Tongues Shall Cease

Tongues Shall Cease

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TONGUES SHALL CEASE

by

Ron Cottle

“Speaking

in

tongues” term Glossolalia.

in the record of the Christian

is a popular This

phenomenon, appearing

church,

the New Testament. To some it is a

sign

of

spiritual

renewal helpful

and

ought

to be

encouraged. to certain individuals

phrase

for what scholars .

from time to time is

unmistakably

reflected in

life and To others it might be seen as

but often

“tongues”

is an

egocentric

perhaps

to be

ignored. escape

from the more

weighty more

damaging

actively discouraged

Except

ing

in tongues

appear

of

specific temperament

leads to strife and disunion in the church as a whole and

ought

To still others

demands of life in Christ and is

than

helpful

to the

body

of Christ and

ought

to be

if not

suppressed.

for Mark 16:17 the

only explicit

references to

speak-

in Acts and I Corinthians.

is not inconsistent with these references. Acts refers to “other

and to

“tongues” (glossais)

of the

developing gospel

in the

world; namely,

tongues” (heterais glossais) crucial

junctures

The

Mark passage

at three

(1)

Ronald Cottle earned both the Ph.D. and Ed.D. degrees from the University of Southern California. Dr. Cottle serves as Executive Vice-President of the Assemblies of God Graduate School, Springfield, Missouri.

– 43-

1

the

breakthrough

of the

gospel fearing gentiles (10:46); who had not

previously

I Corinthians

pretation

of

tongues”

“tongue”

or

“tongues” (12:30; 19, 22, 23, 26, 27, 39).

and

(3)

to followers

followed Christ

mentions “kinds of

tongues”

(12:10), “strange tongues” (14:21),

to the Jews

(2:4); (2)

to God-

of John the

Baptist

(19:6).

(12:10, 28),

inter-

and 13:1, 8;

14:2, 4, 5, 6, 9, 13, 14, 18,

more

fully.

While the noun

the

phrase

“to

and there are

of in New Testament Greek:

glossolalia

does not

appear speak

with

tongues” (glossais frequent

occurrences

glossolalia.

Glossa

(1)

the

physiological

(2) language

Let us

spell

this out somewhat

in the New

Testament,

lalein)

does

appear,

of the word

glossa,

which is a

component

has three referents

organ

of taste or

speech;

or a manner of

speech;

(3)

what

might

be called undiscernible

speech

or “obscure

speech” of

persons

in

religious

refers to the

tongue

in Mark 7:33 and 35 where

and it was released …

Other

passages employingglossa

14:11;

I Cor.

14:9;

Jas.

3:5-6;

I Jo.

as “a

physical

Jesus “touched

(a

and he

spoke in this manner include:

(Kittel)

and “the broken

ectasy” (Arndt-Gingrich).

(1 )

Glossa

unmistakably organ

of

speech”

dumb man’s

tongue,”

plainly.”

Lk.

1:64; 16:24;

Rom.

3:13; 3:18;

I Pet.

3:10;

and Rev. 16:10.

Glossa is used in a

figurative Acts 2:3

“tongues

Phil. 2:11

“every tongue

confess.”

(2)

The second use

of glossa, speech,”

is used as

language

of

fire”;

Acts 2:26

“my tongue rejoiced”;

is used with

perhaps

In Revelation figurative

or

personified

sense as the

physical organ

in

and

that of

“language

or manner

of

the verses 6 and 8 where dialecto

is found

only

in Acts and Revelation. In Acts 2:11

glossa

in “we hear them

telling

in our own

tongues mighty

works of God.” This

parallels

the same

meaning.

the use of

glossa

sense as a synonym

and “nation” in order to

distinguish

(cf. 5:9; 7:9; 10:11; 11:9; 13:7; 14:6;

and

17:15).

(3)

It is the third

usage

that concerns us

here,

however: that

other

of

glossa

as

“strange

or ecstatic

– 44-

for

language

is

always

in a

for

“tribe,” “people,” one

liguistic group

from an-

speech”

now sometimes called

2

glossolalia.

Before

going category

this

essay,

let us

pause

the references

in this

to

glossolalia.

Various

phrastic renderings

biased

rather than

clarify

the actual

meaning. for

example,

used

“strange tongues”; known

tongues”;

the NEB

“the

language

of

ecstasy,” “tongues utterance.” The modem

Today’s “speak

with

strange

sounds.”

Perhaps

on to review

briefly

and then

probe

into the text of special concern for

for one observation.

In

light

of this

special usage of glossa

have in

English

a

corresponding special

translations of the Bible

which

have,

because

in favor of a

particular point

of

view,

tended

of 1961-70 used

it would be

very helpful

term to

designate

have used

para-

they

are

varied,

and often

to obscure

The Geneva Bible of

1560,

the

KJV

if 1611 used “un-

“ecstatic

speech,”

of

ecstasy,”

and “ecstatic English

Version of 1966 used

it is the

the best word is

simply

the Greek

itself-glossolalia. But even here we must exercise care to

clarify

whether

which are understandable” or the I Cor. “devo-

unknown to the

speakers”

we mean. I

suggest

that only

in the sense of I Cor. and

to translate

“tongues”

This third

usage

is confined to I there a total of 20 times:

in I Cor.

(15 5times).

.

various kinds

Acts

“languages

tional,

undiscernible

glossas”

that perhaps

we should use

glossolalia use

“languages

in Acts

2:4; 10:46;

and 19:6.1

Now

to glossa

as glossolalia. Cor. 12, 13, and 14 and

appears 12:10, 28, 30; 13:1, 8;

and 14:1-39

I Cor. 12:10 and 28

appear of various kinds of

glossas

vs. 10-“For…

of

tongues (hereto

vs. 28-“And

tongues (gene glosson).”

I Cor. 13:1 and 8 are as follows:

vs. 1-“If I

speak

angels …”

to refer to the

gifts (charismaton)

for use in

worship:

by

the

Spirit

there is

given …

gene glosson).”

God set some in the church … diversities of

with the

tongues (glossais)

of men and

this would give us a term by which to distinguish speaking in tongues as the initial physical evidence of the Baptism in the or Holy

devotional this would be Spirit

with what we know as “prayer language” tongues. Perhaps helpful for present-day discussion of

problems of understanding in this area.

– 45-

3

vs. 8-“There are

tongues;

pausontai).”

We shall return I Cor. 14 has 16 references to

“tongues”

they

will cease

(eite glossai,

to this verse

shortly.

in the verses earlier meaning:

“obscure or ecstatic

28:11, “By

and

by

the

lips

of

is verse

21, a quote of Isa. tongues (ev heteroglossois)

to this

people.”

of

every

reference to

tongues

mentioned and all are this third speech.”

The

only exception men of

strange

foreigners

will I

speak

Here we have a brief review within the New Testament.

Now we

proceed

“… whether there be

tongues for

tongues, they

will cease …” speaking,

but

they

will cease …”

This is a

quite simple, for

disagreement among interpreters lack of

clarity

or its

equivocation.

to I Cor. 13:8: Eite

glossai, pausontai.

they

shall cease …”

straightforward

TEV,

KJV,

RSV, “…

as “… there are

gifts

of

statement. The basis

of this

passage

cannot be its The

meaning

of the

passage

is

Tongues

act of

worship

or

ministry for

disagreement, however, THE CEASING BEGIN?”

A

very

common scholars

including Ungerl follows:

There are three

stages phecy, tongues

and

knowledge

clear: TONGUES SHALL CEASE.

in the third sense of obscure or ecstatic

shall

cease-stop altogether.

is the

interpretation put

and Bruner2

in the

development:

question,

speech

as an

The basis “WHEN SHALL

forth

by

a number of might

be summarized as

13:8); (2)

then

faith, hope

and love will remain

(3) finally,

love alone is

everlasting

This is the

way

it unfolds:

When Jesus

returns,

will be

realized,

(1) first, pro- will cease and

pass away (I

Cor.

(I

Cor.

13:13);

and

(I

Cor.

13:13).

into

sight

and

hope Paul

says,

“There

faith will be turned

but love will remain. When

abide

faith, hope

and love.” he means that the first three

gifts

will

1Merrill F. Unger, New Testament Teaching on Tongues (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1973) 34d ed., pp. 90-101.

2F. D.

258-262.

Bruner,A Theology of the Holy Spirit (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans,1970), esp. pp.

– 46-

4

have

already

disappeared.

these three

gifts

became

did this take

place?

When the

form

because

they

were

replaced

Jamnia is this:

When

canon of the New Testament became available in its

present

superfluous

by

the written Word of God. The

fixing

of the canon took

place

at

in 201 A.D.

Hence,

and

Joppa

the scheme which resulted

(1)

The

gifts

of

peophecy, tongues

until 200

A.D.;

(2)

Faith Christ;

and

hope

will remain

and

knowledge

existed

until the second

coming

of

(3) Love,

which has

always existed,

all

eternity.

Two serious

problems first,

it seems

very unlikely quickly

wider

circulation,

virgins

(young

will continue to do so for

in

holding

such a view are

(1)

ever considered that his

second

coming

of

Jesus, time when

new,

more settled

of faith.

The context of the

passage of I Corinthians which concerns “church matters”

(11:2-14:40) the time when

tongues expected

involved

that Paul

written letter to the Corinthian believers would receive

let alone become

is inconceivable that the author of I Cor. 7 who exhorted

women of

marriageable age)

not to bother become married because of the shortness of time

would within

contemporary worship

way emerge

due to the

adoption

.

“canonical”;

and

(2) second,

it

Christian

to

before the

the same letter write of a practices

would cease and a

of a literary rule

under

question

within the section congregational worship

and other gives

us the

key

to

understanding

and

ministry

were

as a

gift

for devotion

to cease as Paul saw it.

In I Cor. 11 Paul deals with another church

conduct

of the Lord’s

Supper.

as

you

eat this bread and drink the

cup you proclaim

death

until he comes.”

matter,

the

proper In verse 26 he

says:

“For as often

the Lord’s

nate the

desirability symbols

the Corinthian Christians body

and blood of Jesus.

Here we are left in no doubt that the event which will termi-

of the eucharist is the parousaa.

of bread and wine will continue to be needed

of the

great

Until

then,

the

to remind cost of

redemption:

the

47

5

Now,

in

light

of this immediate the time of ceasing

euchczrist and the charismczta tongues

is the second

the occurrence

context, 13:8

“happening.”

seems to

say

that

such as the knowledge

and

indicate

The

language

In in the latter

they

the earlier

period

will

disappear

because

The nature of this latter which “that

“knows

thinks as a child”

and

(again)

in which “that which is

perfect”

for

contemporary worship practices

including prophecy,

coming

of Christ. I Cor.13:8, 10,12,

of a definite event-a

indicates a crisis which will end one

period

and usher in another.

the

gifts

were used and

useful;

no

longer

needed.

period

which is

perfect” (vs. 12)

will

replace

in

part” (vs. 9);

“is in

part”

(vs. 11);

“sees

through

“knows in

part” (vs. 13).

It is a period

Then,

coming

of Christ the one who is “a child” (prophecy),

is one

of perfect

wisdom in

that which

(vs. 10);

“understands and

a

glass darkly” (vs. 12);

of perfect

speech will

replace

that which

“prophe- as a child”

(vs. 11).

second

(tongues),

understood as a

child,

will become a

to his childhood.

sies in

part” (vs. 9) and “speaks

at the

coming

of “that which is

perfect”-the

and the new

age

which that

coming

ushers in-

and who

spoke

and

thought (knowledge)

mature man and

put away

the

things pertaining

will be a period when the one who sees in a mirror

will come to see “face to face”

(vs. 12)

and a

shall vanish and “I shall know even as

The new

period

in an obscure fashion time when

partial knowledge I am known”

(vs. 12).

That this

position

is not one

adopted Neo-Pentecostals alone is evidenced

lished commentaries. For

example, tionably

the time alluded

to is the

coming

refers to it as “heaven… a state

E llicott

says

“this verse shows

by

the

emphatic ‘then’

is the end of this

dispensation.

shall not cease until the

perfect

by

Pentecostals and

by

a review of

older,

estab-

Dean Alford wrote:

“Unques-

of the

Lord”;

Barnes

of absolute

perfection”;

and

that the time

The

has been

brought

in.” theory

that such

gifts

were not

of God is

theory only,

when the

gifts

shall cease imperfect

Finally,

G. H.

Lang says,

“The intended to be

permanent without

any

basis

More

recently,

ing to

I Cor.

13:8-10, prophecies,

in the Church

in the Word of God.”

F. F. Bruce has said: “It is true

that,

accord-

– 48-

tongues,

and

knowledge

are to be

6

done

which is

perfect following

the

apostolic

away,

but

only

‘when that which is

perfect

is not come

yet …

age

makes it

come to a full

stop

with the

closing

of the New Testament canon.”1

and David E. Dilworth

is come.’ That

the literature of the

period

plain

that the

gifts

did not

I

writing

the

position Assembly

of the United

Presby-

“We cannot… follow

Bruce M.

Metzger paper

for the 182nd General terian Church

the view of some

theologians ceased

warrant for this

assumption … basis of

Scripture,

that neither

despised

nor forbidden

in the U.S.A. in 1970

says:

that the

purely supernatural gifts with the death of the

apostles.

the

practice

In

summary

There seems no

exegetical We therefore conclude on the

of

glossolalia

should be …”2

then,

I submit that the “until he come” of I Cor. 11:26 and the “when that which is

perfect

event;

namely,

is come” of I Cor. 13:10 “the blessed

hope

and

are one and the same appearing

(Titus

cease.”

of the

glory

of our

great

God and Savior Jesus Christ” 2:13).

It is at this time and not before that

“tongues

shall

1″Answers to Questions,” The Harvester, (August, 1964).

20ffice of the General Assembly, 520

Witherspoon Building, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19107.

– 49-

7

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