on Acts 2 :19
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.
on Acts 2 :19
I will show wonders - Literally, "I will give signs" - δώσω τέρατα dōsō terata. The word in the Hebrew, מופתים mowpatiym, means 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; Philippians 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 atmis, means 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.'"
on Acts 2 :19
2:19 And I will show prodigies in heaven above, and signs on earth beneath - Great revelations of grace are usually attended with great judgments on those who reject it. In heaven - Treated of, Ac 2:20. On earth - Described in this verse . Such signs were those mentioned, Ac 2:22, before the passion of Christ; which are so mentioned as to include also those at the very time of the passion and resurrection, at the destruction of Jerusalem, and at the end of the world. Terrible indeed were those prodigies in particular which preceded the destruction of Jerusalem: such as the flaming sword hanging over the city, and the fiery comet pointing down upon it for a year; the light that shone upon the temple and the altar in the night, as if it had been noon - day; the opening of the great and heavy gate of the temple without hands; the voice heard from the most holy place, Let us depart hence; the admonition of Jesus the son of Ananus, crying for seven years together, Wo, wo, wo; the vision of contending armies in the air, and of entrenchments thrown up against a city there represented; the terrible thunders and lightnings, and dreadful earthquakes, which every one considered as portending some great evil: all which, through the singular providence of God, are particularly recorded by Josephus. Blood - War and slaughter. Fire - Burnings of houses and towns, involving all in clouds of smoke.