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Ministries, Charisms, Fruits - 12 Tongues

Thursday, May 28, 2009
The gift of tongues is a supernatural gift that was given for the aid of the further preaching of the Gospel following Ascension and Pentecost. St Luke relates the events of that first Pentecost, telling us that one hundred and twenty disciples of Galilean origin were heard to speak in a variety of diverse tongues according as the Holy Spirit had given them to speak. Approximately three thousand people were brought together at that time, representing two religious classes, Jews and proselytes, from fifteen different nations, seen to be symbolic of every nation under Heaven. Those present were confounded in mind, for each heard the wonderful things of God spoken in his own tongue. Many thought the disciples were grossly inebriated but St Peter justified this anomaly by explaining it in the light of prophecy as a sign of the last times (cf. Acts 2:1-15)

St Paul was a witness to the operation of the same, or a related, gift at Ephesus. He directs the Corinthians to employ nothing but articulate and plain speech in their use of the gift of tongues, and also to refrain from its use in Church unless what is said can be grasped by the unlearned (cf. 1 Cor 14). No tongue is genuine without the voice of interpretation and to use tongues in this way Paul considers to be the act of a barbarian. He considers that the impulse to praise God in one or more strange tongues should come from the Holy Spirit and counts it as an inferior gift, granting it a penultimate place in a list of eight charismata. In effect Paul teaches that it is a mere sign, meant not for believers but only for unbelievers.


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