How Peter Knew the Birth of Jesus Church Was a Fulfillment of Prophecy


It was on the 50th day after Jesus was offered as the Passover Lamb that Pentecost was celebrated. Jesus waited until this specific time to pour out the Holy Spirit on His Church. It was this amazing power which came upon every person who had professed their faith in Jesus as their Messiah, which gave each believer the ability to live the life that Jesus had called them to.

Acts 1:5 “for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”

Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you…”

The mark of one who is truly saved is the Holy Spirit living within. Without the Holy Spirit, there is no salvation, there is no power, no spiritual life, no eternal life.

Romans 8:9 But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God dwells in you. Now if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, he is not His.

The Holy Spirit enables us to do things which are otherwise impossible for us to achieve. We can boldly stand before people and tell them about the wonderful things which Jesus has done in our life and have that message empowered by the Holy Spirit. When the Spirit is behind the words and actions of our life, what we say and do has amazing results in the lives of the people whom we come in contact with.

John 14:26 “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.

Acts 1:8 “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit would come upon a person for a limited period of time, to do a specific work for God. After Jesus died and was raised from the dead, the Holy Spirit came upon every believer who repented of their sins and received Jesus as their Savior. The Holy Spirit now abides inside every believer forever. He will never leave us, though at times He is greatly grieved when we are actively involved in sin and disobedience.

The Holy Spirit is spoken of as the seal upon the believer for the day of redemption.

Ephesians 4:30 And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.

The idea here is that the Holy Spirit in us is the marker or tracking device, the deposit within us and the guarantee of the Lord’s promise that He will come for us when He returns.

If we back up one verse in Isaiah Chapter 44 to verse 2, we gain an interesting insight into the prophet’s mind at the time he wrote these stunning verses about the birth of the church, in the Old Testament.

Isaiah 44:2 Thus says the Lord who made you And formed you from the womb, who will help you: “Fear not, O Jacob My servant; And you, Jeshurun, whom I have chosen.”

The term Jeshurun is a reference from Deuteronomy 32:15, 33:5, and 33:26, where this name is defined as the Upright One.[1] As Jeshurun is the Upright One, conversely, Jacob was the deceiver. At the end of Jacob’s life, God changed his name to Israel, “one governed by God.” It was the power of the Holy Spirit that came upon Jacob that changed him from a deceiver to one who is governed or controlled by God.

Here, Isaiah compares the uprightness of Jeshurun, who is guided by God’s Spirit, with Israel who was controlled by his flesh like Jacob.

When God poured out the Holy Spirit on the newly birthed church of Jesus Christ, the men who were formerly controlled by their flesh became men under the control of the Spirit. Peter who was called Simon, meaning shifting sand, was transformed into Petros, the little rock (little Jesus).[2] It is interesting that Jesus called Simon by the name Peter even before he became a rock.

Men and women do not change themselves permanently and become better people by the programs of man. However, when a person is Born Again by the Spirit of God, the Holy Spirit living within a person can affect his life forever. The power of a changed life by coming into a relationship with Jesus Christ, is incontrovertible evidence that no one can deny. There are countless millions of men and women, like myself, who were entirely different people before they met Jesus, who are today living new lives of freedom and power.

Peter’s Interpretation of Joel’s Prophecy

When the prophet Joel penned the verse in chapter 2 of his famous prophecy of the last days, we were all surprised to learn that this new Spirit-filled Peter declared that Joel’s prophecy was fulfilled on the first day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were present and Jesus’ church was born.

Joel 2:28-29 “And it shall come to pass afterward That I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your old men shall dream dreams, Your young men shall see visions. 29 And also on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”

Peter not only attributed verses 28 and 29 of Joel Chapter 2 to the birth of the church, he also ascribed the entire text of Joel’s prophecy to the birth of the church.

Acts 2:14-21 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, “Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. 15 For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. 16 But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:17 “And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh;Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, Your young men shall see visions, Your old men shall dream dreams. 18 And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD. 21 And it shall come to pass That whoever calls on the name of the LORD Shall be saved.”

Verses 19-21 would appear to be applicable only to the seven-year Tribulation Period, but Peter here describes this verse as applicable to the birth of the church in Acts Chapter 2.

Today, we call the technique that Peter used in interpreting the Old Testament prophecies of Joel Chapter 2 in light of their New Testament fulfillment—a Pesher. This term comes from the Hebrew word peser, meaning: interpretation.[3] In the Peser interpretation and application of an Old Testament prophecy, the importance is placed on the fulfillment, not on the exegesis of the prophecy’s technical points which it is interpreting.

It is this technique whereby we can rightly attribute Old Testament prophecies which do not, at first glance, seem to be attributable to the Messiah—as applicable to Him. As we compare their text with the New Testament verses which appear to be a fulfillment of those Old Testament predictions, we learn that they have a valid application. The Pesher is a method of interpretation, which I have made use of in several instances where I could not see the Messianic application of certain verses, which I included in these 365 Prophecies—until after I gave further diligent study. Once an Old Testament verse becomes a possible candidate for Messianic application, a search must be made to find whether there is a New Testament counterpart which can be rightly attributable to the Old Testament verse in question. In many of the Old Testament verses which are included in this book, this was this exegetical technique that I used. I came to the conclusion that these obscure verses did in fact have a New Testament Fulfillment; therefore, they must be a Messianic prophecy.

In Peter’s sermon, in Acts Chapter 2 verse 17, the Apostle uses the phrase, And it shall come to pass in the last days…, whereas Joel actually said: (Joel 2:28) And it shall come to pass afterward…

By changing afterward to in the last days, Peter is using the Pesher formula to interpret Joel’s meaning of his prophecy. In the Septuagint manuscripts of MT and LXX, afterwards is ahare ken, meta tauta. This is the same Greek phrase used in the Book of Revelation Chapter 4, where after speaking about the church and the things of the church, John states in chapter 3: After these things (meta tauta—after the things of the church, John was Raptured to heaven to see the visions Jesus showed him).

Joel was prophesying about the last days and specifically events that would concern the coming of the Messiah, His ministry and the events of His wrath, as described in the Book of Revelation which would occur during the seven-year Tribulation Period.

We learn a great deal about the way that the early Christian leaders interpreted Old Testament prophecy and the way in which we should also interpret certain Old Testament prophecies when seeking their New Testament fulfillment. Peter understood that what Joel had predicted was what God had said. Although at times what God has said through the Old Testament prophet is quite mysterious and puzzling, when we also search for a possible New Testament fulfillment as I have done, we see the deeper meaning and revealed mystery of these Old Testament prophecies.

I realize that for many, this will be a difficult concept to grasp or accept; but this is nevertheless the correct method for interpreting many of these prophecies of the Messiah which are found in the Old Testament. I am in good company with Peter who, on the day of Pentecost, used this method in interpreting Joel’s prophecy, in applying what Joel said, to the birth of the church and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

One thing is certain about what Peter interpreted from Joel’s prophecy: From the birth of the church, in Acts Chapter 2, when the Holy Spirit was given to each person who came into a saving relationship with the Messiah, these events began the Last Days that Joel was speaking of. The days that you and I are now living are in greater respect, these Last Days. We are so much closer today to the appearance of Jesus for His church than we could possibly imagine. One of my constant thoughts in writing this book was that I may not finish it before the Lord comes for us at the Rapture. This is the reality that we live in today. The coming of the Lord was said to be near, 2,000 years ago. As I write and you who will read these words today, how much closer is His coming, even at the door.[4]

One of the questions regarding Peter’s interpretation of Joel’s prophecy is how to apply such terms as: I will show wonders in heaven above And signs in the earth beneath: Blood and fire and vapor of smoke. 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, And the moon into blood, Before the coming of the great and awesome day of the LORD.

As we have seen, there is often an earlier and later fulfillment in many Old Testament prophecies, such as Isaiah Chapter 61 (Prophecy 279). Moreover, this appears to also be true of Joel’s prophecy of the last days. Certainly, when the sun was obscured at noon, on the day Jesus was crucified, and the sun was turned to darkness, this is a reasonable application of Joel’s prophecy to the day Jesus died, without any incorrect application of this prophecy.

Matthew 27:45 Now from the sixth hour until the ninth hour there was darkness over all the land.

It should be noted that the full moon which occurred during the time after Jesus was crucified is said to have been blood red. This may have been caused by an atmospheric phenomenon which also obscured the sun from noon to 3 p.m., on the afternoon Jesus was crucified.

Colin J. Humphreys and W. G. Waddington were able to reconstruct the events that occurred during the darkness that occurred while Jesus was being crucified. By their calculations, a Blood Moon occurred from about 6:20 pm to 6:50 pm at the start of the Jewish Passover. This would confirm both parts of Joel’s prophecy that Peter declared as fulfilled the day Jesus was crucified.[5]

The birth of the church and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, were a direct, earlier fulfillment of Isaiah’s prediction in chapter 44:3, which is the subject of this 210th Old Testament Prophecy. Jesus perfectly fulfilled the text of these verses when He birthed His church on the day of Pentecost.

Isaiah 44:3 “For I will pour water on him who is thirsty, And floods on the dry ground; I will pour My Spirit on your descendants, And My blessing on your offspring…”

[1] Expositors Bible Commentary on Isaiah chapter 44 F. Israel’s Great God and the Folly of Idolatry (44: 1- 23),
[2] Shifting Sand: Strong’s Greek Concordance #4613, One of the definitions for the name “Simon.”
Petros: The Greek word for Peter, from Strongs Greek Concordance, #4074, a small stone.
[3] Pesher: From Strong’s Hebrew Concordance #6592, defined as a “translation” or “interpretation.”
[4] Revelation 3:20, “Behold I stand at the door and knock,”
[5] Colin J. Humphreys and W. G. Waddington, The Date of the Crucifixion Journal of the American Scientific Affiliation 37 (March 1985)[1]
Colin Humphreys, The Mystery of the Last Supper Cambridge University Press 2011 ISBN 978-0-521-73200-0, p. 193 (However note that Humphreys places the Last Supper on a Wednesday)

Categories: Birth of the Church, Exegesis and Hermeneutics, Jesus Church, Principles of Biblical Interpretation, Prophecies Fulfilled by Jesus, The Holy Spirit

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