Most places I go to these days, I see lots and lots of things. Over 7 years ago, I overheard some ministers speaking a language I never had heard before and dad was one of them. They would say, ‘Rabababarakumaya‘ and I would be asking dad about the word he spoke. He would tell me, ‘That was speaking in tongues.’
It really was surprising to hear that. If I asked dad what language it was, he would say, ‘It’s no less a heavenly language.’ Though I was 12 years old then, I was aware of the tricks involved in ministry and how Father’s ministry seemed to be taken as ours rather than his.
At that young age, I searched through the scripture to find out what the apostles really called speaking in tongues. Actually, it didn’t have anything to do with the so-called heavenly language which I heard dad talk about. Of course, he realized it but it was some time later.
So, what’s this tongues stuff about?
Tongue Means Language
The English Dictionary defines tongue to mean language while the Amplified bible records what happened on the Pentecost. Read gently and see some important notes in black, italic-underlined.
3 And there appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were separated and distributed and which settled on each one of them.
4 And they were all filled (diffused throughout their souls) with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other (different, foreign) languages (tongues), as the Spirit kept giving them clear and loud expression [in each tongue in appropriate words]. (Acts 2:3-4).
Thus, the tongues which the Holy Spirit released as a gift to the apostles weren’t some unearthly language as most people suppose. It’s different languages which exist here on earth.
It’s no doubt that the first gift they received when the Spirit came upon them wasn’t prophecy, though these other gifts must have been released simultaneously since they all stem from the Spirit in us. It was the gift of languages (tongues).
The other verses records what kind of languages these were. Join me investigate if there’s any mention of some heavenly languages in this text.
5Now there were then residing in Jerusalem Jews, devout and God-fearing men from every country under heaven.
6And when this sound was heard, the multitude came together and they were astonished and bewildered, because each one heard them [the apostles] speaking in his own [particular] dialect.
7And they were beside themselves with amazement, saying, Are not all these who are talking Galileans?
8Then how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own (particular) dialect to which we were born?
9Parthians and Medes and Elamites and inhabitants of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and [the province of] Asia,
10Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and the transient residents from Rome, both Jews and the proselytes [to Judaism from other religions],
11Cretans and Arabians too–we all hear them speaking in our own native tongues [and telling of] the mighty works of God!
12And all were beside themselves with amazement and were puzzled and bewildered, saying one to another, What can this mean? (Vs 5-12).
From the above, we see that those whom the apostles spoke their tongues weren’t angels. The bible says there were then residing in Jerusalem Jews, devout and God-fearing men from every country under heaven (vs 5).
Under heaven talks about all that is beneath the sky. Most times in the bible, heaven may be used to mean different things: the sky, God’s eternal dwelling, etc but that verse said all those beneath the sky.
Let’s look at those languages which the apostles were speaking on that day, sure, there should be a heavenly language there. The bible mentioned the tribes or nations which were present at the Pentecost and they are:
inhabitants of Mesopotamia,
[the province of] Asia,
parts of Libya about Cyrene,
the transient residents from Rome, both Jews and the proselytes.
Cretans and Arabians.
Is there any mention of heavenly languages? Therefore, this gift is mostly overused by anyone who just jumps in the post of a minister. In every sermon, there’s a repetition of the same jargon. It would have been better if he could speak in his own language if he doesn’t understand English, and there’s someone there to interpret what he’s saying. Though, that looks dramatic sometimes and may look awkward, it’s still better than fabricating a whole lot of a jargon which is certainly not spirit-enabled.
I remember a lady who’s trying to be a minister but her college of theology strictly emphasizes that if she can’t speak in tongues, she’s not at all qualified. What do you think that is? It’s only growing people who come to live in delusion rather than a growing life blown by his Spirit.
They Were All Galileans
The witnesses were asking themselves, Are not all these who are talking Galileans? Yes they were and all they said was spirit-enabled. They had no theology school and they didn’t attend universities to learn languages. The spirit just filled them with that gift. They were all Galileans; no Egyptians, Persians, etc.
10To another the working of miracles, to another prophetic insight (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, to another the ability to interpret [such] tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:10).
Paul was making it clear that speaking these tongues is so useless if there were no interpretation of them. It’s so rampant these days to find us speaking never-existing tongues which has no interpretation. Of course, you can’t interpret that which exist not.
In linguistics, there are so many languages. Studying these languages scientifically, helps one to be able to interpret the languages of other nations. However, divinely speaking, the Holy Spirit enables those who can’t interpret these tongues to be able to interpret them when they hear it. These wasn’t studied in a school that teaches linguistics but was divinely granted unto us by the Holy Spirit.
Talking about understanding these tongues, Paul said some astounding words which fits our modern Christianity.
For one who speaks in an [unknown] tongue speaks not to men but to God, for no one understands or catches his meaning, because in the [Holy] Spirit he utters secret truths and hidden things [not obvious to the understanding] (1 Corinthians 14:2).
He who speaks in a [strange] tongue edifies and improves himself. . . (vs 4).
. . . He who prophesies [who is inspired to preach and teach] is greater (more useful and more important) than he who speaks in [unknown] tongues, unless he should interpret [what he says], so that the church may be edified and receive good [from it] (vs 5).
Now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in [unknown] tongues, how shall I make it to your advantage unless I speak to you either in revelation (disclosure of God’s will to man) in knowledge or in prophecy or in instruction?
7If even inanimate musical instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone [listening] know or understand what is played?
8And if the war bugle gives an uncertain (indistinct) call, who will prepare for battle?
9Just so it is with you; if you in the [unknown] tongue speak words that are not intelligible, how will anyone understand what you are saying? For you will be talking into empty space!
10There are, I suppose, all these many [to us unknown] tongues in the world [somewhere], and none is destitute of [its own power of] expression and meaning.
11But if I do not know the force and significance of the speech (language), I shall seem to be a foreigner to the one who speaks [to me], and the speaker who addresses [me] will seem a foreigner to me (vs 6-11).
13Therefore, the person who speaks in an [unknown] tongue should pray [for the power] to interpret and explain what he says (vs 13).
14For if I pray in an [unknown] tongue, my spirit [by the Holy Spirit within me] prays, but my mind is unproductive [it bears no fruit and helps nobody] (vs 14).
16Otherwise, if you bless and render thanks with [your] spirit [[f]thoroughly aroused by the Holy Spirit], how can anyone in the position of an outsider or he who is not gifted with [interpreting of unknown] tongues, say the Amen to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? [I Chron. 16:36; Ps. 106:48.]
17To be sure, you may give thanks well (nobly), but the bystander is not edified [it does him no good].
18I thank God that I speak in [strange] tongues (languages) more than any of you or all of you put together; (16-18).
Then he went on to say what he suggests would be best:
19Nevertheless, in public worship, I would rather say five words with my understanding and intelligently in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a [strange] tongue (language). (Vs 19).
So where did we find ours? If Paul was able to say of all these, then it’s sure that it was occurring in his time too.
None of those words above in italics are mine. Paul said them. So it’s better we look past our dramatic tongue-speaking and focus on the Holy Spirit doing his job through us.
This note was taken from my unpublished story, FOLLOWING JESUS OUTSIDE THE BOX OF ORGANIZED RELIGION (Unpublished).
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