Joel 2:28
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:
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(28) I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh.—Holy Scripture is itself the interpreter of this most weighty promise. St. Peter’s quotation and application of it in the Acts is its commentary. “Afterward “—LXX., after these things becomes in the apostle’s mouth—“in the last days”—i.e., in the Christian dispensation, when, after the punishment of the Jews by the heathen, their king came—“my Spirit”—St. Peter renders “of my spirit,” after the LXX., indicating the gifts and influences of the Holy Ghost—“upon all flesh”—i.e., without distinction of race or person—“they of the circumcision were astonished because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.” The outward manifestation of these gifts, as shown on the Day of Pentecost, in accordance with this prediction, was gradually withdrawn from the Church; the reality remains.

Joel 2:28-29. And it shall come to pass afterward — Some versions begin the third chapter with this verse; and indeed the subject which is begun here is of so different a nature from what goes before, that it seems evident a new chapter ought to be begun here. The Jewish Rabbi Kimchi says here, that the expression afterward signifies the same as in the latter days, Isaiah 2:2, and that whenever the words occur, they denote the times of the Messiah; and therefore he refers this prophecy to his days, and makes it descriptive of the event which is foretold Isaiah 11:9, The earth shall be full of the knowledge of the Lord. This is unquestionably the true meaning of it, and thus it is explained by St. Peter, Acts 2:17. “And though the things here prophesied of were not to happen till several ages afterward, yet was the prophecy highly proper to encourage the minds of the pious Jews; as it was an assurance to them that, let them be brought ever so low by this or any other calamity, yet God would preserve them a people, till all the promises made to their forefathers should be actually accomplished; and especially till the Messiah should come, under whom the knowledge of God should spread itself among all the nations of the earth, and the gifts of the Spirit of God should be poured out in a much more abundant manner than ever they were before:” see Chandler. I will pour out my Spirit — In extraordinary gifts on the first preachers of the gospel, and in various graces on all believers; upon all flesh — Upon believing Gentiles, as well as believing Jews. In former times those gifts were confined to one particular nation, but now they shall be extended to those of all nations that will apply unto God for them through faith in the Messiah. The plentiful effusion of the Holy Spirit is often represented by the prophets as the peculiar character of the gospel state, and is elsewhere compared to the pouring out of waters upon the thirsty ground, and thereby rendering it fruitful: see the passages referred to in the margin, and compare them with John 7:39. That this prophecy was in a great measure fulfilled in the days of the apostles and first messengers of the Lord Jesus, we have abundant proof from the Acts of the Apostles and the epistles of the New Testament. We need not, however, confine this prophecy to those early times, but, since many prophecies have gradual completions, we may understand this as implying that there shall be another remarkable effusion of the Holy Spirit upon the Jews, in order to their conversion in the latter times of the world. This exposition, which is favoured by some expressions in this prophecy, renders its connection with the contents of the following chapter more manifest. And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy — The gift of prophecy was bestowed upon some women under the Old Testament, as upon Miriam, Exodus 15:20; upon Deborah, Jdg 4:14; and Huldah, 2 Kings 22:14.

But this gift was more frequently conferred upon that sex in the times of the New Testament. Thus we read of four daughters of Philip the Evangelist who prophesied, Acts 21:9; and church history affords us several other instances; such as Perpetua and Felicitas, who were martyrs for the Christian faith; Potamiena, mentioned by Eusebius, lib. 4. cap. 5, and others. Your old men shall dream dreams — Divine dreams, either imparting unto them the knowledge of future events, or discovering to them the will of God in other respects. By this method God often made known his will to the patriarchs and prophets, impressing their minds, while they were asleep, with the things he intended to communicate; sometimes directly, without any parabolical representation, which was a pure dream; as to Solomon and others: sometimes under representations and images, which might be a vision and dream mixed, as in the case of Pharaoh, Joseph, Daniel, and others. Your young men shall see visions — In visions, distinguished from dreams, the inspired person was awake, but his external senses being bound up, and, as it were, laid in a trance, (see Numbers 24:4,) he had a distinct knowledge of the things revealed to him, and that sometimes accompanied with external representations: such was that vision of St. Peter’s, mentioned Acts 10:11. And in this way St. John seems to have received all his revelations. From visions being applied to young men, and dreams to old men, some have observed that the imagination is stronger in those that are young than in the old; so that their senses need not be bound up with sleep, in order to make them capable of receiving heavenly visions. Also upon the servants and upon the handmaids — Even persons of the lowest condition shall be made partakers of the saving graces of the Holy Spirit, and in many instances also of his extraordinary gifts. The poor have the gospel preached to them, and all the blessings of the gospel, whether ordinary or extraordinary, are as free for the poor as the rich, and are more commonly desired and received by them than by the rich.

2:28-32 The promise began to be fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out, and it was continued in the converting grace and miraculous gifts conferred on both Jews and Gentiles. The judgments of God upon a sinful world, only go before the judgment of the world in the last day. Calling on God supposes knowledge of him, faith in him, desire toward him, dependence on him, and, as evidence of the sincerity of all this, conscientious obedience to him. Those only shall be delivered in the great day, who are now effectually called from sin to God, from self to Christ, from things below to things above.And it shall come to pass afterward - After the punishment of the Jews through the Pagan, and their deliverance; after the Coming of the Teacher of righteousness, was to follow the outpouring of the Spirit of God.

I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh - o: "This which He says, "on all flesh," admits of no exception of nations or persons. For before Jesus was glorified, He had poured His Spirit only on the sons of Zion, and out of that nation only were there prophets and wise men. But after He was glorified by His Resurrection and Ascension, He made no difference of Jews and Gentiles, but willed that remission of sins should be preached to all alike."

All flesh - is the name of all mankind. So in the time of the flood, it is said "all flesh had corrupted his way: the end of all flesh is come before Me." Moses asks, "who of all flesh hath heard the voice of the Lord God, as we have, and lived?" So in Job; "in whose Hand is the breath of all flesh of man." If He set His heart upon man, if He gather to Himself his spirit and his breath, all flesh shall perish together. And David; "Thou that hearest prayer, to Thee shall all flesh come; let all flesh bless His Holy Name forever and ever" Genesis 6:12-13; Deuteronomy 5:26; Job 12:10; Job 34:14-15; Psalm 65:2; Psalm 145:21. In like way speak Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Zechariah Isa 40:5-6; Isaiah 49:26; Isaiah 66:16, Isaiah 66:23-24; Jeremiah 25:31; Jeremiah 32:27; Jeremiah 45:5; Ezekiel 20:48; Ezekiel 21:4-5; Zechariah 2:13. The words "all flesh" are in the Pentateuch, and in one place in Daniel, used, in a yet wider sense, of everything which has life (Genesis 6:17, Genesis 6:19; Genesis 7:15-16, Genesis 7:21; Genesis 8:17; Genesis 9:11, Genesis 9:15-17; Leviticus 17:14; Numbers 18:15; Daniel 4:12; probably Psalm 136:25); but, in no one case, in any narrower sense.

It does not include every individual in the race, but it includes the whole race, and individuals throughout it, in every nation, sex, condition, "Jew or Gentile, Greek or Barbarian," i. e., educated or uneducated, rich or poor, bond or free, male or female. As "all" were to be "one in Christ Jesus" Galatians 3:28, so on all was to be poured the Holy Spirit, the Bond who was to bind all in one. He names our nature from that which is the lowest in it, "the flesh," with the same condescension with which it is said, "The Word was made flesh" , from where we speak of the "Incarnation" of our Blessed Lord, i. e., "His taking on Him our Flesh." He humbled Himself to take our flesh; He came, as our Physician, to heal our flesh, the seat of our concupisceuce. So also God the Holy Spirit vouchsafes to dwell in our flesh, to sanctify it and to heal it. He, whom God saith He will pour out on all flesh, is the Spirit of God, and God. He does not say that He will pour out graces, or gifts, ordinary or extraordinary, influences, communications, or the like.

He says, "I will pour out My Spirit;" as Paul says, "know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" 1 Corinthians 3:16. "Ye are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His" Romans 8:9-10. It is said indeed, "on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Spirit," but the gift of the Holy Spirit was the Holy Spirit Himself, as it had been just said, "the Holy Spirit fell on all them that heard the word" Acts 10:44-45. It is said, "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, which is given us" Romans 5:5; but the "Holy Spirit" is first "given," and He poureth out into the soul "the love of God." As God the Word, when He took human nature, came into it personally, so that "the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily in it" Colossians 2:9; so, really, although not personally, "doth the Holy Spirit, and so the whole Trinity, enter into our mind by sanctification, and dwelleth in it as in His throne."

No created being, no Angel, nor Archangel could dwell in the soul. : "God Alone can be poured out into the soul, so as to possess it, enlighten it, teach, kindle, bend, move it as He wills," sanctify, satiate, fill it. And "as God is really present with the blessed, when He sheweth to them His Essence by the beatific vision and light of glory, and communicates it to them, to enjoy and possess; so He, the Same, is also in the holy soul, and thus diffuseth it in His grace, love, and other divine gifts." At the moment of justification, "the Holy Spirit and so the whole Holy Trinity entereth the soul at His temple, sanctifying and as it were dedicating and consecrating it to Himself, and at the same moment of time, although in the order of nature subsequently, He communicates to it His love and grace. Such is the meaning of, "We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him." This is the highest union of God with the holy soul; and greater than this can none be given to any creature, for by it we become "partakers of the divine Nature," as Peter saith 2 Peter 1:4. See here, O Christian, the dignity of the holiness whereunto thou art called and with all zeal follow after, preserve, enlarge it.

This His Spirit, God says, "I will pour," i. e., give largely, as though He would empty out Him who is Infinite, so that there should be no measure of His giving, save our capacity of receiving. So He says of converted Israel, "I have poured out My Spirit upon the house of Israel" Ezekiel 39:29, and, "I will pour out upon the house of David and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication" Zechariah 12:10.

And your sons and your daughters shall prophesy - This cannot limit what he has said, that God would pour out His Spirit upon all flesh. He gives instances of that out-pouring, in those miraculous gifts, which were at the first to be the tokens and evidence of His inward presence. These gifts were at the first bestowed on the Jews only. The highest were reserved altogether for them. Jews only were employed as Apostles and Evangelists; Jews only wrote, by inspiration of God, the "oracles of God," as the source of the faith of the whole world. : "The Apostles were sons of Israel; the Mother of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the other women who abode at the same time and prayed with the Apostles, were daughters. Luke mentions, "All these were persevering with one accord in prayer with the women and Mary the Mother of Jesus, and His brethren." These sons and daughters of the Sons of Zion, having received the Spirit, prophesied, i. e., in divers tongues they spoke of the heavenly mysteries."

In the narrower sense of "foretelling the future, the Apostles, the Blessed Virgin Luke 1:48, Zacharias (Luke 1:67 ff), and Anna Luke 2:36, Luke 2:38, Elizabeth Luke 1:42-45, the virgin daughters of Philip Acts 21:9, Agabus Acts 11:28; Acts 21:10-11, John in the Apocalypse," Simeon Luke 2:27-35, and Paul also oftentimes Acts 20:29-30; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12; 2 Timothy 3:1, 2 Timothy 3:4; 1 Timothy 4:1 prophesied. At Antioch, there were certain "prophets" Acts 13:1; and "the Holy Spirit in every city witnessed, saying, that bonds and afflictions awaited him in Jerusalem" Acts 20:23. "But it is superfluous," adds Theodoret after giving some instances, "to set myself to prove the truth of the prophecy. For down to our times also hath this gift been preserved, and there are among the saints, people who have the eye of the mind clear, who foreknow and foretell many of the things which are about to be." So the death of Julian the Apostate, who fell, as it seemed, by a chance wound in war with the Persians was foreseen and foretold ; and Cyprian foretold the day of his own martyrdom and the close of Decian persecution, which ended through the death of the Emperor in a rash advance over a morass, when victory was gained . The stream of prophecy has been traced down through more than four centuries from the Birth of the Redeemer. One of the Bishops of the Council of Nice was gifted with a prophetic spirit .

Your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions - "God often attempers Himself and His oracles to the condition of people, and appears to each, as suits his state" Acts 11:28; Acts 21:10-11. It may then be, that to old men while sleeping by reason of age, He appeared most commonly in dreams; to young men, while watching, in visions. But it is so common in Hebrew, that each part of the verse should be filled up from the other, that perhaps the prophet only means, that their old and young should have dreams and see visions, and both from God. Nor are these the highest of God's revelations; as He says, that to the prophet He would "make" Himself known in a vision and would "speak in a dream," but to Moses "mouth to mouth; even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the Lord shall he behold Numbers 12:6, Numbers 12:8.

The Apostles also saw waking visions, as Peter at Joppa (Acts 10:10 ff; Acts 11:5 ff); (and that so frequently, that when the Angel delivered him, he thought that it was one of his accustomed visions Acts 12:9,) and Paul after his conversion, and calling him to Macedonia; and the Lord appeared unto him in vision at Corinth, revealing to him the conversions which should be worked there, and at Jerusalem foretelling to him the witness he should bear to Him at Rome. In the ship, the Angel of the Lord foretold to him his own safety, and that God had given him all who sailed with him Acts 9:12; Acts 16:6-7, Acts 16:9; Acts 18:9; Acts 19:21; Acts 23:11; Acts 27:24. Ananias Acts 9:10 and Cornelius Acts 10:3 also received revelations through visions. But all these were only revelations of single truths or facts. Of a higher sort seems to be that revelation, whereby our Lord revealed to Paul Himself and His Gospel which Paul was to preach, and "the wisdom of God," and the glories of the world to come, and the conversion of the Gentiles; and when he was "caught up to the third heaven, and abundance of revelations were vouchsafed to him" Galatians 1:12, Galatians 1:16; 1 Corinthians 2:7; Ephesians 3:3; 2 Corinthians 12:1-7.

28. afterward—"in the last days" (Isa 2:2) under Messiah after the invasion and deliverance of Israel from the northern army. Having heretofore stated the outward blessings, he now raises their minds to the expectation of extraordinary spiritual blessings, which constitute the true restoration of God's people (Isa 44:3). Fulfilled in earnest (Ac 2:17) on Pentecost; among the Jews and the subsequent election of a people among the Gentiles; hereafter more fully at the restoration of Israel (Isa 54:13; Jer 31:9, 34; Eze 39:29; Zec 12:10) and the consequent conversion of the whole world (Isa 2:2; 11:9; 66:18-23; Mic 5:7; Ro 11:12, 15). As the Jews have been the seedmen of the elect Church gathered out of Jews and Gentiles, the first Gospel preachers being Jews from Jerusalem, so they shall be the harvest men of the coming world-wide Church, to be set up at Messiah's appearing. That the promise is not restricted to the first Pentecost appears from Peter's own words: "The promise is (not only) unto you and to your children, (but also) to all that are afar off (both in space and in time), even as many as the Lord our God shall call" (Ac 2:39). So here "upon all flesh."

I will pour out—under the new covenant: not merely, let fall drops, as under the Old Testament (Joh 7:39).

my spirit—the Spirit "proceeding from the Father and the Son," and at the same time one with the Father and the Son (compare Isa 11:2).

sons … daughters … old … young—not merely on a privileged few (Nu 11:29) as the prophets of the Old Testament, but men of all ages and ranks. See Ac 21:9; 1Co 11:5, as to "daughters," that is, women, prophesying.

dreams … visions—(Ac 9:10; 16:9). The "dreams" are attributed to the "old men," as more in accordance with their years; "visions" to the "young men," as adapted to their more lively minds. The three modes whereby God revealed His will under the Old Testament (Nu 12:6), "prophecy, dreams, and visions," are here made the symbol of the full manifestation of Himself to all His people, not only in miraculous gifts to some, but by His indwelling Spirit to all in the New Testament (Joh 14:21, 23; 15:15). In Ac 16:9; 18:9, the term used is "vision," though in the night, not a dream. No other dream is mentioned in the New Testament save those given to Joseph in the very beginning of the New Testament, before the full Gospel had come; and to the wife of Pilate, a Gentile (Mt 1:20; 2:13; 27:19). "Prophesying" in the New Testament is applied to all speaking under the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit, and not merely to foretelling events. All true Christians are "priests" and "ministers" of our God (Isa 61:6), and have the Spirit (Eze 36:26, 27). Besides this, probably, a special gift of prophecy and miracle-working is to be given at or before Messiah's coming again.

It shall come to pass, most certainly this shall be done, afterward; in the latter days, after the return out of Babylonish captivity, after the various troubles and salvations by which they may know that I am the Lord, their God in the midst of them, when those wondrous works shall be seconded by the most wonderful of all, the sending the Messiah, in his day and under his kingdom.

I will pour out my Spirit; in large abundant measures will I give my Holy Spirit, which the Messiah exalted shall send, John 16:7; in extraordinary power and gifts in the apostles and first preachers of the gospel, and in ordinary measure and graces to all believers, Ephesians 4:8-11.

Upon all flesh; before these gifts were confined to a few people, to one particular nation, to a very small people; but now they shall be enlarged to all nations, Acts 2:33 10:45, to all that believe, all that are regenerate.

Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy: this was in part fulfilled according to the letter in the first days of the gospel; but this promise is rather of a comparative meaning, thus, By pouring out of the Holy Spirit on your sons and your daughters, they shall have as clear and full knowledge of the deep mysteries of God’s law as prophets beforetime had. The law and prophets were till John, and during this time the gifts of the Spirit were given in lesser measures, and of all men the prophets had greatest measures of the Spirit; but in these days, the least in the kingdom of God is greater than John.

Your old men shall dream dreams; no difference of age, to old men who had been long blind in the things of God the mysteries of grace shall be revealed, and these shall know as certainly and clearly as if God had extraordinarily revealed himself to them by dreams sent of God upon them.

Your young men shall see visions; many young men shall be as eminent in knowledge as if the things known were communicated by vision. In a word, all knowledge of God and his will shall abound among all ranks, sexes, and ages in the Messiah’s days, and not only equal, but surpass, all that formerly was by prophecy dreams, or visions.

And it shall come to pass afterward,.... After the teacher of righteousness has been sent, and a plentiful rain of the Gospel has been let down in the land of Judea, in the ministry of John the Baptist, Christ and his apostles, and such a comfortable enjoyment of the blessings of grace in it, and the knowledge of God by it; and after the wonderful work of redemption wrought by Christ. R. Jeshua in Aben Ezra and Jarchi both say this prophecy refers to time to come; and Kimchi observes, that the phrase is the same with "in the last days"; and so the Apostle Peter quotes it, Acts 2:17; a phrase, as the above writer observes, which always signifies the days of the Messiah, to which he applies these words; and so do other Jewish writers, both ancient and modern (o); and there is no doubt with us Christians that they belong to the times of Christ and his apostles, since they are by an inspired writer said to be fulfilled in those times, Acts 2:16; here some begin a new chapter;

that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; not on such whose hearts are made tender as flesh, according to Ezekiel 36:26; as Jarchi; for the Spirit must be given first to make the heart such; nor only upon men in the land of Israel, a place fit to prophesy in, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi; but upon all men, as this phrase frequently signifies; see Isaiah 40:5; that is, all sorts of men, Jews and Gentiles, men of all nations; and such there were on the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit was poured down upon the apostles, and the grace of the Spirit was given to many of all nations; though that was only the beginning of the fulfilment of this prophecy, which quickly had a further accomplishment in the Gentile world; and denotes the abundance of the gifts of the Spirit, both extraordinary and ordinary, and of his grace, and the blessings of it, bestowed on them;

and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy; as Agabus, Barnabas, Simeon, &c. and the four daughters of Philip the evangelist, Acts 11:28;

your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; as Ananias, Peter, Paul, John, and others, some in their elder, some in their younger years, Acts 9:10; though prophecy, dreams, and visions, being the usual ways of conveying knowledge, here signify that the knowledge of men in Gospel times should be equal to, yea, exceed, whatever was communicated to men in the highest degree in former times: John the Baptist was greater than any of the prophets, and yet the least in the kingdom of heaven was greater than he, Luke 7:28.

(o) Zohar in Numb. fol. 99. 2. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 15. fol. 219. 2. Debarim Rabba, sect. 6. fol. 242. 2. Abarbinel, Mashmia Jeshua, fol. 9. 3. R. Isaac, Chizzuk Emunah, par. 1. p. 51.

And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour {q} out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream {r} dreams, your young men shall see visions:

(q) That is, in greater abundance, and more broadly than in times past. And this was fulfilled under Christ, when God's graces and his Spirit under the Gospel were abundantly given to the Church; Isa 44:3 Ac 2:17 Joh 7:38-39.

(r) As they had visions and dreams in ancient times, so will they now have clearer revelations.

28. afterward] After the bestowal of the material prosperity promised in Joel 2:23-26.

pour out] i.e. send forth, not in scant measure, but abundantly: the measure of spiritual illumination, which was normally restricted to prophets or other favoured individuals, will be extended to all. The prophets regularly, in their visions of the future, look forward to an age when Israel will both enjoy the undisturbed possession of material benefits, and also be morally and spiritually regenerate: see e.g. Isaiah 29:18-24; Isaiah 30:23-25; Isaiah 32:1-8 (the change of character, which is to mark the ideal Israel of the future), Isaiah 32:15-18, Isaiah 33:5-6; Isaiah 33:24, Isa. 55:13, 14; Jeremiah 31:12-14; Jeremiah 31:33-34. For the gift of the spirit in particular, comp. Isaiah 32:15; Isaiah 44:3; Isaiah 59:21; Ezekiel 36:27; Ezekiel 39:29; Zechariah 12:10.

my spirit] The ‘spirit’ in man is the principle of life, upon which consciousness and intelligence depend, and which imparts activity to the inert ‘flesh’ (see e.g. Genesis 2:7; Isaiah 31:3; Isaiah 42:5; Ezekiel 37:5; Ezekiel 37:9-14; Psalm 146:4): and the ‘spirit’ of God is analogously (in the O.T.) the conscious vital force peculiar to God, which, as proceeding from Him, is the power which creates and sustains the life of created beings (Genesis 1:2; Job 33:4; Psalm 104:30), and to the operation of which are attributed extraordinary faculties and activities of man, as well as supernatural spiritual gifts (see e.g. Genesis 41:38; Exodus 31:3; Numbers 11:17; Jdg 11:29; 1 Samuel 11:6; 1 Samuel 16:13; Micah 3:8; Isaiah 11:2; Isaiah 63:11; Psalm 51:11; Haggai 2:5; Nehemiah 9:20; and compare the passages quoted at the end of the last note). The spirit of God is mentioned, as the source, in particular, of prophetic power (whether in its lower or higher forms) in Numbers 11:25-26; Numbers 11:29; 1 Samuel 10:6; 1 Samuel 10:10; 2 Samuel 23:2; Hosea 9:7; Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 59:21; Isaiah 61:1; Zechariah 7:12; Nehemiah 9:30. Similarly here: Joel anticipates a time when the aspiration of Moses (Numbers 11:29) will be realized.

all flesh] The expression is used (a) sometimes in a wider sense to denote all living beings, including both mankind and animals, as Genesis 6:17; Genesis 6:19; (b) sometimes in a narrower sense, of mankind alone, as Isaiah 40:5; Isaiah 49:26. Here it is used in the second sense: but the prophet, as the context shews, has in reality only Israel in his mind; other nations are pictured by him as destroyed (Joel 3:2; Joel 3:9 ff.). Comp. the surprise expressed in Acts 10:45 at the Spirit being poured out upon the Gentiles.

and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, &c.] Joel poetically specializes the operation of the spirit, in such a manner that it manifests itself differently in different classes of the people. The distinction is not to be understood with prosaic literalness any more than it is to be inferred from Isaiah 11:12 (see the Heb.) that Isaiah expected only the men of Israel, and the women of Judah, to return from exile.

prophesy] i.e. will have insight into Divine truth, and will be moved to express it, in the manner which is at present confined to such as specially bear the name of prophets. The term is of course not to be misunderstood, as if it referred merely to predictions relating to the future: the reference is in general to inspired instruction in moral and religious truth. Two special modes of consciousness in which Divine truths frequently presented themselves to the prophet (Numbers 12:6) are then particularized, the dream and the vision: in illustration of the former, see Deuteronomy 13:2, Jeremiah 23:25; Jeremiah 23:32; Jeremiah 27:9; Jeremiah 29:8 (in these passages the dream is spoken of in terms of disparagement, on account of its liability to become a source of self-deception); for the latter, see on Amos 1:1; Amos 7:1.

young men] how, it may be asked, do the “young men” differ from the “sons,” just before? Probably as older and more independent; it is the term often employed to denote the young, able-bodied warriors of Israel (2 Kings 8:12; Jeremiah 11:22; Jeremiah 18:21).

Verses 28-32. - These verses form a chapter (the third) by themselves in the Hebrew text, but in the LXX. and the Authorized Version they conclude ch. 2. In them the prophet passes on to spiritual blessings. Verses 28, 29. - And it shall come to pass afterward ('acharekhen). This intimates the time when the promised blessing is to be bestowed, and must be read in the light of New Testament exposition; for Peter, in quoting the words (Acts 2:17, etc.), varies the prophet's note of time by substituting an explanatory phrase, viz. ἐν ταῖς ἐσχάταις ἡμέραις, "in the last days" - an expression which, as is acknowledged, refers to the days of the Messiah or the last days of the old dispensation. The apostle thus defines more closely the somewhat indefinite expression of the Hebrew. After this specification of the time, he proceeds to state the blessing to be bestowed. I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh. The word shaphak, employed by the prophet to express the outpouring of the Spirit, implies the bestowal of the gift in great abundance, as Calvin clearly pointed out: "For shaphak," he says, "does not mean merely to give in drops, but to pour out in great abundance. But God did net pour out the Holy Spirit so abundantly or copiously under the Law, as he has since the manifestation of Christ." The Spirit was indeed communicated in Old Testament times, but that communication was restricted in two ways in quantity, and in the number of recipients; the former was comparatively scanty and the latter few, whereas the word here applied to its communication implies a rich supply, like a copious rainfall. After the specification of the time, and the mention of the blessing, with its implied plentifulness, comes its wide diffusion, or general distribution - "all flesh," or "all mankind," as the Hebrew expression denotes; and that without regard to age, or sex, or state. 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. Sons and daughters without distinction of sex; old men and young men without reference to age; servants and handmaids without regard to social position. Thus it is with the Spirit of God as with the Son of God, of whom the apostle says, "There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uucircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all." The blessing of salvation through the Son of God and by the Spirit of God is wide as the world in its offer, and free to all who accept it - without national distinction, for there is neither Jew nor Greek; without social distinction, for there is neither bond nor free; without sexual distinction, for there is neither male nor female; without ceremonial distinction, for there is neither circumcision nor uncircumcision; without intellectual or educational distinction, for the barbarian and even the Scythian, the lowest type of barbarian, are free to share the blessing. The regain before the "servants" and "handmaids," rendered in the citation by Peter, not as in the LXX. by a simple καὶ, but by καὶ γε, and in the Authorized Version "and also," is an emphatic addition to the previous enumeration, equivalent to "nay more" and implying something extraordinary and unexpected, that not only the weaker sex, but the meanest of both sexes, were to participate in the blessing. "Not a single case," says Keil, "occurs in the whole of the Old Testament of a slave receiving the gift of prophecy." The mode in which spiritual commmunication is

(1) according to some is that of visions to the young, whose fancy is more vigorous; that of dreams to the old, in the decadence of their mental powers; while to the sons and daughters the gift is prophesying. Others more correctly

(2) understand prophecy as the general term for speaking under the Spirit's influence or instructing by Divine inspiration; while the two forms of prophetic revelation are dreams when the mental "faculties are suspended by natural causes," and visions or trances when "suspended by supernatural causes," the communication in either case being supernatural. This prediction began to be fulfilled on the Day of Pentecost. Joel 2:28(Heb. ch. 3). Outpouring of the Spirit of God, and Announcement of Judgment.

(Note: Among other special expositions of these verses, see Hengstenberg's Christology, vol. i. p. 326ff. translation.)

Joel 2:28. "And it will come to pass afterwards, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, and your young men see visions. Joel 2:29. And also upon the men-servants and maid-servants I will put out my Spirit in those days." As 'achărē-khēn points back to bâri'shōn in Joel 2:23, the formula vehâyâh achărē-khēn describes the outpouring of the Spirit as a second and later consequence of the gift of the teacher for righteousness. שׁפך, to pour out, signifies communication in rich abundance, like a rain-fall or water-fall. For the communication of the Spirit of God was not entirely wanting to the covenant nation from the very first. In fact, the Spirit of God was the only inward bond between the Lord and His people; but it was confined to the few whom God endowed as prophets with the gift of His Spirit. This limitation was to cease in the future.

(Note: "There is no doubt that the prophet promises something greater here than the fathers had experienced under the law. We know that the grace of the Holy Spirit flourished even among the ancient people; but the prophet promises here not what the faithful had formerly experienced, but something greater. And this may be gathered from the verb 'to pour' which he employs. For שׁפך does not mean merely to give in drops, but to pour out in great abundance. But God did not pour out the Holy Spirit so abundantly or copiously under the law, as He has since the manifestation of Christ." - Calvin.)

What Moses expressed as a wish - namely, that the people were all prophets, and the Lord would put His Spirit upon them (Numbers 11:29) - was to be fulfilled in the future. Rūăch Yehōvâh is not the first principle of the physico-creaturely life (i.e., not equivalent to rūăch Elōhı̄m in Genesis 1:2), but that of the spiritual or ethical and religious life of man, which filled the prophets under the Old Testament as a spirit of prophecy; consequently Joel describes its operations under this form. "All flesh" signifies all men. The idea that it embraces the irrational animals, even the locusts (Credner), is rejected with perfect justice by Hitzig as an inconceivable thought, and one unheard-of in the Bible; but he is wrong in adding that the Old Testament does not teach a communication of the Spirit of God to all men, but limits it to the people of Israel. A decided protest is entered against this by Genesis 6:3, where Jehovah threatens that He will no longer let His Spirit rule bâ'âdâm, i.e., in the human race, because it has become bâsâr (flesh). Bâsâr, as contrasted with rūăch Yehōvâh, always denotes human nature regarded as incapacitated for spiritual and divine life. Even in this verse we must not restrict the expression "all flesh" to the members of the covenant nation, as most of the commentators have done; for whatever truth there may be in the remark made by Calovius and others (compare Hengstenberg, Christol. i. p. 328 transl.), that the following clause, "your sons, your daughters, your old men, your young men, and men-servants and maid-servants," contains a specification of כּל־בּשׂר, it by no means follows with certainty from this, that the word all does not do away with the limitation to one particular nation, but merely that in this one nation even the limits of sex, age, and rank are abolished; since it cannot be proved that the specification in Joel 2:2 and Joel 2:3 is intended to exhaust the idea of "all flesh." Moreover, as the prophecy of Joel had respect primarily to Judah, Joel may primarily have brought into prominence, and specially singled out of the general idea of kol-bâsâr in Joel 2:28 and Joel 2:29, only those points that were of importance to his contemporaries, viz., that all the members of the covenant nation would participate in this outpouring of the Spirit, without regard to sex, age, or rank; and in so doing, he may have looked away from the idea of the entire human race, including all nations, which is involved in the expression "all flesh." We shall see from Joel 2:32 that this last thought was not a strange one to the prophet. In the specification of the communication of the Spirit, the different forms which it assumes are rhetorically distributed as follows: to the sons and daughters, prophesying is attributed; to the old, dreams; to the young, sights or visions. But it by no means follows from this, that each of these was peculiar to the age mentioned. For the assertion, that the Spirit of God only manifests itself in the weakened mind of the old man by dreams and visions of the night; that the vigorous and lively fancy of the youth or man has sights by day, or true visions; and lastly, that in the soul of the child the Spirit merely works as furor sacer Tychs., Credner, Hitzig, and others), cannot be historically sustained. According to Numbers 12:6, visions and dreams are the two forms of the prophetic revelation of God; and נבּא is the most general manifestation of the prophetic gift, which must not be restricted to the ecstatic state associated with the prophesying. The meaning of this rhetorical individualizing, is simply that their sons, daughters, old persons, and youths, would receive the Spirit of God with all its gifts. The outpouring of the Spirit upon slaves (men-servants and maidens) is connected by vegam, as being something very extraordinary, and under existing circumstances not to be expected. Not a single case occurs in the whole of the Old Testament of a salve receiving the gift of prophecy. Amos, indeed, was a poor shepherd servant, but not an actual slave. And the communication of this gift to slaves was irreconcilable with the position of slaves under the Old Testament. Consequently even the Jewish expositors could not reconcile themselves to this announcement. The lxx, by rendering it ἐπὶ τοὺς δούλους μου καὶ ἐπὶ τὰς δούλας μου, have put servants of God in the place of the slaves of men; and the Pharisees refused to the ὄχλος even a knowledge of the law (John 7:49). The gospel has therefore also broken the fetters of slavery.

Judgment upon all nations goes side by side with the outpouring of the Spirit of God. Joel 2:30. "And I give wonders in the heavens and on earth, blood, fire, and pillars of smoke. Joel 2:31. The sun will turn into darkness, and the moon into blood, before the day of Jehovah, the great and terrible (day), comes. Joel 2:32. And it comes to pass, every one who shall call upon the name of Jehovah will be saved; for on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem will be fugitives, as Jehovah hath said, and among those that are left will be those whom Jehovah calls." With the word ונתתּי, Joel 2:3 is attached to Joel 2:2 as a simple continuation (Hitzig). The wonders which God will give in the heavens and upon earth are the forerunners of judgment. Mōphethı̄m (see at Exodus 4:21) are extraordinary and marvellous natural phenomena. The wonders on earth are mentioned first, in Joel 2:30; then in Joel 2:31 those in the heavens. Blood and fire recal to mind the plagues which fell upon Egypt as signs of the judgment: the blood, the changing of the water of the Nile into blood (Exodus 7:17); the fire, the balls of fire which fell to the earth along with the hail (Exodus 9:24). Blood and fire point to bloodshed and war. Timrōth ‛âshân signifies cloud-pillars (here and in Sol 3:6), whether we regard the form timrōth as original, and trace it to timrâh and the root tâmar, or prefer the reading תּימרות, which we meet with in many codices and editions, and take the word as a derivative of yâmar equals mūr, as Hengstenberg does (Christol. i. p. 334 transl.). This sign has its type in the descent of Jehovah upon Sinai, at which the whole mountain smoked, and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a smelting-furnace (Exodus 19:18). We have not to think, therefore, of columns of cloud ascending from basons of fire, carried in front of caravans or armies on the march to show the way (see at Sol 3:6), but of pillars of cloud, which roll up from burning towns in time of war (Isaiah 9:17). Joel 2:31. In the heavens the sun is darkened, and the moon assumes a dull, blood-red appearance. These signs also have their type in the Egyptian plague of darkness (Exodus 10:21.). The darkening and extinction of the lights of heaven are frequently mentioned, either as harbingers of approaching judgment, or as signs of the breaking of the day of judgment (it was so in Joel 2:2, Joel 2:10, and is so again in Joel 3:14 : see also Isaiah 13:10; Isaiah 34:4; Jeremiah 4:23; Ezekiel 32:1-8; Amos 8:9; Matthew 24:29; Mark 13:24; Luke 21:25). What we have to think of here, is not so much periodically returning phenomena of nature, or eclipses of the sun and moon, as extraordinary (not ecliptic) obscurations of the sun and moon, such as frequently occur as accompaniments to great catastrophes in human history.

(Note: Compare O. Zoeckler, Theologia Natural. i. p. 420, where reference is made to Humboldt (Kosmos, iii.-413-17), who cites no fewer than seventeen extraordinary cases of obscuration of the sun from the historical tradition of past ages, which were occasioned, not by the moon, but by totally different circumstances, such as diminished intensity in the photosphere, unusually large spots in the sun, extraneous admixtures in our own atmosphere, such as trade-wind dust, inky rain, and sand rain, etc.; and many of which took place in most eventful years, such as 45 b.c., a.d. 29 (the year of the Redeemer's death), 358, 360, etc.)

And these earthly and celestial phenomena are forerunners and signs of the approaching or bursting judgment; not only so far as subjective faith is concerned, from the impression which is made upon the human mind by rare and terrible phenomena of nature, exciting a feeling of anxious expectation as to the things that are about to happen,

(Note: Calvin has taken too one-sided and subjective a view of the matter, when he gives the following explanation of Joel 2:31 : "What is said here of the sun and moon - namely, that the sun will be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood - is metaphorical, and signifies that the Lord will fill the whole universe with signs of His wrath, which will paralyze men with fear, as if all nature were changed into a thing of horror. For just as the sun and moon are witnesses of the paternal favour of God towards us, while they give light in their turns to the earth, so, on the other hand, the prophet affirms that they will be the heralds of an angry and offended God.... By the darkness of the sun, the turning of the moon into blood, and the black vapour of smoke, the prophet meant to express the thought, that wherever men turned their eyes, everywhere, both above and below, many things would meet the eye that would fill them with terror. So that it is just as if he had said, that there had never been such a state of misery in the world, nor so many fierce signs of the wrath of God." For example, the assertion that they "are metaphorical expressions" cannot possibly be sustained, but is at variance with the scriptural view of the deep inward connection between heaven and earth, and more particularly with the scriptural teaching, that with the last judgment the present heavens and present earth will perish, and the creation of a new heaven and a new earth will ensue. Moreover, the circumstance that a belief in the significance of these natural phenomena is met with in all nations, favours their real (not merely imaginary) connection with the destinies of humanity.)

but also in their real connection with the onward progress of humanity towards its divinely appointed goal, which may be explained from the calling of man to be the lord of the earth, though it has not yet received from science its due recognition and weight; in accordance with which connection, they show "that the eternal motion of the heavenly worlds is also appointed by the world-governing righteousness of God; so that the continued secret operation of this peculiar quality manifests itself through a strong cosmico-uranian symbolism, in facts of singular historical significance" (Zoeckler, l. c.).

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