What Is Speaking In Tongues?

Part Three

By

Craig Bluemel

 

At the end of Part Two, I pointed out the lack of attention given to Mark 16:14-20, an integral gospel account for understanding glossalaliá.  This little studied or recognized NT gospel passage gives additional information on the events that occur at the same time frame as Acts 1:1-11 and Luke 24:49-51; it is the last minutes Jesus spent with his disciples, giving instructions to his apostles, after which he ascended into heaven. 

These Signs Will Accompany

Mark’s gospel differs because it is the only account that mentions glossalaliá, or speaking in tongues, proving Jesus knew ahead of time the apostles would need these new tongues to yield control of their speech to him in the spirit.

 

·          Mark 16:14-20 And afterward He appeared to the eleven themselves as they were reclining at the table; and He reproached them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; 18 they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it shall not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. "  19 So then, when the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed. NAS

 

Jesus uses key words that definitively link the, “signs,” of speaking with “new tongues,” in Mark 16:17, to the glossalaliá mentioned in Paul’s instructions regarding speaking in tongues found in 1 Corinthians 14:21-22.  I will use PART THREE of this series to embark in depth into the meaning, use and application of tongues, and pray it serve to demystify and make clear the subject of glossalaliá to the churches.

 

Mark 16:17 best relates to the topic of speaking in tongues, and toward the end of this study, I will comment on Mark 16:20.  I will itemize the most salient points for our consideration.

 

·          Mark 16:17 And these signs will accompany those who have believed: in my name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it shall not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. "

 

The word “signs” is seemeía (NT: 4592; derived from seemeíon; (also used in Mark 16:20); it means, “a sign, mark or token” and our English word ‘signature’ is derived from seemeíon, because an individual signature is recognized carte blanche today as a unique identifying mark for every person. 

 

·          2 Thessalonians 3:17 I, Paul, write you this final greeting with my own hand. This is the mark and sign (seemeíon); that it is not a forgery in every letter of mine. It is the way I write my handwriting and signature.    AMP

 

Seemeíon is also used in Revelation 1:2 when God sent and “signified” (seemeíon) the apokalúpsei to John.  Seemeíon is also used in the NT for “miracles” and/or “miraculous signs.”

 

I conclude that the “sign” given to the disciples, by which they would be able to distinguish and know that Jesus had come back to them in the spirit (as the Parákleetos) is the sign of speaking with new tongues.  It’s that simple. 

 

An Englishman’s Greek Concordance query of NT: 4592 reveals that seemeíon is also the same word used by the apostle Paul to describe speaking in other tongues as a “sign” to unbelievers that the spirit of Jesus is working amongst the believers in the NT Corinthian church in the famous “tongues” chapter (1 Corinthians 14).

 

·          1 Corinthians 14:21-22 In the Law it is written, "By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to me," says the Lord.  22 So then tongues are for a sign (seemeíon), not to those who believe but to unbelievers… NASU

 

The text in 1 Corinthians 14:21-22 above PROVES that unknown tongues, aka, speaking in other tongues, was intended as far back as Isaiah’s time, to be a supernatural “sign” given by God the Father, by which unbelieving men would know that the Lord Jesus Christ was abiding in the midst of them, and doing his Father’s “works” thru the church.  Read Isaiah 28:11-16 in the Amplified Bible if you have access to it, because this OT passage is what Paul uses in his letter to the Corinthian church.

 

Speaking in tongues is an integral part of the “greater works” Jesus promises to do in his disciples (See John 14:1-26).  

 

·          Mark 16:17 -  And these signs will accompany those who have believed…

 

Jesus gives four specific “signs” that he promises will “accompany” the disciples and be positive proof to them that he (Jesus) will be with them and helping them (in the power of his Father God) in their proclamation of the gospel message.  The four signs are: 1) cast out demons, 2) speak with new tongues 3) IF they happen to accidentally pick up serpents OR if they happen to accidentally drink any deadly poison, it shall not hurt them 4) they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.

 

 NOTE: Point #3 is intended to be one linear statement, as this region of the world has some of the most deadly pit vipers known to man, and bacteria in drinking water can cause fatal diseases, such as shigellosis, a highly infectious form of dysentery caused by the shigella bacterium. It occurs mainly in hot climates, especially under unsanitary conditions and among children and people with weakened immune systems.  This passage in Mark 16:18 was NEVER intended for misuse of snake handling, as is practiced among cultic church groups.

 

These signs mentioned above will “accompany” those that believe; Jesus is specifically directing his comments and instructions to the eleven apostles at THAT time (by this time, Judas Iscariot had committed suicide by hanging, leaving only 11 apostles, until Matthias was later chosen by the casting of lots).  Pentecostal and charismatic ministers and Bible teachers have often misused this verse, claiming it is a broad-brush promise to ALL believers.  Thus they ERRONEOUSLY conclude that all NT believers are given the same authority as the apostles to heal and cast out demons; they are not.  This is false teaching, and a violation of the scripture context. 

 

There’s no need to go into the other ditch and say that God is not still in the miracle business.  God still does miracle healings at times, but it is not an authoritative entitlement or guaranteed promise that miracles are granted thru the hands of all NT believers. 

 

These “signs” that “accompany” are SPECIFIC only to the APOSTLES, as Paul’s epistle to the Corinthians plainly teaches.  In my Englishman’s query, I found that seemeíon is also mentioned twice in one verse as the proof of a true apostle (see below); this proves my point that miracle healing is not a NT entitlement. 

 

·          2 Corinthians 12:12 The signs (seemeíon) of a true apostle were performed among you with all perseverance, by signs (seemeíon) and wonders and miracles. NASU

 

Someone may argue, “If NT believers are not given divine authority for miraculous healing or casting out demons, what entitlement are they given to speak in tongues?”  This is a logical and very reasonable question. 

 

Since all scripture is inspired by God, this includes Paul’s epistles, and he exhorted the church saying, “I wish that you ALL spoke in tongues” (1 Corinthians 14:51).  Paul also said in 1 Corinthian 12:30-31, “All do not speak with tongues, do they?  All do not interpret, do they?”  This shows that Paul’s wish or desire that all spoke in tongues did not make it a reality, but it gives precedent for assuming that all CAN speak in tongues.

 

Furthermore, Paul’s teaching includes the statement there are, “various KINDS of tongues,” showing that some glossalaliá are meant to be interpreted, and some are not intended as for use in the church, but only as private, unknown prayer (1 Corinthians 12:10, 12:28, & 14:2).

 

·          1 Corinthians 14:2, 14 For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries… 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. NAS

 

An example of this authority given to the apostles is exemplified in Phillip’s preaching to the Samaritan’s (Acts 8:6-8 & 8:13).  Phillip did “signs” indicating Jesus was at work, confirming the word by “signs” in the power of his Father, thru the hands of Phillip the apostle, which the Samaritans HEARD and saw.

 

My definitions of seemeion above are bare bones; much more is said in scripture, and this is the common word translated in scripture for “miracles” done thru the hands of Jesus and the hands of the apostles.  This is notable, because in Acts chapter 8, which I dealt with in-depth in Part Two, is the Samaritans first experience with the Parákleetos (the Holy Spirit, or more accurately, the perfect spirit).  What I failed to mention in Part Two are the verses of  Acts 8:5-7 (below):

 

 

·          Acts 8:6-8, 13 And the multitudes with one accord were giving attention to what was said by Philip, as they heard and saw the signs (seemeíon), which he was performing. 7 For in the case of many who had unclean spirits, they were coming out of them shouting with a loud voice; and many who had been paralyzed and lame were healed. 8 And there was much rejoicing in that city….  8:13 And even Simon himself believed; and after being baptized, he continued on with Philip; and as he observed signs (seemeíon) and great miracles taking place, he was constantly amazed.   NAS

 

I cannot argue from silence, but it is apparent Phillip did many signs, and plausible they included speaking in tongues.  I will not use this passage as definitive proof, but it is my opinion the Samaritans probably spoke in tongues, just like those in Ephesus in Acts 19:1-6, simultaneous with believing.  Then later Peter and John came down, and prayed for them, to “take hold” (lambano) of the perfect spirit by learning how to become fluent in their glossalaliá prayer language.  I addressed this in Part Two, but it bears repeating with this additional information. 

 

If you read Part Two, you’ll recall that the Samaritans did not passively “receive” the Holy Spirit, but the actively had to take hold of it.  I believe this implies they were unfamiliar with their individual glossalaliá, much like those nowadays that first speak in tongues.  One must practice using tongues, and it is the responsibility of the elders in the church, meaning older mature Christians, to show the individual believers how.

 

·          Mark 16:17 And these signs will accompany those who have believed…

 

The Greek word for “accompany” in this passage of Mark 16:17 is parakoloutheései (NT: 3877) and means, “to follow after; so to follow one as to be always at his side.”  Thayer’s says in Mark 16:17 it means, “to be always present, to attend one wherever he goes.”  Therefore, unless you have miracles, and cast demons out as “signs” wherever you go, this passage is not a broad-brush promise to all Christians, but rather, an authoritative commission by Jesus to the eleven.

New Tongues

·          Mark 16:17 -  “they will speak with new tongues

 

The Greek text renders “speak with new tongues” as, “Gloóssais laleésousin kainaís.”  This Greek word for “tongues” is “gloóssais” and is identical to glossalaliá elsewhere in the NT; it simply means, “a language.”

 

The Greek word for “speak” is “laleésousin” and this means, “to speak.”  This is the same Greek word used for those that “speak” in tongues, as mentioned in 1 Corinthians chapters 12,13, and 14. 

 

The word in Greek for “new” (as in ‘new tongues’) is “kainaís” and it is very interesting, because its definition connotes something, “fresh and new,” not merely ‘new.’  In other words, it means something that has not yet happened, proving that speaking in tongues was to be a part of the NEW covenant, not the old.

 

Thayer’s says this word kainaís (NT: 2537) means, “something recently made, as respects substance; of a new kind; unprecedented, novel, uncommon, unheard of.”  This definition certainly fits the peculiar nature of glossalaliá doesn’t it?

 

·          Zodhiates says of kainaís it means something, “Qualitatively new, as contrasted with néos (NT: 3501), temporally new.”  Also Matthew 13:52, in the plural, kainaís is used for,  "treasures new and old."  In Mark 2:21, the word "new" occurs twice, but it is two different words in Greek, the first being ágnaphos (NT: 46), one that has not been washed and properly shrunk. The second "new" is kainós in the neuter, “tó kainón,” which means, “Another patch but derived from a cloth that has been washed and shrunk. Therefore it will not shrink when used as a patch and thus tear the garment. It makes no difference from where this patch is taken as long as the patch itself can provide proper replacement for that part of the garment, which has been worn or somehow needs replacement.  A new patch is needed, but that patch must be of shrunken cloth.  Thus it is qualitatively different from just any new (néos) piece of cloth that has not been shrunk.” (See Luke 5:36).

 

This analogy and definition of new cloth, preshrunk to fit the old garment, shows that God is using our old tongue, but metaphorically, “shrinking” its use.  By this I mean the new tongues” Jesus says will accompany believers, are the same fleshly tongues in our human mouths, but they have been reshaped when yielded to the spirit of Jesus, and because the human intellect is set aside, and the ‘control’ is given to the Lord, the tongue then is able to conform to the NEW image, the image of Christ.  Lest someone say this kind of glossalaliá is not needed to control his or her tongue, please take time to read James 3:1-12.

 

Kainaís is also the word Jesus used when he spoke of drinking “new wine” with his disciples after the Last Supper.

 

·          Matthew 26:28-29 Jesus said, “For this is my blood of the new covenant, which ratifies the agreement and is being poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29 I say to you, I shall not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it with you new and of superior quality (kainaís) in my Father's kingdom.”   AMP

 

The “new” kainaís wine is what the disciples drank on the Day of Pentecost, when, after Jesus ascended to his, “Father's kingdom” they became spiritually satiated, as they yielded their human spirits and spoke with “new” kainaís tongues, while in the spirit, drinking the “fruit of the vine of new and of superior quality” with Jesus!

 

·          Acts 2:4 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.  AMP

 

·          The Greek word for “filled” in Acts 2:4 above means, “soaked, imbued, dyed, and tinctured.”  It is the same word used when the soldiers “soaked” a sponge in sour wine, and gave it to Jesus to drink on the cross.  The Father decided to replace that nasty, sour wine with the very best wine of the spirit, and Jesus and his disciples got to drink it in the spirit!                         

 

Those watching the disciples speak with these fresh, new tongues were amazed, but others who looked at them in a carnal way, considered they were drunk with, “sweet” (gleukos) wine.  Peter spoke up at that point, and he told the on looking Jews the following words (below):

 

·          Acts 2:15-18 "For these men are not drunk, as you suppose, for it is only the third hour of the day; 16 but this is what was spoken of through the prophet Joel: 17 'And it shall be in the last days,' God says, 'That I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all mankind; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, And your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; 18 even upon my bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit and they shall prophesy. NAS

 

Peter’s words confirm that the glossalaliá first poured out was both tongues and interpretation of tongues, or direct prophecy.  My tendency is toward tongues and interpreted tongues, primarily because the men that mocked them in Acts 2:13 said, “They are full of sweet wine." 

 

Today, Christians that oppose the use of glossalaliá are quick to point out that the tongues first spoken were in the dialects of Jews from surrounding nations (a miracle in itself for Galileans to do), but they ignore the fact that some men did NOT understand the tongues.  My question to you o skeptic of tongues, is WHY?  If Jesus’ disciples spoke only known dialects, then everyone would have understood them, and they didn’t. 

 

The reason for this is found again in the context of 1 Corinthian 14:21-25 below:

 

·          1 Corinthian 14:21-25 In the Law it is written, "By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to Me," says the Lord. 22 So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers, but to those who believe. 23 If therefore the whole church should assemble together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.”   NAS

 

Notice tongues are a “sign” to UN-believers, because, as previously pointed out, they accompany those who believe.  I mentioned earlier that speaking in other tongues, was intended as far back as Isaiah’s time, to be a supernatural “sign” given by God the Father, by which unbelieving men would know that the Lord Jesus Christ was abiding in the midst of them.

 

When tongues are interpreted, then these unknown glossalaliá becomes PROPHECY.  Prophecy means literally, “to reveal by divine inspiration.”  I believe the tongues in Acts 2:4-14 are a combination of unknown glossa, and interpreted glossa in the dialect of the surrounding nations (see Acts 2:6-12). 

 

The reason I make this assertion is because the context of Acts chapter Two says the Jews that were present were “devout men” (Acts 2:5), making them “believers” in the One True God of Israel, as is seen in the manner in which they become convicted by the prophesying of the disciples of Jesus.

 

·          Acts 2:36-41 "Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ-- this Jesus whom you crucified."  37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?" 38 And Peter said to them, "Repent, and let each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 "For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call to Himself." 40 And with many other words he solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, "Be saved from this perverse generation!" 41 So then, those who had received his word were baptized; and there were added that day about three thousand souls. NAS

 

Now, notice in 1 Corinthian 14:22b but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers, but to those who believe.  We must conclude that the prophecy spoken was done by “all” the disciples of Jesus on the Day of Pentecost, and therefore it produced its intended result, as was stated in 1 Corinthians 14:25-25 (below):

 

·          1 Corinthians 14:25-25 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.”  

 

The Jews that repented of their evil deeds went from unsaved condition to saved instantly, right?  They already believed in the God of Israel, so the “tongues” (unknown at first) were a “sign” to them of God’s amazing presence abiding with the disciples of Jesus; then when the tongues were interpreted and spoken forth by the disciples in the dialect of each nation the Jews were from, it revealed the secrets of their hearts, bringing swift conviction, and allowing an open door for Peter to preach the gospel.  Once the tongues went from being in an, “unknown,” condition to a, “known,” condition, these same tongues were converted into “prophecy” and thereby had applicability to the BELIEVING JEWS.

 

I will restate this: Jesus’ disciples first spoke in unknown tongues (glossalaliá) in Acts 2:4; this commotion drew a Jewish crowd of devout men from varied ethnic backgrounds and dialects. 

 

Then, as the disciples continued praying in unknown tongues, they unwittingly interpreted their own tongues, and spoke a convicting message to the BELIEVING JEWS that were listening in amazement.  At whatever point, at which the disciples’ unknown tongues were unwittingly interpreted, and then spoken forth as the various dialects, individual to the Jews listening, at this point they were prophesying.  Whatever they prophesied must have amazed and convicted these Jews, who had previously crucified Jesus, because now they were willing to listen to the gospel preached by the apostle Peter.

 

The UNBELIEVING JEWS are the ones that MOCKED the disciples, and accused them of public intoxication (Acts 2:5).  Therefore, to these Jews, the “unknown tongues” were for a “sign” and spoke to them (once interpreted) of their unbelief.  Can you imagine what God said thru the lips of these Galileans that cut to the chase, and hit home with the Jews?  I imagine all kinds of convicting things, like their dishonesty in taxes, wages to servants, unfaithfulness in their marriages, and who knows what else.

Not to argue a point from silence, but if these mockers became a part of the 3000 souls that were saved that day, a serious possibility, then the unknown tongues first spoken by the disciples, would have become “interpreted” sometime during Acts 2:6-13 (below):

 

·          Acts 2:5-13 Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were bewildered, because they were each one hearing them speak in his own language.  7 And they were amazed and marveled, saying, "Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans?  8 And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born?  9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs-- we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God. "  12 And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" 13 But others were mocking and saying, "They are full of sweet wine." NAS

 

Now I will point something out I learned by revelation of the spirit; the text of Acts 2:4 would not read, “they all spoke with tongues” if what the disciples first uttered was in a known dialect.  My point is provable from the context and from the passages in 1 Corinthians chapter 14. 

 

Those who argue against the contemporary use of glossalaliá, saying it ceased with the first century apostles have never been challenged with the following question, and as you read this question, take time to intellectually reason the logic:

 

·          Why does Acts 2:4 say they all “spoke in tongues,” if the tongues were merely confined to the known dialects of the Jews that heard them?  Hmm?

 

This is nonsense to say it was anything but an unknown tongues they first spoke, and I can easily prove wrong the position that teaches differently; if you are willing to be honest with scripture, and allow ONLY scripture to interpret scripture, not your own opinion. 

 

Read the texts below from 1 Corinthians chapter 14, and these prove that tongues, which are interpreted equal “prophesying.”  And the disciples were said to be “prophesying” when Peter described what was happening after the Jews mocked them, saying in Acts 2:17-18 "‘And it shall be in the last days,' God says, 'That I will pour forth of My Spirit upon all mankind; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, even upon my bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit and they shall prophesy.”

 

The Greek word Peter uses for “prophesy” in verse 17 & 18 above is identical to the following passages from 1 Corinthian 14.  As you read below, carefully notice that when tongues is interpreted, it is said to be of equal value for edification as prophesying.  Therefore, using this passage to interpret what happened on the Day of Pentecost in Acts chapter two, I will prove that the ‘prophesying’ the men and women did = unknown tongues + the interpretation..

 

·          1 Corinthian 14:1-5 Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. 4 One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying. NAS

The Lord Working With Them

The conclusion of this part in the series, which obviously will be continued, is best finished by quoting Mark 16:17 once again, and addressing a few last details.

 

·          Mark 16:20 And they went out and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them, and confirmed the word by the signs that followed.

 

The words, “while the Lord worked with them,” shows that the speaking in new tongues, the healings etc, was indicative the spirit of Jesus was there working with them.  This is no minor point, because when you dear brother or sister pray in tongues, you are allowing the spirit of Jesus’ to “work” in your life too! 

 

Today’s charismatic has become lukewarm, apathetic and uses their so-called ‘faith’ as an excuse, while they claim to be waiting for God to miraculously come and “do it all.”  Whom are you fooling?  God?  Yourself?  Certainly not the devil!  This cheapens grace to take a ‘wait and see’ attitude; you are either a seeker or lukewarm; there is no in-between in a relationship.

 

God has given us an amazing and endearing opportunity every waking moment of every day, to pray in the spirit, to give control of our spirit and tongue to the spirit of God’s glorified son Jesus the Christ.  Why not capitalize on it, and ask Him to help us use it more often? 

 

 

SELAH

Go Directly to Part Four

 


Links to the entire "What is Speaking in Tongues” Series:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

 


 

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