Pentecost: The Fulfillment of Joel 2 Part 1

by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)

July 1, 2013
Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles

Lesson II.A.2.a: Pentecost: The Fulfillment of Joel 2

Acts 2.14-21 (KJV)

14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:
18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:
21 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.


The Spirit also filled the believers and empowered them for witness. He gave Peter insight into the Word and the ability to show men Christ in the Word. The Spirit used the witness of the church to convict the lost, just as Jesus said He would do—“But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come. If I do go away, then I will send him to you. And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more” (John 16:7-10; NLT).

14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:

But Peter,
We have here the beginning of the sermon which Peter preached on the day of Pentecost. He did not speak to those from other nations in a strange language (and we are not told how he replied to those that were amazed, and said, What meaneth this?), but to the Jews in the language of the ordinary people, even to those that mocked them and claimed the apostles were drunk with wine. Peter was bold, rash, and passionate; and he rose now to defend the apostles of Jesus Christ, and Christ himself, from an injurious charge. He was not intimidated by ridicule or opposition; he felt that now was the right time for preaching the gospel to the crowd that had been assembled by curiosity. No ridicule should deter Christians from an honest declaration of their opinions, and a defense of the operations of the Holy Spirit.

He begins the sermon by dealing with this accusation (v. 15), and so he addresses his sermon to the men of Judea and the inhabitants of Jerusalem. During Peter’s discourse, we have good reason to think that the other disciples continued to speak to those who understood them (and therefore flocked about them) in the languages of their respective countries, and their topic was the wonderful works of God. For that reason, we know that the three thousand souls converted, and added to the church on that day were not responding to Peter’s preaching only, but rather to the preaching of all, or most, of the hundred and twenty. But the Holy Spirit chose to record only Peter’s sermon as evidence for him that he was completely recovered from his fall, and thoroughly restored to the divine favor and fellowship. The man that had cowardly denied Christ now has courageously confessed him to be Lord and Messiah!”

The theme of Peter's sermon at Pentecost is stated in verse 36—“So let everyone in Israel know for certain that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, to be both Lord and Messiah!” His emphasis is that Jesus is the Messiah. No message could have been more unwelcome to the Jews who had rejected His Messianic claims, and crucified Him. Peter, therefore, does not announce his theme until he has covered every possible Jewish objection. The point of difficulty with the Jews was the apparent failure of the clear and repeated prophetic promise of a regathered Israel established in their own land under their covenanted King; such as given in these verses—“the days are coming," says the LORD, "That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth. In His days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell safely; Now this is His name by which He will be called: THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS. "Therefore, behold, the days are coming," says the LORD, "that they shall no longer say, 'As the LORD lives who brought up the children of Israel from the land of Egypt,' but, 'As the LORD lives who brought up and led the descendants of the house of Israel from the north country and from all the countries where I had driven them.' And they shall dwell in their own land." (Jer 23:5-8; NKJV). (Also see Isa 11:1-12). Instead of explaining, that the covenant and promises were to be fulfilled in the church in a so-called "spiritual" sense, Peter shows Acts 2:25-32 (which quotes from Ps 16) that David himself understood that the risen Christ would fulfill the covenant and sit on his throne—“He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end” (Luke 1:32-33; KJV).

Peter was the most famous of Jesus’ twelve apostles. The New Testament gives a more complete picture of Peter than of any other disciple, with the exception of Paul. Peter is often considered to be a big, blundering fisherman. But this is a one-dimensional depiction. The picture of his personality portrayed in the New Testament is rich and many-sided. A more fitting appraisal of Peter is that he was a pioneer among the twelve apostles and the early church, breaking ground that the church would follow later. Jesus had said in Matthew 16:19 that Peter should receive the keys of the kingdom, and they are now to be used to open its doors.

standing up with the eleven,
Having been a disciple and a follower of the Lord, Peter is now ready to assume a role of leadership. Even though he is the principal preacher of Christianity after the ascension, nevertheless, we must notice that the Eleven stand behind him giving their full support to his message.

“Peter, standing up with the eleven,” means either that all twelve stood together or that Peter stood in the name of all the apostles, as their representative. Matthias was now one of the apostles, and now he appeared as one of the witnesses for the truth. They probably all arose, and took part in the oration. Possibly Peter began to discourse, and either all spoke together in different languages, or one succeeded another.

lifted up his voice,
“Peter lifted up his voice,” like one that believed in his message and was confident in his ability to deliver it, and He was neither afraid nor ashamed to preach it.

and said unto them,
The apostle has an introduction or preface, with which he begs the attention of the crowd, or rather demands it. Peter stood up, to show that he was not drunk. The eleven, who agreed with the message he would shortly present stood with him to show their support. All twelve may have spoken that day, continuing with the theme established by Peter, but Peter definitely spoke first; those with the greatest authority stood up to speak to the scoffing Jews, and to confront those who contradicted them and blasphemed. While this was going on, the seventy disciples spoke to the willing proselytes from other nations in their own language. Peter now begins the first gospel sermon.

Ye men of Judaea,
“Ye men of Judea” signifies men who are Jews; that is, Jews by birth. This does not mean that they were permanent residents in Judea, but that they were Jews, from Jewish families; who were accessories to the death of Jesus.

Now I think that we need to recognize who the congregation was on this day. They were Judeans and all those that lived in Jerusalem. At that time Jerusalem was entirely a Jewish city. Pilate and his people had their headquarters in Caesarea, not in Jerusalem. This early church was 100 percent Jewish. It was made up of Israelites. We need to recognize that. The church began in Jerusalem, then moved out to Judea, then Samaria, and then to the uttermost parts of the earth. This has been the movement of the church from that day to this. In the Old Testament it was supposed to go to Jerusalem so that the world would go there to worship. Now they are commanded to leave Jerusalem and to take this message, the gospel of Jesus Christ, to the ends of the earth.

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