Friday, July 1, 2011


Question Received:

When did speaking in tongues disappear after Christ's resurrection and when did it begin to reappear in modern times?

My Answer:

Tongues is one of the most controversial subjects in today's church.
Scholars do not agree if tongues are the ability to speak an unlearned language or
is the gift of tongues "glossolalia" an unknown language.
At the Feast of Pentecost God fearing Jews (and proselyte Jews or converted Jews) from many lands "heard" the gospel in their own language. My seminary professor taught that
the miracle was in the hearing and that this was true "glossolalia" or a new unheard language spoken by all. My professor said the miracle was in the hearing and asked who could understand if 3,000 plus people were speaking a variety of languages? So he made a case that it was a new heavenly unknown language at Pentecost. Again this is not a popular opinion though it needs to be considered by Bible students. Below is the biblical account of Pentecost.

Acts 2:5-12
New King James Version (NKJV)
"5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone ***heard*** them speak in his own language. 7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we ***hear***, each in our own language in which we were born? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” 12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?” "

1 Corinthians 13:1-3 deals with tongues.
The wisdom of using gifts and the use of tongues is compared to just showing off is dealt with. Clearly teaching and preaching in our known language is/was more beneficial to others than tongues.
"1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging 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, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 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."

They, tongues and prophecy would cease one day wrote the Apostle Paul.
1 Corinthians 13:8 NKJV "Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away."

When would they, tongues, then cease?
Cessationist, those who think the gift is no longer available, often say when we received the full cannon of scripture tongues ceased. They say "the perfect" in 1st Corinthians 13:10 is our completed Bible.

1 Corinthians 13:10 NKJV "but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away."

Many Christians do not believe this gift has ceased. After the Apostles tough their is hardly any historical reference to tongues in Christian history. A heretical sect, in the second century, the Montanist, practiced tongues but also many heretical practices.
Many non Christian religions and cults practice tongues or an eschatic language as part of religious practice. This does not help the case for defending tongues as a biblical gift for today.

In the early 1900's their was a renewal of the practice tongues in the early 1900's with the Azuza Street Revival in Los Angeles being the focal point. Participants claimed this was a sign of Spirit baptism. Some Pentecostal's claim it is also the initial sign of salvation. This revival spawned many of today's modern Pentecostal denominations. Also, near the same time as the Azuza Street Revival over in the South's Appalachian region of Western North Carolina and Tennessee the Church of God movement also claimed the outbreak of tongues.
Later in the 1960's their was a Neo-Pentecostal movement in the mainline denominations where some Presbyterian, Episcopalians, Methodist, Lutherans , Baptists and others had small groups in these churches were speaking in tongues in what is referred to as the modern Charismatic movement.

So, after the Apostles died hardly any reliable history records tongues practiced as a standard part of Christian practice. Now in the 1900's to the new millennium their are over 2,000 Pentecostal denominations and a small portion in non-charismatic churches that claim to speak in tongues.
This practice is supported by practitioners by Scripture. Tongues is also refuted by those who believe in the cessation of this gift of tounges by Scripture.

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