Speaking in tongues.
The first mention in the Bible of tongues is:
1 Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood. 2 The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras. 3 And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah. 4 And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. 5 By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations. Genesis 10:1-5 (KJV)
The first mention of anything in the Bible shows us the Biblical definition and usage of those words and terms. In this case we see that “tongues” is synonymous with “languages.”
Incidentally, someone at work wanted to argue with me. He brought up a radio show he’d heard about two Baptist pastors claiming we had the Bible all wrong. I’m glad they pointed it out – Godly men have been prayerfully studying the Bible all wrong for 2,000 years until these two jokers came along!
Anyway, the guy at work told me Baptists were wrong, because we don’t believe in speaking in tongues, and these two Baptist pastors were convinced we were wrong.
My response to him was to quote 1 Corinthians 12 – “Tongues will cease.”
He replied, “Well, that’s not for today.”
Wow, really? A Charismatic telling me tongues ceasing were not for today! I told him, “It says until that which is perfect is come. The Bible is described as perfect in the Psalms:
7 The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. Psalm 19:7 (KJV)
I was really trying to get out of the conversation – this kind of discussion is not permitted at work. But the fellow persisted.
“Well it also says that knowledge will cease. Do you know anything? If you do, then tongues are for today.”
I answered him patiently. “Will you know the Lord after the Millennium?”
He paused. “uhhh…. Yeah.”
“Then obviously we’re not sitting around in the eternity completely oblivious- that would describe death, not life. We’ll know the Lord, we’ll know the Gospel, we’ll know each other… So obviously this is not talking about knowledge as knowledge – this is talking about Word of Knowledge, the supernatural understanding of correct doctrine for the purpose of writing the New Testament – and that’s already written. That also covers the supernatural knowledge Peter showed with Ananiuas and Saphira.”
“Oh.” He shook his head. “Well, I haven’t studied it out.” That wasn’t quite true – he obviously had studied it to the point he thought he had a zinger that would stump me. That wasn’t the case. So he quickly got out of the conversation. Which was okay by me. If he wants to talk about it after work, excellent! During work… No. My employer does not permit it, and I honor that request.
With the understanding of Genesis, that tongues means languages Biblically, we see that supernatural manifestations of tongues was to speak in a language miraculously you did not know. The New Testament furthermore made the requirement that if you got the urge to suddenly speak in, say, Basque in the service, let the pastor know, and when permitted, speak. The requirement was that someone had to be there who was a native Basque speaker to understand it! This is what it means by “One to interpret”. If you wanted to speak in Basque, and had never learned it… But there was nobody there who spoke Basque… Then you should hold your tongue. God would bring that only if someone was there to interpret. This is a clear teaching of the New Testament.
What are tongues for?
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. 1 Corinthians 14:22 (KJV)
This means if you stand up in a Charismatic church and begin speaking in other tongues, you are in effect claiming someone in that church body is not saved. Your speaking in tongues is for them. If they do not speak that language – then you quite simply wasted your time, and it was not of God that you spoke in that tongue.
If it was not of God that you spoke in tongues, then who was it of?
We go to the first verse listed by Charismatics…
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, 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. 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, 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 the wonderful works of God.Acts 2:1-11 (KJV)
I’m not trying to paint a Libyan or Jamaican flag with the colors – but I wanted your eyes drawn to the very verses that discuss this. Each of the verses is in a different color to contrast them, and force the modern Bible reader into doing something that was common prior to the 20th century (reading one verse, or one thought at a time.)
I don’t know exactly the number of Pentecostal pastors who teach the two-tongue theory, and how many simply don’t differentiate. I attended a Charismatic church before I was saved (and I’ll be discussing this a lot as we go through this). My former pastor taught there was two different kinds of tongues, “Other tongues” and “unknown tongues”.
He would agree with me that “Speaking in other tongues” was – speaking in a language that you did not know, as supernaturally enabled by the Holy Spirit. What he would not agree with me on, is that this gift is passed away, as the Bible said it would.
However, he advocated (consistent with most Pentecostals) that speaking in tongues also included “unknown” tongues, tongues that were not spoken on earth. Another name for this was “the tongues of angels”, speaking in a heavenly tongue.
While these terms are indeed used in the Bible, it is not an interpretation that can clearly be derived rom Scripture from context and usage. Indeed, the only usage of the few verses in the Bibles on this relatively unimportant gift all seem to be referencing the same thing, speaking in a language you don’t know.
I’ll digress briefly by telling you I remember a deacon in one of these churches (a Messianic “synagogue”) complaining why hasn’t anyone ever analyzed speaking in tongues so that it can be proven? Here’s the answer, some 15 years later: They have analyzed it many times. Each time they have disproved it. And in the next blog post or two, I’ll be getting to my own analysis of some actual examples of speaking in tongues.
Getting back on topic, here’s the other verses on speaking in tongues. There’s not many.
44 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. 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. 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. Acts 10:44-48 (KJV)
The last time, they were all Jews who spoke in tongues, in the presence of many unbelieving Jews. It was a sign for the unbelievers that God was with the 11 Apostles, and that truly everything they spoke about the Gospel was of God.
This time, Jews are still present. The people speaking this time are Gentiles. It is a sign that salvation is not limited to Jews. That may sound odd to today’s hearers, but it would have been a truly hot button topic back in those days.
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, and prophesied. 7 And all the men were about twelve. Acts 19:1-7 (KJV)
That’s the last verse talking about speaking in tongues in the Bible, except for 1 Corinthians. I’ll be dealing with that one tomorrow in detail.
Again, the question would be, who is there? All Jewish. This took place in relative proximity to a synagogue, as we see from verse 8:
8 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. Acts 19:8 (KJV)
So, who do we have? Disciples of John (all Jewish), Paul… and in relative proximity to unbelieving Jews. Now the “Why” question. Why did they speak in tongues here?
for a sign to unbelieving Jews, and to all others, that God had called Paul to be an apostle. There is no record anywhere else in the Bible of anyone recieving the gift of tongues.
Tomorrow, we continue on this thought, and go to 1 Corinthians. And if we have enough space (apparently, there seems to be a word limit people are comfortable with in blogs- if I go 14 pages analyzing something Biblically, it’s okay on a web page – but not a blog!), I’ll do some analysis of actual samples of speaking in tongues.
- The Word Faith Movement Examined 1 (matthew714ministries.wordpress.com)
- Tongues and Why I’ll Never Speak Them (mynerdword.wordpress.com)