Over the years, I have mostly avoided the issue of Tongues, and I’m sure this is not news to anyone (for if you have searched the web site you know there’s not much on it). It’s not that I don’t have any thoughts on the issue - because I do. But I would have to build my thoughts in a manner similar to what I’m doing in the current Shoveletter series. And I have considered doing this for some time now because there is so much confusion surrounding the whole issue. Anyhow, Sherri has been bugging me for a while to write SOMEthing, and as the topic has been readdressed here I shall do just that. I will probably put it out in little chunks, and will have to put other stuff on hold for a bit.
Do you know what makes this issue the most confusing? We are trying to retrofit Tongues so that it jibes with our current modern-day perceptions and experiences. I know we quote Bible verses from all angles but I have to wonder why so many have missed the ancient roots surrounding the speaking in tongues … yes, I mean, ancient even to those in the first century. I’m not referring to the more recent quote found in Isaiah, but way before that in the books of Moses. I mean, we’re talking a LOT of history here that was at the forefront of their thoughts when the miracle first happened in Jerusalem after the Spirit first indwelt those insignificant common people, the ones known to us as disciples.
You see, we discuss this gift as if its primary purpose was to establish a connection between the believer and his God, but where do we come up with this idea? We can quote all the verses from 1 Corinthians and Acts that seem to suggest it, but if we’re reading it without considering the deeply ingrained, long-standing perception of the Jews to whom it came then we’re only missing the point. Oh yes, the breaking down of the wall between Jew and Gentile has absolutely EVERYTHING to do with the gift of tongues.
Consider this passage:
Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature. In the Law it is written, ‘By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to Me,’ says the Lord. So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe. 1 Corinthians 14:21-22
Why do you suppose Paul might have quoted from Isaiah so that he could conclude that tongues were a sign to unbelievers?
Indeed, He will speak to this people through stammering lips and a foreign tongue, He who said to them, ‘Here is rest, give rest to the weary,’ and, ‘Here is repose,’ but they would not listen. Isaiah 28:11-12
And if tongues were a sign to unbelievers, as Paul claimed, WHO were these unbelievers? The foreigners? That’s how we usually view it, isn’t it? But we’ve been looking at it backward, for when God spoke through foreigners it was a sign to those who rejected His rest. Yes, the unbelievers were those from the nation of Israel. The Jews were often referred to as “THIS PEOPLE” in the OT scriptures … and it wasn’t a compliment. But as I mentioned before, this wasn’t new news to Israel, as the same basic thing had been written long, long before that.
The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand, a nation of fierce countenance who will have no respect for the old, nor show favor to the young. Deuteronomy 28:49
This had been part of the curses God had promised upon Israel for disobedience. You see, God had offered them the Promised Land - His rest - and yet they refused to go in. They were later given the LAW, which only made them law-breakers. Blessings had been offered for obedience (taking heed), but we all know the failure in that, don’t we? They had learned these blessings and curses and had passed them down to their children and to their children’s children from generation to generation. It was as burdensome upon them as the fear of hellfire is to most fire and brimstone church-goers today. That nagging sense of judgment hung over them their whole lives as they wondered if God would really bring all of it to pass.
And He did. For when Babylon and Assyria destroyed Israel and Judea and took them captive, those who were referred to as “this people” were forced to serve those whose speech was unintelligible to them. God was speaking to them “through stammering lips and a foreign tongue”. But that was merely the shadow of another such speaking through foreign, unintelligible, stammering tongues.
Okay then, to continue where I left off. This may appear to be a detour, but I assure you, it is not.
Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near and struck Micaiah on the cheek and said, ‘How did the Spirit of the LORD pass from me to speak to you?’ 1 Kings 22:24
The story connected to this verse always intrigued me because it sums up the fleshly attitude that lays exclusive claim to God’s Spirit. Zedekiah was a false, butt-kissing prophet who made an elaborate display of providing the king with info supposedly from God that he knew would be pleasing. Micah (Micaiah), on the other hand, was an I-don’t-give-a-damn-who-you-are prophet who never had any “good” prophecies for the king of Israel. Anyhow, after Micah had given his report detailing the utter defeat of the armies of Israel and Judea, which was in total opposition to the crock spoken by Zedekiah, the dude walked up and slapped Micah silly as he asked his arrogant question.
Israel had indeed been entrusted with the “oracles of God”, which was an amazing honor, especially considering their godless roots in Abram, whom God had called out from a pagan land. Their history had been plagued with rebellion from the start, and yet God had STILL entrusted them with certain bits of revelation about Himself. They, of course, took it as validation that they were somehow better than the rest of the world around them. Though the revelation they received declared that God was found to be true and every man was found to be a liar (see Romans 3:4) they took offense at any suggestion that God would speak through anyone other than themselves.
“How did the Spirit of the LORD pass from me to speak to you?”
This was the assumption of the leadership of Israel throughout most of their history, and it was brought to a head like a zit about to pop when Jesus stepped on the scene! Ew, yuck!! Now, the simple reality is that anyone put to such a test would have come to the same conclusion the Pharisees, scribes and rabbis came to. For all it did was to reveal what was in the heart of any man. I mean, that’s why in judging Israel, all were judged…
… so that every mouth may be closed and all the world may become accountable to God; because by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified in His sight; for through the Law comes the knowledge of sin. Romans 3:10
But the religious leaders stood firm upon their assumption that nobody else could speak for God but THEM … and, of course, only in the true language of God, the language of the Hebrew scriptures! Oh, no doubt they were familiar with the statements about how God would speak to them in the strange, stammering tongues of foreigners, but they must have assumed that was all behind them and had come to see themselves as having been slaves to no man (John 8:33). Very odd, don’t you think after the tragic history that left their former nation still scattered throughout the world and those left in Jerusalem with a holy city that paled in comparison to the original? But this only served to accentuate their desperate situation.
Let me describe the attitude of the Jew regarding foreigners. They were dogs whose very presence in God’s temple was an abomination. They would not eat with these people and restricted their contact to that which was absolutely necessary. To speak the word of God in the languages of foreigners was an abomination as well, and you can be sure they observed this as strictly as the Roman Catholic religion only used Latin in their masses and other rituals for centuries. And keep in mind that the Jews had to learn both their own language and the language of their conquerors (depending on locality).
Do you understand why all this is so important to take into consideration? You see, the Jews were presented with a basic conflict on that day of Pentecost which ripped through their every perception of God, of life, and of their own uniqueness in the world!
Because all this stuff is Biblical I think we often consider it unrelated. But you know what? People are pretty much the same no matter where or when they live. If we will take all these things into consideration when we read it, we might realize how totally understandable their perceptions were. And yes, this has everything to do with the impact of the miraculous display of Jews speaking in other tongues.
Christ came at “the fulness of time” (Galatians 4:4). Not really a difficult concept here, for they would have understood it in normal terms - you know, like a woman who goes into labor when her time is due, or the crop that was ripe for harvest. The timing was right on, for like that pregnant woman the baby was coming, whether they wanted it or not. Everything God had done over hundreds of years had led up to this point so that the people were exactly where He wanted them: desperate and depleted.
I persist in detailing this recorded background because it cannot help but to give a sense of the complex mix of hopes, failures, dreaded expectations, weariness, religious facades and hypocrisy, and desperation. When Jesus entered the scene “the people saw a great light” for many realized that HE was the expectation of the ages. Of course, that meant that something else had to go down. Read the following parable told by Jesus … and feel the tension as he put a new light on some old scriptures. Remember, the religious leaders to whom he was speaking had known these writings for years, and most likely had argued them back and forth countless times. By the way, the all-caps are scripture quotes (the first one he had simply included in his narration of the story).
Listen to another parable. There was a landowner who PLANTED A VINEYARD AND PUT A WALL AROUND IT AND DUG A WINE PRESS IN IT, AND BUILT A TOWER, and rented it out to vine-growers and went on a journey. When the harvest time approached, he sent his slaves to the vine-growers to receive his produce. The vine-growers took his slaves and beat one, and killed another, and stoned a third. Again he sent another group of slaves larger than the first; and they did the same thing to them. But afterward he sent his son to them, saying, ‘They will respect my son.’ But when the vine-growers saw the son, they said among themselves, ‘This is the heir; come, let us kill him and seize his inheritance.’ They took him, and threw him out of the vineyard and killed him. Therefore when the owner of the vineyard comes, what will he do to those vine-growers? They said to Him, “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons.” Jesus said to them, “Did you never read in the Scriptures, ‘THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED, THIS BECAME THE CHIEF CORNER stone; THIS CAME ABOUT FROM THE LORD, AND IT IS MARVELOUS IN OUR EYES’? Therefore I say to you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people, producing the fruit of it. And he who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces; but on whomever it falls, it will scatter him like dust.” When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them. When they sought to seize Him, they feared the people, because they considered Him to be a prophet. Matthew 21:33-46
Do you see what Jesus did? He let the religious leaders pronounce their own judgment. “He will bring those wretches to a wretched end, and will rent out the vineyard to other vine-growers who will pay him the proceeds at the proper seasons.” He asked, and they just walked right into it. They agreed with their own ejection as caretakers of God’s vineyard. They said, Bring somebody else in who will perform what is required!
“When the chief priests and the Pharisees heard His parables, they understood that He was speaking about them.”
No, no real spiritual insight here, they simply couldn’t dismiss the directness of his statements toward them. Can you imagine the tension as they realized what they had agreed to? It must have infuriated them! They would have grabbed him right then and there, but they feared the people’s possible reactions.
Do you think perhaps this story may have made the rounds to be told over and over again? You know, it wasn’t too long after this that they crucified him, and all of this would be still fresh in the minds of the people, for because of Jesus they had seen the ungodliness of the most godly men they had known.
Imagine the turmoil the people must have been going through after the crucifixion of Jesus:
What IF God was really going to terminate the authority of their leaders? Who would He turn it over to? What if it turned out they had killed the one God sent? What would happen to THEM, especially after they had asked for his death? What hope was left since the one they temporarily hoped in was now gone?
When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance. Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own language. They were amazed and astonished, saying, “Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we each hear them in our own language to which we were born? 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. And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, “What does this mean?” But others were mocking and saying, “They are full of sweet wine.” Acts 2:1-13
Of course, that’s when Peter stood up and explained from the scriptures what was going on. He simply dismissed the drunk charge by pointing out the time of day, for it was merely a desperate attempt to deny what every single person there had heard with their own ears! And what did they hear? Do you realize that what happened in Acts 2 was not only miraculous in the speaking but also in the hearing?
“And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because EACH ONE OF THEM WAS HEARING THEM SPEAK IN HIS OWN LANGUAGE.”
All the Jews, of course, knew their own historic language and you can be sure it was regarded as the true language, the divine language. And this is the language they would have used to communicate to one another. But having come from different parts of the world they had also learned the language of the lands in which they had been born. The very fact that they had been scattered and forced to speak barbaric languages was a constant, nagging reminder that they, as a people, had been reduced in the eyes of the world around them as being cursed by the very God they claimed.
“And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’”
Some have suggested that the “mighty deeds of God” they were hearing in the barbaric languages of their homeland was the preaching of the good news of Christ. I seriously doubt that. Why? Because they would have rejected it without a second thought! No, no, they were hearing none other than the same ancient, verifiable, recognized accounts of God’s working that had been recorded in their scriptures, the very same they had heard their whole lives. The perplexing part of this was that they were each hearing these testimonies in the languages of the foreign lands they called home. I don’t think they had ever heard these stories told in anything but the language of God (Hebrew). And here they were, looking at each other, asking one another if they were really hearing what they were hearing. I wonder how long they were checking and double-checking and triple-checking to verify this impossible situation? Look at the list of foreign nations represented.
“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”
Most of us are very familiar with how deep racial tensions run, and we know it doesn’t take much more than one little word to stir it all up. But how much more deeply-ingrained conflict do you suppose would have been built within the perceptions of these Jews? We’re not dealing with a few hundred years of conflict, but thousands. And the more history the people remember, the more hatred brews within. The Jews were reminded of this tension in bitter detail every time they got together in the synagogues, and temples, and in their own homes with every scriptural ritual they observed. They did not, they could not, forget. And to now hear their sacred stories of God’s mighty deeds told in the languages of those they despised, of those they had to bow in submission to, only brought all this tension to a head.
“And they all continued in amazement and great perplexity, saying to one another, ‘What does this mean?’”
After all, what were they going to deny, the accounting of God’s mighty deeds they had heard their whole lives, or the impossibility of hearing it in the language of the barbarian? Do you suppose they didn’t remember that it had been written:
Indeed, He will speak to this people through stammering lips and a foreign tongue, He who said to them, ‘Here is rest, give rest to the weary,’ and, ‘Here is repose,’ but they would not listen. Isaiah 28:11-12
Do you suppose they wouldn’t have sensed the judgment concerning their long-standing rejection of the true God who had been offering His mercy and rest to generation after generation? No wonder some mocked with the suggestion that these men were drunk! The alternative was too much to handle, and they had no other answer than to scoff. Realize this, the hearers could not deny what they had heard, and what they heard only confirmed the fear that had been brewing within them for years. What was this underlying fear? That as a people they had been rejected by God Himself and would be replaced by another people who would produce what was required!!
So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers 1 Corinthians 14:22
Realize, this was not some new idea Paul came up with when he wrote his letter to the Corinthians, for the truth is that the fear of this added to Israel’s knee-jerk reaction to all barbarians or foreigners. Also, don’t forget that through the revelation given to the Jew they understood how the earth had been divided by confusion of languages at the tower of Babel. Do you see the contrast in this? At Babel, the many languages forced a DIVISION; while at Pentecost, the many languages demanded UNITY.
To the majority of Israel, there was absolutely no good that could come out of this idea that God would speak to them in the tongues of confusion! There was no rationality involved in the scoffer’s rejection of what they heard on the day of Pentecost, only a fear-driven insanity. They were hanging by a thread and were only hoping to convince themselves that this thing was a farce.
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ–this Jesus whom you crucified.” Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?” Peter said to them, “Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” Acts 2:36-39
Has this passage ever stirred up a lot of fear over the years! Before jumping to conclusions, don’t forget everything that would have been stirring and raging within these people. It is because we have taken verses like these out of context that we’ve only ended up confirming our worst internal fears and have stroked our own fleshly need to do something in order to be saved. Once again, the question to be asked about a passage like this is why is it so different from so many other statements made apparently to the contrary? Maybe we have simply ignored everything that was going on so that we haven’t seen what these statements would have meant to those who were there.
First, we have Peter’s testimony regarding the miraculous nature of what they heard. Realize, Peter didn’t know what he was going to say until it happened, for the Spirit had been giving him insight - not into the technicalities of the Law - but into the fact that this stuff had been ingrained within them through everything they had experienced. His simple claim was that this strange occurrence was the work of God’s Spirit, the same one who had been mentioned in their own writings. And he ended with, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ–this Jesus whom you crucified.” OUCH!!
Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brethren, what shall we do?”
Their own ancient history was brought to bear upon this very moment. They were impacted with the realization that they had killed the very one who came to deliver them, as verified by their own law. BUT … and this is a very big but … it was through his death and subsequent resurrection that he would rescue his people. Peter often demanded that this HAD to happen. And all of this was brought to them in the form of a sign that spoke of their unbelief. The sign demanded the end of one thing, and the beginning of another for it dredged up their whole history of slavery under the babbling barbarians as the ongoing proof of God’s curses brought against them. There was absolutely no other choice before them: either recognize the demands presented to them by undeniable signs … or else fall back into insanity.
“What shall we do?”
Considering the gravity of the moment this should sound less like a request for information on how to fix the situation and a little more like the cry of the heart that is caught up in the awareness that it senses no viable options. In other words, I don’t think they were asking for a plan to follow but had merely vocalized their desperation at the realization that they killed their only hope!
“Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”
To repent means to “have another mind”, not to “turn from sin”. It is commonly translated as “change your mind”, though I think that can even let the miraculous sense slip by, as many have suggested that people need to make an intellectual switcheroo. This statement is a demand to confront that which is IMPOSSIBLE to do for is speaks of another mind. Follow? We’re talking about the new mind. No, no, Peter didn’t start them out with a do-able proposition, but one that turned their world upside down, and one that is only conceivable within the realm of God’s mind. In other words, they would have to view ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING in a different way. Their sins for which Christ brought forgiveness was not those few bad things in their lives, but was the very existence they had lived their whole lives.
“and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins”
Why baptized? Some have suggested that this is spiritual baptism, and although I don’t deny that it was the ultimate truth the Jews derived from it, there seems to be a definite connection to the water baptism of Jesus as preached by John. Once again, we’re talking about the fullness of time regarding the long history of God and Israel, and if we don’t keep it all together then we are left to speculate things that were never meant to be. The rejection of John and his baptism had been the rejection of Jesus himself which made the baptism itself synonymous with a reception of Jesus and/or an identification with Jesus.
The forgiveness of sins was not brought about BECAUSE of the mentioned baptism, nor would it have been taken that way by the Jews, but it was found outside of the Law they knew and within the one who had died for, and to, sin. It was because of the forgiveness of sins through the death of Christ that the baptism was put forth to them as having meaning in the first place. In order for them to be associated, or identified, with this Jesus there would first have to be a total change in the very way they regard ALL things - in other words, having another mind.
“and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”
Notice, it does not suggest that the gift of the Holy Spirit was the gift of tongues. No, no, the Holy Spirit IS the gift. I seriously doubt the Jews were desirous of this gift of speaking in foreign tongues. That would have been a bitter pill for them to swallow. Consider the remainder of this statement:
“For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.”
AND FOR ALL WHO ARE FAR OFF. Once again, God had much in store for these people that would take years to hit them. The foreign tongues from God’s Spirit were hammering away at their consciousness, and yet they would for many years still hold to the faith of Christ in an way that excluded those of whom the sign was also indicating: the Gentiles! They had most likely assumed that those who are far off meant the Jews living in foreign lands - but NOT the Gentiles themselves! And so the sign continued to demand what they still didn’t want to hear.
Now, after Acts 2 there is no reference to the speaking in the tongues of foreigners until we get to chapter 10. That doesn’t mean it didn’t happen between those two places, but the absence of any mention of it sure highlights what happened with Peter and the Italians. This is the situation that began with Peter’s vision of the sheet from heaven with the animals that God commanded him to kill and eat. Of course, we know that Peter told God that he wasn’t going to do any such thing because of the fact he was a Jew. Doggone it, didn’t GOD know that? You see, the animals on the sheet were unclean according to everything Peter had come to understand from the OT. I guess Peter wasn’t paying attention to what Jesus had said about food and it’s connection with man (either that, or he simply couldn’t hear, you think?).
And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. Mark 7:18-20
The irony of living under law was that the Jews were prisoners to the very thing that had been demanding this understanding so that they could NOT understand it. It was through their RELEASE from this bondage that they could go back and see that it had been there all along throughout their whole history - staring them right in the face.
Again a voice came to him a second time, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy.” Acts 10:15
Peter should have realized that if God had called something holy (belonging to Him) then it WAS holy because he had made it so in Christ. But no, he had to argue based upon what had been written in stone instead of hearing the living words coming directly from God. He had been a witness of the truth in this statement he made, “For the promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God will call to Himself.” But the truth is that we don’t see a real understanding of the destruction of the barrier between Jew and Gentile in Peter’s message until after this slam-dunk experience involving the miraculous speaking in other languages in the Gentiles.
While Peter was reflecting on the vision, the Spirit said to him, “Behold, three men are looking for you. But get up, go downstairs and accompany them without misgivings, for I have sent them Myself.” Acts 10:19-20
Realize, if God had not prepped Peter, he would not have even considered the request of these three men. The reality is that the truth was just beginning to sink in. When he arrived at Cornelius’ place he was greeted by the man falling at his feet in worship. I think the incident shocked him into even more of a realization of the truth God was teaching him, for in lifting him to his feet he told him,
Stand up; I too am just a man. Acts 10:26
The act forced him to claim equality with one he had until that moment regarded as unclean. He then tells the group:
“You yourselves know how unlawful it is for a man who is a Jew to associate with a foreigner or to visit him; and yet God has shown me that I should not call any man unholy or unclean. That is why I came without even raising any objection when I was sent for. So I ask for what reason you have sent for me.” Acts 10:28-29
Notice, he didn’t offer the REASON for not calling them unholy or unclean, he just stated it as the basis of his lack of objection. Is it possible that it hadn’t yet occurred to him that they needed to hear the message of Christ for themselves? He simply wanted to know the reason he was sent for. I don’t think Peter had any idea what he would say until he heard Cornelius explain that they were there to hear whatever it was that GOD wanted him to say! Peter realized that God was speaking to him while Cornelius … a Gentile … was making his request to God.
Opening his mouth, Peter said: “I most certainly understand now that God is not one to show partiality, but in every nation the man who fears Him and does what is right is welcome to Him. Acts 10:34-35
There is no doubt that this is very Hebrew flavored, but let’s not miss what Peter was suggesting here, for Peter was SHAKEN by what he heard. Until that moment, Peter had not considered that a Gentile could either fear the true God or do anything right. Why? Because, in the first place, he saw no way they could possibly know the true God. THEN consider the fact that right had always been defined by any Jew in reference to the Law of Moses … and the Gentiles were not under God’s law!
In that instant he was impacted with two realities. First with a certainty that one having nothing to do with the Law could respect God AS God. Second, he couldn’t miss the truth that right had nothing to do with the Law - because this heathen man, this outsider, this dog, had somehow won the heart of God since God had heard his prayer.
You see, if Peter was suggesting that God regarded the actions of a man as doing right then God would be showing partiality - which is exactly what Peter had just concluded, that God showed no partiality to those who by blood had the God’s law of right vs. wrong. Peter wasn’t referring to the actions of an ungodly man, but instead the righteous working of God concerning this man, for the whole point of the matter is that the IMPOSSIBLE had happened right in front of Peter, and Peter was no doubt referring to the righteousness of God that showed forth through this man to cause this impossibility to take place.
If you have trouble following this, at least don’t miss the dynamic conclusion that swept through Peter so that it altered his Jewish-flavored messages and caused him to stand against his own countrymen defending the INCLUSION of the Gentiles into this same faith they had. “…BUT IN EVERY NATION …”. THIS was the foundational shift that took place in his perception, and it only intensified from this point .. for Peter continued on to speak the good news to these Gentiles, a message that up till this moment he regarded as being reserved ONLY for the Jews. And make no mistake, he knew full well there would be hell to pay from his fellow Jews when he got back.
While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the circumcised believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter answered, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” And he ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they asked him to stay on for a few days. Acts 10:44-48
Do not forget this most important reality:
So then tongues are for a sign, NOT to those who believe BUT TO UNBELIEVERS 1 Corinthians 14:22
Who were these unbelievers? There should be no doubt that at every step of the way this disbelief came from those who had been under the law: the circumcised. These were those who were validated by the book and by their ancestry. And with this understanding, it should become clear how those speaking with tongues played into the picture, for it was not really about the Gentiles who spoke the other languages but was primarily geared toward the Jews who WITNESSED the event. Are you following me here?
God was using this sign to break down the PERCEIVED barrier between the insiders vs. the outsiders that still remained even though the reality had already taken place. He did it by embedding an integral part of the outsiders (their barbarian languages) into the reality of the Jews’ miraculous receiving of God’s Spirit. What an incredible tension God built into those who regarded their holy legal separation as something worth holding to!!
Because it happened at Pentecost to THEM the Jews accepted it as a validation of receiving the Spirit without question - but this validation was demanding something they still did not want to accept … for they didn’t want to let go of their superior status (which was only a misperception to begin with). But foreign tongues insisted that foreigners were being used by God to speak to those who were near. The tongues of the uncircumcised were coming forth from those who were circumcised!
And NOW, the tongues of the uncircumcised, ACCEPTED AS THE VALIDATION OF GOD’S SPIRIT BY THE JEWISH BELIEVERS were being manifested in the uncircumcised. I imagine those circumcised believers would have sensed that it was more fitting for a barbarian to speak barbaric languages than for the circumcised to speak those languages, don’t you? :)
You can find a Shovel Audio of the same name at this link: Shovel Audio: Miraculous Significance of Tongues