Someone's proof-texts for tongues

Working at the jail, I find myself cleaning and recycling used Bibles.  We check for the usual: contraband or information written in the Bibles that would cause issues if recirculated.

One Bible has a reference to "The Blessing Explosion," something that appears Word-of-Faith in origin (names like Creflo Dollar and Jerry Savelle top the Google results).

Next to that is the list of verses in support for tongues-speaking:

  • Mt 3:16
  • Mt 28:19
  • Jn 20:22
  • Acts 1:8
  • Acts 2:4
  • Acts 19:6
  • Luke 11:13
  • Mk 16:16-18
That seems like an impressive list, but a quick glance at each of the verses reveals that most do not refer to tongues.  Whittling away the excess, we are left with these verses:

  • Acts 2:4
  • Acts 19:6
Acts 2:4 occurs on Pentecost, when the Apostles began proclaiming the works of God in the various or languages represented in the crowd (vv. 6-11).  The peoples, in amazement, hear the Word of God in their own διάλεκτος, their own "way of speaking," from which we get our word "dialects."  You see, "languages" is the meaning of the Greek word γλῶσσα that translated "tongues" in Acts 2:4, for "tongues" is merely an older English term meaning "languages."  

Note how Luke even takes the time to list the place of origin of those gathered:
And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God. (Acts 2:8-11)
By the Holy Spirit, Christ's disciples announced logical, prophetic messages in known languages that they had not learned.  Acts 2:4, then, is not an example of ecstatic utterances, as you may hear from pagan mediums or Hindu gurus.  

That leaves Acts 19:6.  Paul enters Ephesus for the first time and finds some disciples of John the Baptist.  They had not believed in Jesus and knew nothing of the Holy Spirit.  Because they were of John, though, they believed his testimony of Christ as Paul recounted it to them.  They received the Lord, being baptized into His name, becoming the first Christians in this Gentile land.  

Upon laying hands upon them, they "began speaking in tongues and prophesying."  The word for "tongues" is the same as Acts 2:4, where Christ's followers also prophesied while speaking in the Spirit. There is no reason to believe from this text that the tongues they spoke with were of a kind or quality than those of the disciples.

That brings me to another point.  To be fair, this is not the best list of verses.  For instance, we could add Acts 10:46, where Peter hears the new Gentile converts "speaking in tongues and extolling God."  Peter reminds the Jerusalem Council of this event in Acts 15, stating,
And God, who knows the heart, bore witness to them, by giving them the Holy Spirit just as he did to us, and he made no distinction between us and them, having cleansed their hearts by faith. (vv. 8-9).
His point was to demonstrate that the Gentiles received the same Holy Spirit as the believing Jews, for the exact same thing happened to these non-ethnic converts as had occurred with the Jewish disciples of Christ.  In other words, the tongues-speaking in Acts 10 was the same as it was in Acts 2, and, by extension, in Acts 19.  

Again, this was a poor list of proof-texts.  A better list may have also included:
  • 1 Cor 12:10, 28, 29
  • 1 Cor 13:1, 8
  • The seventeen occurrences of the word in 1 Cor 14. 
However, Paul's companion Luke wrote the Book of Acts after Paul addressed the tongues controversy in Corinth, and he painstakingly demonstrates tongues to be known languages.  While we could take the time to examine the 1 Corinthian passages in detail, we've already afforded this poor list considerable grace.

Sorry, anonymous proof-texter, but the page containing this list is now excised from the Bible.

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