Online Bible Commentary
They Shall Prophesy
Acts 2:13 Others mocking said, "They are full of new wine." 14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, "Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 'And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord. 21 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the Lord Shall be saved.' (NKJV)
It is the Day of Pentecost. The disciples have just been indwelled by the Holy Spirit, the power from on high that Jesus had promised to send upon His ascension to Heaven ten days ago.
Empowered by the Holy Spirit the disciples are preaching the Gospel to the multitudes of Jews who have gathered in Jerusalem from all over the known world to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost. The crowds are amazed that these disciples from Galilee are speaking in every dialect in the world so that they all can understand the message.
But then, as always, doubters in the crowd, mockers, attempt to force a worldly explanation of a spiritual event. They accuse the disciples of being drunk (v. 13). Those who do not accept the things of God are always ready to explain away spiritual events with worldly reasoning. They can not accept spiritual things so they do not want anyone else to accept them. Jesus had to deal with his doubting Thomas, and sadly we must continue to deal with the doubting Thomases of today.
Peter, taking the leadership role, stood up to the doubters (v. 14). The disciples were not drunk, for who would be drinking at nine o’clock in the morning, especially on a feast day, a holy day (v. 15). Instead, they were fulfilling Scripture from the prophet Joel (v. 16).
Peter then cites the passage from Joel 2:28-32 (vv. 17-21). He begins with referring to “the last days” (v. 17a), the church age, which has now begun with the Day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit indwelled the disciples on this day and every Christian since. The Day of Pentecost marks the beginning of the church age, which will last until the second coming of Christ.
This pouring out of God’s Spirit upon believers empowers them to “prophesy” (v. 17b). “Young men shall see visions…old men shall dream dreams” (v. 17c). The Holy Spirit speaks to us through visions and dreams. God will “pour out” His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, upon those who serve Him, Christians, during the church age “and they shall prophesy” (v. 18).
The coming of Jesus marked the end of the prophets. The “prophesy” that Joel writes of is the effect that the Holy Spirit has on believers. They are informed by God of the things of God, both now and in the future. The Holy Spirit helps us to understand those things because He helps us to understand the Bible. He then empowers us to “prophesy” the things of God to others.
Then the church age will end with the second coming of the Lord. The Lord will come with “wonders” and “signs”, such as “blood and fire and vapor of smoke” (v. 19). The sun shall turn black and the moon like “blood” (v. 20a and Rev. 6:12). The time is the “day of the Lord”, the second coming of Christ (v. 20b). But “whoever calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved” from the wrath of God (v. 21).
So Peter has answered the doubters with Scripture. That is always the best answer. The more we know of the Bible the better we are able to defend our faith. Our faith is our shield against the doubters of the world.
The Holy Spirit helps us to understand the Bible and empowers us to “prophesy”, to explain the things of God, to those same doubters. In that way, we Christians “shall prophecy.”