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The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament

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    The Work of the Holy Spirit in the Old Testament

    Millard J. Erickson, Christian Theology

    It is often difficult to identify the Holy Spirit within the Old Testament, which reflects the earliest stages of progressive revelation. In fact, the term “Holy Spirit” is rarely employed here. Rather, the usual expression is “the Spirit of God.” Hebrew is a concrete language with a relative scarcity of adjectives. Where in English we might use a noun and an adjective, Hebrew tends to use two nouns, one of them functioning as a genitive.1 For example, where in English we might speak of “a righteous man,” what we typically find in Hebrew is “a man of righteousness.” Similarly, most Old Testament references to the Third Person of the Trinity consist of the two nouns Spirit and God. It is not apparent from this construction that a separate person is involved. The expression “Spirit of God” could well be understood as being simply a reference to the will, mind, or activity of God.2 There are, however, some cases where the New Testament makes it clear that an Old Testament reference to the “Spirit of God” is a reference to the Holy Spirit. One of the most prominent of these New Testament passages is Acts 2:16–21, where Peter explains that what is occurring at Pentecost is the fulfillment of the prophet Joel’s statement, “I will pour out my Spirit on all people” (2:17). Surely the events of Pentecost were the realization of Jesus’s promise, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you” (Acts 1:8). In short, the Old Testament “Spirit of God” is synonymous with the Holy Spirit.3

    There are several major areas of the Holy Spirit’s working in Old Testament times. First is the creation. We find in the creation account a reference to the presence and activity of the Spirit of God: “Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters” (Gen. 1:2). God’s continued working with the creation is attributed to the Spirit. Job writes, “By his breath [or spirit] the skies became fair; his hand pierced the gliding serpent” (26:13). Isaiah looks to a future outpouring of the Spirit as a time of productivity within the creation: there will be desolation “till the Spirit is poured on us from on high, and the desert becomes a fertile field, and the fertile field seems like a forest” (32:15).

    Another general area of the Spirit’s work is the giving of prophecy and Scripture.4 The Old Testament prophets testified that their speaking and writing were a result of the Spirit’s coming upon them. Ezekiel offers the clearest example: “As he spoke, the Spirit came into me and raised me to my feet, and I heard him speaking to me” (2:2; cf. 8:3; 11:1, 24). The Spirit even entered such unlikely persons as Balaam (Num. 24:2). As a sign that Saul was God’s anointed, the Spirit came mightily on him and he prophesied (1 Sam. 10:6, 10). Peter confirmed the testimony of the prophets regarding their experience: “For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit” (2 Pet. 1:21). In addition, the book of Acts gives witness that the Holy Spirit spoke by the mouth of David (Acts 1:16; 4:25). Since the Holy Spirit produced the Scriptures, they can be referred to as “God-breathed” (θεόπνευστος—theopneustos—2 Tim. 3:16).

    Yet another work of the Spirit of God in the Old Testament was in conveying certain necessary skills for various tasks.5 For example, we read that in appointing Bezalel to construct and furnish the tabernacle, God said, “and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts” (Exod. 31:3–5). It is not clear whether Bezalel had previously possessed this set of abilities or whether they were suddenly bestowed upon him for this particular task. Nor is it clear whether he continued to possess them afterward. When the temple was rebuilt by Zerubbabel after the Babylonian captivity, there was a similar endowment: “ ‘Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit,’ says the LORD Almighty” (Zech. 4:6).

    Administration also seems to have been a gift of the Spirit. Even Pharaoh recognized the Spirit’s presence in Joseph: “So Pharaoh asked them, ‘Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?’ ” (Gen. 41:38). When Moses needed assistance in leading the people of Israel, part of the Spirit was taken from him and given to others: “Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took some of the power of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied—but they did not do so again” (Num. 11:25). Here the gift of administration was accompanied by or involved the gift of prophesying. While it is not clear whether Joshua’s capacity for leadership was especially related to the working of the Spirit of God, there does seem to be an allusion to that effect: “Now Joshua son of Nun was filled with the spirit of wisdom because Moses had laid his hands on him. So the Israelites listened to him and did what the LORD had commanded Moses” (Deut. 34:9).

    In the time of the judges, administration by the power and gifts of the Holy Spirit was especially dramatic.6 Much of what was done was accomplished by what we would today call “charismatic leadership.” Of Othniel it is said, “The Spirit of the LORD came on him, so that he became Israel’s judge and went to war. The LORD gave Cushan-Rishathaim king of Aram into the hands of Othniel, who overpowered him” (Judg. 3:10). There is a similar description of the call of Gideon: “Then the Spirit of the LORD came on Gideon, and he blew a trumpet, summoning the Abiezrites to follow him” (Judg. 6:34). The Spirit’s working at the time of the judges consisted largely of granting skill in waging war, for example, with Othniel and Gideon. Gideon’s soldiers proved unusually effective, out of all proportion to their numbers. Similarly, Samson was filled with extraordinary strength when the Spirit came upon him, and he was able to perform supernatural feats: “Then the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him. He went down to Ashkelon, struck down thirty of their men, stripped them of everything and gave their clothes to those who had explained the riddle” (Judg. 14:19).

    The Spirit also endowed the early kings of Israel with special capabilities. We have already noted that Saul prophesied when the Spirit came upon him (1 Sam. 10:10). David’s anointing was likewise accompanied by the coming of the Spirit of God: “So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David” (1 Sam. 16:13).

    The Spirit is seen not only in dramatic incidents, however. In addition to the qualities of national leadership and the heroics of war he was present in Israel’s spiritual life. In this connection he is referred to as a “good Spirit.” Addressing God, Ezra reminded the people of Israel of the provision made for their ancestors in the wilderness: “You gave your good Spirit to instruct them. You did not withhold your manna from their mouths, and you gave them water for their thirst” (Neh. 9:20). The psalmist beseeches God: “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground” (Ps. 143:10). The goodness of the Spirit is seen also in two references to him as a “holy Spirit.” In each of these instances there is a contrast between sinful human actions and the holiness of God. Asking that his sins be blotted out, David prays, “Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me” (Ps. 51:11). And Isaiah refers to the people who have “rebelled and grieved [the Lord’s] Holy Spirit” (Isa. 63:10).

    The good and holy quality of the Spirit becomes clearer yet in light of the work he does and its results. He is described as producing the fear of the Lord and various qualities of righteousness and judgment in the promised Messiah (Isa. 11:2–5). When the Spirit is poured out (Isa. 32:15), the result is justice, righteousness, and peace (vv. 16–20). Devotion to the Lord results from outpouring of the Spirit (Isa. 44:3–5). Ezekiel 36:26–28, a passage that adumbrates the New Testament doctrine of regeneration, speaks of a careful obedience and a new heart as accompaniments of God’s giving his Spirit.

    The foregoing considerations from the Old Testament depict the Holy Spirit as producing the moral and spiritual qualities of holiness and goodness in the person upon whom he comes or in whom he dwells. In cases in the book of Judges, his presence seems to be intermittent and related to a particular activity or ministry.

    The Old Testament witness to the Spirit anticipates a coming time when the ministry of the Spirit is to be more complete.7 Part of this relates to the coming Messiah, upon whom the Spirit is to rest in an unusual degree and fashion, as noted in Isaiah 11:1–5. Similar passages include Isaiah 42:1–4 and 61:1–3 (“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners ...”). Jesus quotes the opening verses of Isaiah 61 and indicates that they are now being fulfilled in him (Luke 4:18–21). There is a more generalized promise, however, not restricted to the Messiah. This is found in Joel 2:28–29: “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.” At Pentecost Peter quoted this prophecy, indicating that it had now been fulfilled.
    1 A. B. Davidson says, “The genius of the language is not favourable to the formation of adjectives and the gn. [genitive] is used in various ways as explicative of the preceding noun, indicting its material, qualities, or relations” (Hebrew Syntax [Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1902], 32).

    2 J. H. Raven claims that the Old Testament references to the “Spirit of God” do not pertain specifically to the Holy Spirit: “There is here no distinction of persons in the Godhead. The Spirit of God in the Old Testament is God himself exercising active influence” (The History of the Religion of Israel [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979], 164).

    3 For the view that passages like Ps. 104:30 are personal references to the Holy Spirit, see Leon Wood, The Holy Spirit in the Old Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1976), 19–20.

    4 Eduard Schweizer, The Holy Spirit, trans. Reginald H. and Ilse Fuller (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1980), 10– 19.

    5 Wood, Holy Spirit, 42–43. 6 Ibid., 41.

    6 Ibid., 41.

    7 George Smeaton, The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit (London: Banner of Truth Trust, 1958), 33–35.


    Tongues were given:

    1. To warn unbelieving Jews to repent because of judgment to come.

    2. To confirm the New Testament Word as from God by signs. Mark 16:17-20.
    3. To confirm the Apostles as God's true messengers.

    I. TO WARN UNBELIEVING JEWS. "In the law it is written, with men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people (Jews); and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore, tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not." 1 Cor. 14:21,22.

    Isaiah, in 712 BC (Isaiah 28:11), had in simple Hebrew, warned the Jews to repent from their sinful ways. They rejected his plain message in Hebrew, and so God said that He would speak to them in the tongues of foreigners, such as the Assyrians, to see if this would cause them to repent. Paul quotes this to show that the main purpose of tongues in the first century was to authenticate the new message of Christ to unbelieving Jews in order to bring them to repent of their sins.

    This is seen in the following instances:

    1. The Jews who had come to Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost were from 16 areas of the ancient world each speaking their own language or dialect. They each heard the apostles speaking the wonderful works of God in their own dialects. This message convicted them of their sin of crucifying Christ, bringing 3,000 of them to true repentance (Acts 2).
    2. The gift of tongues to Cornelius' household was to convince the Jewish Christians that God would save believing Gentiles. Here the Jews had believed on Christ, but disbelieved that God would save the Gentiles as He had only saved Jews up until then.

    3. Tongues in the church at Corinth was a sign to unbelieving Jews.
    a) The Corinthian church was closely observed by Jews, because Paul started it in the Jewish synagogue (Acts 18:1-5).
    b) The unbelieving Jews put Paul out of the synagogue, so Paul's missionary team went to win Gentiles (18:6), by moving the new church to Justus' house which was joined to the synagogue next door (18:7). The unbelieving Jews watched the church closely since it met right next door.
    c) Soon "Crispus the chief ruler of the synagogue believed on the Lord with all his house."Acts 18:8
    d) Sosthenes was chosen as the new chief ruler of the synagogue to replace Crispus. Sosthenes was soon saved, because Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 1:1, "Paul.....and Sosthenes our brother." Hence, the Corinthian church was started in the synagogue, it met next door to the synagogue, and it had two ex-chief rulers of the synagogue as it's members! Certainly the unsaved Jewish community at Corinth carefully watched the Corinthian church. God gave the gift of tongues, the gift intended as a sign to unbelieving Jews, to this church thereby proving that the gospel of Christ was to be received by the Jews. Tongues were never given as a sign to Gentiles.

    The Gentiles had no dispensational hurdle of Mosaic legalism to jump over to come to Christ.

    4. Tongues as a warning to Jews can be seen from Old Testament events, summarised by:

    a) God has a message for the people.
    b) The people refuse to listen to God.
    c) God causes tongues to be heard as a sign of judgment to come.

    d) Dispersion follows.

    Event 1: Tower of Babel. Genesis 11.

    Foreign tongues first appear in Genesis 11:1 "The whole earth was of one language, and of one speech"

    1. God has a message for the people: After the Flood, God said: "Be fruitful, and multiply, and fill the earth." Genesis 9:1.
    2. The people refuse to listen to God: They built a great tower,
    "....Lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth." Genesis 11:4.
    3. God caused tongues to be heard as a sign of judgment. God said, "Come, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." Genesis 11:7.
    4. Dispersion followed, "So the Lord scattered them abroad from there upon the face of all the earth." Genesis 11:8.

    Event 2: Disobedient Israel. Deuteronomy 28.

    God promised Israel blessings if they obeyed God's Law, and cursings if they broke God's Law.

    1. God has a message for the people:
    "If thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe and to do all His commandments.....all these blessings shall come upon thee....." Deuteronomy 28:1.

    2. The people refuse to listen to God.
    “If thou wilt not hearken.....all these curses shall come upon thee.” Deuteronomy 28:15.
    3. God causes tongues to be heard as a sign of judgment: One curse that God promised was a foreign conquering nation speaking strange tongues.

    "The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand." Deuteronomy 28:49.
    4. Dispersion follows: "The Lord shall scatter thee among all people....." Deuteronomy 28:64,65.

    This happened to Israel in 721 BC, Judah in 606 BC, and Israel in 70 AD.

    Event 3: Babylonian tongues heard by disobedient Judah in 606 BC. Jeremiah 3-5.

    1. God has a message for the people:

    "Return ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings." Jeremiah 3:22.
    2. The people refuse to listen to God: "thou hast consumed them, but they have refused to receive correction....they have refused to return." Jeremiah 5:3.
    3. God caused tongues to be heard as a sign of judgment. If Israel would not heed

    Jeremiah's warnings, then God would speak to them by strange tongues and swords of an invading nation. "Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far.....a mighty nation,.....a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest what they say." Jeremiah 5:15.

    4. Dispersion follows: "As ye have forsaken Me, and served strange gods in your land, so shall ye serve strangers in a land that is not yours." Jeremiah 5:19.
    Event 4: Assyrian tongues heard by disobedient Israel in 721 BC. Isaiah 28.

    When Paul discusses the purpose of tongues in 1 Corinthians 14:21- 22, he quotes Isaiah 28:11 to show that tongues were given as a sign of judgment to unbelieving Israel: " them that believe not." 14:22.

    Sophisticated Israelites were sick of Isaiah's rebukes that sin was rampant, judgment was coming, and a return to God was the only answer.
    In Isaiah 28:9,10 they claimed that he was teaching them like newly weaned babies, "line upon line....". Your repetitious teaching is fit for infants, they said. They rejected God's message, messenger, and teaching methods. God responded to their scoffing by imitating their mockery (Isaiah 28:9,10), and promising unintelligible language of a foreign conqueror: “For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.” Isaiah 28:11. God first spoke to them through Isaiah's clear and simple message, which they ignored. Now God will speak in judgment to them through stammering, lisping, Assyrian lips and another tongue. The Assyrian language sounded much less cultivated than Hebrew. Assyrian only had 3 vowels: a, i, u. Israel would hear Assyrian harsh, foreign tongues as they invaded and destroyed many Israelite towns in 721-720 BC under Sennacherib. Note the same pattern:

    a) God has a message for the people: "Woe to the crown of pride, to the drunkards of Ephraim.” To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest." Isaiah 28:1,12.
    b) The people refuse to listen to God: "yet they would not hear." Isaiah 28:12.
    c) God caused tongues to be heard as a sign of judgment:

    "For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people." Isaiah 28:11.
    d) Dispersion follows: “that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken (captive).” Isaiah 28:13.

    Note: To Israel, foreign tongues was a sign of God's judgment and curse upon them. Likewise the absence of foreign tongues was a sign that Israel was under the blessing of God. In the millennium, God promises Israel in Isaiah 33:19 that ".....thou shalt not see a fierce people, a people of a deeper speech than thou canst perceive; of a stammering tongue, that thou canst not understand."

    Event 5: New Testament tongues to Israel 33-70 AD.

    Israel did not learn from the tongues warnings that led to the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities in 721 and 606 BC. So God again warned them by Christians speaking in tongues from 33-70 AD to warn them to repent or God would judge them. This happened by Titus the Roman general destroying Jerusalem in 70 AD. We see the same pattern:

    1. God has a message for the people: "Come unto me.....and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28.

    "We do hear them speak in our tongues.(v.11). Peter said unto them, Repent(v39)."Acts 2:11,38,39.

    2. The people refuse to listen to God:

    "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not." Matthew 23:37.
    3. God causes tongues to be heard as a sign of judgment.
    a) Christ warned Israel of soon coming judgment, "Behold, your house is left unto you desolate.....Verily I say unto you, There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down." Matthew 23:38; 24:2.

    b) God caused foreign tongues to be spoken and heard as a sign of judgment to unbelieving Israel in Acts 2,10,19; I Corinthians 12-14. When God caused believers to speak in tongues, the Jews understood the message. Tongues were a sign gift to unbelieving, Christ-rejecting Israel. "Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them (Christians) that believe, but to them (Jews) that believe not.” I Corinthians 14:22.
    4. Dispersion follows: Jesus Christ correctly foretold this in Luke 21:20-24. "And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh (v.20). They shall be led away captive into all nations....." (v.24). This happened in 70 AD when Titus the Roman general destroyed Jerusalem, killing 1 million Jews and taking 100,000 captive as slaves.

    Question: When did tongues cease?

    Answer: If foreign tongues were really a sign of coming judgment on Israel, then once this judgment had come (in 70 AD), the tongues sign gift would no longer be necessary. The Biblical gift of tongues had ceased by 70 AD. The last historical mention of tongues is in 1 Corinthians, written in 59 AD. Tongues served their purpose and tongues ceased as God said,"tongues shall cease." 1 Corinthians 13:8.


    "And these signs shall follow them that believe; sign 1. my name shall cast out devils;

    sign 2. .....they shall speak with new tongues; sign 3. .....they shall take up serpents; and
    sign 4. .....if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; sign 5. .....they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover .

    And they (Apostles) went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them and confirming the Word with signs following. Amen." Mark 16:17-20.
    The New Testament, being a new revelation, needed to be confirmed that it was from God. This was done by miraculous signs of the Apostles, one of which was tongues. If the five signs above were fulfilled in the Apostle's lifetime, then Mark 16:17-20 is satisfactorily fulfilled. It does not say that these five signs would always happen to all believers. Verse 20 tells us that God kept His promises of verse 17 and 18. Charismatics assume that verse 17 and 18 mean that all believers will always speak in tongues and do these signs. This is wrong because:

    1. I Corinthians 12:30 asks, "do all speak with tongues?" This is a rhetorical question implying "No."
    2. II Corinthians 12:12: "Truly the signs OF AN APOSTLE were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds." These were signs belonging to the apostles, not to every believer. “Were wrought”, being in the past tense, means that these sign gifts had ceased.
    3. Acts 2:43: "Many wonders and signs were done by the Apostles."
    4. Acts 4:33 "And with great power gave the apostles witness of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus." Question: Who had great power to bear witness of the resurrection?The apostles, not every believer.
    5. Acts 5:12-16 “And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people (v.12)..and believers were the more added to the Lord (v.14)...insomuch that they (believers) brought forth the sick into the streets, and laid them on beds and couches, that at the least the shadow of Peter passing by might overshadow some of them...they were healed every one." (v.16).


    a) Signs and wonders were done by the apostle's hands, not by every believer. (v.12).
    b) Believers brought sick people to Peter to heal, because they could not heal them themselves.
    c) Every one was healed. No one does this today.
    Charismatics are wrong to claim the gift of healing for today.
    Since apostolic healing has ceased, so have the other four signs, tongues included.
    6. Acts 14:3 “and granted signs and wonders to be done by their (Paul and Barnabus) hands.”
    7. Acts 15:12 “gave audience to Paul and Barnabus, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them.”
    8. Acts 19:11: “God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul.”
    9. Romans 15:19 “Through mighty signs and wonders,….I have fully preached the gospel of Christ.”
    10. Hebrews 2:3-4 show that signs, wonders, miracles, and some gifts of the Holy Ghost were restricted only to the apostles (those who heard Christ), and were not available to future generations of Christians:

    "How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which:

    a) at the first began to be spoken by the Lord (Christ),
    b) and was confirmed unto us by them (apostles) that heard him (Christ), (v.4) God also bearing them (the apostles) witness, both with signs and wonders, and

    with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will." Notice here that in:

    Verse 4: God bore the apostles witness with signs, wonders, miracles and gifts. God did not bear witness to the next generation of Christians with signs, etc, only to the apostles.

    Verse 3: The apostles confirmed Christ's salvation message to the next generation, because the apostles heard Christ speak during His three year ministry. The next generation never confirmed Christ's message with signs etc.

    Question: When did God bear the apostles witness with signs, etc.? Answer: "At the first," not always.
    All the Greek verbs used in Hebrews 2:3-4 are in the aorist tense, indicating a completed fact which can never be repeated.
    Peter refers to this early time element of signs, miracles, tongues, etc, in Acts 11:15, where he describes the tongues speaking gift in Cornelius' household, not as a regular happening, occurring time after time since Pentecost, but as similar to the tongues gift last poured out at Pentecost.
    "And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning." When? "AT THE BEGINNING." Hence, signs were to "follow" for a time, not to accompany believers for all time.

    11. Hebrews 6:5 "And have tasted the good Word of God, and the powers of the world to come."

    These apostles’ miracles are described as "powers of the world to come", meaning Christ's future millennial Kingdom, not powers of this present Church Age. Therefore, many signs, wonders and miracles performed in the first century will be regular events in the millennium, but not until then.

    12. Acts 28:8,9 “Paul…healed him. Others also, which had diseases in the island, came, and were healed.”

    Hebrews 2:3,4. "God also bearing them (the Apostles) witness, both with signs, and wonders and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost..."

    Thus, tongues, signs and miracles authenticated the apostles' authority. God did the same for Moses, Elijah, Elisha, Christ, etc. as their miracles confirmed that they were from God (Christ is God).

    When Jesus Christ commanded the apostles to "preach the gospel to every creature" (Mark 16:15), He knew that the apostles would have to go to the Gentiles. This would meet with much Jewish racial opposition. Hence, Christ gave them miraculous sign gifts that they would perform in order to confirm and authenticate the gospel message as being from God. This tongues gift seen at Cornelius' household convinced the Jewish Jerusalem Council to send the gospel to the Gentiles. Acts 11:15-18.

    A good way to check any doctrine is to see what the early Christian writers, many of whom were taught personally by the apostles, said about it. Their comments reveal practices of the early Christian church.

    There is overwhelming evidence from history that tongues did cease in the first century, because:

    1. No mention of tongues can be found in any of Paul's later epistles, only in 1 Corinthians, one of the earliest letters written. Romans, being a thorough doctrinal study, never mentions tongues. Ephesians 4-6 when discussing how to walk worthy, never mentions tongues.

    When discussing qualifications of pastors and deacons in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, Paul never mentions tongues as a necessary gift. Tongues are only mentioned in Mark 16 (33AD), Acts 2,10, 19 (33, 41, 54 AD respectively) and 1 Corinthians (59 AD) in a rebuking, correcting, restricting manner. He is not endorsing it, but limiting its wrong use.

    2. Chrysostom, a preacher in 347-407 AD, in discussing tongues in 1 Corinthians states: "This whole place is very obscure, but the obscurity is produced by our ignorance of the facts referred to and by their cessation, being such as then used to occur, but now no longer take place." [Homilies, XXIX, 1]
    3. Augustine around 410 AD stated that tongues was a sign adapted only to Biblical times.
    4. Clement of Rome in 96 AD wrote to the church at Corinth to correct the same problems that Paul corrected. Clement mentioned every problem except tongues. Why? Because tongues had ceased.

    5. Origen (185-254 AD) in all his voluminous writings gives no hint that tongues or other sign gifts were a normal occurrence in his day.

    6. Others, like Ignatius of Antioch who wrote to Ephesus, Justin Martyr (100-167 AD), Irenaeus (130-195 AD) bishop of Lyons, never mention tongues.
    7. Tertullian (155-202 AD) describes it as an apostolic occurrence, not as a phenomena of his time.

    8. Montanus (150 AD) who was regarded as a heretic because his prophecies went unfulfilled, and claimed to be a successor to the apostles, spoke in tongues. Polycarp and Papias who were disciples of John spoke against Montanus as a heretic.

    The table below shows that tongues in the Book of Acts only occurred when Jews were present.

    ACTS 2 ACTS 8 ACTS 10 ACTS 18 ACTS 19
    3000 devout No Jews would Peter and six Many unbelieving Many unbelieving
    unbelieving Jews live at Samaria Jewish Jews living at Jews living at
    at Jerusalem due to racial Christians Corinth Ephesus
    needing to hear hatred. not believing needing to hear needing to hear
    tongues as a that Gentiles tongues as a tongues as a
    sign of judgment. could be saved. sign of judgment. sign of judgment.
    1. Apostles spoke in 1. Samaritans believed. 1. Cornelius believed. 1. John’s disciples
    tongues. 2. They were baptised. 2. Holy Spirit fell on him. believed.
    2. 3000 people saved. 3. Peter and John laid 3. He spoke in tongues. 2. They were baptised
    3. 3000 people hands on them. 4. He was baptised. 3. Paul laid hands on
    baptised. 4. They received the NOTE: They spoke in them.
    NOTE: 3000 people did the Holy Spirit. tongues to convince the 4. TheHoly Spirit came
    not speak in tongues. NOTE: Samaritans did Jewish Christians that on them.
    not speak in tongues. Gentiles could be saved, 5. They spoke in
    NOTE: Phillip did not lay and that God was no tongues.
    hands on Samaritans, longer working only NOTE: Tongues
    because only an Apostle through the Jews. warned the Jewish
    could impart the Holy Community at
    Spirit by laying on hands. Ephesus of coming
    judgment. It also
    identified John’s
    disciples with the
    Apostles and with


    Q1: Did you speak in tongues because someone asked you to, or did tongues come to you without you seeking it, and without anyone suggesting you to do it, as in the New Testament?

    Q2: When you were asked to speak in tongues, did you say “No, wait until I have thoroughly and completely studied and understood every verse on the subject?”
    Q3: Do you use your tongue as a warning to Jews to repent?
    Q4: Do you always have your tongue correctly interpreted? “Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.” I Corinthians 14:13.
    Q5: Do you speak in tongues to edify yourself or to edify the church?
    “Seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.” I Corinthians 14:12.
    Q6: Do women speak in tongues aloud in your church?

    “Let your women keep silent in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak.....for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” 1 Corinthians 14:34,35.

    Q7: Do two or at the most three speak in “tongues” at your meetings? I Corinthians 14:27.
    Q8: Do your “tongues” speakers speak in turn after being interpreted, or do they all speak at the same time?
    Q9: Which spirit gave you your tongue? If you think it is the Holy Spirit, can you prove it? How?
    Q10: Did you receive your tongue when someone told you to relax, be passive, blank out your mind, and let anything come out? or

    Q11: Were you strongly refusing anything which satan might send you? Did you constantly pray for God to keep you from everything not of Him when people challenged you to speak in tongues?

    Q12: Does your tongue ever get out of control, or does it take over your prayer time? Q13: What do you learn more about God through your tongue?
    Q14: Do people in your church suppress their tongues if there is no genuine interpreter present?

    “But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church...” I Corinthians 14:28. Q15: Can you find one Biblical example of a woman speaking in tongues?

    Q16: What does I Corinthians 13:11 have to do with the subject of tongues, prophecy and knowledge?
    “When I became a man, I put away childish things.”
    Q17: Who are tongues intended for, and who are tongues not intended for? I Corinthians 14:22.

    “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe
    Q18: Why were there no tongues in Samaria in Acts 8?

    Q19: Why did Phillip not lay hands on the Samaritans to impart the Holy Ghost? Q20: Why could Peter and John impart the Holy Ghost by laying on of hands, but not Phillip?
    Q21: Was Phillip a bad Christian? (No. It was a gift that only the Apostles had.)
    Q22: Some Charismatics claim that Joel 2:28-32 teaches that today’s tongues are a sign of Christ’s second Coming. What does the Bible say?
    Answer: “Afterward” in Joel 2:28 pinpoints the time of the Spirit’s outpouring in this passage. It is after Jesus Christ has returned at His glorious appearing, that is, His second coming. The context of Joel 2 does not allow us to link this outpouring of the Spirit to events before Christ returns. This refutes the thought that today’s tongues are a “sign of Christ’s second coming.”

    Conclusion: The gift of tongues is NOT for today.

      Please -- shorter posts -- please. Thank you.
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