First I’d like to say that who ever is running the following blog (answeringsceptics) is doing a good job refuting Muslim claims. Therefore, I would like to encourage them to continue the needed work in challenging Islamic arguments; it’s appreciated.
When Peter was confronted by Paul in Galatians 2 for hypocrisy on Peter’s part when he used to sit with the Gentiles, then separated himself from them when James arrived. This brought up the necessary need to discuss doctrine in regards to if the Gentiles had to be circumcised as the Jews were. Here 2 believers in Christ had a disagreement and needed to discuss this important issue. And we should follow suit, as Christians we shouldn’t shy away from doctrinal differences and foster friendly healthy debates.
Galatians 2:11-16 But when Peter was come to Antioch, I withstood him to the face, because he was to be blamed. For before that certain came from James, he did eat with the Gentiles: but when they were come, he withdrew and separated himself, fearing them which were of the circumcision. And the other Jews dissembled likewise with him; insomuch that Barnabas also was carried away with their dissimulation. But when I saw that they walked not uprightly according to the truth of the gospel, I said unto Peter before [them] all, If thou, being a Jew, livest after the manner of Gentiles, and not as do the Jews, why compellest thou the Gentiles to live as do the Jews? We [who are] Jews by nature, and not sinners of the Gentiles, Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith of Jesus Christ, even we have believed in Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith of Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.
As I perused the answeringsceptics blog I came across the post titled “Refuting Critics – On Speaking In Tongues”. Feel free to read the article and compare between what it says and the Bible. I also encourage you to do the same with this post as well and come to your own conclusions.
Believers in Jesus Christ affirm that speaking in tongues was proof of an individuals salvation according to certain text found in the Bible, the position I’m taking is these verses were meant for that time for a specific purpose and not for our time. We’re told in the Bible to “Study to shew thyself approved” (2 Timothy 2:15). There are Christians who claim unless you speak in tongues you’re not saved. What we’re seeking today is to prove if this is what the Bible teaches?
This is a friendly rebuttal to answeringsceptics in which they argued for speaking in tongues. I will be taking the negative position. While the Bible does state people spoke in tongues, my contention is it was a temporary sign for a specific purpose at that time (not for today).
Is Isaiah chapter 28 talking about speaking in tongues? The chapter is dealing with the coming judgement upon Ephraim and their predicted captivity by the Assyrians. In verse 28:7, 8 Isaiah confronts Judah, just as Israel they’re drunken in their own “vomit and filthiness” and now they “stumble in judgment”. The leaders mock the LORD complaining saying “them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts”.
God responds saying because you don’t want to heed to my message, I’ll send a foreign invader (Assyria) to you as an invading nation who’s language you will not know. Their foreign tongue will be a sign of judgement on the people who rejected God and His message.
Mark 16:17-18 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.
The Lord Jesus in Mark 16:17-18 is speaking of what would happen after His ascension recorded in the book of Acts chapter 1 which was for the apostolic age. (1) Cast out demons “For unclean spirits, crying with loud voice, came out of many that were possessed with them:” Acts 8:7, Paul cast out a demonic spirit from “a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination” Acts 16:18, and recorded in Acts 19:11-16. (2) “they shall speak with new tongues” refers to the day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2) as well as the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius the centurion (Acts chapter 10); Paul at Ephesus (Acts chapter 19). (3) “They shall take up serpents” when Paul was at the island called Melita and was bitten by a poisonous snake and was unharmed (Acts chapter 28). (4) Drink poison is not recorded in the book of Acts but was attributed to John and Barnabas by church historian Eusebius. (5) Lastly laying hands on the sick (Acts 3:7; 19:11; 28:8, 9).
The purpose of these signs were to authenticate the apostles who were bringing the message of the Gospel. People in those times wanted to know the message of the Gospel was of heavenly/divine origin. We find the answer in the book of Hebrews chapter 2 and Acts 15:8 which says:
Hebrews 2:3-4 How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard [him]; God also bearing [them] witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will?
As we come across these verses the question arises “Do these signs exist today?” I believe these signs were for that dispensation, before the entire cannon of scripture was made available for us today. Most of these signs are found in the book of Acts as mentioned.
In the article answeringsceptics stated that “Notice those bold, underlined words. Speaking with new tongues is one of the signs of believers (Christians); in other words, speaking in new tongues is one of many signs that one (non-believer) can differentiate between Christians and non-Christians. If that’s true, then there is no way that speaking in new tongues here means being polyglot because you and I know that many non-Christians are polyglot.”
Might I ask where in the text above (1 Corinthians 14:22) does it say “new tongues”? It doesn’t the only place you’ll find the words new tongues is referenced in Mark 16:17 and as I mentioned this is talking about what would take place in the book of Acts which was the beginning of the church age.
If our friend wants to use Mark 16:17 in meaning these new tongues were somehow an angelic language then how can they explain the beginning chapters of Acts in which the people on the The Day of Pentecost heard them speaking in tongues and replied “And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” The people understood these languages as their mother tongues “wherein we were born”.
I’d like to point out that these tongues were for a sign (1 Corinthians 14:22), this was not a permanent sign that would continue on throughout this dispensation. It served its purpose in authenticating the apostles before the cannon of scripture was complete. We no longer have a need for these sign gifts as we now have the completed Word of God.
The problem with using 1 Corinthians 14:2 to support “speaking in tongues” as answeringsceptics suggest is if you read Greek you’ll notice the word “unknown” doesn’t appear in the original text. The translators added the word to convey a thought, for example if a congregation of English speaking believers came together and one of them began to speak French all of a sudden that would be speaking in tongues. The language would still be a recognizable language, it wouldn’t be an angelic heavenly language.
Here’s 1 Corinthians 14:2 in Greek:
ὁ γὰρ λαλῶν γλώσσῃ οὐκ ἀνθρώποις λαλεῖ ἀλλὰ τῶ θεῷ· οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἀκούει πνεύματι δὲ λαλεῖ μυστήρια·
The word “unknown” in our English Bible is found in [brackets] or italicised in order to indicate that word doesn’t appear in the original text. The Greek word for unknown is άγνωστος and it’s not found in that verse.
The verse actually reads For he that speaketh in an tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.
The reason why the verse says he doesn’t speak unto men but unto God is because there needs to be an interpreter. Without interpretation the entire assembly has no idea what’s being said, but God does because God understands all languages, but we do not understand foreign languages on the fly.
Once again please notice that the word “unknown” found again here in 1 Corinthians 14:14 is not found in the Greek text. We have the same situation in 1 Corinthians 14:2
Here’s the Greek for 1 Corinthians 14:14:
ἐὰν γὰρ προσεύχωμαι γλώσσῃ τὸ πνεῦμά μου προσεύχεται ὁ δὲ νοῦς μου ἄκαρπός ἐστιν
Once again the Greek word άγνωστος (the Greek word for unknown) is not found in the text itself.
answeringsceptics says goes on to say: “As we see, Paul is saying, (1) it’s his spirit that prays when he prays in tongues (2) not even him understands what he is saying. This refutes the “Paul was polyglot” theory.”
If we continue to read in context the very next verse tells us
Paul is contrasting 1 Corinthians 14:14 with 14:15 and never intended for anyone to speak in ways that others wouldn’t understand. Quite on the contrary, he was saying when speaking we should speak and sing with understanding. The notion of Paul being a “polyglot” is not in view, the truth is God gave the ability for men to speak real languages at a moments notice.
Our friend answeringsceptics quotes 1 Corinthians 13:1 and places a focus on tongues of men and of angels, insinuating that because angels was mention therefore it must mean Paul was speaking an angelic language that’s out of the realm of this world. The question is when angels appeared did they speak in an angelic language?
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Zacharias to declare he and his wife Elisabeth would give birth to John the Baptist did Zacharias “speak in tongues” to Gabriel (Luke 1:5-25). The same angel appeared to Mary in the chapter foretelling the birth of Jesus Christ and there’s no indication Mary “spoke in tongues” to Gabriel (Luke 1:26-38). It seems that angels spoke in the language Zacharias and Mary understood, not in a language which is not understandable.
answeringsceptics then quotes 2 Corinthians 12:2-4 and claim Paul’s heavenly vision is proof of speaking in tongues because of the words “unspeakable words”, lets read this verse in context. First the word for unspeakable in Greek is ἄρρητα (arrētos).
ἄῤῥητος árrhētos, ar’-hray-tos; (as a negative particle); unsaid, i.e. (by implication) inexpressible:—unspeakable. Biblical Usage: (1) unsaid, unspoken (2) unspeakable (on account of its sacredness). Note the words spoken are highly sacred not that they are a heavenly language not understandable to men.
2 Corinthians 12:1-6 It is not expedient for me doubtless to glory. I will come to visions and revelations of the Lord. I knew a man in Christ above fourteen years ago, (whether in the body, I cannot tell; or whether out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) such an one caught up to the third heaven. And I knew such a man, (whether in the body, or out of the body, I cannot tell: God knoweth;) How that he was caught up into paradise, and heard unspeakable words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. Of such an one will I glory: yet of myself I will not glory, but in mine infirmities. For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but [now] I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me [to be], or [that] he heareth of me.
Did Paul not know himself? Obviously this passage is about Paul’s vision and he did know the man because he’s talking about himself, are we to believe Paul didn’t know himself. Notice when we get to unspeakable words the following words after say “which it is not lawful for a man to utter”. Paul is not telling us these words couldn’t be understood because he says these words were not lawful for him to utter or speak. In other words he was not allowed to speak of what he heard. How can answeringsceptics take this passage and say “Because natural men cannot understand it”, Paul is a man did he understand what was spoken? Yes he did, but it was not lawful ie. not permitted to tell of it.
We see this with John in the book of Revelation when the angel who had the little book found in chapter 10.
Revelation 10:4 And when the seven thunders had uttered their voices, I was about to write: and I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Seal up those things which the seven thunders uttered, and write them not.
Here we have John who heard the 7 thunders uttering and he thought to write down what he heard, but a voice from heaven told him to “Seal up” or conceal what he heard and not to write what was spoken. In other words it was not lawful for John to record what he had just heard. The same as Paul he heard things which was not permitted for him to speak about.
answeringsceptics quoted 1 Corinthians 2:14 commenting: “People only spoke in tongues when they received the Holy Spirit. This is another proof that it has nothing to do with men’s languages, otherwise I don’t see the difference between those whom the Holy Spirit came upon and “polyglot” non-believers.”
Let’s read again the context of 1 Corinthians 2:14
1 Corinthians 2:13-16 Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know [them], because they are spiritually discerned. But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man. For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.
This passage is speaking on wisdom and teaching which unbelieving men reject because they don’t understand spiritual things. Nowhere is this passage indicating there’s a language which unbelievers can’t understand. answeringsceptics is superimposing their idea of speaking in tongues into passages. The key words in the passage is “wisdom”, “teach”, “discerned”, “instruct” the theme is of learning what’s being taught.
The word for discerned and its meaning in Greek is ἀνακρίνω (anakrinō) properly, to scrutinize, i.e. (by implication) investigate, interrogate, determine:—ask, question, discern, examine, judge, search.
Now we get to the key passage which causes so many believers great confusion, the verse I’m referring to is Acts 2 otherwise known as The Day of Pentecost, proponents of speaking in tongues typically use this verse to prove that speaking in tongues is something we all should experience in these days.
Acts 2:1-4 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.
The question that must be continually asked is where in Acts 2:1-4 does it ever imply that “speaking with other tongues” means a language which is not understandable or heavenly? Why do proponents of speaking in tongues ignore the following verses? If we go through the passage God gives us the answer.
Acts 2:5-12 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?
The Spirit of God tells us at the time of Pentecost there were “Jews and devout men out of every nation”, this was a mixed multitude of people who heard the preaching of Peter. The text goes on to say they “were confounded” or confused and here’s the important part of the text “every man heard them speak in his own language.”
The text says they understood the words the disciples were speaking and this is mentioned after the verses about “speaking in other tongues” (Acts 2:1-4) The Word of God gives us the answer that “speaking in other tongues” was not a language that was not understandable. These men and women began to speak in other languages, how can we know this? God gives us a list of those languages:
(1) Parthians (2) Medes (3) Elamites (4) Mesopotamia (5) Judaea (6) Cappadocia (7) Pontus (8) Asia (9) Phrygia (10) Pamphylia (11) Egypt (12) Libya (13) Cyrene (14) Rome (15) Cretes (16) Arabians
Here’s the nail in the coffin, they said “we do hear them speak in our tongues”. Again why does answeringsceptics claim speaking in tongues is a special language only given to believers? How do proponents of the speaking in tongues doctrine explain this passage? The wisdom of God had it so that these men and women heard and understood the message helping to spread that message across multiple languages.
Acts 10:44-46 While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
In the case of Acts 10:44-46 we’re told in this chapter that Cornelius a Gentile and others of his household got saved. Peter is a key person in the book of Acts when it concerned opening the way for Jews, Samaritans and Gentiles to become converts. Its referred to as Peter’s Confession of Christ or the doctrine of the keys found in (Matthew 16:13-19) other corresponding verses are found in (Mark 8:27–30; Luke 9:18–20 ).
Following Peter closely in the book of Acts he was the key person who would preach Christ on to that particular group of people. In chapter 2 it was Jews, in chapter 8 Samaritans and chapter 10 Gentiles.
Acts 19:1-6 And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard [this], they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid [his] hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
The pattern is clear, speaking in tongues was a sign to non-believers proving God brought a message, authenticating the apostles; and lastly proof to those (Jews) who were seeking a sign (Matthew 12:38; Matthew 12:39; Matthew 16:1; Matthew 16:4; Mark 8:11; Luke 11:16; John 2:18; 1 Corinthians 1:22). Those people who saw something they couldn’t explain and could only attribute the sign as something from God would come to a place in which they now had the fear of God upon them. Speaking in tongues was a sign also when the assembly gathered as a way of convincing the unlearned or unbeliever who was among them observing.
1 Corinthians 14:22-25 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying [serveth] not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in [those that are] unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or [one] unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on [his] face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
Notice 1 Corinthians 14:22-25 says tongues was a sign not for believers but for those who didn’t believe. Paul also says if the whole church (local assembly) is together and all spoke in tongues and an unbeliever or unlearned person was present they might think the Christians were crazy (mad). In this same passage prophesy is given a more important place than speaking in tongues, Paul says but if all prophesy and a unbeliever or unlearned individual was present they would be convinced, this would result in that person falling down on his face and worshipping God. In other words that person would come to believe in God.
If speaking in tongues were so important why isn’t Paul giving us that impression? Continuing in the same chapter he goes unto say:
1 Corinthians 14:26-28 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.
Again the word “unknown” is not found in the original text but was inserted by the translators help the text read more fluently. Paul asked the question why when they came together everyone wants to give a psalm, teaching or has a tongue? The problem in the Corinth church was everyone wanted to be in a prominent role, there was confusion when they came together. Notice “tongues” was not of great importance as Paul stated if there was no interpreter that individual should remain silent.
In the chapter before Paul addresses the importance of love (1 Corinthians 13) saying love never fails but prophecies will fail, tongues will cease (stop). Why? Because when that which is perfect comes (Christ, God’s Word) we will have no need of those things because we have the full cannon of scripture in our hands.
1 Corinthians 13:8-10 Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.
answeringsceptics comments “They also suggest that the purpose for speaking in tongues is to preach the Gospel to people whose languages they don’t speak nor understand; but these passages show that these believers were not about to preach to anyone, they spoke in tongues simply because they received the Holy Spirit as He gave them the utterance. It was for their own benefits as Jude tells us to use it to attain our most holy faith (Jude 1:20); not for preaching! (See Romans 8:26-27 for more)”
Jude 1:17-21 But, beloved, remember ye the words which were spoken before of the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ; How that they told you there should be mockers in the last time, who should walk after their own ungodly lusts. These be they who separate themselves, sensual, having not the Spirit. But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.
The context of Jude is that false teachers and mockers would come going after their own ungodly desires, they separate themselves and don’t have the Holy Spirit. It seems answeringsceptics is trying to suggest that this text is about “speaking in tongues” when it’s talking about ungodly men and warning us to keep ourselves in the love of God.
Romans 8:26-27 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what [is] the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to [the will of] God.
answeringsceptics uses the above passage in Romans to suggest it’s talking about speaking in tongues. How does one come to that conclusion when it’s saying the Holy Spirit “makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered” meaning the Spirt sustains us in our weakness when we’re unsure of what to pray for in our life. The Spirit of God assist us with intercession which cannot be expressed. It’s the Spirit that groans and not us “he” (that is the Holy Spirit) “maketh intercession for the saints”. If someone “speaks in tongues” that would mean they are uttering which is contrary to the passage.
He said we ought to always speak in tongues; this has nothing to do with preaching the Gospel. It rather means speaking in tongues in prayers, confessions or in worship:
1 Corinthians 14:36-40 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. Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order.
Paul tells the believers in Corinth to desire earnestly to prophesy and don’t forbid men to speak with tongues. This shows the importance of both gifts, prophesy was to be desired, while the other was not to be banned. Prophecy was more valuable than tongues because unbelievers could be convicted by it and believers edified. Tongues without interpretation had no other purpose other than to speak to God and to one’s self, displaying their own proficiency with a foreign language given by God.
I would like for answeringsceptics to provide evidence in the Bible in which someone spoke in tongues and it was not understandable, a language of heavenly origin. There’s no verse or passage in the Bible that tells us about a heavenly language not known to man.
Ephesians 5:18-19 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit; Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
Paul tells us to “be not drunk with wine” when a person is drunk they are controlled by a substance, in this case wine which is also called “spirits” (plural). The apostle is instructing us instead of being drunk with wine to be controlled or “be filled with the Spirit”. The Holy Spirit should control believers lives. During the day of Pentecost the people tried accusing those from the upper room of being drunk with new wine (Acts 2:13) but we know it was the Spirit which was controlling them.
The results of being filled with the Spirit are “Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs”, believers gather and recognise the Psalms as inspired scripture in-which we can speak or sing. Hymns accompany our worship of the Lord as well as spiritual songs.
answeringsceptics used Ephesians 5:18-19 to prove speaking in tongues is a heavenly language, again unless I’m missing something the verse is talking about Psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. It doesn’t say speaking in an unknown language.
Conclusion: In every instance in which speaking in tongues are mentioned the word “unknown” is not found in the original Greek text. This greatly proves that “speaking in tongues” as answeringsceptics suggest is unbiblical, I would like to see how answeringsceptics would interpret these passages knowing the word “unknown” is not found? The entire argument is based upon this one word inserted by the translators in order to make the English more comprehensible when reading.
1 Corinthians 12:29-31 [Are] all apostles? [are] all prophets? [are] all teachers? [are] all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
In 1 Corinthians 12 Paul asked a retorical question, and it addresses the issue at hand. We see that he asked if all are apostles, prophets, workers of miracles or have gifts of healing? The obvious answer is no, only 12 were chosen to be apostles including Paul. There are no more prophets as we have all of God’s word available to us and no further revelation has been given. And not everyone had gifts of miracles and healings even though they were believers (Matthew 17:17-19; Mark 9:28; Acts 19:11-20). Then the question is asked “do all speak with tongues?” the answer like the rest is no, not all spake with tongues.
Therefore to suggest or imply that everyone should have the gift of tongues is contrary to the word of God and is alien to the entire concept of the body with its many different members each of them with its own function within the body of Christ.
I hope that after reading this and comparing both post with God’s word you can come to your own conclusion about this in house issue between believers.