Perhaps one of the most misunderstood and also quickly approaching the most abused concept of the New Testament that has its origins in Old Testament prophecy is “speaking in tongues.” Primarily passed off as a Pentecostal phenomenon and viewed as radical and weird, many denominations go as far as denouncing such a thing as a work of the devil.
If acknowledged as an actual New Testament phenomenon, some denominations quickly pass it off as relative for the age of the Apostles only. What then are we to think when talking of such a phenomenon? Is the idea of speaking in tongues Biblical and should churches be teaching congregants today or is it something we should altogether cease from reading and teaching and believing?
This author unequivocally believes in the infilling of the Holy Ghost with the INITIAL evidence of speaking in other tongues and that after having received the gift of the Spirit, (the GIFT of the Holy Ghost is not TONGUES but the Spirit is the gift and tongues is the SIGN or EVIDENCE of receiving that gift), there must be a continuing evidence of that initial experience in the life of a Christian. The FRUIT (singular) of that Spirit needs to be evident because it is “by their fruit ye shall know them,” and after having received the Holy Ghost with the INITIAL evidence of speaking in tongues, no longer does TONGUES remain a “continuing evidence.” I have said this before and will say it again: there may be more tongue-talkers in Hell than we realize! One must not base his/her salvation primarily on the fact that they have spoken in tongues or continue to speak in tongues.
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.
This is a very interesting portion of scripture in the fact that the word “rest,” is used as two different Hebrew words.
The first use of rest is “menuḥāh,” and means “resting place or abode,” and is used in another portions of scripture to denote “resting place.”
Isaiah 66:1 (KJV)
1 Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? (Menuhah)
The other use of the word “rest” is “nûah,” which means “to rest or settle down.” It is used when the spirit of Elijah rested upon Elisha and also of the Spirit of God that rested upon some of the men of the Old Testament.
2 Kings 2:15 (KJV)
15 And when the sons of the prophets which were to view at Jericho saw him, they said, The spirit of Elijah doth rest (nuah) on Elisha. And they came to meet him, and bowed themselves to the ground before him.
Numbers 11:25-26 (KJV)
25 And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that was upon him, and gave it unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, that, when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease.
26 But there remained two of the men in the camp, the name of the one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad: and the spirit rested upon them; and they were of them that were written, but went not out unto the tabernacle: and they prophesied in the camp.
Many have argued that Isaiah 28:11 isn’t referring to the phenomenon of speaking in tongues at all and therefore has no bearing whatsoever on the subject of tongue talking. Those same critics who will willfully back up the Pauline epistles must then take into account a direct quote from this passage of scripture by the Apostle Paul who ties it directly to the “speaking in tongues,” phenomenon.
1 Corinthians 14:1-22 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, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, 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 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.
Paul would use a direct quote from Isaiah 28:11 and present its meaning quite clearly. The prophetic promise given through Isaiah was speaking of the usage of tongues and the phenomenon of “speaking in tongues.”
Many will take I Corinthians 14 and pass it off as either relative only to the church of Corinth, yet if that is the case then we might as well not accept any of the 14th chapter as relevant for us, which of course is absurd. Others will take this and explain that it has nothing to do with the INITIAL experience but argue that the book of Acts experience was none other than a spiritual gift and not something which was necessary to receive. Many that have seen the validity of its place in scripture have accepted the use of tongues but have presented it primarily as a spiritual gift that some receive and is not required for salvation.
Yes, there is a GIFT of TONGUES and the GIFT of INTERPRETATION of TONGUES but what we must remember is that the PROMISE of the HOLY GHOST was the GIFT that was received in the book of Acts. Tongues was not the GIFT but it accompanied the reception of the gift. The word “gift,” in relation to the Holy Ghost is the Greek word, “dōrea,” and means exactly what the word commonly signifies and that is “something that is given for free or a free gift.”
The word “gift,” used in the 14th chapter of 1 Corinthians doesn’t appear in the original but rather just states “spiritual.” When looking at the 12th chapter of I Corinthians it is made clear that what is being discussed are the “spiritual gifts,” and that tongues and tongues interpretation are a part of that list.
1 Corinthians 12:4-11 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; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
The word “gifts,” used in this case is “Charisma,” and means: ” a gift of grace, an undeserved benefit,” but in its context is used primarily as a “spiritual endowment.”
It states that there are a diversities of gifts, yet the same Spirit and differences of administrations or (ministries,) and diversities of operations…yet all are led and used by the same God. The MANIFESTATION of the Spirit is given to every man (used if gifts, ministries and operations,) to profit or to benefit (remember the charisma or gifts is an undeserved benefit.)
The word manifestation is a very interesting word and means “pertaining to that which is different in kind or class from all other entities – ‘different, differently, other than” —Louw & Nida: NT Greek-English Lexicon
And so in the context of what is being written stating the DIFFERENT and DIVERSE GIFTS, OPERATIONS AND MINISTRIES all have one thing in common…the SAME SPIRIT, THE SAME LORD or the SAME GOD.
That SAME GOD manifests Himself in many different ways yet remains ONE GOD.
The “diverse tongues,” falls under the Spiritual Gifts (Charisma,) and so does the “interpretation of tongues.”
These are a part of a list of gifts that are “undeserved benefits,” given to the members of the body. Not all share in common these gifts but verse 11 states that the SPIRIT divides to every man severally as he will but the ultimate purpose is for the edification of the body, the perfecting of the saints and the working of the ministry.
1 Corinthians 12:27-31 (KJV)
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.
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? do all interpret?
31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
I should SEEK the Spiritual Gifts for the threefold purpose declared. This phenomenon though which is considered under the category of “spiritual gifts,” is not the same as the account of the reception of the GIFT of the Holy Ghost which was evidenced by speaking in another tongue.
Acts 10:45-46 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, and magnify God.
How did the Jews who had just received the Holy Ghost know that the Gentiles received the same experience they did? “For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.”
The tongues were an EVIDENCE of the reception of the Spirit of God.
Mark 16:17 (KJV)
17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
This phenomenon accompanying the outpouring of the GIFT of the Holy Ghost is for everyone, whereas the “diverse tongues and tongues interpretation,” is not.
I Corinthians was written to Spirit filled believers who had received the Holy Ghost as it had been shown in the book of Acts and all had at least spoken in tongues at least once. Obviously they understood Paul from that distinction when he stated that not everyone would “speak in tongues,” while referring to the Spiritual Gifts.
Again, on the day of Pentecost, about 120 spoke in tongues at the same time when they had received the Gift of the Holy Ghost, (Acts 1:15; 2:1-4.) In Acts 10 as I have already discussed the same occurrence happened. Then in Acts 19 twelve disciples in Ephesus spoke in tongues together. If those occurrences were the same as in I Corinthians 14 then there was a problem because Paul instructed that in public worship the members should take turns speaking in tongues and only two or three should give the messages.
In none of the accounts in the book of Acts does one interpret the tongues for anyone else or even attempts yet in I Corinthians 14 it states that one should pray for the interpretation if tongues is given.
AGAIN: We cannot judge spirituality based upon talking in tonges yet it is obviously a part of the initial salvation as recorded in the Bible. Paul will encourage for believers to continue to speak in tongues in their personal devotion and prayer lives because it “edifies themselves,” and Paul even declared the he was glad he “spoke in tongues more than ye all.” For anyone to just discount the phenomenon of tongues (other tongues=Heterosglossa,” is to discount too much of the Bible and just because one does not understand it! It has been said that people often fear what they do not understand
To be continued…