PMT 2014-065 by Kenneth L. Gentry, Jr.

As I continue my eschatological analysis of tongues in Scripture, we must now consider the content of tongues in Scripture. If you have not read the preceding articles, I highly recommend that you do so. The tongues phenomenon has implications for biblical eschatology in general and postmillennialism in particular.

Probably the most misunderstood aspect of the nature of tongues — and in the nature of the case the most dangerous — is the nature of tongues relative to their content. Scripture is abundantly clear: Tongues-speaking is a revelation-bearing gift. Tongues serve as a mode of direct revelation from God to man. Tongues brought revelation from God to man just as surely as the gift of prophecy brought revelation to the prophets and apostles of old. Thus, tongues bring inspired, inerrant, absolutely authoritative communication from God to man via the Holy Spirit. Consider the following lines of evidence.

The initial occurrence of tongues

In Acts 2 tongues are defined as prophetic. When Peter stands up to interpret the Pentecost phenomenon of tongues-speaking causing the amazement of the crowds (Acts 2:6, 12), he categorically states that the episode is prophetic: “But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, That I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams, and on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy’” (Acts 2:16-18).

Tongues Radio Debate (1 CD)
Radio interview and debate between Dr. Gentry and a leading advocate of modern-day
tongues speaking. Gentry argues that tongues have ceased,
having served their original purpose
in the first century.
See more study materials at:

The biblical concept of godly prophesying is a speaking forth of the mind and will of God under the direct impulse of the Spirit. the matter of prophetic claims is so significant that God’s Law mandates capital punishment for false prophecy (Deut. 18:20). The claim to speak under the direct impulse and authority of God is a very serious matter.

The relationship of word-gifts tongues
Tongues are frequently tied up with and related to other revelational gifts (Acts 2; 19; 1 Cor. 13; 14). In the preceding comments above I showed that tongues are related to “prophecy” in Acts 2. The same is true in Acts 19 where we read that the converts both speak with tongues and prophesy: “And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:6).

For our present purposes, let us note that 1 Corinthians 13:8 unites tongues with the revelatory spiritual gifts of “knowledge” and “prophecy”: “Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.” In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul considers tongues at great length in conjunction with prophecy. (For information on the “gift of knowledge,” see heading below: “Scripture Designates a Terminus ad Quem.”)

A difference between tongues and prophecy exists, to be sure. But they differ in formal structure, rather than content. Prophecy involves the Spirit-endowed ability to speak infallibly the will of God in one’s native language. Whereas, the gift of tongues enables the speaker to infallibly declare the will of God miraculously in a language one had never learned.

The speaking of “mysteries”
First Corinthians 14:2 states: “For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.”

Most good Bible dictionaries define the concept of “mystery” in Scripture in terms of revelation from God. For instance, the Zondervan Pictorial Bible Dictionary reads: “A mystery (spoken) is thus now a revelation.” The Arndt-Gingrich-Danker Greek-English Lexicon of New Testament Greek notes that: “Our literature uses it [i.e., mystery] to mean the secret thoughts, plans, and dispensations of God, which are hidden from the human reason, as well as from all other comprehension below the divine level, and hence must be revealed to those for whom they are intended.” Bible versions clearly exhibiting this understanding of the term include: Moffatt, Amplified, Williams, Weymouth, Phillips, and Today’s English Version.

Women’s Headcoverings (7 CDs)
Informal home Bible study and discussion. Shows that
Paul was referring to a woman’s hair, not a veil or material headcovering.
See more study materials at:

The nature of biblical tongues in terms of their form and content is precisely defined in Scripture itself. The gift of tongues in Scripture is a miraculous endowment of the Holy Spirit of God whereby the gifted are enabled to speak in a foreign language never previously known. It is not a gift of ecstatic, emotionally frenzied, incoherent rhapsody. The content of tongues is that of a revelatory message given by a direct impulse of the Spirit, the Revealer of Truth. Consequently, the message related in tongues is on par with Scriptural revelation, possessing infallibility, inerrancy, and authority. The modern phenomenon bears no relation to biblical tongues. The modern charismatic experience, therefore, is alien to Scriptures, and is wholly devoid of biblical warrant.

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4 thoughts on “TONGUES AND ESCHATOLOGY (3)

  1. otea241 May 30, 2014 at 11:00 am

    So, you mean, if I speak aspeak a mystery in another tongue, I can clearly verufy that it was a revelation, and not some incoherent muttering? How will I know the language structure of that other language? Aren’t all foreign laguages, incomprehensible babbles to us? How will you determine which language you have spoken? I am no language expert, so I don’t have all the terms about the nuances that every language exhibits.

    The spirit is subject to the prophet. Then again, Paul said he prayed in tongues more than all his followers. This clearly implies some prerogative on the side of the tongue-speaker. We are not robots, to be only looking out for impulses to speak in tongues. We pray with the spirit and our understanding is unfruitful when we know not what we ought to pray.

    On that blessed morning of Pentecost, were they just muttering on impulse, or were they speaking loudly in strange dialects? What else would give observers the conclusion that these were drunk?

    and about tongues being prophetic, he clearly says that the prohpecy was the promise! The tongues were not prophetic! Each man was praising God in a strange dialect! I don’t see prophecy here! They were telling forth the good works of God! Period!

    Jude 20 says you are missing a lot, restricting tongues to an age and a situation. That’s why Paul spoke more than most. We need tongues in the church today. We need to build up ourselves in the faith so that we can go out, and take this word with boldness to the world. Restricting the unction of the Holy spirit is doing a disservice to the church.

    Btw, you can write off my impassioned speech, coz I am charismatic. There have been a lot of excesses, but, you may just find that, you’ve thrown the baby out with the bathwater.

    God be with you.

  2. Kenneth Gentry June 2, 2014 at 11:49 am

    Thanks for reading and interacting. As you might expect, however, I disagree with your analysis.

    Regarding verification of tongues: True, biblical, God-given tongues, like prophecies, were to be evaluated by others, as well as to be controlled (regulated) by Scripture principle: 1 Cor 14:27-29: “If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment.” If the tongues-speaker does not know the human language he utters, then someone present should recognize it, as a part of the validation process.

    The unfruitfulness of tongues which Paul mentions, speaks of the tongues-episode not bearing fruit in others. If no one can interpret the language, then they are not be given in a church context where they should exhort.

    You are correct that on Pentecost they were speaking in a strange dialect. The text clearly says they were speaking in many non-Hebrew dialects there in Jerusalem, the capital of the Hebrews. Notice that they heard in their own dialects and understood what was spoken: Acts 2:6-11 “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, 10 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.'”

    Re-read my argument: Scripture shows that tongues were prophetic. But by “prophetic” we do not mean predicting the future. “Prophecy” is a speaking out for God, and can involve future prophecy or can be a basic declaration from God without a preview of the future.

    Regarding Jude 20: praying in (or by the Spirit) does not necessarily mean speaking in tongues. It is simply praying by the influence of Spirit. When we faithfully pray to God on any occasion, it should be by the help of the Spirit.

  3. Kerry W. Knorr June 2, 2014 at 3:53 pm

    Doesn’t the need for vetting pretty much shoot the inerrancy and infallibility argument in the foot? In noticing the variations of the gospel accounts for instance, I have no doubt that words from the mouth of God are perfect. I think the minds and hearts of men are the weak link which kicks the need for vetting into action. Each of the authors of the gospels heard Jesus say the same words at the same time, yet we have three different versions of the Great Commission.

    While it would wrap up tidy arguments very nicely to say that utterances inspired by the Holy Spirit always manifest in the same way with the same power; in reality it’s hard to know what is going to pop out of one’s mouth when under the surreal influence of the mighty Spirit of God. How much of what comes out of the mouth is filtered by the understanding of the heart and mind of a man? For me at least, there is enough potential for the heart and mind of man to distort the word of God, that Paul appropriately taught that prophecy and tongues should be subject to testing.

  4. Kenneth Gentry June 2, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    The whole point of evaluating (“vetting”) is not to determine if God’s word-gift is appropriate. But if it is God’s word-gift. Remember the false prophets in the OT? The fact that there were false prophets and true prophets required evaluation. Deut 18:20-22: “The prophet who speaks a word presumptuously in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die. You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.”

    This has nothing to do with inerrancy. Not every writing that claims to be Scripture is Scripture. John urges: “Do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1). Paul warns: “Be not quickly shaken from your composure or be disturbed either by a spirit or a message or a letter as if from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord has come” (2 Thess 2:2).

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