The stunned amazement of the people at the temple who saw a crippled beggar healed in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth ( Acts 3:10-11 ) prompted Peter to deliver a two-part sermon in which he traced the source of the miracle to the power of Jesus (vv. 12-16) and acknowledged that the people had acted in ignorance when they killed God's Messiah (vv. 17-26). Included in the second part of the sermon is the invitation to repent/turn to God so that their sins might be wiped out and times of refreshing might come from the presence of the Lord.
The link between repentance and the forgiveness of sins is also included in Peter's first sermon ( Acts 2:38a ), but there the gift of the Holy Spirit is the promised result (v. 38b). That the plural times of refreshing (kairoi anapsyxeos) includes the gift of the Holy Spirit and is also a broader eschatological term, is suggested by Peter's additional assertion that the Messiah will only return after these times of refreshing have come (3:20). But that this is different from events following the second advent is made clear by Peter's followup reference to it as a time of universal restoration (chronoi apokatastaseos, 3:21 ).
While the phrase "times of refreshing" occurs only here in the New Testament, the noun "times" (kairoi) is used by Jesus with periods/ dates (chronoi) in Acts 1:7 to refer to special areas of his Father's authority in relation to restoring the kingdom to Israel and the responsibility of the disciples to witness in the power of the Holy Spirit to all peoples. The root meaning of refreshing (i.e., cool by blowing), when linked to the derived meaning of strengthening, can then be interpreted as a definitive age of salvation that comes as a result of repentance and the forgiveness of sins. This age, with its potential for change and renewal, is thus seen as a fulfillment of the promises of the prophets as to what will happen when people experience the presence of God, and a precursor of the final event when God makes all things new.
Herbert L. Swartz
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