When people hear about speaking in tongues, many thinks of the Pentecostal type of speaking that goes like, “shanananalalalal sh shnanab bababshananana.” While that is what they think. The question here is; what is the speaking in tongues really about, who is this for, and why is the speaking in tongues significant? Let’s go through scriptures and go through each question one by one to fully understand the bigger picture of this miracle.
The first question is; what is the speaking in tongues really about in the book of Acts chapter 2? Let us take a look and read below:
Acts 2:1-15 KJV – 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.12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day.
According to the above passage, the scene is about speaking to every person there under heaven from each nation in their own known languages. In Acts 2:8, the people that were listening to the Holy-Spirit filled disciples, they heard the message of the Word of God in their own languages. We can correlate this with Paul’s speech his brothers and sisters in Christ regarding the subject matter of edifying each other in a group (Church) of believers to make peace with one another in Christ Jesus. Let’s take a look in 1 Corinthians 14:26-32:
1 Corinthians 14:26-32 KJV – 26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
In the above passage spoken by Paul, he was really honing into the goal of having each and one of the brothers and sisters in Christ to edify and build others up in the faith in Jesus Christ using their spiritual gifts and abilities. He also outlined the standard protocol to ensure that the languages that were spoken of can be understood by proper interpretation by an interpreter. If one speaks of an unknown tongue and no one can interpret that tongue, then it would be pointless to do that in front of people due to the fact that it doesn’t edify one another in the Body.
The second question is; who is the speaking in tongues really geared for? That is a great question to ask! Many people misinterpret what the Bible has to say regarding who the speaking in tongues was actually for. Let’s take a good look in the book of John regarding the true reason:
John 4:48 KJV – When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged Him to come down and heal his son, who was about to die.48Jesus said to him,“Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will never believe.”
The above verse showed how Jews are required signs and wonders to believe that Jesus is the Son of God due to their obstinance to the truth of Jesus Christ being God in the Flesh. They believed that Jesus is just a carpenter and that he never was truly God. At that time, the Official’s son was very sick and he didn’t know what he should do. He spoke to Jesus and requested that He would heal his son from sickness. Jesus healed his son and the official understood and believed!
The third question is; why is speaking in tongues important? It is important because, during the early Church after Christ’s ascension, many people from various nations wanted to hear the Good News of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit was prophesied by Jesus that He would come upon them to give them the power to perform signs and wonders so the Jews may believe who Jesus truly is through their miracles. Speaking in tongues is one of those miracles. Speaking in tongues edifies others because it actually allows various people groups to understand the message of God in their own languages without having o learn the Hebrew or Greek. Let also take a look at the correlating passage in 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 KJV and how the gifts and talents should be used to edify the Church.
1 Corinthians 13:1-13 KJV – Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.2 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, and have not charity, I am nothing.3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.4 Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not; charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,5 Doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
The above passage is about skills, talents, and spiritual gifts that were meant to be used to edify the Church and not be used for oneself. It is about agape, the same agape that Jesus showed us at the cross and throughout His earthly ministry. How does the above passage relate to Acts 2? Well, the Holy Spirit allowed the disciples to speak in various known tongues to people from each nation out of love about the Word of God.
Speaking in tongues is important because it is geared only to show the Jews about Jesus Christ and that speaking in tongues was one of the many tools used to get them to understand who Jesus truly was after they had crucified Jesus, their Messiah. The speaking in tongues allowed people from various nations to reach others with the gospel of Jesus to many people around the world. Speaking in tongues allows the early church to reach, send, and make disciples through many years to come. Nearing the lively-hood of the apostles, the original disciples of Jesus Christ were dwindling as time passes. In 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 KJV Paul spoke to the Corinthians that he was empowered to reach others to bring the Jews who were under the laws and those who were not under the laws (gentiles) to Jesus Christ so they may be saved through the hearing of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. This was when Paul was in his older stage in life before he died to be with the Lord.
In summary, speaking in tongues was really about speaking in known languages that people from various nations, would understand works of God so they may hear and believe on Jesus Christ. The speaking in tongues was shown to the Jews so that they may believe who Jesus truly is and that they would become Messianic Jews later in the book of Acts. As the apostles and disciples of Jesus Christ began to dwindle down, powers or supernatural powers were dwindling as well as the time went on to a more into faith alone and not by sight scenario.
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