Speaking in Tongues and the Holy Ghost

Recently I had this question asked: “The Bible says that the Spirit fell on those believers BEFORE they were baptized, and only in one place does it say anything about tongues, and tongues only happened AFTER the Apostles laid hands on those believers. Isn’t that correct?”

The statement in question is only partially correct. The Holy Ghost infilling a person before baptism is mentioned in the Bible. Also, the Bible also has the apostles laying hands on a group of believers for them to receive the Holy Ghost. In that instance, those believers were baptized in Jesus’ name, and until the apostles’ intervention, had not received the Holy Ghost. Now to the part where the statement says: “Only in one place does it say anything about tongues.” That claim is completely in error. The fact is, tongues accompanying the infilling of the Holy Ghost is mentioned in the Bible in more places than one. Let’s look at what the Bible records:

Acts 2:3-4 says that all the Apostles, disciples, and Mary, the mother of Jesus spoke in tongues when the Holy Ghost was poured out on the Day of Pentecost.

Acts 2:33 has Peter saying that the Holy Ghost outpouring was something the unbelievers there could “see and hear.” What could they possibly “hear”? Acts 2 mentions this; the believers receiving the Holy Ghost “spoke in tongues.”

Acts 8:5-25 specifically shows that those who believed the things of the “kingdom of God and the “name of Jesus,” responded by being baptized in Jesus name (see Acts 8:12). Secondly, it shows that those baptized in Jesus name do not automatically receive the Holy Ghost. Thirdly, since an issue is made that those baptized in Jesus name should receive the Holy Ghost, this same chapter shows the importance the apostles placed on being baptized in Jesus name and in receiving the Holy Ghost for salvation.

Now to the area of the statement about tongues only being found in one place; first consider, if there is no definite sign of receiving the Holy Ghost, how did the disciples know those baptized had not yet received the Holy Ghost? Also, how did a heathen like Simeon the Sorcerer see that those believers were receiving the Holy Ghost unless there was a definite sign when they received that power? Please, remember, the Bible does not need to repeat the fact that there is One God to continue that truth throughout every teaching of the Bible. Since that truth is already an established fact, its principle will harmonize within every correct interpretation of Scripture. Likewise, since Jesus and His apostles already established that there is a “sign” accompanying the infilling of the Holy Ghost, and since that sign is repeatedly—and uniformly—said to be speaking in tongues (the next verses I included will confirm this further), there is no conflict in seeing that this same sign is what the disciples did not see happening with those baptized in Jesus name, and is the same sign that Simeon the Sorcerer saw later happening as those same disciples received the Gift of the Holy Ghost, and was the sign that confirmed to the disciples that these new converts did, in fact, receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost.

Acts 10:44-48 gives the account of the Holy Ghost first being given to the Gentiles. Cornelius was a gentile that was not fully converted to Judaism, thought he still practiced a faith centered on Judaism’s One God. Because of his piety (This is attributed to him because of his mentioned faithful actions), God told him to send for Peter, who God said would tell him “what he must do” (Acts 10:8). Peter also got a similar message telling him that he was to go. When he arrived at Cornelius’ house he began preaching about Jesus Christ. During this message, Peter said, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins” (Acts 10:43). Peter was saying that the prophets of the Old Testament all gave the same witness. This witness is that when a person believing in Jesus is baptized in Jesus’ name, they receive “remission of sins.” That is exactly what Peter told the Jews in Acts 2:38. Upon hearing this, Cornelius and his fellow gentiles began receiving the Holy Ghost. How did Peter and his party know this? The Bible tells us how: “For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God” (Acts 10:46). There it is again; they “HEARD” them “SPEAK IN TONGUES.” Then Peter commanded that these gentile believers be baptized “in the name of the Lord” (See Acts 10:47-48). Since the fact is that Jesus’ name is both the name of the Lord and the name used in baptism, these new believers where thereby baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Acts 11:1-15 is an interesting account. It begins with: “And the apostles and brethren that were in Judaea heard that the Gentiles had also received the word of God” (Acts 11:1). So, in this, the Church elders in Jerusalem tied what happened with the gentiles in Acts 10 with what happened to the Jews in Acts 2. They also referred to this happening as “the Gentiles” “also receiving “the word of God.” First, them believing, being baptized in Jesus name and receiving the Gift of the Holy Ghost with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues is the message to which they refer. How do we know? Because that is the focus of what is found there. How do we know? Look at what Peter said God’s purpose was for him going there: “Who shall tell thee words, whereby thou and all thy house shall be saved” (Acts 11:14). Some people believe that baptism is not being part of a person be made righteous or justified with God. Here Peter does not agree with them because he said the baptism in Jesus’ name and the infilling of the Holy Ghost is the message that makes a person righteous and justified with God. This is true salvation.

Peter told the elders that the Gentiless received the same baptism of the Spirit as they did “at the beginning.” This beginning refers to the outpouring that first happened on the Day of Pentecost (see Luke 24:45-49, Acts 1:8, Acts 2:1-39). And what does the Bible record happening on that day? It says that evidence that the 120 believers received the baptism of the Holy Ghost that day was that they each spoke in tongues.

Acts 19:1-6 is one of the more telling of these examples. Here Paul asks disciples of John the Baptist if they had yet received the Holy Ghost. Since the promise of the Holy Ghost and the Messiah were centrally taught in John’s message (see Matthew 3:11; Mark 1:7-8; Luke 3:16; John 1:26, John 1:33; Acts 1:5, Acts 11:16, Acts 13:24-25, Acts 19:4-5), we can know that being disciples of John, they were more than familiar with the Holy Ghost. As a result, their response to Paul was about them not knowing that John’s promised outpouring of the Holy Ghost had begun taking place. First, if receiving the Holy Ghost is not an issue, why did Paul ask? Next, if there is no sign given that shows a believer receives the Holy Ghost, how would the believers know of they did or did not receive the Gift?

Next, Paul asked them how they were baptized. If baptism is not a salvational issue, why did Paul? Next, if baptism was not common among believers, why did Paul even assume they were baptized at all? Also, if it does not matter how a person is baptized, why did Paul ask the way in which they were baptized? When these disciples said they were baptized unto John’s baptism, Paul said the following: “Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus” (Acts 19:4). It then says, “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:5). How did they know to do this? Why did they do it at all? Answer; Paul taught them the things of God and the name of Jesus Christ, and in answer to that they were baptized in Jesus name. Again, if it is not necessary, why make an issue of it at all? Now to the Holy Ghost and tongues issue….

John the Baptist’s message about believing on the One who followed him was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. John also said that with Jesus’ coming would be the outpouring of the Holy Ghost. The verse following John’s disciples being baptized says, “And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied” (Acts 19:6). There is that same consistent theme again. The Holy Ghost came on them, and they knew it to be true because they spoke in tongues.

The six aforementioned examples show that the infilling of the Holy Ghost is evidence by a person speaking in tongues. Paul taught that tongues serve as more than a simple sign of first receiving the Holy Ghost, for whenever a believer speaks in tongues, they are speaking things to God in a language that no man can understand. Thus, whenever a Holy Ghost filled believer speaks in tongues, they are speaking directly to God (see 1 Corinthians 14:2). No wonder Paul thanked God that he spoke in tongues more than anyone else (see 1 Corinthians 14:18). Being able to speak directly to God in the Spirit is the reason for Luke saying: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). Tongues are not a language originating from man. Instead, it is a God-given language that happened first when a person received God’s Spirit, and then later as that person prays in the Holy Ghost. Being able to know with certainty that God has taken residence within you is an enormous gift from God (see Acts 2:38; Acts 10:45).

Concerning this language, the “wind” mentioned in Acts 2:2 is the Greek word “pnoe.” That word is interpreted in the Bible as both “wind” and “breath.” It is also found in the English word “phone,” as in “telephone.” Its usage on the Day of Pentecost carries the idea that God’s Spirit both communicated and connected with the 120 souls in the Upper Room. So, as God made His residence in those men and women, He gave them a language through which they could spiritually connect and communicate with Him. That same infilling is said to be the power through which every believer is promised to never see death. Thus, the Holy Ghost infilling is the breath of God being breathed into a man, not to simply make a man a living soul like the first Adam, but more so to give a believer a quickening spirit that gives him the same eternal life as the last Adam, which is Jesus Christ.


Copyright © 2012 TK Burk. All Rights Reserved.