This is That Spoken by the Prophet Joel

“But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:” (Acts 2:14-18).

The New Testament account in Acts 2 is the direct fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel 2:28, 29: “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.”

The phrase, “…I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh;…” (Joel 2:28), means all flesh with no limits to time. It was not limited to those people of the first century. The end of the human race, “all flesh”, has not come. The Prophet Joel foretold of this event, and the apostle Peter declares by the inspiration of the Spirit that this outpouring of the Spirit was the beginning fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy. No man or organization desired or willed these events; rather, this is the manifest working of the Holy Ghost. Also, God has predetermined that there be a continuation of the Spirit’s baptism which would occur in the exact manner in every future generation as it did at the very beginning. This will be proven at the conclusion of this study.

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:1-4).

Who and how many were “filled with the Holy Ghost” on the day of Pentecost in the upper room? Some theologians and organizations say that it was only the Apostles. We are given an estimate of how many were present in the upper room waiting for “…the promise of the Father…” (Luke 24:49). “And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,)” (Acts 1:15). In the next chapter the Word says, “…they were all [120] with one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1). The writer, by divine inspiration, records, “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost…” (Acts 2:4). This verse of Scripture confirms that it was not just the Apostles as some have contended; rather, it was all one hundred twenty persons present.

Continuing in his exhortation concerning the promise of the Spirit’s baptism upon all flesh, Peter states, “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39). To as many as God calls to salvation, He promises to baptize with the Holy Ghost. In Acts 5:32 a very important prerequisite for people being baptized with the Holy Ghost is given: “And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him” (Acts 5:32). Therefore, obedience becomes a prerequisite in the life of all that have been saved and sanctified. They are to be willing to walk in the light of the Word of God.

Concerning the baptism of the Holy Ghost, Jesus said, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unit me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8). Many books, tracts, and other publications have been written concerning the infallible truth of the Spirit’s full baptism; however, this article will not be the norm among those works. This writing will deal with a single word in the second chapter of Acts.

The word “cloven,” as divinely inspired to be used here, will serve as our help in the pursuit of the truth. Understanding the meaning of this Greek word and its root word will give the proper analysis of these events and what they were designed to set forth for the people of God in every generation. “Cloven” comes from the Greek word ‘diamerizo’ which means to partition thoroughly (literally, in distribution; figuratively, in dissension) – cloven, divide, part. The Greek root word for ‘diamerizo’ is ‘dia’ which means denoting the channel or act (in very wide applications, local, casual, or occasional). In composition it retains the same general import. Next, the Greek word ‘merizo’ means to part (literally, to apportion, bestow, share; figuratively, to disunite, differ: deal, be difference between, distribute, divide, give part). ‘Meros’ means from an obsolete, but more primitive form of ‘meriomai’ (to get as a section or allotment); a division or share (literally or figuratively, in a wide application): – behalf, coast, course, craft, particular (+ly), part (+ly), pieces, portion, respect, side, some sort (-what). What this actually means is that this experience would always occur the very same way as it did the first time. No matter where or in what age or among what people it occurs, the act of people being baptized with the Spirit will never change. God is not the author of confusion (1 Corinthians 14:3).

The events in the upper room were not the same as those that took place before the multitude of people out in the street. The “cloven tongues” which were spoken of in the initial outpouring (Acts 2:3) of the Spirit was in all surety the language of which Paul referred to in 1 Corinthians 14:2, “For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.” Then, in verse four, Paul continues by saying, “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church” (1 Corinthians 14:4). Verse five assures us that Paul was not criticizing speaking in tongues; “I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying” (1 Corinthians 14:5). Therefore, the unknown or cloven tongues would answer to the initial physical evidence of the Holy Ghost in His baptizing or filling that took place as recorded in Acts 2:1-4.

What followed outside the upper room was the continued working of the Spirit upon those who had just been filled with the Holy Ghost. The account reads, “Now when this was noised abroad [outside the upper room], the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language” (Acts 2:6). Therefore, in verse four the “other tongues” would rightly refer to “other languages” since the Holy Ghost knows and can speak in every tongue or dialect known to man. If the Holy Ghost could not speak in every language, how then could men be convicted of their sins, since this is the work of the Spirit? “And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” (Acts 2:7, 8). After naming the various countries of their residence, we hear their next report, “…we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God” (Acts 2:11). The report continues, “And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meant this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine” (Acts 2:12, 13).

Seeing that the early Church met with such mockery, why then should we think it strange when we meet with a similar response from those who do not have a full revelation of the promise of God. We also must give a faithful report, as did Peter, to those who were confused, and to those who mocked. He gave them the truth as recorded in the Bible, “…this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;” (Acts 2:16) and left the results in the hands of God. Truly, great was God’s working as He confirmed the word of His servant that day. Three thousand souls were saved, baptized in water, and then added to the Church.

Nowhere in all his epistles does the apostle Paul, nor any other New Testament writer, criticize or forbid speaking in tongues. Also, nowhere are we given to understand that this manifestation of “tongues,” (i.e. the initial physical evidence of the Spirit’s full baptism) would be done away with by God when a person has been filled with the Holy Ghost. To the contrary Paul states in 1 Corinthians 14:18, “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all.” To criticize or forbid the speaking in tongues would distort the true biblical account.

God moved upon or used man in order to set forth His Word to all humanity. The same is true in the area of “tongues.” It is not man, himself, who does the speaking; rather, it is the Spirit of God speaking in a heavenly language through the individual to bring forth a word from God to the people. When the message in tongues has ended, the gift of interpretation will then be manifested that the Church may be edified. This may be another individual or the same one who gave the message. For “the church to be edified” simply means that the Church now understand the will of God in this occasion. A message in tongues and the interpretation will never take away from nor add to the revealed Word of God.

The all-important aspect is here noted; “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). “…as the Spirit gave them utterance” is the evidence of divine inspiration for speaking in tongues, whether in the languages of other nations or in the heavenly language as has been stated.

There is an eternal law that God has set forth concerning the establishing or confirming of an act or word by which men should live. Therefore, God will operate His divine plan according to this eternal law that He has set forth. This is the eternal law – “…In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established” (2 Corinthians 13:1). This is also confirmed in Deuteronomy 19:15 and Numbers 35:30. Therefore, in Acts 2:1-4, God was setting forth a divine precedent in relation to His eternal law of establishing a word or act.

Acts 2:1-4:

  • The time: circa A.D. 33
  • The place: Jerusalem
  • The event: the Holy Ghost baptism
  • The phenomenon: Believers spoke in tongues as the Spirit gave the utterance.

Acts 10:44-47:

  • The time: circa A.D. 41
  • The place: Caesarea
  • The event: the Holy Ghost baptism
  • The phenomenon: Believers spoke in tongues as the Spirit gave the utterance.

Acts 19:1-6:

  • The time: circa A.D. 58
  • The place: Ephesus
  • The event: the Holy Ghost baptism
  • The phenomenon: Believers spoke in tongues as the Spirit gave the utterance.

One must understand that the baptizing of believers with the Holy Ghost is a definite act of God Himself. In Isaiah 28:21, the Word speaks of “his work, his strange work; and… his act, his strange act.” As these events took place in the beginning of the grace dispensation, it remains the same now in the close of this dispensation. It was God’s working and decision as to how the Holy Ghost baptism would occur. Any and all accompanying evidence were by God’s divine prescription. The initial physical evidence of speaking in tongues is by God’s divine authority and design. Men should speak as did Peter; “…what was I, that I could withstand God?” (Acts 11:17).

A divine principle has been set forth and shown. The proper amount of witnesses have been brought forward and all voice the same things. Three different groups of people in three different cities. Each one is several miles and years apart from each other; yet, the very same occurrences took place each time. Therefore, when the Bible says to be “…filled with the Spirit;” (Ephesians 5:18), God is asking us to accept His Word as the final authority for our lives. By doing so we will have God’s blessings in and upon our lives. All God wants is our obedience and acceptance of His ways and His will in our lives.

“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision [Jews] which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God…” (Acts 10:44-46). They knew it was the “like gift” because they “…heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God…” (Acts 10:46). This then is the true report for knowing when one has been baptized with the Holy Ghost. According to Luke 11:13, the Holy Ghost is a gift from God. All of His children should desire this gift and seek it from Him.

Peter acknowledges, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?” (Acts 11:15-17). The Bible is a book of divine unity. In every place that has been cited there is a continued unity of events, and the evidences of those events are constant. The greatest move of God on this earth is just ahead, and this move will be accomplished by those people who will obediently receive the gift of the Spirit. The need in the final hours prior to the coming of the Lord is for God’s people everywhere to be fully baptized with the Holy Ghost and fire. They must remain under His every influence, and our God is a God of decency and order.

The following are several, but not all, of the historical accounts where people have received the baptism of the Holy Ghost since the close of the first century A.D. Space here can certainly not permit a record of every known account of the baptism of the Holy Ghost throughout the past two millennia. In each account, notice carefully that history has recorded the Spirit’s full baptism as it followed the divine precedent of Acts 2:1-4.

Several accounts from the times of the apostles to the present concerning those people who had received the baptism of the Holy Ghost can be found in the following records: History of the Apostlic Church by Philip Schaff, The Interpreter’s Dictionary of the BibleHarper’s Bible DictionaryThe Encyclopedia Britannica (a work certainly not biased to religious dogma), and The Twentieth Century Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge. Each account verifies that upon the reception of the Spirit’s full baptism, tongues were the evident sign.

Men such as Irenaeus (bishop of Lyons, a student of Polycarp, and a disciple of the aged Apostle John), Tertullian (a North African who was called by many “the dean of Western Christianity”), Pachomius (an Egyptian monk), and Origen (a Christian philosopher) all lend their credence to the Spirit’s baptism with speaking in tongues.

Other great men such as Martin Luther, John Calvin, and John Wesley give their acknowledgement in their generation of the Spirit’s full baptism being received by many people. Tongues were always the spiritual accompaniment. As it can be seen, it would be nearly impossible to give an in-depth study of each person or place in the history of Christianity where the baptism of the Holy Ghost has occurred. These notable instances serve to prove that the gift of the Holy Ghost, with the initial evidence of tongues, was in no wise done away with when the first century ended. They were neither done away with when the books of the New Testament were canonized by the Church Fathers as many scholars have stated.

Some places where it is recorded that the Holy Ghost baptism with tongues was evident are as following:

  • In the Raritan Valley in New Jersey among the Dutch Reformed Church in 1726. The revival that broke out was later to be called the “Great Awakening.” The leader of this move of God was Theodore J. Frelinghuysen.
  • In the Presbyterian Church, Gilbert Tennent was the spokesman for the revival which stirred many to seek God for deeper spiritual experiences. Because of carnal-minded men fighting against, instead of for God’s moving, a split took place in the church in 1745.
  • In Northhampton, Massachusetts (1734-35) among the Congregational churches, the “Great Awakening” spread, being led by Jonathan Edwards, a Congregational pastor. In the mid-1700s the revival continued to break out all over New England.
  • In the early 1790s another move of God (later to be termed “The Second Great Awakening”) broke out. Along with the Congregational churches many Baptists and Methodists were also experiencing this phenomenon of the baptism of the Holy Ghost. In each account tongues were always present. The Cane Creek revival in Logan County, Kentucky (July 1800) saw crowds of many thousands attending these camp meetings.
  • Another great revivalist, Charles G. Finney, was a product of the Second Great Awakening
  • In Cherokee County, North Carolina, in the Shearer Schoolhouse (1896), approximately one hundred thirty people received the Holy Ghost. This new experience was called “the blessing.” It has been stated that in each instance, those who were exercised with the phenomenon were said to have received the Holy Ghost. So parallel were the biblical accounts to the experiences of these people that recognition of what had happened was truly a work of God according to the second chapter of Acts.
  • At the Azusa Street Revival of Los Angeles, California on April 9, 1906, several people received the baptism of the Holy Ghost and all spoke in tongues as the Spirit gave the utterance.

It has been estimated that there are close to one billion people around the globe today who have experienced this “Pentecostal” phenomenon. Although Joel’s prophecy began its fulfillment on that notable “day of Pentecost” in the first century, God has continually poured out the “like gift” of the Holy Ghost on every hungry and thirsty soul who has sought Him. Divine inspiration moved Peter to make this statement, “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call”(Acts 2:39). History serves to prove the continual reception of the Spirit’s full baptism as recorded in Acts 2:1-4. God’s divine precedent has been forever established and recorded, and each ensuing occurrence mirrors the exact same thing.

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