• By Rev. Joseph A. Bias

Pentecost (Shavuot) And Other Tongues – Part 2

“Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:3-4

“…we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” Acts 2:11

Like Passover (Easter), Pentecost is both a Jewish Feast Day (the celebrating of the Wheat Harvest) and a Christian Holy Day, the day the Holy Spirit was given to the Church, empowering those who were in the Upper Room on that day to “speak in other tongues…” And everyone gathered in Jerusalem from every nation on the earth [Acts 2:5] heard them “speaking in [their] own tongues the wonderful works of God.” [Acts 2:11]

Those gathered in Jerusalem that day were Jews from all over the world and not only Jews and proselytes (recent converts to Judaism) but also foreigners, and Cretans (Greeks who worshipped many gods) and Arabs, nomadic tribesmen. On that day they heard these Galileans, followers of Jesus speaking in their languages the wonderful works of God.

It is significant that the first utterances of those who had been waiting to receive power from on high in order to be witnesses of Christ were words proclaiming God’s wonderful works. The Word does not say if those speaking in tongues understood what they were saying. It is likely the disciples of Jesus who received the Holy Spirit that day did not understand the languages they were speaking, but it is clear those who heard them understood what they were saying in their own languages. The miracle was not that the disciple suddenly became multilingual with the ability to speak and understand languages they had never spoken before, but that those who heard them heard their own languages being spoken fluently. The miracle was in the hearing.

The apostle Paul said In 1 Corinthians 14:14 “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.” In 1 Corinthians 14:15 he says, “What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.” Clearly making a distinction between speaking or singing in the spirit (in tongues) and singing or speaking with understanding of the language he was uttering.

The important thing to understand here is that from the Day of Pentecost to now, speaking in tongues is not a practice that requires or engages the understanding of the mind, except to the extent that we choose to exercise our faith to simply believe that God and our reborn spirits are intimately knowledgeable of those utterances.

“For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.” 1 Corinthians 14:2

Speaking in tongues is undeniably tied to Pentecost and the baptism of the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised would come for every believer. The two are uniquely bound together.

Though some have tried to suggest that complete salvation requires the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with speaking in tongues, the Bible does not teach this. In fact, from the time of Jesus’ resurrection everyone who believed that God had raised Jesus from the dead and confessed with their mouths that Jesus Christ is Lord was saved.

Indeed, this was true of all those in the Upper Room before the Holy Spirit came to dwell on them and manifested His power in and through them to proclaim the mighty works of God in tongues other than their native languages. They were saved and the Spirit of God with Jesus and the Father had come to dwell in them before the Holy Spirit manifested His greater power in them. Therefore, speaking in other tongues is not a requirement for salvation. We are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. [Ephesians 2:5]

Speaking in other tongues is not about our salvation. It is however, essentially connected to our empowerment to be effective witnesses for Christ in the world. [Acts 1:8] It is about our ability to connect to the source of life to build us up in our faith [Jude 20] and it is about a unique and empowering ability to communicate with God at a dimension of the Spirit that transcends the limits of our human understanding [1 Corinthians 14:2] and gives us greater insight into the purposes, plans and mysteries of God as we take up the mantle of greater ministry of the Gospel to the world 5 feet from us or 10,000 miles around the world. [Acts1:8]

Being empowered from on high is a necessity for every believer. We’ll look at that more closely tomorrow.


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