What is the gift of tongues? To answer this often asked question, I would like us to look at the most complete description of the gift of tongues that can be found in the Bible. This account is found in Acts 2:1-24…
Let’s take our time to examine this section of Scripture in an attempt to describe the basic teachings of the gift of tongues and to learn about our Glorious Lord… the Giver of the gift of tongues.
Some Basic Truths About The Gift Of Tongues….
Vs 1- “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.”
The gift of tongues was given to members of a local assembly (church at Jerusalem) who were experiencing unity between their members and gathered together to worship the Lord.
Vs 2 – “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.”
The gift of tongues was given to this church in conjunction with their baptism in the Spirit. This Spirit baptism was performed to empower the local assembly to fulfill the Great Commission. This involves taking the gospel to a lost and dying world, baptizing the converts and then teaching those who are baptized the truths of God’s Word.
This baptism in the Spirit manifested itself to the believers in that local assembly as a sound from heaven of a great wind and then the filling of the building with the Spirit surrounding the members of the assembly. In other words the church body was immersed in the Spirit, just as when a believer is baptized in water, they become entirely immersed and surrounded by the Spirit of God.
Vs 3 – “And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.”
The gift of tongues includes a visual aspect to this gift. When the gift of tongues was given, this gift could be seen visibly as split tongues of fire came and sat upon each member of the local assembly.
Vs 4 – “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
The gift of tongues included a verbal aspect, as the members following their being filled with the Spirit, began to speak in human languages that were unknown to the speakers…
Vs 5 - And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Vs 6 - Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. Vs 7 – And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? Vs 8 – And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Vs 9 - Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Vs 10 - Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Vs 11- Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues …”
Although this gift of tongues was unknown to the speakers, they were human languages that were known by those who were listening.
Vs 11- the wonderful works of God.
What was the content of the message spoken by the assembly members? They were proclaiming the wonderful works of their God…. His message of salvation and all that He had done for them. In other words, they were witnessing to those around them. Keep in mind, the gift of tongues had been given to the church to enable them to fulfill the great commission that had been given to them. A part of the great commission involves presenting the gospel message to the lost men gathered around them who were unable to speak the native language of the speakers.
Because of this gift, the speakers were able to present the gospel of Christ to those who could not speak their language, nor understand their testimony of Christ.
Vs 12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this? Vs 13 Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.
Here, we have the response of the lost who were hearing the gospel through the gift of tongues. Some were amazed at this wonderful testimony of God’s miracle working power and grace. Some did not know what to think. Still others mocked and rejected the wondrous miracle they had experienced.
Vs 14 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: Vs 15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is [but] the third hour of the day. Vs 16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; Vs 17 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: Vs 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: Vs 19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: Vs 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: Vs 21 And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.
Peter now explains what is actually taking place so there would be no misunderstanding… He tells those who are observing this event that it is not due to drunkenss… but a sovereign, planned act of Almighty God as proven by it as being the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy.
It also proved that this great event had a main purpose, to enable the gospel to be shared and for the lost to come to salvation through their calling upon the name of the Lord. (Note at the end of Joel’s prophecy, we have this text “And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved “ Peter reapplying this phrase to those observing this wonderful gift of God)
Vs 22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know: Vs 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain: Vs 24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.
Peter then shares the gospel message to the observers, once again emphasizing for us the purpose and scope of tongues… to enable members of a local assembly to fulfill the great commission by enabling them to speak in languages they do not know. Thiis enables them to speak to those of other languages, sharing with them the wonderful gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
We then see in the closing verses of this chapter that the great commission is fulfilled by the church at Jerusalem – (gospel proclaimed – vs 25-36, souls saved and baptized– vs 37-41, fellowship and training received by new converts – 42-47)
After examining the Acts 2: account of the gift of tongues, we have come away with both a description of the gift of tongues, and an understanding of its purpose and results.
Based upon this information, this question must be asked… Is the gift of tongues exercised today the same gift that is clearly described in the Bible?
May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.