What does it mean in Acts 2:17 and Joel 2:28 that 'young men will have dreams and old men will have visions?'


Joel 2:28

ESV - 28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions.

Clarify Share Report Asked August 31 2015 Mini Dianne Joubert

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Mini Tim Maas Retired Quality Assurance Specialist with the U.S. Army
Peter cited this verse in Acts 2:16, during his address to the people at Pentecost (following Jesus' ascension ten days earlier), as a prophecy that was being fulfilled by the presence of the Holy Spirit. 

There is no corresponding specific mention in the book of Acts of the granting of visions and dreams at that time (although the Holy Spirit did provide the apostles with the ability to speak in other languages). But the passage from Joel was referring to the fact that the presence of God (including such gifts as prophecy, visions, and dreams) was no longer to be confined to a priestly class, or to a single chosen nation.

Instead, God's Spirit was now being poured out, or made available, to everyone (all flesh), regardless of such considerations as age or gender, through the preaching of the gospel, and through faith in Christ as the means that God had provided for all humanity to obtain eternal life.

September 01 2015 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

Mini John Appelt
To answer this question both passages must be examined. Peter cited Joel 2:28-32 in his sermon on Pentecost, Acts 2:14-21. Many commentators have attempted to show how Joel’s passage was fulfilled in Acts, but no prophecy was actually fulfilled. 

When Peter spoke in Acts 2:14-21, it came on the heels of the amazing event at Pentecost during which divided tongues rested on each person gathered there, and they all spoke in different languages, Acts 2:1-11. The people were amazed and perplexed, Acts 2:12, but some mocked, saying that the men were drunk. Peter insisted they were not drunk as it was only nine o’clock in the morning, Acts 2:13-15. Then, Peter referred to the words of Joel. 

The passage Joel wrote, was part of the word of the Lord that came to him, Joel 1:1. A careful analysis of the words of the Lord here, shows that this takes place in “the last days,” as Peter describes it, Acts 2:17, signifying the tribulation, Jeremiah 30:24. The spiritual blessings come after Israel’s physical restoration, Joel 2:21-27, and before the celestial signs before the second coming of the Lord, Joel 2:30-32. The amazing thing is that certain classes of people who had not prophesied would do so.

However, nothing that Joel recorded even corresponds with anything that happened on Pentecost. Joel’s words about young men seeing visions and old men dreaming dreams were not realized at all during Pentecost or even afterwards. For that matter, the wonders in heaven, signs in the earth, the sun darkening and the moon becoming blood, etc., did not happen then. 

Furthermore, Peter did not say that what Joel said was being fulfilled. The wording instead is, “this is what was spoken…” or “this is that…” This was language of similarity, as if to say, “This is like…” At times, New Testament writers took verses from the Old Testament for comparison. For example, Matthew 2:17-18 cites Jeremiah 31:15. There was nothing in common except mother(s) weeping for their children. The historical account by Jeremiah illustrated something in the life of Christ which Matthew noted and inserted in his record.

In like manner, Peter’s use of Joel’s prophecy was to cite the similarity of the future outpouring of the Spirit to the working of the Spirit upon the people in Acts. According to Joel, the Spirit will work in the last days with widespread extraordinary and miraculous gifts of communication. In Acts at Pentecost, the Spirit worked in the gift of tongues, another extraordinary and miraculous gift of communication. The difference is that Joel speaks of all Israel, while Acts sees it happening with a fraction of the people. 

Peter was not saying Joel was fulfilled, but that there is a striking illustration of the Spirit’s working, contrary to the accusation of people being drunk so early in the day. The only comparison of these two passages is how the Spirit works, producing an unusual manifestation.

June 06 2023 0 responses Vote Up Share Report

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