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An Outpouring of the Spirit

28 (3:1)[a] After all of this[b]
I will pour out my Spirit[c] on all kinds of people.[d]
Your sons and daughters will prophesy.
Your elderly will have prophetic dreams;[e]
your young men will see visions.
29 Even on male and female servants
I will pour out my Spirit in those days.
30 I will produce portents both in the sky[f] and on the earth—
blood, fire, and columns of smoke.
31 The sunlight will be turned to darkness
and the moon to the color of blood,[g]
before the day of the Lord comes—
that great and terrible day!
32 It will so happen that
everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be delivered.[h]
For on Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there will be those who survive,[i]
just as the Lord has promised;
the remnant[j] will be those whom the Lord will call.[k]

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  1. Joel 2:28 sn Beginning with 2:28, the verse numbers through 3:21 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 2:28 ET = 3:1 HT, 2:29 ET = 3:2 HT, 2:30 ET = 3:3 HT, 2:31 ET = 3:4 HT, 2:32 ET = 3:5 HT, 3:1 ET = 4:1 HT, etc., through 3:21 ET = 4:21 HT. Thus Joel in the Hebrew Bible has 4 chapters, the 5 verses of ch. 3 being included at the end of ch. 2 in the English Bible.
  2. Joel 2:28 tn Heb “Now it will be after this.”
  3. Joel 2:28 sn This passage plays a key role in the apostolic explanation of the coming of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost recorded in Acts 2:17-21. Peter introduces his quotation of this passage with “this is that spoken by the prophet Joel” (Acts 2:16; cf. the similar pesher formula used at Qumran). The New Testament events at Pentecost are thus seen in some sense as a fulfillment of this Old Testament passage, even though that experience did not exhaustively fulfill Joel’s words. Some portions of Joel’s prophecy have no precise counterpart in that experience. For example, there is nothing in the events recorded in Acts 2 that exactly corresponds to the earthly and heavenly signs described in Joel 3:3-4. But inasmuch as the messianic age had already begun and the “last days” had already commenced with the coming of the Messiah (cf. Heb 1:1-2), Peter was able to point to Joel 3:1-5 as a text that was relevant to the advent of Jesus and the bestowal of the Spirit. The equative language that Peter employs (“this is that”) stresses an incipient fulfillment of the Joel passage without precluding or minimizing a yet future and more exhaustive fulfillment in events associated with the return of Christ.
  4. Joel 2:28 tn Heb “all flesh.” As a term for humanity, “flesh” suggests the weakness and fragility of human beings as opposed to God, who is “spirit.” The word “all” refers not to all human beings without exception (cf. NAB, NASB “all mankind,” NLT “all people”), but to all classes of human beings without distinction (cf. NCV).
  5. Joel 2:28 tn Heb “your old men will dream dreams.” In context these are prophetic visions, messages from God, as are the visions mentioned in the next line.
  6. Joel 2:30 tn Or “in the heavens.” The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated “heavens” or “sky,” depending on the context.
  7. Joel 2:31 tn Heb “to blood,” but no doubt this is intended to indicate by metonymy the color of blood rather than the substance itself. The blood-red color suggests a visual impression here—something that could be caused by fires, volcanic dust, sandstorms, or other atmospheric phenomena.
  8. Joel 2:32 tn Or “escape.” The Hebrew form may be passive or middle. While a number of English versions render this as “saved” (e.g., NIV, NRSV, NLT), this can suggest a “spiritual” or “theological” salvation rather than the physical deliverance from the cataclysmic events of the day of the Lord described in the context. The LXX renders as σωθήσεται (sōthēsetai), which is traditionally rendered as “will be saved.”
  9. Joel 2:32 tn Heb “deliverance”; or “escape.” The abstract noun “deliverance” or “escape” probably functions here as an example of antimeria, referring to those who experience deliverance or escape with their lives: “escaped remnant” or “surviving remnant” (Gen 32:8; 45:7; Judg 21:17; 2 Kgs 19:30, 31; Isa 4:2; 10:20; 15:9; 37:31, 32; Ezek 14:22; Obad 1:17; Ezra 9:8, 13-15; Neh 1:2; 1 Chr 4:43; 2 Chr 30:6).
  10. Joel 2:32 tn Heb “and among the remnant.”
  11. Joel 2:32 tn The participle used in the Hebrew text seems to indicate action in the imminent future.