- June 12, 2020
USE OF JOEL CHAPTER TWO IN ACTS CHAPTER TWO.
USEOF JOEL CHAPTER TWO IN ACTS CHAPTER TWO.
1.0 Chapter One 3
1.1 Joel Chapter Two 3
1.2 Repentance and the Day of the Lord 4
1.3 The Spirit is poured Out (Joel 2-28-29) 5
1.4 The Signs Provided. (2-30-31) 7
1.5 Salvation Proclaimed. (2:32) 7
1.6 Inauguration of the Eschaton and the Expansion of God`s redemptive program. 8
2.0 Acts Chapter Two 9
2.1 The Day of Pentecost 9
2.2 Jews from every Nation (2:5, 8-11) 10
2.3 Peter`s Sermon on Salvation 11
2.4 The Sermon Structure and Method 11
Joel Chapter 2 as used in Acts Chapter 2 and its Significance 12
Thereare two hundred and eighty-three direct quotations from the OldTestament in the New Testament. The Septuagint, in around ninetyinstances, have been quoted and around eighty further instancesaltered. This use of the Old Testament has long been an area ofinvestigation with direct inferences for biblical interpretation,inspiration, and translation.1A substantial amount of these quotations reveals the generalcommitment of the New Testament writers when quoting from the OldTestament. And so, from the direct and indirect pronouncement of theinspiration from the Old Testament, there is no doubt that both Jesusand the New Testament held a collective view of inspiration bymouth.2A classic example of complete quotations of the old Testament in theNew Testament is the book of Joel 2-28-32 where the Apostle Peterintegrates this text in to his famous and great, ‘Day of Pentecost`Sermon.
Peter`scitation of the book of Joel 2-28-32 in Acts 2-16-21 is a noteworthytext for our attempts to understand God`s judgment, death and thefinal destiny of the human kind and the relationship that subsistsbetween the church and Israel. It was important to show the JewsJesus of Nazareth was indeed the Messiah of Israel and the reason hepinpoints Joel in his writing is clear considering the religious andsocietal environment in which Peter lived. This paper, therefore,seeks to explore the use of Joel Chapter two in Acts Chapter two. Iwill raise the important views that the two chapters elicit whilegiving the arguments in my perspective. At the end, I will answer thepivotal questions that include how wide the Joel Text applies, how tointerpret the apocalyptic imagery of the book and whether theprophecy was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost as cited by Peter.
1.1 Joel Chapter Two
TheBook of Joel is part of the Hebrew Bible and also part of the groupof twelve minor prophetic books. It is the second prophecy of thetwelve Minor Prophets immediately after Hosea. Joel writes in the19th century way before the birth of Christ about the future day ofthe Lord and the signs associated with his coming. The prophet wroteat a time of turmoil in Israel the locusts had wreaked havoc on thelives of the people and the crops. Joel, in addressing the nation,drew a direct comparison between the ultimate day of the Lord whichhe claimed was imminent and the plague of locust.3Therefore, makes a call to national repentance in the face of God`sjudgment. Indeed, as Joel 2:18 would make it clear, the people didrepent of their sins and God`s action consequently would be to pourblessing to his people.
Theblessings that God would pour according to Joel are spiritual andphysical as given in Joel 2-28-32 and Joel 2-18-27 respectively. Thelanguage used in Joel 2-18-27 can easily lead someone intointerpreting the said physical blessings eschatologically. This,however, is not the case as the blessings are fulfilled immediately.These blessings are designed to enhance the effects of the plaguethat led the people to repent and images that demonstrate the idea ofharmony present only upon repentance. Notably, the physical blessingsare contingent upon covenant faithfulness.
1.2 Repentance andthe Day of the Lord
Joelwrites at a time when something dreadful is about to happen to thetribe of Judah. He writes as God`s crisis manager warning theIsraelites of the impending judgment and says that the only solutionis turning back to Christ and repenting of their sins. Joel announcesthat without turning back from their old and sinful ways andacknowledging Christ, no redemption will come their way and thatjudgment will surely come. He further warns that shame, pain, andsorrow will forever follow them if they fail to change their courseand turn to their Creator. Joel noted the spiritual ramification ofthe coming events and saw the plague of locusts as a forerunner ofeschatology.4He describes the plague of locusts as making way for the day of theLord, which is a day that brings with it Judgment to the people whorefuse to repent and after that hope, light, and restoration.5And so, Joel`s message is centered on this day of the Lord and openlypoints out the sins of the people while reminding them of the direneed to repent of their sins. This was the foundation of what he wasto speak in future the day of Pentecost.
1.3 The Spirit ispoured Out (Joel 2-28-29)
Joeldescribes the activity of God`s spirit at work with eventssurrounding the second coming of Christ in mind. He points out thesimilarities between the future deeds of the Holy Spirit to theNation of Israel and what he was doing 2000 years ago. The pouringout of the spirit, in the Context of Joel 2-28-29, is a directreference to the conversion of Israel during the tribulations thatare near. "And your sons and daughters will prophesy, your oldmen will dream dreams, your young men will see visions" (Joel2:28). These are individuals, who have been in the past, consecratedas Vehicles of God`s prophetic inspiration. In the same future,however, time will come when all aspects of Israel`s society will beimpacted by the Holy Spirit. Consequently, the scope of Israel islimited and such limitation carries with it the implication that thepassage is not at all describing what will happen to the Gentilebelieving community. God promises to pour out His Spirit upon Israelin the near future. The spirit would be experienced by all regardlessof their age, sex or social status. And further, at the same time infuture, he will provide maximum revelation through all the classes ofIsrael.6
Oneof the significant views that the topic elicits as regards thepouring of the Holy Spirit is that, had the Israelites believed inJesus Christ as their Messiah in the time of Peter, then the pouringof the Holy Spirit would have taken place in conjunction with thesupernatural events described in the book of Joel.7But instead, the Series in Acts Chapter two, as we shall later see,was the birth of the church and that on the day of Pentecost, nophysical signs and wonders in the sky occurred. The pouring out ofthe Holy Spirit upon the Jewish people and their subsequentconversion will occur at the very end of tribulation when Christreturns.8Most importantly, the holy spirit, and not wine, was the cause of theevents of Pentecost and that tribulation will be a period ofrevelation from God.
1.4 The SignsProvided. (2-30-31)
Thepreceding two verses 31and 32 shifts focus to eschatology and anapocalypse predication. Joel predicts that God promises to manifestwonders among his people and will come before the terrible and greatday of the Lord. And just as the plague of locusts wreaked havoc uponthe people for their wickedness so will the final day of the Lord beat the time of judgment. The essence of pouring out of God`s spiritis so that the people will be faithful to him and therefore reservingthe judgment of that day of the Lord for Israel and the neighboringsinful nations.9The apocalyptic imagery in their very nature often presents inherentdifficulties in its interpretation. In this is exactly what the twoverses presents. Scholars in the field suggest two possibilities atthe backdrop of these signs.10The first is the images of war and secondly, the deed of God inExodus specifically that of the ten plagues. All the two are in linewith Joel`s prophecies who emphasizes the day of the Lord as thejudgment for the sinners and redemption for God`s people. From thetwo verses, Joel`s expectations are clear, and it is that theapocalyptic events forecast the coming day of the Lord and a call fora response of faithfulness, and therefore, it is regardless how oneinterprets the signs.
1.5 SalvationProclaimed. (2:32)
Joeldescribes faithfulness and compares it as calling the on the name ofthe Lord. He further explains that the faithfulness connotes anabsolute commitment to God, which spares the people from the wraththat awaits them on the day of the Lord and bring them to salvation.11 He uses mount Zion and Jerusalem to describe salvation to all whichhe says means "stability and security" in Christ. Joel usesthe promise of salvation to call for a present response which willultimately result in spiritual change and physical deliverance.
1.6 Inauguration ofthe Eschaton and the Expansion of God`s redemptive program.
Themost dominant theme arising out of the Joel-Pentecost prophecy is thefire associated with the out pouring of the Holy Spirit and God`splan to include all his people.12Joel hints that the fire associated with the Holy Spirit will comeafter the redemption and that Holy Spirit itself is the fire thatJesus lit to effect judgment through preaching. As noted earlier,redemption is for all, the Gentiles, Samaritans regardless of theirage, sex, and Social status.
Thelocust plague has explicitly established the reality that God willjudge even his people for their wickedness. And while Joel promisesthat God will, on the day of Pentecost, pour out his Holy Spirit tothe saints, he cautions that God will reveal through signs that theDay of Judgment is imminent.13He assures those that are faithful and bear true allegiance to Christthat they should not fear for the judgment but instead expects theblessing of life in the spirit. That the Holy Spirit will manifesthis presence among all the Israelites regardless of their age, sexand Social distinction.
Acts Chapter Two
Thebook of Acts is the fifth book of the New Testament and tells of thefoundation of the Christian church and the spread of the Gospel tothe Roman Empire. It is one of the two-part work, Luke and Acts werewritten by an anonymous author. While Luke tells of God`s completeplan of salvation to the world through Christ of Nazareth through hisdeath and resurrection, Acts describes the day of Pentecost and thegrowth of the church in Jerusalem. Our concern, however, is chaptertwo which chronicles the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day ofPentecost. The speaking in tongues of the disciples made the peoplewonder if the Disciples were drunk the early hours of the daynotwithstanding. Peter, consequently, with the first "apostolicsermon" counters the misunderstanding that was looming on theminds of the people. Out of all the prophecies in the Old Testament,Peter`s teachings revolved around the main prophecy of Joel,specifically that which he spoke of the Pentecost day.
2.1 The Day ofPentecost
ActsChapter two is on the day of Pentecost the day that the Disciples ofChrist were filled with the Holy Spirit. It a continuation from thebuildup in chapter one where Jesus had risen from the dead and livedamong his disciples for forty days. During this time, he teaches themmore about the Kingdom of God.14He urges them not to leave Jerusalem but wait for the day of thePentecost where they would be filled with the Holy Spirit empoweringthem to be his witnesses all over the world. Jesus ascends to heavenand the disciples head back to Jerusalem to wait for the Pentecost.The day finds believers gathered together in the same house and theHoly Spirit arrives with an enormous rush of wind and tongues offire.15They begin speaking in tongues living the people speculating whetheror not they were drunk.
TheHoly Spirit comes at a very significant day in the lives of theIsraelites. Pentecost was a day Jews celebrated their harvest bypresenting the first fruits of their harvest to God as a form ofsacrifice. The question that arises is, why does the Holy Spiritcome on the day of such celebration? Pentecost is the day of harvestand Jesus sends the Holy Spirit on this day to signify the harvest ofsouls to his Kingdom.16The Spirit brought with it great harvest and filled the disciples tobe witnesses of the gospel to the world and thereby bringing in the"Harvest." The Holy Spirit is us is the reason that we areseen and known to have Christ in our lives. The coming of the HolySpirit on the day of Pentecost is part of his grand plan to save hispeople from sin. Man inherently is a sinner and as such can donothing good by his or her own. Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to be ourhelper. By him, we can do that which we could not, we become God`sperfect witnesses and have the power to spread the gospel to theworld.
2.2 Jews from everyNation (2:5, 8-11)
TheHoly Spirit came down at a time when the Jews were celebrating thefeast of Pentecost. The international flavor of the crowd that hadgathered was God-fearing Jews from every Nation under Heaven. Therewere among the multitudes, proselytes and devout Jews and converts toJudaism gathered in Jerusalem to observe the festival of Pentecost.One authority estimated that close to 100,000 people attendedPassover in Jesus` day. There were large crowds in Jerusalem aspeople came from as far as the Eastern Kingdoms to the Roman Empire.The Holy Spirit came down on this day to ensure that the many peoplethat were gathered in Jerusalem would hear of the Holy Spirit or evenbe filled with it which would contribute to spreading the Gospel. Itfurther goes to show that the Holy Spirit is for everyone, redemptionis for all, the Gentiles, Samaritans regardless of their age, sex,and Social status.
2.3 Peter`s Sermon onSalvation
Peter’susage of Joel Chapter two in Acts is arguably the foundation for hissermon to the Israelites. He begins and ends his sermon with so muchreliance upon Joel’s passage in Acts chapter two. After the day ofPentecost, Peter takes some time to explain the events to the people.The speech takes a substantive part of chapter two, and he declaresthat Jesus was the promised Messiah and presents evidence to thateffect. From his speech, he borrows a lot from Joel`s writing in theOld Testament. The part that he quoted was directly in line with theevents of the day of Pentecost. From this, he urges all the Jews toreceive Christ the promised Messiah if they wanted to receivesalvation. He asks them to repent of their sins, be baptized, andtheir sins will be forgiven.
Peterextensively speaks of baptism that is a fundamental requirement forreceiving the Holy Spirit. He asks them to believe in Christ as theirSavior and be baptized. After this, he promises them the Holy Spirit.
2.4 The SermonStructure and Method
Theshocking events of Pentecost and the urge to confront the crowd withGod`s demand of repentance prompt Peter to apply the social and aquite familiar method in demystifying the speculation of the peoplethat the disciples were drunk. Peter, in quoting Joel Chapter 2-28-32proclaims that the Pentecost event is what the minor Prophet Joel hadanticipated. He uses the Peter form of interpretation whosecovenanter altered to suggest a present eschatological fulfillment.And so, while Peter uses the Peter method of interpretations in hissermons, his sermons are distinctive. In fact, Peter insists that thefulfillment of the day of Pentecost was not imminent but immediate.This interpretative grid which Peter used throughout his sermonsshows a great deal of dependence in Joel Chapter two which allows himto describe the out-pouring of the Holy Spirit and call forrepentance and salvation.17
Joel Chapter 2 asused in Acts Chapter 2 and its Significance
Aspointed out earlier, the citation of the book of Joel Chapter 2: 28-32 in Acts 2:16-21 is fundamental in understanding the relationshipthat subsists between Israel and the church and most importantlyGod`s redemption plan. This citation is a classic example of completecitation of the Old Testament in the New Testament. Simon Peterquotes Joel chapter 2 in his comprehensive sermon on the "day ofPentecost."
Thefollowing are the exacts citation
Joel2:28-32 … "And it shall come to pass afterward, that I willpour out my spirit upon all flesh…” he continues that thechildren of Israel shall dream dreams and be prophets in the daysthat Jesus pours the Holy Spirit. Joel accounts that God will showmarvelous deeds both in heaven and Earth and will reveal himself onthe day through fire and pillars of smoke. He ends the prophecy byassuring the Israelites that there shall be deliverance and salvationfor all who shall call on the Lord. Peter in Acts 2:16-21 records,"This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel and it shallcome to pass in the last days, says God, I will pour out of my Spiritupon all flesh…” He, like Joel, says that the daughters and sonsof Israel will dream dreams and Prophecy prophecies. He notes thatGod will pour his spirit from the heavens. He describes that thispouring of the Holy Spirit would fall and says that there will befire, smoke, the sun will be turned into darkness and the moon intoblood. He ends by an assurance that before the day of the Lord, menof the earth will have the chance of salvation and that the salvationwill be open for all.
Peterquotes Joel chapter two extensively as we have seen above. From aliteral reading, one may be tempted to conclude that Joel`s prophecyhas been fulfilled in Acts chapter two. This is, however, not thecase. What is clear from a deeper reading is a great similarity andcongruence of themes. It makes clear the working of the Holy Spiritas described by John and what the Holy Spirit will do in the future(Peter`s time) to the nation of Israel. Simon Peter quotes the bookof Joel widely in his preaching on the Pentecost.18 And in his description Peter, through inspiration from the HolySpirit, uses the phrase ‘after this` which is different from ‘inthe last days` as was used by Joel in Joel 2: 28-32. This shows thatJoel`s prophecy was not fulfilled in Peter`s time and that theprophecy will be fulfilled shortly during the time of tribulation.The last day, as used by Joel and Peter refers to the day oftribulation and not the time that later lived in.
Joelexplains the pouring of the spirit and its work in the unfoldingsurrounding the future coming of Christ. Peter`s writing about theHoly Spirit shows the resemblance of what the Holy Spirit did morethan two thousand years preceding his writing, and it was going to dowith the people of Israel. Joel`s passage explains the election ofJewish people as a carrier of God`s redemptive plan and thetransformation of Israel during the time of tribulation. Joel`sexplains that the sons and daughter of Israel will prophesy, dreamdreams and see visions.
Thedirect quotations from two different times is a strong indicator thatwriters of the Scripture were inspired by the Holy Spirit in theirwritings. The two chapters of Joel and Acts further show the properuse of the science of interpretation of scripture (Hermeneutics).While Peter is merely using Joel`s passage to illustrate thehappening of Pentecost and the pouring out of the holy spirit, uponthe early church, Joel is focused the tribulations and events of theend way principally after Peter`s time.19Joel was a perfect book for Peter to quote. For one, the book waswritten specifically for the Jews in Israel and Jerusalem becauseIsrael was the chosen Nation by God to propagate the Gospel.Secondly, the book speaks of "the day of the Lord", thepouring out of the Holy Spirit and the salvation of mankind.
Peteruses the explanation in Joel to lay the foundation of his sermon onPentecost. He explains the events surrounding the coming of the HolySpirit, points to the life of Christ and his redemption plan forhumanity and finally calls the people to repent of their sins andturn away from their wicked ways to escape an imminent judgment.20He, unlike Joel, brings a message of hope and victory that willbecome of those who will have accepted the gospel. Peter`s sermon isconsistent with the events of the Old Testament and is relevant tothe events of Pentecost.
Actsemphasize the inclusion of Jews, Samaritans and all the people of theworld to the church and an assurance that the Holy Spirit andredemption are for all. This is in line with Joel 2:32.
Thegift of the Holy Spirit is, as at now, a gift but sooner or later itwill become a judgment upon us. It will be the basis on whichjudgment is laid upon us. Anyone who calls upon the name of the Lordnow will receive this gift of the Holy Spirit which is necessary tomaintain salvation and profess the gospel to those who are not saved.
Therelationship and fulfillment of Joel Chapter two as it relates toActs chapter two must be looked at with the knowledge that bothwriters were inspired by the Holy Spirit. Therefore, the citation ofJoel two in Acts Chapter 2 is of spiritual significance and are notin vain. Both speak of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, but itsignaled different things. Joel, on the one hand, describes that thepouring of the Holy Spirit showed that the day of the Lord wasimminent and that it was a day of judgment on all those refusedsalvation and not a day for blessings and restoration. Peter, on theother hand, describes this day as one that brings salvation and isthe tool to propagate the Gospel. It is clear that the passage wasquoted by Peter to explain the events of Pentecost and nothing less. Some interpreters view the fulfillment of Joel`s prophecy in the dayof Pentecost others simply believe that Peter was simply using thequotes to illustrate what was happening while others hold the viewthat the prophecy was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost. And so thereference that Peter makes in Act chapter two to Joel Chapter two isnot by accident. The Holy Spirit was working in both of them and wereinspired to write similar things in different times. All boil down tothe message of salvation to humanity that has been part of God`s plansince the days of the Old Testament.
Relevanceof the Conclusion
Thebook of Joel and Acts occupy an important place in the life of thechurch. The book of Joel in itself has an immense effect on thewriting of the New Testament. Many books of the New Testament speakof the end times as vivid as Joel described it. The Pentecost and thepouring of the Holy Spirit happened long, probably two thousand yearsago, but we can see the fruits from these two chapters of the twobooks. Salvation now is for all, English, Chinese, Japanese, Africansand all the people of the world. Anyone who believes and calls on thename of the Lord receives salvation. The church continues to find theteachings of in both books on the day of the Lord and the Plague ofLocust as a source of so much comfort and hope on the one hand and asource of rebuke and judgment on the other. And in times of sorrow,pain, distress and depression, the Christians have found protection,vindication and ultimate blessings on the covenant of the Lord.21The description of the events of the Lord by Joel is and continues towarn us on the impending Judgment and reminds us that our God isholy. It reminds us that as Christians we should constantly andwholeheartedly repent of our sins and leads a holy life. Thedescription on the pouring on the Holy Spirit by both books goes toshow as that salvation is for all and that we as Christian filledwith the Holy Spirit should prepare to be witnesses because we havehim that represents harvest.
Justlike the Disciples of Christ, we must long we must long for the powerof the Holy Spirit in our lives and our churches. We must let Christmanifest himself in our lives and let him fill us with his power andpresence. And by doing these things we will be able to impact on ourtowns and villages positively, they will take note of what ishappening and long to join us. As Christians, we must be able tounderstand the purpose of the Spirit in our lives. We should expectour churches and lives to be transformed by the coming of the HolySpirit. Sinners will be convinced and convicted, and our altars willbe filled with people calling in Christ.
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1 Dodd, Charles Harold. According to the scriptures: the sub-structure of New Testament theology. Vol. 36. Collins, 2012
2 Direct attestations include 2 Timothy 3:16 and 2 Peter 1:21. Indirect ones include Matthew 22:31-32, Galatians 3:16, and 2 Peter 3:16.
3 J. A. Thompson, "The Use of Repetition in the Prophecy of Joel," On Language, Culture, and Religion: Essays in Honor of Eugene A. Nida(ed. M. Black and A. Smalley The Hague: Mouton, 2014)
4 Treier, Daniel J. "The fulfillment of Joel 2: 28-32: A multiple-lens approach, (2011): 13
5Ibid at 14
6 Cooper, David Lipscomb. Messiah: His Historical Appearance. Vol. 5. Biblical Research Society, 2015, 74
7 Dunn, James DG. Baptism in the Holy Spirit: A Re-examination of the New Testament Teaching on the Gift of the Spirit in relation to Pentecostalism Today. Hymns Ancient and Modern Ltd, 2011
8 Ibid at 75
9 Joel 2:32
10 Hendry, George Stuart. The Holy Spirit in Christian Theology. Westminster Press, 2015.
11 E. Richard, "Pentecost as a Recurrent Theme in Luke-Acts," New Views on Luke and Acts(ed. Richard Collegeville: Liturgical, 2010) 148
12 Bruner, Frederick Dale. A theology of the Holy Spirit: The Pentecostal experience and the New Testament witness. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2012 at 50
13 Ibid at 149
14 Acts 1:1-3
15 Bruce, Fredrick F. "The Holy Spirit in the Acts of the Apostles." Interpretation 27, no. 2 (2013): 166
16 Ibid at 167
17 C. S. Keener, the IVP Bible Background Commentary on the New Testament (Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 2012) 328.
19 Thomas D Ice, Peters Quotation of Joel in Acts Chapter two, May 2011, Liberty University, 4
20 Ibid at 5
21 Donovan, Vincent J. Christianity rediscovered. Orbis Books, 2011 at 24