“The Gift of Tongues” in Acts 2

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God." And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" But others mocking said, "They are filled with new wine."


Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" And Peter said to them, "Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself." (ESV)

In Pentecostal churches, people receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, the initial evidence of which is speaking in tongues.  If you don't have tongues, you don't have the baptism - based on this passage of Scripture.

You are saved (first act of grace) and then you speak in a language that nobody but God can understand (second act of grace).

But...let's read the Scripture...

The people who had received the Holy Spirit began to speak in other tongues...yes.  But...at the sound, devout men from "every nation" came together and each of them heard in his own language.  Those who were there spoke in tongues and the other believers heard in tongues.  Who were the ones who did not hear in their own tongues?  The mockers...unbelievers.

The "moral" of the story?  If somebody around you is "baptized with the Holy Spirit as a second work of grace", and you can't understand - you cannot hear in your own tongue...

you may not be one of the saved.  It bears thinking about when coveting the gift.

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4 thoughts on ““The Gift of Tongues” in Acts 2

  1. Hi, I hope you don't mind if I jump in here.

    I'm probably skipping ahead in your discussion, but based on what I've been reading in I Corinthians 12-14, I'm thinking that Paul seems to have different rules for tongues spoken in public than for private prayer. My understanding is that in private, if one has the gift of tongues, s/he should pray in tongues (the spirit) but ALSO with the intellect. One type of prayer should not be favored over the other.

    In PUBLIC, it seems that the rules are that no more than two or three should speak in tongues and there should always be an interpreter.

    I have yet to find any verse that says that tongues are a necessary evidence of salvation, but rather that different believers have different gifts. Neither have I found a verse to indicate that these gifts are not for today. Rather, it seems that tongues and other spiritual gifts are good and to be desired and as I Cor. 14:39 says, "Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak in tongues."

    Thanks for tackling a difficult topic.

    One interesting thing that I don't recall noticing before tonight. In chapter fourteen, verse ten, Paul seems to suggest that perhaps all sound might have meaning.

  2. Welcome Sara...I certainly don't mind!

    I'm still "up in the air" about the revelatory gifts being for today or not. Gary Gilly makes a good case that they are not for today...others make a good case that they are.

    What I am sure of - even if the gifts are for today...the Pentecostal churches are using them wrongly.

  3. Gary Gilly. OK, I'll read the other side.

    Regarding Pentecostal churches, whatever the "official" stance is, I believe there is a wide variety of practices in this area and others. I have met Pentecostal women who never cut their hair (and who cover their heads) and others who have never heard of such a thing.

    More and more, across denominational lines, I am finding that individual churches vary.
    I attended a Lutheran church (LCMS) in my youth which was politically conservative, liturgical, AND believed in the "gifts" and their orderly use for the edification of the Body. So, go figure. I have never found another church like it.

    Thanks for the welcome!

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