Peter quoted Joel 2:28-32 as being fulfilled in the events recounted in Acts chapter 2. Therefore as the apostle had stated that the Holy Spirit was poured out on all flesh, and also upon the servants of God beginning that day — that is exactly what took place. This is what is stated in the word of God.
The central question to understanding this is in identifying what is meant by “all flesh?”
First, we took this topic up in the last essay and listed scriptural proof of the conclusion that all flesh was specific and meant anyone whether Jew or non-Jew — everyone could come to know Jesus and could hear the “good news” and would be able to partake from the fountain of living waters.
I will note again that two distinct portions of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit were to be accomplished beginning that day: the one upon all flesh, and a second on the servants of God. The conjunction “and” indicates complementing phrases where more than one condition must be met, upheld or conjoined with another. In logic “and” is additive — both conditions must be met for the output to be true.
The two parts then make up the whole. As noted, Peter said these events began to be fulfilled on the day of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2. Peter then meant that both events started moving towards their designed end beginning the same day.
Second, upon the initiation of this first listed portion of the pouring out of the Holy Spirit upon “all flesh,” and as a consequence of it, both the prophet and Peter stated, “your sons and your daughters shall prophesy and your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.” Therefore, this would be the signpost by which this particular pouring out of the Spirit might be identified. The sign for the second portion that day was similarly given in that Peter stated the servants of God “would prophesy.” Both were intertwined. That such signs began to be manifested that same day is beyond any reasonable argument.
Another question comes to mind now — is such phenomena exhibited by Christians today or has it been at any other time in the past?
The rules of composition and dialogue enforce that Peter stated that the beginning fulfillment of this prophesy was happening right before the eyes of the gathered multitude on that Pentecost, as he was speaking directly to them and of them. He said, “This is that which you both now see and hear.” As pronouns must agree with the nouns for which they stand in gender, number and person, then the persons indicated by these second person pronouns in that phrase and also in the phrases “your sons… and your daughters… your old men… and your young men…” were witness to the events as they began to unfold at that moment. They were present before the speaker when this was stated. Peter used the prophecy of Joel as a current event and addressed the audience as the first participants and witnesses to the fulfillment.
Therefore the events were beginning to unfold before their eyes. When you unfold a flag is every fold and detail all immediately visible? No. Nor was this meant to be instantaneously fulfilled, but the fulfilling of the prophecy started then and there and did comprise that multitude and their contemporaries and the part would in time grow to include the whole: all flesh — all forms human, whether “Jew or Greek, slave or free.” It began to be poured out, not dumped – and it was fulfilled in stages or courses just as the scriptures example. It did not take 2,000 plus years to accomplish the unfolding of the fabric either, for the scriptures state plainly that all that was to be accomplished by God was performed by the time the record of those monumental events was concluded, by the time the ink had dried upon the parchments. That roughly coincided with the end of the Jewish dispensation and was all concluded no later than by the turn of the first century AD.
The remarks were then not directed far off into the future, although those too naturally come under the efficacy of its fulfillment. Peter was not talking directly about us and he was not talking directly to us. That all flesh meant those that previously had no path to come under the promises and covenants of God could now, or would soon be able to come was the intent. That we today have this gift is also beyond dispute.
The unfolding was to be accompanied with signs and wonders and so it started that day and it continued until the fabric of the whole was visible and the banner of salvation was shining brightly across the parapets of both heaven and earth. The events were set to move onward to their stated conclusion from their collective start that morning.
As I just noted, these mentioned signs were in fact exhibited by those from that day and time for the record of the book of Acts of the Apostles is replete with examples. And that also started that very day with the twelve apostles.
Some would say that these wonders are still being worked and that the presence of the Holy Spirit in this form is still around today, even though that would violate both the record of scripture and simple common sense. It also violates the mentioned universal rules of exposition and composition I just noted and upon which the text is constructed. These things apply for any known language and that certainly includes Greek. The persons that hang on bad theories have not studied in sufficient detail. They simply do not identify the particulars correctly. Yet some would state that similar signs are being performed under the guidance of the Holy Spirit right now, just as they have been throughout all history since the death of the Lord. However, there is no evidence from scripture or anywhere else to support them.
I will not entertain a discussion of such things in these essays for they serve as nothing more than a distraction, as an emotional crutch for the unstudied and unstable rather than as the clear voice of scripture or of scriptural examples and evidence.
As the things done in the time of Christ and his apostles and disciples were “not done in a closet” but were at all times subject to view and scrutiny, to identification, verification and discussion by critic and follower alike, I will note that has not been the case with these other supposed incidents since that time. There are as many tales and stories as there are charlatans, pretenders and fakers that would like you and me to believe in and follow after them. The end purpose of this type of emotional shenanigan does not lie in doing God’s will, or in the hope of healing or even speaking as the mouthpiece of God. Rather it has at its center an altogether different purpose — that the gullible subject may be soon parted from his or her wallet. Yet, even with that, the record of the actual events listed in scripture stands as it is. And it is to the Word of God that we should pay heed.
I have acquaintances who have stated fervently that they believe in such things, that they personally know of such events, or that they have participated in healings, heard of raising the dead, have seen broken limbs mended, heard those speaking with “the tongues of angels,” and the like. I suggest to them that there are many things that occupy our wandering or empty thoughts, serving to cloud our faculties over with a considerable mist, but the source and evidence for those things is harder to identify than true love.
On one occasion I issued the challenge authored by J. D. Tant to a brother who boldly asserted to me that his pastor could raise the dead. I said, as Tant had suggested, that we ought to get together to raise some souls back to life just to prove everything that his teacher said was true. He agreed that this might be done. I suggested that we should go to the morgue to exclude any possibility for chicanery and that if the pastor would agree we would together raise a full dozen. I stated that if he would only agree to raise the first gone soul then I would raise the next eleven. No one took preacher Tant up on his offer, these men did not take me up on it, and if you use the same tact, no one will take you up on it either. It is not accidental that so-called speaking in tongues is the touted evidence of our day and the miracle de jour.