Joel: The Life-Giving Power of the Holy Spirit

Joel’s Context: There is significant debate concerning the era in which Joel ministered as a prophet. If Joel preached prior to the Exile, then the message was a warning of the coming judgment and a promise of future restoration. If Joel ministered after the Exile, his message may have been a reminder of how God awakens and redeems a people for Himself. Regardless of the era in which Joel prophesied, at the core of his message is the promise that God will give life through His Spirit.

Joel’s Message – Theological Theme(s): While much of Joel’s message was not novel or new (i.e., the description of God as the absolute authority over all nations), his emphasis on the presence and power of the Spirit was unique amongst The Twelve.

Joel’s structure provides a general outline of the major themes in his message. First, God causes mourning to awaken people to their rebellion and bring them to repentance. After announcing the coming judgment, the prophet states his second theological theme. That is, God will give life through His Spirit. This outpouring of the Spirit will not be limited by age, gender, class, or ethnicity (cf. Joel 2; Acts 2). In the coming age all of God’s people, not just a few prophets, will be filled with and empowered by the Spirit to proclaim the Word of God. The final theological emphasis is one of hope. In the end, God will eradicate sin, and the present distress will lead to future deliverance.

joel blogSignificance of Joel’s Message for Christians:

1. God’s amazing grace and divine purpose are demonstrated in the mourning which He causes to fall on nations and peoples.

2. Repentance is not a work but a gift from God.

3. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit ushered in a new era in redemptive history.

4. This present distress (spiritual conflict with temptation and sin) will lead to a future deliverance wherein God will eradicate sin completely.

“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, and your young men shall see visions. 29 Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit. 30 “And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. 31 The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the Lord comes. 32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved. For in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem there shall be those who escape, as the Lord has said, and among the survivors shall be those whom the Lord calls (Joel 2:28-32 ESV).


Joel in the New Testament 

Joel                        New Testament

2:28-32                  Acts 2:17-20

2:32                        Romans 10:13


Further Study on the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament:

Read the following examples and provide a brief explanation of the Spirit’s work in the text. Furthermore, explain the significance of each for Christians.

Genesis 1:1-2:

Exodus 31:1-5:

1 Samuel 10:10:

1 Samuel 16:13:

2 Chronicles 24:20:

Ezekiel 36:22-32:

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