Saturday, 15 October 2022
For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.
Then Peter answered, Acts 10:46
The previous verse told of how astonished those of the circumcision were when the Holy Spirit had been poured upon the Gentiles at Cornelius’ house. A verbal manifestation accompanied the pouring out. As it says, “For they hear them speak with tongues and magnify God.”
The NKJV has the wrong tense for the verbs. It more correctly reads, “For they were hearing them speaking in tongues and magnifying God” (BLB). It is this translation that will be used. First, “they were hearing them speaking in tongues.”
Being an imperfect verb, it means that they heard them speaking in tongues and this continued on. It was a display probably not unlike that which occurred in Acts 2 –
“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:4
This was the sign to those who were there at the first, and it is a sign to them now that the same Spirit had approved of these Gentiles in the same way. It is to be remembered that the word glóssa, or “tongue,” simply means a known language. It is normally a language naturally acquired, so these Gentiles were speaking as if the languages they were uttering were commonly known to them.
The symbolism is that of the reversing of the dividing of languages at Babel in Genesis 11. Not only had the Jews spoken in various tongues as the Spirit gave utterance, but even these Gentiles had now been imparted this gift.
Along with that, it says they were “magnifying God.” The word is megalunó. It was used in Acts 5:13 where it noted that the people held the apostle in “high esteem.” It signifies to make great or to declare great. Thus, a word such as extol would be fitting. With this noted, the verse ends with, “Then Peter answered.”
It is a Hebraism already seen in Acts. It is a way of saying that Peter then spoke. He is not answering a question, but he is responding to a situation. Peter has seen the display of the Spirit as poured out on the believers, and so he will next answer with a question for the Jews who are present to consider.
Life application: It is to be remembered that in Acts 2, tongues were spoken. Nothing is said of anyone speaking in tongues since then. As Jews were added to the number, nothing is said of this. In Acts 8, all it notes when the Samaritans had hands placed on them by Peter was that they “received the Holy Spirit.” However, nothing is said about what that meant. Later, when the Ethiopian eunuch believed and was baptized, it said nothing about the Spirit interacting with him.
These are internal clues that the accounts are descriptive and are not to be taken as normative. They simply tell the story concerning the development of the early church. The signs, including the tongues now, are given to confirm acceptance by God in Peter’s presence. With him are a suitable number of witnesses to confirm that the event took place.
As this is the case, there is no reason to assume that anyone after these events recorded in Acts would ever need to speak in tongues. The confirmations have been received, they are recorded in the word, and we now have to accept or reject these things based on faith. When we have sight, faith is excluded. But God expects us to have faith. Hence, we can logically conclude that signs are not needed, nor are they given any longer.
The sensationalism of charismatic churches is just that, sensationalism. It is not grounded in sound theology, and it is harmful to a proper walk with the Lord right from the outset of being told about Jesus.
Lord God, help us to be clear in our thoughts concerning our relationship with You. Why should we need sensational theology when what Jesus has done is the very essence of what is sensational! Thank You for Jesus who has done the incredible to reconcile us to You. Amen.