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tongues, glossolalia, interpretation, prophecy, pneumatology, charismata, pneumatikon, Corinthians, Paul, Luke, angelic, charismatic, Delphi, Delphic Oracle, Sybil


Studies regarding pneumatology and charismata have maintained distinctions largely due to previously held presuppositions. Christians have debated Luke’s and Paul’s usage of specific words and have taken diametrically opposite positions on this issue. This study will not attempt to answer the question of the legitimacy of spiritual gifts; we must, rather, begin from a proper understanding of words and concepts, thus allowing God’s Word to change us if we are to be mindful of our obedience toward Him. This study will examine the historic meaning of the word and concept of tongues in order to better gauge Luke’s and Paul’s—and thus God’s—meaning for proper obedience.

The issue under examination is a question of meaning: does the original meaning of tongues include only the miraculous endowment to speak an unlearned language, or only something related to the modern phenomenon of glossolalia, or an admixture of both? An examination of meaning includes an examination of historically contemporary authors, both biblical and extrabiblical.

There are a variety of ways that ancient authors recognized different tongues phenomena, but for the modern Christian, it is finally important to understand what Luke and Paul meant. While it is true that Cessationists are correct to understand Luke’s use as that of a miraculously endowed foreign language, Paul and the Corinthians likely embraced a broader semantic range of this phenomenon.