Coming of the Holy Spirit
“When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord* in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance”.
The Crowd's Response
And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, "Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs — we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God." So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "Whatever could this mean?" Others mocking said, "They are full of new wine." (NKJV)
According to Acts 2:1-10, a new and more powerful phenomena occurred in the life of Jesus’ remaining disciples 50 days after the Feast of the Passover was celebrated. Apparently the only possibly direct reference in the Old Testament to speaking in another tongue or language is found in Isaiah 28:11 "For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people." This seems to be a reference to an invasion of the Assyrians. They apparently would speak in another language, one probably unknown to the people of Israel. The Apostle Paul later applied this verse to speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:21). The Apostle Peter considered the phenomenon of speaking in tongues that occurred on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2) as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy (Joel 2:28-32). Peter said in verse 16 and 17.this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; and it shall come to pass in the last days. (Church age)
Luke who was commissioned to write both the Gospel that bears his name and this book Acts in Chapter 2 leads us down the corridor toward the beginning of the Church Age. The events on the Day of Pentecost marked the beginning of both the “6th dispensation” and the “Church Age”. In reviewing the historic and prophetic events surrounding the death, resurrection and ascension, Jesus Christ previously announced the coming of the church and gave the basis of its coming in Matthew 16:13-18. When He and His disciples came to the coast of Caesarea Philippi, He asked them 2 important questions: The first question was “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man am? The Disciples responded by saying “Some say you are John the Baptist: some say you are Elijah and others, Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. After answering Him, Jesus then asked the second question; “But who do you say that I am? Almost immediately, Peter responded and said: “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God”. Jesus then told Peter Blessed are you Simon, son of Jonas, because “flesh and blood” didn’t reveal this truth to him but God the Father (Jehovah) placed Jesus’ true identity in Peter’s mouth. Jesus lets them know the church would be built based on this public profession (in faith) that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, that His, church, Jesus’ that is would be built and established.
According to Acts 1:4-9, after Jesus had risen from the grave, and spent 40 days instructing the soon to be Apostles out of the Scriptures, concerning all things, except when the Kingdom would be restored back to Israel. In fact, they asked him “ Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me* in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth." Jesus then instructed the men to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the “promise” of the Father ( the endowment of the Holy Spirit) which would actually come 50 days after the Passover on the next day of Pentecost, (by the way “Pentecost” meant “50”) While the disciples were “tarrying” (as Jesus had instructed them) in Jerusalem in the “upper room” where Jesus has eaten the Passover meal with the 12, according to the Bible, there came a sound from Heaven as of a rushing mighty wind and it filled the room same room they were empowered with power (The Holy Spirit) from on high. Jesus promised them this in Acts 1:8. and Mark 16:16-17. The “Twelve” were among a discipleship group totaling 120 people.
II. Let us now define “Tongues”
According to the Bible: "Tongues" is one of the supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit referred to in 1 Corinthians 12:4-10. The Greek word for “tongues’ is "Glossolalia” which means "tongues" or "languages," and "to speak.." Glossolalia” is claimed by certain modern day denominational churches to be their "prayer language." Some of these groups would include those in the “Charismatic” Church Movement: Pentecostal –Holiness, Church Of God in Christ, Full Gospel” Baptist Churches and the Assembly of God Churches.
Despite their claim, modern day “tongue speaking” is not exclusively a prayer language. These charismatic groups also maintain the act of speaking in tongues as a primarily pre-requisite for “salvation, and teach concerning tongues as a doctrinal requirement based on Acts 2 and Mark 16:17. They truly believe you must do so as evidence that the presence of the Holy Spirit rests upon and indwells the saved person. Some Christians who speak in tongues believe they are speaking in an existing language, however, most believe when they are speaking in tongues, they are uttering a heavenly tongue. The Charismatic church adopted the gift of speaking in tongues as one of God’s requirement to be saved, rather than as the scriptures teach, a ‘sign” to those who believe. Many Pentecostal / Charismatic church assemblies teach 3(three) distinct usages of their “tongue speaking.”
- They believe “Tongues” to be a “supernatural” outpouring or endowment and as a sign to unbelievers (Acts 2:11).
- They believe the speaking of “Tongues” are necessary for the strengthening of the church, and to understand the actual language since it’s supernatural requires an interpreter to convey the message that was spoken in the unknown language. (1 Corinthians14:27).
- They believe “Tongues” can be used as a “private prayer” language (Romans 8:26). This belief however is a misinterpretation of the purpose God poured out His spirit upon man in this dispensation.
What Actually Happened on he Day of Pentecost?
In Acts 2:1-4: A Sound came in the room like a rushing mighty wind…..sound, not wind filling the house (the upper room) where they were and there appeared unto them Cloven tongues like as of fire: The “cloven tongues” represented the different languages(dialects) they were to speak along their evangelistic journey as they were spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“Fire” was symbolic of the presence of the Holy Spirit. This meant the Holy Spirit was the “power” that empowered them to preach the Gospel in the language of the hearer or the hearers would hear the Gospel as they did that day in their own language no matter the nationality. This prophecy was fulfilled in what John the Baptist told to the Pharisee delegation that asked him if he was the Messiah (Matthew 3:11-12)
The Truth: On the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:4, Peter preached the Gospel in his native language (Hebrew) but the Holy Spirit caused it to be heard in the language of all those attending the Pentecostal feast.( It was a miracle). From that day…, when the Apostles went on their missionary journeys (beyond the events of Acts 2) the Holy Spirit would empower them to either speak in the language of the hearers, or he would anoint someone to interpret” the spoken Word into the language of the hearers, or over the course of time, one or both missionaries would learn the language of the region they were assigned to and translate the Word of God that way.
This is the beginning of the foundation of the Christian church, and to fulfill the mandate of Matthew 28:19 and Mark 16:16-17 the gift of various languages was given to the apostles, that the scattered nations might be gathered; and united under one shepherd and superintendent of all souls: Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.
On the Day of Pentecost, the followers of Christ "were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance" (Acts 2:4). The people assembled in Jerusalem for this feast came from various Roman provinces representing a variety of languages. They were astonished to hear the disciples speaking of God's works in their own languages. Some have suggested that the miracle was in the hearing rather than in the speaking. This explanation, however, would transfer the miraculous from the believing disciples to the multitude who may not have been believers.
IV. In Church: The Purpose of “Speaking” in Tongues (unknown and known)
As a gift of the Spirit “tongue speaking” is especially prominent in 1 Corinthians Chapters 12 and 14. In 1 Chapter 12 the “phenomenon” of tongue speaking is listed with the other gifts of the Holy Spirit. As one of the several gifts given to believers as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit, tongues is intended, with the other gifts, to be exercised for the building up of the church and the mutual profit of its members. In 1 Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul puts the gift of tongues in “perspective” by affirming that though we "speak with the tongues of men and of angels" , if we do not have love, the gift of tongues has no value. (1 Corinthians 13:1)
Love: The "Basis" of Exercising Spiritual Gifts
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. 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, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned,* but have not love, it profits me nothing.
In Chapter 14, Paul deals more specifically with the gift of tongues and its exercise in the church. In this chapter the tongue is not an intelligible language, for it cannot be understood by the listeners. Therefore, a parallel to the gift of tongues is the gift of interpretation. The gift of tongues was used as a means of worship, thanksgiving, and prayer. While exercising this gift, the individual addresses God not man; and the result is to edify himself and not the church (1 Corinthians 14:2 -4). Because many times this particular gift, along with the gift of healing are Spiritual gifts that were never intended for self-exaltation but for the praise and glorification of God. For this reason, the Apostle Paul does not prohibit speaking in tongues in a public service (14:39). But he seems to assign it to a lesser place than the gift of prophecy. Paul claims for himself the gift of tongues-speaking, but apparently he exercised this gift in private and not in public (1 Corinthians 14:18-19).
Paul’s contention was the gift of tongues is to be exercised with restraint and in an orderly way. The regulations for its public use are simple and straightforward. The person who speaks in an unknown tongue is to pray that he may interpret (1 Corinthians 14:13), or, someone else who has the gift of interpretation is to interpret what he says. Second, only two or three persons are to speak, with each having an interpretation of what he says. Each is also to speak in turn. If these criteria are not met, they are to remain silent (1 Corinthians 14:27-28). The gifts of speaking in tongues and their interpretation are to be Spirit inspired. Paul also points out that tongues are a sign to unbelievers. If these guidelines are not observed, unbelievers who are present will conclude that the people of the church are out of their minds.
VI. The Differences in Interpretation: Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 14:
The account in Acts 2 concerning speaking in tongues differs from that of the 1 Corinthians 14 account. Both accounts identifies the “tongues” as foreign languages, even though, To clarify the gift, the ability to speak and use such languages did not mean that tongue speaking was a permanent apostolic endowment.
In the Acts 2 account, (Acts 2:14-36) the Holy Spirit spoke one “universal” language through each person who was endowed, yet regardless of the nationality and native language of their nationality and community, everybody heard the same thing from the same source: the “wonderful works of God” (Acts 2:11) in their own perspective dialect. When the descent of the Spirit occurred, those who were assembled together were seized with ecstasy and uttered praises to God. A crowd gathered and various people recognized words and phrases in their own tongues; nothing more than this is said.
Paul's explanation of tongue speaking in 1 Corinthians Chapters 12-14 is a classic example for the evaluation of what some scholars call:” religious emotionalism”. Paul’s position concerning speaking in tongues was simple: Tongues are a divine gift so the exercising of this spiritual gift is not to be forbidden. (1 Corinthians 14:39) Paul was grateful that he possessed the gift. (1 Corinthians 14:18). He expressed that anybody who ridiculed and scorned those who spoke in tongues them showed evidence that their hearts were hardened". (1 Corinthians 14:21-23) Yet, if they expressed a love of them because they are external and brings attention to the one speaking is simply immature. (1 Corinthians 14:20; 13:11)
Paul maintained in chapter 14 there were 9 other ‘spiritual gifts given by the Holy Spirit, so the possessor of the gift (speaking in tongues) is not to think that he or she has the only gift worth obtaining (chapter 12). In fact, in 1 Corinthians 14:1, Paul in caption said in following after “charity” (love) and the gift of “prophesy” (proclamation) is far superior to the other spiritual gifts and should be the one most people seek after. Yet, he doesn’t discourage them for having a desire of other spiritual gifts The “only gift” of all the gifts given that is utterly indispensable is the gift of love (chapter 13), because without love tongues are mere noise. The public evidential value of tongues, on which perhaps the Corinthians were inclined to lay stress, Paul rates very low (1 Corinthians14:21-23). Indeed, when exercised in public they tend to promote only the self-glorification of the speaker (1 Corinthians 14:4), and so are forbidden when there is not an interpreter, and they are limited for public use at all times (1 Corinthians 14:27-28). But the ideal place for their exercise is in private: "Let him speak to himself and to God".
The applicability of all this to modern conditions needs no commentary. "Ultra-emotionalist" outbreaks still cause the formation of eccentric sects among us, and every evangelist knows well-meaning but slightly weak individuals who make themselves a nuisance. On the other hand, a purely intellectual and ethical religion is rather a dreary thing. A man who has never allowed his religious emotions to carry him away may well be in a high state of grace-but he has missed something, and something of very great value
Historic and prophetic Note:
Note 1: God reversed on Pentecost what HE did at Babel (Genesis chapter 10) when he confused the people by giving the races different languages and then forcing them to scatter over different parts of the world, HERE AT Pentecost, He now in the spreading of the gospel throughout all nations at Pentecost sending the message of redemption through Jesus Christ bring together people of every nations who will accept Christ and be reconciled back to HIM through Jesus
Note 2: This event was predicted in the Old Testament that what is here stated would occur in the times of the Messiah. Thus, in Isaiah 28:11, "With ... another tongue will he speak unto this people.”
Note 3: Not everyone is gifted to speak in tongues 1 Corinthians 12:1-11
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: You know that* you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same* Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
A simple “matter of fact” : Some were qualified to perform offices which others were not; that some were endowed with the abilities requisite to the apostolic office, and others not; that some were endowed with prophetic gifts, and others were not; that some had the gift of healing, or the talent of speaking different languages, or of interpreting and that others had not.
Conclusion: What Shall We Do?
VII. Pursue Prophesying over Tongues 1 Corinthians 14:1-15:1
Paul writes this to the Corinthian church:
Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for* he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification. Why
A. Tongues Must Be Interpreted
But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching? Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played? For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle? 9 So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. There are, it may be, so many kinds of languages in the world, and none of them is without significance. Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to him who speaks, and he who speaks will be a foreigner to me. Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.
B. Tongues are a "sign" to Unbelievers
Paul said: “ I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.”
Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature. In the law it is written:"With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people; And yet, for all that, they will not hear Me,"* says the Lord. Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe. Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind? But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. And thus* the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.
Finally: Order in Church Meetings
How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
"Let all things be done decently and in order."
Dr. William Edward Boddie