17 ‘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. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. 21 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.’
‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God,
“The last days” is the era that includes the Tribulation and the Millennial kingdom. Peter wanted Israel to know that Jesus, the Messiah, will fulfill the promises of the Old Testament. The “last days” are the last days of Israel, not the church. Joel was not aware of God’s intercalation of the church into prophetic time.
That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;
In the “last days” God will pour out His Spirit upon “all flesh”—that is, all those who believe in Jesus as the Messiah. However, God did not pour His Spirit on “all mankind” at Pentecost. He will do that in the future.
Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams.
God promised in Joel that He would pour His Spirit upon people of His choice, regardless of outward social standing, gender, or age. Regardless of social status, all believers will receive the ability to know God in the Millennial kingdom.
“Prophesy” here is not foretelling the future but the proclamation of the truth. The New Testament uses the word both ways.
And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days;
This verse expands the social identity of those God will give His Spirit. The pouring out of the Spirit is not only for the elite class but for any social class.
And they shall prophesy.
The repetition of “and they shall prophesy” is not in Joel’s text. The emphasis here is on prophecy as a direct similarity between what Joel predicted and what his hearers heard. God revealed a new construct of dealing with His people through the apostles.
I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke.
In the last days, cosmic events in heaven and earth will coincide with prophetic activity. However, in no case did the signs of this verse occur at the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in Acts (Acts 2:1-4; 8:17; 10:44; 19:6). Joel predicted that these signs would occur “before the great the glorious Day of the Lord.” Nothing in the text supports the idea that the celestial phenomena of this verse was fulfilled in the first century. Instead, they line up more with the days of the Tribulation (Mt 24:29; Mark 13:24-27; Lu 21:25-28). Nothing happened in the first century that corresponds to these events.
The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood,
Two specific apocalyptic events will occur in nature during the last days: the sun darkened and the moon turning to blood.
Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.
The timing of the cataclysmic events will take place before the “Day of the LORD”—that is, the Tribulation period and the Second Coming of Christ. The promise made to the nation Israel was to be fulfilled by Jesus at the coming Millennial kingdom.
And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.’
This verse promises that anyone who calls on the name of the LORD will be saved. The Lord is the genuine object of our faith. The question here is why Peter quoted from Joel; it was to challenge Israel to embrace the Messiah.
Peter quoted Joel 2 to emphasize the coming-of-the-Spirit aspect of the prophecy.
The Day of Pentecost is not a direct fulfillment of Joel 2:28-32, for (1) it was not the “last days” (the Tribulation and Second Coming of Christ), (2) God did not remove the “northern army” of Joel 2:19-20 from Israel, (3) the Spirit was not poured out on “all flesh,” (4) Acts 2 was not accompanied by fire and blood, and (5) the sun was not blackened nor the moon turned to blood. None of these things occurred on Pentecost.
Peter quoted Joel 2 to emphasize the coming-of-the-Spirit aspect of the prophecy. Pentecost was an aspect of the total prophecy. The part that came to fulfillment was the pouring out of the Spirit. God poured out the Spirit, but not upon “all flesh.” The church was the only object of the Spirit’s coming, where He baptized believers into the body of Christ. The point of Joel’s prophecy was that the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the church was to show Israel that God had launched a new economy, the dispensation of the church.