Chapter 17g - “Question: Do you believe in Speaking in Tongues?     

The following is from Bob Hill a Scholar of the Hebrew and Greek. Note: I may not agree with everything he says but the view of this topic is handled good and we need to take and examine the scripture from a dispensational view.

   The Transition of Tongues and the Revelatory Gifts

                         iv. Tongues is an important subject as we continue to look at the dramatic changes which took place when Israel was set aside and the body of Christ began. Because there is so much emphasis on emotion these days, a sound dispensational theology is the only answer to the many statements we hear all the time. One says, "You haven't begun to live until you've been baptized in the Spirit and spoken in tongues." One group of churches believes, "The baptism of believers in the Holy Ghost is witnessed by the initial sign of speaking with other tongues." Another denomination writes, "We believe in speaking with other tongues as . . . the initial evidence of the Baptism in the Holy Ghost." Charismatic Don Basham wrote,

                           v. Dispensationalism claims that God has tried various expedients with man, each one having been completely abandoned before the next one was attempted so that divine workings in one age or dispensation do not apply to the next. This faulty teaching has played literal havoc with the faith of millions of Christians, deluding them into believing that the supernatural power of God which wrought miracles in New Testament days is not available today. (Basham, A Handbook on Holy Spirit Baptism, Whittaker Books, 1969, pp. 20,21.)

                         vi. Yet, many denominations which are not dispensational in their theology reject speaking in tongues for today. Not everyone can be right.

                       vii. There must be a good reason these statements are made. Should we speak in tongues? If we don't, will we be missing out on a blessed spiritual experience? On the other hand, if God did not intend it for today, then it's a spiritual hoax which spreads feelings of inadequacy and guilt on those who can't do it.

                     viii. What was the biblical purpose for speaking in tongues? The answer to this question is found in two Old Testament passages. They are Joel 2:28-32 and Isaiah 28:1-15. These two passages are very important if we want to understand God's purpose for tongues. The Joel passage tells us of the announcement of the last days of Israel. Its whole message is to Israel in the setting of the day of the Lord. The Isaiah passage is quite different. It is a passage on the judgment of Israel and Judah.

                         ix. Let's look at some significant words in the context of Joel 2:28-32. The italicized words will show us that this passage is addressed to Israel and is about Israel. 2:15 Blow the trumpet in Zion. Consecrate a fast. Call a sacred assembly. 2:17-19 Let the priests who minister to the LORD weep between the porch and the altar. Let them say, "Spare Your people, O LORD, and do not give Your heritage to reproach that the nations should rule over them. . . ." 18 Then the LORD will be zealous for His land and pity His people. 19 The LORD will answer and say to His people, "Behold, I will send you grain and new wine and oil, and you will be satisfied by them. I will no longer make you a reproach among the nations." 2:23, 26, 27 be glad then, you children of Zion and rejoice in the LORD your God. 26 You shall eat in plenty and be satisfied and praise the name of the LORD your God Who has dealt wondrously with you. And My people shall never be put to shame. 27 Then you shall know that I am in the midst of Israel: I am the LORD your God, and there is no other. My people shall never be put to shame.

                           x. Isaiah 10:32 and many other scriptures show us that Zion is Jerusalem, "the mount of the daughter of Zion, the hill of Jerusalem." Therefore, when God says, "I will pour out My Spirit on all flesh. Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy. Your old men shall dream dreams. Your young men shall see visions" (Joel 2:28), He is speaking of the sons, daughters, old men, and young men of Israel.

                         xi. They were expecting the Davidic Kingdom to be established. As we have seen, God made an unconditional promise to David. He promised him an eternal kingdom in 2 Samuel 7:12-17. When John the Baptist came, he was sent to Israel (Lk 1:68-79). He came preaching, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Mat 3:2) because the king, Jesus Christ, was there. Christ took up this message and continued preaching that the kingdom was near (Mat 4:17). Later, He sent out the twelve with this same message (Mat 10:7).

                       xii. After His resurrection, Christ was with the apostles for forty days. What was He doing? Acts 1:2,3 tells us. "He . . . had given commandments to the apostles . . . 3 being seen by them during forty days and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God." What were the apostles expecting? Remember, they had earlier been sent to the twelve tribes of Israel (Mat 10:6). Christ also promised them they would sit in judgment over the nation of Israel in Matthew 19:28. They were vitally interested in the establishment of the long promised Davidic Kingdom. By now, they knew they had a wonderful part in it. It's no surprise that Acts 1:6 tells us they asked Him, "Lord, will You at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?"

                     xiii. So the signs on the day of Pentecost were to show Israel that the kingdom promised to David was about to be established. They had heard that Christ would return after the tribulation (Mat 24:21, 29, 30). At the end of Christ's description of the tribulation, He related the parables of the ten virgins and the talents. These were both parables about the kingdom. Then He said Matthew 25:31, "When the Son of Man comes in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, then He will sit on the throne of His glory." Remember, He had promised the apostles authority over Israel (Mat 19:28). This is why we must conclude that these were signs to show Israel that the kingdom was about to be established right after the "great and terrible day of the Lord" (Mat 24:29, 30; 25:31,34). The "great and terrible day of the Lord" of Joel 2:31 would take place right after the tribulation.

                     xiv. What must our conclusion be about this first Old Testament passage (Joel 2:28-32)? The gift of tongues given on the day of Pentecost is established as a sign to Israel. This gift of tongues was a partial fulfillment of the Joel prophecy since other portions of the prophecy would be fulfilled after the tribulation. The most important fact we must see is this: The gift of tongues was a sign to Israel that the kingdom would be starting soon.

                       xv. The second Old Testament passage (Isa 28:1-15) is quite different. It is a warning passage. It warns of judgment on Israel. Initially, Isaiah was writing about Samaria. Samaria, the capitol city of the northern kingdom, was built on an excellent hilltop about 40 miles north of Jerusalem and 25 miles from the Mediterranean. It was strategically placed at the head of a very lush valley (28:1, 4). When the wild flowers are in bloom in the spring, the setting is exquisite. God used the destruction of Samaria, and the captivity of Ephraim, the ten northern tribes of Israel, as an example to Judah (the two southern tribes, Judah and Benjamin).

                     xvi. God inspired Paul to quote from this prophecy to show that the tongues spoken in Corinth were spoken in judgment against Israel. He wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:21-22, "In the law it is written: 'With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people; and yet, for all that, they will not hear Me,' says the Lord. 22 Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe." Let's carefully look at this prophecy of Isaiah.

                   xvii. Samaria was "the crown of pride," "the glorious beauty," "at the head of the verdant valleys" (28:1-4). But they are drunkards, and the glorious beauty is fading, to be trampled underfoot. In contrast to the crown of pride, verses 5 and 6 glorify the purity of the Lord. Then, in verses 7 and 8, Isaiah switches to Judah (Compare "But they also have erred," with verse 14, "Jerusalem," which is in Judah.). They are more gross than Ephraim. All their tables are full of vomit and filthiness. There is no wisdom in Judah. Isaiah has prophesied in vain. They give a mocking reply to his prophecies: "Whom will he teach knowledge? And whom will he make to understand the message? Those just weaned from milk? Those just drawn from the breasts" (28:9)? They're saying, "Who does he think we are? Whom is he trying to force his message on? Are we children that he treats us with his endless platitudes and repetitions?" They mock and ridicule Isaiah's teachings. His warnings are petty annoyances. Like teaching a little child to talk. One command after another. The same thing over and over: "For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept, line upon line, line upon line, here a little, there a little" (28:10).

                 xviii. They wouldn't hear "the refreshing" which God wanted to give them or the coming wrath God would bring upon them. They were too drunk. So Isaiah turns on them in verse 11. You call me a stammerer, huh? You have scorned my instructions as monosyllables fit for children. Well, God will speak to you in harsh judgment. The Gentiles, "with stammering lips and another tongue," will invade. When foreigners speaking "another tongue" come and conquer, God will speak to them with the simplicity of the brutal penalties of harsh invasion and destruction until "they might go and fall backward, and be broken And snared and caught" (28:13). They, like Ephraim, will be overcome and carried off. Therefore, we can see that Isaiah 28 was a prophecy of judgment against the whole nation of Israel.

                     xix. Consequently, what is our conclusion about these two prophecies? The prophecy of Joel 2:28-32 was a promise of spiritual enlightenment which would help them as they went through the tribulation to be prepared to receive the kingdom. Enlightenment for whom? Israel! This prophecy is much like Isaiah 44:1-3. In contrast, Isaiah 28:1-15 was a prophecy of judgment against whom? Israel! All Israel? No, just against unbelieving Israel.

                       xx. Let's look at these two prophecies in the contexts where they are quoted in the New Testament. In Acts 2:2, the Holy Spirit came "with a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind." In verse 4, "They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." Then Peter stood up and preached a message quoting the prophecy of Joel. He started his message, "But this (He was referring to the speaking of tongues, different languages.) is what was spoken by the prophet Joel" (v. 16). He clarified the meaning of the word "afterward" showing it meant, "the last days" (v. 17).

                     xxi. We must ask, the last days of what? It was Israel's last days before the establishment of the kingdom. Could it have been the last days of the church also? No, the prophecy was about Israel. God was still dealing with Israel as His chosen people. He even offered the kingdom to them after this, in Acts 3:19. Therefore, the church could not have started yet. It was not the first days of the church which is the body of Christ but the last days before the establishment of the kingdom for Israel.

                   xxii. This was a time of jubilation and evangelism for saved Israel. The tribulation would be upon them soon. Then the kingdom would be established. How wonderful! All these signs were given to Israel because "Jews request a sign" (1 Co 1:22). But Israel rejected Christ and the Holy Spirit (Acts 7:51-53). Therefore, God rejected Israel as His chosen people (7:56). When God rejected Israel, Christ stood in judgment as God was shown to do in the Old Testament (Psa 7:6-11; 9:16-20; 10:12; 82, especially verse 8; 94:2; Isa 3:13). Then God raised up a new apostle, gave him a new message, and sent him to the Gentiles (Acts 25:16-18). Ramifications of this severe judgment of Israel are recorded in Romans 11 and 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16. Israel has fallen (11:11). They have been cast away (11:15). Wrath has come upon them to the uttermost (1 Th 2:16). But their hardening is only temporary, "until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in" (Rom 11:25).

                 xxiii. After Israel's rejection, God showed His severe judgment against the nation. In 1 Corinthians 14:20, Paul refers to the Isaiah 28 prophecy and Israel's drunken, childish understanding: "Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature." Then he continues with the actual judgment statement in 21 and 22:

                 xxiv. In the law it is written: With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people; and yet, for all that, they will not hear Me, says the Lord. Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.

                   xxv. Remember, this Isaiah passage was a judgment prophecy against unbelieving Israel. These tongues were for a sign. To whom? Israel! Again, what was the purpose? Judgment! Now, if God set Israel aside and finally made the decree of Acts 28:28, there was no more purpose for tongues. God had said through Paul that tongues would cease (1 Co 13:8). When would they cease? After Israel was shown by "stammering lips and another tongue" that they had been judged and rejected.

                 xxvi. When the Gentiles in Corinth spoke in tongues, marvelous messages were given to them by God. These messages, when interpreted, were a blessing to the church. Because the synagogue had a wall in common with the church, the Jews in the synagogue could hear things which went on next door. ("wall in common" sunomorou'sa from sunomorevw. It is found once in the New Testament. The AV translates it "join hard." It means, "to border on, be contiguous to a thing.") So the unbelieving Jews in the synagogue next door heard the stammering words of judgment that Isaiah wrote about. These stammering words which the church spoke were tongues. Let's read 1 Corinthians 14:21-22 again. "In the law it is written: 'With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people" - Here he wrote that God would speak to Israel with foreign languages. "and yet, for all that, they will not hear Me, says the Lord." Even when this happened, unbelieving Israel did not believe. "Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers." Here we see that tongues were for a sign to unbelieving Jews. In this case, it was a sign of judgment to the unbelieving Jews in the synagogue next door to the Corinthian church.

               xxvii. Therefore, we can see that tongues had two purposes in the New Testament. First they were a sign which announced the last days of Israel before the promised kingdom. The tribulation would have begun. God would have established the Davidic kingdom. But after the nation rejected Christ, the purpose of tongues changed. Then they showed the rejection of Israel in judgment.

             xxviii. One additional function of tongues is referred to by Paul. In 2 Corinthians 12:12, Paul wrote that they validated his apostleship. "Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds."

                 xxix. The Scriptures show that the gift of tongues was for Israel, first as a sign that the tribulation and kingdom were close, but after Israel's rejection they were a sign to Israel that they had been set aside. Other sign gifts were also linked with tongues and passed away when Israel was shown that it had been set aside. We find these signs in many places, but the two most important are Matthew 10:1-8 and Mark 16:15-18. However, according to 1 Corinthians 13, there are other gifts which fade away because they are no longer needed. They are the revelatory gifts.

                   xxx. Let's analyze 1 Corinthians 13:8-10. "Love never fails. ("fails" ejkpivptei from ejkpivptw. It means 1) to fall out of, to fall down from, to fall off 2) metaph. 2a) to fall from a thing, to lose it 2b) to perish, to fall, to fall powerless, to fall to the ground, be without effect.) But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; ("they will fail" katarghqhvsontai from katargevw. It means, 1) to render idle, unemployed, inactivate, inoperative. 1a) to cause a person or thing to have no further efficiency. 1b) to deprive of force, influence, power. 2) to cause to cease, put an end to, do away with, annul, abolish. 2a) to cease, to pass away, be done away. 2b) to be severed from, separated from, discharged from, loosed from any one.) This shows that this gift will not be needed after the perfect thing has come. But what is the perfect thing? Many believe it is the return of Christ. However, if it were referring to Christ, the phrase, "when that [toV, neuter] which is perfect ("perfect" toV tevleion The neuter [because of the definite article] substantized adjective here could be referring to a neuter object or an abstract thing. If it were referring to Christ it would say, "When He who is perfect has come.") has come," would have a masculine definite article. (In Matthew 24:27 it is hJ parousiva tou' uiJou' tou' ajnqrwvpou, the coming [feminine] of the son [masculine] of man. In 24:30 it is toV shmei'on tou' uiJou' tou' ajnqrwvpou ejn tw'/ oujranw'/: kaiV tovte kovyontai pa'sai aiJ fulaiV th'" gh'" kaiV o[yontai toVn uiJoVn tou' ajnqrwvpou ejrcovmenon ejpiV tw'n nefelw'n tou' oujranou' metaV dunavmew" kaiV dovxh" pollh'", the sign [neuter] of the Son [masculine] of Man in heaven, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son [masculine] of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.) It would have been translated, "When He who is perfect has come." But it is neuter. This means it would be referring to a neuter noun like sign or mystery, or an abstract idea.

                 xxxi. Let's continue in verse 8, "whether there are tongues, they will cease; (pauvsontai cease) whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. (katarghqhvsetai This is the same verb except it is singular. The gift of knowledge will become inoperative, inactive.) For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away." When would these two gifts become of no value? When would they be null and void or rendered idle? That would happen when these revelatory gifts were no longer needed. From Paul's viewpoint that would be when the full revelation of the mystery was given to him. This event is explained in Colossians 1:24-28.

               xxxii. I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God which was given to me for you, to fulfill the word of God, 26 the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.

             xxxiii. We see in verse 25 that it was given to Paul to complete the word of God (the mystery). It wasn't given to him to complete the canon, but the mystery. When this was accomplished, the need for the revelatory gifts of prophecy and knowledge was gone. They were now null and void - replaced by the full revelation of the mystery of Ephesians and Colossians.

             xxxiv. In verse 25, fulfill (plhrw'sai is the same word we find in Col 2:9,10, o{ti ejn aujtw'/ katoikei' pa'n toV plhvrwma (the noun, fullness) th'" qeovthto" swmatikw'", 10 kaiV ejsteV ejn aujtw'/ peplhrwmevnoi, 10 even you are filled, or complete in Him. Here we see that we, the fullness, dwell in Him (Eph 1:22-23). We are complete in Him similar to Paul completing the word of God, the mystery.) the word of God, is the same word found in its noun form and verb form in Colossians 2:9,10. The hoped for result of this full revelation of the mystery to Paul is our spiritual maturity, loving God and one another. (tevleion the same word, only here it is a masculine accusative of the thing because it agrees with the noun, man. Compare 1 Timothy 1:5 "Now the purpose of the commandment is love from a pure heart, from a good conscience, and from sincere faith.") That is reiterated in Colossians 2:2,3, "That their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."

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