Saturday, 6 November 2021
But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: Acts 2:16
Note: You can listen to today’s introduction courtesy of our friends at “Bible in Ten” podcast. (Click Here to listen)
Peter just noted that those speaking in tongues were not drunk as it was supposed. Instead, he will now explain to the people what is happening. In order to do so, he will cite Scripture to back up the notion that this was something prophesied of, and thus fully in accord with the redemptive workings of God. As such, Luke records Peter’s words, saying, “But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel.”
The words, “But this,” clearly and unambiguously refer to the coming of the Holy Spirit. This is denied by hyperdispenationalists, as if Peter’s words (which cite Joel) are referring solely to the Holy Spirit coming upon Jesus. Saying this is, then, an attempt to deny that the church began at Pentecost and that what Joel prophesied of has nothing to do with the church age.
It is true that what occurs in Acts 2 is descriptive and is not normative for the church age. But what is described is clearly intended to demonstrate the fulfillment of the promise of the coming of the Spirit. This was exactly what Jesus was speaking of in John concerning the Comforter (also called the Helper), and in Luke where Jesus refers to “the Promise of My Father” –
“Behold, I send the Promise of My Father upon you; but tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high.” Luke 24:49
Just because something occurs in Scripture, which is not normative for the church age, it does not mean it does not apply to the church age. The church age had to begin at some point. When it did, it began with evidences of its fulfillment.
The events of Acts 2 are those evidences. The continued giving of the Spirit in a demonstrable way in Acts 8, 10, and 19 are to show that the message of the apostles Peter and Paul is the same message. The recipients of the demonstrations (Jews, Samaritans, Gentiles, and again Jews) confirms that this is so.
Understanding this, Peter will cite a passage from Joel 2. It will not be a direct citation of either the Hebrew or the Greek, though it will more closely follow the Greek. However, the intent of what is stated by Peter is clearly understood to be the fulfillment of what Joel prophesied.
The words of Joel will be evaluated as they are cited. Many of them are clearly to be fulfilled in the end times, not in Acts 2. As with many prophecies uttered in Scripture, and even by Jesus Himself, they will take a “mountain view” perspective. When one looks at a mountain range, it is all one thing to the mind’s eye. However, if one focuses on a single mountain, it will come into focus. Then looking at another mountain further in the distance, that mountain will come into focus.
The same is true with prophecy. Joel and the other prophets would see visions that comprise events with long time frames between them. Such is the case with Joel 2, and as it is then relayed to the people in Acts 2 by Peter. The particular verses from Joel state –
“And it shall come to pass afterward
That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your old men shall dream dreams,
Your young men shall see visions.
29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants
I will pour out My Spirit in those days.
30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and in the earth:
Blood and fire and pillars of smoke.
31 The sun shall be turned into darkness,
And the moon into blood,
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
32 And it shall come to pass
That whoever calls on the name of the Lord
Shall be saved.
For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be deliverance,
As the Lord has said,
Among the remnant whom the Lord calls.” Joel 2:28-32
Life application: Peter is speaking to Israel alone at this time. His words are words of prophesy that pertain to Israel, both in the immediate sense (Acts 2) and in the future (the tribulation period). This is because the New Covenant was given to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah (see Jeremiah 31:31).
The New Covenant was brought forth in Christ’s blood (see Luke 22:20, 1 Corinthians 11:25, and etc.). However, this does not mean that the gospel that brings a person into the New Covenant relationship is different for Jews and for Gentiles. This is an error in thinking and a heretical doctrine.
Promises to Israel do not mean the Gentiles are excluded. It means that Israel the nation bears a promise as a collective whole. These promises are inclusive of individual Jews (obviously, because a nation is made up of individuals), but they are also inclusive of individual Gentiles who are brought into the commonwealth of Israel (see Ephesians 2:12).
This is important to understand and cannot be repeated enough. What occurred in Acts 2 is spoken to Israel and applies to Israel, and yet it is describing the establishment of a body of people that is inclusive of every Jew and Gentile that has come into that body since this Pentecost event.
Remember the key points of doctrine – Is this descriptive? Is this prescriptive? What is the context? What is the context? What is the context? And then, when you have determined these things, remind yourself that everything that is descriptive is not necessarily normative. In this, you will avoid many sad bumps on your road, and you will not be diverted down either Apostasy Avenue or the Heresy Highway.
Lord God, thank You for how You have presented Your word. You tell us of wonderful events that have occurred, and You confirmed those events with signs and wonders when they came to pass. After that, You have asked Your people to have faith in what was presented, leaving the choice up to us to accept that You are still working among us, even without those demonstrations. Thus, You surely place a high value on our faith. Thank You for this honor. Amen.