When and how is Joel 2:28-29 fulfilled?                                                 By Jack Kettler                                       


“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.” (Joel 2:28-29)




Joel calls the people of Judah and Jerusalem to cry and return to the Lord during a calamity. A locust plague had ruined the planted fields.


Major motifs:


Day of the Lord; Repentance; The Lord in their midst.


The promise of future blessings and an outpouring of the Spirit will ensue upon repentance.


Future or fulfilled?


In a rather simplistic fashion from the Dispensational “Never Thirsty” website one reads:


Bible Question:


What is the biblical meaning of Joel 2:28-3:21? — Is it about the Tribulation?

Bible Answer:


The meaning of Joel 2:28-3:21 will be explained in three parts. This passage is a future prophecy about the return of Jesus Christ, the battle of Armageddon (Joel 3:1-17) and it ends with the 1,000-year, earthly kingdom (Joel 3:18-21). Here is Joel 2:28-32.


The above interpretation is the product of a preconceived theological system imposed on the text. As will be seen below, the Apostle Peter gives the Scriptural interpretation of the text in the book of Acts. 


In contrast to the dispensational theory noted above, two classic commentators put forth the traditional interpretation.


Starting with Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers, one reads:


“(28) I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh. — Holy Scripture is itself the interpreter of this most weighty promise. St. Peter’s quotation and application of it in the Acts is its commentary. “Afterward “—LXX., after these things becomes in the apostle’s mouth—“in the last days”—i.e., in the Christian dispensation, when, after the punishment of the Jews by the heathen, their king came—“my Spirit”—St. Peter renders “of my spirit,” after the LXX., indicating the gifts and influences of the Holy Ghost—“upon all flesh”—i.e., without distinction of race or person—“they of the circumcision were astonished because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.” The outward manifestation of these gifts, as shown on the Day of Pentecost, in accordance with this prediction, was gradually withdrawn from the Church; the reality remains.” (1)


Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible informs the reader:


“And it shall come to pass afterward, .... After the teacher of righteousness has been sent, and a plentiful rain of the Gospel has been let down in the land of Judea, in the ministry of John the Baptist, Christ and his apostles, and such a comfortable enjoyment of the blessings of grace in it, and the knowledge of God by it; and after the wonderful work of redemption wrought by Christ. R. Jeshua in Aben Ezra and Jarchi both say this prophecy refers to time to come; and Kimchi observes, that the phrase is the same with "in the last days"; and so the Apostle Peter quotes it, Acts 2:17; a phrase, as the above writer observes, which always signifies the days of the Messiah, to which he applies these words; and so do other Jewish writers, both ancient and modern (o); and there is no doubt with us Christians that they belong to the times of Christ and his apostles, since they are by an inspired writer said to be fulfilled in those times, Acts 2:16; here some begin a new chapter;”


“that I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh; not on such whose hearts are made tender as flesh, according to Ezekiel 36:26; as Jarchi; for the Spirit must be given first to make the heart such; nor only upon men in the land of Israel, a place fit to prophesy in, as Aben Ezra and Kimchi; but upon all men, as this phrase frequently signifies; see Isaiah 40:5; that is, all sorts of men, Jews and Gentiles, men of all nations; and such there were on the day of Pentecost, when the Spirit was poured down upon the apostles, and the grace of the Spirit was given to many of all nations; though that was only the beginning of the fulfilment of this prophecy, which quickly had a further accomplishment in the Gentile world; and denotes the abundance of the gifts of the Spirit, both extraordinary and ordinary, and of his grace, and the blessings of it, bestowed on them;”


“and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy; as Agabus, Barnabas, Simeon, &c. and the four daughters of Philip the evangelist, Acts 11:28;”


“your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions; as Ananias, Peter, Paul, John, and others, some in their elder, some in their younger years, Acts 9:10; though prophecy, dreams, and visions, being the usual ways of conveying knowledge, here signify that the knowledge of men in Gospel times should be equal to, yea, exceed, whatever was communicated to men in the highest degree in former times: John the Baptist was greater than any of the prophets, and yet the least in the kingdom of heaven was greater than he, Luke 7:28.”


(o) Zohar in Numb. fol. 99. 2. Bemidbar Rabba, sect. 15. fol. 219. 2. Debarim Rabba, sect. 6. fol. 242. 2. Abarbinel, Mashmia Jeshua, fol. 9. 3. R. Isaac, Chizzuk Emunah, par. 1. p. 51.” (2)


The Geneva Study Bible says:


“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour {q} out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream {r} dreams, your young men shall see visions:”


“(q) That is, in greater abundance, and more broadly than in times past. And this was fulfilled under Christ, when God's graces and his Spirit under the Gospel were abundantly given to the Church; Isa 44:3 Ac 2:17 Joh 7:38-39.”


“(r) As they had visions and dream.”


In closing:


Joel 2:28 and “The Day of the Lord” [Yahweh] were fulfilled at Pentecost. So Peter said in Acts that the outpouring of the Holy Ghost on the first Pentecost after Christ's resurrection.


The Apostle Peter connects Joel 2:28 to the Pentecost: 


“But this is that which was spoke 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. And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath: blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come.  And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” (Acts 2:16-21) 


Zechariah connects “The Day of the Lord” with the destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD: 


“Behold, the day of the Lord cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue shall not be cut off from the city.” (Zechariah 14:1-2)


Malachi predicted that “Elijah” the prophet was to come before “The Day of the Lord”: 


“Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.” (Malachi 4:4-6)




“The Day of the Lord,” as seen in Joel, Zechariah, Malachi, and Peter, are the same and speak to the events that happened leading up to the fall of Jerusalem in the First Century. Moreover, the expression “The Day of the Lord,” as seen above, is historical and does not have to be interpreted as events at the end of the world. “The Day of the Lord” and other phrases can be understood to refer to the last day of the older covenant with Israel.


Fulfilled prophecy is faith-building, whereas futuristic speculative predictions are just that, speculations.


“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2 Timothy 2:15)




1.      Charles John Ellicott, Bible Commentary for English Readers, Joel, Vol.5, (London, England, Cassell and Company), p. 443.

2.      John Gill, Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, Joel, (Grace Works, Multi-Media Labs), p. 36.


Mr. Kettler has previously published articles in the Chalcedon Report and Contra Mundum. He and his wife Marea attend the Westminster, CO, RPCNA Church. Mr. Kettler is the author of books defending the Reformed Faith. Books can be ordered online at: https://www.amazon.com/Books-Jack-Kettler/s?rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_27%3AJack+Kettler