And it shall come to pass in the last days
In Joel it is, "afterwards"; instead of which Peter puts, "in the last days"; the sense is the same: and so R. David Kimchi, a celebrated commentator with the Jews, observes, that "afterwards" is the same "as in the last days", and which design the times of the Messiah; for according to a rule given by the same writer on ( Isaiah 2:2 ) wherever the last days are mentioned, the days of the Messiah are intended.
or "the Lord", as the Vulgate Latin and Ethiopic versions read. This clause is added by Peter, and is not in Joel; and very rightly, since what follow are the words of God speaking in his own person:
I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh;
not "upon every animal", as the Ethiopic version renders it: this is extending the sense too far, as the interpretation the above named Jewish writer gives, limits it too much, restraining it to the people of Israel. It being a maxim with them, that the Shekinah does not dwell but in the land of Israel; and also that prophecy, or a spirit of prophecy, does not dwell on any but in the holy land F18. For though as it regards the first times of the Gospel, it may chiefly respect some persons among the Jews, yet not to the exclusion of the Gentiles; and it designs all sorts of persons of every age, sex, state, and condition, as the distribution afterwards shows. Jarchi's note upon it is,
``upon everyone whose heart is made as tender as flesh; as for example, "and I will give an heart of flesh", ( Ezekiel 36:26 ) .''By the Spirit is meant the gifts of the Spirit, the spirit of wisdom and knowledge, of understanding the mysteries of the Gospel, of explaining the Scriptures, and of speaking with tongues; and by the pouring of it out, is intended the abundance and great plenty of the gifts and graces of the Spirit bestowed; but yet not all of him, or all his gifts and grace in the large extent of them: therefore it is said, not "my Spirit", but "of my Spirit", or "out of it"; as out of an unfathomable, immeasurable, and inexhaustible fountain and fulness:
and your young men shall see visions;
as Ananias, ( Acts 9:10 ) , and Peter, ( Acts 10:17 ) and Paul when a young man, ( Acts 22:17 ) ( 26:19 ) and John, the youngest of the apostles, ( Revelation 1:10 ) though he was in years, when he saw the visions in the Revelations:
and your old men shall dream dreams;
or shall have night visions, as Paul at Troas, ( Acts 16:9 ) and in his voyage when at sea, ( Acts 27:23 ) . The order of the words is inverted, this last clause stands first in Joel; perhaps the change is made, because the apostles were young men, on whom the Spirit was poured; and the thing was the more wonderful that so it should be, than if they had been old men.
F18 Zohar in Gen. fol. 118. 4. & 128. 4.