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Galatians 5:16-23 teaches that at any moment we are either walking by the Holy Spirit or according to the sin nature. Walking by the Spirit, enjoying fellowship with God, walking in the light are virtually synonymous. During these times, the Holy Spirit is working in us to illuminate our minds to the truth of Scripture and to challenge us to apply what we learn. But when we sin, we begin to live based on the sin nature. Our works do not count for eternity. The only way to recover is to confess (admit, acknowledge) our sin to God the Father and we are instantly forgiven, cleansed, and recover our spiritual walk (1 John 1:9). Please make sure you are walking by the Spirit before you begin your Bible study, so it will be spiritually profitable.

Acts 2:8-13 & 1 Corinthians 130:8-13:12 by Robert Dean
Duration:1 hr 9 mins 53 secs

Tongues Have Ceased. Acts 2:8-13, I Corinthians 13:8-12


Nothing happens in history that is purely circumstantial or just happens out of pure chance or random behaviour. We live in a universe that is governed by God. God oversees either directly or indirectly through His permissive will, allows things to take place. People have problems with things that take place. There are many horrible things that happen in history so people often want to blame God for those things because they don't really have a good grasp on how the Bible presents God's oversight in history. God gives people freedom of will, freedom to choose, and if people are given freedom then they have to have as much freedom to fail as the freedom to succeed. To the degree that their freedom to fail is limited or to just stop completely it will either diminish or cause their freedom to succeed to also end. What happens to one happens to the other. The reason for saying that is that often when people question God as to His goodness—e.g. how can a good God let these things happen?—what do they really mean by the goodness of God? Scripture doesn't really express it that way, although the goodness of God is a way to talk about God's righteousness and justice; but the Scripture focuses on His character, that He is a righteous God and that He will always do that which is right.

God oversees history for a purpose. He is moving towards an end. Ever since Adam sinned in the garden God is working out a plan. He announced some things to Adam and Eve in the garden; He announced a plan of salvation that would come through the seed of the woman. We believe that plan came to fulfilment initially in terms of the payment of the sin penalty when Jesus died on the cross. Through His virgin birth He fulfilled all of the Old Testament prophecies related to the Messiah. But that did not end history; that only shifted the phase of history. Fifty days after the crucifixion a new stage in history began on the day of Pentecost that was a transition period initially into a new age. But there were some things going on during this transition period that still had reference to God's plan for Israel. God was still offering the kingdom to Israel; there was still a gospel of the kingdom. There is still a heavy Jewish emphasis in the first seven or eight years of the church when the church was predominantly Jewish. It doesn't really begin to reach out into the Gentile world for approximately twelve to fourteen years. There were Gentiles who came into the church but it isn't really until Paul's first missionary journey that there was really the expansion of Christianity into the Gentile world. So in the first two decades after the cross the emphasis is still Jewish and the offer is still there. But the more the offer is rejected the more there is a shift through this transition stage. Part of this transition stage included something miraculous that happened on that initial day of Pentecost. 

Acts 2:9-11 NASB "Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our {own} tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God." This is not a list of languages, it is a list of fifteen geographical areas, some of which are very close together. For example, Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia are all provinces of what is now modern Turkey. It had been dominated by a Greek speaking culture for three hundred years. We don't know if all of these areas had their own language or not. "Tongues" is a word that always refers to a legitimate human language.

Out of the holiness movement came the idea that you got two shots of grace: one shot at the cross and another shot when you got "dedicated." So in their view you had to have this second post-salvation experience in order to get that extra blessing from the Holy Spirit so you could live the Christian life. And if you didn't get that you were just going to be a failure. That spurred what has become known as American revivalism. They way they knew that they had the second work of grace was because (theoretically at first) of what they called the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They based that on some mistranslations in the Greek where the same Greek phrase is used in all of the passages but some places it is translated "baptism in the Spirit," other places "baptism by the Spirit." But it is all the same Greek phrase. The "with" or the "in," the prepositions in English, didn't indicate two baptisms, as they thought, it was just a bad translation. They were basing their theology on a bad English translation and so they had these two works of grace.

By the end of the 19th century they were saying that the second work of grace would be indicated by speaking in tongues, though nobody had spoken in tongues. Suddenly on New Year's eve at the end of 1900 Agnes Osmond suddenly erupted in what sounded to everybody around her as Chinese. They were so excited that she was going to be a missionary to China! But it wasn't long before they realized that none of the Chinese on the other side of the railroad tracks in Topeka Kansas could understand a thing that she said. But that did not dissuade them. The Pentecostal movement came out of a black warehouse church in Los Angeles in the early 1900s. The preparation for this had occurred for half a century in the holiness movement. People came from Scandinavia, Britain, Europe and all over to see this "work of the Holy Spirit" where people were all speaking in tongues. The Pentecostal movement was quite divisive in those early years.

Somewhere in the 50s and early 60s they discovered the prosperity gospel, about the time that people who weren't just the separatists like the Pentecostals could also speak in tongues, and that gave birth to what became known as the Charismatic movement. This movement was also quite divisive because they taught that you were really not spiritual and might not even be saved if you didn't speak in tongues. What is interesting is a third development that occurred in the 70s. It came to be called the "Third Wave of the Holy Spirit." But they didn't associate the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues as necessarily the signs of being baptized by the Holy Spirit. In fact, they didn't really want to define any of these things. Some people would speak in tongues and some didn't. They tried to have this appearance of being "balanced."

The reason for bringing all of this in is because at the very core of the problem is this misunderstanding of spirituality. And there was this problem in Greek culture at that time. In Greek paganism there was the view that if you got ecstatic enough through various means the gods would enter into them and speak through them. There was the Oracle at Delphi who was a high priestess actually indwelt by a Pythian demon who would speak through her in this kind of ecstatic utterance. This was identified as spirituality. This became a major issue in Corinth especially where there was this confusion that they could become close to God and God could speak through them if they would have these kinds of experiences. So they were doing what has become a time-honored tradition among Christians, and rather than sticking with the Bible they tried to blend paganism with the Bible, and they got into all kinds of trouble. It was this idea that somehow the spiritual gifts, and especially speaking in tongues or healing or miracles, indicated that a person was closer to God, were more spiritually mature, something of that nature. This was refuted by the apostle Paul in three chapters in 1 Corinthians 12, 13, 14.

Acts 19, Paul in Ephesus. Acts 19:1 NASB "It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. [2] He said to them, 'Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?'" So he just finds some Jewish believers but they are not really Christians yet, they are Old Testament saints but they are identified as disciples. "…And they {said} to him, 'No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.'" This is some 20 years after Pentecost where these are believers who were disciples of John the Baptist, and they don't have the Holy Spirit. So they represent a fourth group. There were Jews in the first group on the day of Pentecost, the Samaritans are the second group, Gentiles the third group, and now this represents a group of Old Testament believers who are in the diaspora. All four of them have their own Pentecost, as it were: their own beginning at the hands of an apostle to show the unity of the church. There is not going to be a Samaritan church, a Jerusalem church and a Gentile church; there is only going to be one church all under the authority of the apostles. When Paul found these they were completely ignorant of the Holy Spirit but they had been baptized into John's baptism, which means they were clearly saved Old Testament saints. But they had never heard of Jesus. They now heard about Jesus, received Him as their Messiah, and were baptized by Paul. 

Acts 19:4 NASB Paul said, 'John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.' [5] When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus." Paul doesn't spell out all the steps but the implication there is they believed and then they were baptized. That is the normal order. It is understood that that happened. [6] "And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they {began} speaking with tongues and prophesying." This is when they speak in unlearned legitimate languages.

The belief in the early American Pentecostal movement was that they would speak in languages, and for at least the first ten or fifteen years they really believed they would be able to get this gift of languages and go over and be missionaries. They believed that was the purpose for it. We have seen that that was not the purpose of the gift of tongues. It was the sign of judgment to Israel that they had disobeyed God and if they didn't repent then God would bring judgment upon them and they would hear Gentile languages on the temple mount in the land that God had given to Israel.

What we see in these patterns in Acts is that there is no set pattern. There is no pattern of getting saved and then a second work of grace, marked by the baptism by the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. That pattern which was said to be the absolute pattern in the 19th century just really wasn't there. The other thing observed in study is in the last twenty years nobody ever really ever talks about tongues anymore. They don't seem to be the issue that they were in the first three quarters of the 20th century. That is probably for a couple of different reasons. One is that it just can't be proved anymore, and number two is that there has been a move on to health and wealth and prosperity gospel and some of these other things.

The key passage to understand this is in 1 Corinthians 13. 1 Corinthians 13:8 NASB "Love never fails [pipto/piptw – never falls]. The conclusion in v. 13 is going to say faith, hope and love continue but the greatest of these is love." Those two statement frame this discussion. Love never fails; love is the greatest of the virtues in the Christian life. Paul is then going to sidetrack and talk about these two spiritual gifts that were quite exciting. For someone to have the genuine gift of prophecy or the gift of knowledge—revelatory gifts in the early church—that would truly be exciting. But Paul says that where there are prophecies they will fail, where there are tongues they will cease, where there is knowledge it will vanish away. The KJV writers wanted to really develop a tremendously beautiful translation in English and one of the rules that English teachers try to tell us is don't over use certain words, don't repeat words—use a word in one sentence and use a synonym in the next sentence. But when God uses the same word in two sentences and you translate them with different words in English you miss the point. And that is what happens here. The Greek word that translates "they will fail" and "it will vanish away" is the same word. It is the same form, everything is the same but if you don't know the Greek you'll think that two different words are used, and they are not.

There is a shift in verbs and voices in verse 8. katargeo [katargew] is used: prophecy and knowledge will be "abolished." But tongues will "cease." It is pauo [pauw], a different word. So prophecy and knowledge are going to end the same way indicated by the same word, and in the passive voice it means they are going to be acted upon, something is going to cause them to be abolished. But tongues is going to cease; it is in the middle voice and it indicates that it is just going to sort of die out on its own. It is no longer going to be needed. Paul is going to give the reason in chapter fourteen as having to do with announcing judgment on Israel. If that judgment was the defeat of the nation and destruction of the temple in AD 70 then after that date the purpose for the gift no longer existed so the gift would just no longer function. Second, we have to understand the meaning of the word "perfect" in v. 10—teleios [teleioj]. Third, we have to understand that there is a temporal shift that goes on in this passage between the words "now" and "then"—now this; then that. Then we have to realize there are two different illustrations used in vv. 11, 12 and what these verses are going to illustrate is the abolishing of knowledge and the abolishing of prophecy.

What we have in verse 8 is a focus on prophecies which will be abolished and knowledge which will be abolished. The focus of this chapter is not on tongues because they are just going to die out. But knowledge and prophecy are going to be abolished. He doesn't mention tongues again but he mentions katargeo several times—prophecy and knowledge again.     

1 Corinthians 13:9 NASB "For we know in part and we prophesy in part." In other words, knowledge is going to be abolished and it is incomplete, it is partial. Prophecy is going to be abolished because it is incomplete, it is partial. [10] "but [in contrast] when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away." In contrast to incomplete knowledge and incomplete prophecy, when the perfect comes the partial [knowledge and prophecy] will be abolished [katargeo]. It is very clear in the original. That is "perfect"? The word is teleios [teleioj] is usually translated "perfect." Perfect is a term that has to do with the quality of something. If it is imperfect it is flawed, not quite what is should be; it is not perfect. Perfect is flawless; that has to do with quality. But having a word here like partial or incomplete, is that a quality word or a quantity word? It is a quantity word. It is not fully there, it is incomplete. teleios can either refer to something qualitative or quantitative. Since the context here has to do with something that is partial it has to be quantitative, so we can't translate it as something flawless. This is a real problem because a lot of people will come along and say this is talking about a stage of perfection in God's plan. Well the only stage of perfection in God's plan is when in some sense we are absent from the body and face to face with the Lord. That is going to occur only at a couple of different times.

Review: Prophecy and knowledge are both partial, they are both abolished; but tongues ceases. Prophecy and knowledge are going to be abolished by the arrival of the perfect. Then we get an illustration: 1 Corinthians 13:11 NASB "When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with [katargeo] childish things." Maturity "abolishes" childishness. So the fact that that verb katargeo is going to be used in the illustrations tells us that the illustrations are designed to help us understand how the partial is abolished by the perfect.

There are seven interpretations of "the perfect" that we will hear.

Either the completed canon of Scripture, the completed revelation of the New Testament, or the church reaches maturity. What people mean when they talk about that is what makes it mature is really the completion of the canon and they would mark the maturity of the church at the time of then death of the last apostle. Those views are probably saying pretty much the same thing, they are just looking at it from different sides of the same coin. On the other side there are people who say that perfection is death when we are face to face with the Lord. 1 Corinthians 13:12 NASB "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face…" It has to be face to face with Jesus, doesn't it? So this must be when things are perfect. Or the Rapture—same thing happens: get a resurrection body and face to face with the Lord. Second coming, if you don't believe in the Rapture. The eternal state or "eschaton." The problem that we run into here is that in terms of the perfect, if the perfect arrives when we are face to face with God, we are going to have a real problem when we come to the last verse.   

Paul gives two illustrations here. 1 Corinthians 13:11 NASB "When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with [katargeo] childish things." So he is relating prophecy and knowledge to immaturity and childishness and they are abolished by maturity. The [12] "For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known." When we look in the mirror we see ourselves, so it is a reflection. Notice the "now" and the "then." When is the now and when is the then? Now I know myself in part, but then I shall know myself fully just as I also have been fully known. On the surface it would be easy to say that must be when we are face to face with the Lord because only when we are face to face with the Lord is there going to be full self-awareness. That is possible that doesn't really fit the context. The first "now" is the word arti [a)rti]. There are two words in for "now," arti and nuni. Many times they are interchangeable but when they are both used in the same context arti means "right now" as opposed to nuni which is a broader now, like now this week. arti says right now we have this thing going on, a mirror dimly. What does that mean? The Greek word there is ainigma [a)inigma]. You are looking at yourself and you are an enigma in that polished piece of brass. It wasn't glass, it was brass and it didn't give a great reflection. It was a partial reflection.

This word is used in an interesting passage in the Old Testament where God is talking to Moses as a prophet. Numbers 12:6 NASB "He said, 'Hear now My words: If there is a prophet among you, I, the LORD, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream.'" That is how God spoke to every prophet except Moses. [7] "Not so, with My servant Moses, He is faithful in all My household; [8] With him I speak mouth to mouth [face to face], Even openly, and not in dark [ainigma]sayings, And he beholds the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid To speak against My servant, against Moses?" Se here we have that same concept of face to face and ainigma from an Old Testament passage that relates to a prophet. Remember 1 Corinthians 13:11 NASB "When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things." It was a focus on knowledge. In Numbers the focus is on prophecy. That language comes out of a very well known passage talking about prophecy in the Old Testament. So what we have in v. 11 is an illustration of how the partial knowledge is abolished, of childishness growing to maturity, and we have the same thing going on in relation to prophecy, v. 12—dimly, enigmatically, but then face to face. "…now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known."

Expanded translation: But right now in this pre-canon period (before all the information was given) we see in a mirror enigmatically (we have an incomplete canon), but then (when the canon is complete and we have the sufficient revelation of God) I shall know fully just as I also have been known.

In terms of the time line he is making a distinction between now in the period of the apostolic age when there was no complete New Testament, and the then which is when there was a complete New Testament.

1 Corinthians 13:13 NASB "But now [nuni] faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love." This is a broader "now"—nuni. There is this view that says that the perfect represents that which is flawless. It's when we are face to face with Jesus. That means that the now is this time on earth and the then is when we are face to face with the Lord. So the now has to do with now we have knowledge and prophecy, and everything continues. But here he says, "faith, hope and love abide." In that view they have to take abiding as something eternal because obviously knowledge and prophecy would cease when we are absent from the body and face to face with the Lord. That would mean that knowledge and prophecy are for this time on the earth; faith, hope and love are when we are face to face with the Lord. But we have a problem with that because in 2 Corinthians 5:7 Paul says, "we walk by faith, not by sight." When we are on this earth we walk by faith and not by sight, but when we are absent from the body and face to face with the Lord we are walking by sight and not by faith anymore. So faith ends when we die; after that it is sight. So faith is not going to continue when we get to heaven. Romans 8:24 NASB "For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he {already} sees?" When we see it we don't need to hope anymore. That means that faith and hope ends when we leave this life and are face to face with the Lord. That just blows that other view completely apart. The only thing we are left with is that prophecy and knowledge were active during the time of the apostolic period; they are partial. But then, face to face with what? Face to face with the complete Word of God. The mirror is going to be fully built. James calls is the perfect mirror, the perfect law of God. When that is complete, then we will have faith, hope and love. These will continue throughout our life. When we die we leave faith and hope behind, but there is still going to be love because God is love. Love continues, that is why the greatest of these is love.

So what have we said? It has been a problem down through the 2000 years of the church age that people look for something experiential to prove that they are somehow more spiritual than other people. That is just arrogance. It is not a spiritual gift, it is not speaking in tongues, it is not any of these other things; the spiritual life has to do with our walk with the Lord. People get distracted in Satan's world by putting emphasis on the wrong thing.

Tongues was never given for any secondary purposes. It wasn't given for evangelism, for prophecy, for revelation; it was given as a sign of judgment on Israel and when Israel was destroyed and the temple was destroyed then there was no longer a need for that gift and it didn't function anymore. They were legitimate languages that were miraculously given by God the Holy Spirit. That was what was going on on the temple steps. There is this announcement by what they did and the fact that they were saying it in these languages that judgment was coming. If we misunderstand that it really leads to some extremely odd views on Scripture.