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CHAPTER 2-section 2

"But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth," He pledged. Acts 1:8.

"All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world." Matthew 28:18-20.

Not until a full fifty days after His death did the disciples begin to see the significance of His promise.

"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." Acts 2:1-4.

What happened here was the speaking of real languages—not unknown sounds. The Bible record is quite clear on this.

The term "tongues" (Greek glossais) as used here, refers to both the physical organ used in the art of speaking as well as to the sound produced by that organ. Also, the word "other" (Greek heterais) signifies that the speech produced by the vocal organs of the apostles consisted of sounds different from those they normally produced. Verse 6 of the same chapter furthermore

identifies these heterais sounds as distinct languages. The very wording, "ekouon heis hekastos te idia dialekto lalounton auton (they kept on hearing them speaking every one in his own language)," is evidence in itself.

This passage in Acts marks the earliest example of glossolalia as a Christian phenomenon, and the original Greek supplies the foundation for the viewpoint that these sounds were indeed real languages. What is more, the remainder of the chapter supports this:

"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?" Acts 2:5-12.

This very question indicates that they had no conception of the basic philosophy of Christianity, of its power, or of the relationship of this unusual manifestation to the mission Christ had entrusted to His disciples. Acts 2:5 brings their question into true perspective.

According to law, every devout male Jew living within a 20-mile radius of Jerusalem was bound to attend the three great yearly Jewish festivals; Passover, Pentecost, and the Feast of Tabernacles. The word Pentecost indicates that it fell on the fiftieth day after Passover. Since that holiday had already been celebrated in April of that year, Pentecost fell at the beginning of June, one of the nicest months in Palestine.

Whereas only the male Jews living within the required distance normally attended the Passover feast, Pentecost, on the other hand, attracted many more celebrants because of the better traveling conditions which prevailed at that time of year. There were undoubtedly thousands of Jews, together with those of Jewish ancestry who had been dispersed throughout the world, who returned to Jerusalem to attend the yearly thanksgiving feast, regarding it as a special highlight. Because of their sojourn in far distant countries, many spoke in languages not native to the Holy Land.

Filled with amazement, the foreign travelers now heard these strange Galileans address them in their own language, telling them of the miraculous power of Christ. Relatively unnoticed, unlearned, and born in a part of the world not necessarily known for its great philosophers, these day laborers and fishermen had suddenly turned into eloquent speakers, conversing with their listeners about the majesty of Christ, reasoning with heavenly wisdom and divinely inspired thoughts. It was indeed an international gathering that surrounded the exuberant apostles who, by now, were convinced of the awesome power of the Holy Spirit.

If this was not a miracle, nothing was, and the impression it etched on the minds of the crowd was ineradicable.

The second example of glossolalia in connection with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit was equally as impressive, but on this occasion it was given to the Gentiles, not to the Jews. This signified for the first time that Christ's gospel was not reserved exclusively as a saving gesture to the Jewish race but was intended for the Gentiles as well.

It happened at the house of Cornelius in Caesarea to which Peter had traveled under divine mandate (See Acts 10:17-20).

"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." Acts 10:44-46.

That these men also used actual languages and not a collection of unintelligible sounds is indicated by the words of Peter when he said that they heard them "magnify God."

Referring back to this same event, in Chapter 11:15 he relates: "And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning." So this statement identifies their tongue experience with the original one at Pentecost.

The third time tongues are mentioned in the New Testament is in Acts 19:1-6, where Paul had an encounter at Ephesus with twelve disciples of John the Baptist.

"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."

This experience also is similar to Pentecost, as was the previous one. Taking into, consideration the use of the word glossa in this text, which is the very same word given to describe the other two accounts, we may conclude that this was also a manifestation of speaking in actual languages, not unknown sounds.

As far as these three examples of glossolalia are concerned, therefore, we are dealing with the supernaturally supplied, God-given ability to speak foreign languages. Because of His gift of glossolalia they were now able to preach the gospel to the known world, providing them with the ultimate means of communication. And the apostles and converts embraced it with enthusiasm.

Read Chapter 3—What Really happened at Corinth?

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