Sunday, 7 November 2021
‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
Your young men shall see visions,
Your old men shall dream dreams. Acts 2:17
Peter, having assured those present that what had occurred was not the effects of too much sweet wine, now loosely cites the prophet Joel, showing that what is occurring was prophesied by Joel. As such, he says, “And it shall come to pass.”
Joel states that a time is yet ahead when certain things will occur. Peter says the tim e for those things to occur has begun with the coming of the Spirit as it rested upon the believers. Next, he says, “in the last days.” Joel simply says, “after.”
Joel’s words refer to a time centered around the day of the Lord. It is a time of restoration for Israel when the Spirit would be poured out upon them. Peter changes “after” to “in the last days.” This term signifies an unspecified time that is actually inclusive of the entire church age. Messiah’s work of fulfilling the law and establishing the New Covenant is complete. From that time, the thought of the last days takes center stage. Paul refers to this timeframe in 2 Timothy 3:1, and it is inclusive of the entire time of the church age.
Peter then adds in, “says God.” This is a note confirming that the prop hecy of Joel is the prophetic word of God. In this timeframe, Peter next says, “That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh.” There is a time when the Spirit of God would come upon believers. The term “all flesh” does not mean “every person on the earth.” It means “all believers regardless of age, sex, status, and so on.”
Having said this, care must be taken to understand that this pouring out of the Spirit does not necessarily mean that the event as it happens in Acts is normative for the church age. It is, like other such events, given as a confirmation of the work of Christ having converted those who – by faith – believe. This is what happened in Acts 2. Despite this obviously being so, Ruckman incredibly says, “Nothing in verses 16-21 takes place in Acts 2 at all, not even the pouring out of the Spirit.” It is the epitome of idiocy.
In order to justify the unjustifiable, he denies that the events of Acts 2:1-4 are a demonstration of the pouring out of the Spirit. But this is exactly what occurred, and it is what Peter is explicitly telling the people. The Spirit has come! God is demonstrating His approval of the work of His Son by pouring the Spirit out upon those who believe. This is explicitly stated in verse 2:33 –
“Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.”
If Ruckman only read a few verses ahead and stopped living by presuppositions and biases, he would see how faulty his analysis of Scripture actually is.
In the pouring out of the Spirit, Peter continues citing Joel, saying, “Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy.” This is explicitly fulfilled in Acts 11:27-30, Acts 19:6, Acts 21:8-11, and etc. Peter continues with, “Your young men shall see visions.”
The idea is that of a waking vision. It is something that can be perceived that would otherwise be imperceptible. This was fulfilled in Acts 9:10-14 (two visions), 10:1-16 (two visions), etc. Peter next says, “Your old men shall dream dreams.”
There is no specific reference to the word “dream” in Acts, nor is there any specific reference to it later in the New Testament. The only time the Greek word for dreams is mentioned again is in Jude 1:8 when speaking in a negative sense about those who defile the flesh. However, Acts 16:9 refers to a vision appearing to Paul in the night. As such, this could ostensibly be considered a fulfillment of this. Paul also refers to an angel standing by him in the night in Acts 27:23. Again, specifying the night may be a way of saying that this occurred while dreaming.
The words of Joel, as spoken forth by Peter, are clearly indicated by him as being fulfilled in the pouring out of the Spirit upon the believers now in Acts 2. It is incredible that anyone could deny the clear and unambiguous words of Paul in an attempt to justify that this is not the case.
Life application: It is true that many of the coming words of Joel have not yet been fulfilled. This is because Israel, as a nation, collectively rejected Christ Jesus. The Spirit was poured out on those who believe at the beginning of the church age as a sign to Israel that God had approved of the work of His Son. It was a visible manifestation that this was so. At the end of the age, when Israel collectively accepts Jesus as their Messiah, it will again be so. This is also explicitly stated in Zechariah 12 –
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” Zechariah 12:10
Understanding these things, it must be remembered that the events which occurred in Acts 2 are given to Israel as a sign. They are not normative for the church age. The signs were given, the church is established, and there is no longer a need for the sign –
“For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.” 1 Corinthians 1:22-25
“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7
“So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:17
Paul’s epistles alert us, time and again, to the fact that we are to heed the word and believe by faith. The church was established, and the signs are no longer necessary to convince Israel. They have (collectively) rejected the Lord. When they, as a nation, accept Him, the Spirit will be poured out upon them as a nation. In the meantime, we are to live by faith, we are to convey that truth by the word of God, and those who accept the premise of the word of God will demonstrate faith and be saved. This is what is normative for the time in which we live.
Lord God, thank You for the simplicity of the gospel. We are saved by accepting that Christ has done all that is necessary to reconcile us to You. Help us to not add to that, but to accept it, and revel in it all of our days. Thank You for the full, forever, and finished work of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.