555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

140. Was the Gift of Tongues Retained by the Apostles Until Their Death?




The endowment of the "gift of tongues" was apparently continued to the Christians during the apostolic age. Jesus before his ascension breathed upon his disciples and said. "Receive ye the Holy Ghost." Fifty days after the crucifixion, the disciples received special power, when the Holy Ghost came upon them. It was to be a sign—to belong to only a few—the apostles and evangelists—and with this gift they went forth to preach to the nations. Later, Paul wrote that he "spake with tongues more than all." In I Cor. 13, however, we see that "tongues" were already ceasing, as belonging to the past. Many times since then the question has arisen whether the gift of tongues was continued to succeeding generations. The attitude of the early Church, neither to quench nor forbid them (see I Thess. 5:19), yet not to invite or excite them, was a safe one. If they were of God, the fact would make itself apparent; if they were simply hysterical jargon, they would quickly subside. Throughout Church history, there were many spurious instances. Iremeus wrote of some in his time who spoke with tongues, but Eusebius hardly referred to the subject, and Chrysostom mentions it only to discourage what he considered as an ecstatic indulgence of doubtful spiritual profit