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[T]hey (the disciples) gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority (Acts 1:6-7)

Some people use this verse to show that Jesus actually knew the hour, but was not the one to declare it (and that this is what Jesus meant when he says no one knows the hour but the Father).

Is this a plausible reading of the text? Was Jesus referring to the same hour? Could it be possible that Jesus didn't know the hour before the resurrection but afterwards gained back knowledge of it?

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  • I see at least three questions: 1) plausible reading? 2) referring to the same hour? 3) Jesus didn't know at the time?
    – AFL
    Oct 14, 2023 at 20:35

4 Answers 4

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Acts 1:7 says nothing about whether:

  • Jesus knew or not when He would return
  • who knew when Jesus would return

Jesus always answered honestly - it was not the disciples' to know. Jesus did not even hint at whether He knew or not! This confirms what Jesus said a few days earlier:

Matt 24:42 - Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day on which your Lord will come.

Matt 24:44 - For this reason, you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour you do not expect.

Matt 25:13 - Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

The only thing we can be sure about is what we are told by Jesus:

Matt 24:36 - No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.

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The reason why we believe Jesus didn't know the hour is because some secrets of God are deep and cannot be revealed to the Son or the Spirit. Jesus added himself and the angels with the exception of the father to the list of beings who didn't know the day or the hour.

Mark 14:32

But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard, keep awake

The reason why the disciples asked him if he was going to restore the kingdom to Israel is because many Jews believed the Messiah was going to be an earthly king, a military leader who was going to conquer all nations and make Israel a superpower much like the Roman empire in those days and it was to be the last of the empires before the divided world(present world) and then the destroying rock which is the kingdom of Our Christ which shall reign for a thousand years.

But Jesus knew that the time of the Roman Empire was fixed by God since the days of Nebuchadnezzar who saw a vision of all world empires in a dream.

You can see he disqualifies himself from access to that knowledge in that verse in the book of Saint Mark.

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  • Two problems with your answer: 1) Jesus is "almighty God" (Is 9:6) and therefore knows all things; 2) Mk 14:32 has been misleadingly translated: a completed-active Greek verb, properly, "has been beholding", has been rendered as a present-middle English, "knows", completely altering the meaning of this and associated verses.
    – AFL
    Oct 14, 2023 at 19:53
  • @AFL, Jesus is not almighty God because he said the father is greater than he
    – Dong Li
    Oct 15, 2023 at 3:09
  • #Doug Li, "Mighty God, Everlasting Father" (Is9:6) appears to contradict you. Moreover Jn 14:28b has been mistranslated. The first person pronoun is genitive, "of me", NOT nominative, "I". This means that the comparative, "greater than" applies to the preceding context (the fearful and troubling forces of the world). Furthermore, "I and the Father are one" (Jn 10:30) appears to also exclude any comparative ranking.
    – AFL
    Oct 16, 2023 at 23:45
  • @AFL, there is no way the lamb who is Jesus would proceed to take the scroll from God if he was God, they are two different persons
    – Dong Li
    Oct 17, 2023 at 4:44
  • @ Doug Li, sounds like you want to argue with Holy Scripture (Deut 6:4, Is 9:6, Mk 12:29, Jn 10:30 Gal 3:20). The Lamb takes the scroll (Rev 8:5) because He always knows what the Father wants and does it.
    – AFL
    Oct 18, 2023 at 18:25
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The meaning of a passage must be understood in the light of all relevant Scripture verses. Since Jesus made parallel statements elsewhere, we must also look at them.

But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only. (Matthew 24:36 ESV)

The marginal notes for this passage in the ESV say that "nor the Son" is not found in all manuscripts. If the clause is legit, then it would indicate that Jesus is admitting that He does bot know this for the Father has not told him (or anyone else) yet. If the clause is an addition and does not belong, then it is possible that Jesus knows but is not authorized to release this information yet. The Father has control of the timing of when this news is to be broadcast.

So the answer to your question most likely hinges upon a translation issue.

A second consideration has to do with the two natures of Christ, divine and human. Is it possible for the human nature of Christ to be ignorant of a truth that the divine nature grasps? The verse you cite and all related ones in the gospels may be shining a light on this distinction.

Update:

The existence, timing and mystery of coincidence of three events are described in Matthew 24 and Acts 1.

  • First coming of Messiah
  • Second coming of Messiah
  • Restoration of Israel

In Matthew 24, the disciples' questions and Jesus' answers are confusing because they assumed the Messiah would come but once, not twice. To them, the Resurrection should be the only coming of Messiah and it should also be accompanied by the restoration of Israel. In Acts 1, Jesus sets them straight that Messiah (himself) would come again. The timing of that is one of the mysteries referred to both in Acts and Matthew.

The second mystery is whether the restoration of Israel would occur at the first coming, the second coming or another time entirely. Jesus informs them that restoration would not occur at the first coming. This leaves two possibilities:

  • the restoration of Israel shall occur before the second coming of Messiah
  • the restoration of Israel and second coming will be simultaneous

If the reestablishment of Israel (may God grant her justice) in 1948 was that restoration, then that happened before the second coming. However, according to several eschatological schemes which interpret Old Testament prophecy, that year can be established exactly from Scripture. Jesus is the Word; if it is written in the Word then Jesus as the Word knows its interpretation. The mystery of his second coming is an unwritten time, one not precisely discoverable from existing prophecy.

For the time of the restoration of Israel to be some other event, it must remain in the future. If so, it either will happen when Christ returns or some time between now and then. It seems likeliest that if the current nation of Israel is not the fruit of that restoration, it will happen when the Messiah returns. In either case, the mystery to Christ, who knows and embodies the Word, would not the time of the restoration of Israel unless it is one that coincides with his return.

This argument shows that the contexts of the Matthew and Acts passages are the same; both refer the second coming of Messiah. The time of the restoration of Israel is thus only a mystery to Christ if it coincides with his return.

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  • Acts 1:6-7 and Mtt 24:36 were spoken in two different contexts. The latter speaks of the time of Final Judgement while the former speaks of the prospective restoration of earthly sovereignty to Israel. Jesus was hinting that none of the disciples would live to see the restoration happening. Oct 10, 2023 at 8:59
  • Different but related contexts. The Jews believed that the restoration of Israel would be accomplished by Messiah. Matthew 24:37 speaks of the coming of Messiah, so that is an event whose time is referred to in Mt 24:36. What confused the Apostles was that Messiah (Jesus) would come twice. Matthew 24 was in a context where a second coming was not understood by them. The new context is where the second coming is being revealed to them. However, the event and the hiddenness of its timing are the same. Oct 10, 2023 at 18:22
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Regarding your three questions:

  1. A plausible reading? No. Act 1:6-7 is about the restoration of the "βασιλείαν" (kingdom/reign/sovereignty) to Israel. Jesus answers,.... It is not for you "γνῶναι" (to-at-some-point-be-experientially-knowing) times and seasons, which the Father placed....". From this we can deduce two things: a) The disciples would not be experiencing this restoration of sovereignty, b) The Father placed the time and season of this restoration, within His own authority.

  2. Referring to the same hour? No. The restoration of Israel's sovereignty has been occurring incrementally (1948, 1967, 1973). Christ's "2nd Coming" is at least 7 years yet future.

  3. Jesus didn't know at the time? No. Jesus is "Almighty God and Everlasting Father" (Is 9:6). Therefore, He would know all things, past, present and future, even what people were thinking (Lk 5:22-23). Regarding, the often quoted, "No one knows the day and hour" (Mt 24:36, Mk 13:32), these verses have been egregiously mistranslated, by rendering a completed-active Greek verb,"οἶδεν" (has-been-beholding), as a present-middle English, "knows", thereby completely distorting its meaning. This never before beheld day, "The Day of the Lord" (2Th 2:1-2) is a unique day, without light (Zec 14:6-7), "a day like none other (Jer 30:7). Moreover, Scripture reveals exactly when Christ is coming: 1335 days after the temple sacrifices have been terminated (Dan 12:13), at "The Last Trumpet" (1Cor 15:51-52) after the sun and moon have been darkened and the stars fall (Mt 24:29-30).

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