Tongues | The Nature and Function of Tongues Speaking

The following belongs to a series on the continuation or cessation of the miraculous phenomena of tongues-speaking. Read the previous post here.

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One of the most significant and decisive factors concerning the cessation or continuation of tongues is the purpose that tongues had/has, or said differently, the essence of the presence of tongues. Temporary function and provisional existence would argue for the momentary presence of tongues. But on the other hand, a continual function and permanent nature would necessitate continuation.

A Sign

Of the Hardening of Israel

In 1 Corinthians 14:1 Paul begins an argument that prophecy is to be preferred over tongues, namely, uninterpreted tongues (14:1-25). Paul’s first reason is that uninterpreted tongues do not edify the congregation (14:2-19; cf. 12:7; 13:1-3). Paul’s second reason, found in verses 20-25, is that tongues repel unbelievers1 due to its apparent bizarre manifestation when uninterpreted (v.23). Paul says this repelling effect is due to the fact that tongues is not primarily for the church. The essence of tongues’ existence is found in it being a sign to Israel of their hardened hearts (vv.21-22).2 However, prophecy, which is given for the congregation’s good (v.22),3 can serve to draw the unsaved to repentance (vv.24-25).

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