The apostle Peter addressed the crowd for the first time after the Holy Spirit had come down on the apostles and the disciples on the day of the Pentecost.
The crowd was amazed as they had heard them speaking in languages that they could understand. They knew they were Galileans but the crowd as made up of people from all over the region, including Parthians, Medes, Elamites.
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The quotation followed after a clarification from Peter that they were not drunk, instead they were speaking in tongues because of the pouring of the Holy Spirit. They were also prophesying in the Spirit. Prophecy was something that was prominent in Christianity and it was highlighted in the New Testament Christianity.
The verses showed a relationship with how the Christians was conscious with the spirit of prophecy and how it had returned to them as community (Perrin 62). The importance they had attached it was evident in this speech that was a passage understood to be about the end of time as it was being fulfilled among them.
Historically, the book of Joel was grouped with pre-exilic prophets such as Amos and Micah. But there was little data to pinpoint the exact period by which it was written. If it was a plague of locusts, there was no data available for it. On the other hand, if locusts stood for an army invasion, there was little clue as to which threat it was (Barton 15).
The entire book of Joel was seen to have no immediate relevance to anyone but had messages of how God would pour out spirit on all flesh as fulfilled in the book of Acts (Barton 3).
Joel 2:28-32 was written in a context wherein there was an emphasis that not every one could benefit from the new order that was to come, not even everyone in Israel but only call on the name of the Lord (Barton 7).
The previous passages before this verse represented Joel’s plea for the people to render their hearts to the Lord because of who God is. It was followed by how the Lord called His people to come back into His care.
The general flow of the story started with presenting the dire state of the nation by which they need to proclaim a public lamentation (Barton 14). Following this lament, there were God’s promises for restoration as well as a glorious future.
Difference in Meaning
The quotation in the New Testament also referred to the gift of the Spirit that was connected to the prediction Joel had made about how it would be given to mark the last days. In Joel’s time, the reference to the last days was not used. It was inserted precisely because it was the Apostolic Church and it was an eschatological event that took place (Filson 72).
(Filson 72). There were significant additions and changes that Peter had made in his speech that quoted the prophet Joel. The quotation was opened up with “In the last days, God says” (Acts 17) as well as “they shall prophesy (Acts 18) that was not originally seen in the Old Testament passage (Perrin & Duling 62).
However small the additions to the verses were, they provided for a deeper meaning and significance especially in the context by which it was pronounced in the New Testament.
The prophet prophesied of the days of the Lord, something that was still connected to the restoration that God would bring from the period of lamentation and strife in the country. It was interpreted in the New Testament to be the start of the fulfillment of the prophecy for the last days.
While in the book of Joel, there was only one set of signs that indicated the coming of the “day of the Lord,” the book of Acts showed two sets of signs that referred to the “sky above” and the “earth beneath” (Perrin & Duling 62).
This referred to the differences in the time period. The signs of the sky above were about the signs that were outstanding and were still waiting to be fulfilled.
On the other hand, the signs of the earth below referred to the coming of Jesus and how he fulfilled this prophecy that pointed to the signs of the last days (Perrin & Duling 62).
The additions were also significant in how the people saw themselves and characterized themselves as a community.
While in the context in the book of Joel referred to these signs to be the immediate experience and imminent expectation, the New Testament interpretation also referred to the Christian’s conviction of being the End Time community wherein they were experiencing the first act of the divine drama that would shortly be followed by the second coming of Christ (Perrin & Duling 62).
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