Let me begin by saying that I am a firm believer in the reality that Christianity overflows with exciting experiences and many wonderful feelings at times. Secondly, this thesis is in no way implying that God is limited in His actions. Thirdly, I must declare with all honesty in God’s presence, that judgment for tongues must be the Word of God and not feelings, even though Christianity does contain experiences and certainly has feelings at times.
This, like every other Bible subject, demands us have an open mind and study by comparing scripture with scripture prior to forming a particular belief. We must never utilize phrases like “I think”, “I feel”, “I believe”, or even that of “I’ve been taught”. One cannot study Bible doctrine by going into scripture with pre-conceived ideas about a subject. The proper way to study a Bible doctrine is to study each Scriptural reference in the context where it is found. Next bring all verses or passages together to see what they have in common. Then these findings will determine what a doctrine, or Bible based teaching, is all about and has to say.
Even though I’ve inserted scripture for the reader’s convenience, I must encourage you to use your BIBLE in order to see the context of the scriptures being quoted. Remember, God’s Word has the final say about what we Christians believe, practice, and proclaim. “Blessed [are] they that keep his testimonies, [and that] seek him with the whole heart. (Psa. 119:2)”
Why the Need
Our natural tendency is to avoid or argue about things we know so little about. Most Scriptural avoiding and arguing seems to be due to our own laziness, which in turn produces ignorance. God expects all of us, living in these later and confusing days to be a student of His Word and not take for granted what every religious Tom, Dick and Harry who comes along has thrown our way!
Joseph Smith (founder of Mormonism) taught his people to speak in tongues, “Arise upon your feet, speak or make sounds, continue to make sounds of some kind, and the Lord will make a language out of it.”…
“Tongues Of Men And Angels”, Macmillian Pub. Co. p53.
A famous preacher taught his people the following: “As the willing comes to you, open your mouth and submit your tongues to God. Lift up your voice but do not attempt to speak in your own language. You cannot speak in two languages at the same time. You may actually hear or see words. Or you may feel something moving in your mouth.”
“The Baptism Of The Holy Spirit” by Oral Roberts, p35.
Did you know that many pagan cults spoke in tongues?
Ency. Brit. 1968 ed. Vol. 22,p.78.
During the middle ages, alchemists (people who experimented with chemicals & remedies) spoke in tongues and were feared as men of sorcery.
Today, Mohammedans, Eskimos of Greenland, Tibetan Monks, and God only knows who, else speaks in tongues. The scary thing is: They all sound alike! Is it possible they have the same source? I don’t think so! According to Scripture, only believers in the family of God have God’s Holy Spirit. “So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God. But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Rom.8:-9)
As mentioned before, in order to Critique a subject one must first have, at his (or her) hands, access to all references about the subject at question. It is literally impossible to gather this from the secular world but, we can gather it from God’s Word. Thus, my first objective is gathering all the Biblical information possible. Secondly, God expects each one of us, who profess faith in Him, to rightly divide the word of truth. Paul told the young preacher Timothy, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” (2Tim.2:15)
This study is merely a tool that can, if God so desires, be used to help accomplish this task. In addition, these notes are brief, but Biblical. The value of this study will only be measured by the student’s efforts. May God use this for His glory! In the words of a famous little fellow who used to be on T.V., “go for it Willy.”
I. Occurrences of Tongues in the Bible
A. used 20 times in the New Testament.
1. one reference in the Gospels: “Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. 15. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. 16. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. 17. And these signs that follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new TONGUES (γλῶσσα – glossa = language or dialect used by a particular people distinct from that of other nations – specifically one naturally unacquired) ; 18. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.” (Mk. 16:14-18)
2. used five times in the book of Acts:
(1) Acts 2:3 “And there appeared unto them cloven tongues (γλῶσσα – glossa, same as above ) like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.”
(2) Acts 2:4 “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues (γλῶσσα – glossa – same as above ) , as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
(3) Acts 2:11 “Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues (γλῶσσα – glossa – same as above) the wonderful works of God.”
(4) Acts 10:46 “For they heard them speak with tongues, (γλῶσσα – glossa – same as above) and magnify God. Then answered Peter,”
(5) Acts 19:6 “And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, (γλῶσσα – glossa – same as above) and prophesied.”
3. fourteen times in only one New Testament epistle
( 1 Cor.12:10) “To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues (γλῶσσα – glossa – same as above) ; to another the interpretation of tongues:” (γλῶσσα – glossa – same as above) …( 1cor.12:28-30) “And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.” (γλῶσσα – glossa – same as above) …[Are] all apostles? [are] all prophets? [are] all teachers? [are] all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? (γλῶσσα – glossa – same as above) do all interpret? …(13:1) “Though I speak with the tongues (γλῶσσα – glossa – same as above) of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” … (13:8) “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues(γλῶσσα – (glossa – same as above), they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.” …(14:5) “I would that ye all spake with tongues (γλῶσσα – glossa – same as above), but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues (γλῶσσα – glossa – same as above) , except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.” … (14:6) “Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues (γλῶσσα – glossa – same as above) , what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?” … ( 14:18) “I thank my God, I speak with tongues (γλῶσσα – glossa – same as above) more than ye all:” … ( 14:21) “In the law it is written, With men of other tongues (ἑτερόγλωσσος – heteroglōssos – other tongued, that is, a foreigner: – man of other tongue) and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.” …(14:22) “Wherefore tongues (γλῶσσα – glossa – same as 1st usage) are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.” … (14:23 ) “If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues (γλῶσσα – glossa – same as 1st usage), and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?” (14:39 ) “Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues (γλῶσσα – glossa – same as 1st usage).”
B. There is no mention of tongues in the Revelation.
C. The texts:
1. Mark 16:17 = “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues (glossa) ;” In the context, these tongues were to be new to the speaker and would not be a learned language by the speaker. “New Tongues” was to be a sign to the new believers of the new faith presented to them in a way they could understand. The text only mentions tongues but, it does not describe its use. Without a doubt this promise was fulfilled in the book of Acts and as recorder in the epistles. This text also seems to apply to a first generation convert under an apostle.
2. Please read the following in Acts 1:1-2:18
a. “1 The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, 2 Until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: 3 To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: 4 And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. 5 For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. 6 ¶ When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? 7 And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. 8 But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth. 9 And when he had spoken these things, while they beheld, he was taken up; and a cloud received him out of their sight. 10 And while they looked stedfastly toward heaven as he went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel; 11 Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven. 12 ¶ Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day’s journey. 13 And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. 14 These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren. 15 ¶ And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples, and said, (the number of names together were about an hundred and twenty,) 16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus. 17 For he was numbered with us, and had obtained part of this ministry. 18 Now this man purchased a field with the reward of iniquity; and falling headlong, he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. 19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood. 20 For it is written in the book of Psalms, Let his habitation be desolate, and let no man dwell therein: and his bishoprick letanother take. 21 Wherefore of these men which have companied with us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, 22 Beginning from the baptism of John, unto that same day that he was taken up from us, must one be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection. 23 And they appointed two, Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. 24 And they prayed, and said, Thou, Lord, which knowest the hearts of all men, shew whether of these two thou hast chosen, 25 That he may take part of this ministry and apostleship, from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place. 26 And they gave forth their lots; and the lot fell upon Matthias; and he was numbered with the eleven apostles. 1 ¶ And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues (glossa), as the Spirit gave them utterance. 5 ¶ And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language (dialektos). 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? 8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue (glossa), wherein we were born? 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues (glossa) the wonderful works of God. 12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? 13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine. 14 ¶ But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: 15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. 16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 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: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:” _Now go back over the above passage and note very carefully the words “they” and “them” and to whom these words refer. Also, note “other tongues” (not unknown) in 2:4. Thirdly, in v.6 we encounter a new word – “language” (διάλεκτος – dialektos = the tongue or language peculiar to any people). This was a distinct and understandable language as illustrated by different regions of languages represented in vs.9-11. People were from all over. Please also note: there are no interpreters mentioned. Those hearing could fully understand everything.
b. The next section of scripture in Acts10: “45 And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.46 For they heard them speak with tongues (γλῶσσα – glossa – same as 1st usage) , and magnify God. Then answered Peter, 47 Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we? 48 And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.”
In Acts 10:45-48 Please also note the word “unknown” is not to be found anywhere. Here the Holy Ghost fell on the Gentiles (“That the blessing of Abraham might come on the Gentiles through Jesus Christ; that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” – Gal.3:14 ) but, in Acts 2 the Holy Ghost fell on the Jews. It is extremely note-worthy for us to remember that Jews were present in Acts 10 as well!
c. Let us now look at another: (Acts 19:1-6) “1 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, 2 He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. 3 And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. 4 Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. 5 When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues (glossa), and prophesied.”
_Once again the word “unknown” is missing again. The question being asked is: were they saved at this time? Up until this time they were not saved. Note two more things: (1st.) no interpreter is mentioned and (2nd ) Jews were present.
d. Now or largest of sections: (I Corinthians chapters 12,13,14) : “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. 2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. 3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. 4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. 6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. 7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues (glossa); to another the interpretation of tongues (glossa): 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 12 ¶ For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14 For the body is not one member, but many. 15 If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 16 And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? 17 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? 18 But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19 And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20 But now are they many members, yet but one body. 21 And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. 22 Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: 23 And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24 For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: 25 That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26 And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. 27 ¶ Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues (glossa). 29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues (glossa)? do all interpret? 31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way. 1 ¶ Though I speak with the tongues (glossa) of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. 3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing. 4 ¶ Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, 5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; 6 Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; 7 Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. 8 ¶ Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues (glossa), they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. 9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. 10 But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 11 When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. 12 For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. 13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. 1 ¶ Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. 2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. 3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. 4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. 5 I would that ye all spake with tongues (glossa), but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues (glossa), except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. 6 ¶ Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine? 7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? 8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? 9 So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. 10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. 11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me. 12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. 13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15 ¶ What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. 16 Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? 17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. 18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues (glossa) more than ye all: 19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. 20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. 21 ¶ In the law it is written, With men of other tongues (glossa) and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. 22 Wherefore tongues (glossa) are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. 23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues (glossa), and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? 24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: 25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth. 26 ¶ How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. 27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. 28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. 29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. 31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 34 ¶ Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. 35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. 36 ¶ What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? 37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. 38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant. 39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues (glossa). 40 Let all things be done decently and in order.
1. Tongues were a gift to the Corinthian Church = 12:10.
2. Paul lays down very strict regulations for its use.
3. All did not have the gift = I Cor. 12:30.
4. Tongues was recognized as an inferior gift = 12:28; 14:5,19
5. It was to be used for the church edification = I Cor. 14:4,5,12
6. The word “unknown” is always found in italics in the K.J.V. This means that it was not found in the original manuscripts but was added by the translators to help complete the thought of the statement.
7. Paul also told them that tongues were to be interpreted = 14:5-7,12,13
8. If no interpreter was present, the speaker, one, two or three at the most, was to keep quiet = 14:27,28
9. This text’s view in its entirety teaches that women were not permitted to speak in tongues in the church at Corinth = 14:34
10. In spite of strict guidelines, the gift was not to be forbidden in the church = v.39
II. Why Tongues Was A Sign (I Cor 14:22)
A. Tongues have an Old Testament basis.
1. Please compare the following verses: 1Corinthians 14:21 “In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.” Isaiah 28:11-12 “11. For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. 12. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.”
_Thus we see two very important things never to forget: (1st ) Tongues were a sign of warning and prophecy of coming judgment upon Israel. (2nd ) This Old testament prophecy gives the purpose for tongues in the New Testament. It is noteworthy that Paul uses I Cor. 14:21 before he refers to Isa 28:9-10. It would do us good to keep in mind the references to tongues in both the Old and New Testaments is not a sign of salvation, but rather one of coming judgment. If this gift were improperly used weak, believers and the unsaved who might be present would see this gift as a sign of madness. Note: I Corinthians 14:23.
B. The New Testament Purpose of tongues is easily seen in Acts.
1. In Acts 2, unbelieving Jews were present.
2. In Peter’s sermon, he is asserting that Israel is under judgment:
(Acts 2:36) Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made the same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ. _The tongues of Acts 2 was a sign upon which Peter built his sermon and produced the cry of Acts 2:37 – “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” and the response of Acts 2:41 – “Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.”
_Please compare this with I Cor. 14:12-22 – “ Even so ye forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.13. Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown TONGUE, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. 16. Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? 17. For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. 18. I thank my God, I speak with TOGUES more than ye all: 19. Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown TONGUE. 20. Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. 21. In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. 22. Wherefore TONGUES are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.”
3. In Acts 10, we discover that many came with Peter (Acts 10:45-46 – “And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. 46. For they heard them speak with TONGUES, and magnify God…”
_The thought is again emphasized in Acts 11:15-17 – “And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning.16. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. 17. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?” Here it is important to note that tongues were a sign of the national blessing to Israel.
4. Let’s us read Acts 19:16 – “And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded.” _From Acts 19:8-9 “And he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. 9 But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus.”) we learn that there were many unbelieving Jews in Ephesus. This thus connected the work with the work in Jerusalem. Therefore, all three accounts in Acts happened according to Paul’s teaching in I Corinthians 14:22 – “Wherefore TONGUES are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.”
C. Corinthian Problems:
1. Why were there problems in Corinth with tongues? Paul had ministered there before this letter was written: (Acts 19:18 = “And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds.”) but apparently they had forgotten the original purpose of tongues. (I Corinthians 14:20-22 = “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. 21. In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. 22. Wherefore TONGUES are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.”)
III. When Things Cease
I Corinthians 13:8 = “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be TONGUES, they shall cease; whether there be knowlege, it shall vanish away.”
1. Spiritual Gift = “prophecy” (to forth-tell). This was an authoritative revelation given directly by God to the local church. It consisted of both present and future things. This information was communicated both verbally and in written form.
2. English Word for its Cessation = “fail”; The Greek Verb = “katargoo” which means sudden removal or abolish
1. Spiritual Gift = “tongues” = glossa = a language; This was a message from Heaven in a language other than the native tongue of the speaker. After I Corinthians, there is no other mention of tongues in the Bible. Sixteen years after this letter, Titus completely destroyed Jerusalem (A.D. 70). This seems to have fulfilled in its entirety the Old Testament prophecy and the New Testament usage of the genuine gift of Biblical tongues. Since the New Testament is completed, there is no need for any “extra Biblical” revelation today. Please note John’s warning from Christ against extra-Biblical revelations Rev. 22:18-19, “ For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, I any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: 19. And if any man shall take away from the works of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”
_Phillip Schaff in his 8 volume set, History of the Christian Church, in volume #1, page #236 states : “We do not know how long glossolalia, as thus described by Paul, continued. It passed away gradually with other extraordinary strict supernatural gifts of the apostolic age…We have but a few allusions to it at the close of the second century. Irenaeus speaks of many brethren whom he heard in the church having the gift of prophecy and of speaking in diverse tongues… . At the time of Chrysostom (4th. century), it had entirely disappeared;” Thus, the gift of tongues seems to have disappeared early in the church history.
2. English Word for its Cessation = “cease” ; TheGreek verb = “povo” = This means a gradual passing away
C. “Knowlege” = This is the ability to comprehend and to know the mind of God.
This was not a learned gift, but it was rather a truth by the aid of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual Gift = “knowlege”; The English word for its Cessation = “vanish away”
Greek Verb : “katargoo” = This means a sudden removal or abolish
IV. Tongues Today ?
A. A desire to reproduce that gift today demonstrates a craving to return to the babyhood of the Church of Corinth
B. If real care is not taken, there is a possibility and the danger of yielding to occultish powers. In chaprer 6 of Ronald Baxter’s book he states, “A man who was born and reared on the border of Tibet tells of hearing Tibetian Monks speak in English while performing their ritual dances. They would quote from Shakespeare and use profanity like drunken sailors. They would also speak in German or French or in languages unknown.”
C. If we fall into the trap of depending upon personal feelings and experiences to interpret the Bible, very shortly in our mind, they will reach the same level of dependency and authority as the scriptures themselves. Always remember that God honors His Word first and foremost!
D. There is no doubt to the realness of tongues used in religious meetings today. _The writer’s question is and should be the question of all of us: are the tongues that we hear around us today the tongues of the New Testament as we find them set before us here in this study? This work has not been done to pick on any group or believer, but rather it was put together to stimulate our thinking about a subject we should not be ignorant of.
Many good books are available on this subject both pro and con, but these two are very good if one is daring enough to read them: Charismatic Gift of Tongues by Ronald E. Baxter Kregal Publishers. The Charismatics by John McAuthur Jr. Zondervon Publishers An article by John R. Rice —— http://www.dividedbytruth.org/FD/sitnnc.htm
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