Is Speaking In Tongues For All Believers Today?


Is Speaking In Tongues For All Believers Today?

Pentecostals get their name from the Biblical Day of Pentecost in which God poured out His Holy Spirit upon about 120 disciples on the Day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two. Pentecostals believe that the same gift of the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues “as the Spirit gives utterance (Acts 2:4)” which was first received at the inauguration of the New Testament Church on the Day of Pentecost is still promised for all true believers in the last days, even until the second coming of Jesus Christ.

“For the promise is unto you and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2:39-KJV)

Many people think that the outpouring of the Holy Spirit with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues is not for us today. Other people also think that speaking in tongues only exists as one of the nine spiritual gifts listed in 1 Corinthians chapters twelve through fourteen. Therefore they contend that speaking in tongues is not for every believer. This contention is proved erroneous by 1 Corinthians 14:27. “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. (1 Corinthians 14:27)

First, we must acknowledge that the apostle Paul was contextually addressing the spiritual gift of tongues along with the other eight gifts of the Holy Spirit in 1 Corinthians chapters twelve through fourteen which are received subsequent to receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit with tongues. Hence, the spiritual gift of tongues which is received after one receives the gift of the Holy Spirit with tongues could only be in operation “by two, or at the most by three, and that by course (one at a time)” in one particular church meeting. Therefore, according to 1 Corinthians 14:27, if four persons spoke by the gift of tongues in one meeting someone would be out or order.

Moreover, according to 1 Corinthians 14:27, if many believers spoke by the spiritual gift of tongues simultaneously in a meeting of Spirit filled believers (more than two or three) then their speaking in tongues would have been out of order. We know that “God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:23)” and that scripture certainly does not contradict itself. Yet we read in Acts chapters 2, 8, 10, and 19 that many believers spoke in tongues simultaneously during the same meetings which were many more than two or three by course. Thus it is clear that the Bible speaks of two different manifestations of speaking in tongues: one as prayer languages which are given to all Spirit filled believers for their personal edification and one as a distinct spiritual gift which is to be interpreted for the edification of a local assembly. It is this gift of tongues which the apostle states, “…ought to be interpreted.”

“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these work by that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.”(1 Corinthians 12:7-11)

Just as not all Christians have the operation of the spiritual gift of tongues and yet all Christians can speak in tongues, so likewise, the same is true for many of the other gifts of the Spirit. For example, all Christians must have at least a certain degree of faith (faith for salvation), but clearly, not all Christians have the gift of faith. All Christians have at least some wisdom, but clearly, not all Christians have the gift of the word of wisdom. All Christians have a certain degree of knowledge, but clearly, not all have the gift of the word of knowledge.

The apostle Paul clearly affirmed that he was addressing the nine gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians chapters twelve through fourteen rather than the Baptism of the Holy Spirit which is clearly promised to all believers. For Paul opened chapters twelve and fourteen by affirming that he was addressing “spiritual gifts” (The Greek word for “gifts” in 1 Cor. 12-14 is “charisma”) rather than receiving “the gift of the Holy Spirit (the Greek word used for the “gift” of the Holy Spirit is always “dorea”, never “charisma”).”

“Now concerning spiritual gifts (charisma), brethren …” (1 Corinthians 12:1)

“... desire spiritual gifts (charisma), brethren …” (1 Corinthians 14:1)

Since the scriptures teach that the operation of the gifts of the Spirit only occur subsequent to receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit with the initial sign of speaking in tongues for all believers, we know that 1 Corinthians chapters twelve through fourteen address speaking with tongues as an operational gift of the Spirit which is only given to some believers rather than to all believers. In contradistinction to the gift of tongues which is only for some believers, the scriptures also speak of speaking with tongues for all believers who were present on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 (about 120 believers), for all who were present in the city of Samaria in Acts 8 (hundreds of believers), for all who were present when Peter preached in Caesarea in Acts 10 (Cornelius’ “relatives and close friends” in Acts 10:24 had to have been at least 10 people), and for all who were present when Paul preached to the Ephesian disciples of John the Baptist in Acts 19 (about 12 believers). If there are not two different types of speaking in tongues addressed in scripture, then why does inspired scripture state that one type of tongues must be “by two, or at the most three, and that by course; and let one interpret (one at a time – 1 Corinthians 14:27)” while another type of tongues were spoken by about one hundred and twenty people all at once on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4, hundreds of believers present in Samaria (Acts 8), all Gentiles present in Caesarea (Acts 10), and about 12 Ephesian disciples in Acts 19?

Note: The gift of tongues requires the gift of interpretation (1 Cor. 14:27) while the gift of the Holy Spirit with tongues does not require an interpreter (Acts 10:44-46-NASB). “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. 45 All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. 46 For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God.”

In Acts 10:44-48 we find that many Gentiles along with Cornelius received the same “gift of the Holy Spirit” by speaking with tongues all at once (more than only two or three people) just as the Jewish believers did on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-4). The same is true in Acts chapter nineteen where we find that the twelve disciples of John the Baptist (more than two or three) were also filled with the Holy Spirit by speaking in other tongues all at the same time in one particular meeting with Paul (Acts 19:1-7).

The Greek word for “gift” is always the word “dorea” when pertaining to the “gift” or Baptism of the Holy Spirit with tongues. In contradistinction, the Greek word for the “gifts” of the Spirit is always “charisma,” but never “dorea.” Hence, the scriptures separate the two different manifestations of speaking in tongues by two different Greek words. There is no place in the New Testament where one of these words is substituted for the other. The word “dorea” is never applied to any of the nine gifts of the Spirit and the word “charisma” is never applied to the “gift” or Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Hence, we clearly have two different operations of tongues found in the Bible: one operation of tongues for all believers who have received the gift of the Holy Spirit (dorea tongues) with the initial sign of tongues and another operation of tongues for only certain believers who have received the gift of tongues (charisma tongues) which is to be interpreted in local church assemblies.

SCRIPTURAL REASONS WHY TONGUES CONTINUE TODAY

1. Why would God take away something He declares that He “SET IN THE CHURCH?” “God has set in the church, diversities of tongues (1 Cor. 12:28).”

2. Why would God command us to “forbid not to speak with tongues” in 1 Corinthians 14:39 if He intended for the churches to stop speaking in tongues?

3. Why would God take away something that He declares edifies? “He that speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself (1 Cor. 14:4).”

4. Why would God suddenly change His New Covenant with His people? It is unscriptural and outright disobedient to change the gospel in any way.

“But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we (the apostles) have preached unto you (the first century Christians), let him be accursed.” (Galatians 1:8-13)

“...if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life...” (Revelation 22:18-19)

Those who say that tongues are not for us today are “diminishing” or “taking away” portions of New Testament scriptures. Since when has God changed the New Covenant? Just as the Old Covenant could not be added to or diminished from, so, the New Covenant cannot be lawfully added to or diminished from.

Finally, it is extremely difficult to believe that when the word “Amen” was penned by the apostle John at the end of the book of Revelation that the entire church automatically ceased speaking in tongues. For there is no record in early Christian history to support the idea that all of the early Christians suddenly ceased speaking in tongues as soon as the New Testament book of Revelation was completed.

Irenaeus, Bishop of Lyons from A.D. 188 - A.D. 202, was a prolific Christian writer who sat under the teachings of Polycarp, Bishop of Smyrna (Polycarp having been well acquainted with the apostle John). Irenaeus taught that those “who have received the Spirit of God do speak in all languages …” Irenaeus affirmed that Christians who had “received the Spirit of God” were still speaking in all languages (tongues) about one hundred years after the death of the last of the original apostles. Irenaeus further affirmed in the late second century, “For this reason does the apostle declare, 'we speak wisdom among them that are perfect, terming those persons ‘perfect’ who had received the Spirit of God, and who through the Spirit of God do speak in all languages, as he [Paul] used himself also to speak. In like manner we do hear many brethren in the Church, who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages ...”(The Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 1, Page 531)

Notice that Irenaeus declared that those who received the Spirit of God do speak in all languages through the Spirit. Then he differentiated between receiving the Spirit of God with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues and the possession of spiritual gifts, i.e., the gifts of prophecy and tongues when he wrote, “In like manner we do hear many brethren in the Church, who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of tongues.”

Here we can see that Irenaeus believed that receiving the Spirit of God meant those “who had received the Spirit of God … do speak in all languages” and that the prophetic gifts of prophecy and tongues is another operation of speaking in all kinds of languages.

Irenaeus went on to write, “… the man is rendered spiritual and perfect because of the outpouring of the Spirit … But if the Spirit be wanting to the soul, he who is such is indeed of an animal nature, and being left carnal.” (The Ante-Nicene Fathers Volume 1, Page 532)

Those who teach that the Biblical experience of speaking in tongues passed away with the first century church and the death of the original apostles often attempt to justify their position by stating that the phrase “when that which is perfect has come” in 1 Corinthians 13:10 is to be interpreted to mean “when the New Testament scripture is fully complete.” Thus, they assert that 1 Corinthians 13:10 implies that all tongues, prophecies, and knowledge suddenly “vanished away” when the New Testament book of Revelation was completed. Yet this assumption is proved to be erroneous because the Greek word translated “perfect” in 1 Corinthians 13:10 is “teleion”, which is neuter singular, but the Greek language always refers to the Scriptures in the feminine plural. Therefore, the apostle Paul must have been referring to something other than the Holy Scriptures being completed in 1 Corinthians 13:10.

Let us read 1 Corinthians 13:8-12 in context: “Whether there are prophesies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease: whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. 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 ... For now, we see in a mirror dimly but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then shall I know just as I also am known.” (1 Corinthians 13:8-12)

What knowledge will “vanish away” when that which is perfect comes? And what did