It is clear from Jesus teaching that the Holy Spirit was to be given in new and very exciting ways after His departure.

 

John 7:37-39 On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

 

The Holy Spirit did come with power and with the incredible miracle of universal translation on Pentecost. There is a complete study on the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit on p19 of the First Principals booklet. Universal translation happened when the believers spoke in a miraculous way that was understood in multiple languages (tongues) simultaneously. In addition to this amazing action of the Holy Spirit, there was a separate ‘gift’ of tongues given during the Apostolic age where certain Christians were given spiritual gifts by the laying on of the hands by an Apostle. Receiving this gift meant that the person had the ability to miraculously speak a single language (at will) that they had not learned. The nature of this miracle is the subject of this short study. The gift of tongues was one of a pair of gifts as there was also the need for someone to translate the miraculously spoken language for the benefit of those present who did not speak it. In addition, the person with the gift to speak the language did not actually understand what they were saying so they also needed a translation of what they themselves had spoken! The most condensed teaching on the gift of tongues is 1 Corinthians chapter 14.

First, it must be acknowledged that tongues, means ‘languages’ and the following chapter should have the word ‘tongues’ replaced with the word ‘language’ during a separate reading to be rid of the temptation to ‘read’ demonic Pentecostal babbling ‘into’ the context. Once one can read this chapter free from prejudice and the presuppositions associated with Pentecostal doctrine it is easy to see this gift is no longer available. The gift of tongues in the early church was the miraculous ability to speak one language, at will, that the gifted person had never learned and in spite of the gift, did not actually understand.  That is why it was called a gift! It was conferred only by the laying on of an Apostle’s hands. It was to be used in the presence of a language barrier to ease the spread of the gospel to non-Christians who spoke the gifted language as their mother tongue.
From the beginning, 1 Corinthians 14 is a corrective teaching because, in the church in Corinth,  miraculous tongues were being used without the appropriate audience. Here is the whole chapter in context, with commentary.

1 Corinthians 14:1 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. 2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.

 

Tongues are not understood by the speaker. God, of course, understands and created all human languages (Gen 11:5-9). If a listener has not either, learned the foreign language naturally or received the miraculous gift of translation, they cannot understand the speaker.

 

1 Corinthians 14:3 But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement, and comfort. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.

 

Without translation, the only person edified is the speaker. Even though the speaker themselves does not understand,  they are used by God to speak miraculously and so are edified!

1 Corinthians 14:5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.

1 Corinthians 14:6 Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction?7 Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes?8 Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me. 12 So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.

 

Tongues are useless unless understood by humans. They are human languages.

 

1 Corinthians 14:13 For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says.14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. 16 If you are praising God with your spirit, how can one who finds himself among those who do not understand say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? 17 You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified.

 

It was possible to pray with the gift but it still needed to be translated to be understood and was only understood by the speaker if they were gifted with translation.

 

1 Corinthians 14:18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.

20 Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. 21 In the Law it is written:

“Through men of strange tongues
    and through the lips of foreigners
I will speak to this people,
    but even then they will not listen to me,”
says the Lord.

22 Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers.

 

The gift was supposed to be used to communicate God’s message in a recognizable language to non-Christians.



1 Corinthians 14:23 So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?

 

 

The gifts could be used at will and were being used inappropriately as a sensual experience like a circus act. A gifted person had a specific language and it needed to be used with guests who understood that specific language. It was not for sensual entertainment.

 

1 Corinthians 14:24 But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, 25 and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”

26 What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.

29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.

As in all the congregations of the saints, 34 women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

36 Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.

39 Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

 

None of this describes what Pentecostals do in their churches today. Pentecostals do not speak actual languages they have not learned. They utter multi-syllabic babbling. This biblical miracle of tongues has passed away (1 Cor 13:8). What Pentecostals do is something entirely different!

For teaching on all the miraculous gifts, you can see a comprehensive study on p20 of the First Principals series booklet.

 

 

So we see universal translation was an amazing miracle confirming the coming of the kingdom.

The babbling worship of Pentecostals, charismatics etc is simply demonic.

The gift of tongues was the miraculous ability to speak an actual human language.

 

The Holy Spirit is no longer active in miraculous tongues except in the bible itself. The bible IS tongues!

In my next article, i will show in what way the Holy Spirit IS still available.

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