Vol.XVI No.VIII Pg.7
October 1979

?You Know What?

Robert F. Turner

Brother Turner:

To what does "this is that" of Acts 2:16 refer? Thank you. C.G.


It has been many years since this was answered on this page, so I will rehash some of that material.

First, consider "that" which Joel spoke. It is a redemption or restoration prophecy, clearly Messianic. The "wonders in the heavens... blood, fire, and smoke... sun turned into darkness and moon to blood" depict an overthrow of great powers: Babylon, in Isa. 13:6-13; Edom or Idumea, in 34:1-10; Jerusalem, in Zech. 14:1-f. These days of reckoning, and demonstrations of God's power are called "The Day of the Lord" or "of Jehovah." Joel spoke of such a day, in like terms.

But Joel's "day" was a time of deliver- ance. "There shall be those that escape," and "among the remnant those whom Jehovah doth call." These terms are frequently used in Isaiah — see 1:9; 4:2-6; 10:20-23; 11:10-16; — and if you have read these passages you see they also refer to Christ. In Isa. 49:5-6 it is clear that Gentiles will be redeemed at the same time and by the same Savior as the "remnant" of Israel. (See Amos 9:8-12, which James clearly relates to salvation in Jesus Christ, for all nations, Acts 15:13f.) So, Joel's "day" was the Christian dispensation, the "last days" or "age" or the "today" of Heb. 3:15, or Paul's "now" of 2 Cor. 6:2; cf. Lu. 4:21.

Joel's prophecy of the coming of the Christian age indicated that it would be signaled by the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 32:14-15 and 44:1-5 also make this same relation of Spirit to the new dispensation, and Messianic kingdom.

Peter connects all these points of Joel's prophecy to salvation in Jesus Christ. He says Christ is on David's throne; and the promise is to all that are afar off, or "whosoever will call upon the name of the Lord." His "this" must, therefore, have reference to more than the single outpouring of the Spirit upon that 24-hour day. "This" immediate outpouring is but the beginning of a dispensation in which "daughters" and "handmaidens" will also prophecy (Acts 21:9), and the Spirit will be poured upon the Gentiles (Acts 10:44-f). "That" — the "Day" of the Lord, the deliverance of the Jewish "remnant" and of all who will call upon the name of the Lord was what Joel had predicted; and on the first Pentecost following the resurrection of Christ, when the Holy Spirit was poured out upon the chosen witnesses (Lu. 24:48-49), Peter could say, "This is that —." The time has come for salvation in Jesus Christ.

For the sake of readers other than the querist we may add that the outpouring of the Spirit upon a limited number in the early days of this last age, profited all. It confirmed the acceptance of Gentiles (Acts 11:17-18) and proved the source of God's message to all (Mk. 16:20, Heb. 2.1-4). It is our assurance that the Scriptures are complete, accurate, and will "endure" (Jn. 16:12-14; 2 Tim. 3:16-17). The sword of the Spirit, the word of God (Eph. 6:17) "cuts" the heart today even as it did on Pentecost.