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Pentecostal Apologetics

Tongues Edify
  In This Brief Overview of 1 Corinthians Chapters 12-14, It Will Be Seen That Prophetic Tongues Edify God's Church.


Christ gave spiritual gifts to the church to edify it.

The importance of prophetic speech to the church is realized by observing, in the verses below, what the first (and only) recorded act that Jesus performed for His church (when when He sat down on his throne in heaven) was:
 
"Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this, which ye now see and hear.” Acts 2: 33

"Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” Eph. 4: 8
 
Although some teach that prophetic speech (tongues, prophecies, the telling of dreams and visions, etc.) is not important to the church; Paul taught that the church would be established and guided by such prophetic speech. In chapters 12-14 of 1 Cor. Paul is telling the Corinthians to use tongues and prophecies to build up their church.
     In just one chapter (chapter 14), Paul uses the Greek word, "oikodome;" (to build) 7 times. As seen in the verses below, the usual translation of oikodome is "edify." However, in 1 Peter 2:5 oikodome has been translated as "built up," as in, "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house" 1 Peter 2: 5


Tongues build-up the church (individually, and corporately) 

 
By using the word oikodome in relation to tongues and prophecies, Paul is making it perfectly clear that prophetic speaking (tongues, prophecies etc.) is good and necessary for the building-up, and edifying of the church. As seen in the six portions of scripture below; Paul teaches that tongues-speaking edifies the believer, while tongues-interpreted and prophecies edifies the entire church

. "For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort." 1 Cor. 14: 2-3

"He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church." 1 Cor. 14: 4 "I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied; for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying." 1 Cor. 14: 5

"Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church." 1Cor. 14: 12 "For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified." 1 Cor. 14:17

"How is it then, brethren? When ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine [a teaching], hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying." 1 Cor. 14:26

As seen in the scriptures above; to the Corinthians, Paul made it perfectly clear that tongues and prophecies are necessary for the health, of not just individuals, but of the corporate church also. In fact, Paul's main concern in writing chapters 12-14 of 1 Cor., is to direct the Corinthians to use tongues and prophecies in such a way that the entire church may be edified. Therefore, to benifit the entire congregation, Paul would like the messages of tongues to be interpreted; as the verses below say:
 
"Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret." 1 Cor. 14: 12-13

The reason that Paul wants the tongues-messages to be interpreted, is because there is a portion of the church-service when tongues and prophecies are to be heard -- as the very voice of God to the congregation. It is imperative that the message of tongues or prophecy be heard and understood; therefore the tongues must be interpreted.
      But the Corinthians were confused -- and rightfully so. For they knew that it was God, who was giving them the ability to speak in tongues and to prophesy, and therefore they must have thought that God wanted them to speak, and to speak loud! And to speak loud right now! There were propbably many people speaking in tongues, and many people giving prophecies, and interpretations, all at the same time. Therefore Paul gives these directives (below):
 
"If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the others judge. If anything be revealed to another that sits by, let the first hold his peace. For all of you may prophecy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints." 1 Cor. 14:27-33


Different Kinds of Tongues
 
A big issue that the Corinthians were confused about, was "tongues." As seen below there are different kinds of tongues. There is a tongues-speaking that is spoken only to God, and there is a tongues-speaking that is directed to the congregation to be interpreted. The Corinthians did not seem to know the difference between the two. They probably thought that they should speak their every tongues-message out loud for everyone to hear, even if there was no interpretation for the church.
      As seen in the three verses of scripture below; there is a tongues-speaking that is from the believer to God (not to be interpreted for the congregation):

"For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries." 1 Cor. 14: 2
 
"But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God" 1 Cor. 14:28

"Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities; for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered." Rom. 8: 26

Romans 8:26 is listed here as an example of a spiritual prayer that is to God and does not need to be spoken loudly in the church

    
There is also a tongues speaking from God to man; that is, with the interpretation of tongues (to help others and build-up the church). This is seen in the verses below:
 
"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal... For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom... To another faith... to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues" 1 Cor. 12: 7-10
 
"I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied; for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying." 1 Cor. 14: 5

"Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret." 1 Cor. 14: 12-13

It seems that most tongues-speaking is a prayer language to God, rather than something that needs to be interpreted for the congregation. This explains why Paul, who speaks in tongues a lot, does so, at times, outside of the church. It is prayer between him and God:
 
"I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue." 1 Cor. 14: 18-19

Now, cessationists like to say that Paul did not really mean what he said; that he really did not speak in tongues very much, that he is deliberatly exagerating his tongues-speaking for some reason. But what is he thanking God for? Actually, he is making a vow, as he is bringing God in as his witness that he does indeed speak tongues more than all.
     There is a common error among cessationist thinking. They assume that since the tongues at the Acts 2 Pentecost were (earthly) foriegn languages, then all tongues must be foriegn languages. And after having decided that all "tongues" are foriegn languages; they then assume that tongues must be for evangelism--to preach to people in their own languages. But that is not true, there is not one instance in the entire Holy Bible that people spoke in tongues for evangelism. Tongues are primarily a prayer language. For instance, at the Acts 2 Pentecost, everyone heard the 120 speaking in their own native tongues. But what did they hear? They did not hear evangelizing, preaching, or teaching. What they heard in tongues was simply praises (prayer) to God. The crowd of Jews that heard the tongues-speakers did not hear evangelism or theology; rather; "We do hear them speak in our tongues the wondeful works of God" (Acts 2: 11). There was no preaching in tongues on the day of Pentecost, rather the giving of thanks and praise that is similar to the Psalms. Compare the words of Acts 2: 11, with those of the Psalms (below):
 
"I will praise thee, O Lord, with my whole heart; I will show forth all thy marvellous works." Psalm 9: 1-2
 
"Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done" Psalm 40: 5
 
On the day of Pentecost, when Peter stood up to teach the crowd, he did not teach the crowd by speaking in tongues; rather, he spoke in a language that they all understood (possibly Greek). Therefore, most tongues are not for teaching and evangelizing; rather, most tongues are simply a prayer/praise language, from man to God. Notice (in the verses below) how Paul interchanges the words "speaking" in tongues, and "praying" in tongues; as if "speaking" in tongues is one and the same with "praying" in tongues; that is, tongues-speaking as a prayer/praise language to God, rather than tongues-speaking for evangelism:  

 "Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful." 1 Cor. 14: 13-14

The verse above (and others) reveal a six-fold nature of tongues:

1) Man's spirit prays in a tongue; "to God" it is prophetic, as the non-tongues-speakers cannot do it because it is the man's own prophetic spirit empowering him to pray in tongues. This is a phenomenon that is a result of the fact that, "The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets." (1 Cor. 14:32) Verses of scripture that might be used to validate # 1: "For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God" 1 Cor. 14: 2 "Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit [in tongues], how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayeth?" 1 Cor. 14: 16 "But if there be no interpreter, let him [the tongues-speaker] keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God." 1 Cor. 14: 28

2) Man's spirit gives a message in tongues "to men". He does this because he has the prophetic Spirit within him, (as in #1 above) and he is in a state of worshipful prayer/praise at the time. (This would need to be interpreted for the congregation--not by a foriegner; but by someone who has the "gift" of interpretation). Verses of scripture that might be used to validate # 2: "But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. . . . For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom . . . To another faith . . . to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues" 1 Cor. 12: 7-10. "I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied; for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying." 1 Cor. 14: 5 "Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret." 1 Cor. 14: 12-13

3) God's Spirit causes the man to give a message in tongues "to men". This may sound identical to #2; however, this is a time when God's Spirit prompts a man to give a special message in tongues.This is a time when God's Holy Spirit is stirring inside of the man--it cannot be said of this, that, "The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets." For, At this time, the man might not be in prayer or praise at all. This is something totally initiated by God's Spirit; not simply the prophetic spirit that dwells inside the prophet/tongues-speaker. To validate the authenticity of # 3, it should be remembered that the people of Cornelius' house (Acts 10), and the Ephesians of Acts 19, all spoke in tongues spontaneously--all at the same time. They did not plan to do so, nor were they already in a state of praise at the time. It was totally initiated by God's Spirit This speaking does not have to be spontaneous, but it is initiated and directed by God more so than the message of #2. Usually, this kind of message is known as "prophecy" (and not "tongues" at all), that is spoken in the hearers native language. However, since the interpretation of tongues is a kind of prophecy (this will be realized in section 2 of this book), there may be times when God uses a tongues-speaker, with interpretation to reveal a message
 
4) Man's spirit begins to pray, but the Holy Spirit takes over and prays. Romans 8:26 describes it as, "groanings [of the Spirit]." This kind of prayer is "to God"; others are not to interpret (if they could even hear it). Example: Romans 8: 26, and the verses used to validate #1 (above)

5) God's Spirit speaks through a man in tongues as an actual foriegn language "to other men". This tongues-speaking can be interpreted by a foriegner (of that dialect), as well as by someone who has the gift of interpretation. This is God's Spirit speaking through the man,as it is God who has the important message to deliver. This is similar to #3, except this time it is in an actual earthly language.. To validate? This is an interesting situation. For most tongues-speaking usually is not in an earthly language; nor is it usually to other men (as it is a prayer/praise language), unless it is to be interpreted. This author has never spoken a foriegn (earthly) dialect for the benifit of others (though maybe many people have). So for this author, # 5 is an assumption, based on the fact that on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2), there were definitely foriegn (earthly) dialects spoken. Therefore, it is possible that God might speak through a man in a foriegn dialect. In that case, the scriptures that validate # 2 will suffice here as well.

6) Man's spirit prays "to God" in an actual foriegn language. This is not God's Spirit taking over; (as in #5) but, rather, it is the man's own prophetic spirit within him (very similar to #1), but this time the "tongues" is an actual foriegn language. Examples for validation: No examples per say; but given the different kinds of tongues-speaking in the Bible, this kind of tongues-prayer must certainly exist.

There is a 7th manifestation of Holy Spirit prayer. Speaking of myself; my first tongues were in my native English language, as I was walking outside praying and the Holy Spirit began praying through me, but it was in English and I could hear and understand it. It was similar to what I was already praying but in different words; but the Holy Spirit was actually moving my mouth at the time (I started laughing because it felt strange--my jaw moving by itself--but not an evil laughter that cessationists might accuse us of). Perhaps there are other kinds of Holy Spirit prayer also. I pray often in "tongues," (what some call,"ecstatic speech;" that is, not a foriegn language). But my vocabulary (different sounds) of this speech have increased over the years. There are times; also, when I pray in a different manner, for it sounds exactly like a Chinese dialect. As I pray this way, it sounds exactly like a Chinese woman is speaking,