Prophecies About the Holy Spirit
Do you know how many Old Testament passages are quoted after the beginning of Acts 2 to explain the work of the Holy Spirit in the church? One – Joel 2:28-32.
After Peter quotes Joel 2 in his sermon recorded in Acts 2, never again does a New Testament writer appeal to the Old Testament to explain the Holy Spirit’s work in the church.
In Joel 2 the outpouring of the Spirit is said to produce three works: 1) Prophecy; 2) Dreaming dreams; 3) Seeing visions.
These facts lead to three possible conclusions:
1 – The Work of the Holy Spirit After Acts 2 is Different than the Work Promised in Joel 2.
We know that cannot be entirely true, because all admit that the prophetic works of prophecy, dreams, and visions are present and discussed at length in the post-Acts 2 New Testament (1 Corinthians 12-14, Ephesians 4, etc.).
2 – The Work of the Holy Spirit is Additional to the Work Promised in Joel 2.
This would be the most common explanation in churches of Christ today. There are some passages which are based on Joel 2 and there are other passages which describe the work of the Spirit beyond the prophetic actions of Joel 2 (Note: The older position of the “Measures of the Spirit” allowed for a spectrum of meanings within each text. However, that position has largely fallen out of favor among younger preachers.).
The difficulty here is that six times the Spirit’s work is referred to as a “promised” work. Yet, other than Joel 2 (which is exclusively prophetic), no “promise” is ever provided to describe the Spirit’s ongoing work in the church.
3 – The Work of the Holy Spirit is the Fulfillment of Joel 2.
While not popular, this is the position that I believe to be the correct one. The simple reason that after Acts 2 the New Testament provides no other basis for the work of the Holy Spirit is that once Peter quoted that watershed promise, no other explanation was needed. The promised outpouring of prophecy, dreams, and visions in Joel 2 was enough to encompass all the work the Spirit would provide the church.
If you will take the time, with an open-mind, to re-examine New Testament texts with the understanding that Joel 2 provides the foundation for each one, you will find a simple, explainable, concrete, consistent, and comforting work for the Spirit in the church.