Only Four Days into the New Year and the Dead Horse Is Beaten


'Pentecost' by Joseph Ignaz Mildorfer After 2005’s year of chaotic Scripture study, I thought I’d go left-brained and run through the M’Cheyne Bible reading plan for 2006. While I didn’t expect an immediate revelation from a more orderly approach to the Bible this year, the Holy Spirit still revealed an insight in January 2nd’s reading of Acts 2 that caught me by surprise.

Ah, Acts 2. Pentecost. With my noggin still filled with visions of late 2005’s tenuously friendly Godblogosphere discussion of the cessation or continuation of the charismatic gifts, I was nonetheless struck by Peter’s quoting of Joel:

But Peter, standing with the eleven, lifted up his voice and addressed them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and give ear to my words. For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel:

‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy. And I will show wonders in the heavens above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and vapor of smoke; the sun shall be turned to darkness and the moon to blood, before the day of the Lord comes, the great and magnificent day. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.'”
—Acts 2:14-21 ESV

What Peter chooses to include here is telling. Typically, when the OT is quoted in the NT, the NT writer distills the OT passage down to its barest essential quote. But in the case with Peter at Pentecost, rather than stop at the Last Days uttering of prophetic words and visions, he includes Joel’s revelation of the Day of the Lord, then closes with calling on the name of the Lord for salvation.

I contend that Peter’s inclusion of the Day of the Lord section lends credence to a continuing of the gifts. The time period Peter gives in his Joel quote sets the stage for the charismata from the day of Pentecost to the Day of the Lord. If the charismata that Peter is attempting to explain expired (as cessationists believe) with the passing of the apostles or with the closing of the canon, neither of those two events—even by cessationist accounts—corresponds to the Day of the Lord. Even if one reads this with Preterist glasses, the apostle John lived thirty years past the fall of Jerusalem.

I found this intriguing. I hope you will, too.

9 thoughts on “Only Four Days into the New Year and the Dead Horse Is Beaten

  1. Ray

    Interesting thought — Of course now I will have to go and do some research, but your premise is intriguing…. 🙂

    Although I have never commented here, I do usually stop by once a day or so and check it out…

    I have enjoyed your blog so far…

  2. Steve

    Thank you for pointing this out. I have had similar thoughts with regard to that Acts 2 passage, and it is nice to see someone else say it, too.

    Just found your blog through your comment on a thread at Challies Dot Com in which I have also been participating.

    I think I have seen you mentioned by some of the other blogs I regularly read, but this is my first visit. You are now officially part of my bloglines subscription!

    God bless,
    steve 🙂

  3. Also, the “and they shall prophesy” phrase is added. This shows Peter’s emphasis or interetation of what is going on here. Everyone will have the spirit and will prophecy. That is the gist of it. So what is a prophet and what it means to be like Moses (which i think they are refering too – Joel and Peter) is the issue. I like the idea of a prophet as a friend of God like Abraham.

  4. You make a very good point, Dan, although I am doubtful it will cause any sort of stampede among cessationists towards the Land of “Hey-I-am-possibly-wrong-about-the-charismatic-gifts-ceasing-when-the-John-the-Beloved-kicked-the-bucket-and-maybe-just-maybe-speaking-in-tongues-isn’t-the-giggleting-hysteria-or-worse-that-I-always-thought-it-was”.

    See, I don’t always criticize what you’re saying. I simply thought the “right/left brain” metaphor, used earlier, has worn itself out from overuse by everybody and his uncle.

    (Now on a different note, I wonder if one of the reasons why cessationists fear admitting the continuation of the gifts is because to do so might force them to reconsider that some of the gifts were working, here and there, back in the bad old Catholic Church, back in those dreary, dark days from 313 to 1517 A.D. The reason why I wonder about this is from reading the autobiography of St. Teresa of Avila, who experienced some rather remarkable things.)

    By the way, who is the painting by?

  5. Anonymous

    One of the things that I’ve thought about in connection with the passage Peter quotes is the one about the Spirit being poured out on all flesh. There really are only a few possible meanings:

    * The Spirit is, and has been since the first Pentecost post-crucifixion, poured out on all flesh.

    * The outpouring of the Holy Spirit at that first Pentecost post-crucifixion is LIKE what will happen “in those days.”

    However, Peter is pretty clear: “This is what was prophesied by the prophet Joel.”

    Now, we can go around and around about the meaning of “is” – don’t you love theology? Some of its practicioners are every bit as bad as ex-Pres Clinton in terms of weasel-wording their way around things – but if we take it at face value, we’re left with only one of those two meanings – the first. And if that’s true… well… there are some interesting inferences we can draw. Like, oh, that God has poured out the Holy Spirit on ALL flesh, not just some of us? I’m not sure what that kind of a theology looks like!

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