PART 2 TONGUES
What Are the Purposes of Speaking in the Gift of Tongues?
If the gift of tongues is expressed without an interpreter, the benefits of having an interpreter will not be realized. Did you know that there are at least six purposes of speaking in tongues, when the interpretation of such can be realized?
a. To confirm (prove) the truth and divine origin of the words, which were spoken by the apostles, along with authenticating these men as having been sent by Jesus.
Mark 16:17, 20 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; And they went forth, and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
b. To build up the church.
1 Corinthians 14:5 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.
c. As a sign of warning to the unbelieving Jew.
For with Stammering Lips and Another Tongue Will He Speak to This PeopleSuggested Reading: Isaiah 28:1-14Isaiah 28:11 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.
The Northern Kingdom of the 10 tribes of Israel was being warned by the prophet Isaiah of future captivity by Assyria, because of their addiction to intoxication by wine (black grapes) and strong drink (palm wine or date wine). Likewise, the priests and prophets also engaged in alcoholic intoxication, and as a result they erred in vision and judgment. This kingdom would eventually be destroyed, never to reunite again. When the Jews were invaded by Assyria and captured, God said he would speak to them with stammering lips. The language of the foreign captors will be unto them as unintelligible gibberish. Foreign tongues will be a sign to the Jews of their disregard for God’s word and the fulfillment of warning discipline.
1 Corinthians 14:21 In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.
Likewise, the gift of tongues was a sign to the unbelieving Jews of future judgment on the day of Pentecost. In 70AD, the temple at Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans with the resulting dispersion of Jews throughout the world.
d. An "indication," evidence or proof that God has imparted this power1 so that the unbeliever might see from such a miracle that this is the work of God, and so embrace the gospel2.
1 Corinthians 14:22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.
e. To tell the unbeliever about the great things God has done.
Acts 2:11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.
In the next chapter, we will attempt to answer the following question about the gift of tongues.
Were the tongues spoken by the exercise of the gift of tongues always be foreign languages or could they at times be ecstatic utterances (unintelligible sounds of a non-existent language)?
Can a Tongue Spoken by the Gift of Tongues Be Either a Foreign Language or an Ecstatic Utterance?
As I said earlier, it is important that we address the many questions that pertain to the topic of tongues along with two of the major questions associated with it.
Are prayer tongues the evidence of the Baptism of the Spirit?
Should every believer speak in prayer tongues?
I know firsthand that this topic can incite the flame of passionate anger in some believers. A few years ago, I was overseeing a small church in the city where I was living. I mentioned to the attendees that we would begin to look at some Biblical topics from opposing views. One of them was on prayer tongues; and in particular we attempted to answer the question, is it the evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit? After describing what the Baptism of the Spirit referred to, we began to look at different scripture sections providing responses which either supported the idea that it was the evidence along with responses that supported the idea that it was not the evidence. What I soon found out was that there were some attendees that had really strong opinions on this topic. As soon as they heard the view which was opposed to theirs, they interjected with yelling and anger. I was accused of teaching divisive doctrine. I tried to calm them down, but to no avail. They disrupted the teaching and walked out. I have to admit that it was difficult to continue teaching on this subject after this, but I persisted in doing so. doing so. This is what might be typical of many Christian churches today. Most of us can agree on 95% of doctrinal teaching while the remaining five percent causes there to be loud disagreements which accuses the person with a position different from the doctrinal platform of the church of being a false teacher, a false pastor, a divider, etc. In some cases, this could be true, but I believe this would be in regard to those teachings which are considered by most Christian churches to be orthodox (absolute), such as: the deity of Christ; the trinity of one God in three persons: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, each being God in essence; Christ’s resurrection; Christ’s atonement for sin; the Gospel of Christ, etc. As far as the other teachings of the church, e.g. Is a believer allowed to drink alcohol? Can a woman be called to a leadership position in the church? Is it possible for a believer to lose their salvation? Is a believer obligated to obey the Ten Commandments? Is tithing still for today? etc. there will probably always be differences of opinion. What I have attempted to do is provide a format of teaching that presents both sides of a Biblical topic and allow those who hear what is being said to study the subject further and make up their own mind. Hopefully, what might come out of it is a willingness to hear what another believer’s view is on any non-absolute topic and not freak out when we find that their view is different from ours. Can two co-labor together if they disagree on the declaration of a doctrinal topic?
I have heard from some believers that if the tongue in question as presented in scripture is unknown, then it must be that of an ecstatic utterance. There are a couple of ways to approach this. The first would be to search the scriptures in order to determine if there are any examples of expressed tongues that are known to be ecstatic. If the answer is not clear then we might be able to draw some conclusions by comparing scripture with scripture in order to see if some kind of a connection could be made. We already know that some of the tongues spoken are foreign languages that were unknown to both the speaker and hearer and through the gift of interpretation what was spoken became known to both of them. The only exception to this would be if the situation presented itself as on the day of Pentecost, when there were many Jews in attendance who spoke different languages. Instead of having one person exercise the gift of tongues over and over again there might be many people exercising the gift of tongues in order to speak forth a tongue to each language group.
Let’s begin with this question.
Are there any examples in scripture, which seem to support the exercise of ecstatic utterances (gibberish, unintelligible sounds in a non-existent language)?For If the Trumpet Give an Uncertain Sound Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 14:1-121 Corinthians 14:7-9 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? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? 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.
Some Corinthian believers were exercising the gift of tongues at various times during prayer, while singing, or when the assembly of believers gathered during worship without there being an interpreter present. Thus, without an interpreter, the church would not receive edifying (building up), because they would not understand what was spoken. An analogy was given in relation to the musical instruments of harp (stringed instrument) or pipe (a wind instrument that had two pipes from the mouthpiece). If when either instrument was played there was not a distinction (in the due interval) of sounds (tones; notes), then how would it be known what tune was played whether on the harp or pipe? Likewise, if a tongue is spoken with no distinction (understanding), then how shall anyone know what was spoken?It’s interesting to note that there was not a statement made here which supported the uttering of sounds where a distinctiveness of sounds was not made. Some might further argue that even though there might not be any clear examples of the gift of tongues expressing ecstatic utterances, some of the tongues mentioned in scripture are not clearly delineated (understood) so as to intimate that what was being spoken could indeed be ecstatic utterances.
Let’s go to the book of Mark. Do the words new tongues refer to ecstatic utterances?
They Shall Speak With New TonguesSuggested Reading: Mark 16:1-20Mark 16:17-18 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they 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.
Mary Magdalene, Salome, and Mary the mother of Jesus purchased anointing oil following the close of the Sabbath. Well before sunrise, on the first day of the week, they left the town of Bethany and proceeded to Jerusalem, where the tomb in which Jesus body was placed in was located. They arrived at the tomb at early sunrise (about 6:00am) and noticed that the stone covering it had been removed. So, they decided to enter the tomb. And when they did, they saw a man dressed in white, who told them that Jesus was risen and that they were to let the disciples and Peter know that He would meet them in Galilee. The women left the sepulcher quickly in order to convey this message to them. In the meantime, Jesus appeared before different people eventually presenting Himself before the 11 disciples. He told them to go into all the world and preach the gospel. And then He said to them that there would be certain signs which should follow their preaching that will prove not only its truth and divine origin, but will serve to authenticate that they were sent by Him. These signs are that they would: cast out demons, speak in new tongues, not be hurt by drinking any deadly thing, not be hurt by being bitten by poisonous snakes, and heal the sick by the laying on of hands.
The question I have for you is this, what are new tongues?
Are they foreign languages or ecstatic utterances which were spoken in the exercise of the gift of tongues?
Depending on what you have been taught by the church you attend and believe will determine your perception of such. In the table that follows, I have tried to provide for you some of the reasons that might support either conjecture.
New Tongues Are Foreign Languages. New Tongues Are Ecstatic Utterances. ●The words new tongues means different from those in which they were accustomed to speak.●If these new tongues were ecstatic utterances they would surely make a sound, but the hearers wouldn’t understand anything. If this was the case would this sign authenticate the speakers as being sent by Jesus or would the hearers simply think they were crazy?●1 Corinthians 14:23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? ●Why would a believer want to speak in new tongues if what was conveyed had no meaning?●The word tongues is from the Greek word gloossais, which means unintelligible sounds. ●Because there is no description as to what kind of tongue this is, it could be an ecstatic utterance.
The book of Acts is where we should go next.
Do the words speak with tongues mean that the Gentile converts spoke with strange (ecstatic) tongues?For They Heard Them Speak with TonguesSuggested Reading: Acts 10:1-48Acts 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.
Peter, a Jew, came to the house of Cornelius, a gentile, who was accompanied by his kinsman (relatives) and near friends. He proceeded to tell them that the Jews were not forbidden to talk to uncircumcised Gentiles on the street or in their place of business, but they were forbidden to go into their house and eat with them, because their house was considered to be ceremonially polluted. He then recounted the things that happened which brought him to this house. After which he talked about how God sent his Son Jesus to preach peace to the Jews, and how He went about doing good and healing all that were oppressed by the devil. However, eventually, He was rejected by them, being hung on a tree, but subsequently was raised from the dead being witnessed by many, and that whosoever believes in Him will receive remission (forgiveness; does not refer to the guilt of sin merely, but also to its power, nature, and consequences3) of sins. After Peter spoke these words something remarkable happened, the Holy Spirit fell (took possession of) on all that heard the word. The Jewish Christians who accompanied Peter that believed (acknowledged that the Holy Spirit also came upon the Gentiles) were astonished (beside themselves) for they heard the Gentiles speak with tongues, and magnify (praise) God.
What are these tongues?
Is what was being expressed by the gift of tongues a foreign language or an ecstatic utterance?
Depending on the teaching a believer has received will determine how they perceive such.
These Tongues Are Foreign Languages. ●The words speak with tongues were followed by the words and magnify God. To magnify means to praise. How would anyone know that these tongues were being used to praise God unless they understood what was being said in their own language? ●There is no indication as to how the words were interpreted other than the fact that the Jews who accompanied Peter heard the Gentiles speak in them and magnify (praise) God.
These Tongues Are Not Ecstatic Utterances.
●The word for tongues in the Koine Greek is gloosais, which means they did not speak intelligible languages but rather strange tongues4.●Many believe that these tongues are not ecstatic utterances, but prayer tongues. These are tongues that are used to express praise to God, but are not understood by the hearers. These could be characterized as being special revelations from God, which are not obvious to the understanding. Some contend that they can also serve as evidence of a person’s salvation.
This is another example of new believers speaking with tongues. The Holy Ghost Came on Them And They Spake with TonguesSuggested Reading: Acts 19:1-7Acts 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
As Paul was on his way to Jerusalem, the Holy Spirit commanded him to return to Asia. While passing through the upper coasts, he came to Ephesus. During his time there, he came upon certain disciples, about 12 of them, of John the Baptist. Paul asked them if they had received the Holy Spirit since they believed in the coming Messiah, to which they said they weren’t aware that he had been received by anyone. Paul followed this up with another question, the essence of which was, “what then was the meaning of your baptism?” Their response was that they were baptized into John’s baptism, the purpose of which scripture indicates was to make Jesus manifest (thoroughly understood) to Israel. In response to hearing this proclamation, the Jews were told by John the Baptist to confess their sins and exhibit deeds agreeing with a change of heart. After hearing this, Paul declared to them the name of the Messiah, who John the Baptist talked about, which is Christ Jesus. The context appears to indicate that they believed in Him and were baptized with water. However, it became clear to the apostles that they hadn’t received the Spirit. So, Paul laid hands on them and the Holy Spirit came upon them. And then the scriptures state that they spoke with tongues, and prophesied (to break forth under sudden impulse in lofty discourse or in praise of the divine counsels5).
Here we go again. Depending on the teaching you have received on this subject will determine your belief as to whether these tongues are that of a foreign language or an ecstatic utterance.
These Tongues Are Foreign Languages. ●Twelve men spoke in tongues and prophesied (to break forth under sudden impulse in lofty discourse or in praise of the divine counsels6).●In order to understand what was prophesied the tongues had to be expressed in the language of the hearers. In what manner, this was interpreted the scriptures do not tell us.
●The words they spake with tongues refers to speaking in a strange manner by using unknown or unrecognized sounds7. ●The Greek word for tongues is gloosais, which has no reference to a foreign language being spoken. ●Many believe that these tongues are not ecstatic utterances, but prayer tongues. In this instance, they were used to prophesy (praise divine counsel).
Onward to the book of 1 Corinthians.
Can we assume that in every case where the words unknown tongue are mentioned that this is referring to an ecstatic utterance?I Will Pray with the Understanding If I Pray in an Unknown Tongue 1 Corinthians 14:14-15For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. 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.
The apostle Paul is addressing the Corinthian believers in respect to the exercise of the gift of tongues during prayer. He said that if he were to exercise the unknown tongue in prayer, then his human spirit under the prompting of the Holy Spirit would pray (speak forth mysteries), but his understanding (intellectual faculties) would be unfruitful (receiving no benefit), if there was no interpretation of it. So, if he was going to pray in his human spirit, he would also want to pray with the understanding. In other words, with an explanation of what was said, which would require an interpreter.
When Paul said that he was praying in an unknown tongue was he saying that what was being declared was a foreign language or an ecstatic utterance?
Unknown Tongues Are Foreign Languages. ● The word tongue is from the Greek word gloossee and refers to unintelligible sounds. ●These sounds are sounds that are unintelligible to the speaker and hearer of them. ●One can deduce that what was spoken was a foreign language, because Paul knew that the only way what was spoken could be understood by himself would be if it was interpreted. ●This tongue could not have been expressing an ecstatic utterance, because an ecstatic utterance has no meaning, and therefore there would be no need to ask for the interpretation of it.
Unknown Tongues Are Not Ecstatic Utterances.
●The word tongue is from the Greek word gloossee and refers to unintelligible sounds. ●Some would say that if someone was praying in an unknown tongue that this tongue would be referred to as being a prayer tongue.
I could give you more examples like these, but I think it is fair to say that we can conclude that unknown tongues doesn’t refer to ecstatic utterances. Whenever there is uncertainty as to what kind of tongue is being referred to in a passage of scripture when the word for tongues is gloosais, you will have to make a determination as to whether the tongue is the expression of a foreign language unbeknownst to the speaker, but known to the speaker and hearers by means of the gift of the interpretation of tongues or whether the tongue is a prayer tongue, which is unknown to both the speaker and hearers and is used as some contend to express praise to God and provide evidence of a person’s salvation. We will take a further in-depth look at prayer tongues in some of the latter chapters.
What we will attempt to answer in the next chapter is, can what is expressed in the exercise of the gift of tongues be learned?
Endnotes1Barnes’ Notes. Pc Study Bible version 5, 2006, 1 Feb. 2012 ˂http://www.biblesoft.com>. 2Adam Clarke Clarke’s Commentary Pc Study Bible version 5, 2004, 5 Feb. 2012 ˂ http://www.biblesoft.com>.3Adam Clarke.4UBS. 5Thayer’s Greek Lexicon Pc Study Bible version 5, 2006, 6 Feb. 2012 ˂ http://www.biblesoft.com>.6Thayer.7UBS.
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