The Weekly Perspective

by Burke Shade, Associate Pastor

When we think of Pentecost, we rightly think of the Great Commission and the unraveling of the confusion of Babel. Now the gospel can be heard and believed in every language!

But what many Christians miss about Pentecost is that the Apostles spoke in actual known languages: “…and they were bewildered, because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language” (Acts 2:6b). This was not “glossolalia,” which is a verbal utterance of unknown language/gibberish practiced by religious people all across the globe, usually in moments of ecstasy.

Paul makes this same point in 1 Corinthians 14:10-11 when discussing the usefulness of speaking in tongues versus prophesying: “There are doubtless many different languages in the world…”

So speaking in tongues on the day of Pentecost was not speaking with gibberish, or even the “tongues of angels,” but in the known human languages of the day, particularly those around the Mediterranean basin.

But even as phenomenal as tongues were on Pentecost Day, it was a short-term fix until the scriptures of the New Testament were penned and translated into every known language. While the scriptures are being penned by the Apostles from 30-70 AD, the Spirit speaking through tongues and other “word” gifts was necessary in order to apply the new covenant in each local church situation, because there wasn’t a “new covenant bible” to turn to for answers of how the faith has changed because of Christ’s coming in history. Yet! But when the maturity of the scriptures came, those Spirit “word” gifts would cease: “As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease…” (1 Corinthians 13.8-10).