Foundational Theology: Theology of Promise

James Strauss, Professor Theology and Philosophy

Lincoln Christian Seminary


Theology of Promise and the Holy Spirit (Joel 2.28-32 and Acts 2.16-21)


Sub-themes: Dwelling and Presence of God


1.     Theology of the land of Israel (Berkhof, Christ: The Meaning of History, 1966, pp.134-179.)

2.     Present participation of the Church in the New Covenant made with a future national Israel

(one new or. two new covenants, i.e. for national Israel of The Church or

3.     Peter’s interpretation of Joel 2.28-32 in Acts 2

4.     Pentecost/Church - fulfillment or illustration?

5.     Did Joel intend the scope of his prophecy should include Gentiles as well as Jews?

6.     At what time did Joel believe that his prophecy would be accomplished’?

7.     What would be the results of the outpouring of The-Holy Spirit?

8.     Were all the events in Joel 2.28-32 to be literal/ fulfilled or were some to be realized


The Study of Prophecy! Prediction and Fulfillment’


A.   Hermeneutical Procedure for The


          1.     Question of time between prediction &

2.     Was the prophet aware of a time lapse between his ultimate hope and his present


3.     Did the human authors of God’s revelation understand less than what they wrote?

4.     Or were they aware only of the immediate application of their words?

5. Did they realize the relationship of the Messianic or eschatological significance of their

words about the future?

          6.     Did their prophecies receive partial, complete, double,, or continuous fulfillment?


B.    Prophetic Foretelling: Generic Predictions (Beecher, Prophets and the Promise (Baker, 1975),

esp. p. 1307


1. The Day of The Lord - Obad 14; Joel 1.15; 2.1; Isa 13.6; Zeph 1.7,14; Ezek _. These

same Prophets who speak of ‘The Day of The Lord’ span four centuries (JT Bourke, “Le

Jour de Yahve’ dans Joel,” RB 66 (1959):5-31; ,191-212; My Theology of the Old

Testament - on reserve Prophets’ meaning and understanding - I Pet 1.10-12


C.    Hermeneutical Significance of Joel - 2.28-32 (Heb 3.1-5)


(Compare older and more recent articles from Dispensational perspective -Bibliotheca Sacra and Moody Press, esp. Ryrie, Unger, Feinberg, Price and Walvoord)


1.     Not fulfilled in Acts 2

2.     Illustrative only

3.     Fulfilled but not exhaustively —

4.     Is Peter’s use primarily homiletical and not hermeneutical? (Compare Jer 31.31- 34 in

          Hebrews) House of Israel/House of Judah/Church - including Gentiles - Rom 11.27 …

5.     Peter’s introductory formula and fulfillment logic. Why is it that ‘this is that’ cannot mean

that the events of Acts 2 is fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy? There is no formula either in

Acts or consistently used elsewhere.

6.     Can it be argued that Joel’s prophecy cannot be fulfilled “until Israel is restored to her

land, converted and enjoying the presence of the Lord in her midst” (Joel 2.26-28)

7.     The same logic applies to New Covenant’ana its application to the Church including


8.     Pentecost outpouring and foretaste of God’s ultimate dwelling/presence in His Holy Spirit.


D. Literary Structure of Joel:


1.     Joel 2.18 - as pivot verse. Prior to it Joel had called Israel to repentance twice - 1.13,1^;

2.12-17. Healing and blessing only via repentance.

2.     Joel 2.18 must be understood in the past tense

a.     vs. 28 - we haya - that the Lord ‘was jealous’

b.    vs. 30 - we natatti - that the Lord ‘had pity’

c.     vs. 32 - we haya - that the Lord ‘answered and said’ surely the people did repent (see

Allen, Book o£ Joel (Eerdmans, 1976; Woff, Joel and Amos (Fortress, 1977) Note KJV,

NIV failure to translate waw - conversive with the imperfect tense of the verb as a

narrative past tense and they are in error.

          3.     The Hebrew verbs express the reason why 2.19-27 gave the immediate and temporal

effects of this repentance while 2.28-32 went on to list the distant future and more spiritual

results of God’s response to the people’s repentance.

4.   Shape of Joel 2.28-32 - Each of the three sections of this prophecy begin with a converted perfect tense (the three sections (vss 28-29, 30-31, and 32). Verses 28a and 29b both begin and end the section with “I will pour out my Spirit” while vs. 32 begins and ends with “who call on the name of the Lord” and “whom the Lord calls.” Two of the three sections conclude with a reference to “in those days” (2.29) or “before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes” 2.31. The exegetical problem is the Temporal Relationship between these three parts.

5.   Internal/External Context of these vss. 28-32. Joel intended to show that the promises of vss 28-32 would come after those immediate and material blessings promised in vss 19-27. The central term in vss 19-27 is found in vs 23 “in the first (bari’ son - acts of blessing) blessing. The second act would come “afterward or after this”. But the text does not say how long after the first act. Thus the text sets apart two distinct blessings and refrains from telling us the time that would intervene between the two blessings. For Peter (Acts 2) the event inaugurated the last days and was itself part and parcel of the final consummation.

6.     Outpouring of God’s Spirit (word used here is sapak) F. F. Bruce, “Holy Spirit in Qumran

Texts” ALUOS (Leiden: Brill, 1969) esp. p. 53)

a.     Distinctiveness of this outpouring

b.    Identity of “all flesh” (Baumgartner’s Lexicon - kol basar - appears 32 times in the OT

 outside of Joel - see A. R. Hulst, “Kol basar. . .” Studies in The Book of Genesis OTS

12 (1958):47-49; “All Flesh” must not be restricted to Israel.

c.     Results of this outpouring (see Eph 2.8; Jn 3.10; 14.17,23; 7.37-39; 14.16,25,26; 15.26,

27; 16.7-11; 12-15; Acts 1.4-8; 11.15-17; 15.8; II Cor 4.13; Ps 116.10

d.    Had the Holy Spirit been given or not?

e.     Was Pentecost necessary or not?

f.     The Cross is linked to Pentecost as Crucifixion is linked to Passover (see my Roots of

Renewal - 3 tapes in the Media Center - LCC

g.    Joel’s use of ‘and even’ - we gam was changed by LXX to “my servants” and “my

handmaids” but the NT says only menservants and maidservants.

h. NT use invites the Goiim to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit - Acts 2.38. (B.R. Gaventa disagrees with Conzelmann in her “Eschatology of Luke/Acts Revisited” in Encounter 43 (1982):27-42). The reason is clear - the promise was for Israel and for “all those who are afar off” (pasin tois eis makron -Acts 2.39; Eph 2.17; Isa 57.19 (H. Preisker “makran” TDNT 4 (1967): 373-374)


Acts 10.45 is conclusive by showing God’s intention that the gift of the Holy Spirit would also be “poured out even on the Gentiles.” (For survey on the Spirit in Luke/Acts see M. M. B. Turner, “Significance of Receiving the Spirit in Luke/Acts” Trinity Journal_2 (1981): 131-58}


E.    Joel Startled His Audience: Numbers 11.29 (compare results of Holy Spirit in Joel 2.28ff and

Jer 31.31-34 “New Covenant”)


1.     OT egs of categories - Ex 31.2,3; Jud 1-5; II Kgs 22.14; Moses was ca 120 yrs old when he

wrote Deuteronomy; young men - Jer 1.6; Dan; I Sam 19.20-23

2.     Results beyond Pentecost, Samaria, Caesarea

3.     Miracles beyond Joel 2

4.     Holy Spirit - blessing of New Covenant

5.     Holy Spirit and David - Ps 51.11

6.     Spirit and Regeneration/New Birth/Sanctification

7.     Holy Spirit and The Body of Christ (Unity of - I Cor 12-14; Gal 5.!6ff) see my The Spirit

of God - on reserve

8.     The Spirit of Restoration in OT/NT

9.     Perspectives on Continuity and Discontinuity (Wm. A. Van Gemeren, The Progress of

Redemption (Eerdmans, 1988); J. S. Feinberg, ed., Continuity and Discontinuity

(Westchester: Crossway, 1988)

10.The Spirit and The Promise: Blessing/Presence

G. W. H. Lampe, God As Spirit, Bampton Lectures, 1976 (Oxford, 1977)