A Symposium on the Tongues Movement Part II: The Gift of Tongues and the Book of Acts -- By: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 120:480 (Oct 1963)
Article: A Symposium on the Tongues Movement Part II: The Gift of Tongues and the Book of Acts
Author: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.


A Symposium on the Tongues Movement
Part II:
The Gift of Tongues and the Book of Acts

S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

The teaching discernible from the Acts appears to be in thorough harmony with that which we learn from 1 Corinthians. The gift of tongues is the gift of speaking in a known language for the purposes of confirming the authenticity of the message of the apostolic church.

There are three distinct instances of speaking in tongues in Acts: Acts 2:4; 10:46; 19:6 .1 Perhaps the simplest way to analyze the significance of the occurrences is to look at them in order.

Acts 2:4. It is quite clear and definite that the gift of tongues on the Day of Pentecost was an utterance in known languages. The terminology of Luke is convincing at this point. In verses 4, 11 he uses the word glōssa, which is the normal word for the tongue as the organ of speech. It is, of course, often used in the metaphorical sense of a language, a sense which it has here. This sense is confirmed by Luke’s use of the term dialektos, which is rendered by the AV in 2:6 by the word “language.” This is its meaning, and it is unfortunate that it does not render 2:8 with the same word. The word dialektos occurs about six times in Acts, and in each occurrence it refers to a known language or dialect. In other words, the sense of a known tongue in 2:4 is made definite by the description of the phenomenon as a speaking in a dialektos in verses 6, 8 .

This force is also evident from the use of the adjective heterais (AV, “other”) in 2:4. The word usually, although not always, refers to a difference in kind, and it is rendered more accurately by the English word different. Thus, on Pentecost the utterances were not a form of ecstatic speech but known languages as Luke implies in verses 6, 8, 11 .

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