Acts 2:18

ESV even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
NIV Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.
CSB I will even pour out my Spirit on my servants in those days, both men and women and they will prophesy.
NLT In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants — men and women alike — and they will prophesy.
KJV And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:
NKJV And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy.

What does Acts 2:18 mean?

Earlier this morning, about 120 Christ-followers met in a house in Jerusalem and received the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:1–4). A crowd of Jews from all over the Roman Empire and the Middle East are stopped in their tracks when they realize these Galileans are speaking their languages—not just the universal languages of Greek and Aramaic, but the individual dialects from the visitors' homelands. Some dismiss the speech as gibberish and insist the Jesus-followers are drunk (Acts 2:13). Others have one question: "What does this mean?" (Acts 2:12).

Peter is explaining this phenomenon in the context of the prophecy found in Joel 2:28–32. In the book of Joel, God explains that if the people of Judah do not repent of their sins, He will destroy them as the locusts destroyed their crops. If they do repent, He will send certain signs, including the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and visions and dreams for the people. This verse quotes Joel 2:29 and would seem to be an add-on to Joel 2:28, except that the identification of the prophets changes. In Acts 2:17, God talks about "your sons and your daughters…your young men…your old men." Here, He says, "my male servants and female servants." He identifies the Galileans as belonging to Him.

"Servant" is a common way Jesus-followers identify themselves in the beginning years of the church. The young congregation prays God will grant His servants boldness to preach in the face of persecution (Acts 4:29). Paul readily identifies himself as God's servant in his letters (Romans 1:1; 1 Corinthians 3:5), as does Peter (2 Peter 1:1). Jesus' half-brothers James (James 1:1) and Jude (Jude 1:1) do as well.

"Servants" is from the Greek root word doulos and can mean a servant or a slave. To be a slave of Jesus is not a term of reproach. He bought us with His blood (1 Corinthians 6:19–20) and we are His for eternity (John 10:28). When Jesus rescued us from being slaves to sin, God adopted us as sons and daughters (Romans 8:15). We are naturally a slave to something, but we have the right to choose who we serve. If we serve ourselves, we are slaves to sin; if we serve God, we are slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:16).
What is the Gospel?
Download the app: