I will show wonders - It is likely that both the prophet and the apostle refer to the calamities that fell upon the Jews at the destruction of Jerusalem, and the fearful signs and portents that preceded those calamities. See the notes on Matthew 24:5-7; (note), where these are distinctly related.
Blood, fire, and vapour of smoke - Skirmishes and assassinations over the land, and wasting the country with fire and sword.
I will show wonders - Literally, “I will give signs” - δώσω τέρατα dōsō terataThe word in the Hebrew, מופתים mowpatiymmeans properly “prodigies; wonderful occurrences; miracles performed by God or his messengers,” Exodus 4:21; Exodus 7:3, Exodus 7:9; Exodus 11:9; Deuteronomy 4:34, etc. It is the common word to denote a miracle in the Old Testament. Here it means, however, a portentous appearance, a prodigy, a remarkable occurrence. It is commonly joined in the New Testament with the word “signs” - “signs and wonders,” Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22; John 4:48. In these places it does not of necessity mean miracles, but unusual and remarkable appearances. Here it is used to mean great and striking changes in the sky, the sun, moon, etc. The Hebrew is, “I will give signs in the heaven and upon the earth.” Peter has quoted it according to the sense, and not according to the letter. The Septuagint is here a literal translation of the Hebrew; and this is one of the instances where the New Testament writers did not quote from either.
Much of the difficulty of interpreting these verses consists in affixing the proper meaning to the expression “that great and notable day of the Lord.” If it be limited to the day of Pentecost, it is certain that no such events occurred at that time. But there is, it is believed, no propriety in confining it to that time. The description here pertains to “the last days” Acts 2:17; that is, to the whole of that period of duration, however long, which was known by the prophets as “the last times.” That period might be extended through many centuries; and during that period all these events would take place. The day of the Lord is the day when God will manifest himself in a special manner; a day when he will so strikingly be seen in his wonders and his judgments that it may be called his day. Thus, it is applied to the day of judgment as the day of the Son of man; the day in which he will be the great attractive object, and will be signally glorified, Luke 17:24; 1 Thessalonians 5:2; Philemon 1:6; 2 Peter 3:12. If, as I suppose, “that notable day of the Lord” here refers to that future time when God will manifest himself in judgment, then we are not to suppose that Peter meant to say that these “wonders” would take place on the day of Pentecost, or had their fulfillment then, “but would occur under that indefinite period called “the last days,” the days of the Messiah, and before that period Was closed by the great day of the Lord.” The gift of tongues was a partial fulfillment of the general prophecy pertaining to those times. And as the prophecy was thus partially fulfilled, it was a pledge that it would be entirely; and thus there was laid a foundation for the necessity of repentance, and for calling on the Lord in order to be saved.
Blood - Blood is commonly used as an emblem of slaughter or of battle.
Fire - Fire is also an image of war, or the conflagration of towns and dwellings in time of war.
Vapour of smoke - The word “vapor,” ἀτμίς atmismeans commonly an exhalation from the earth, etc., easily moved from one place to another. Here it means (Hebrew: Joel) rising columbus or pillars of smoke, and is another image of the calamities of war the smoke rising from burning towns. It has always been customary in war to burn the towns of an enemy, and to render him as helpless as possible. Hence, the calamities denoted here are those represented by such scenes. To what particular scenes there is reference here it is impossible now to say. It may be remarked, however, that scenes of this kind occurred before the destruction of Jerusalem, and there is a striking resemblance between the description in Joel and that by which our Saviour foretells the destruction of Jerusalem. See the notes on Matthew 24:21-24. Dr. Thomson (Land and the Book, vol. 2, p. 311) supposes that the reference in Joel may have been to the usual appearances of the sirocco, or that they may have suggested the image used here. He says: “We have two kinds of sirocco, one accompanied with vehement wind, which fills the air with dust and fine sand. I have often seen the whole heavens veiled in gloom with this sort of sandcloud, through which the sun, shorn of his beams, looked like a globe of dull smouldering fire. It may have been this phenomenon which suggested that strong prophetic figure of Joel, quoted by Peter on the day of Pentecost. Wonders in the heaven and in the earth; blood, and fire, and pillars of smoke; the sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood. The pillars of smoke are probably those columns of sand and dust raised high in the air by local whirlwinds, which often accompany the sirocco. On the great desert of the Hauran I have seen a score of them marching with great rapidity over the plain, and they closely resemble ‹pillars of smoke.‘”
In answer to the accusation of the priests Peter showed that this demonstration was in direct fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel, wherein he foretold that such power would come upon men to fit them for a special work. “Ye men of Judea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem,” he said, “be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: for these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. 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.” AA 41.1
With clearness and power Peter bore witness of the death and resurrection of Christ: “Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Him ... ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that He should be holden of it.” AA 41.2
Peter did not refer to the teachings of Christ to prove his position, because he knew that the prejudice of his hearers was so great that his words on this subject would be of no effect. Instead, he spoke to them of David, who was regarded by the Jews as one of the patriarchs of their nation. “David speaketh concerning Him,” he declared: “I foresaw the Lord always before My face, for He is on My right hand, that I should not be moved: therefore did My heart rejoice, and My tongue was glad; moreover also My flesh shall rest in hope: because Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption.... AA 41.3Read in context »
This chapter is based on Acts 17:1-10.
After leaving Philippi, Paul and Silas made their way to Thessalonica. Here they were given the privilege of addressing large congregations in the Jewish synagogue. Their appearance bore evidence of the shameful treatment they had recently received, and necessitated an explanation of what had taken place. This they made without exalting themselves, but magnified the One who had wrought their deliverance. AA 221.1Read in context »
The Saviour is still carrying forward the same work as when He proffered the water of life to the woman of Samaria. Those who call themselves His followers may despise and shun the outcast ones; but no circumstance of birth or nationality, no condition of life, can turn away His love from the children of men. To every soul, however sinful, Jesus says, If thou hadst asked of Me, I would have given thee living water. DA 194.1
The gospel invitation is not to be narrowed down, and presented only to a select few, who, we suppose, will do us honor if they accept it. The message is to be given to all. Wherever hearts are open to receive the truth, Christ is ready to instruct them. He reveals to them the Father, and the worship acceptable to Him who reads the heart. For such He uses no parables. To them, as to the woman at the well, He says, “I that speak unto thee am He.” DA 194.2
When Jesus sat down to rest at Jacob's well, He had come from Judea, where His ministry had produced little fruit. He had been rejected by the priests and rabbis, and even the people who professed to be His disciples had failed of perceiving His divine character. He was faint and weary; yet He did not neglect the opportunity of speaking to one woman, though she was a stranger, an alien from Israel, and living in open sin. DA 194.3Read in context »
Peter showed them that this manifestation was the direct fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel, wherein he foretold that such power would come upon men of God to fit them for a special work. SR 244.1
Peter traced back the lineage of Christ in a direct line to the honorable house of David. He did not use any of the teachings of Jesus to prove His true position, because he knew their prejudices were so great that it would be of no effect. But he referred them to David, whom the Jews regarded as a venerable patriarch of their nation. Said Peter: SR 244.2Read in context »