Apocatastasis (also apokatastasis) is the belief that everyone and everything will be saved in the end. It’s a Greek word that means “restoration to the original condition.” Another way to define apocatastasis is “universal salvation.” Proponents begin their defense of this position by pointing to Acts 3:21,, “Whom the heaven must receive until the times of restitution of all things, which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began.” Acts 3:21
A handful of other passages seem to indicate that Jesus’ death and resurrection reversed the curse and secured restoration for all beings, so does the Bible truly teach apocatastasis?
In Acts 3:21 the key words for the proponents of apocatastasis are all things. They base their understanding of salvation on the idea that whenever Scripture says, “All things,” it means every pebble of creation since time began. Therefore, when Jesus said, “Elijah is coming and will restore all things” (Matthew 17:11), He must mean that the entire world will be restored to its original, pre-Fall condition (Genesis 1:31; 3:17–19).
However, the idea of restoring can also mean “re-establishing a thing as it was before destruction.” For example, if a city is burned to the ground, the survivors may elect to “restore all things” to the way they were before the fire. But not everything that burned will be restored. The people who died will still be dead. The keepsakes, the photographs, and the original wood used in the buildings will not be reconstituted. The city itself, though, may be restored to look very much like the original. That seems to be a more accurate description of the Bible’s use of apocatastasis in reference to final restoration.
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