But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said to them, You men of Judaea, and all you that dwell at Jerusalem…
Some reference may be made to the Prophet Joel, the time when he wrote, and the first reference of his prophecy. The principles on which we discover Messianic allusions in the Old Testament books may be detailed and illustrated. Especially the two following principles: -
1. Any reference which cannot fairly be fitted to or exhausted by any passage of history, or the history of any individual, may be referred to Messianic times, or to the Messiah himself. This principle guides us both in the Book of Psalms and in the prophets. It helps to decide the intention of Joel, in the passage before us, which no page of ordinary human history satisfies.
2. Any reference from the Old Testament which an inspired apostle is led to use as proof of the Messiahship of Christ, must be accepted as having that for its proper application. On this ground Joel's prophecy must be received as dealing with the times and dispensation of the Holy Ghost. The prophecies given by the Scripture writers are of the utmost importance, as tending to check the material conceptions of the Messiah, which the later circumstances and history of the Jewish nation seem to have greatly encouraged. Those prophecies keep prominently before men's minds the suffering aspects of Messiah's life, so suggesting that his power would be moral, not material; and the spiritual aspects of the kingdom he would set up, whose features should be "righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost." The prophetical figures are often difficult, and need for their apprehension some knowledge of the sphere of poetical imagery from which Eastern writers used to draw their illustrations. Western composition is more formal and precise; and we should be careful not to press our associations with prophetic language in front of those associations which were familiar to the Scripture writer. Forgetting this, men have mistaken the meaning of the figures given in vers. 19, 20.
I. THE DISPENSATION OF THE SPIRIT. The leading features of it may be brought out by comparing it with the earlier "dispensation of the Law. Under that, God's Law was written on tables," for men's eyes to read; under this, God's Law is written on hearts, and becomes an inward impulse. Under that, goodness was regarded as right conduct; under this, goodness is regarded as right motive inspiring right doing. Other similar contrasts may be urged; and it should be impressed that, in the gift of his Son and Spirit, God sought to lay hold of men's souls, and win them, in love and trust, for himself.
II. THE EFFECTS OF THE DISPENSATION ON MEN. Here Peter explains the present signs: the high enthusiasm of the disciples, the bold preaching, the power of the tongues, etc. We may go on to show what are the permanent effects, in present-day endowments for Christian work and witness. Still we only work truly and successfully as we work in the "power of the Holy Ghost."
III. THE SIGNS OF ITS ADVENT IN THINGS. (Vers. 19, 20.) "The imagery is drawn as from one of the great thunderstorms of Palestine. There is a lurid blood-red hue of clouds and sky; there are the fiery flashes, the columns or pillars of smoke-like clouds boiling from the abyss. These, in their turn, were probably thought of as symbols of bloodshed and fire and smoke, such as are involved in the capture and destruction of a city like Jerusalem." The fall of Jerusalem was the formal passing away of the old dispensation of Mosaism, and the full establishment of the new dispensation of the Spirit. Press, in conclusion, the sublime hopes for mankind that lie in this "dispensation. Especially note ver. 21: there is now full and free soul-salvation for every one that calls upon the Lord in faith. The moral and spiritual redemption can now be applied to every open-hearted man by the energy of the abiding, indwelling, regenerating Spirit. - R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: 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: