Tongues of the Nations: The Spirit Speaks Your Language

Today’s selected reading continues in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian congregation. More specifically today’s passage is found in verses twenty-six through forty of the fourteenth chapter of this New Testament book. “How is it then, brethren? When ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. 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. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints” (1 Corinthians 14:26-33).

 

            “Let your women keep silence in the churches: For it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. What? Came the word of God out from you? Or came it unto you only? If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant” (1 Corinthians 14:34-38).

 

            “Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:39-40).

 

            When you come to the latter part of the fourteenth chapter of this first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints you will find two distinct declarations made by the apostle. In the thirty-third verse of this chapter the apostle Paul declares how God is not the author of confusion but of peace as in all churches of the saints while in the fortieth verse he instructs and commands that all things must be done decently and in order. I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and pay attention to the words found in this passage of Scripture for the words presented here call and draw our attention to some of the conflicts and troubles that were plaguing the Corinthian congregation. The more I read this first epistle the more I am brought face to face with the truth that the Corinthian congregation most certainly faced tremendous confusion among them in their midst—particularly and especially around matters of tongues and interpretation. We know from the opening chapter of this epistle the Corinthian congregations were enriched in all knowledge and understanding and that they came behind as lacking concerning spiritual gifts. Based on what we find in the twelfth chapter of this epistle the apostle Paul sought to provide instruction and guidance for the Corinthian saints concerning spiritual gifts and helping them understand—not only the diversity of the spiritual gifts themselves but also the diversity of the actual body of Christ itself. In order to recognize and understand the words and language that is found in the fourteenth chapter we must needs understand the powerful language surrounding the diversity of the spiritual gifts and the diversity of the individual members of the body who have been joined together under one universal head which is the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

            There is not a doubt in my mind that in order to understand the words which are found in this passage of Scripture we must needs turn and direct our attention to the words presented in the twelfth chapter of this same epistle. It is the words we find in the twelfth chapter of this epistle that calls and draws our attention—not only to the diversity of the spiritual gifts but also the diversity of the body. I firmly believe that if you want to understand the distinction that is made between speaking with other tongues as referenced in the fourteenth chapter of this epistle and prophesying you have great need to recognize the words presented in the twelfth chapter. It is in the twelfth chapter where we find the apostle Paul initially writing unto the Corinthians concerning one of the most powerful manifestations of the diversity of the Spirit—namely, the diversity of the spiritual gifts which are present within the body of Christ. You cannot read the words found in this passage of Scripture and not be brought face to face with the awesome truth that although the Holy Spirit is indeed united together with the eternal Father and only begotten Son and although the Holy Spirit is united within Himself there is a tremendous diversity that is found within Him. This diversity was first seen on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit arrived on the earth as the sound of a mighty rushing wind filled the upper room where one-hundred and twenty were gathered together. Not only did the sound as of a rushing mighty wind fill the room where they were but cloven tongues of fire rested upon each of them as they were filled with the Holy Spirit. As if this weren’t enough—on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit gave utterance unto those present in the upper room to speak with other tongues.

 

            The words and language we find in the fourteenth chapter of this first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints must needs be recognized and understood in light of what is presented in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts, as well as the twelfth and thirteenth chapters of this same epistle. It is absolutely impossible to truly understand that which the apostle Paul sought to convey unto the Corinthian saints without first recognizing the diversity and unity that is found in the person of the Holy Spirit. What’s more is that we must needs recognize that directly connected to this unity and diversity is also peace and order. Perhaps one of the greatest demonstrations of order as it pertains to the house and even the building of God is the instructions which were given unto Moses atop the mountain of God in the wilderness. You cannot read the Old Testament book of Exodus without encountering and coming face to face with the precise order in which the Tabernacle was to be built—and not only the order in which it was to be built but also the materials that were to be used and how it was to be set up. There is a great and powerful need within our hearts and minds to understand this diversity and unity that is found in the Holy Spirit and how both are clearly witnessed and demonstrated on the day of Pentecost. It is absolutely undeniable and unmistakable when reading the words found in the New Testament book of Acts that when the Holy Spirit arrived and was manifested among the one-hundred and twenty who were gathered together in one accord in the upper room that He was not only “the Spirit of the nations” and “the Spirit unto the nations” but was also a Spirit who was incredibly diverse in His role and operation in the earth.

 

            One of the greatest truths surrounding the arrival of the person of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost is the demonstration of the diversity that was going to be found in the Holy Spirit. In the plains of Shinar during the days of the tower of Babel the living God came down and confused the languages of the inhabitants of the earth while simultaneously scattering them abroad across the earth. While it is indeed true how in the plain of Shinar in the land of Mesopotamia the LORD came down unto the tower of Babel and confused their languages while also scattering them upon the earth we find on the day of Pentecost the nations under heaven seemingly gathering together in one place—namely, the city of Jerusalem. It was on the day of Pentecost when every nation under heaven was represented in the midst of the city of Jerusalem and how when the Holy Spirit arrived on the day of Pentecost He did so speaking the languages and tongues of each and every one of those nations represented. Imagine being in Jerusalem on that day as one of those who heard these Galileans speaking in the native tongue of which you were born—and not only hearing your native tongue being spoken but also hearing the wonderful works of God being spoken in your tongue and language. When the Holy Spirit showed up on the day of Pentecost he did so that within the newly formed body of Christ its members might not only be united but also diverse. It would be on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit showed up bringing the tongues and speaking the languages of the nations that all might hear and bear witness of the wonderful works of the living God. We must needs recognize and understand that on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit did not come speaking the Hebrew language but rather He came speaking the languages of the nations.

 

            I feel incredibly burdened and challenged right now to call and draw your attention to the day of Pentecost for when we read in the Old Testament book of Genesis we not only read of the confusing of languages at Babel and the scattering of the people of the earth but we also read of the table of the nations that were in existence upon the earth after the great flood which came upon the earth. It is truly astonishing to read the words which are found in the tenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis as well as the words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts for when we consider the day of Pentecost and the arrival of the Holy Spirit we find the Holy Spirit demonstrating and manifesting Himself as the Spirit unto the nations and for the nations of the earth. It is truly powerful to think about and consider the arrival and manifestation of the Holy Spirit as bringing the tongues and languages of the nations demonstrating how diverse the body of Christ would be. In fact I would dare say that what we find on the day of Pentecost and speaking with other tongues is a powerful and wonderful portent of the body of Christ being unto, for and among the Gentiles as well as the Jews. Think about it—the Holy Spirit could have come unto the Jews and speaking only the language of the Hebrews and yet when the Holy Spirit came He came speaking the languages of the nations of the earth. There is not a doubt in my mind that when the Holy Spirit came to the earth He came to entirely, fully and completely fulfill the words which Jesus proclaimed in the twenty-eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel as well as in the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. With this in mind I invite you to first consider the following words which are found in the tenth chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis concerning the days after the great flood and the days of Nimrod in the earth:

 

            “Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood. The sons of Japheth; Gomer and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras. And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah. And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families in their nations” (Genesis 10:1-5).

 

            “And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan. And the sons of Cush; Seba and Havilah and Sbtah and Raamah and Sabtecha; and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan. And cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. And the beginning of his kindom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveth, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah. And Resent between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city. And Mizraim begat Ludim, and Anamim, and Lehabim, and Naphtuhim, and Pathrusim, and Caslushim, (out of whom came Philistim,) and Caphtorim. And Canaan begat Sidon his firstborn, and Heth, and the Jebuite, and the Amorite, and the Girgashite, and the Hivite, and the Arkite, and the Sinite, and the Arvadite, and the Zemarite, and the Hamathite: and afterward were the families of the Canaanites spread abroad. And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon, as thou comest to Gerar, unto Gazas; as thou goest, unto Sodom, and Gomorrah, and Admah, and Zeboim, even unto Lasha. These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations” (Genesis 10:6-20).

 

            “Unto Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder, even to him were children b orn. The children of Shem; Elam and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram. And the children of Aram; Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash. And Arphaxad bega Salah; and Salah begat eber. And unto Eber were born two sons; the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan. And Joktan began Almodad, and Sheleph, and Hazarmaveth, and Jerah, and Hadoram, and Uzal, and Diklah, and Obal, and Abimael, and Sheba, and Ophir, and Havilah, and Jobab: all these were the sons of Joktan. And their dwelling was from Mesha, as thou goest unto Sephar a moutn of the east. These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after theit nations. These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and by these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood” (Genesis 10:21-32).

 

            These different passages perfectly describe the three sons of Noah—Shem, Ham and Japheth—and how from these three sons would come the nations of the earth. It would be from the seed of these three sons that sons would be born throughout the generations which would eventually fill and populate the nations of the earth. In fact if you read the words which are found in these verses you will even find the names of certain cities of the plain in the land of Canaan as well as certain names of nations which would be upon the earth. It has even been said that the words and names which we find in this particular passage of Scripture is indeed the table of nations and describes how the nations were indeed formed within the earth. Oh it is absolutely necessary and imperative to consider the words and language found in this passage for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the nations of the earth which would indeed be formed during these days. It would be in the tenth chapter of this particular Old Testament book we discover the nations and peoples of the earth after the flood and yet it would be in the eleventh chapter of this same Old Testament book we encounter the actual confusing of the tongues and languages at Babel in the land of Shinar as well as the scattering of the nations and peoples of the earth according to their languages. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the eleventh chapter of this Old Testament book beginning to read with and from the first verse:

 

            “And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:1-4).

 

            “And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:5-9).

 

            The words and language presented before us in the eleventh chapter of the Old Testament book of Genesis not only describes the people of the earth as being gathered together in one place but also speaking one language. In addition to this we read concerning the people which were present upon the earth in the days after the flood as settling in the plain of Shinar and being mindful to build a tower which extended unto the heavens. As a direct result of their endeavor to build a tower extending unto the heavens the living and eternal God came down to see the city and tower which they built. Upon witnessing that which the people of the earth were doing the LORD came down and not only confounded their languages and their tongues but also scattered the people abroad upon the face of the earth. Oh we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding the confusing of the languages and the scattering of the people of the earth unto the lands and nations of the earth. What makes this all the more intriguing is when you consider what took place on the day of Pentecost for on this day the Holy Spirit arrived and was manifested upon the face of the earth and brought the tongues of the nations and lands under heaven. Initially and originally the languages of the nations were spoken by those who were present in Jerusalem at that time, however, if you continue reading the New Testament book of Acts you will find the church itself being scattered abroad throughout the surrounding regions of Judaea and Samaria. What’s more is that eventually you will find in the New Testament book of Acts the scattering of the church among the various nations and lands which were present upon the earth as the LORD would take the witness and testimony of the Holy Spirit and manifest it unto the nations and tongues of the earth.

 

            I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in the New Testament book of Acts for within it we are brought face to face with the incredibly awesome and powerful truth surrounding the day of Pentecost as indeed reversing what took place in Babel as the nations and tongues of the earth would be brought unto Jerusalem at the time of the feast of Pentecost. It would be there in Jerusalem where every nation under heaven would be represented that the Holy Spirit would arrive and be manifested speaking and bringing the tongues of those nations. It is truly wonderful and spectacular to read that which is found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts for not only did the Spirit come bringing and speaking the tongues of the nations but he would also signal that He had come—not only as the Spirit of and unto the Hebrews but also the Spirit unto the Gentiles and nations of the earth. Oh perhaps the single greatest missional statement made during the time of the apostles and the early church was the arrival of the Holy Spirit. It would be the manifestation of tongues on the day of Pentecost—and not merely the manifestation of tongues but the tongues of the nations—that would be the single greatest missional statement made as the Holy Spirit would prove to be the Spirit unto and for the nations. That which we find on the day of Pentecost is truly remarkable and astounding when you take the time to consider it for it calls and draws our attention to the arrival of the Holy Spirit and how the church would not only be united together as one body under one head but would be entirely and altogether diverse among its individuals members as well as the nations of the earth. Oh how truly awesome and wonderful it is to consider the fact that the body of Christ is one body made up of many members from every nation, every tribe and every tongue within and upon the earth.

 

            I sit here today thinking about and considering the words and language found in the New Testament book of Acts and the arrival of the Holy Spirit and I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the body of Christ as being for and unto the nations of the earth. The body of Christ is such that is entirely and altogether one united together under its singular head which is the Lord Jesus Christ. There is truly something awesome and wonderful about the body of Christ as being made up of the various nations and tongues within and upon the face of the earth and how the arrival of the Holy Spirit wonderfully and powerfully demonstrated the fulfillment of the gospel being unto and for the nations. The simple fact the Holy Spirit came bringing and speaking the tongues of the nations serves as an incredibly awesome and powerful statement and reality of the body of Christ being for, unto and comprised of the nations of the earth. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for by doing so we recognize and understand that the day of Pentecost not only sought to reverse the events which took place during the days of Babel but also bring about that which was the original intention of the LORD upon the earth—perhaps even during the days of the flood. After the flood the LORD God gave Noah and his sons the command to be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and I can’t help but wonder if the original intention of the LORD was to create the nations of the earth during those days which would be united together in their worship of Him. He had just destroyed every living thing save Noah and his wife, their three sons and their wives, and two of every living creature which moved upon the earth. Now the LORD was repopulating the earth through the sons of Noah as He sought to fill the earth with the knowledge and glory of the Lord.

 

            It is with this in mind I feel the great need to call and draw your attention—not only to the words which are found in the twenty-eighth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew but also the words which are found in the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. What we find within these chapters is a truly awesome and powerful picture of that which the Lord Jesus sought to accomplish and fulfill through His disciples and followers after His departure and ascension. When the Lord Jesus departed from this earth and ascended unto the right hand of the Father in heaven He desired that the gospel of the kingdom be preached unto every nation within and upon the face of the earth. The Lord Jesus desired the gospel and message concerning His death, burial and resurrection to be brought unto the nations of the earth and emphatically declared unto His disciples that they were going to be His witnesses and ambassadors unto the nations of the earth as they brought and preached the gospel concerning His life, death, suffering, burial, resurrection, ascension and return. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider if you will the following words which are found in the final chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew as well as the words which are found in the first chapter of the New Testament book of Acts:

 

            “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:16-20).

 

            “The former treatise have I made, O Theophilus, of all that Jesus began both to do and teach, until the day in which he was taken up, after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen: To whom also he shewed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God: And, being assembled together with them, commanded them that they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence. When they therefore were come together, they asked of him, saying, Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times or the seasons, which the Father hath put in his own power. But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:1-8).

            Please pay close attention to the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for within them we find the language of “all nations” as well as “the uttermost part of the earth.” Thus within both of these declarations spoken by the Lord Jesus Christ we find a powerful witness and testimony that the gospel concerning His life, His suffering, his death and His resurrection would be for and unto the nations. When we come to the day of Pentecost we are brought face to face with the beginning of this manifestation in the midst of the earth as we find the arrival of the Holy Spirit as bringing the tongues of the nations of the earth. All the nations under heaven would be represented in the midst of the city of Jerusalem which seems to suggest that the Jews themselves would be the first witness unto the nations of the earth. The simple fact that Luke speaks of Jews from every nation under heaven being represented in Jerusalem suggests that the Jews were indeed a witness unto the nations and that the word which the LORD spoke unto Abraham concerning the nations of the earth being blessed through Him was beginning to come to pass. What we find here on the day of Pentecost is an even greater manifestation of the nations of the earth being blessed through Abraham for it would be on the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit would arrive bringing and speaking the tongues of the nations under heaven. The Holy Spirit would come demonstrating the diversity of the tongues and nations in the earth as well as foster and create unity within the members of the body of Christ. On the day of Pentecost we witness something truly remarkable taking place as the Holy Spirit enables one-hundred and twenty “unlearned” and “ordinary” people to speak with the tongues of the nations under heaven declaring the wonderful works of the eternal God.

 

            It is absolutely necessary we recognize and understand this for when we come to the fourteenth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints we find a clear and present distinction between the tongues we witnessed in the second chapter of the book of Acts and the speaking with tongues in the corporate setting of the body of Christ. There is a great need within our hearts and minds to truly recognize and understand the words which are presented in the second chapter of the book of Acts for on this particular day we find speaking with tongues as a witness unto and for the nations of the earth. Not only do we find it as a witness unto the nations of the earth which were gathered together in the city of Jerusalem but stop and think about what it would have been like for those Jews who were present at Jerusalem to hear the wonderful works of God in their own native tongue and returning to the nation and people wherein they had journeyed. Imagine them bringing back unto their own people in their own country the report of what had taken place in the city of Jerusalem and how they had witnessed ordinary and unlearned Galileans speaking with the tongue of their lineage and heritage. There is not a doubt in my mind that what was accomplished on the day of Pentecost was something truly astonishing and remarkable for within it we find the witness of the Holy Spirit being brought unto the nations under heaven. I firmly believe that there were those present in the city of Jerusalem who heard the words which were being spoken in their own language and were undoubtedly stirred and moved by them. Oh imagine if what was spoken in the tongues of the nations under heaven being the gospel of the Lord Jesus and His life, His suffering, His death and His resurrection. Imagine those who spoke with other tongues emphatically proclaiming the wonderful things the LORD had done in Jerusalem during those days.

            It is with this in mind I invite you to consider if you will the following words which are written and recorded in the second chapter of the book of Acts. The words we find here in this passage bring us face to face with the awesome and powerful truth surrounding the day of Pentecost and how the Spirit showed up with the tongues of the nations and allowed ordinary and unlearned Galileans to proclaim the wonderful works of God in those languages. It is truly something worth thinking about and considering when reading the words found in this passage and how the Holy Spirit showed up on the day of Pentecost and brought the tongues of nations that a powerful witness might be manifested in the city of Jerusalem. Undoubtedly there were many from those various nations and tongues represented in the city of Jerusalem and many returned unto their own families, friends and people not only proclaiming what was spoken by others in their own language but themselves speaking forth what they had witnessed and what they had heard. THE TWO-FOLD WITNESS OF PENTECOST! Oh I can’t help but think about the tremendous reality that on the day of Pentecost there were those present in the city of Jerusalem who heard the wonderful works of the living God spoken unto them in their own language and when they returned unto their own nation and people—not only did they report what they heard but they also reported what they saw. Oh there is something truly magnificent and wonderful about this when you take the time to think about it for on the day of Pentecost there would in fact have been a two-fold witness.  There would have been the initial witness which heard and beheld Galileans proclaim the wonderful works of God in the tongues of the nations and there would have been the second witness which would have been that which was brought back to those individual nations. With this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the opening verses of the second chapter as well as the words found in the final verses of the second chapter:

 

            “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine” (Acts 2:1-13).

 

            “But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words: For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is but the third hour of the day. But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: and on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy” Acts 2:14-18).

 

            “Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said unto Peter and to the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. 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. And with many other words did he testify and exhort, saying, Save yourselves from this untoward generation. Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:37-47).

 

            Consider also if you will the following words which are found in the final verses of the fourth chapter in this same New Testament book of Acts concerning the unity and diversity of the Holy Spirit which was fostered among the members of the early church:

 

            “And the multitude of them that believed were of one heart and one soul: neither said any of them that ought of the things which he possessed was his own; but they had all things common. And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus: and great grace was upon them all. Neither was there any among them that lacked: for as many as were possessors of lands or houses sold them, and brought the prices of the things that were sold, and laid them down at the apostles’ feet: and distribution was made unto every man according as he had need. And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country of Cyprus, having land, sold it, and brought the money, and laid it at the apostles’ feet” (Acts 4:32-37).

 

            I have to admit that as I sit here and read the words which are found in the second chapter of the New Testament book of Acts I can’t help but wonder what specifically those in the upper room spoke when they spoke with other tongues. We know from the second chapter of the book of Acts that they spoke with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance and we know that they proclaimed the wonderful works of God, however, when I read the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the fourteenth chapter of the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints I find myself wondering if that which the apostle Peter proclaimed was not in some measure an interpretation of what was heard in the tongues of the nations. What so amazes me is that the first sound which was heard on the day of Pentecost was not words spoken in the Hebrew language but rather words which were spoken in the tongues of the nations under heaven. We know that on the day of Pentecost there were devout Jews from all the nations under heaven present in the city and how incredible it is that the very first sound that was heard in the city of Jerusalem was the sound of the tongues of the nations. Oh we know that there was the sound as of a mighty rushing wind which filled the whole room where they were, however, the first sound which those in Jerusalem heard was not the wonderful works of God spoken in the Hebrew tongue but rather in their own native tongue.

 

            I am absolutely convinced there is a great need within our hearts and minds to truly recognize and understand how incredibly significant this truly is for when we think about the day of Pentecost we must needs recognize and understand that what all the Jews which were present in the city heard among them was their own native tongue and language. I continue to be utterly and completely amazed when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture for within it we are brought face to face—not only with the diversity of the Spirit but we also find the tongues of the nations spoken among the Jews which were present in the midst of the city. On this particular day when the Holy Spirit showed up He did not show up speaking the native Hebrew tongue as the wonderful works of God were proclaimed but rather He spoke with the tongues of the nations. Pause for a moment and imagine what it must have been like for all those present in Jerusalem during this time to hear in their own tongue and language the wonderful works of the living God spoken. It’s almost as if when we read of the events which occurred on the day of Pentecost we are brought face to face with the tremendous truth of the Spirit arriving in Jerusalem but coming for and coming unto the nations of the earth. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it calls and draws our attention to something truly astounding and remarkable when you read the words found in this passage. Despite the fact the Holy Spirit showed up and arrived in the city of Jerusalem He would come bringing the tongues of the nations and instead of confusing languages as the LORD had done in Shinar at the tower of Babel the Spirit would come bringing clarity and understanding for those from the nations which were under heaven.

 

            We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this particular truth for it calls and draws our attention to the incredibly awesome and powerful truth surrounding the Holy Spirit’s arrival on the day of Pentecost and how although He arrived in the city of Jerusalem He did not arrive speaking the Hebrew tongue but rather arrived bringing and speaking the tongues of the nations of the earth. What makes this all the more intriguing—at least for me—is when I recount an experience I had several years ago in a church I was attending in New Jersey. I believe the year was 2007 or 2008. Honestly I can’t remember which year it was, however, I can remember the name of the church I was attending at the time—Marlton Assembly of God. I remember being in church on a Sunday morning and during worship there was a quietness and rest that came over the congregation—almost as if the people were waiting for and/or anticipating something. I had been used to moments like this growing up in the church as there were times during the worship series when silence would ensue in the midst of the service as if people were waiting on and waiting for God to show up and/or speak. On this particular day I was given utterance but the Holy Spirit to speak with tongues, however, it wasn’t just tongues which were spoken in my spirit but tongues which were loud enough for the whole congregation to hear. I spoke with tongues in a voice loud enough for the congregation to hear and then immediately afterward I provided the interpretation in the English language. While that might seem normal in your Christian experience what came after was anything but normal—at least for me.

 

            I remember on this particular Sunday I spoke with another tongue as the Spirit had given me utterance—a tongue and language which I had perhaps spoken in my spirit or under my breath certain times before. I provided the interpretation for the tongues which I had spoken and the service continued as there was a period of silence and wonder before another song or two was sung. The service would continue to progress as the offering would be taken, the message would be preached and the altar call was given. After the service during the time when the congregants would normally greet and fellowship with one another I remember standing in the back corner of the sanctuary and saw a member of the church speaking with one of the pastors who promptly pointed to me. Unsure of what to make or expect of this I watched as the member of the church walked over to and approached me. When this man came near me I was absolutely stunned and floored when I heard him speak as I am certain the LORD had sent Him to encourage me. Upon coming unto me he would go on to explain how when I had spoken in another tongue it was a native tongue from his people which isn’t really spoken anymore. What’s more is that when I spoke with this other tongue as the Spirit had given me utterance he understood everything I was saying as though I were speaking to him in English. Not only this but he would go on to say that when I provided the interpretation it was precisely word for word according to what he had understood in the tongue which I had spoken.

 

            I have to admit that this was the closest I had ever come to the New Testament book of Acts and what those early Christians and followers of Jesus experienced. This was indeed the closest I had ever come to that which the apostle Paul wrote in the fourteenth chapter of the first epistle written unto the Corinthian saints. By this time I had already attended and graduated from Bible college and had already spent years growing up in the church being the son of a minister. What made this particular experience so incredibly unique for me was that it was the closest I had ever come to personally experiencing what those in the New Testament book of Acts experienced on a regular and recurring basis. On this particular day I discovered that the words which I had spoken in another tongue was actually a tongue and language that was spoken upon the earth. Not only this but there was actually someone in the congregation on this particular day who understood exactly what I was speaking when I spoke with this other tongue. In all reality this is quite an astonishing truth when you think about it—particularly when you consider the apostle Paul speaking unto the Corinthian saints concerning speaking with tongues and providing the interpretation of those tongues. I will never forget the sense of aww and wonder that came over me when this man came up to and approached me as I had no clue what to expect when I saw that pastor point at me and then this man come near unto me. I must say that this particular experience has never happened since, however, I have to say that it was such an experience that has been one which I will never forget. How incredible and wonderful it is and was to know that when I had spoken with another tongue as the Spirit gave me utterance it was actually a tongue and language that was spoken on the earth, that someone in the congregation understood what I was speaking in that tongue and language and that the interpretation provided was the actual English rendering of what had been spoken in that tongue and language.

 

            I am sitting here today thinking about and considering the words which are found in the fourteenth chapter of the first New Testament epistle written by the Corinthian saints and I am brought face to face with the tremendous truth surrounding the distinction between prophecy and speaking with tongues in the corporate setting of the body of Christ. When you read the words found in the fourteenth chapter of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints you will find and encounter the tremendous truth surrounding the Corinthian congregation and how they undoubtedly experienced both tongues and prophecy. The words and language we find here in this passage seem to indicate that this particular church and congregation not only experienced tongues among them in their midst but also experienced prophecy as well. The words which the apostle Paul writes in this passage of Scripture clearly sets forth and indicates a powerful distinction between tongues and prophecy as the apostle Paul would emphatically declare that speaking with other tongues were for the edification of that one who was speaking in that language. Unless an interpretation was given in the corporate context and setting the tongues which were spoken could have created and fostered confusion as those who were present in the midst of the sanctuary would have had no understanding of what was being spoken. Oh it is truly something worth thinking about and considering how there were most likely those in the Corinthian congregation who perhaps spoke out loud with other tongues and yet oftentimes there was perhaps missing the interpretation of those tongues. As a direct result of this there would be a great deal of confusion that would be present within the hearts and minds of those who were present in the midst of the congregation.

 

            The more I read and consider the words which are found in the fourteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts the more I can’t help but see a wonderful and powerful distinction between the tongues which were spoken on the day of Pentecost and the tongues which the apostle Paul spoke of in this first epistle written unto the Corinthian congregation. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for when we speak of the tongues spoken on the day of Pentecost we are indeed speaking of the tongues of other nations which was actually understood by many in the city at that time. Pause for a moment and consider that although other tongues were spoken on the day of Pentecost in the city of Jerusalem the languages and tongues which were spoken were understood by those who were gathered together in the city of Jerusalem from under heaven. How absolutely wonderful it truly is to read the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for on the day of Pentecost—although other tongues were spoken as the Spirit gave them utterance those tongues were understood and recognized by those Jews which had gathered together in that nation from under heaven. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it is for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth surrounding this speaking with other tongues for although there was no interpretation of the tongues which were spoken the tongues and languages which were spoken were understood by many Jews which were gathered together in the city out of their own nation under heaven. Despite the fact that according to the New Testament book of Acts the one-hundred and twenty spoke with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance they would speak with tongues and languages which were indeed understood by those who were present among them in the city of Jerusalem.

 

            If there is one thing that makes the day of Pentecost so incredibly unique and powerful when you think about it is that the first manifestation and witness was these one-hundred and twenty who spoke with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance. Not only this but those one-hundred and twenty who spoke with other tongues spoke in and with languages which were understood by many who were gathered together in the city of Jerusalem during those days. What we find in the city of Jerusalem on this particular day is the initial witness of speaking with other tongues in the languages of the nations under heaven which were gathered together and represented in the city of Jerusalem. What we also find here in this passage of Scripture on the day of Pentecost is that in addition to the tongues and languages of the nations being spoken in the midst of the city we find the apostle Peter standing up and addressing all those gathered together in the city of Jerusalem. The apostle Paul would initially declare how what was witnessed and experienced on the day of Pentecost was the fulfillment of those words which the ancient prophet Joel had spoken concerning the pouring out of the LORD’s Spirit in the last days. What’s more is the apostle Peter would then go on to preach the first sermon on the suffering, the death, the burial and the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Although tongues and other languages was the first sound and witness on the day of Pentecost the second sound and witness which was heard was that of the apostle Peter speaking with other tongues as the Spirit anointed him. Oh one thing I can’t help but wonder is whether or not the apostle Peter initially spoke with another tongue and language in the upper room and yet when he came out of that upper room he was unctioned to speak in the Hebrew tongue to preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus unto all those who were gathered together.

 

            There is something absolutely wonderful about what we find and read in this passage of Scripture for when we consider the words and language found in the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints we find the apostle drawing a clear and distinction between the tongues which were heard and spoken on the day of Pentecost and the tongues which were spoken in the churches—specifically the Corinthian congregation. Within this epistle the apostle Paul emphatically declared unto the Corinthian saints that when they gathered together—if there was one from among them who spoke with another tongue and did so audibly for all to hear there must needs be an interpretation that the body might be edified. If, however, one from among them spoke with another tongue audibly and there was no interpretation it was quite possible that confusion would ensue and break out in the midst of the church. It is for this reason the apostle Paul declared that prophecy was greater and more beneficial for the body for prophecy was such that would edify the entire congregation as they would receive instruction directly from the LORD as one of His servants would proclaim His word unto and for them. The apostle Paul emphatically declared that the sole purpose for both tongues and prophecy was the edification of the church and edification of believers who were gathered together in their midst. What’s more is the apostle Paul also spoke of the unlearned and unbeliever who would gather together with them in their midst. The apostle Paul not only spoke of the edification of believers who were gathered together in the church but also the instruction of the unbeliever as the secrets of their heart would be made bare and open in the sight of the living God.

 

            As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely remarkable and astounding to read the words found in this particular epistle and how the words and language presented here call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the sole purpose for tongues and prophecy—namely to encourage the saints who were gathered together in the midst of the church. The apostle Paul clearly set forth the strong and powerful distinction between prophecy and speaking with other tongues and emphatically declared that the sole purpose for each was the edification of believers and instruction of the unbeliever who had gathered together among them in their midst. Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves is when the saints gather together in our churches are they edified according to the presence and power of the Holy Spirit. When we gather together is it not only about personal gratification and edification but also about corporate edification of the body of Christ as a whole. Not only this but when we gather together in the corporate setting of the body of Christ is there indeed order rather than chaos and confusion? When unbelievers enter in among us on any given Sunday are they receiving instruction and correction according to the word of the Lord and are they hearing the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus? Oh we must needs recognize and understand this for God is not the author of confusion but of peace as is the case in all the churches. Oh we must needs recognize and understand this incredible truth and how truly powerful it is when thinking about and considering speaking with other tongues as well as prophecy. Oh that we would be those who truly recognize and understand the distinction between speaking with other tongues and prophesying and the underlying purpose behind them as being the edification of the body of Christ and the instruction for the unbeliever(s) who enter in among us in our midst.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s