Pentecost: The Fulfillment of Joel 2 Part 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem,
“All ye that dwell at Jerusalem” may have a better translation if the word “dwell” is replaced with sojourn, visit or stopover, because these were not inhabitants of Judea, but the strangers mentioned in Acts 2:9-11, who had gone there for the feast. This would include, besides native-born Jews, all others, whether proselytes or strangers, who were housed temporarily at Jerusalem. This encompassed, of course, the whole assembly, and was a respectful, conciliatory, and proper introduction to his sermon. Though they had mocked the apostles by accusing them of being drunk, still he treated them with respect, and did not render railing for railing—“Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate with insults when people insult you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God has called you to do, and he will bless you for it” (1 Peter 3:9; NLT); but sought instead to convince them of their blunder.
be this known unto you,
“Be this known unto you;” that which you did not know before, and about which you are now going to be instructed.
Peter did not insinuate that this was an ambiguous matter, or one that could not be explained. His dissertation was respectful, but firm. He went about showing them their error in a calm manner. When the enemies of the gospel scoff at us or the gospel, we should answer them kindly and respectfully, yet firmly. We should reason with them coolly, and convince them of their mistake—“A mild answer calms wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1); NABWRNT). The power for good and evil that lies in the human tongue is awesome. A soft word will often disarm a man whose heart is bent upon great harm, whereas harsh words serve only to stir up great anger. In this case, Peter acted on the principle which he afterward imposed on all—"Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear." 1 Peter 3:15; KJV). Peter’s intention was to vindicate the conduct of the apostles from the accusation of intoxication, by showing that this could be nothing other than the work of God; and to make an application of the truth which his hearers would understand and accept. He did this in several ways:
1. By showing that this could not reasonably be thought to be the effect of new wine—“For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day” (Acts 2:15; KJV).
2. By showing that it had been explicitly predicted in the writings of the Jewish prophets, (see Acts 2:16-21).
3. By a calm argument, proving the resurrection and ascension of Christ, and showing that this also was in accordance with the Jewish Scriptures, (see Acts 2:22-35). We are not to think that this was the entirety of Peter's preaching on that day, but that these were the matters on which he insisted, and the main points of his message.
and hearken to my words:
“And hearken to my words,” because I desire to draw you to Christ, and do not listen to the words of the scribes and Pharisees, since they would draw you away from him. My Master is gone, whose words you have often heard in vain; but though you cannot hear him directly any longer, yet He speaks to you still through us; hearken now to our words.’’
15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
Peter warns the onlookers that the one hundred and twenty are not drunk as everyone thought, but what they are viewing is in actuality a fulfillment of prophecy.
“Then Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice and said to them, Men of Judea, and all you who dwell in Jerusalem, be this known to you, and hearken to my words: for these men are not drunk as you suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.” Even though the great apostle has made this his defense against the charge of drunkenness, it must be admitted that it is not decisive; because men might be drunk, as they were in Paul’s day as well as ours, at any hour of the day or night. But still, the fact of the matter is that men are NOT often found drunk so early in the day, and that made his defense sufficiently plausible to ward off the effect of a charge which may have been made in lighthearted levity, while Peter relies upon the speech he is about to make to completely refute the charge, and to make an impression upon the crowd, the likes of which they little dreamed. He goes on to speak in a way that only a sober man could speak, and this is the best way to counter a charge of drunkenness
This is how he answered their offensive slander: "These men are not drunken, as you suppose.” These disciples of Christ that now speak with other tongues make good sense, and know what they are saying, and so do those who listen to them, who are led by their speaking to know about the wonderful works of God. You cannot believe they are drunk, because “it is but the third hour of the day,” nine o’clock in the morning; and before this time, on the Sabbaths and solemn feasts, the Jews did not eat or drink. Typically, those that are drunk are drunk in the night, and not in the morning; those who are incorrigible drunkards, when they awake, immediately seek it yet again—“They have struck me, but I was not hurt; they have beaten me, but I did not feel it. When shall I awake, that I may seek another drink?" (Prov 23:35; NKJV). Note the definition of drunkenness—“DRUNKENNESS is a drugged or deranged condition that results from drinking intoxicating beverages (1 Cor. 5:11; 6:10; Eph. 5:18). Drunkenness regularly appears in lists of vices in the New Testament (Luke 21:34; Rom. 13:13; Gal. 5:21).”
“But the third hour of the day” refers to nine o'clock in the morning. The Jews hardly ever ate or drank prior to this for the reason that the hour of prayer began at nine o’clock. This custom appears to have been so common among the Jews and they were so committed to it that even the most addicted to drink was not known to transgress it. Peter, therefore, spoke with confidence when he said, “these are not drunk—seeing it is but the third hour of the day,” because prior to that hour, even the addicted did not use wine. “Woe to those who rise early in the morning, that they may follow intoxicating drink; who continue until night, till wine inflames them!” (Isaiah 5:11; NKJV). The reasons why it was so improbable that they should be drunk at that time were the following:
1. As we have already mentioned it was the hour of morning worship, or sacrifice. It was highly improbable, that at that early hour they would be intoxicated.
2. It would be unusual for even drunkards to become drunk in the daytime—"They that be drunken are drunken in the night" (1 Thessalonians 5:7).
3. The accusation was that they had become drunk with wine. Intoxicating spirits, or alcohol, which is the curse of our times, was unknown in Peter’s day. It was very unlikely that so much of the weak wine commonly used in Judea could have been drunk at that early hour to produce intoxication.
4. It was a customary practice among the Jews, to avoid eating or drinking anything until after the third hour of the day, especially on the Sabbath, and on all festival occasions. Sometimes this abstinence was continued until noon. This custom, was so universally followed that the apostle could appeal to it with confidence and expect it to completely refute the allegation of drunkenness at that hour. Even those addicted to alcohol were not accustomed to drink before that hour.
16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;
They should not be surprised at what they see, because it was predicted hundreds of years before by the prophet Joel. In other words, the prophecy which he declared so long ago is just now fulfilled; and this is another proof that Jesus whom you have crucified is the Messiah.
Here we have the first great sermon of the New Testament in which Peter gives his explanation of the miraculous outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which is intended to encourage all those present to embrace the faith of Christ, and to join His church. His sermon has only two points:
1. That what was happening before their eyes was the fulfillment of scripture.
2. That it was also the fruit of Christ’s resurrection and ascension, and consequently the proof of both.
The following explanation is offered on these points of view:
1. That what was happening before their eyes was the fulfillment of scripture. It was the accomplishment of the prophecies of the Old Testament which related to the kingdom of the Messiah, and therefore evidence that this kingdom had arrived, and that the other predictions of it are fulfilled. The prophecy he has in mind is Joel 2.28-32, from which he will quote during his sermon—“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit. And I will shew wonders in the heavens and in the earth, blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke.