1. "This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel." there is nothing in the words to tell us what is "this" and what is "that". The word "this" is emphatic and the word "But", with which Peter's argument begins, sets what follows in contrast. This shows that the quotation was used to rebut the charge of drunkenness (v. 13)
So far from these signs and wonders being a proof that "these men" were drunken, "this", said the apostle is "that" (same kind of thing) which Joel prophesied would take place "in the last days". Peter does not say these were the last days, but this (that follows) is what Joel says of those days. He does not say "then was fulfilled", nor "as it is written", but merely calls attention to what the prophet said of similar scenes yet future.
Therefore to understand what Peter really meant by "this is that", we must turn to the prophecy of Joel. And in order to understand that prophecy, we must see exactly what it is about.
Is it about the Christian Dispensation?
The Dispensation of judgment which is to follow it? or
Is it about the Jew and the Gentile? or
Is it about the church of God?
"And (He) will be merciful unto His Land and to His People."
So Joel 2.18 begins:
"Then will Jehovah be jealous for His Land, and pity His People."
"THIS", therefore is "THAT". It is the subject-matter
and remote context of Acts 2:16. It concerns Jehovah's Land and Jehovah's
People, and has consequently nothing to do with the church of this Dispensation.
Peter calls "the house of Israel" (v. 36) to the very repentance
spoken of in the call to repentance of Joel (1:14 - 2:17; see A,
Structure, p. 1224).
The Structure (p. 1227) shows us that the whole subject of 2:18 - 3:21 is, --evil removed from the Land and the People, and blessing bestowed on both; and these are set forth alternately. In 2:28, 29 we have spiritual blessings connected with the temporal of the previous verses, introduced thus:
"And it shall come to pass AFTERWARD, that I will pour out My spirit upon all flesh," &c.
After what? The answer is AFTER the temporal blessings of vv.
23-27. It is important to note that the temporal precede the spiritual
blessings. The holy spirit was not poured out on all flesh at Pentecost:
only on some of those present. None of the great signs in the heavens
and on the earth had been shown. No deliverance took place in Jerusalem:
both Land and People were still under the Roman yoke.
(a) There can be no mistake
about the meaning of Joel's word "afterward". It is not the simple
Heb. word 'ahar = after (cp. Gen. 5:4, &c.).
(b) It is therefore certain that the word "this" in Acts 2:16 refers to what follows, and not to what
precedes; to the future events predicted by Joel, and not to those then taking place in
(c) As Joel speaks of no gift of tongues, "this" cannot refer to these Pentecostal tongues, the
outstanding cause of all the wonder and excitement.
(d) None of the things detailed in vv. 17, 19 came to pass. "This" therefore could not be the
fulfillment of Joel's prediction, as the "pouring out" was only on the apostles and those
associated with them.