deserves close scrutiny. They did not ask whether He would come to rule the world, which was the very thing He had continually emphasized. They asked nothing about Rome, or Dacia, or Carthage, or Bithynia, or Cappodocia, or Greece. They asked nothing about India, or Britannica, or Germanica.

There was no conception in their minds of a world-ruling Kingdom of God!

No, their minds conceived only of an Israelitish kingdom, restored to its borders of greatest advancement under David and Solomon! They specified “the kingdom,” meaning the national entity of Israel the way it had been hundreds of years previously, with borders from modern-day Iraq to Egypt.

They asked if He would restore “the kingdom” to Israel!

It was their land, their lives, their families, and their immediate environment and social conditions about which they were concerned. Their question addressed only their own immediate future, as viewed from a purely nationalistic and patriotic point of view.

His answer was the kindest response He could have given them.

“And He said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in His own power, But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto Me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:7,8).

Even this they did not understand fully, and would not understand it until the power of which Christ spoke was given to them.

The Young Revolutionaries - Garner Ted Armstrong Evangelistic Association

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