Reference: Tongues, Gift Of
granted on the day of Pentecost (Ac 2:4), in fulfilment of a promise Christ had made to his disciples (Mr 16:17). What this gift actually was has been a subject of much discussion. Some have argued that it was merely an outward sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit among the disciples, typifying his manifold gifts, and showing that salvation was to be extended to all nations. But the words of Luke (Ac 2:9) clearly show that the various peoples in Jerusalem at the time of Pentecost did really hear themselves addressed in their own special language with which they were naturally acquainted (comp. Joe 2:28-29).
Among the gifts of the Spirit the apostle enumerates in 1Co 12:10-14:30, "divers kinds of tongues" and the "interpretation of tongues." This "gift" was a different manifestation of the Spirit from that on Pentecost, although it resembled it in many particulars. Tongues were to be "a sign to them that believe not."
Mr 16:17; 1/type/sawyer'>Ac 2:1-13; 10/46/type/sawyer'>10:46; 19/6/type/sawyer'>19:6,1 Corinthians 12,14. The Alexandrinus manuscript confirms Mr 16:9-20; The Sinaiticus and Vaticanus manuscripts, omit it; "they shall speak with "new" ("not known before", kainais) tongues"; this promise is not restricted to apostles; "these signs shall follow them that believe." a proof to the unbelieving that believers were under a higher power than mere enthusiasm or imagination. The "rushing mighty wind" on Pentecost is paralleled in Eze 1:24; 37:1-14; 43:2; Ge 1:2; 1Ki 19:11; 2Ch 5:14; Ps 104:3-4. The "tongues like as of fire" in the establishing of the New Testament church answer to Ex 19:18, at the giving of the Old Testament law on Sinai, and Eze 1:4 "a fire enfolding itself"; compare Jer 23:29; Lu 24:32.
They were "cloven" (diamerizomenai), rather distributed to them severally. The disciples were "filled with the Holy Spirit"; as John the Baptist and our Lord (Lu 1:15; 4:1). "They began to speak with "other" (heterais, different from their ordinary) tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance." Then "the multitude were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language; and they marveled saying, Behold are not all these which speak Galileans? and how hear we every man in our own tongue wherein we were born, the wonderful works of God?" This proves that as Babel brought as its penalty the confusion of tongues, so the Pentecostal gift of tongues symbolizes the reunion of the scattered nations. Still praise, not teaching, was the invariable use made of the gift. The places where tongues were exercised were just where there was least need of preaching in foreign tongues (1/type/sawyer'>Ac 2:1-4; 10/46/type/sawyer'>10:46; 19/6/type/sawyer'>19:6,1 Corinthians 14).
Tongues were not at their command whenever they pleased to teach those of different languages. The gift came, like prophesying, only in God's way and time (Ac 2:1-18; 10:46; 19:6). No express mention is made of any apostle or evangelist preaching in any tongue save Greek or Hebrew (Aramaic). Probably Paul did so in Lycaonia (Ac 14:11,15; he says (1Co 14:18) "I speak with tongues (the Vaticanus manuscript, but the Sinaiticus and the Alexandrinus manuscripts 'with a tongue') more than ye all." Throughout his long notice of tongues in 1 Corinthians 14 he never alludes to their use for making one's self intelligible to foreigners. This would have been the natural use for him to have urged their possessors to put them to, instead of interrupting church worship at home by their unmeaning display.
Papias (in Eusebius, H. E. iii. 30) says Mark accompanied Peter as an "interpreter," i.e. to express in appropriate language Peter's thought, so that the gift of tongues cannot have been in Papias' view a continuous gift with that apostle. Aramaic Hebrew, Greek, and Latin (the three languages over the cross) were the general media of converse throughout the civilised world, owing to Alexander's empire first, then the Roman. The epistles are all in Greek, not only to Corinth, but to Thessalonica, Philippi, Rome. Ephesus, and Colosse. The term used of "tongues" (apofthengesthai, not only lalein) implies a solemn utterance as of prophets or inspired musicians (Septuagint 1Ch 25:1; Eze 13:9). In the first instance (Acts 2) the tongues were used in doxology; but when teaching followed it was in ordinary language, understood by the Jews, that Peter spoke.
Those who spoke with tongues seemed to beholders as if "full of new wide," namely, excited and enthusiastic (Ac 2:13,15-18), in a state raised out of themselves. Hence, Paul contrasts the being "drunk with wine" with being "filled with the Spirit, speaking in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs" (Eph 5:18-19). The ecstatic songs of praise in the Old Testament, poured out by the prophets and their disciples, and the inspired musicians of the sanctuary, correspond (1Sa 10:5-13; 19:20-24; 1Ch 25:3). In 1 Corinthians 12 and 1 Corinthians 14 tongues are placed lowest in the scale of gifts (1Co 12:31; 14:5). Their three characteristics were:
(1) all ecstatic state of comparative rapt unconsciousness, the will being acted on by a power from above;
(2) words uttered, often unintelligible;
(3) languages spoken which ordinarily the speaker could not speak.
They, like prophesyings, were under control of their possessors (1Co 14:32), and needed to be kept in due order, else confusion in church meetings would ensue (1Co 14:23,39). The tongues, as evidencing a divine power raising them above themselves, were valued by Paul; but they suited the childhood (1Co 14:20; 13:11), as prophesying or inspired preaching the manhood, of the Christian life. The possessor of the tongue "spoke mysteries," praying, blessing, and giving thanks, but no one understood him; the "spirit" (pneuma) but not "understanding" (nous) was active (1Co 14:14-19). Yet he might edify himself (1Co 14:4) with a tongue which to bystanders seemed a madman's ravings, but to himself was the expression of ecstatic adoration. "Five words" spoken "with the understanding" so as to "teach others" are preferable to "ten thousand in an unknown tongue."
In Isa 28:9-12 God virtually says of Israel, "this people hear Me not though I speak to them in their familiar tongue, I will therefore speak to them in other tongues, namely, that of the foes whom I will send against them, yet even then they will not hearken to Me." Paul thus applies it: ye see it is a penalty to encouuter men of a strange tongue, yet this you impose on the church by abusing instead of using the tongue intelligibly. Speakers in foreign tongues speak like "children weaned from the milk, with stammering lips," ridiculous because unintelligible to the hearers (Isa 28:14), or like babbling drunkards (Ac 2:13), or madmen (1Co 14:20-23).
Thus, Isaiah (Isa 28:9-14) shows that "tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not." Tongues either awaken to spiritual attention the unconverted or, if despised, condemn (compare "sign" in a condemnatory sense, Eze 4:3-4; Mt 12:39-42), those who, like Israel, reject the sign and the accompanying message; compare Ac 2:8,13; 1Co 14:22; "yet, for all that will they not hear Me," even such miraculous signs fail to arouse them; therefore since they will not understand they shall not understand. "Tongues of men" and "divers kinds of tongues" (1Co 12:10,28; 13:1) imply diversity, which applies certainly to languages, and includes also the kind of tongues which was a spiritual language unknown to man, uttered in ecstasy (1Co 14:2). It was only by "interpreting" that the "understanding" accompanied the tongues.
He who spoke (praying) in a tongue should pray that he might (be able to) interpret for edification of the church (1Co 14:13,26-27). Hebrew and Aramaic words spoken in the spirit or quoted from the Old Testament often produced a more solemn effect upon Greeks than the corresponding Greek terms; Compare 1Co 16:22, Maranatha, 1Co 12:3; Lord of sabaoth, Jas 5:4; Abba, the adoption cry, Ro 8:15; Ga 4:6; Alleluia, Re 19:1,6; Hosannah, Mt 21:9,15. "Tongues of angels" (1Co 13:1) are such as Daniel and John in Revelation heard; and Paul, when caught up to paradise (2Co 12:4).
An intonation in speaking with tongues is implied in Paul's comparison to the tones of the harp and pipe, which however he insists have distinction of sounds, and therefore so ought possessors of tongues to speak intelligibly by interpreting their sense afterward, or after awakening spiritual attention by the mysterious tongue they ought then to follow with "revelation, knowledge, prophesying or doctrine" (1Co 14:6-11); otherwise the speaker with a tongue will be "a barbarian," i.e. a foreigner in language to the hearer. A musical tone would also be likely in uttering hymns and doxologies, which were the subject matter of the utterance by tongues (Ac 2:11). The "groanings which cannot be uttered" (Ro 8:26) and the "melody in the heart" (Eph 5:19) show us how even inarticulate speech like the tongues may edify, though less edifying than articulate and intelligible prophesying or preaching.
Either the speaker with a tongue or a listener might have the gift of interpreting, so he might bring forth deep truths from the seemingly inc
TONGUES, GIFT OF
1. In NT we read of 'speaking with tongues' or 'in a tongue' as a remarkable sign of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit; but the exact meaning of the phenomenon described has been much disputed. We may take the passages in the chronological order of writing.
This gift was in the early church, and was a sign 'to them that believed not,' in fulfilment of Isa 28:11-12: cf. 1Co 14:21. The gift was exhibited in a special way on the day of Pentecost, when people of many lands heard the wonderful things of God each in his own language. In the assembly these gifts were not to be exercised unless there was present an interpreter, that the saints might be edified. Paul thanked God that he spake with tongues more than all at Corinth; but in the assembly he would rather speak five words through his understanding, that he might teach others, than ten thousand words in a tongue. 1Co 12:10,8/type/sawyer'>28,30; 13:1,8; 14:2-39.
The expression 'unknown tongue' is unhappy, because it has led some to think that the gift of tongues consisted of a sort of unintelligible gibberish. The word 'unknown' has been added in the A.V., where it should read simply 'tongue.' At Pentecost it was shown that the gift of 'tongues' was in a person speaking a language which he had never learnt, but which was at once understood by those who knew it.
Tongues, Gift of.
I. glotta, or glossa, the word employed throughout the New Testament for the gift now under consideration, is used-- (1) for the bodily organ of speech; (2) for a foreign word imported and half-naturalized in Greek; (3) in Hellenistic Greek, for "speech" or "language." The received traditional view, which starts from the third meaning, and sees in the gift of tongues a distinctly linguistic power, is the more correct one. II. The chief passages from which we have to draw our conclusion as to the nature and purpose of the gift in question are-- 1.
... III. The promise of a new power coming from the divine Spirit, giving not only comfort and insight into truth, but fresh powers of utterance of some kind, appears once and again in our Lord's teaching. The disciples are to take no thought what they shall speak, for the spirit of their Father shall speak in them.
The lips of Galilean peasants are to speak freely and boldly before kings. The promise of our Lord to his disciples, "They shall speak with new tongues,"
was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when cloven tongues like fire sat upon the disciples, and "every man heard them speak in his own language."
IV. The wonder of the day of Pentecost is, in its broad features, familiar enough to us. What views have men actually taken of a phenomenon so marvellous and exceptional? The prevalent belief of the Church has been that in the Pentecostal gift the disciples received a supernatural knowledge of all such languages as they needed for their work as evangelists. The knowledge was permanent. Widely diffused as this belief has been it must be remembered that it goes beyond the data with which the New Testament supplies us. Such instance of the gift recorded in the Acts connects it not with the work of teaching, but with that of praise and adoration; not with the normal order of men's lives but with exceptional epochs in them. The speech of St. Peter which follows, like meet other speeches addressed to a Jerusalem audience, was spoken apparently in Aramaic. When St. Paul, who "spake with tongues more than all," was at Lystra, there is no mention made of his using the language of Lycaonia. It is almost implied that he did not understand it.
Not one word in the discussion of spiritual gifts in 1Cor 12-14 implies that the gift was of this nature, or given for this purpose. Nor, it may be added, within the limits assigned the providence of God to the working of the apostolic Church,was such a gift necessary. Aramaic, Greek, Latin, the three languages of the inscription on the cross were media, of intercourse throughout the empire. Some interpreters have seen their way to another solution of the difficulty by changing the character of the miracle. It lay not in any new character bestowed on the speakers, but in the impression produced on the hearers. Words which the Galilean disciples uttered in their own tongue were heard as in their native speech by those who listened. There are, it is believed, weighty reasons against both the earlier and later forms of this hypothesis.
1. It is at variance with the distinct statement of
They began to speak with other tongues.
2. It at once multiplies the miracle and degrades its character. Not the 120 disciples, but the whole multitude of many thousands, are in this case the subjects of it.
3. It involves an element of falsehood. The miracle, on this view, was wrought to make men believe what was not actually the fact.
4. It is altogether inapplicable to the phenomena of
... Critics of a negative school have, as might be expected, adopted the easier course of rejecting the narrative either altogether or in part. What then, are, the facts actually brought before us? What inferences may be legitimately drawn from them? (a) The utterance of words by the disciples, in other languages than their own Galilean Aramaic, is distinctly asserted. (b) The words spoken appear to have been determined, not by the will of the speakers, but by the Spirit which "gave them utterance." (c) The word used, apoftheggesthai, has in the LXX. a special association with the oracular speech of true or false prophets, and appears to imply a peculiar, perhaps physical, solemn intonation. Comp.
(d) The "tongues" were used as an instrument not of teaching, but of praise. (e) Those who spoke them seemed to others to be under the influence of some strong excitement, "full of new wine." (f) Questions as to the mode of operation of a power above the common laws of bodily or mental life lead us to a region where our words should be "wary and few." It must be remembered then, that in all likelihood such words as they then uttered had been heard by the disciples before. The difference was that before the Galilean peasants had stood in that crowd neither heeding nor understanding nor remembering what they heard, still less able to reproduce it; now they had the power of speaking it clearly and freely. The divine work would in this case take the form of a supernatural exaltation of the memory, not of imparting a miraculous knowledge of words never heard before. (g) The gift of tongues, the ecstatic burst of praise, is definitely asserted to be a fulfillment of the prediction of
We are led, therefore, to look for that which answers to the gift of tongues in the other element of prophecy which is included in the Old Testament use of the word; and this is found in the ecstatic praise, the burst of sang.
(h) The other instances in the Acts offer essentially the same phenomena. By implication in ch.
by express statement in ch.
it belongs to special critical epochs. V. The First Epistle to the Corinthians supplies fuller data. The spiritual gifts are classified and compared arranged, apparently, according to their worth. The facts which may be gathered are briefly these:
1. The phenomena of the gift of tongues were not confined to one church or section of a church.
2. The comparison of gifts, in both the lists given by St. Paul --
places that of tongues and the interpretation of tongues lowest in the scale.
3. The main characteristic of the "tongue" is that it is unintelligible. The man "speaks mysteries," prays, blesses, gives thanks, in the tongue,
but no one understands him.
4. The peculiar nature of the gift leads the apostle into what at first appears a contradiction. "Tongues are for a sign," not to believers, but to those who do not believe; yet the effect on unbelievers is not that of attracting, but of repelling. They involve of necessity a disturbance of the equilibrium between the understanding and the feeling. Therefore it is that, for those who believe already, prophecy is the greater gift.
5. The "tongues," however, must be regarded as real languages. The "divers kinds of tongues."
the "tongues of men,"
point to differences of some kind and it is easier to conceive of these as differences of language than as belonging to utterances all equally mild and inarticulate.
6. Connected with the "tongues" there was the corresponding power of interpretation. VI.
1. Traces of the gift are found in the Epistles to the Romans, the Galatians, the Ephesians. From the Pastoral Epistles, from those of St. Peter and St. John, they are altogether absent, and this is in itself significant.
2. It is probable, however, that the disappearance of the "tongues" was gradual. There must have been a time when "tongues" were still heard, though less frequently and with less striking results. For the most part, however, the pierce which they had filled in the worship of the Church was supplied by the "hymns and spiritual songs" of the succeeding age, after this, within the Church we lose nearly all traces of them. The gift of the day of Pentecost belonged to a critical epoch, not to the continuous life of the Church. It implied a disturbance of the equilibrium of man's normal state but it was not the instrument for building up t