Summary: A thorough look at the gift of tongues
TONGUES: A BIBLICAL/HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE
There were many reasons for God to cause tongues to be used in early church but as we shall see, the reason for tongues diminished and therefore tongues eventually ceased. (I Corinthians 13:8)
1. Acts 1:6-9- A sign to the disciples that the power Jesus promised to them was now come upon them
2. Mark 16:17-20- A sign to confirm the Word. (Note-Those who practice tongues today do not try to perform the
Other signs listed.)
3. Acts 11:12-18- A sign to Jewish believers that the Gentiles were also to be equal participators
Israel was blessed when living in the land, but when out of the land, down through their history
they received judgment from God and unknown tongues for their ears. In A.D. 70 the Romans put
them out of the land, a judgment from God for rejecting their Messiah. The Early Church tongues was
a sign to the Jew of this coming judgment from God which was the fulfillment of I Corinthians 14:28
the only ones to possess the sign gifts and with the passing away of the Apostles, all of these sign gifts ceased.
6. I Corinthians 14 reveals that tongues in the Early Church was a means of revealing previously unknown New
Testament truths which they needed from God, before the Word of God was written and available to the many churches.
7. A sign in and of itself is nothing in the program of God, but what it reveals or points to is important.
8. The tongues movement of today wrongly teaches that speaking in tongues is a sign of having the Holy Spirit indicating the spirituality of the one ’speaking in tongues’ in direct opposition to the revealed truth of the Word of God. (James 4:6; Philippians 2:3) The Bible teaches that all who receive the Lord Jesus Christ through faith and repentance are born again becoming children of God through the new birth by the Holy Spirit. This is when the child of God receives the Holy Spirit ’For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body’ (I Corinthians 12:13
9. In I Corinthians Paul said tongues would cease, and according to history they did!
a. Last Apostolic Biblical Miracles-A.D. 58 (Acts 28:3-9)
b. Around 60 A.D. Epaphroditus was sick unto death but not healed (Philippians 2:25-30)
c. A.D. 62 stomach ailment not cured (I Timothy 1:2)
d. A.D. 64 Trophimus left sick (II Timothy 4:20)
e. A.D. 95 Clement of Rome’s letter to Corinth-NO tongues mentioned!
f. Early Church Fathers wrote to every area of the Roman Empire for four centuries on many types of doctrinal issues
without mentioning tongues.
g. Justin Martyr A.D. 100-165 traveled extensively throughout Roman Empire-NO mention of
tongues even though he included lists of the gifts of the Holy Spirit: understanding, counseling,
strength, teaching, foreknowledge, and fear of God!
h. Origen A.D. 185-253 most scholarly of his day, read and traveled extensively. Quote: "The signs
of the Apostolic age had been temporary, and that no contemporary Christian exercised any of
the ancient prophetical gifts."
j. Chrysostom A.D. 345-407 said tongues no longer take place.
k. Augustine A.D. 354-430 said tongues passed away.
l. The great men of the faith did not exercise this sign gift even though they did great exploits for God! Martin Luther, John & Charles Wesley, Charles Finney, C.H.Spurgeon, D.L.Moody,
R.A.Torrey, Billy Sunday and tongues were not included in the Great Awakenings of the U.S.A.
Or during the earlier Reformation in Europe in the 1500’s i.e. Luther, Calvin and Zwingli.
10. Tongues in Biblical Perspective by Charles R. Smith gives a lot of insightful information on the tongues movement
a. Speaking in tongues is definitely a learned skill today.
b. Many teach and write instructions on how to learn.
c. Tongues can be spoken at the speaker’s will.
11. An Apostle was a ’sent one’ with power and authority of the One who sent them, who was Christ. All were healed in Acts 5:12-16, 19:11,12. Today, according to James 5:14-16 it is the prayer of faith. If your sickness/disease/trial hinders your effectiveness to have a ministry for the Lord, He may choose to heal or change your situation, but many times you are more effective with the affliction, as Paul was, and so, because He knows what is best He may choose to allow it to remain.
12. In I Corinthians 12:11 God divides the gifts to His children as He wills. He chooses the gifts. Gifts are not learned, but given, and if God decides to use these gifts today or in the future He will definitely do it according to His Holy Word as indicated in the following outline: