1 Corinthians 12:10
To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
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(10) Prophecy.—Not in its modern and limited sense of foretelling the future, but forthtelling truth generally.

Discerning of spiritsi.e., the power to distinguish between the workings of the Holy Spirit and of evil and misleading spirits (see 1Timothy 4:1; 1John 4:1). On the gifts of tongues and interpretations of tongues, see 1 Corinthians 14.

1 Corinthians 12:10-11. To another, the working of miracles — That is, miracles of a different kind; such as taking up serpents, drinking any deadly draught without hurt, and especially casting out devils. But it may not be improper to observe here, that the original expression, ενεργηματα δυναμεων, here rendered the working of miracles, is translated by Dr. Macknight, the inworkings of powers, the former word being derived from ενεργεω, signifying not to work simply, but to work in another. And he thinks it is here intended to express the power which the apostles had of conferring the miraculous gifts of the Holy Ghost on those on whom they laid their hands: a power which was peculiar to the apostles, by which they were raised above all the other spiritual men, and by which they spread the gospel everywhere with the greatest success. To another, prophecy — The foretelling of things to come. To another, the discerning of spirits — That is, ability to discern whether professors of Christianity were of an upright spirit, or not; whether they had natural or supernatural gifts for offices in the church; and whether they who professed to speak by inspiration spoke from a divine, a natural, or diabolical spirit; and consequently to distinguish, with certainty, true doctrine from false. For, as there appeared very early among the professed disciples of Christ, false teachers, who, to gain credit to their errors, pretended to deliver them by inspiration, a gift of this kind was very necessary for preventing the faithful from being led away by them, especially in the first age, before the writings of the apostles and evangelists were generally spread abroad. Hence the caution, 1 John 4:1, Believe not every spirit, but try the spirits, whether they are from God, because many false prophets are gone forth into the world. Again, the gift of discerning spirits was bestowed on some, to enable them, on certain occasions, to discover what passed in the minds of their enemies, that they might make it known for the benefit of the church; 1 Corinthians 14:25. Thus Peter knew the fraudulent purpose of Ananias and Sapphira, and Paul the malice of Elymas. But here it is to be observed, that neither the knowledge of what passed in the minds of enemies, nor the knowledge of the characters of private Christians, or of the qualifications of those who aspired after sacred offices, was bestowed as a habit. On most occasions, it seems, the rulers were left in these matters to guide themselves by their own sagacity, or by that ordinary illumination which they received from the Spirit of wisdom.

To another, divers kinds of tongues — Ability to speak languages which they had not learned. This gift was one of the primary causes of the rapid growth of Christianity. For by it the preachers of the gospel were able, immediately on their coming into any country, to declare the wonderful things of God, without waiting till, in the ordinary course, they learned the language of the country. The persons who were endowed with this faculty, had not the knowledge of all languages communicated to them, but of such only as they had occasion for. This appears from 1 Corinthians 14:18, where the apostle told the Corinthians that he spake more foreign tongues than they all did. And even the languages which were given them, may not have been communicated to them all at once, but only as they had occasion for them. To another, the interpretation of tongues — Ability to interpret into a language known, suppose into the common language of the place, that which others, suppose foreigners, or those to whom a language was given by inspiration, delivered in a tongue with which the hearers were not acquainted. From this being mentioned as a distinct gift from that of speaking foreign languages, Macknight infers, that not every one who understood the foreign language, in which an inspired teacher spake, was allowed to interpret what he spake. The only person, he thinks, permitted to do this, was the interpreter, endowed with an especial inspiration for that end. Because, “the doctrines of the gospel, being entirely different from all the ideas which the heathen had been accustomed to entertain on religious subjects, any interpretation of what was delivered by the Spirit in a foreign language, made without a supernatural direction, might have led the church into errror. Further, the faculty of interpreting foreign languages by inspiration was, in another respect, a gift very necessary in the first age; for the books of the Old Testament being written in Hebrew, a language not then understood by the vulgar, even in Judea, and the writings of the apostles and evangelists being all in the Greek tongue, on account of its emphasis and precision; and that tongue being nowhere spoken by the common people, except in Greece and some cities of the Lesser Asia, if there had not been in every church inspired interpreters, who could translate these divinely-inspired writings into the common language, they would have been, in a great measure, useless; especially at the beginning, when the knowledge of them was most wanted. Whereas every church having inspired interpreters of foreign languages commonly present in their religious assemblies, to translate the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures into the language of the country, the common people, everywhere, had an opportunity of deriving from these writings all the knowledge and comfort they are fitted to yield. Such were the supernatural gifts with which the first preachers and ministers of the gospel were endowed; and by which they effectually and speedily established the gospel in the most populous and civilized provinces of the Roman empire.” And all these — Diversities of gifts, the apostle adds, worketh that one and the self-same Spirit — They all flow from one and the same fountain; dividing to every man severally, καθως βουλεται, as he willeth — An expression which does not so much imply arbitrary pleasure, as a determination founded on wise counsel.

12:1-11 Spiritual gifts were extraordinary powers bestowed in the first ages, to convince unbelievers, and to spread the gospel. Gifts and graces greatly differ. Both were freely given of God. But where grace is given, it is for the salvation of those who have it. Gifts are for the advantage and salvation of others; and there may be great gifts where there is no grace. The extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit were chiefly exercised in the public assemblies, where the Corinthians seem to have made displays of them, wanting in the spirit of piety, and of Christian love. While heathens, they had not been influenced by the Spirit of Christ. No man can call Christ Lord, with believing dependence upon him, unless that faith is wrought by the Holy Ghost. No man could believe with his heart, or prove by a miracle, that Jesus was Christ, unless by the Holy Ghost. There are various gifts, and various offices to perform, but all proceed from one God, one Lord, one Spirit; that is, from the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the origin of all spiritual blessings. No man has them merely for himself. The more he profits others, the more will they turn to his own account. The gifts mentioned appear to mean exact understanding, and uttering the doctrines of the Christian religion; the knowledge of mysteries, and skill to give advice and counsel. Also the gift of healing the sick, the working of miracles, and to explain Scripture by a peculiar gift of the Spirit, and ability to speak and interpret languages. If we have any knowledge of the truth, or any power to make it known, we must give all the glory of God. The greater the gifts are, the more the possessor is exposed to temptations, and the larger is the measure of grace needed to keep him humble and spiritual; and he will meet with more painful experiences and humbling dispensations. We have little cause to glory in any gifts bestowed on us, or to despise those who have them not.To another the working of miracles - Commentators have felt some perplexity in distinguishing this from what is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:9, of the gift of healing. it is evident that the apostle there refers to the power of working miracles in healing inveterate and violent diseases. The expression used here, "working of miracles" (ἐνεργήματα δυναμέων energēmata dunameōn) refers probably to the more "extraordinary" and "unusual" kinds of miracles; to those which were regarded as in advance of the power of healing diseases. It is possible that it may denote what the Saviour had reference to in Mark 16:18, where he said they should take up serpents, and if they drank any deadly thing it should not hurt them; and possibly also to the power of raising up the dead. That this power was possessed by the apostles is well known; and it is possible that it was possessed by others also of the early Christians. It is clear from all this that there was a difference even among those who had the power of working miracles, and that this power was conferred in a more eminent degree on some than on others. Indeed, the "extraordinary" endowments conferred on the apostles and the early Christians, seem to have been regulated to a remarkable degree in accordance with the rule by which "ordinary" endowments are conferred upon people. Though all people have understanding, memory, imagination, bodily strength, etc., yet one has these in a more eminent degree than others; and one is characterized for the possession of one of those qualities more than for another. Yet all are bestowed by the same God. So it was in regard to the extraordinary endowments conferred on the early Christians; compare 1 Corinthians 14, especially 1 Corinthians 14:32.

To another prophecy; - See the note at Romans 12:6.

To another discerning of spirits - compare 1 John 4:1. This must refer to some power of searching into the secrets of the heart; of knowing what were a man's purposes. views, and feelings. It may relate either to the power of determining by what spirit a man spoke who pretended to be inspired, whether he was truly inspired or whether he was an impostor; or it may refer to the power of seeing whether a man was sincere or not in his Christian profession That the apostles had this power, is apparent from the case of Ananias and Sapphira, Acts 5:1-10, and from the case of Elymas, Acts 13:9-11. It is evident that where the gift of prophecy and inspiration was possessed, and where it would confer such advantages on those who possessed it, there would be many pretenders to it; and that it would be of vast importance to the infant church, in order to prevent imposition, that there should be a power in the church of detecting the imposture.

To another divers kinds of tongues - The power of speaking various languages; see Acts 2:4, Acts 2:7-11. This passage also seems to imply that the extraordinary endowments of the Holy Spirit were not conferred on all alike.

To another the interpretation of tongues - The power of interpreting foreign languages; or of interpreting the language which might be used by the "prophets" in their communications; see the note at 1 Corinthians 14:27. This was evidently a faculty different from the power of speaking a foreign language; and yet it might be equally useful. It would appear possible that some might have had the power of speaking foreign languages who were not themselves apprized of the meaning, and that interpreters were needful in order to express the sense to the hearers. Or it may have been that in a promiscuous assembly, or in an assembly made up of those who spoke different languages, a part might have understood what was uttered, and it was needful that an interpreter should explain it to the other portion; see the notes on 1 Corinthians 14:28.

10. working of miracles—As "healings" are miracles, those here meant must refer to miracles of special and extraordinary POWER (so the Greek for "miracles" means); for example, healings might be effected by human skill in course of time; but the raising of the dead, the infliction of death by a word, the innocuous use of poisons, &c., are miracles of special power. Compare Mr 6:5; Ac 19:11.

prophecy—Here, probably, not in the wider sense of public teaching by the Spirit (1Co 11:4, 5; 14:1-5, 22-39); but, as its position between "miracles" and a "discerning of spirits" implies, the inspired disclosure of the future (Ac 11:27, 28; 21:11; 1Ti 1:18), [Henderson]. It depends on "faith" (1Co 12:9; Ro 12:6). The prophets ranked next to the apostles (1Co 12:28; Eph 3:5; 4:11). As prophecy is part of the whole scheme of redemption, an inspired insight into the obscurer parts of the existing Scriptures, was the necessary preparation for the miraculous foresight of the future.

discerning of spirits—discerning between the operation of God's Spirit, and the evil spirit, or unaided human spirit (1Co 14:29; compare 1Ti 4:1; 1Jo 4:1).

kinds of tongues—the power of speaking various languages: also a spiritual language unknown to man, uttered in ecstasy (1Co 14:2-12). This is marked as a distinct genus in the Greek, "To another and a different class."

interpretation of tongues—(1Co 14:13, 26, 27).

To another the working of miracles, of other sorts, such as the inflicting punishments on sinners, casting out devils, &c.

To another prophecy, which in the general signifieth the revelation of the will of God, whether by the foretelling future contingencies, or opening the Scriptures by preaching or teaching.

To another discerning of spirits; a power wherein God, for the further authority and credit of his gospel in the primitive times, communicated to some men something of his own prerogative to discern men’s inward thoughts and hearts, and to make up a judgment of their truth and sincerity, or contrariwise of their falsehood and hypocrisy.

To another divers kinds of tongues, that is, a power to discourse with men in their several languages, as we read in Acts 2:8.

To another the interpretation of tongues: this is made a diverse gift from an ability to speak with divers tongues; possibly some of those that spake with divers tongues could not interpret what they said.

To another the working of miracles,.... Or "powers": mighty deeds, wonderful works, such as are apparently above, and out of the reach of nature, and beyond the compass of human power and skill; such as raising the dead, causing the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the dumb to speak, the lame to walk, and the like; of which, see some instances in Acts 3:6. Though others understand by these the extraordinary powers the apostles had of punishing offenders; of which the striking Ananias and Sapphira dead, by Peter, the smiting Elymas the sorcerer with blindness, by Paul, and the delivering the incestuous person, and Hymenaeus, and Alexander, to Satan, by the same apostle, are instances.

To another prophecy: either foretelling of future events, as was given to Agabus, and the four daughters of Philip, and others, Acts 11:27 or a gift of understanding the prophecies of the Old Testament, and of preaching the Gospel, which is in this epistle frequently called "prophesying", particularly in the two following chapters; and those endowed with it are called prophets, Acts 13:1.

To another discerning of spirits; by which gift such that were possessed of it could, in some measure, discern the hearts of men, their thoughts, purposes, and designs, their secret dissimulation and hypocrisy; as Peter, by this gift, discerned the dissimulation and lying of Ananias and Sapphira; and by it they could also tell whether a man that made a profession of religion had the truth of grace in him, or not; so Peter knew hereby that Simon Magus was in the gall of bitterness, and bond of iniquity, notwithstanding his specious pretences to faith and holiness, whereby he imposed upon Philip the evangelist, who might not have this gift of discerning spirits; by which also they could distinguish the Spirit of God from the lying spirits in men; of which there is an instance, Acts 15:17.

To another divers kinds of tongues; whereby such could speak all manner of languages, which they had never learned, understood, and been used to: this Christ promised his disciples, when he sent them into all the world to preach the Gospel, Mark 16:16 and so anticipates an objection they otherwise might have made, how they should be able to preach it to all, so as to be understood, when they were not acquainted with the languages of all nations; an instance of which we have in the apostles on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:4 and which continued many years after with them, and other persons in the churches; see 1 Corinthians 13:2.

To another the interpretation of tongues; one that had this gift, when a discourse was delivered in an unknown tongue, used to stand up and interpret it to the people, without which it could be of no use to them; and sometimes a person was gifted to speak in an unknown tongue, and yet was not capable of interpreting his discourse truly and distinctly in that the people understood: see 1 Corinthians 14:13. The rules to be observed in such cases, and by such persons, see in 1 Corinthians 14:27.

To another the {i} working of miracles; to another {k} prophecy; to another {l} discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

(i) By working he means those great workings of God's mighty power, which pass and excel among his miracles, as the delivery of his people by the hand of Moses: that which he did by Elijah against the priests of Baal, in sending down fire from heaven to consume his sacrifice: and that which he did by Peter, in the matter of Ananias and Sapphira.

(k) Foretelling of things to come.

(l) By which false prophets are know from true, in which Peter surpassed Philip in exposing Simon Magus; Ac 8:20.

1 Corinthians 12:10. Ἐνεργήματα δυνάμ.] workings (1 Corinthians 12:6) which consist in acts of power. It is a purely arbitrary assumption that by this is meant merely the “potestas puniendi sontes, qualis exercita in Ananiam, etc.” (Grotius, following Chrysostom and Theophylact, comp also David Schulz). They are in general—excluding, however, the cures already assigned to a special gift—miraculous works (comp Acts 4:30), which, as the effects of a will endowed with miraculous power, may be very various according to the different occasions which determined its action (2 Corinthians 12:12; Hebrews 2:4; also Romans 15:19). Instances of raising the dead belonged likewise to this division.[1955]

ΠΡΟΦΗΤΕΊΑ] prophetic speech, i.e. address flowing from revelation and impulse of the Holy Spirit, which, without being bound for that matter to a specific office, suddenly (1 Corinthians 14:30) unveils the depths of the human heart (1 Corinthians 14:25) and of the divine counsels (1 Corinthians 3:10; Ephesians 3:5), and thereby works with peculiar power for the enlightenment, admonition, and comforting of the faithful (1 Corinthians 14:3), and so as to win over the unbelieving (1 Corinthians 14:24). As respects the substance of what he utters, the prophet is distinguished from the speaker with tongues by this, that the latter utters prayers only (see below); and as respects form, by the fact that the prophet speaks intelligibly, not in an ecstatic way, consequently not without the exercise of reflective thought; he differs from the διδάσκαλος thus: Ὁ ΜῈΝ ΠΡΟΦΗΤΕΎΩΝ ΠΆΝΤΑ ἈΠῸ ΤΟῦ ΠΝΕΎΜΑΤΟς ΦΘΈΓΓΕΤΑΙ· Ὁ ΔῈ ΔΙΔΆΣΚΩΝ ἘΣΤῚΝ ὍΠΟΥ ΚΑῚ ἘΞ ΟἸΚΕΊΑς ΔΙΑΝΟΊΑς ΔΙΑΛΈΓΕΤΑΙ, Chrysostom on 1 Corinthians 12:28. Comp generally on Acts 11:27. Lücke, Einl. in d. Offenb. Joh. p. 29. Güder in Herzog’s Encyklop. XII. p. 210 f.

διακρίσεις πνευμ.] judgments of spirits, i.e. judgments which avail, and that immediately on hearing the utterances, for the preservation of the church from misleading influences, by informing it from what spirits the utterances proceeded, and by whom they were carried on in the different cases (hence the plural διακρίσεις), whether consequently the Holy Spirit, or the human spirit merely, or even demoniac spirits (1 Timothy 4:1; 1 John 4:1) were at work; ΚΑῚ ΓᾺΡ ΠΟΛΛῊ ΤΌΤΕ ΤῶΝ ΨΕΥΔΟΠΡΟΦΗΤῶΝ Ἦ ΔΙΑΦΟΡᾺ, ΤΟῦ ΔΙΑΒΌΛΟΥ ΦΙΛΟΝΕΙΚΟῦΝΤΟς ΠΑΡΥΠΟΣΤῆΣΑΙ Τῇ ἈΛΗΘΕΊᾼ ΤῸ ΨΕῦΔΟς, Chrysostom. Respecting ΔΙΆΚΡΙΣΙς, comp on Romans 14:1.

ΓΈΝΗ ΓΛΩΣΣῶΝ] The ΓΛΏΣΣΑΙς ΛΑΛΕῖΝ in Corinth was identical with that mentioned in Acts 10:46; Acts 19:6, identical also with the speaking at Pentecost, Acts 2, according to its historical substance (see on Acts, loc. cit.), although not according to the form preserved by tradition in Luke’s account, which had made it a speaking in foreign languages, and so a miracle of a quite peculiar kind. Most commentators, indeed, following Origen and the Fathers generally (with exceptions, however, as early as Irenaeus and Tertullian), have taken γλῶσσαι in this passage also as meaning foreign languages (so Storr, Flatt, Heydenreich, Schulthess, Schrader, Rückert, Ch. F. Fritzsche, Maier), and that, too, in the view of the majority, unacquired languages;[1958] only a few (among the most recent of whom are Schulthess, de charismatib. Sp. St., Lips. 1818, and Schrader, also Ch. F. Fritzsche in his Nov. Opusc. p. 302 ff.) regarding them as acquired by learning.[1959] The former view is held also by Rückert (“the faculty, in isolated moments of high inspiration, of praising God in languages which they had not previously learned”) and Bäumlein in the Stud. d. evangelischen Geistlichkeit Würtemb. VI. 2, 1834, pp. 30–123; Osiander; Kling in the Stud. u. Krit. 1839, p. 487 ff.; to some extent Olshausen and Bauer in the Stud. u. Krit. 1843, p. 658 ff.; 1844, p. 708 ff. See, in opposition to it, especially Bleek in the Stud. u. Krit. 1829, p. 17 f.; Bauer in the Tübing. Zeitschr. 1830, 2, p. 104 ff.; Schulz, Geistesgaben, p. 57 ff.; Zeller, Apostelgesch. p. 89 ff.; van Hengel, de Gave der talen, Leiden 1864, p. 90 ff. Even putting out of account the singular expression γλώσσῃ λαλεῖν, which is supposed to refer to a foreign language, and the psychological impossibility[1960] of speaking languages which had not been learned, the following considerations tell decidedly against the view of foreign languages: (1) It would make 1 Corinthians 14:2 untrue in all cases in which persons were found among the audience who understood the languages spoken. (2) In 1 Corinthians 14:10-11 we have the γένη φωνῶν (languages) expressly distinguished from γένη γλωσσῶν (see unfounded objections to this in Bäumlein, p. 92, and in Hofmann), and the former adduced as an analogue of the latter. (3) What is contrasted with the glossolalia is not speaking in one’s native tongue, but speaking with employment of the understanding (1 Corinthians 14:15); and the glossolalia itself is characterized as λαλεῖν πνεύματι. (4) In 1 Corinthians 14:6 there is contrasted with the γλῶσσ. λαλεῖν the speaking ἐν ἀποκαλύψει, ἐν γνώσει κ.τ.λ[1961], which could all, of course, be done in any language; hence the unintelligibleness of the glossolalia is not to be sought in the idiom, but in the fact that what was spoken contained neither ἀποκάλυψις nor ΓΝῶΣΙς, etc. (5) Upon this theory, the case supposed in 1 Corinthians 14:28 could not have occurred at all, since every speaker would have been able also to interpret. (6) In 1 Corinthians 14:18 Paul states that he himself possessed the glossolalia in a high degree, but adds that he did not exercise it in the church,—from which it would follow that Paul was in the habit of praying in private, before God, in foreign languages! (7) In 1 Corinthians 14:9, διὰ τῆς γλώσσης plainly means by the tongue, which, however, would be a quite superfluous addition if the point were not one concerning speaking with tongues (not with languages). (8) Paul would have discussed the whole subject of the χάρισμα in question from quite another point of view, namely, according to the presence or non-presence of those who understood foreign languages. Billroth therefore is right in opposing, as we do, the hypothesis of foreign languages; but he still holds fast the signification language, and maintains that the glossolalia was “the speaking of a mixed language, which comprised the elements or rudiments of actual historic languages of the most widely different kinds, and was the type of the universal character of Christianity.” But to say nothing of the Quixotic arbitrariness of the conception of such a medley, to say nothing also of the fact that the first rudiments of languages must have been only very imperfect, unadapted for supersensuous themes, and wholly unsuitable as a means of expression for ecstatic inspiration—this view is opposed by almost all the considerations adduced against the hypothesis of foreign languages applied with the requisite modifications, and in addition by the phrase γλώσσῃ λαλεῖν without the article; for the mixed language would surely not have been indefinitely a language, but the language κατʼ ἐξοχήν, the primeval speech. Rossteuscher, too (Gabe d. Sprachen im apost. Zeitalter, 1850), explains it as languages, and infers from 1 Corinthians 13:1 that the glossolalia in 1 Cor. was the speaking in angelic languages (Acts 2 : in human languages), the designation being formed with reference to the characteristic of this mysterious language, that it betokened a converse alone with God, such as the angels have. So also, in substance, Thiersch, Kirche im apost. Zeitalt. p. 67 f. But this whole conception is shown to be erroneous when we consider that, if the specific characteristic of the phenomenon had been its angelic nature, the latter would have found its expression in the very name of the thing, and would also have been made mention of by Paul in his certainly pretty minute discussion of the subject; whereas, on the contrary, in 1 Corinthians 13:1 a speaking ταῖς γλώσσαις τῶν ἀγγέλων is only supposed as an imaginary case to heighten the contrast. Generally, however, the explanations which make it a speaking in a language or languages, are incompatible with the whole account of it which follows, even if we try to represent to ourselves the phenomenon and the designation as Hofmann does. According to him, the question is regarding languages spoken by the speaker only in virtue of his being carried away by the Holy Spirit, the distinctions between which, however, were not to be considered as differences between the language of one nation and another, but arose out of this, that the Holy Spirit gave impulse and power to the speaker to make his language for himself for what he had to utter at that very moment, so that the language moulded itself specially in the mouth of each individual respectively for that which had to be uttered. Those expositors who departed from the signification language entered on the right path.[1962] But that by itself was not enough to bring them to what was positively the right meaning. For Bleek in the Stud. u. Krit. 1829, pp. 3–79, 1830, p. 43 ff., explains it as glosses, i.e. antique, highly poetic words and formulae, to some extent consisting of provincialisms. This view is equally opposed by most of the considerations which tell against the foreign languages, as well as by 1 Corinthians 13:1; and further, it has against it the fact that γλ. in the above sense is a terminus technicus which occurs, indeed, after Aristotle, although for the most part in grammarians, but which the New Testament writers probably did not so much as know; and also the consideration that the singular γλώσσῃ λαλεῖν, γλώσσαν ἔχειν, γλῶσσῃ προσεύχεσθαι, as well as the expression ΓΛῶΣΣΑΙ ἈΓΓΈΛΩΝ, would be quite absurd. See further, Baur, loc. cit. p. 85 ff. (who, however, in the Stud. u. Krit. 1838, p. 618 ff., has come over in substance to Bleek’s view); Schulz, loc. cit. p. 20 ff., and in the Stud. u. Krit. 1839, p. 752 ff.; Wieseler in the Stud. u. Krit. 1838, p. 723 ff.; Hilgenfeld, Glossolalie, 1850, p. 28 ff. The result of all this is, that there is only the signification tongue remaining for γλῶσσα, so that ΓΛῶΣΣΑΙς ΛΑΛΕῖΝ expresses an uttering oneself with tongues. This is not, however, to be taken as justifying the extreme view of Bardili (significatus primitiv. vocis προφητ., etc., Gott. 1786) and Eichhorn (Biblioth. I. pp. 91 ff., 775 ff.; II. p. 755 ff.; III. p. 322 ff.), according to which what is meant is a lisping of inarticulate tones;[1963] for such a strange form of expression for inspiration, for which Paul would hardly have given thanks to God,—such a play of spiritual utterance as would hardly have made any certain charismatic exposition possible,—must have been clearly presented by the text, in order, despite these considerations, to warrant its assumption. Comp on Acts 2. But the text characterizes the speaking in tongues as utterance of prayer (1 Corinthians 14:13-17) in which the ΝΟῦς falls into the background, and therefore unintelligible without interpretation. There must thus, certainly, have been a want of connection, since the reflective faculty was absent which regulates and presents clearly the conceptions; there may even have been inarticulateness in it, sometimes in a greater, sometimes in a less degree; but must it on this account have been a mere babbling? May it not have been a speaking in ecstatic ejaculations, abrupt ascriptions of praise to God, and other mysterious outbursts in prayer of the highest strain of inspiration? Baur, too, loc. cit., agrees in substance with this;[1965] as also Steudel in the Tüb. Zeitschr. 1830, 2, p. 135 ff.; Neander; Kuntze in the theol. Mitarb. 1840, p. 119 ff.; Olshausen (who, however, takes γλ. as languages, and holds himself obliged, on the ground of Acts 2, to include also the use of foreign languages); de Wette; Delitzsch, Psychol. p. 362 f.; Zeller in the theol. Jahrb. 1849, 1, p. 43, and Apostelgesch. p. 111. Comp too, Ewald, Jahrb. III. p. 270 ff., who, however, derives from the speaking with tongues the ἀββὰ ὁ πατήρ, which is in itself so intelligible, and which does not presuppose any high inspiration, and the unutterable sighings, Romans 8:26, which do not belong to the sphere of the ΛΑΛΕῖΝ. Similarly van Hengel, p. 105, who, again, conceives the original glossolalia (“open-hearted and loud speaking to the glorifying of God in Christ,” see on Acts 2) to have become so degenerate and abused by the Corinthians, that it was now “a spiritless counterfeit, a product of pride and vanity,” and so no longer to the glory of God in Christ,—an assumption which leaves it unexplained why Paul should not have denounced an abuse of this kind in the severest way, and how he could even place his own speaking with tongues upon the same level with that of the Corinthians. Hilgenfeld, who understands it to mean language of immediate divine suggestion (“divine tongues, spirit-voices from a higher world”), is not disposed to keep distinct from each other the two meanings of γλῶσσα, tongue and language (so also Zeller, Delitzsch, and others), although Paul himself keeps them distinct in 1 Corinthians 14:10 f. Schulz limits the conception too narrowly to ascriptions of praise to God,[1967] since, in fact, 1 Corinthians 14:13-17 shows that it included prayer, praise, and thanksgiving. We are accordingly to understand by ΓΛΏΣΣΑΙς ΛΑΛΕῖΝ such an outburst of prayer in petition, praise, and thanksgiving, as was so ecstatic that in connection with it the speaker’s own conscious intellectual activity was suspended, while the tongue did not serve as the instrument for the utterance of self-active reflection, but, independently of it, was involuntarily set in motion by the Holy Spirit, by whom the man in his deepest nature was seized and borne away.[1968] As regards this matter, it is conceivable—(1) that the abeyance of the νοῦς made this λαλεῖν so disconnected and mysterious for hearers who were bound to the conditions of the νοῦς, that it could not be understood by them without ἑρμηνεία. Incomprehensible sounds, partly sighing, partly jubilant cries, broken words, expressions new in their form and connection, in which the deepest emotion struggled to express itself, and in whatever other ways the tongue might give utterance to the highest surgings and heavings of the Spirit,—it remained unfruitful for others, if no interpretation was added, like a foreign language not understood. Equally conceivable is it (2) that in such utterances of prayer, the tongue, because speaking independently of the νοῦς, apparently spoke of itself,[1969] although it was in reality the organ of the Holy Spirit. It was not the I of the man that spoke, but the tongue,—so the case seemed to be, and so arose its designation. But (3) because that ecstatic kind of prayer showed itself under very different characteristic modifications (which we doubtless, from want of experience of them, are not in a position to establish), and the same speaker with tongues must, according to the varying degrees, impulses, and tendencies of his ecstasy, have expressed himself in manifold ways which could be easily distinguished from each other, so that he appeared to speak with different tongues, there arose both the plural expression γλώσσαις λαλεῖν and the mode of view which led men to distinguish ΓΈΝΗ ΓΛΩΣΣῶΝ.[1970]

ἑρμηνεία γλωσσ.] Interpretation of tongues, i.e. a making of tongues intelligible in speaking, a presentation of the sense of what they say.[1971] The condition for this was the capacity of the νοῦς, produced by the Spirit, to receive what was prayed for in glossolalia. The man speaking with tongues might himself (1 Corinthians 14:5-13) have the χάρισμα of the interpreter (comp the classical ὑποφήτης), but did not always have it himself alone, as Wieseler also now admits (Stud. u. Krit. 1860, p. 117) in opposition to his own earlier view.

[1955] But not instances of the casting out of demons (Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 410), which are to be placed under the category of the ἰάματα (comp. Matthew 15:28; Luke 6:17; Luke 9:42; Acts 10:38).

[1958] So, too, Zinsler, de charism. τοῦ γλ. λαλεῖν, Aug. Vind. 1847,—a Roman Catholic prize-essay which obtained the prize, but is destitute of all scientific worth. Of a much more thorough description is another successful prize-essay (also Roman Catholic), by Englmann, von den Charismen, etc., Mainz 1848, who explains it in the same way of foreign languages; as also Froschammer, Charismen, 1850; and Maier, Die Glossolalie des apost. Zeitalt. 1855.

[1959] Ch. F. Fritzsche’s view is: At Corinth, as in seaport towns generally, there were labourers, fishers, etc., who, from their intercourse with foreign sailors, had become so far acquainted with different languages as to be able to converse about matters of ordinary life. Many of these people had become Christians, and having now learned that it had been predicted by the prophets that in the Messianic times the Holy Spirit would bring about a speaking concerning divine things in strange tongues (Isaiah 28:11 f.; Joel 3), they had accordingly applied this oracle to themselves, “quos pro sua, licet tenui, exterarum linguarum peritia prae ceteris idoneos putassent, quos Spiritus s. barbaris linguis de rebus divinis disserere juberet.” Since, however, most of the Christians did not understand this speaking in strange tongues, there had to be an interpretation into Greek, and the interpreters in their turn, not less than the speakers, regarded their ability as flowing from the Holy Spirit. So it all resolves itself into naive self-deception and imagination!

[1960] This is made only the more evident, if we suppose (comp. e.g. Kling) that one speaking with tongues could perhaps even take elements from very different languages and join them creatively together in a harmonious combination.

[1961] .τ.λ. καὶ τὰ λοιπά.

[1962] Luther too, up to 1528, had “tongues,” but from that date onwards has “languages.” In chap. 14, however, he has still “tongues” in 1545.

[1963] Wieseler approached nearest to this view, understanding “an ecstatic speaking in unintelligible expressions, i.e. in soft, scarcely audible, inarticulate words, tones, and sounds, in which inspired pious feeling found vent” (Stud. u. Krit. 1838, p. 738). The same writer, however, has more recently (see Stud. u. Krit. 1860, p. 113 ff.) modified his view to this extent, that he now explains the ecstatic soft praying as being only one special γένος γλωσσῶν, no longer making it the universal form of all speaking with tongues, and in other respects agreeing in substance with our interpretation. But there is nothing in the whole section to lead to the idea of even a soft kind of glossolalia; on the contrary, the comparisons, in particular, with the flute, lyre, trumpet, and cymbal, as well as with foreign languages, are decidedly against this. A soft lisping might run along with it, but was assuredly no special γένος γλωσσῶν.

[1965] Comp. also Weiss, bibl. Theol. p. 410.

[1967] The result of his investigation is presented by Schulz, p. 160, as follows: “The extraordinary excitement of mind, which at times possessed believers in Christ in the primitive church at the thought of the salvation now manifested in Christ, of the blessedness of God’s chosen children now realized after the fulfilment of his earlier promises, and which, under certain circumstances, rose even to ecstasy, was itself regarded as a special gracious gift of the Godhead, and since no nearer means of explanation offered itself, as an immediate operation of the Holy Spirit. Every one therefore willingly yielded himself to such an exaltation of spirit, and had no scruple in giving vent to his joy of soul by joyous and jubilant tones, shouting aloud the praises of God in song, partly in old and familiar strains, partly in newly formed ones, without any concern for the fact that in this way he might easily fall into boundless extravagances, improprieties, and troubles. This singing of praise to God, arising in and from that condition of ecstasy,—these triumphant, loud-sounding strains of jubilation (not the condition of ecstasy itself), are in our judgment what is denoted by the formulas γλώσσῃ and γλώσσαις λαλεῖν.”

[1968] In the ancient church we have, as analogies to the glossolalia, to some extent (Ritschl, altkath. K. p. 473 ff.) the Montanistic ecstasies (see Schwegler, Montanism. p. 83 ff.; Hilgenfeld, Glossolalie, p. 115 ff.; comp. Lücke, Einl. in d. Apokal. I. p. 324, ed. 2); in modern times, the ecstatic discourses of the French and German inspired ones (Goebel in the Zeitschr. f. histor. Theol. 1854, p. 287 ff.), as well as the Irvingite speaking with tongues (Hohl, Bruchstücke aus d. Leben Irv., St. Gallen 1839, evangel. Kirchenzeit. 1839, No. 54 f.; 1839, No. 88 f.; Reich in the Stud. u. Krit. 1849, p. 195 ff.), and ecstatic incidents at Revivals and among the American Methodists (Fabri, d. neuesten Erweckungen in America, etc., 1860); as likewisc glossolalie phenomena, which are narrated of clairvoyants (Delitzsch, Psychol. p. 364 f.). But earlier still we have another analogue in Philo’s conception of the divinely inspired speaking of the prophets; the prophet only seems to speak himself, καταχρῆται δὲ ἕτερος αὐτοῦ τοῖς φωνητηρίοις ὀργάνοις, στόματι καὶ γλώττῃ πρὸς μήνυσιν ὧν ἂν θέλῃ (quis rer. div. haer. I. p. 510, Mang.).—Regarding the essential difference of somnambulist phenomena, which may be compared with the speaking with tongues, see Delitzsch, Psychol. loc. cit.—There is not the remotest ground for thinking of an ecclesiastical secret language (Redslob, Apokal. I. 1859).

[1969] The tongue was not γλῶσσα ὑπήκοος τῷ λογισμῷ, Plut. Mor. p. 90 B.

10. the working of miracles] Literally, effects produced by the active exercise of powers, as in Acts 5:1-11; Acts 9:40; Acts 13:11; Acts 16:18.

prophecy] See note on ch. 1 Corinthians 14:1.

discerning of spirits] Wiclif, knowynge. Tyndale, judgement. This word is derived from the verb translated discern in ch. 1 Corinthians 11:29, where see note. Here it signifies the faculty of forming a correct judgment on the utterances of spirits. Cf. 1 John 4:1. The word only occurs here and in Romans 14:1 and Hebrews 5:14. In the former place, it is rendered by an adjective, ‘doubtful’; literally, discerning of disputations; in the latter by a verb.

divers kinds of tongues] These were either (1) outpourings of prayer and praise in a language unknown to the speaker or (2) (as Dean Alford in loc.) in a language not ordinarily intelligible to any man. The gift of tongues may possibly have included both (see notes on ch. 14). But it is impossible—with Acts 2:9-11 before us, and bearing in mind the fact adduced by Bishop Wordsworth in his commentary on that passage, that we never hear of any one of the Apostles sitting down to learn a foreign language, whereas with all other missionaries this is generally the first thing of which we are told—to exclude the idea of foreign languages here. “Qui multis gentibus annunciaturus erat, multarum linguarum acceperat gratiam.”—Jerome.

to another the interpretation of tongues] See ch. 1 Corinthians 14:5; 1 Corinthians 14:13; 1 Corinthians 14:26-27.

1 Corinthians 12:10. Προφητεία, prophecy) See at Romans 12:6.—διακρίσεις πνευμάτων, discerning of spirits) so that he can show to others, what sort of a spirit each prophet possesses, ch. 1 Corinthians 14:29.—γένη γλωσσῶνἑρμηνεία, kinds of tongues—interpretation) 1 Corinthians 12:30; 1 Corinthians 14:5; 1 Corinthians 14:26-27.

Verse 10. - The working of miracles; literally, active, efficacy of powers; such as "the signs of an apostle," to which St. Paul himself appealed in 2 Corinthians 12:12, which included "wonders and mighty powers" (comp. Romans 15:18). Prophecy. Not "prediction," but elevated and inspired discourse; the power of preaching to edification. Discerning of spirits; rather, discernings, or powers to discriminate between true and false spirits. It was necessary in those days of intense enthusiasm and spiritual awakenment to "test the spirits, whether they be of God" (1 John 4:1). There were such things as "deceitful spirits" which spoke "doctrines of devils" (l Timothy 4:1; Revelation 2:1, 2; see 1 Corinthians 14:29). Divers kinds of tongues. There is no need for the word "divers." The particular variety of the ecstatic, and often entirely unintelligible, utterance known as "the tongue" differed with the individuality or temperament of the speaker. Recent lines of research, by that historical method which can alone furnish correct results, have led to the conclusion that, whatever may be thought of the "tongues" on the day of Pentecost (which is a separate question), the "tongue" spoken of (for the most part with relative disparagement) by St. Paul as a charism of the Spirit was closely analogous to that wild, rapt, unconscious, uncontrollable utterance which, with varying details, has always occurred in the religious movements which stir the human soul to its utmost depths. The attempts to explain the word "tongues" as meaning "foreign languages," or "the primeval language," or "poetic and unusual phraseology," etc., are baseless and exploded. The notion that by this gift the early Christians knew languages which they had never acquired, is not only opposed to the entire analogy of God's dealings, but to every allusion in the New Testament (except a prima facie but untenable view of the meaning of Acts 2:4) and to every tradition and statement of early Christian history. The apostles (so far as we have any record of their missionary work in the New Testament) had not the slightest need to acquire foreign languages. Since Palestine was at this epoch bilingual, they could all speak Aramaic and Greek, and therefore could address Jews and Gentiles throughout the civilized world. Every single allusion which St. Paul makes to this subject excludes the possibility of the supposition of a miracle so utterly useless and meaningless, so subversive of every psychological consideration, and so alien from the analogy of all God's methods, as the talking in unacquired foreign languages by persons who did not understand them. The interpretation of tongues. Sometimes, but not always (1 Corinthians 14:13), the speaker, on relapsing from his ecstasy, was able to express his outburst of unintelligible soliloquy in the form of reasoned thought When he was unable to do so, St. Paul ordains that another should convey in ordinary language the impressions left by the inspired rhapsody (1 Corinthians 14:27-29). 1 Corinthians 12:10Prophecy

Not mere foretelling of the future. Quite probably very little of this element is contemplated; but utterance under immediate divine inspiration: delivering inspired exhortations, instructions, or warnings. See on prophet, Luke 7:26. The fact of direct inspiration distinguished prophecy from "teaching."

Discerning of spirits

Rev., correctly, discernings. Distinguishing between the different prophetic utterances, whether they proceed from true or false spirits. See 1 Timothy 4:1; 1 John 4:1, 1 John 4:2.

Divers kinds of tongues (γένη γλωσσῶν).

I. Passages Relating to the Gift of Tongues. Mark 16:17; Acts 2:3-21; Acts 10:46; Acts 19:6; 1 Corinthians 12:10, 1 Corinthians 12:28; 1 Corinthians 13:1; 14. Possibly Ephesians 5:18; 1 Peter 4:11.

II. Terms Employed. New tongues (Mark 16:17): other or different tongues (ἕτεραι, Acts 2:4): kinds (γένη) of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:10): simply tongues or tongue (γλῶσσαι γλῶσσα, 1 Corinthians 14): to speak with tongues or a tongue (γλώσσαις or γλώσσῃ λαλεῖν, Acts 2:4; Acts 10:46; Acts 19:6; 1 Corinthians 14:2, 1 Corinthians 14:4, 1 Corinthians 14:13, 1 Corinthians 14:14, 1 Corinthians 14:19, 1 Corinthians 14:27): to pray in a tongue (προσεύχεσθαι γλώσσῃ, 1 Corinthians 14:14, 1 Corinthians 14:15), equivalent to praying in the spirit as distinguished from praying with the understanding: tongues of men and angels (1 Corinthians 13:1).

III. Recorded Facts in the New Testament. (1.) The first recorded bestowment of the gift was at Pentecost (Acts 2). The question arises whether the speakers were miraculously endowed to speak with other tongues, or whether the Spirit interpreted the apostle's words to each in his own tongue. Probably the latter was the case, since there is no subsequent notice of the apostles preaching in foreign tongues; there is no allusion to foreign tongues by Peter, nor by Joel, whom he quotes. This fact, moreover, would go to explain the opposite effects on the hearers. (2.) Under the power of the Spirit, the company addressed by Peter in the house of Cornelius at Caesarea spake with tongues. Acts 10:44-46. (3.) Certain disciples at Ephesus, who received the Holy Spirit in the laying on of Paul's hands, spake with tongues and prophesied, Acts 19:6.

IV. Meaning of the Term "Tongue." The various explanations are: the tongue alone, inarticulately: rare, provincial, poetic, or archaic words: language or dialect. The last is the correct definition. It does not necessarily mean any of the known languages of men, but may mean the speaker's own tongue, shaped in a peculiar manner by the Spirit's influence; or an entirely new spiritual language.

V. Nature of the Gift in the Corinthian Church. (1.) The gift itself was identical with that at Pentecost, at Caesarea, and at Ephesus, but differed in its manifestations, in that it required an interpreter. 1 Corinthians 12:10, 1 Corinthians 12:30; 1 Corinthians 14:5, 1 Corinthians 14:13, 1 Corinthians 14:26, 1 Corinthians 14:27. (2.) It was closely connected with prophesying: 1 Corinthians 14:1-6, 1 Corinthians 14:22, 1 Corinthians 14:25; Acts 2:16-18; Acts 19:6. Compare 1 Thessalonians 5:19, 1 Thessalonians 5:20. It was distinguished from prophesying as an inferior gift, 1 Corinthians 14:4, 1 Corinthians 14:5; and as consisting in expressions of praise or devotion rather than of exhortation, warning, or prediction, 1 Corinthians 14:14-16. (3.) It was an ecstatic utterance, unintelligible to the hearers, and requiring interpretation, or a corresponding ecstatic condition on the part of the hearer in order to understand it. It was not for the edification of the hearer but of the speaker, and even the speaker did not always understand it, 1 Corinthians 14:2, 1 Corinthians 14:19. It therefore impressed unchristian bystanders as a barbarous utterance, the effect of madness or drunkenness, Acts 2:13, Acts 2:15; 1 Corinthians 14:11, 1 Corinthians 14:23. Hence it is distinguished from the utterance of the understanding, 1 Corinthians 14:4, 1 Corinthians 14:14-16, 1 Corinthians 14:19, 1 Corinthians 14:27.

VI. Paul's Estimate of the Gift. He himself was a master of the gift (1 Corinthians 14:18), but he assigned it an inferior position (1 Corinthians 14:4, 1 Corinthians 14:5), and distinctly gave prophesying and speaking with the understanding the preference (1 Corinthians 14:2, 1 Corinthians 14:3, 1 Corinthians 14:5, 1 Corinthians 14:19, 1 Corinthians 14:22).

VII. Results and Permanence. Being recognized distinctly as a gift of the Spirit, it must be inferred that it contributed in some way to the edification of the Church; but it led to occasional disorderly outbreaks (1 Corinthians 14:9, 1 Corinthians 14:11, 1 Corinthians 14:17, 1 Corinthians 14:20-23, 1 Corinthians 14:26-28, 1 Corinthians 14:33, 1 Corinthians 14:40). As a fact it soon passed away from the Church. It is not mentioned in the Catholic or Pastoral Epistles. A few allusions to it occur in the writings of the fathers of the second century. Ecstatic conditions and manifestations marked the Montanists at the close of the second century, and an account of such a case, in which a woman was the subject, is given by Tertullian. Similar phenomena have emerged at intervals in various sects, at times of great religious excitement, as among the Camisards in France, the early Quakers and Methodists, and especially the Irvingites.

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