Our Sunday school class is working through Acts, and I want to examine what Peter says in Acts 2:16-36 in more depth using Romans 11:11-12 and a dual purpose of Jesus Christ's 3 and a half year ministry:

  1. to offer a restored kingdom with Him as the promised king (Jeremiah 23:1-6) though cut off by the cross (Daniel 9:26a).
  2. and as Paul says in Romans 11:11-12, 25-29 the Jews are "set aside" to make them jealous.

In essence, Joel and Peter were saying under the former estate, visions and the Holy Spirit were only to the Jewish hierarchy (scribes, Pharisees, Sadducees, and prophets) but since you Jews (plural) rejected your Messiah/king, the Gentiles have gained access to God's Grace manifest to young and old, male and female, high and low standing, all mankind (foretold many times in the Old Testament).

My question is, am I wrong in considering a dual purpose for Peter referring back to Joel (2:28-31) relating Christ's 3 and a half year ministry this way, especially because He was in the Northern kingdom so much more than Judah gathering His lost sheep around Samaria and Gallilee (Matthew 15:21-28) and linking it to Pentecost? Kind of a cause-and-effect view. (You rejected your king, therefore I will............................ (Romans 9-11).


2 Answers 2


There appears no dual purpose; only one purpose: and that is to spread the gospel message to Jews and Gentiles.

In Acts 2:16-23, the Apostle Peter was making reference to the Day of the Lord, which was the eschatological prelude to the coming of the Lord. Peter implored the Jews to repent in light of the imminent end.

In Acts 10, the Gentiles received the same Spirit from heaven as the Jews had on the Day of Pentecost. (Peter later met with sharp reaction from fellow Jews that Gentiles were included in the New Covenant.) It was Paul who later received special divine revelation that this inclusion was the "mystery," which had no precedent or backdrop in the Hebrew Bible. That is, Gentiles would become one with Jews in the same body.

Ephesians 3:1-12 (NASB)
1 For this reason I, Paul, the prisoner of Christ Jesus for the sake of you Gentiles— 2 if indeed you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace which was given to me for you; 3 that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. 4 By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; 6 to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, 7 of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God’s grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. 8 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, 9 and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; 10 so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. 11 This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 12 in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him.

This "mystery" made Jews and Gentiles one in Christ, and therefore broke down the wall of hostility dividing Jews and Gentiles.

Ephesians 2:11-16 (NASB)
11 Therefore remember that formerly you, the Gentiles in the flesh, who are called “Uncircumcision” by the so-called “Circumcision,” which is performed in the flesh by human hands— 12 remember that you were at that time separate from Christ, excluded from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who made both groups into one and broke down the barrier of the dividing wall, 15 by abolishing in His flesh the enmity, which is the Law of commandments contained in ordinances, so that in Himself He might make the two into one new man, thus establishing peace, 16 and might reconcile them both in one body to God through the cross, by it having put to death the enmity.

The Apostle Peter and James did not receive this "mystery" revelation, which Paul communicated to them.

Galatians 2:1-3 (NASB)
1 Then after an interval of fourteen years I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, taking Titus along also. 2 It was because of a revelation that I went up; and I submitted to them the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but I did so in private to those who were of reputation, for fear that I might be running, or had run, in vain. 3 But not even Titus, who was with me, though he was a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised.

We know that Paul was referring to the "mystery" because the events described in the Epistle to the Galatians with regard to Peter and James happened during Acts 15:1-40, where, after conferring with Paul, the apostle Peter makes mention to the Council in Jerusalem of the inclusion of the Gentiles through his own proclamation (Acts 15:7), and then James closes the Council with the inclusion of Gentiles as noted in the Hebrew Scriptures (Acts 15:16-18). The injunction for Gentile believers to be circumcised was therefore dropped.

What was unique about the "mystery," therefore, was not that Gentiles become believers, but that Jews and Gentiles would become one in Christ (ref. passages from Ephesians). The second unique aspect is the indefinite prolongation of the current era until the Day of the Lord. That is, there is a point when the "mystery" will end and the Day of the Lord will begin as Peter prophesied in Acts 2:16-23. At that time, the Lord will restore his kingdom as mentioned and expected in Acts 1:6 before Jesus returned to heaven.

In summary, Jews who believe in Christ, who are the "Israel of God," become one with Gentiles. Jews, who do not believe, will find in Gentile believers the ability to expound and explain the Hebrew Bible in the most normal and plain manner, which is relevant and provides great encouragement to people. This ability to draw and encourage people is why the Jews became jealous of Paul and his companions throughout the Book of Acts.

  • Thank you guys for the help, Joseph and Tim. I appreciate all the help. I understand the "mystery" spoken by Paul and salvation by faith, but have a curveball thrown by "the Kingdom of Heaven" so I posted my thoughts as an answer to my own question, mostly because I am to verbose to fit it in a comment. Sorry. I'm currently teaching through Matthew in prison and certainly do not need this as a struggle for me or them!! Dan
    – DanPs73
    Commented Dec 20, 2014 at 23:40
  • timf & Joseph; I found the error that caused this frame of thought. See the fallacy in the thinking and why it exists in the second site. You guys and processing through the fallacious thought processing of P. C. Johnson's paper and linking its purpose to the second site's error resolved what I had been thinking. Thank you guys, I'm back on track again!!
    – DanPs73
    Commented Dec 22, 2014 at 21:33

My question is, am I wrong in considering a dual purpose for Peter referring back to Joel (2:28-31) relating Christ's 3 and a half year ministry this way,

Acts 2 is an important point for Christians. Many denominations have different ways to think about what happens at this point. Some see the establishment of a new covenant. Others see the start of a new dispensation. Many see the start of the "church" age.

I think what appears as duality is the potential and immanency of the kingdom. I think it can be helpful to look at this not so much as a transfer from Israel to the church but as a loss of potential for Israel to receive the kingdom. Israel had been given this opportunity (for the kingdom) starting as early as the announcement of the birth of Jesus by the angels until the destruction of the temple 70 years later.

In a way, this potential is similar to the offer of salvation to all men. It is a legitimate offer, but no one will accept it unless they are drawn by the Father. In a similar way the offer of the kingdom was made to Israel. Jesus didn't wink and say, "I know you guys are going to blow it, so here is the real plan". Every word he spoke was true regardless of what Israel did.

The was a need for national acceptance of the kingdom and the new covenant.

The first covenant had been accepted by the nation.

Exodus 19:8 And all the people answered together, and said, All that the LORD hath spoken we will do. And Moses returned the words of the people unto the LORD.

There was a promise of a new covenant for Israel.

Jeremiah 31:31-33 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD: But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.

Jesus came heralding the kingdom and offering the new covenant.

Matthew 4:17 From that time Jesus began to preach, and to say, Repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Luke 22:20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

  1. The birth of Jesus announced by angels did not move Israel to receive her king.
  2. The teaching ministry of Jesus did not move Israel to receive her king.
  3. The crucifixion of Jesus did not move Israel to receive her king.
  4. The resurrection of Jesus did not move Israel to receive her king.
  5. The ascension of Jesus did not move Israel to receive her king.
  6. The pouring out of spiritual gifts did not move Israel to receive her king.
  7. The giving of grace to gentiles did not move Israel to receive her king.
  8. The destruction of the temple did not move Israel to receive her king.

We are told that a time of trouble is coming for Jacob and that a faithful remnant of Israel will receive her king.

Revelation 12:16-17 And the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed up the flood which the dragon cast out of his mouth. And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Israel had the legitimate opportunity to receive the kingdom during the 70 year period between the announcement of the birth of Jesus until the destruction of the temple 70 years later.

Paul writes that one result of the "stumble" of Israel is salvation brought to the gentiles.

Romans 11:11-12 I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness?

However, if Israel had received her king at that time, the world would look much different today we can get a hint of what this "fulness" would have been and now will be;

Isaiah 2:4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.

Isaiah 11:8-9 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.
They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.

Isaiah 65:19-20 And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed.

We can get a picture of how this kingdom was expected to start.

Mark 16:15-18 And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

It was expected that the kingdom was immanent.

Acts 2:16-20 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: 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:

Several years later as gentiles started coming into the assembly, we see the application of what Jesus told Peter about the keys to the kingdom. James applies the "binding" and "loosening" in regard to gentiles coming into the kingdom by placing on them the restrictions that were to be placed on "sojourners" in Leviticus.

Paul still expected an immanent kingdom by his use of the word "we".

1 Thessalonians 4:17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.

Peter's quote of Joel was right. What was happening was the start of the kingdom. It was not brought to completion because Israel failed to receive the opportunity it was given. We are now living in a time when salvation is still available to both Jews and gentiles. However, the "fulness" of which Paul writes in Romans is still in the future.

Looking back, we can take the Christian life we know today and place on top of it the supernatural things described in the early church. This can give a sense of duality. However, I think it can be of help to see it as that which was then offered and is now on hold.

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