Subscribe via RSS Feed

What Meaneth This? A Question for 21st Century Pentecostalism

 

Third, fifty days later the natural world again accompanied a divine purpose as the Holy Spirit arrived “with the sound of a mighty rushing wind” and “tongues of fire” were visible upon one hundred and twenty heads (Acts 2:2, 3).

When asked, “What meaneth this?” the apostle Peter turned to a text bearing witness to both the Holy Spirit and a natural calamity: the prophecy in Joel 2:28-32.

It seems to me that we need to return to Peter’s use of the Joel prophecy to seek afresh an answer to the “meaning” question of Pentecostalism for our generation.

First, Peter knew the context of Joel’s prophecy: a 9th century agricultural crisis brought on by a massive invasion of locusts. In our technology driven world we struggle to comprehend the calamity of this invasion. Joel understood it as “the day of the Lord,” Yahweh’s judgment upon a covenant-breaking people. It meant a future without grain and wine, essential not only to everyday life but to Israel’s worship.

Second, the calamity was seen as the divine initial to restore covenant faithfulness on the part of the covenant breakers. This restoration began with repentance which led to the promise that Peter cites in his Pentecost sermon.

Peter’s use of Joel 2 is sandwiched between two questions. The sermon begins in reply to the query, “What meaneth this?’ It concludes with the hearers cut to the heart and asking, “What shall we do?”

These two questions frame our need as Pentecostal Christians to live in such a demonstrable way that people ask, “What does this mean?” It means living in such a fashion that people recognize the legitimacy of our claims and by Holy Spirit conviction cry out, “What shall we do?”

But it means our answer to the original question must have meaningful content. Peter defined Pentecost by appealing to the four major theological themes expressed in the Joel passage.

First, in Acts 2:17 Peter introduced the “last days.” He understood an eschatological urgency, rooted in Joel’s “day of the Lord,” and mentioned further in Acts 2:20 in reference to “the coming of the great and awesome day of the Lord.”

Second, Peter emphasized the freshly heard languages and experienced power of the Holy Spirit by recognizing the “pouring out” of the Spirit “on all flesh.” The Hebrew word “shaphak” (pour out; שפך) is also used in the sense of the wrath of God being poured out (e.g., Psalm 79:6; Ezekiel 7:8). While it took Peter time to process the implications of επί πάσαν σάρκα (“upon all flesh,” על־כל־בשר, and two-thousand years later we are still processing the implications), he recognized that something had occurred that morning that meant significant paradigm shifts. The wind-swept-river-of-God took them into a world larger than they had ever dreamed: A kingdom greater than historical Israel and the rise and fall of nations. Young and old are equal recipients of revelation. Men and women are both mouthpieces of God. Servants, low on the economic and social ladder, are swept upward in this Holy Spirit tsunami.

Pin It
Page 3 of 812345...Last »

Tags: , , , , ,

Category: Living the Faith, Summer 2008

About the Author: A. Doug Beacham, Jr., D.Min. (Union Presbyterian Seminary), is the General Superintendent of the International Pentecostal Holiness Church (IPHC Ministries). Twitter: @DougBeacham. LinkedIn. Facebook.

  • Connect with PneumaReview.com

    Subscribe via Twitter 1389 Followers   Subscribe via Facebook Fans
  • Recent Comments

  • Featured Authors

    Amos Yong is Professor of Theology & Mission and director of the Center for Missiological Research at Fuller Theological Seminary, Pasadena. His graduate education includes degree...

    Jelle Creemers: Theological Dialogue with Classical Pentecostals

    Antipas L. Harris, D.Min. (Boston University), S.T.M. (Yale University Divinity School), M.Div. (Emory University), was appointed as the founding dean of the Urban Renewal Center

    Symposium on the Holy Spirit and Theological Education 2019

    Craig S. Keener, Ph.D. (Duke University), is F. M. and Ada Thompson Professor of Biblical Studies at Asbury Theological Seminary in Wilmore, Kentucky. He is author of many books<...

    Gordon Fee: Jesus the Lord according to Paul the Apostle, reviewed by Craig S. Keener

    William L. De Arteaga, Ph.D., is known internationally as a Christian historian and expert on revivals and the rebirth and renewal of the Christian healing movement. His major w...

    Order of St. Luke International 2019: From an Anti-Cessationism past to a Fully Charismatic Future