Existing today in many Christian circles is much confusion on the subject of Tongues. There is great perplexity among "church leaders" over the Tongues Movement. What are they to do with it? It will not go away. In fact the movement is gaining momentum. Many of the "leaders" are willing to make a place for Tongues Speaking within their denominations. Some of the old-line orthodox denominations frown upon the movement as being not for today, but frankly are unable to produce Scripture which would show conclusively that Tongues Speaking today is out of order.
Those who are participating in the movement have Scripture backing them up on their ability to speak in Tongues. They find a basis for it in the Acts of the Apostles as well as in Paul's first epistle to the Corinthians. It is very true that the first century Christians were endowed with "spiritual gifts", one of which was Tongues. Therefore if the early Christians were endowed with this gift why shouldn't Christians today be so endowed?
Thousands of Christians are rejoicing in the fact that the Tongues Movement is sweeping aside denominational barriers and those who are participating in the movement are seeing a unity among one another that they had never experienced before.
Pentecostals, Episcopalians, Lutherans, Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians and Roman Catholics are uniting in what they call the "Charismatic Movement." This movement follows along Pentecostal lines. The word "charismatic" is from the word "charism" which means, (1) a divine gift to a devout person, conferring upon him powers of healing, prophesying, etc." The words "charism", "charisma" or "charismatic" incidentally are relatively new words. In Webster's first edition of his English dictionary in 1828 the words are not there to be found. The definition given was from the World Book Dictionary 1967 edition.
The unity being produced and experienced in this movement is a great rallying point- for those involved. It provides them with ammunition to encourage others to join them.
It is recognized that those within the Charismatic Movement are making a great impact upon the "Christian Church world." Their zeal is evidenced in many cities. Their organizations are growing daily.
Our purpose, however, is not to write a commentary on the Tongues Movement but rather to open the blessed Book and see "what saith the Scriptures" on the subject of Tongues. If we do this then we will be in a position to determine the true merit of the Charismatic Movement and then determine what part it is to play, if any, in God's present program.
DEFINITION OF TONGUES
The dictionary lists the definitions of the word "tongue". Six of the definitions relate to language and speech. The fifth definition we choose to quote because we will notice that it fits in with the Bible usage of the word. "A language: the whole sum of words used by a particular nation" (Webster's 1828). Here we notice that it has reference to a language. The plural would have to do with languages.
A good procedure to follow in Bible study is to follow the principle of "the law of first mention." That is to check the first mention of a word in the Bible, for there, generally, the meaning of the word is set. The word generally carries that meaning throughout the rest of the Bible. Turning to Genesis 10 we note the first mention of the word "tongue."
"By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; everyone after his tongue (i.e. language), after their family, in their nations" (v. 5).
In the twentieth verse we notice the first mention of the word "tongues".
These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations."
The first mention seems to set the use of the words, tongue and tongues, as having reference to specific languages or dialects.
Of course the word is used often as a reference to the specific organ of speech. As such many figures of speech are associated with the word tongue, such as: "double-tongued" (1 Tim. 3:8), "My tongue is the pen of a ready writer" (Ps. 45:1), etc.
It will be helpful to look at the last mention of the word in the Bible.
"And he gathered them together into a place called in the Hebrew tongue Armageddon" (Rev. 16:16).
The first and the last mention of "tongue" carries with it the idea of a
language which is the whole sum of words used by a particular nation.
ADDITIONAL SCRIPTURE REFERENCES
In order to continue to allow the Scripture to speak for Itself we will set forth additional verses which further substantiate the fact that the word "tongue" has to do with languages of particular nations.
1. "now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda,..." Jn. 5:2).
2. "And when he had given him license, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying" (Acts 21:40).
3. "(And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence" (Acts 22:2).
4. "And when we were fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, ... " (Acts 26:14).
5. "And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof. for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people and nation" (Rev. 5:9).
6. "And they had a king over them, which is the angel of the bottomless pit, whose name in the Hebrew tongue is Abaddon, but in the Greek tonguehath his name Apollyon" (Rev. 9:11).
7. "And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people" (Rev. 14:6).
8. "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues" (Mk. 16:17).
9. "After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues... "(Rev. 7:9).
10. "And he said unto me, Thou must prophecy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings" (Rev. 10:11).
11. "And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies... " (Rev. 11:9).
12. and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations" (Rev. 13:7).
13. "And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues" (Rev. 17:15).
14. "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" (Ii Cor. 12:10).
15. "And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues,as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4).
These fifteen references should be sufficient Scriptural evidence that "tongue or tongues" carries with it the idea of the language or dialects of nations or nationalities. In the verses listed the tongues were the languages of men. Keep in mind that these are languages which are known and spoken by men of different nations.
Today it could be said that men of the United States speak in the "English tongue", men of Germany speak in the "German tongue", and men of Spain speak in the "Spanish tongue." The American when he speaks in his tongue to the German it may well be that it is an unknown tongue to the German since he only speaks and understands German. If the Spaniard were to speak to the American in Spanish, his "tongue" (i.e. the Spanish language) would be "unknown" to the American.
Therefore, in the sense that has been put forth, "tongues" relate to the languages of men.
BACKGROUND LEADING TO PENTECOST
The long history of Israel as recorded in the O.T. is one of failure; failure to obey the Lord, and accept His preparation of them for their part in the blessing of the world. Throughout their history in O.T. times despite their continued failure, there shown brightly a glorious promise of a coming Christ (i.e. Messiah). During the reign of David the Lord made an important covenant with David. It was that the Christ would come through his seed and sit upon his throne.
After the Davidic covenant was made Israel became a divided nation; splitting into two kingdoms, one in the north (Israel), and one in the south (Judah). Neither proved to be very faithful to the Lord. Consequently the Lord judged both kingdoms.
The Northern Kingdom was crushed by Assyria (2 Kings 17:1-23), and then the Southern Kingdom was carried away into Babylon as captives (2 Kings 23:26-27, 24:1-25:21). After 70 years the people of Judah were allowed to return to Jerusalem and rebuild the Temple which had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzer, the King of Babylon. From that time the people of the Nation were dominated by the Gentile nations. When the New Testament opens, Rome is the master of the world and dominates the affairs of Israel.
From David to the New Testament times the hope of the coming of the Christ never dimmed in the hearts of the faithful. Examples of those who were "Waiting" for the "consolation of Israel", for "Israel's Redeemer", for the Christ to show up were Zacharias and Elizabeth (Lu. 1:5-6), Anna (Lu. 2:35-38), Joseph (Mk. 15:43) and Cleopas (Lu. 24:21). These were the "waiters for the Kingdom of God" and God's Christ.
The Four Gospels record the coming and earthly ministry of the long awaited Christ. They record what "Jesus began both to do and teach" (Acts 1:1).
In Matthew 4:23 we read:
"And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their (the Jews) synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people."
As a result of this preaching the gospel of the Kingdom in the Jewish synagogues and His healing, which was according to prophecy (Isa. 29:18, 42:7), His fame spread.
"And His fame went throughout all Syria: and they brought unto Him all sick people that were taken with divers diseases and torments, and those which were possessed with devils, and those which were lunatick, and those that had the palsy; and He healed them" (Matt. 4:24).
There were no failures. He healed all that came to Him. The miracles were signs which confirmed that He was in fact the Christ and the Kingdom was at hand. His credentials were the signs or miracles which He performed. These miracles were the ones the O.T. told about. These were the signs Moses associated with the Prophet which God would raise up like unto Moses (Deut. 18:15).
Despite His fame, His credentials and His announcement that the Kingdom was at hand the leaders of Israel chose their king to be Caesar; concerning Israel's King they said, "Away with Him, we have no king but Caesar. Release unto us Barabbas."
Even though Pilot said he found no fault in Jesus of Nazareth he had Him crucified. Therefore Israel's long awaited Christ showed up but the leaders of Israel did not want Him to reign over them (Lu. 19:14). They rejected their Christ who was to have been their Deliverer from the tyranny of the Romans.
THE LAST GENERATION
There was every indication to believe that the generation which was alive at the time of Jesus Christ's earthly ministry was to be the generation that was going to experience the terrible judgments of God which were to be associated with the Great Tribulation. In fact the generation which was alive during the earthly life of Christ and the period covered by the Acts period was to be the last generation on earth prior to the dawning of the new age, the millennium.
The Lord Jesus told His disciples that, "there would be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they, see the Son of Man coming in His Kingdom" (Matt. 16:28). At the time He said this the interval of the Mystery was still hidden and was not in view at all. During His earthly ministry He limited Himself, even though He was God "manifest in the flesh" (1 Tim. 3:16). He limited Himself to certain knowledge because of His Tabernacle of flesh. Having limited Himself to a fleshy tabernacle the God of Glory takes on limitations including hunger, thirst, sadness and pain. Also, notice His limitations as there is a time lapse between the occurrence of a thought which someone has and the time He perceives it. Notice the time element in thought reading by God manifest in the flesh.
"Then Jesus said unto them, Take heed and beware of the leaven of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees. And they reasoned among themselves, saying, It is because we have taken no bread. Which when Jesus perceived, He said unto them, 0 ye of little faith. . .(Matt. 16:6-8).
Another passage to show that He, while in the Tabernacle of flesh, limited Himself somewhat as to the time lapse in thought reading.
"And, behold, certain of the scribes said within themselves, This man blasphemeth. And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, wherefore think ye evil in your hearts?" (Matt. 9:3-4).
Other passages to check are Mark 2:8 and Mark 8:17.
Thus being somewhat limited He also limited Himself to ministering to Israel as their Christ in such a manner that allowed Him to be unaware of that which was to take place after Acts 28:28, that is, the ushering in of an unprophesied dispensation. Otherwise He lied in Matthew 16:28. Of course, God cannot lie (Titus 1:2. The only explanation for this limitation is summed up thusly - without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness (I Tim. 3:16).
Therefore when the Lord said there would be some who would not have to taste of death before they saw the Son of Man coming, prophetically He was speaking the truth, for that was what was next on God's agenda.
The generation that was living then was to be the one that was to live through the Great Tribulation. It was that generation which was to experience the wrath and judgments of God. In fact the Lord Jesus said:
" That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of THIS GENERATION. From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple; verily I say unto you, It shall be required of THIS GENERATION" (Lu. 11:50-51).
The blood of the prophets from Abel to Zacharias was to be required of that generation, since it was in God's plan that Christ must "suffer many things, and be rejected of this generation" (Lu. 17:25).
After He was rejected by His generation of His own earthly people and nailed to a Cross He secured for them another chance by His dying prayer, "Father forgive them" (Lu. 23:24).
Therefore after His resurrection He told the Apostles to remain in Jerusalem until they receive the promise of the Father which was the enduement with power from on high (Lu. 24:49). Therefore the Apostles waited in Jerusalem until they were endued with Spiritual power, that is supernatural power. This Divine equipment was to enable them to fulfill the commission of Mark 16:15-18, which was a very urgent commission of "Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature." The baptism with the Holy
Ghost was to be the Divine enablement for them to do so. Much had to be accomplished in a short time.
On the Day of Pentecost the men of Israel asked Peter what must they do since he convinced them that they had crucified their Christ. He replied that they must "Repent and be baptized" in order for them to "save (themselves) from this untoward generation" (Acts 2:40). This was a "wicked and adulterous generation" upon whom God was going to require of them the blood of all the prophets. Judgment and tribulation were staring that generation in the face. It was to be the last generation before the millennium was to be ushered in. Wrath was to be poured out upon those who were alive at the time.
John in Revelation states this when he says that the judgments which he saw in the visions on the Isle of Patmos "must shortly come to pass." The judgments were about to take place.
Paul says in I Corinthians 10:11, "Now all these things happened unto them (i.e. Israel in the wilderness) for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ENDS OF THE WORLD ARE COME. The end of the age was rapidly approaching.
Time was running out for Israel. There was an urgent need for her to be prepared to go through "Daniel's Seventieth Week", the Great Tribulation. The Apostles were to be supernaturally equipped to get out the Gospel of the Kingdom. There was no time for "language school", there was no time for them to learn foreign languages.
Since the Lord operates on the basis of never giving anyone a job to do without first equipping them. He told the Apostles to wait for power from on high.This they received on the Day of Pentecost. It took the form of tongues. Therefore, the heralding of the Kingdom gospel "to every creature" (Mark 16) and to "the Jew first" (Rom. 1) would not be handicapped by the language barrier. Thus "tongues" were to play an important part in the Kingdom gospel because of its urgency.
After the King had been crucified and raised from the dead there was to be a time of preparation for Israel; for the next thing to take place after the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ was to be a time of great tribulation.
The Kingdom, which was in view, was to be entered through much tribulation (Acts 14:22). There was an urgent need to get the Gospel of the Kingdom to the ends of the earth. The elect out of all of Israel was to be called. This call would come through the proclamation of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
The Lord told the Apostles just prior to His ascension:
"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 Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth" (Acts 1:8).
The receiving of the power mentioned in Acts 1:8 is also referred to as being endued with power from on high (Luke 24:49). The Holy Ghost, imparting the gift of tongues as in Acts 2 to the Apostles, was to be the Divine signal for the Apostolic Missionary Program to begin.
THE GREAT COMMISSION OF MARK 16
The marching orders for the twelve Apostles were given them in Mark 16:15; for it was here the Lord Jesus told them what they were to do after they received the Divine enablement.
"Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel (i.e. of the Kingdom) to every creature. "
This was the command which was to be carried out by them when they received the "promise of the Father",(Luke 24:49). The promise of the Father was the promise of the Spirit (Gal. 3:14) which the Lord identified in Acts 1:5 as the baptism with the Holy Ghost- The baptism with the Holy Ghost was the imparting of spiritual gifts by the Spirit to the Apostles.
The signal to "Go ye into all the world" was to take the form of the gift of tongues. This enduement took place on the Day of Pentecost as the Apostles were empowered by the Spirit to speak in the languages of men. The language or dialect was unknown by those who spoke them under the influence of the Spirit of God. This gift to speak in another language accomplished a great deal on the Day of Pentecost as well as after that.
This ability caused great wonderment and amazement by all those who were in Jerusalem during the Feast Days. As they heard the Apostles speak in foreign languages, knowing they were Galileans, they marveled and said "how hear we every man in our own tongue, where in we were born?" (Acts 2:8). They were so amazed at this that they asked further, "What meaneth this?" (Acts 2:12).
It is Peter who responds to the question of "What meaneth this?". His Pentecostal sermon following "Tongues" were what gained the attention of the Jews who were dwelling in Jerusalem.
"Tongues" enabled the Twelve to speak to the multitude in their own mother tongue. It foreshadowed the enabling of the Pentecostal Missionary Program. Since there was an urgency for the proclamation of the Kingdom message, the gift of "tongues" enabled the Acts period missionaries to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom without the hinderances of the language barrier. Therefore the Acts missionaries did not have to attend to the time consuming details of the learning of foreign languages.
TONGUES AN EVIDENTIAL SIGN
The ability to speak in "tongues" was also to be an "evidential sign" confirming the fact that the Lord was working with the believers.
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
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.
So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, He was received up into heaven, and sat at the right hand of God.
And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the Word, WITH SIGNS FOLLOWING" (Mark 16:17-20).
Tongues" were an integral part of this commission. "Tongues" confirmed the fact that the Lord was working with the believers. The Mark 16 Commission was a commission to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom. It was in effect throughout the Acts of the Apostles. Signs confirmed the Lord working in harmony with His Word as far into Acts as Acts 28:1-10.
It is noted in Acts 28:1-10 that Paul is bitten by a venomous viper and suffered no hurt. He heals a man of a bloody flux on the Island of Melita. That is not all, we note as late as Acts 28:10, "So when this was done, others also, which came with diseases in the island, came, and were healed."
Thus we are aware that signs confirmed the Word and the Lord working with the Apostles from Acts 2 (Pentecost) all the way through Acts 28:10. "Signs following" penetrated as far as the twenty-eighth chapter of the Acts of the Apostles.
"Tongues" were one of the "signs following" as enumerated in Mark 16:17-18. "Signs following" were in operation from Acts 2 up until Acts 28.
TONGUES IN THE ACTS OF THE APOSTLES
"Tongues" on the Day of Pentecost were the result of waiting for the promise. The gift of "tongues" on the Day of Pentecost was more of a Divine ennoblement for the Apostles than it was one of the nine spiritual gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians. No interpreter was needed on Pentecost because every man heard the Apostles in their own tongue.
This is not to say that the "tongues" of Acts 2 were not one of the gifts of the Spirit, but more particularly they were the special equipment of the Apostles for the specific task of witnessing to those who were in Jerusalem on Pentecost concerning the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Pentecostal experience of the twelve Apostles was the evidence that they had been "baptized with (i.e. by) the Holy Ghost", it was also their cue that the Gospel of the Kingdom was to be preached in Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and to the "uttermost part of the earth. "
Tongue speaking is not mentioned in the Acts narrative again until about 9 or 10 years later in Acts 10, when Cornelius and his household believed the Gospel of the kingdom.
We are not to assume that this phenomena was not prevalent. It most assuredly was. After the stoning of Stephen "Saul made havoc of the church (i.e. the church of God)" (Acts 8:3). As a result of the persecution, the believing Jewish saints residing in Jerusalem were scattered abroad and went everywhere preaching the word of the Kingdom (Acts 8:4). As they went everywhere proclaiming the good news concerning the Resurrection of their Christ they "traveled as far as Phenice, and Cyprus, and Antioch, preaching the Word to none but unto the Jews only" (Acts 11:19). The twentieth verse states further, "and some of them were men of Cyprus and Cyrene, which, when they were come to Antioch, spake unto the Grecians, preaching the Lord Jesus." The fact that the dispersed is said to have spoken to "the Grecians" indicates that they spoke to them in the Greek tongue. This would imply that the gift of tongues was employed by those who preached the Lord Jesus to the Greek speaking Jews.
GENTILES RECEIVE GIFT OF TONGUES
About 10 years after Pentecost the Apostle Peter went to Caesarea under the direction of the Lord. There he went into the house of a Gentile, named Cornelius. While Peter was explaining the good news of the Kingdom, the Gentiles to whom Peter was speaking received the gift of "tongues."
"While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them (Cornelius' household) which heard the word.
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. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God" (Acts 10:44-46).
In Matthew 16:19 the Lord Jesus told Peter that it was going to be his responsibility and privilege to have the ' 'keys of the Kingdom". "The keys" are to the Kingdom, not the Church which is His Body. "The keys" are a figure of speech (i.e. a metonymy-of-cause). "The keys" speak of Peter's power and authority to open the Kingdom to individuals. Just as the Lord Jesus Christ has the power (i.e. the keys) "of hell and death" (Rev. 1:18), the Apostle Peter was given "the keys to the Kingdom. " Peter exercised this power in Acts 2 in Israel and Acts 10 among the Gentiles.
The gift of tongues being imparted to the household of Cornelius was evidence that the Gentiles were to be admitted into the Kingdom.
In keeping with the commission of Mark 16, Peter said, "Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?" (Acts 10:47). Thus the Gentiles by faith were admitted into the foretaste of Kingdom blessing. "He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved" (Mk. 16:16). Thus it is noted that Cornelius' salvation into the Kingdom calling was in harmony with the words of the Lord in Mark 16:15-16.
When Peter goes back to Jerusalem in Acts 11 he finds that the Jewish brethren had heard that "the Gentiles (i.e. Cornelius) had also received the Word of God ... they that were of the circumcision contended with him" (Acts 11:1-2).
Their attitude was one of dismay. They could not believe that Peter would go in unto "men uncircumcised" (v. 3). However, Peter explains under what circumstances he went to Cornelius and that is under the direction of the Lord.
Peter tells the Jewish brethren what happened at the house of Cornelius.
"And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. 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.
For as much then as God gave them the like gift (tongues) as He did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ;" (Acts 11:15-17).
The conclusion was, "Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life" (v. 18). Repentance unto life was to be life in the Kingdom.
The evidence that Gentiles were to be admitted into the Kingdom was the "like gift" of tongues. Since Peter said that what happened to Cornelius' family in Acts 10 was what happened to them "at the beginning" clearly shows it to be an extension of Pentecost.
The baptism with the Spirit in Acts 10 accompanied the salvation of Cornelius. It was not some experience sought after salvation. But when "Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word" (Acts 10:44). Upon believing, Peter then baptized them with water. It was all in harmony with the commission of Mark 16.
DISCIPLES OF JOHN THE BAPTIST
About 28 years after Pentecost Paul is in Ephesus (57 A.D.) in Acts 19. Nothing is mentioned about "tongues" in the Acts of the Apostles between Acts 10 and Acts 19. In other words a period of about 18 years pass between Acts 10 and Acts 19 and during this time there is nothing mentioned about "tongues" in the Divine narrative. The fact that the record of the Acts period between Acts 10 and Acts 19 is silent on the subject of "tongues" does not mean that they were not in operation, it just means that in Christian circles at the time they were common place. It is also obvious that the gift of tongues was not the all important issue of the day.
In Acts 19:1-17 it is noted that when Paul arrives at Ephesus he finds twelve men who only knew the "baptism of John" which was unto repentance. Paul asked, if they had received the gift of the Holy Ghost. They had not. At this point Paul lays hands on the twelve and as a result, "the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied" (v. 6).
Again, it is noticed that Kingdom truth was in view. The number of the disciples was twelve. Twelve is a number intimately associated with Israel and the Kingdom. It is apparent that the Church which is His Body was not in view. It was still "hid in God" (Eph. 3:9).
The three references to "tongues" in the Book of Acts is found in Acts 2, Acts 10 and Acts 19. The gift of tongues in each instance was Pentecostal evidence authenticating that God was working with the Apostles. It was evidence to the unbelieving Jews that "the blessing of Abraham" and "the promise of the Spirit through faith" had come (Gal. 3:14).
In fact Paul says in 1 Corinthian 14:22 that the gift of tongues was evidential signs, "not to them that believe but to them that believe not."
The more one studies the Acts period the more aware he is of the prominence of the supernatural. The period from Pentecost to Acts 28:28 abounds With the supernatural. As we look closer into the conditions of that period we perceive that the supernatural was common place in the streets of Jerusalem. We find that the supernatural was the usual, the ordinary in Christian assemblies all over the Roman empire.
The gifts of the Spirit abounded. The gifts of the Spirit were the order of the day in Christian circles. It was not the unusual, it was not the uncommon. The overwhelming Scriptural evidence is that the gifts of the Spirit were signs which confirmed the Word of God. Since the New Testament writings had not been compiled the Lord confirmed His Word through the Apostles by "signs following" those who believed Kingdom truth. The gifts of the Spirit also confirmed, as evidence, that the Lord was working with the believers.
EVERY BELIEVER ENDOWED WITH A SPIRITUAL GIFT
During the Pentecostal dispensation every believer of Kingdom truth received a spiritual gift from the Holy Spirit. In order to learn this truth we must turn to the Divine commentary on the Gifts of the Spirit. This
commentary is found in Chapter 12, 13 and 14 in 1 Corinthians.
The Apostle Paul states:
"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to EVERY MAN to profit withal" (1 Cor. 12: 7).
It is unmistakably clear that what Paul said is that to "every man" (i.e. every believer in the Corinthian church) was given "the manifestation of the Spirit." That, in plainer words, means that evidence of the Spirit was given to every man for spiritual good and profit. Every believer in the Corinthian assembly was given this manifestation. It took the form of nine spiritual gifts.
"For to one is given by the Spirit
(1) the word of wisdom;
(2) the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
(3) faith by the same Spirit;
(4) the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
(5) the working of miracles;
(7) discerning of spirits;
(8) divers kinds of tongues;
(9) the interpretation of tongues"
(1 Cor. 12:8-10)
This list of the nine spiritual gifts falls between two statements concerning the fact that every believer received at least one of these spiritual endowments.
"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit with all" (1 Cor12:7).
(The nine spiritual gifts listed in Verses 8, 9 and 10).
"But all these (i.e. the gifts) worketh that one and selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will" (1 Cor. 12:11).
Therefore it is clear that during the Acts administration that every believer had "signs following." They were evidential signs. They were miraculous , gifts of the Holy Ghost which bore witness to the fact that the believers had embraced the truth relating to the Kingdom.
The writer of Hebrews states that if they neglected the "great salvation" how could they escape God's judgment. The great salvation pertained to that "which at first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us (Hebrews) by them that heard Him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will" (Heb. 2:3-4). The Holy Ghost bore witness among believers by imparting special equipment to 'them. This special equipment was gifts of the Holy Ghost" and was evidence that God was working with the believers. These were to "every man." Not to just the "spiritual", not just to a special group of elite Christians but the "manifestation of the Spirit" was given to EVERY believer.
The first epistle to the Corinthians takes up the great question of spiritual gifts of which tongues are a part. In Chapters 12-14 the complete doctrinal consideration is given. It is interesting to note that in order to make known doctrinal truth concerning spiritual gifts the Lord chose to do it through the epistle to the Corinthians. The Corinthian church was replete with abuses. In spite of the abuses, the church abounded with spiritual gifts.
In fact, a brief survey of the epistle reveals that the Corinthian church was a mess. We notice that:
1. The church was carnal (3:1)
2. There were divisions (1:11-12; 3:1-6)
3. Abuses at the Lord's Table (11:18-22)
4. Public litigation against each other (6:1-8)
5. Gross immorality (5:1-5)
6. Arguments about food offered to idols (8:1-3; 10:14; 11:1)
7. Disagreement about marriage (7:1-40)
8. Misuse of spiritual gifts (12:1; 14:40)
9. Morality outside of marriage (6:12-20)
10. Resurrection denied by some (15:12)
11. Paul's apostleship questioned (4:3; 9:1)
It is apparent these abuses occasioned the writing of First Corinthians. It is in the midst of these abuses we learn of spiritual gifts and more particularly of tongues.
"Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led. 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. Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit" (12:1-4).
In these passages we learn several things that are pertinent to our study. One of these is that some spiritual gifts were Satanic and some were Divine in origin. Those which were Divine were one in essence but varied in their manifestation. Verse two shows a close association with "dumb idols" and being carried away unto them. This certainly indicates a time in which they were under the influence of demons. This is not strange for in Acts 19:13-20 we learn that the whole city of Ephesus was given over to magic and was under the control of "evil spirits." However, "mightily grew the word of God and prevailed", hence the Satanic power was broken.
Evidently there were some in the Corinthian church who were speaking under the influence of evil spirits (demons) because when speaking in tongues they were calling Jesus accursed (I Cor. 12:3). They were not saying this in their mother tongue. They were doing it in another language under Satanic influence.
Paul points out that the Spirit of God which imparts the God-given gift of tongues does not direct the speaker to say in another language that Jesus Christ is accursed. He also points out in Verse 3 that no man speaking in tongues under the influence of a demon was able to say that Jesus Christ was Lord.
A misunderstanding of verse 4 would lead someone to think that no one, unless directed by the Spirit of God, had the physical ability to frame the sounds, "Lord Jesus." It simply teaches that no man speaking in tongues can confess Jesus as Lord unless he is under the influence of the Holy Spirit. A person speaking in tongues of Satanic origin could not say, "Lord Jesus."The Apostle John touches on this 1 John 4:1:
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the Spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."
In view of this fact, John supplies more information regarding "trying the Spirits":
"Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of anti-christ" (I John 4:2-3).
The supreme test to see whether tongues were being directed by the Holy Spirit or by the "spirit of antichrist" was to "try the spirits."
If tongues were of God:
1. They called Christ "Lord."
2. They acknowledged that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh.
If tongues were of Satan:
1. They called "Jesus accursed."
2. They denied that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh.
It is clear that tongues were being manifest in the Corinthian church in a confusing manner. Tongues (i.e. real, living languages of men) were being spoken in the church. Some individuals were denying that Christ had come in the flesh. They did not know why they were saying "Jesus is accursed." They did not realize this until an interpreter informed them of what they had said. This was the fruit of demon possession.
We learn two things in Verses 2 and 3 of I Corinthians Twelve: (1) The Holy Spirit imparted the spiritual gift of tongues. (2) Satan had the ability to cause believers to speak in tongues (real languages) in order for them to blaspheme.
It should be pointed out emphatically that in the Acts period "tongues" was speaking in real languages. It was not speaking ecstatically in an unintelligible, morbid, abnormal utterance. Tongues speaking during the Acts period was either inspired by the Holy Spirit or by Satan.
Chapter Twelve of I Corinthians Verses 4-11 enumerates the diversity of the true spiritual gifts and emphasizes the fact that they were given by the same Spirit of God (v. 4, 11). In Verses 12-27 an illustration is given to the human anatomy showing that some members of the anatomy are more comely than others. Some members are more feeble than others but God has "set the members everyone of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him" (v. 18). These members are listed as such things as the head, the eye, the ear, the nose and the foot. These members of the human anatomy mentioned illustrate the diversity of the nine gifts of the Spirit. All are important; however, some are more honorable and comely (v. 23). Each gift was Divinely designed to minister to the Pentecostal church.
Paul states in Verse 28 that the Pentecostal church was Divinely given:
Then.............gifts of healings, governments, helps,diversities of tongues
It is interesting to observe that these are definitely numbered in their order of precedence. Notice the place tongues have in the order.
First Corinthians 14:5 says that he which prophesieth is greater than he "that speaketh with tongues." Therefore, it is seen that tongues were not the epitome of the spiritual gifts.
First Corinthians 13:8 states that the time was coming when "tongues ... shall cease." In fact, other gifts were to vanish. However, "when that which is perfect is come" (i.e. the new age, the millennium) the gifts which are to abide are faith, hope and charity. The greatest is charity (13:13).
The fourteenth chapter of First Corinthians is devoted almost entirely to Tongues Speaking. The reader is aware that in this chapter there are six references to "unknown tongues." These are found in Verses 2, 4, 13, 14, 19 and 27.
Many expositors are quick to point out that the word "unknown" in the King James Authorized Version is in italics and consequently was added by the translators. Many are quick to criticize the AV because the word "unknown" was not in the "originals" therefore it should be left out. Keep in mind the translators knew the word was not in the Greek manuscripts. They added the word "unknown" to help the English reader get the sense of Chapter Fourteen. The translators of the AV placed "unknown" in italics which denotes the word was not in the Greek manuscripts they used. They were honest. They clearly point out the word was added by them. This addition has rendered a service to the reader, (therefore, we will not sit in judgment upon the scholars God used to translate His Word into English.
UNKNOWN DENOTES NO INTERPRETER PRESENT
The word "unknown" was added to denote that no interpreter was present. Those who were speaking in tongues in the Corinthian church quite often were abusing the gift because for them to speak in a foreign language which no one in the congregation could understand was like speaking in an unknown language. In fact it was an unknown language to the Corinthian assembly. To speak a language which no one knew was speaking in the air (v. 9), and did not do what the gift was given for.
The city of Corinth, being a cosmopolitan city, accommodated men of many nationalities and tongues. It is quite probable that the church at Corinth had in the congregation individuals who spoke languages other than Greek.
The abuse of tongues would occur when someone would exercise his gift of tongues. For an example, a man would speak in the language of the Mesopotamians. However, at that moment there was no one in the assembly who could understand the language of the Mesopotamians. To add to the abuse there would be no interpreter present. Therefore, the believer who spoke in the Mesopotamian language was speaking in an " unknown tongue; unknown to everyone present.
Do not think for one minute that an unknown tongue was the language of angels or the language of heaven. The speakers actually spoke a language of men but there was no one present who could understand it; hence, it was unknown.
TONGUES DURING THE PENTECOSTAL DISPENSATION
The Apostle Paul gives detailed information on the gift of tongues in I Corinthians 14. A great deal can be learned about true Bible tongues by studying this chapter. It gives correctives for all abuses.
It should be pointed out that you will learn nothing about tongues in modern Pentecostal meetings because the Pentecostal dispensation is over. It ended at Acts 28:28. Thus, modern Pentecostal meetings are out of place dispensationally. The Bible is the only place you can learn of Scriptural tongues.
A brief outline will be given on tongues as found in I Corinthians 14. This will highlight the use and misuse of the gift in the Church of God at Corinth.
1. Tongues were a Divine gift. The exercise of this gift was not to be forbidden (14:39).
2. Paul himself was grateful that he had the gift in an uncommon way (14:18).
3. Tongues were an evidential sign, to unbelieving Israel, indicating their scorn was causing the hardening of their heart (14:21-23).
4. A love of tongues was exhibited because they were showing off which was simply childish (14:20; 13:11).
5. The public evidential value of tongues, on which the Corinthians laid so much stress; Paul rates very low (14:21-23).
6. When used with no interpreter present the gift exercised promotes self-glorification of the speaker (14:4).
7. Because of this, tongues were forbidden when no interpreter was present and were to be limited for public use at all times (14:27-28).
8. The ideal place for the exercise of the gift of tongues was in private (14:28).
9. The women in the Corinthian church were speaking in tongues and they were told to be silent in the church (14:34-35)
The nine abuses listed at Corinth were problems which probably existed in varying degrees in other churches during the Acts period.
It should be kept in mind that during the Pentecostal dispensation the Gentile believer came "behind in no gift" while "waiting for the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ" (I Cor. 1:7). That is, the Gentile believer was not lacking in any spiritual gift. The blessing of Abraham came upon the Gentiles and they too received the promise of the out-pouring of the Spirit.
Old Testament prophecies pointed to the fact that the Spirit would be poured out upon the children of Israel; "and it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out My Spirit upon all your flesh" (Joel 2:28).
The "all your flesh" is a reference to all those in Israel who were to believe the Gospel of the Kingdom. "I will pour My Spirit upon thy seed, and My blessing upon thine offspring" (Isa. 44:3).
The outpouring takes place in Acts 2 and is the fulfillment of prophecy. It was also prophesied that God would speak to Israel with a people that are "no people." Paul does not hesitate to say:
"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" (I Cor. 14:21).
When Paul writes I Corinthians 14:21 he seems to be alluding to Isaiah 28:11.
"For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people."
In Isaiah's day, God was saying that Israel would not listen to Him in obedience even though He spoke to them in a tongue they understood. The time was going to come however when He would speak to them in a tongue of strangers, that is, in the tongue of their enemies, but even then they would not hear. It is very important to note that He was speaking to Israel in warning and judgment. During the Acts period he was speaking to the unbelieving in Israel through men of other tongues. The gift of tongues was primarily to provoke the unbelieving among Israel (I Cor. 14:22),
Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe NOT.
TONGUES USED TO PROVOKE- ISRAEL
Gentiles received the "promise of the Spirit" in Acts 10. The blessing of Abraham coming on the Gentiles at that time was in accordance with prophecy. However, the Apostle Paul gives additional information on the "gifts of the Spirit" as they relate to the Gentiles during the period of the Pentecostal dispensation.
Paul states in Romans 10:19: "But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you." The "no people" is a reference to Gentiles.
During the Acts period & majority of Israel remained in an unrepentant state despite the fact that they heard the Word, and saw the "evidential signs" of the believers.
The promised Spirit came on the Gentiles in Acts 10. Throughout the rest of the Acts period in an ever-widening circle, the Spirit promised to Israel came on Gentiles. The out-pouring upon the Gentiles was part of God's program to provoke Israel to jealousy with the view that they too might believe even as the Gentiles did.
"Salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy" (Rom. 11:11). "If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them" (Rom. 11:14).
Here is additional light upon the inclusion of the Gentile into the Kingdom program. It had the provocation of Israel in view. The Gentile was included in God's Kingdom purposes during the Acts dispensation with a view to arousing unbelieving Israel to equal or excel the faith shown among the Gentiles.
It is concluded that "the blessing of Abraham" (Gal. 3:14) and the promise of the Spirit being received by the Gentiles during Acts took the form of the "gifts of the Spirit." Therefore Gentiles spoke to unbelieving Israel with tongues in their synagogues during Acts (see Acts 13:26, 42-52; 14:1-3 and etc.).
The Gentile, during the Acts period, is likened to a "wild olive" graft (contrary to nature) into the true olive tree (Israel), see Romans 11:11-25. The "wild olive" graft was to cause the true olive tree to be fruit bearing. As the Acts period progressed, Israel was fast falling into a deadly slumber. The grafting in of the Gentiles was of no avail. The day finally came at Acts 28:28 when Israel was dismissed and the secret purpose of God for the Gentiles in the interim was made known.
If we allow a place for the testimony of 1 Corinthians 14 and Romans 10 and 11 in our views of Gentile blessing, we shall see how utterly impossible it is to try to make the teaching of Ephesians fit into the Pentecostal dispensation.
With Israel's dismissal, the gifts of the Spirit were withdrawn. "The Jews require a sign" (I Cor. 1:22) and with Israel set aside, there was no cause for signs to be carried on. Tongues should have spoken to Israel as a sign, warning them of their unbelief. Considering tongues in the Scriptural setting in which they occur, the honest Bible student must admit that these languages were a forceful sign to those who were hard-hearted among the lsraelites,
The tongues spoken by the New Testament saints during the Acts period were the languages of men. They were not ecstatic sounds but real languages. The gift of tongues takes its place among the signs of Mark 16 that confirmed the earthly Kingdom purposes throughout the Acts period.
This gift had its place as a warning to the unbelieving Jew and as a means of the rapid spread of the Gospel of the Kingdom (Acts 3:19-26). Take the gift of tongues out of it's Divine context and it becomes serious error.
During the Acts period Satan was busily at work endeavoring to counterfeit the gift of tongues. In fact it has already been pointed out that I Corinthians 12:3 and I John 4:1-3 informs us that among Christians there was the spirit of the anti-christ at work. This spirit of anti-christ was working chaos in the churches.
The spirit of Satan was actively at work attempting to deceive the saints. In fact Satan had the power to produce deceiving miracles and signs.
"Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders" (11 Thess. 2:9).
Satan tried the counterfeit signs and miracles throughout the Acts of the Apostles. This was part of Satan's plan to counteract the true signs and miracles which were to confirm the Lord working with the believers. During the Acts period there was intense Satanic activity in the spirit realm as he endeavored to counterfeit the work of the Holy Spirit. As far as tongues were concerned, he had the ability to impart the gift of tongues (real languages) to people. However, when they spoke they could not say that Jesus Christ had come in the flesh (I John 1:1-3). They were also blaspheming saying that Jesus Christ was accursed (I Cor. 12:3). It seems that women were very active in this Satanic error (I Cor. 14:33-35).
As a result of a thorough investigation of the Word of God it is clear that the gift of tongues was in use between Acts 2 and Acts 28:28. A study of those epistles written after Acts 28:28 reveals that not one word concerning tongues is mentioned.
The Kingdom program was in view from Acts 2 up until Israel was officially and judicially set aside at Acts 28:28. With the Kingdom program being placed in abeyance at Acts 28:28 the "gifts of the Spirit" were withdrawn.
We can determine this by recognizing that the program which relates to the Church which is His Body is not associated with Kingdom truth. Gifts of the Spirit related to Kingdom truth. These gifts were given to ."every man" who believed Kingdom truth.
After Acts 28:28 it is found that not "every man" is so endowed. In fact those today who seek these Pentecostal gifts admit that only some Christians have them. These studies indicate that during the time the gifts of the Spirit were operative every believer had at least one of the nine gifts. Being endued with these gifts was not based upon their practical sanctification. We noted the carnality of the Corinthian church, yet the gifts of the Spirit were to "every man" despite carnality.
TONGUES SPEAKING TODAY
Pentecostalists claim today that those who are saved may seek a subsequent experience, that is, the baptism of the Spirit. They insist that a believer does not have full consecration or power for service unless he has received the "gift of the Holy Ghost." A Christian's life is incomplete and his ministry is hindered unless he has experienced this baptism which is subsequent to salvation.
Christians who adopt this as truth ignore the great declarative statement of Colossians 2:10 which tells the member of the Church which is His Body that he is COMPLETE IN CHRIST. This completeness is apart from any subsequent Spirit baptism.
An observation of tongue speaking today does not have the basics to meet the requirements as Biblical tongues. Biblical tongues were languages of men. Tongues speaking today takes the form of senseless babblings. This babbling is sometimes interpreted in present day Pentecostal meetings, however, this is no evidence that the babbling is a language of man. It may be claimed to be an "unknown tongue" but these studies have pointed out that an "unknown tongue" in Scripture is a real language of earth.
Isaiah 8:19 speaks about wizards who peep and mutter:
"And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter:"
There has always been wizards which have been associated with religions. They peep and mutter, that is they speak in an ecstatic manner. It is really jibberish.'
In "Tongues Speaking Today" by Stuart Allen, he quotes the 1963 edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, which says:
"The gift of tongues and their interpretation was not peculiar to the Christian church, but was a repetition in it of a phrase common in ancient religions. The very phrase 'glossais lalein', 'to speak with tongues', was not invented by New Testament writers but was borrowed from ordinary speech. Virgil draws a like picture of the ancient prophetess 'speaking in tongues'...the same morbid and abnormal trance utterances occur in Christian revivals of every age ... Oracular possession of the kind above described is also common among savages and people of a lower culture ..."
The compilers of the Encyclopedia Britannica are unaware of dispensational truth and the fact that the New Testament writers used the word "tongues" to refer to literal languages. They are correct however, as they pointed out that this "morbid and abnormal trance utterances" have occured in Christian revivals in every age since Acts 28:28. They are right in referring to this abnormal speaking as "oracular possession."
The evidence very strongly suggests that "tongues speaking" today is the fruit of wizards and witches trafficing in "familiar spirits" which results in oracular possession. This possession is not the fruit of the blessed Holy Spirit but that of demons.
Therefore, to take tongues out of the place that God put it originally is misleading and very dangerous; this is what Pentecostals and neo-Pentecostals have done.
Do not think for a minute that a Christian's mind and words cannot be activated by the evil one. Look at Matthew l6:22-23 and you find that Peter's words had been activated by Satan. Just because someone is saved does not mean that Satan can not deceive him or use him to deceive others. We are to be aware of the "wiles of the devil" (Eph. 6:11).
"Tongues speaking" is out of order in this present dispensation. It is not part of God's program. Even if the Pentecostals spoke in real "tongues" today, it would be out of order. Israel is off the scene, and it was a sign to unbelieving Israel. However, tongues today are not languages. It is the fruit of "wizards" standing in Trinitarian pulpits "resisting the truth, men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith" (II Tim. 3:8). They are leading away captive "silly women laden with sins ... ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth" (II Tim. 3:6-7).
Safety is found in acknowledging present truth. Second Timothy Chapter Three warns us of this present charismatic movement "and from such turn away" (II Tim. 3:5).