God’s Word for You
Acts 2:14-17 Your sons and your daughters will prophesy
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Tuesday, August 27, 2019
14 But Peter, who was standing with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: “Gentlemen! Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, this must be made known to you. Listen carefully to what I say. 15 These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:
17 ‘And it will be in the last days, God says,
I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.
Your sons and your daughters will prophesy,
your young men will see visions,
and your old men will dream dreams.
Joel’s words apply to us today as the Holy Spirit is poured out on all believers (“my Spirit on all flesh”), but it was also fulfilled then and there at Pentecost with that special outpouring of the Spirit.
A question that will naturally arise with this passage is something along the lines of: Were Joel and Peter changing or expanding the nature of the ministry with these words? Should we train prophets rather than pastors? Would prophetesses have an equal or even higher rank or status than pastors and teachers?
Joel’s prophecy has been fulfilled in two ways. In the days of Pentecost, it was fulfilled when the Holy Spirit poured himself visibly out on the apostles and the other Christians who were there. This outpouring showed itself in various ways. Some were able to see things that were still in the future. Others were enabled to perform healings, speaking in unlearned human languages, and other miracles. Secondly, in our time and ever since Pentecost, the Holy Spirit continues to pour himself out on believers through the word and sacraments. Christians, both men and women, are able to share and explain the mysteries of God to our children and to our neighbors and friends.
Regarding prophecy in general, the Bible makes New Testament prophecy subject to testing (and therefore not authoritative): “Test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). A prophet in this sense might be a man or a woman, as Paul reveals (1 Corinthians 11:4-5). Such a prophet is greater than someone who speaks in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:5), but a prophet “will be recognized as one truly sent by the Lord only if his prediction comes true” (Jeremiah 28:9). Regarding the roles of men and women in various offices of public ministry, we want to be sure never to set one passage over against another, but to remember the established relationships God commands and then to see how God wants us to interact under those over-arching relationships (parent and child, man and woman, teacher and student). As one of our sermon studies for Lutheran pastors says: “Though a woman may be equipped by the Spirit to prophesy, she is not permitted to teach or have authority over a man. Those who think that Joel and Paul are saying all social, gender and age differences are to be ignored in the church pit one passage against another without understanding either.”
Regarding the office of the ministry, Professor Hoenecke assembled the following theses in our Evangelical Lutheran Dogmatics, volume IV:
Thesis 1. The teaching office, by which we mean the pastors, the estate composed of the servants of the Word, is divinely instituted.
God is the author of the ministry:
1, By promising teachers to the church (Jeremiah 3:15, 23:4; Joel 2:23)
2, By giving what he promised (1 Corinthians 12:28; 2 Corinthians 5:18)
3, By preserving the ministry to the end of the world (Ephesians 4:11)
4, By performing the office of teaching itself (Hebrews 1:1)
5, By equipping the teachers of the church with necessary gifts
(2 Corinthians 3:5).
Thesis 2. No one can become a public servant of the Word in any other way than through an external, legitimate call.
1, God wants the preaching office to be continued until the last day.
2, The indirect call (that is, through the congregation) is represented in Scripture as an ordinance established and confirmed by God.
3, The congregation has from God the right and obligation to call pastors, teachers, and other ministers of the gospel. Thus the indirect call through the congregation is in the fullest sense a divine call.
Thesis 3. Ordination makes no one a pastor. It only confirms that a pastor is legitimately called.
Luther (on Genesis 48:13,14): “The rite of the laying on of hands is a very old custom and has been taken over into the New Testament from the fathers, as is to be seen from Paul’s words in 1 Timothy 5:22.”
Thesis 4. The power and right of the ministry of the Word is to preach the gospel, administer the sacraments, forgive or retain sins, and practice discipline.
1, Preach the gospel: Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15.
2, Administer the sacraments: Matthew 28:19; 1 Corinthians 4:1; Titus 1:7.
3, Forgive or retain sins: John 20:23; Matthew 16:19.
4, Exercise discipline: 1 Corinthians 5:3-5.
Thesis 5. All preachers [there are many forms of ministry] are essentially the same in rights and honors.
Here we read in Quenstedt: “In our churches we retain an order among the ministers, so that some are bishops, some elders, and some deacons, because also in the apostolic and early church there were distinct orders of ministers, and they were divinely established (1 Corinthians 12:28; Ephesians 4:11). At the same time, we say that the same power of the ministry, consisting in the preaching of the Word and the administration of the sacraments, and the same power of jurisdiction, consisting in the use of the keys, belong to all ministers of the church.” (Systema, part IV, chap. XII, sect. I, thesis XIV. Page 396).
Pray for your pastors, teachers and ministers, but pray also that your sins would be forgiven and that you would be prepared at all times to share the reason for your faith, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ to wipe away our debt of sin on the cross.
Pastor Timothy Smith