Speaking

in Tongues

 

One Step towards Prophesying

 

By Yosef ben Ruach

 

QorintYah Aleph (1st Corinthians) 14

18 I thank my Elohim I speak with tongues
more than you all;

 

19 and yet in the assembly I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in

a(n un-interpreted) tongue.

 

What are 'Tongues'?

 

In the vast majority of cases, when the Tanach (the 'Old' Covenant) refers to a 'tongue,' it is referring either to the physical bodily part (i.e., the tongue in the mouth), or else it means simply, "one's speech."

Mishle (Proverbs) 28:23

23 He who rebukes a man will find more favor afterward than he who flatters with the tongue.

 

However, the Tanach also contains a curious prophetic reference to a different kind of 'tongue.'  This reference seems to allude neither to a physical bodily part, nor to any known natural language:

 

 

Isaiah 28:11-12

11 For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people,

12 To whom He said, "This is the rest with which you may cause the weary to rest," and, "This is the refreshing"; but they would not hear.

 


(11)
כִּי בְּלַעֲגֵי שָׂפָה וּבְלָשׁוֹן אַחֶרֶת | יְדַבֵּר אֶל הָעָם הַזֶּה:
(12) אֲשֶׁר אָמַר אֲלֵיהֶם זֹאת הַמְּנוּחָה הָנִיחוּ לֶעָיֵף וְזֹאת הַמַּרְגֵּעָה | וְלֹא אָבוּא שְׁמוֹעַ

 

 

This prophecy was first fulfilled in the Apostles' time.

Tongues in the Renewed Covenant

 

The Renewed Covenant mentions a gift called 'speaking in tongues' in five different places.  There are four inspired (genuine) passages in the Renewed Covenant, which are:

 

1.  Acts Chapter Two;

2.  Acts Chapter Ten;

3.  Acts Chapter Nineteen; and

4.  First Corinthians Twelve through Fourteen

 

And finally, there is one uninspired scribal addition:

5.  Mark Chapter Sixteen (not in the oldest Texts);

 

 

The passage in Mark Sixteen is problematic, in that most scholars have identified it as a later addition to the Text.  This passage does not appear in any of the oldest Greek manuscripts, in the Peshitta Aramaic, in the Old Latin Codex or in any of the other most-ancient manuscripts.  Moreover, as we will see at the very end of this study, the content of this passage in Mark Sixteen conflicts with the writings of the Apostle Shaul in First Corinthians Twelve through Fourteen (point number four, above).

 

However, the passage in Mark Sixteen notwithstanding, the Books of Acts and First Corinthians tell us something very profound about the gift of speaking in tongues.  Therefore, in order to understand what YHWH is trying to tell us about the miraculous gift of speaking in tongues, let us first discuss the four inspired passages in chronological order (as YHWH intended them to be studied). 

 

Then, once we understand what speaking in tongues is, we will discuss the (uninspired) passage at Mark 16, so as to understand what speaking in tongues is not.

 

 

Acts Chapter Two: Tongues of Fire

 

Most believers are familiar with the miracle of speaking in tongues that occurred in Acts Chapter Two.  However, Acts Chapter Two is unique in all of Scripture, in that the gift of speaking in tongues was also accompanied by two other special miracles that are not found anywhere else in Scripture.  These two unique, special miracles were:

 

1.  The appearance of unusual 'flames of fire' which alighted on the speakers' heads, as well as

2.  The gift of interpretation of tongues that was given on a mass scale (which we will discuss in more detail in the section on First Corinthians, below).

 

Ma'aseh (Acts) 2:1-13

1 When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them.

4 And they were all filled with the Set-apart Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven.

6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.

7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, "Look, are not all these who speak Galileans?

8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?

9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,

10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,

11 Cretans and Arabs -- we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of Elohim."

12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "Whatever could this mean?"

13 Others mocking said, "They are full of new wine."

 

There are four very important things to notice about this unique event:

 

1.  A divided tongue (as of fire) miraculously appeared upon each of the disciples' heads (verse three);

2.  The disciples began to speak in tongues other than their native Hebrew and/or Aramaic (verse four); and

3.  The foreign pilgrims who had come up for the Feast of the Pentecost were miraculously given the gift of interpretation of tongues on a mass scale (so that they were able to hear and understand the Good News in their own native languages); and

4.  The purpose of YHWH's giving of the miracle here was primarily to edify (i.e., to impart a Scriptural message, such as the Good News).

 

 

The reason that YHWH gave the tongues of fire on the heads of the speakers was to signify that this was a very special prophetic event.  The reason that YHWH gave the gift of interpretation to the pilgrims was so that they would hear the Good News in their own languages, and know that this was a message from Elohim.

 

Had YHWH not given both the flames of fire and the gift of interpretation of tongues on a mass scale, the pilgrims might not have been edified as to the Good News.

 

 

Acts Chapter Ten:  Cornelius and Tongues

 

The gift of tongues was also given to Cornelius (and those with him) in Acts Chapter Ten:

 

Ma'aseh (Acts) 10:44-48

While Kefa (Peter) was still speaking these words, the Set-apart Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.

45 And those of the Circumcision who believed (i.e. believing Pharisees) were astonished, as many as came with Kefa, because the gift of the Set-apart Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles (the Ephraimites) also.

46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify Elohim.

 

Then Kefa answered, 47 "Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be immersed who have received the Set-apart Spirit, just as we have?"

48 And he commanded them to be immersed in the name of YHWH. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

 

 

Acts Chapter Ten passage shows us that:

 

1.  Those who were newly saved

2.  spoke in tongues; and they

3.  magnified (glorified) Elohim.

 

 

However, this incident differs from the episode in Acts Chapter Two in that:

 

1.  No tongues of fire appeared on anyone's head;

2.  The gift of interpretation was not given to anyone (either individually, or en masse); and

3.  The purpose of the tongues here was not to edify (i.e., to impart the Good News); but

4.  It was a sign of the converts' having just been saved.

 

 

What Acts Chapter Ten shows us, then, is that sometimes those who have just been saved will speak in tongues even without an interpreter present; and when they do so, it serves as a sign that they have just been saved.

 

But why would it serve as a sign that someone has just been saved, to speak in an unknown tongue?  As we will see in the next section, it is because when one genuinely speaks in tongues, it demonstrates that one is attempting to speak according to the Still Small Voice (more below).

 

 

Acts Nineteen: Prophecy and Tongues

 

In Acts Chapter Nineteen, the Apostle Shaul lays hands on those who are newly saved.  However, this time, those who are newly saved do not just speak in tongues, but they also go on to the next step (which is prophesying).

 

Ma'aseh (Acts) 19:5-7

5 When they heard this, they were immersed in the name of the Master Yeshua.

6 And when Shaul had laid hands on them, the Set-apart Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.

7 Now the men were about twelve in all.

 

 

What is important to notice about this passage is that once the Set-apart Spirit came upon these new believers, they not only:

 

1.  Spoke in tongues; but they also

2.  Prophesied.

 As we will see in the section on First Corinthians, the gifts of speaking in tongues and prophesying are actually inter-related gifts.  Speaking in genuine tongues is the first step toward being able to prophesy, since prophesying is simply a more-advanced form of speaking in tongues.

 First Corinthians Twelve through Fourteen

 

In First Corinthians Twelve through Fourteen, the Apostle Shaul talks about spiritual gifts for three whole chapters.  Three chapters may seem like a lot to talk about spiritual gifts, but as we will see, the information is important, in that it pertains to our ability to hear and obey His Voice.

 

The Apostle Shaul starts out by telling us that he does not want us to be ignorant concerning spiritual gifts, because the exercise of spiritual gifts is very important:

 

QorintYah Aleph (1st Corinthians) 12:1

1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:

 

Shaul then tells us plainly that not everyone will be given the same spiritual gifts; but that there will be diversities of spiritual gifts, even though it is the same Spirit in all.

 

4 There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

 

 

As we will show at the end of this booklet, one of the primary reasons the scribal addition at Mark 16:9-20 cannot possibly be inspired is that contradicts Shaul's writings here.  Mark 16:9-20 suggests that everyone who is saved will speak in tongues, as a kind of mandatory sign of their salvation.  This plainly contradicts Shaul's writings, which tell us that while the same Spirit works in everyone, this Spirit gives us all different gifts:

 

8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,

9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,

10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

 

 

Although many people do speak in tongues when they get saved, and although (genuine) tongues is a true sign of being saved, Shaul tells us that everyone gets different gifts; and that not everyone will speak in tongues.

 

Then Shaul tells us that even though we may not all have the same spiritual gifts, we are all nonetheless members of His Body (even if we do not speak in tongues).

 

27 Now you are the body of Messiah, and members individually.

28 And Elohim has appointed these in the assembly: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.

29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?

30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

 

 

The answer to Shaul's many questions in verses 29 and 30 is a resounding "No."  Not everyone is an apostle.  Not everyone is a prophet.  Not everyone is a teacher.  Not everyone works miracles.   And, not everyone has the gift of healings.

 

In like fashion, not everyone is given the gift of tongues, and not everyone is given the gift of interpretation.  Some people are given it, but others do not.  This does not make either group any more 'saved' than the other.

 

Then, as if he is saying something cryptic, Shaul tells us to earnestly desire the best gifts.  By this, he tells us that some of the gifts are better (or greater) than the others.

 

31 But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I (will) show you a more excellent way.

 

 

Next, in First Corinthians Thirteen, Shaul tells us that Love (KJV: charity) is the greatest of all of the spiritual gifts.  The language here also seems to suggest that Love is a much greater spiritual gift than speaking in tongues.

 

QorintYah Aleph (1st Corinthians) 13

1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal.

 

 

Shaul then confirms that Love is superior to prophesying, to tongues, and even to spiritual knowledge.

 

8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.

9 For we know in part, and (thus) we prophesy in part.

10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.

 

 

This passage is often misinterpreted as saying that once we begin to love (i.e., 'once Love has come'), then we will cease to speak in tongues; and that love puts an end to all prophecy.  This, however, cannot possibly be Shaul's meaning, because the Apostles continued both to speak in tongues and to prophesy, even though they had love.

 

But what does Shaul mean, that we 'know' in part, and we prophesy in part?  The language seems to indicate some kind of a special relationship between spiritual knowledge and prophecy.  But what kind of special relationship could that be? 

 

9 For we know in part, and (thus) we prophesy in part.

 

 

As we will see, verse 9 is the key to understanding what speaking in tongues is really all about.

 

 

Tongues: One Step towards Prophesying

 

In First Corinthians Fourteen, Shaul tells us that even though we have love, we should still desire the rest of the spiritual gifts.  Moreover, we should desire to prophesy, since it is far better to prophesy than to speak in tongues.

 

QorintYah Aleph (1 st Corinthians) 14

1 Pursue love; and desire spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy;

2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to Elohim, for no one understands him; but in the spirit he speaks (only) mysteries.

 

 

Now we can begin to understand why prophesying is so much better than speaking in tongues: It is because while tongues are a precursor to prophesying, tongues are only one step towards prophesying. 

 

As we will see, the difference between tongues and prophesying is simply that prophecy can be understood.

 

 

What are Tongues and Prophesying?

 

In First Corinthians 13:9, we saw that there is a connection between knowledge, and prophesying.

 

QorintYah Aleph (1st Corinthians) 13:9

9 For we know in part, and (thus) we prophesy in part.

 

 

To prophesy, essentially, is to hear His Voice, and then to give utterance to what one is hearing.  However, there is a very important distinction to be made here.

 

 

Foretelling and Forth-Telling


There are two classes of prophesying.  They are:

 

1.  Foretelling (prediction); and

2.  Forth-telling (speaking His Words).

 Foretelling is the kind of prophesy that most people think of, such as when the Prophet Eliyahu (Elijah) foretold that the bin of flour and the jar of oil would not be used up.

 

Melachim Aleph (1st Kings) 17:13-16

13 And Eliyahu (Elijah) said to her, "Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son.

14 For thus says YHWH, Elohim of Israel: 'The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day YHWH sends rain upon the earth.'"

15 So she went away and did according to the word of Eliyahu; and she and he and her household ate for many days.

16 The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of YHWH, which He spoke by (or through) Elijah.

 

 

The second class of prophesy is forth-telling.  One example of this is when YHWH told Moshe (Moses) just exactly what to say to Pharaoh (and when).

 

Shemote (Exodus) 4:21-23

21 And YHWH said to Moshe, "When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.

22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, 'Thus says YHWH: "Israel is My son, My firstborn.

23 So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I (meaning YHWH) will kill your son, your firstborn."'"

 

 

While the Apostle Shaul sometimes fore-told what would happen in the future (e.g. 2nd Thessalonians 2:1-12), when he describes prophesying here in First Corinthians, he is talking about forth-telling.  That is, he is talking about giving utterance to the Still Small Voice.  In other words, he is talking about how to speak according to the Spirit.

 

This is also what Strongs tells us that 'prophesying' is.

 

OT:5012 naba' (נבא ); a primitive root; to prophesy, i.e. speak (or sing) by inspiration (in prediction or simple discourse):

 

 

In prophesying, one speaks (or even sings) by inspiration.  That is to say, whether one is predicting the future (fore-telling) or simply speaking the words that the Still Small Voice tells us to say (forth-telling), we are not speaking our own words.  We are not choosing our own words. Rather, we are listening intently for the Still Small Voice, and are speaking only what He tells us to say.

 

In Hebraic thought, the word prophesy (נבא ) generally carries connotations of sprouting (as a living thing buds forth), or 'springing forth,' as a fountain gushes forth water.  The poetic allusion is to the uninhibited growth of a fresh shoot, or of a spring of water that gushes forth the things of the Spirit, letting them flow naturally, like water.

 

When one prophesies, the things of the Spirit come forth freely.  However, when the flow is not free, one speaks with stammering lips; and the result is 'tongues.'

 

 

Isaiah 28:11-12

11 For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people,

12 To whom He said, "This is the rest with which you may cause the weary to rest," and, "This is the refreshing"; but they would not hear.

 


(11)
כִּי בְּלַעֲגֵי שָׂפָה וּבְלָשׁוֹן אַחֶרֶת | יְדַבֵּר אֶל הָעָם הַזֶּה:
(12) אֲשֶׁר אָמַר אֲלֵיהֶם זֹאת הַמְּנוּחָה הָנִיחוּ לֶעָיֵף וְזֹאת הַמַּרְגֵּעָה | וְלֹא אָבוּא שְׁמוֹעַ

 

 

This is also one reason why the Apostle Shaul tells us that it is superior to prophesy, than to speak in a tongue: it is because when one prophesies, the things of the Spirit come forth freely (whereas when one speaks in a tongue, the result is stammering, and is not intelligible).

 

There are also other varieties of tongues.  However, as we will read below, the Apostle Shaul tells us that unless there is someone around to interpret them for those who do not understand them, they do not edify the Body.

 

 

Bringing forth Things from the Spirit

 

As we saw when we looked at Acts Chapter Two (above), the first time YHWH gave the gift of speaking in tongues, He also gave the gift of interpretation en masse.

 

Ma'aseh (Acts) 2:6-11

6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.

7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, "Look, are not all these who speak Galileans?

8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?

9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,

10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes,

11 Cretans and Arabs -- we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of Elohim."

 

 

However, we already saw that the Apostle Shaul tells us that not everyone is given the same gifts; but that only some of us will be given the gift of interpretation:

 

QorintYah Aleph (1st Corinthians) 12:8-11

8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,

9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,

10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

 We also saw that the Apostle Shaul tells us it is better to prophesy than to speak in tongues, since tongues are not intelligible (and therefore they do not edify the Body).

 

QorintYah Aleph (1st Corinthians) 14

1 Pursue love; and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy;

2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to Elohim, for no one understands him; but in the spirit he speaks (only) mysteries.

 We should not speak in a tongue unless an interpreter is present: because unless the people understand what was said, nothing beneficial has been accomplished.

 

In contrast, when one prophesies, one also utters the things of the Spirit (i.e., one speaks according to the Still Small Voice), but the speech can be understood.  Instead of the Word of the Spirit coming out unintelligibly (with stammering lips and another tongue), the Word of the Spirit comes out in smooth, flowing speech (like a spring).

 

 

Prophesy: Tongues plus Interpretation

 

When the Apostle Shaul writes of prophesying (of the forth-telling kind), he appears to be indicating an action in which one both simultaneously speaks in a tongue, and translates this tongue into a language that human beings can understand.  Prophesy indicates both actions.

 

In other words, when Shaul speaks of prophesying (i.e., speaking according to the inspiration of the Spirit), he is describing the act of speaking what the Still Small Voice says to say; but instead of it coming out unintelligibly (i.e., in a tongue), it comes out clearly (and it is therefore edifying).  Shaul tells us that this is vastly superior.

 

Shaul even tells us that the whole purpose of speaking in an assembly is to edify the assembly.  Since tongues do not edify the assembly unless someone is able to interpret, Shaul tells us that it is far better to prophesy, than to speak in a tongue (since prophesying seems to be a 'two-in-one' kind of gift).

 

QorintYah Aleph (1st Corinthians) 14

3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.

4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the assembly.

5 I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets; that the assembly may receive edification.

 

 

If you will, consider the following analogy:

 

Tongues are to prophesying as crawling is to walking, or as baby-talk is to mature speech.  The reason tongues are a sign of salvation is that they show a connection to the Spirit, in that a believer is learning how to bring forth the things of the Spirit.  For this reason, we need to rejoice whenever a brother or a sister is given the gift of tongues (because it indicates a spiritual connection).

 

However, in terms of edifying the assembly, tongues do little to help (unless there is an interpreter present).   Tongues, then, are really just a beginner's-level gift; and just as someone with a gift for learning foreign languages must work to develop that ability, so also must a person who is given the gift of spiritual tongues work to develop that gift, so that they may ultimately prophesy.

 

QorintYah Aleph (1st Corinthians) 14

6 But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching?

7 Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played?

8 For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?

9 So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.

 

 

The whole point of speaking in an assembly is to edify the assembly.  Unless one is edifying the assembly, then one should basically keep quiet.  Again, that is why the gift of prophesying is far superior to the gift of tongues, is that by prophesying, one can edify the assembly.

 

Likewise, unless an interpreter is present, one who speaks in a tongue does nothing to edify the assembly.

 

QorintYah Aleph (1st Corinthians) 14

10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of languages in the world, and none of them is without significance.

11 Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to him who speaks, and he who speaks will be a foreigner to me.

12 Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the assembly that you seek to excel.

13 Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may (also) interpret.

14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.

 

 

While it may partially edify the speaker of a tongue to speak in a tongue (even if he does not know what he said) it does nothing to edify the Body.

 

15 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.

16 Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say "Amein" at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say?

17 For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified.

 

 

There are different varieties of tongues, and not everyone is given the gift of tongues.  However, if one has been blessed with this gift, one should be exceedingly glad, because it indicates that one is hearing something in the Spirit.  This ability to hear in the Spirit is the fundamental prerequisite for prophesying, and to have been given this gift is an extreme blessing.

 

The main thing that those who speak in tongues (of the stammering-lip variety) should do to continue onward towards prophesying is to focus on putting aside their own thoughts, so as to be able to hear the Still Small Voice more clearly.  This is difficult to do, and the practice is different for each person, but happily, it gets better as one continues to practice.

 

The Apostle Shaul tells us that he thanked Elohim for the ability to speak in tongues; and yet he encouraged others to continue onward, to develop the gift of prophecy.

 

QorintYah Aleph (1st Corinthians) 14

18 I thank my Elohim I speak with tongues more than you all;

19 yet in the assembly I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

 

 

The reason why is that it was only by being able to speak with his understanding that Shaul could edify the Body.

 

 

Tongues: A Sign for Unbelievers

 

We already saw how, in Acts Chapter Ten, that speaking in tongues was used as a sign to show the believing Pharisees that Cornelius and his household had been given the gift of salvation.

 

Ma'aseh (Acts) 10:44-48

While Kefa (Peter) was still speaking these words, the Set-apart Spirit fell upon all those who heard the word.

45 And those of the Circumcision who believed (i.e. believing Pharisees) were astonished, as many as came with Kefa, because the gift of the Set-apart Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles (the Ephraimites) also.

46 For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify Elohim.

 

Then Kefa answered, 47 "Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be immersed who have received the Set-apart Spirit, just as we have?"

48 And he commanded them to be immersed in the name of YHWH. Then they asked him to stay a few days.

 

 

Not surprisingly, in just the same way, the Apostle Shaul tells us that tongues can function as a sign to unbelievers as well.  However, the language here is tricky, and it is easily misunderstood (or misinterpreted).  That is why we must be adults about this, and not be children in our understanding of how to apply this passage.

 

QorintYah Aleph (1st Cor.) 14:20-25

20 Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature.

21 In the Torah it is written:

"With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people; and yet, for all that, they will not hear Me," says YHWH.

22 Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.

 

 

It cannot possibly be Shaul's meaning that tongues are not intended to show those who believe that someone has been saved, for that is clearly how it was used in Acts Chapter Ten (see above).

 

What Shaul means here, then, is probably that tongues can serve as a sign to those who did not believe before, but who have just now been saved.

 

23 Therefore if the whole assembly comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind?

24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. 25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship Elohim and report that Elohim is truly among you.

 

 

Problem: It is common for Ephraimites to focus on one particular aspect of salvation, to the exclusion of all else.  This is why we have Baptists (who focus on immersion), Seventh Day Adventists (who focus on the seventh day), and Pentecostals (who focus on the gift of tongues).

 

However, remembering that tongues is to prophesying as crawling is to walking (and baby-talk is to mature speech), consider what happens when His people focus over-much on the gift of tongues.

 

In human families, parents want their children to learn how to talk in mature language by listening to their voice, and then speaking in kind.  Nonetheless, when their baby first begins to talk, the parents are thrilled, even though it is baby-talk (i.e., tongues).  However, if a visitor comes to the house, while the parents will probably understand what their baby is saying, the visitor will not understand.  That is why the visitor needs the parents to interpret.

 

What happens in some assemblies is that the whole household talks in baby-talk, in celebration of the fact that their baby talks baby-talk.  Or, to use another analogy, they all drop down onto the ground and crawl around on all fours, in celebration that their baby crawls.  However, when a visitor comes to that household, will he not think that that family has lost their minds?  And will he not feel (rightly) extremely uncomfortable?

 

Similarly, we are our Father's children, and He is thrilled when we first learn how to speak according to His Voice.  However, will He be happy if we continue to speak as children?  Or will He not rather be happier if we continue to progress onwards towards mature speech (prophecy)?  And is this not also Shaul's meaning in First Corinthians?

 

QorintYah Aleph (1st Corinthians) 13:11

11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.

 

 

While we should be glad whenever someone first learns how to speak in tongues, we should also encourage them to continue onward and develop their gift, so as to learn how to prophesy.  This is because unless they speak in an intelligible fashion, the Body cannot be edified by their connection to His Voice; and the world will not be impressed if they visit our assembly halls, and find us reveling in our ability to talk as babies do.

 

 

Interpreting Tongues in an Orderly Way

 

While we should never prohibit anyone from speaking in a tongue whenever an interpreter is present (as that would be the equivalent of forbidding prophecy), we are also told that speaking in tongues must be done in an orderly way:

 

QorintYah Aleph (1st Cor.) 14:26-28

26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation (i.e. Elohim gives you something to share).

Let all things be done for edification!  

27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret.

28 But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the assembly, and let him speak to himself and to Elohim.

 

 

Since not everyone is able to understand other peoples' tongues, Shaul tells us that if no one is present who can interpret another's tongue, then it would be better for the assembly as a whole if that one should remain silent at that moment in time.

 

It would be difficult to overemphasize that the whole purpose behind speaking in the assembly is to bring edification to others.  If there is no interpreter, there will be no edification; and if there is no edification, then it would be better for the Body if one does not take up precious assembly time speaking something unintelligible.

 

 

Human Beings are Subject

 

Even when one prophesies (both speaks from the Spirit, and puts the words into intelligible human language) things must still be done in an orderly way.  Israel is the Army of the Living Elohim; and in an army, all things must be done in decently, and in order.

 

Speaking to this, Shaul tells that those who are sharing for the benefit of all must control themselves.

 

QorintYah Aleph (1st Corinthians) 14

29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge;

30 But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent.

31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be encouraged.

 

 

Since the purpose of speaking in the assembly is to edify the Body, and since orderliness is important, it is good that even those who prophesy should take turns.  Further, if someone is prophesying and another is given a quick revelation, then all present should honor the movement of the Spirit by being quiet, allowing the one who has been given the revelation enough time to speak what the Spirit has just revealed to him or her.  When all of this is done with love, and with respect, and in the right Spirit, everything takes place in a very loving, smooth, and orderly Way.

 

32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

 

 

The reason we are told that the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets is that the prophets are able to control themselves, if they want to.  It is not necessary for them to 'blurt something out,' or be disorderly.

 

QorintYah Aleph (1st Corinthians) 14

33 For Elohim is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all the assemblies of the saints.

 

 

In a well-run assembly, those who are given something to share will be able to share; and those who are not being given a word to share will keep silent, listen, and learn.

 

 

Women: Prophets Yes; Teachers No.

 

Some people have the mistaken idea that just because women are not allowed to teach (or to lead an assembly), that they are also not allowed to speak in an assembly, or to prophesy (or even to speak in tongues).  This wrong conclusion generally comes from a misapplication of First Timothy 2:12-15.

 

TimaThea Aleph (1st Timothy) 2:12-15

12 And I do not permit a woman to teach, or to have authority over a man, but to be (generally) in silence (as far as teaching goes).

13 For Adam was formed first, then Havvah (Eve),

14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived, fell into transgression.

15 Nevertheless she will be saved in childbearing, if (she) continue(s) in faith, love, and set-apartness, with self-control.

 

 

Many hard-hearted men have misinterpreted verse twelve to mean that women are never to speak in an assembly: not even to their children.  This certainly is not a loving interpretation; nor can it possibly be Shaul's intended meaning.

 

Continuing on in First Corinthians Fourteen, Shaul tells us that not only are women allowed to speak in an assembly, but that they are indeed allowed to speak according to inspiration (i.e., in tongues, or in prophecy). However, Shaul is frequently misunderstood because most people fail to appreciate the ramifications of the fact that there are no quotation marks in Hebrew (or in Greek).

 

As we explain in Sex Roles in the Kingdom, while women are not generally supposed to teach unless there is no qualified male teacher available (which does happen), here Shaul tells us that this rule is not to be imposed with severity; but that it should be the outgrowth of a natural, gentle order.

 

How does he say this?  It is because he tells us (below) that women are indeed permitted to prophesy, and to speak.  However, as we already mentioned, this passage is frequently misunderstood, because most people are generally unaware of the fact that quotation marks do not exist in Hebrew, or in Greek.

 

In First Corinthians 14:34-35, Shaul is actually working to tear down a misconception; as if perhaps responding to a letter from the Corinthian assembly that contained an incorrect statement:

 

QorintYah Aleph (1st Corinthians) 14

34 (Quoting) "Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the Torah also says!

35 "And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in the assembly."

(End quote.)

 

 

The problem with the unknown-Corinthian-letter-writers' assertion is that the Torah does not actually say any such thing.  It is true that the synagogue leader must maintain a gentle and peaceable kind of order; but this natural gentle order does indeed allow women to prophesy (i.e. to speak according to the leading and inspiration of the Spirit).

 

Notice that Shaul then ridicules the unknown-Corinthian-letter-writers' assertion, saying:

 

QorintYah Aleph (1st Corinthians) 14

36 What?!  (Oy!!)  Did the Word of Elohim come originally from you? Or was it only you that it reached?

(Meaning: "That is not written in the Torah!  You are making things up!")

 

 

Shaul then goes on to say:

 

37 If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of YHWH (and not things that are made up). 

38 But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant!

 

 

Shaul then concludes by saying that while prophecy is indeed a much better spiritual gift than tongues, one must be careful not forbid the people to speak in tongues (since it can help them learn how to prophesy).

 

QorintYah Aleph (1st Corinthians) 14

39 Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy; but do not forbid to speak with tongues.

 

 

Only:

 

40 Let all things be done decently, and in order.

 

 

If people are not yet prophesying (but are still only just speaking in tongues), then a pastor must never deny them the ability to speak in tongues, so long as an interpreter is present.  This is because it is beneficial for the assembly to hear a genuine interpreted tongue (i.e., that has been spoken according to inspiration), and because this practice is also beneficial to the one who is attempting to learn how to speak according to the Still Small Voice.

 

What Shaul is saying, then, is that one should accept people where they are, so long as they are trying to be genuine.  One should also work with them to develop their gifts, and help them to grow so that one day, they can also prophesy.

 

 

Mark Chapter Sixteen: "These are the Signs"

 

At the beginning of this study, we said we would talk about the reference to speaking in tongues that is found in Mark Sixteen, but which is not found in any of the most ancient texts.  This passage is Mark 16:15-18.

 

Mark 16:15-18

15 "Go into all the world and preach the Good News to every creature.

16 He who believes and is immersed will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 

17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues;

18 they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover."

 

 

Some Protestant Churches (such as the Pentecostalist Church) attempt to use this non-inspired scribal addition as a so-called 'proof text' in support of their doctrine of mandatory speaking in tongues, and even of mandatory handling of serpents.  However, this doctrine is fallacious.

 

Verse 17 tells us that those who believe will speak with new tongues; and that they will also take up serpents.  The way this passage reads, these two things seem to be 'litmus tests' of one's salvation, as if those who do these things are saved, whereas those who do not do these things cannot possibly be saved.  Some of the more literal of these assemblies even require one to speak regularly in an unknown tongue, as 'proof' of their salvation.

 

There are two critical problems with this dogma:

 

1.  Mark 16:9-20 is not found in any of the oldest known Texts (Greek, Aramaic, Latin, etc); and

2.  This dogma conflicts outright with the Apostle Shaul's writings in First Corinthians, Chapters Twelve through Fourteen.

 

 

Mark Sixteen: A Later Addition

 

Mark 16:9-20 is missing not only from the two oldest known Greek manuscripts, but also from the Old Latin Codex, from the Sinai Syriac (Aramaic), from about one hundred Armenian manuscripts, and from the two oldest Gregorian manuscripts (circa CE 897 and 913).

 

Both Origen and Clement of Alexandria tell us that the Book of Mark ended at verse 16:8 (Metzger).  Also, the Church Fathers Eusebius and Jerome attested that verses 9-20 were absent from almost all of the Greek manuscripts known to them.

 

If Mark Chapter 16 ends with verse 8 in all of the oldest known manuscripts, then Mark 16:9-20 can only be a later scribal addition to the Text (and indeed, most scholars agree that it is such).  Therefore, it is not possible to form any valid kind of doctrine on it.

The Prohibition against Additions

 

We are prohibited from adding or subtracting to Scripture.  For example:

 Gilyana (Revelation) 22:18-19

18 For I testify to everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: If anyone adds to these things, Elohim will add to him the plagues that are written in this book;

19 and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, Elohim shall take away his part from the Book of Life, from the Set-apart city, and from the things which are written in this book.

If Mark Chapter 16:9-20 is a later addition to the Text, then it should not be used to form doctrine.  This is particularly true when we acknowledge the fact that Mark 16:9-20 openly conflicts with the Apostle Shaul's writings in First Corinthians Chapters Twelve through Fourteen, as well as with other passages in Scripture.

 

How does this passage conflict with Scripture?  To make a point of taking up venomous serpents as a test is (essentially) to put Elohim to the test, which is strictly forbidden by Yeshua, and in Torah (Deuteronomy 16:6).

 

MattithYahu (Matthew) 4:5-7

5 Then the devil took Him up into the set-apart city, set Him on the pinnacle of the Temple,

6 and said to Him, "If You are the Son of Elohim, throw Yourself down. For it is written:

'He shall give His messengers charge over you,'

and,

'In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone.'"  

7 Yeshua said to him, "It is written again, 'You shall not tempt YHWH your Elohim.'"  (Deuteronomy 6:16)

 Also, if we are to take it literally (as the Pentecostals ask that it be taken), Mark 16:17 makes it seem like those who are saved must absolutely speak in tongues as a sign of their salvation: and that if they do not, they are not saved.

 

17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues, 18 they will take up serpents....

 

 

This is contrary to the Apostle Shaul's writings, which give us numerous witnesses that not everyone will speak in tongues; but that even though there are disparities of spiritual gifts, it is still the same Spirit working in all.

 

QorintYah Aleph (1st Corinthians) 12:8

8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,

9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,

10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.

11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.

 

 

And:

 

QorintYah Aleph (1st Corinthians) 12:27

27 Now you are the body of Messiah, and members individually.

28 And Elohim has appointed these in the assembly: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers; after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.

29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?

30 Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?

 

 

Clearly, while genuine tongues can be given as a sign that one has just been saved (in that one is now learning how to speak according to the Spirit), it is impossible to form any doctrine that speaking in tongues is a mandatory sign of salvation (as Mark 16:15-18 suggests), because the Apostle Shaul tells us that not everyone will be given this gift.  Therefore, either Mark 16:15-18 or First Corinthians is a false passage; and the record suggests it is Mark.

 

Encouraging Tongues

 

Do not be discouraged, nor doubt yourself if you do not speak in tongues.  While the Apostle Shaul tells us that this is a good gift, he tells us that not everyone will have it, and some people progress to prophesying directly, without ever having passed through the speaking-in-tongues phase.

 

If someone you know speaks in tongues, do not be alarmed, and do not be dismayed.  Rather, encourage them to move forward towards prophesying, so that they can use their spiritual connection for the edification and upbuilding of His Body.

 

Whatever your spiritual gifts, be they prophesying, helps, tongues, administrations, healings, writing, speaking or whatever other gift that YHWH has given you, please just be sure to put them to good use, and to exercise them, that you might grow strong in the faith.  Please be sure to put them to use in building the Stick of Joseph, so that the House of Ephraim might come home, and our Master's prophetic Word might be fulfilled, even in our day.

 

May the great Name of YHWH be glorified among His people, and among all the nations of the world!

 

In Yeshua's precious Name,

Amein.

Yosef ben Ruach
A servant of our Master
The Israelite sect of the Nazarenes
Re-establishing the original faith of the apostles

May Elohim bless you, and be with you.


QorintYah Bet (Second Corinthians) 2:14-17
14 Now thanks be to Elohim who always leads us in triumph in Messiah, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.
15 For we are to Elohim the fragrance of Messiah among those who are being saved, and among those who are perishing.
16 To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life. And who is sufficient for these things?
17 For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of Elohim; but as of sincerity; but as from Elohim.  We speak in the sight of Elohim, in Messiah."