The following are extracts from various sources and give some historical background to the discussion. Particular note should be taken of the dates in regard to the Book of Acts as these indicate an ongoing experience in the early
ecclesia. Names such as Wesley, Booth and Luther are also significant in the record.
2. Bible record
The Biblical Data. OT Evidence
Two particular OT passages which are utilised as proof texts in the NT text.
Isa 28:11 (NIV) Very well then, with foreign lips and strange tongues God will speak to this people,
Joel 2:28-30 (NIV) ‘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. 29 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days. 30 I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and billows of smoke.
Acts 2:15-21 (NIV) These men are not drunk, as you suppose. It’s only nine in the morning! 16 No, this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: 17 “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy. 19 I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke. 20 The sun will be turned to darkness and the moon to blood before the coming of the great and glorious day of the Lord. 21 And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
1 Cor 14:21 (NIV) In the Law it is written: “Through men of strange tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me,” says the Lord.
Scholars debate the extent to which the two passages prophesy a future outpouring of the Spirit as the sign of the new age, with the consensus favourable in terms of the Joel passage and doubtful in terms of the Isaiah passage, which originally prophesied foreign rule during the Exile. Further, the Joel passage was only partially fulfilled at Pentecost, and many believe that it refers to the eschaton as its final denouement. The latter part (vss. 30-31) contains the cosmic signs associated in the NT with the return of Christ. This relates to the NT belief that in salvation history the events of the first advent inaugurated the last days and that believers now live in a state of tension between the ages. Other arguments would suggest that the “last days” are the days of the
ecclesia age that began at Pentecost and will conclude at Christ’s second coming.
Other OT precursors are:
Num 11:24-29 (NIV) So Moses went out and told the people what the LORD had said. He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the Tent. 25 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took of the Spirit that was on him and put the Spirit on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but they did not do so again. 26 However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but did not go out to the Tent.Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp. 27 A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.” 28 Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!” 29 But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!”
1 Sam 19:18-24 (NIV) When David had fled and made his escape, he went to Samuel at Ramah and told him all that Saul had done to him. Then he and Samuel went to Naioth and stayed there. 19 Word came to Saul: “David is in Naioth at Ramah”; 20 so he sent men to capture him. But when they saw a group of prophets prophesying, with Samuel standing there as their leader, theSpirit of God came upon Saul’s men and they also prophesied. 21 Saul was told about it, and he sent more men, and they prophesied too. Saul sent men a third time, and they also prophesied. 22 Finally, he himself left for Ramah and went to the great cistern at Secu. And he asked, “Where are Samuel and David?” “Over in Naioth at Ramah,” they said. 23 So Saul went to Naioth at Ramah. But the Spirit of God came even upon him, and he walked along prophesying until he came to Naioth. 24 He stripped off his robesand also prophesiedin Samuel’s presence. He lay that way all that day and night. This is why people say, “Is Saul also among the prophets?”
1 Ki 18:28-29 (NIV) So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.
In Num. 11 the seventy elders upon whom the Spirit rested “prophesied,” which many take to be an ecstatic experience since the action is an external manifestation of the Spirit’s descent upon them.
However, it is difficult to draw too much out of the passage because the text does not clearly indicate the outward results. In light of extra-biblical parallels some sociologically oriented commentators believe that ecstatic utterances were one of the chief characteristics of the prophetic office. Again, however, this reads too much into the biblical data. In I Sam. 19 such behaviour may be read into the actions of the group of prophets and of Saul and his men (vss. 20-24).
Clearly this is a major OT passage that may relate to ecstatic experiences as a prophetic attribute (note that Saul “lay all day and night” prophesying, vs. 24). However, Samuel does not exhibit this conduct, and neither do the other oral prophets (e.g., Elijah and Elisha). In I Kings 18 the prophets of Baal cut themselves with knives and “frantically prophesy.” While there is not explicit statement of glossolalia, most recognise it in their behaviour. Yet again, this is clearly not associated with the prophetic office. Therefore, we would conclude that the phenomenon of “ecstatic” experiences, although perhaps present at times, was in no way a primary characteristic of the true prophet. Being ecstatic has implications of being uncontrollable which Paul specifically precludes from the concept of glossolalia:
1 Cor 14:15 (NIV) So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.
1 Cor 14:32-33 (NIV) The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints,
The Biblical data: NT Evidence.
A.D. 33. The day of Pentecost.
Acts 2:1-4 (NIV) When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. 2 Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. 4 All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.
Note that the 120 disciples were speaking tongues other than their own for no other reason than to praise God.
A.D. 34 Samaria
Acts 8:12-18 (NIV) But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women. 13 Simon himself believed and was baptized. And he followed Philip everywhere, astonished by the great signs and miracles he saw. 14 When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that
Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them. 15 When they arrived, they prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, 16 because the Holy Spirit had not yet come upon any of them; they had simply been baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 17 Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. 18 When Simon saw that the Spirit was given at the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money
Here the believers had been saved, regenerated and baptised V16. after which they received the Holy Spirit. Clearly a second experience.
A.D. 35 The Apostle Paul
Acts 9:17 (NIV) Then Ananias went to the house and entered it. Placing his hands on Saul, he said, “Brother Saul, the Lord–Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you were coming here–has sent me so that you may see again and be filled with the Holy Spirit.”
1 Cor 12:13 (NIV) For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body–whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free– and we were all given the one Spirit to drink.
A.D. 41 The Gentiles at Caesarea
Acts 10:44-46 (NIV) While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. 45 The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. 46 For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.
Not just for Jews only.
A.D. 54 At Ephesus
Acts 19:1-6 (NIV) While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul took the road through the interior and arrived at Ephesus. There he found some disciples 2 and asked them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” 3 So Paul asked, “Then what baptism did you receive?” “John’s baptism,” they replied. 4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.
A.D. 59 At Corinth.
1 Cor 14:1-39 (NIV) Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. 2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. 3 But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the ecclesia. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the
ecclesia may be edified. 6 Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7 Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8 Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to he speaker, and he is a foreigner to me. 12 So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the ecclesia. 13 For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. 16 If you are praising God with your spirit, how can one who finds himself among those who do not understand say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? 17 You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 But in the ecclesia I would rather speak five intelligible ords to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue. 20 Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. 21 In the Law it is written: “Through men of strange tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me,” says the Lord. 22 Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers. 23 So if the whole ecclesia comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, 25 and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” 26 What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together,everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the ecclesia. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two–or at the most three–should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the ecclesia and speak to himself and God. 29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, 34 women should remain silent in the ecclesiaes. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the ecclesia. 36 Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached?
1 Cor 14:37-39 (NIV) If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored. 39 Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, anddo not forbid speaking in tongues.
In the above Paul explains the purpose of Gifts of the Spirit. But NOTE the last six words !!!
3. Outline of Glossolalia in Ecclesia History.
The supernatural gifts like glossolalia gradually declined during the patristic period. Several fathers, e.g., Irenaeus or Tertullian, speak favourably of it,
a scholar of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the Apostle John and later became Bishop of Lyons writes:- “It is impossible to tell the number of gifts which the ecclesia throughout the world received from God … As we hear many of the brethren in the ecclesia who have prophetic gifts, and who speak in all tongues, through the Spirit…”
Refutation and Overthrow of False Doctrines ” by Irenaeus. Page 174. )
Tertullian of Carthage, c. 200
He was the father of Latin theology and an eminent scholar. He spoke of the gift of tongues being manifest among the Montanists, to whom he belonged. … (Signs Following, p. 328)
Groups like the Montanists made it central to their worship experience. This group followed Montanus of Phrygia, who said he was the chosen instrument of the Spirit to prepare the
ecclesia for the second coming. He taught a strict asceticism, which soon developed into a legalism. The anti-establishment attitude of the Montanists led to denunciation and then rejection and the movement disappeared. By the middle of the fourth century the practice seems to be a thing of the past. Chrysostom was quite negative, although it does appear that he acknowledged the baptism in the Spirit and tongues of Apostolic days. Augustine declared that it has been given only for the NT times. It appears that in the pressures of the dogmatic controversies and the debates with pagan hellenism, interest in such suprarational gifts as tongues or prophecy gradually diminished.
The Eastern ecclesia
… with a more mystical and enthusiastic religious experience, continued to be open to tongues, and many believe that it was practiced unabated in Greek Orthodox monasteries throughout the Middle Ages.
It was quite a different case in the Western ecclesia
Such experiences were viewed with suspicion, perhaps even taken as evidence of the demonic. Several possible examples of tongues may be adduced:the abbess Hildegard, whose use of unknown tongues is recorded in the Lingua Ignota, or missionaries like Vincent Ferrer or Francis Xavier, who described their miraculous ability to communicate with various groups as glossolalia.
Martin Luther, c. 1520
Dr Martin Luther was a prophet, evangelist, speaker in tongues and interpreter in one person, endowed with all the gifts of the Spirit.” (History of the Christian Ecclesia, by Phillip Schaff Vol.1. page 237)
Francis Xavier, c. 1552
Francis Xaviour is said to have made himself understood by the Hindus without knowing their language. (History of the Christian Ecclesia, by Phillip Schaff Vol.1. page 237)
Luther and Calvin
both spoke positively of the gift, and some believe Luther actually had such experiences. However, the passages which discuss the gift primarily think of it in terms of missionary preaching. The best one can say is that they accepted the continuing validity of tongues.
The next widespread outbreak occurred among a group of persecuted Huguenots in southern France at the end of the seventeenth century. They brought the teaching and experience to Wetterau near Frankfurt-on-Main. This lasted a little over a decade, and in the 1730s a similar occurrence took place among the Jansenists, a group of Catholic pietists.
Two eighteenth century movements
The early Quakers and the Methodists, are often placed among those who have exhibited glossolalic traits. Both claims, however, are disputed, and the evidence is not conclusive. Wesley does appear positive toward tongues and certainly believed that such gifts were valid, but we cannot be certain whether he himself participated.
Circa A.D. 1749
…….the real cause why the extraordinary gifts of the Holy Ghost were no longer to be found in the Christian ecclesia; because the Christians were turned heathen again, and had only a dead form left. ” A More Excellent Way” Sermon by John Wesley. M.A.Wesley’s reply to Middleton….”Sir, your memory fails you again…speaking in tongues has been heard more than once no further off than the valleys of Dauphiny” “Wesley’s Works. Vol.1, page 744”
The diary of one of Wesley’s foremost preachers is interesting in this context.
March. 8th. A.D. 1750 “This morning the Lord gave me a language that I knew not of, raising my soul to Him in a wonderful manner.”
The Irvingites from the 1830s to the end of the century made such expressions the hallmark of their ecclesia life.
He (Irving.) enjoyed The Baptism of the Holy Spirit, and spoke in other tongues. “The Religious Anedotes of Scotland” by Rev. William Adamson D.D.
The example of the Huguenots and the Irvingites led to similar occurrences among the Shakers in America, and in Russia a pentecostal-type movement began in the 1850s and apparently continued throughout the century.
… developed out of the revivalist movement, within which several such experiences were recorded in the nineteenth century. In 1901, in a small Bible school in Topeka, Kansas, a group made up of several Baptist ministers and students in a Bible study came to the conclusion that tongues always accompanied Spirit baptism in Acts. After much prayer they apparently received the gift. For the first few years, in spite of much publicity, only sporadic outbreaks occurred.
The “breakthrough” came in Los Angeles in 1906, and the resulting Azusa Street Mission became the center for Pentecostalism. Meanwhile, glossolalia arose in the 1904 Welsh revival and in Pentecostal meetings throughout both Europe and America in ensuing years.
General Booth the founder of the Salvation Army wrote: There is not a word in the Bible that proves that we may not have tongues and other gifts at the present time. “War Cry 21 Nov.1914.
In Australia the first record of tongues and Spiritual gifts are found in the ministry of Rev John Dowie. (Circa A.D. 1872.) He began his ministry in Alma near Adelaide. The movement has grown rapidly. By 1994 approximately 1300 ministers were registered as being members of Pentecostal orientated assemblies. This is probably far from the true picture since there are many assemblies who do not accept or desire the clergy and laity division in the local
ecclesia. All are seen as ministering brethren.
In the first half of this century Pentecostals were rejected by the other denominations. The normal result of such an occurrence was a ecclesia split. However, in the 1960s the phenomenon simultaneously developed within both mainline Protestant and Roman Catholic groups, and what has become known as the charismatic movement began. Today there are movements within both Pentecostalism and the charismatic groups toward a mediating position on tongues.
a. Pentecostal Works.
L. Christensen. Speaking in Tongues;
H. M. Ervin. These Are Not Drunken, As Ye Suppose;
W. H. Horton, ed., The Glossolalia Phenomenon;
J. L. Sherrill, They Speak with Other Tongues.
b. Anti-Pentecostal Works
A. A. Hoekema, What About Tongue-Speaking?
C. R. Smith, Tongues in Biblical Perspective;
M. F. Unger, NT Teaching on Tongues;
B. B. Warfield, Miracles: Yesterday and Today.
c . Works from the Middle Position
G. W. Bromiley, “The Holy Spirit,” in The Fundamentals of the Faith, ed. C. F. H. Henry; J. D. G.Dunn,
Baptism in the Holy Spirit; M. T. Kelsey,
Tongue Speaking: An Experiment in Spiritual Experience; C. Pinnock and G. R. Osborne,
“A Truce Proposal for the Tongues Controversy,” CT, Oct. 8, 1971.
A History of the Christian Church. Williston Walker.
Heart of Fire; Barry Chant