Archive for the ‘Pentecost’ Category

Sweeney, M.A. (2000). The Twelve Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah (vol. 1). Collegeville, MN: Liturgical Press.

M.A. Sweeney (2000:174) likens the outpouring upon Israel as a reconstitution of His people of sorts, hearkening back to creation and the work of the Spirit amidst the cataclysmic events:

Indeed, the image of the Hamsin/Sharav appears to underlie much of the imagery of cosmic transformation in this passage, but it is combined with the imagery of prophecy once again to demonstrate the interrelatedness of the natural and the human worlds in the book of Joel….The list of persons involved, sons and daughters, elders, young men, slaves and maid servants, is intended to be comprehensive. This phenomenon appears to project a return to a much earlier or ideal time prior to the establishment of Israel as a nation ruled by a king in its own land, such as the Exodus and wilderness period when the seventy elders of Israel began to prophesy when the “spirit” of G-d descended upon them (Num 11:25) or the period prior to the time of Samuel and the emergence of the first king, Saul, when 1 Sam 3:1 states that the word of YHWH and visions were rare at that time.

Sweeney (2000:174) adds the following:

To a certain extent, the passage attempts to portray a return to a state prior to creation, either of the natural world order or of the nation Israel, which of course enables both YHWH and Israel/Judah to start all over again on a new basis. The portents in the heavens and on the earth recalls both the use of heaven and earth as the comprehensive designation for all creation (Gen 1:1; 2:1,4) and the actions of YHWH in the Exodus narrative that forced Pharaoh to free the Hebrew slaves and that prompted the creation of Israel as a nation and its covenant with YHWH (Exod 6:1-9; 7:1-7).

Sweeney (2000:175) continues:

The images of “blood, fire, and columns of smoke” appear to be destructive at first sight and suggest the motif of YWHW’s battles against the nations that oppress Israel in the following passages. But these images are also the images of the altar at the Jerusalem Temple….Once the animal is slaughtered and prepared for the altar, it is set on fire and consumed entirely, resulting in a thick column of smoke that will stand over the site of the Temple complex. Although the imagery is destructive, it is also constructive in the sense that the Temple sacrificial ritual is intended to maintain or restore the order of the created world. In a similar manner, the Hamsin or Sharav that darkens the sun and causes the moon to appear red as blood is both destructive and transformative in that it marks the transition from one season to another; one reality is destroyed as another emerges. Altogether, such transformation in both the natural and the human world is labeled as the coming “Day of YHWH” in verse 4 [NRSV:31].

Pentecost therefore marks the commencing of judgment on the “old era”, which is passing away, and the inauguration of the “new era”, which is ever closer to its full consummation.  The signs and wonders surrounding the crucifixion, ascension, Pentecost and the eventual destruction of Jerusalem on 70 A.D. also marks a destructive work on the “old Israel” and the constructing of a “new Israel” that will bear fruit in keeping with repentance. The “last days” as a whole also have cosmic consequences as the “old earth” is literally passing away and is yet being renewed.

The Minor Prophets: An Exegetical and Expository CommentaryThe late Dr. Raymond Dillard, who served as Professor of O.T. at Westminster Theological Seminary (Philly), penned a great commentary on Joel that is included in the McComiskey edited work on the Minor Prophets. I have quoted extensively from it in my thesis research and thought the following couple quotes were quite bold coming from a Westminster prof:

Dillard (1992:295) encourages the modern church to consider the implications of being a “prophethood of believers” in addition to the Protestant emphasis of the “priesthood of believers”:

Protestant theology is accustomed to speaking of the “priesthood of all believers”; perhaps in light of Acts 2 and Joel 2:28-32, we must also speak of the “prophethood of all believers.” The coming of the Spirit at Pentecost inaugurated a new age, the age when Moses’ prayer is realized and all God’s people are endued with the Spirit of prophecy. The possession of the Spirit would never again be the restricted preserve of a few; all who call on the name of the Lord (2:32) now have the equipage and the obligation incumbent upon prophets to bear witness to their generation.

One would naturally inquire as to what this ought to look like in the New Testament church, and Dillard (1992:295) sounds much like modern Pentecostal/Charismatics when he states the following,

“This enduement with the Spirit of prophecy belongs to the general office of the church—rich and poor, young and old, male and female; the privilege of proclaiming God’s truth to a waiting world is not the province of the special office alone.”

I refer to myself as being Covenantal-Charismatic, in that I see Pentecost not merely as a foreshadowing (Dispensational), or as a complete fulfillment (Some Covenantal), but as an inauguration of a “new age” (to use Dillard’s terminology) that is not marked merely by a soteric working of the Spirit, as awesome as that is, but is also accompanied by a Charismatic enduement. Just as Dr. Doug Oss (a Westminster grad turned Assemblies of God seminary professor) argued for a Pentecostal understanding of the “new era” based primarily on the covenantal framework  (See Zondervan’s Counterpoint Volume) that he learned at Westminster, so I also contend for the clear unification of Covenantal and Charismatic theologies. I am encouraged that Dr. Dillard also enumerated some conclusions on Joel’s text that sounds awfully close to the Covenantal-Charismatic paradigm that I think deserves more attention.

Here is an excerpt from Piper’s sermon:

How to Receive the Gift of the Holy Spirit
April 29, 1984
Acts 2:32–42
Piper, J. (2007; 2007). Sermons from John Piper (1980-1989). Desiring God; Minneapolis, MN.

The fourth reason we should stress the experience of baptism in the Holy Spirit is that in Acts the apostles teach that it is a consequence of faith not a subconscious cause of faith. As a convinced Calvinist I believe with all my heart that the grace of God precedes and enables saving faith. We do not initiate our salvation by believing. God initiates it by enabling us to believe (Ephesians 2:8–9; 2 Timothy 2:25; John 1:13). But this regenerating work of God’s Spirit is not the limit of what Peter means by baptism in the Spirit. In Acts 11:15–17 Peter reports how the Holy Spirit fell on Cornelius just as on the disciples at Pentecost. “As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning. I remembered the word of the Lord, how he said, ‘John baptized in water, but you shall be baptized in the Holy Spirit.’ If then God gave the same gift to them as he gave to us, when we believed in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I should withstand God?” Notice that the gift of the Spirit, or baptism in the Spirit, is preceded by faith. The NASB correctly says in v. 17 that God gave the Holy Spirit after they believed. So the baptism of the Spirit (v. 16) or the receiving of the gift of the Spirit (v. 17) cannot be the same as the work of God before faith which enables faith (which Luke speaks of in 2:39; 5:31; 16:14; 11:18; 15:10; 14:27). The baptism in the Spirit is an experience of the Spirit given after faith to faith.

Piper later on in the sermon designates Water Baptism as a primary means to receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit:

Therefore, I invite you to experience the greatest thing in the world—Repent, trust Christ, open yourself to the power of his Spirit, be baptized in his name, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

He sounds very Sacramental, but in a balanced fashion. One must come in faith and obedience to receive that which God alone can do. I concur with Piper’s honest searching of what Peter means by the promise of the Holy Spirit in Acts 2:38. Peter earlier described the gift as that which is “seen” and “heard” in Acts 2:33. While Piper and I agree against classical Pentecostal doctrine that tongues is “the” initial physical evidence of this distinct work of the Spirit, we are both agreed that Spirit baptism is something that is experiential and will be made manifest.

My daughter Kira is being baptized this coming Lord’s Day and I, with Piper, anticipate a greater measure of the Spirit to be poured out upon her in the waters she will stand in. I am no traditional Baptist in this regard and adopt more of the Pentecostal Sacramentalism that I grew up, believe to be taught in Scripture, and is taught by Pastor Piper. I only mention Piper because it is so good to know that I’m not the alone “baptist” who sees a greater significance in Baptism as an ordinary means to a subsequent empowering work of the Spirit.

Here is an excerpt from another sermon of Piper’s that further clarifies his points just so you see that I am justly representing his theology:

Piper, J. (2007; 2007). You Will Be Baptized with the Holy Spirit, September 23, 1990

Paul says, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free.” The context shows that he is referring to a work of the sovereign Spirit who unites all believers to Christ. This is virtually the same as the work of conversion. When you are born again and put your faith in Christ, the Spirit of God unites you to Christ so that you are part of his body and a fellow-heir with him of eternal life.

I used to just assume that Paul and Luke were talking about the same thing when they used the word “baptism” and connected it to the Holy Spirit—in other words, that the baptism by the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:13 and the baptism with the Holy Spirit in Acts 2 were the same. Many very able scholars and teachers still make that connection. The view I am about to give you is not the only orthodox one, nor is it one you have to agree with in order to be a part of this fellowship. But it is one that I am increasingly persuaded is correct and desperately needed in the church.

Receiving Extraordinary Power for Ministry

We are trying to answer the question: What is the heart or essence of being baptized with the Holy Spirit? I have said that I do NOT think the essence is new birth or conversion or being united to the body of Christ. What then is it? And why do I not think it is the same as what Paul speaks of in 1 Corinthians 12:13?

I think the essence of being baptized with the Holy Spirit is when a person, who is already a believer, receives extraordinary spiritual power for Christ-exalting ministry. So let me try to show you the reasons why I think this is the heart of the matter.

Jesus’ Focus on Being Clothed with Power

First, let’s start back at Luke 24:49. Keep in mind as we turn there that in Acts 1:4 Jesus said, “He charged them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father,” namely, the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Now in Luke 24:49 Jesus says virtually the same thing. “And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but stay in the city, until you are clothed with power from on high.” What is important here is to see that what Jesus focuses on, of all the things he might focus on in the baptism with the Spirit, is being clothed with power. So that is the first pointer that the heart of this matter of baptism with the Holy Spirit is a matter of empowerment. He told them in Luke 24:47 that they are to preach to all the nations. And the point of verse 49 is we cannot do that with greatest success unless we are clothed with power from God—that is, unless we are baptized with the Holy Spirit. (more…)


Holman, Charles L.: Till Jesus Comes : Origins of Christian Apocalyptic Expectation. Peabody, Mass. : Hendrickson Publishers, 1996

For more information on Dr. Charles Holman, visit:

Holman comments on Joel 2-3 as follows:

Following material blessing, a deluge of the Spirit “on all flesh” is foreseen, answering to the downpour in verse 23 which replenished the earth and brought prosperity. This apparently introduces the truly eschatological era in which the day of Yahweh finally is to arrive. The fortunes of Judah are to be restored, the nations of earth judged, with Yahweh dwelling in Zion (2:28-3:21). Significant for our subject of expectation is the fact that at first the day of Yahweh is “near”, with signs in the cosmos (2:1-2, 10-11). Then, after Judah’s repentence, the day is seen both as no longer at hand (though anticipated), 2:26-32; 3:2, 18, but also as “near”, 3:14. There seems to be an ambivalence in imminent expectation after the great day is postponed following Judah’s repentance. Otherwise the hope remains the same as in other prophetic writings, though with distinctive profusion of the Spirit on “all flesh,” seen initially fulfilled in Acts on the day of Pentecost (Holman 1996:35).

That Pentecost fulfills Joel 2:28-32 is fairly clear, but what do we make of the antecedent in Joel of the agricultural blessing preceding the promise of the Spirit? Some would suggest that it isn’t an antecedent, but is actually fulfilled by means of the outpouring of the Spirit in verses 28-32 (Van Gemeren suggests such). Perhaps one shouldn’t look for dogmatic parallels to everything in Joel…or else one would wonder what the locusts symbolize within an eschatological framework. It does seem clear that Joel 3 explains events which will proceed following the outpouring of the Spirit in 2:28-32. It is also clear that Judah’s repentance postponed the impending “day of Yahweh”, which has been placed subsequent to a time of blessing. The fortunes change for Israel as they find eschatological salvation in the “name of the LORD” and it is now certain that Israel’s enemies will be judged in the future “day of Yahweh”, which is yet future.

The time of blessing has come through Christ and in His anointing His people on Pentecost. The “day of Yahweh” is indeed imminent, but it seems clear that some objectives need to be fulfilled before that day arrives, namely the mission of the church to all nations. Rather than sitting around and waiting for the day to come, we are instead to seek the expansion of God’s blessing in this era marked by eschatological salvation for all who call upon His name.

Homan comments on Luke’s eschatological paradigm:

We wish to attempt an explanation of why events before the end in the synoptic apocalypse are de-eschatologized by Luke, while encouragement is nevertheless given to anticipate the Parousia. In the way he presents the Jesus tradition we have observed Luke’s particular interest in warning against eschatological deception, including the nearness of the final time, his warning against a “this-worldly” lifestyle, and his warning of persecution and suffering. Also, in the way he presents the Jesus tradition, he urges watchfulness and prayerfulness (Homan 1996:130).

Eschatological piety is definitely distinct by reason of an imminent return. I think that this is the enduring message of Joel; that one should live their life ever mindful that the “day of Yahweh” is near. The people are called to wholehearted worship…and so also are we called to whole-hearted worship in the modern era.

Luke’s frequent detailing of Jewish rejection of the gospel in Luke-Acts, along with success of the Gentile mission, provides a divine reason for Jerusalem’s destruction. But at the same time it would raise eschatological problems in light of familiar apocalyptic tradition of the end as associated with the Jerusalem crisis (Holman 1996:130-131).

The end times are confirmed by the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD. The problems this creates is the postponement of the parousia some 2000 years beyond that event when it seemed intricately connected with it. Various forms of preterism seek greater fulfillment of apocalyptic fulfillment in the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD, while certain dispensationalists solve the problem by speaking of a future destruction of a temple in Jerusalem. I think the problem is solved by viewing the fall of Jerusalem in 70 AD as being an escalating sign of a “last days” paradigm that began with Jesus and escalated with Pentecost. There are ongoing calamities within redemptive history that should point to the impending “day of Yahweh”. Scripture attests to many signs of the “last days”, all of which have accompanied history up to the modern era. They should serve as perpetual reminders of God’s judgment upon sin and encourage all people to call upon the name of the Lord. (more…)

Carey, G. (2005). Ultimate Things: An Introduction to Jewish and Christian Apocalyptic Literature. St. Louis, MO: Chalice.

Commenting on Joel 2:28-32, Carey (2005:61) says:

…it proclaimed an eschatological age marked by prophetic and visionary activity…Peter recites part of the passage to interpret the manifestations of the Spirit at Pentecost (2:16-21). Likewise, Paul, who testifies to prophetic activity within the churches, interprets such dramatic signs of the Spirit among his congregations as demonstrations of their authentic religious experience (e.g., 1 Cor. 2:4-5; 4:20’ Gal. 3:2; 1 Thess. 1:5).

It is no small thing that Peter and Paul both share a common conviction that the presence of the eschatological charismatic Spirit was validation for the NT people of God. The presence of the Spirit was not only an objective reality, but was also a demonstrable reality, on in which both Peter and Paul refer to. The Qumran community was looking for a Messianic age that would be accompanied by the Holy Spirit as validation for their status as God’s people. Their expectations may have not been too far off from the testimony we have in Peter and Paul regarding the Holy Spirit’s presence in the Church.

Carey (2005:62) sees three major sections in the book of Joel:

By emphasizing what we might call Joel’s point of view with respect to the question of Zion’s salvation, we have identified three major movements: (1) an examination of the present calamity, with hope for future deliverance (1:1-2:17); (2) assurance that God’s salvation will emerge from pity for the people (2:18-27); and (3) eschatological confidence in Jerusalem’s final salvation (2:28-3:21).

I would concur with Carey and only add that the calamity may have been past, present, or even future. The salvation that was provided could have been a historical fact that Joel is reminiscing upon, a present reality, or yet future. The third and final section (2:28-3:21) is easier to pin down as the full testimony of Scripture would view this as eschatological in nature, however some still disagree as to what extent its fulfillment began on Pentecost or is yet future.

Another possibility is to view all three sections as a metaphorical “wisdom literature” of sorts. As such, the message speaks broadly to calamity, need for repentance, God’s promised blessing, and ultimate final deliverance. There is broad consensus among most commentators that the dating of Joel is uncertain. Even though, most all are agreed that the disadvantage is minimal and that the message of Joel has enduring applicable value to the people of God throughout the ages.

Carey (2005:63) makes mention of how Israel came to view their history within an eschatological framework, thus living in perpetual imminence of God’s coming deliverance and realizing their need for wholehearted repentance:

Joel interprets the present crisis as the eschatological tribulation. In that moment the prophet cries out for repentance, which (he is certain) will bring about Zion’s eschatological blessings….From the outset, Joel interprets the locust swarms as an eschatological crisis, a sing that “the day of the LORD” is at hand….[N]o layer of Joel is free from eschatological reflection…As apocalyptic discourse develops, we will observe a tendency to interpret a current challenge as marking the culmination of history….[A]pocalyptic discourse can adapt texts and even recollections of history to address continuing concerns in the life of a people.

We move ever closer to the climax and consummation of all thing. The Messianic age has commenced in Christ’s coming, the Spirit has been given, and the Gospel is to be preached to the ends of the earth.


Beale, G.K. (2002). The New Testament and New Creation. In Hafemann, S.J. (ed), Biblical Theology: Retrospect & Prospect. Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity.


 The phrase “latter days” occurs approximately twenty-seven times in the NT, and only sometimes does it refer exclusively to the very end of history as we typically think of it. The phrase “latter days” and its synonyms are used more often to describe the end times as beginning already in the first century (Beale 2002:160).

 One would hardly imagine that the consensus of NT eschatology is that we are in the last days right now. The emergence of dispensational eschatology has placed most eschatological expectations into the future, whereas a full preterist would view the last days as already having been fulfilled. The consensus of the NT is somewhere in-between.

 …in the NT, the end days predicted by the OT are seen as beginning to be fulfilled with Christ’s first coming. This means that the OT prophecies of God’s deliverance of Israel from oppressors, God’s rule over the Gentiles and the establishment of his kingdom have been set in motion by Christ’s death and resurrection and the formation of the church. On the other hand, the persecution of Jesus and the church indicated the beginning of the final tribulation. What the OT did not foresee so clearly was the ironic reality that the kingdom and the tribulation would coexist at the same time…Therefore, the latter days do not take place only at some point in the future but occur throughout the whole church age, right up to the present (Beale 2002:160-161).

This tension and mystery is great indeed, that God’s deliverance of Israel and rule over the Gentiles in a new kingdom would converge through Christ, who makes Abraham the father of the faithful, who are the truly constituted Israel, consisting of Gentiles. It is indeed ironic that God would be at work in advancing a kingdom, subduing enemies, and at the same time subject His people to persecution. God will vindicate His people perfectly and finally in the second advent of Christ, whereby all of God’s enemies will be made His footstool.

The first time the actual wording “last days” appears in the NT canon is Acts 2:17. Here Peter understands that the tongues being spoken at Pentecost are a beginning fulfillment of Joel’s end-time prophecy that a day would come when God’s Spirit would gift not merely prophets, priests and kings but all of God’s people (Beale 2002:161).

The implications of Pentecost within the plot of redemptive history can’t be stressed enough. When Peter is asked from the inquiring crowd what is taking place in the manifestation of the Spirit upon the disciples of the ascended Christ, his response ushers in an eschatological framework that is evident throughout the rest of the NT. Peter is careful to root the Pentecostal experience in the promise motif of the OT by quoting Joel and declaring that this promise is indeed being fulfilled through the outpoured Spirit from a Davidic King that reigns in heaven. The “charismatic” indwelling of the Spirit is inextricably linked with the “latter days” in that it serves as the primary characteristic of eschatological Israel and actually empowers this eschatological Israel to advance the kingdom of God to all of the nations.

The outpouring of the Spirit was therefore a “missional” empowering of a renewed Israel that would be successful in her witness to God’s glory, in stark contrast to the failures of Israel as God’s witness in the former Israel. (more…)

This isn’t a review per se, but rather some of my thoughts on a single citation from Turner’s volume.

Turner, M. (1998) The Holy Spirit and Spiritual Gifts in the New Testament and Today. Hendrickson: Peabody, MA.

The nature of the gift of the Spirit which Peter promises to all who call on the name of the Lord (Acts 2:38,39)- even to the hearers’ children’s children- is a Christianized version of Joel’s promise of the ‘Spirit of prophecy’. Prototypical to thus are gifts of revelation, wisdom, prophecy and charismatic praise. It would quite literally be nonsense to suggest the writer of Luke-Acts anticipated the cessation of these: if indeed they ceased, such a state of affairs could only have come as a considerable surprise to him. It would inevitably have seemed like a failure at the very heart of what Joel’s promise of the Spirit was all about (Turner 1998:298).

For those who advocate a cessationist position, it hardly seems plausible that Peter had in mind that the promises of Joel would only be fulfilled for his lifetime. Some would contend that Peter did not view Pentecost as the fulfillment of Joel’s promise and the initiating of the last days, but rather a foretaste of what God will do in some future millennial period with ethnic Israel. This seems very unlikely considering that Peter extends the very promise evidenced in Pentecost to the audience, their children, and those who were afar off, everyone that the Lord should call. The promise was rooted in Joel and extended to all. One could neither say that Peter had in mind a soteriological work of the Spirit that would be devoid of the promised manifestations in Joel, which would apparently cease after the death of he and his Apostolic colleagues (as is popularly espoused by cessationist theologians).