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THE TONGUES ISSUE: PART TWO

 

Tongues at Pentecost in AD 31:

       Acts 2:1-4: When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.  Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other (Greek heteros which means other or different) tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

       Shortly after Jesus had ascended to the Father in heaven, his disciples were observing the annual feast of Pentecost.  The Scripture says "they were all together in one place."  Who are the “they”?  In Acts, chapter one, it is recorded that when the Apostles returned to Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives after seeing Jesus ascend into the clouds of the sky, they went up to a second floor room where they were staying,

       Acts 1:12-14: Then they returned to Jerusalem from the hill called the Mount of Olives, a Sabbath day's walk from the city.  When they arrived, they went upstairs to the room where they were staying. The Greek rendered "upstairs" means an upper story room of a private house (See the Arndt/Gingrich Lexicon). Those present were Peter, John, James and Andrew; Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew; James son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James.  They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers”

       We can safely assume the “they” included the eleven named disciples who returned to Jerusalem after being present at the ascension of Jesus.  We can safely assume the “they” included Matthias who was added to the group to replace Judas as seen in Acts 1:23-26.  Were their others who made up the "they" referred to in Acts 2:1?

       The listing of the eleven staying in the upper room doesn't necessarily mean others could not have been staying at this location as well. Were the women, Mary and Jesus’ brothers also staying at the upper room location with the Apostles?  After all it is stated “They all joined together constantly in prayer, along with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brothers.” Luke may give us the answer.

       Luke 24:51-53: While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven. Then they worshiped him and returned to Jerusalem with great joy. And they stayed continually at the temple, praising God.

       Luke records in his Gospel that after returning from Jerusalem, the Apostles stayed continually at the temple praising God. This could indicate it was at the temple that Mary, the women and Jesus' brothers joined the Apostles in constant prayer and not at the house where the Apostles were staying.      

       We can’t be certain from the information provided who was all staying in the upper room. We know the Apostles were staying there. Where the Apostles the “they” who were all together on the day of Pentecost or were there others who made up the “they”? 

Who are the "they" who spoke in tongues?

       Who were the "they" who were all together on the day of Pentecost?   Were the “they” only the Apostles?  Did the “they” include the women, Mary and Jesus’ brothers?  Were the “they” the nearly 120 believers mentioned in Acts 1:16? 

       Acts 1:16: In those days Peter stood up among the believers (a group numbering about a hundred and twenty)

       In Acts 2:5-8 it’s recorded that the Jews who witnessed the speaking in tongues asked, "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?"  It’s to be noted that the word “men” does not appear in the Greek in this passage.  Therefore, this passage can’t be used to definitively determine it was only Galilean men who are speaking in tongues.  This passage only establishes those speaking in tongues were all Galileans.

       So who are the “they” gathered together in one place on Pentecost who are seen as speaking in tongues?  Was this tongues speaking limited to only the Apostles or were other disciples of Jesus involved, included women?  There are arguments that can be made for seeing only the Apostles as speaking in tongues and arguments for others, including women speaking in tongues. Let's look at the arguments.

       It is recorded that some made fun of what was happening and accused the tongues speakers of being drunk with wine.  It’s then recorded that Peter stood up with the eleven and defended the tongues speakers.

       Acts 2:13-15: Some, however, made fun of them and said, "They have had too much wine.  "Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning (NIV).

       It’s again to be noted that the word “men” is not in the Greek.  Peter stands up with the eleven and says “these are not drunk.”  Who are the “these”?  It could be argued that because Peter stands up with the eleven and makes this statement, it was the eleven plus Peter who were the “these” who were doing the speaking in tongues.  If this is the case, the tongues speaking may have been limited to the twelve Apostles and only the twelve Apostles were the “they” of Acts 2:1 who were gathered together in one place. 

       It is to be noted that the promise of the giving of the Holy Spirit was initially given by Jesus to the eleven Apostles who were present when Jesus ascended to the Father. Acts 1:1-9 shows it was only the Apostles who were present at the ascension. This could indicate that it was only the Apostles who initially became recipients of the Holy Spirit.

       As will be discussed below, the tongues event may have occurred at the temple. If this is the case it can be argued that women would not have been involved because they were not allowed to mix with men at the temple.  They had a designated separate area where they could congregate called "The Women's Platform."  Women were also not allowed to express themselves on theological matters.  This would indicate women would not have been proclaiming the things of God in different tongues.

       On the other hand, Peter tells those who were accusing the tongues speakers of being drunk that they were not drunk but what they were seeing and hearing was a fulfillment of what Joel prophesied which included saying that,  "Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy" (Acts 2:18).  Peter tells the accusers that what they were experiencing was the result of the pouring out of the Spirit on both men and women. Does this indicate both men and women were speaking in tongues? 

       So who are the “they” gathered together in one place on Pentecost who are seen as speaking in tongues?  Again, as we saw in our discussion of who it all may have been that stayed in the upper room, we don’t have enough information to arrive at a definitive answer as to who it all may have been who spoke in tongues on Pentecost in AD 31.    

The location of the "one place."

       Luke records in Acts 2:1 that “when the day of Pentecost came, “they were all together in one place.” Where was this one place? Is Luke even speaking about a location as such?

         The Greek word homothumadon, rendered "place" in Acts 2:1 means to be with one mind, purpose or impulse according to Greek Lexicons.  In Acts 1:14, where it is said "They all joined together constantly in prayer," the words "joined together" is homothumadon.  Other translations render hemothumadon in Acts 1:14 as "one accord" or "one mind."  Homothumadon appears 12 times in the NT and except for Acts 2:1, this word is generally rendered "with one accord," or "one mind."  Therefore, when it is said "they were all together in one place," it may not be their location that is spoken of but their state of mind.   They were of one mind and purpose as the Greek word homothumadon implies.        

       If it is true Luke is reporting that the "they" were of one mind and purpose, they still would have been of one mind and purpose at some location when they experienced the tongues event. Where was this location? The Scriptures show that those who experienced the sound of a violent wind were setting in a house. Where or what is this house that is being spoken of? 

       Acts 2:2: Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house (Greek oikos) where they were sitting.

       Some believe it is the house with the upper room the Apostles and possibly others were staying at after returning to Jerusalem from witnessing the ascension of Jesus.  Was this the house?  Let's take a look at this issue.     

       The Greek for house is oikos. This word appears 114 times in the NT and the Greek Lexicons show this word to have broad meaning. It can refer to a private home or it can refer to a public building.  It can also refer to a group of people. 

       In the NT it is used in all three ways.  It is often used to designate a private residence. It is used figuratively to represent a group of people such as Israel.  You will often see the phrase "house of Israel" in the NT.  Oikos is also used in the NT to designate the physical temple standing in Jerusalem.

       When Jesus threw out the money changers on the temple grounds, He referred to the temple as His Father's house {oikos} (Matthew 21:12-13).  In prophesying the destruction of the temple, Jesus told the religious leaders their house {oikos} would be left to them desolate (Matthew 23:38). In Luke 11:51, Jesus speaks of "the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the temple" (oikos).  Was the house the "they" were sitting in a residential house or was it the temple?      

       As already mentioned, some see the house the “they” were sitting in on Pentecost as the same house where the Apostles were staying in the upper room.  However, as already pointed out, Luke 24:53 shows that when the Apostles returned from Jerusalem "they stayed continually at the temple, praising God."  This being the case, you would think they would have been at the temple on the day of Pentecost seeing this was a High Day Sabbath. Acts 2:15 shows it was the third hour of the day (9:00 AM) when the tongues event occurred. This would have been the time of the Morning Prayer and sacrifice at the temple.

       The temple was the seat of worship for Israel. It was virtually considered the dwelling place of God. Pentecost was a required observance.  Many thousands were in Jerusalem for this event. A great deal of space would be needed to accommodate all these people. The temple grounds would be the logical place for this gathering to take place. The church historian Edersheim writes that the temple grounds had room for 210,000 people. It is evident from Scripture that when the temple was referred to, it was the temple complex that was being referred to which consisted of a number of buildings as is clearly indicated in Scripture.

       Mark 13:1-2: As he was leaving the temple, one of his disciples said to him, "Look, Teacher! What massive stones! What magnificent buildings!" "Do you see all these great buildings?" replied Jesus. "Not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down."

       The temple grounds consisted of a number of buildings besides the temple. There were two large courtyards and multiple dozens of porticos which were house-like structures that ran along the walls of the temple grounds and were used for a variety of activities. It could very well be it was one of these porticos where the Apostles and possibly others were sitting when the tongues event occurred. 

       In Acts 2:6 it is recorded that "When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language." Where was this crowd that came together when hearing this sound? It would be logical to conclude they were at the temple complex which means this is where the tongues speakers would have had to be. 

       It is recorded in Acts 2:41 that that after Peter finished what has become known as his Pentecost sermon, around 3000 were baptized and added to the fellowship on that very day of Pentecost. Where were they baptized?  While the temple was still standing, there was ritual immersion pools located around the southern and southwestern portions of the Temple Mount. It is believed it was these pools that would have been used to baptize these converts. This further indicates it was at the temple grounds where the tongues event described in Acts chapter 2 took place. 

       Finally, we see recorded in Acts 2:46 that "Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts."  The temple area continued to be the gathering place for those who had accepted the message delivered to them on Pentecost. While we can’t be absolutely sure of the tongues speakers' location when the Holy Spirit descended, the circumstantial evidence seems to favor the temple as the “house” they were setting in when they heard the sound of a wind and began to speak in tongues.

The tongues experience:

        This whole experience of speaking in tongues began with the hearing of a sound like the blowing of a violent wind.       

       Acts 2:2-4: Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.     

       The Greek word translated "sound" is eekos and simply means a sound. Luke uses a cognate of this word to describe hearing the roar of sea waves (Luke 21:25). In Hebrews 12:19 the writer uses this word to describe the sound of a trumpet. The Greek word translated "violent" means strong and mighty. 

       It must be noted that what was experienced was not the actual blowing of a violent wind but a sound like a blowing violent wind. Who all heard this sound?  Was it just those who spoke in tongues or did others hear this sound as well? Did the crowd gathered for Pentecost hear this sound?

       Acts 2:6: When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language.   

       What sound did the crowd hear?  It is interesting that the Greek word translated sound in Acts 2:6 is different from the word translated “sound” in Acts 2:2 where it is recorded that those sitting in the house heard the sound of a violent wind. The Greek is not eekos in Acts 2:6 but phonee. 

       Both the Arndt/Gingrich and Thayer's Greek Lexicons define phonee as sound, tone, noise and voice as in the utterance of words. Phonee is found 141 times in the NT and is almost always translated "voice" where it can be seen by context to refer to the utterance of words. On a few occasions phonee is used to describe the sound of a trumpet, wind, water and even wings. 

       In Acts 2:6 phonee is used in association with the crowd coming together in bewilderment because of hearing the recipients of the Holy Spirit communicating with them in their native languages. Since we see NT writers almost always using phonee in association with the utterance of words, it may be reasonable to conclude that the sound heard by the crowd was not the sound of a violent wind the tongues speakers heard but the utterance of the different languages the tongues speakers were speaking.     

       Nature of the tongues spoken:

       The English word tongue is taken from the Greek word glossa.  Greek Lexicons define glossa as the physical tongue or as language.  Glossology is a term used to identify the study of languages and dialects.  The word glossa appears in the Greek New Testament fifty times. It is used in a variety of ways.  It is often used metaphorically to represent speech. 

       James 3:5-6: Likewise the tongue (Greek: glossa) is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue (Greek: glossa) also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.

       1 Peter 3:10 For, "Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue (Greek: glossa) from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.

       By context, we know that both James and Peter are using the word tongue to speak of expressing thoughts in language that are commonly understood by those who are within hearing distance of such language. 

       Acts 2:25-26:  David said about him: "`I saw the Lord always before me. Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue (glossa) rejoices; my body also will live in hope.

       Here glossa is used in a figurative sense to express the thought that ones speech is one of expressing joyful language. Glossa appears eight times in the Revelation and in seven out of the eight times is used to identify cultures of people who speak a particular language.  Here are a few examples:

       Revelation 5:9: And they sang a new song: "You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, because you were slain, and with your blood you purchased men for God from every tribe and language (glossa) and people and nation.  

       Revelation 14:6: Then I saw another angel flying in midair, and he had the eternal gospel to proclaim to those who live on the earth--to every nation, tribe, language (glossa) and people.

       It should be evident from the context in these passages that glossa is being used to identify groups of people who speak the same language within their group and that such language is commonly understood by those in the group who speak it. 

     It is to be noted that Luke records that "All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.

       Acts 2:4: All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other (Greek heteros which means other or different) tongues as the Spirit enabled them. 

       The word "other" is important here as it immediately raises the question, "other than what?" or compared to what.  The "what" would be the native language of the tongues speakers. The tongues speakers were speaking in languages other than their own native language. Speaking in other tongues is compared with speaking in their own tongue.  Since their own tongue (probably Aramaic) was an extant human language, there is every reason to believe the "other" languages they were now speaking in were extant human languages.       

       For the record, where it is written that "Each one heard them speak in his own language," the Greek word rendered "language" is dialektos.  Thayer's Greek Lexicon defines this word as conversation, speech, discourse or the tongue or language peculiar to any people.  The Arndt/Gingrich Greek Lexicon defines dialektos as the language of a nation or region.         

        As already covered, modern day tongues speaking does not appear to be related to any extant human language. It is not the speaking of other languages in contrast or comparison to ones own native tongue as was true on Pentecost in AD 31.

       Is there Scriptural reason to believe that there is glossa generated by the Holy Spirit that is not related to any known human language but can be understood when interpreted by someone gifted by God to do so?  We will explore this issue as we proceed with this discussion.

        Tongues of fire:

       It is recorded, “They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.” The Greek rendered “seemed” is optomai and simple means to see something and is used in this manner multiple times in the NT.  Many translations render this word as “appeared” in the passage under consideration.  The Greek word pur rendered “fire” in this passage is used both figuratively and literally of fire in the NT.   

       In reviewing several dozen translations of this passage, the indication is that what were seen were not actual tongues of fire but flame-like projectiles that appeared as physical tongues.  Flames of a fire fan out in many directions. This tongue like phenomenon of fire appears to be used here to show how the observed tongues flared our and landed on the recipients. Here are several renderings that indicate this.

       And tongues spreading out like a fire appeared to them and came to rest on each one of them (New English Translation {NET}).

       They saw tongues like flames of fire that separated, and one rested on each of them (International Standard Version)

       And tongues like fire that were divided appeared to them, and they sat on each one of them (Aramaic Bible in Plain English).

       Tongues that looked like fire appeared to them. The tongues arranged themselves so that one came to rest on each believer (God’s Word Translation)

       And they saw tongues of what looked like fire distributing themselves over the assembly, and on the head of each person a tongue alighted (Weymouth Translation)

      The implication here is that the fiery looking tongues that landed on the recipients of these tongues were separated or divided with the result being that different tongues fell on different recipients of the tongues. In other words, they all didn't receive the same tongues but different individuals received different tongues which facilitated the speaking of different languages. They weren't all given the same language. They were given different languages.

       This is an important consideration because it is said of the crowd that heard the tongues speakers that "each one heard them speaking in his own language." Because it is stated this way, some believe the miracle experienced on Pentecost was not only in the speaking but also in the hearing or possibly entirely in the hearing.   

       Acts 2:5-8: Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language?

       Some believe Luke is saying that each one in the crowd heard each tongues speaker speaking in their native tongue. It is believed the ones given the tongues all received and spoke some kind of neutral language which was then supernaturally translated into separate languages that could be understood by those in the crowd who spoke those languages. 

       Some take this a step further and believe that the miracle was not in the speaking at all. Some believe the tongues speakers were all speaking in their native tongue but those who heard them, heard them in their own native tongues through instant supernatural translation. Is there any validity to this approach?     

       New Testament scholar Ben Witherington 111, in an article in the July/August 2015 edition of Biblical Archaeology Review, points out that the phrase “in their native language” (in his own language, Acts 2:4) modifies the verb “speaking” in verse 6, not the verb “hearing.”  He concludes from this that the tongues phenomenon was in the speaking only and not in the hearing.    

       Furthermore, as already discussed, Luke writes that the tongues were divided or separated as they came down upon those receiving the tongues. This appears to reveal that different tongues landed on different recipients.  If this is the case, there were a number of different tongues that were bestowed upon the recipients of the Holy Spirit.  These different tongues were then understood by those in the crowd who spoke those tongues. There does not appear to have been any supernatural translation going on. The miracle appears to have been in the speaking only.  The tongues speakers spoke in a variety of different languages which were understood by those who spoke these languages.

Why the tongues event?

       It is often believed and taught that the reason for the tongues event was to allow the tongues speakers to preach the Gospel in understandable languages to the foreign Jews and converts to Judaism who were visiting Jerusalem to observe Pentecost. Luke writes there were Jews from every nation under heaven in attendance. It is assumed that these Jews were mostly visitors who did not speak the local language.  The assumption is that these Jews would not have understood the tongues speakers if the tongues speakers spoke only in their native tongue which was probably Aramaic. Therefore, the tongues event is seen as taking place for the purpose of ensuring the Gospel message would be understood by those from foreign countries assembled in Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Pentecost.     

       Acts 2:5-11: Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. Verse 6: When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Verse 7: Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Verse 8: Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Verse 9: Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Verse 10: Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome Verse 11: (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs--we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!"        

      The Greek word rendered “staying” in Acts 2:5 is katoikeo. The Greek lexicons define this word as a place of permanent residence, a place of settlement. Strong’s Lexicon defines this word as “to house permanently.”  Thayer’s Lexicon defines this word as to dwell or settle.  The Arndt/Gingrich Lexicon defines it as “cause to dwell, establish, and settle.”  

       Katoikeo appears 47 times in the NT and by context can be seen to identify an ongoing residency and not just someone visiting from out of town. The use of the Greek katoikeo here in Acts 2:5 may indicate that some or maybe many of the God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven were residents of Jerusalem and not just visitors. If this was the case, they would have spoken and understood the native language of the tongues speakers. It would not have been necessary for the tongues speakers to speak to them in what was their native tongues in order to be understood by them.

       The NET translation footnotes Acts 2:5 by stating that while there may have been Jews visiting Jerusalem to keep Pentecost, it is probable that the audience consisted of families who had taken up permanent residence in Jerusalem and that archaeological evidence from tombs in Jerusalem indicates that many families immigrated to Jerusalem permanently. The NET renders Acts 2:5 in the following manner:

       Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven residing in Jerusalem.

       This being said, the narrative of Acts 2:5-11 does indicate that some of those present were visitors from outside of Judea and not permanent residents of Jerusalem. In verse 9 the writer speaks of residents of a number of foreign countries being present (residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia) The word rendered "residents" in verse 9 is the same Greek word katoikeo rendered "staying" in verse one. In this case the word appears to speak of permanent residents of other nations, not Jerusalem. 

       Some have questioned why Judea is listed with this listing of foreign countries. Judea was not a foreign country but the land occupied by the tongues speakers.  This could be nothing more than the writer including Judea in the list of nations having people attending the Feast of Pentecost in Jerusalem, the capitol of Judea. In a footnote to this passage in the Diaglott, a Greek interlinear, one translator sees the Greek for Judea as an adjective and renders the passage as "dwellers in Jewish Mesopotamia."  

       In verse 10 we see there were visitors in attendance from Rome. The Greek word translated "visitors" is epideemeo.  Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines this word as "to be present among one's people, in one's city or native land or to be a sojourner, a foreign resident, among any people, in any country." The Arndt/Gingrich Lexicon defines this word as "to stay in a place as a stranger or visitor.  Therefore, this word can signify taking up permanent residence in a foreign land. This word is found only one other time in the NT and that's in Acts 17:21.  Here it is used to signify foreigners living in permanent residence in Athens which is the city being spoken of. Therefore, the use of epideemeo in Acts 2:10 may signify either Roman visitors or Romans who had taken up permanent residence in Jerusalem.

        Acts 17:21: All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived (epideemeo) there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas. 

       In view of the above discussion, it may be that many of the Jews and converts to Judaism who were in Jerusalem to observe the Feast of Pentecost were permanent residents of Jerusalem and not just visitors. If this was the case, the tongues event may not have been so much to ensure that all present could understand what was being said but to simply show those present that the extraordinary event of the arrival of the Holy Spirit was taking place.  That the arrival of the Holy Spirit appears to be the main reason for the tongues event is made clear by Apostle Peter. 

       When the crowd witnessed the tongues event, it is recorded, "they were all amazed and perplexed and they asked one another, "What does this mean?"  As discussed above, some accused the tongues speakers of being drunk.  Peter, in responding to their accusation, showed them in no uncertain terms what the event they were witnessing meant.  Acts 2:14-18: Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice and addressed the crowd: "Fellow Jews and all of you who live in Jerusalem, let me explain this to you; listen carefully to what I say. These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It's only nine in the morning! No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel:  "`In the last days (See my series entitled "When does Christ Return" for an explanation of "last Days), God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.

       Peter addressed the crowd and directed his answer to fellow Jews and all those who live in Jerusalem.  The Greek word rendered “live” is katoikeo. As already discussed, this Greek word describes a place of permanent residence.  The indication is that Peter was largely addressing those having permanent residence in Jerusalem. The tongues event may have been a short lived event that got the attention of the crowd and caused them to give heed to Peter’s message which was now being delivered in his native tongue which was probably Aramaic.

       The main reason for the tongues event appears to be to demonstrate that a prophecy of Joel had come to pass. Peter is stating that what the assembly gathered in Jerusalem is seeing is the fulfillment of what the prophet Joel said would happen in the last days.     

       What they are witnessing is the prophesied pouring out of the Spirit of God on all people. Peter makes this very clear later in his sermon.

       Acts 2:32-33: God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact. Exalted to the right hand of God, he has received from the Father the promised Holy Spirit and has poured out what you now see and hear.

       What Peter was telling them was that what they were seeing and hearing gave witness to the Holy Spirit being poured out as prophesied by Joel and promised by Jesus.  The Apostles speaking in unlearned languages was for the express purpose of giving evidence to the fulfillment of what the prophet Joel and the Son of God had promised would occur. The tongues event was the sign that the Holy Spirit had come.  This sign was designed to get the attention of the audience which allowed Peter to proclaim the gospel message to what was now an attentive group of people.  Peter goes on to provide a synopsis of the Christ event. 

       Acts 2:22-24:  "Men of Israel, listen to this: Jesus of Nazareth was a man accredited by God to you by miracles, wonders and signs, which God did among you through him, as you yourselves know.  This man was handed over to you by God's set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. But God raised him from the dead, freeing him from the agony of death, because it was impossible for death to keep its hold on him.

       Peter brings to their attention that Jesus was a man accredited by God.  To accredit someone is to authorize and sanction them.  God did this by providing Jesus the power to perform miracles and signs and wonders, all things Peter says they knew.  This further indicates Peter was addressing a crowd who lived in the area and was familiar with what had happened. Peter reveals to them that it was within God’s will and foreknowledge that Jesus was handed over to them and they proceeded to crucify him even though they knew the good that He had done.  Peter then states that God had made this man they had crucified both Lord and Christ.

       Acts 2:36-38: Therefore let all Israel be assured of this: God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ." When the people heard this, they were cut to the heart and said to Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers, what shall we do?" Peter replied, "Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

       Acts 2:41: Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

       Peter’s message had a powerful impact on those being addressed.  This message would not have had this impact if it wasn’t for the tongues event.  The tongues event was designed to get their attention and get their attention it did. To hear these tongues speakers speak in a variety of unlearned languages must have made quite the impression. 

       Peter told them to repent and be baptized and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  While it is generally believed that one receives the Holy Spirit when repenting and being baptized, it is a teaching within Pentecostal theology that following water baptism it is important to experience another baptism, the baptism of the Holy Spirit. 

       Baptism of the Holy Spirit is believed to empower one to live a more Godly life and witness to others.  Speaking in tongues is believed to be confirmation that one has received this special baptism. Since speaking in tongues is seen in the NT as a witness to having received the Holy Spirit, it is believed that this same witness should be seen today as confirmation of having received the Holy Spirit.

       The problem with associating the present day tongues phenomenon with what we see recorded in Acts chapter two is that what we see today has no resemblance to what we see in Acts 2.  There certainly isn't a sound like that of a rushing wind or the appearance of what looks like tongues of fire accompanying modern day tongues speaking. 

       What we see in Acts 2 are the NT tongues speakers speaking supernaturally enabled languages and others hearing what they were were speaking in their own native language. What we see with modern day tongues speakers is the utterance of sounds that are not associated with any known language. No one hearing these sounds hears them as their native language.

       Furthermore, when the NT tongues speakers spoke in tongues, their tongues did not have to be interpreted by someone in order to be understood.  Those hearing the tongues speakers understood exactly what they were saying because it was being spoken in the hearer's native language.  Scripture records that those who accepted the message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.  Peter had told them that when being baptized, they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.  Nothing is recorded as to any of the three thousand who were baptized speaking in tongues as a demonstration or conformation of having received the Holy Spirit.

       When you look at what happened at Pentecost in A.D. 31, it is very apparent that the tongues spoken were extant human languages and this event occurred in order to demonstrate the arrival of the promised Holy Spirit which would now be available to all peoples.  What happened on Pentecost, A.D. 31 is not what we see being practiced today.  Therefore, the events recorded in Acts two, should not be used as a template for what we see in the tongues speaking community of the past hundred years or so.  Some Pentecostal Church theologians admit this but feel that other examples of speaking in tongues recorded in the New Testament give credence to present day speaking in tongues. We will begin to address this in Part Three of this series.

PART THREE