By the year 33 of our Common Era, many Jews were living outside Jerusalem. Those who were faithful adherents of Judaism had traveled a considerable distance to come to Jerusalem to attend the Passover Festival. Some of these spoke foreign languages, not Hebrew. It was the dawn of Christianity. How would God introduce these non-Hebrew speaking Jews to Christianity, which at its inception consisted of Hebrew speaking Jews? He would miraculously provide a sufficiency of translators to declare His message. He would give the gift of speaking in tongues!
Each one present would each hear and understand the magnificent things of God and could carry the message back on returning to his homeland. Please read Acts 2:12-15.
Traveling Jews and Tongues
Although they realized they were hearing wonderful things about God, it would have been surprising if the visiting Jews were not confused and perplexed at all the commotion! Why, some concluded the goings-on had involved the drinking of sweet wine, the variety of wine especially associated with drunkenness. Yet it was necessary to grab the attention of those present.
Peter, along with the 11 other apostles (among them the replacement for Judas, named Matthias) stood up and quieted the crowd. Peter served as spokesman. He did not denounce those present for their erroneous conceptions. Instead, he pointed to the Hebrew Scriptures, which prophesied the outpouring of God’s spirit on his servants and events to follow. – Joel 2:28-32. There is something special in this quoting of Joel. Throughout most of the Hebrew Scriptures, God’s People were in some way associated with the Nation of Israel. They were practicers of Judaism. Yet Peter’s words applied Joel’s prophecy, not to this nations, but to this newly formed Congregation, which consisted first of Jewish Christians!
A Change in the Program
Despite his covenant nation being the organization Jehovah had used for more than 1,500 years, due to its frequent disobedience He established this new arrangement, this new congregation, to represent him. The change was to be a public one! What evidence is there for this change? Consider these words of Jesus Christ himself. Matthew 23:37 and 38 reads: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the killer of the prophets and stoner of those sent to her—how often I wanted to gather your children together the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings! But you did not want it. Look! Your house is abandoned to you.” Jerusalem, the capital, represented nothing less than Israel itself. The nation itself was no longer God’s nation. The Mosaic Law Covenant was to be dissolved. (Colossians 2:13, 14)
Jesus did not say God was abandoning the Jews as individuals. It was their “house”, their nation, that was abandoned. Their worship based on the Mosaic Law, including their activities at the Temple itself, were no longer approved by God! How did most of the Jews respond? Sadly, the nation as a whole ignored the transition. They preferred the 1,500 year old “wine” of Judaism over the new wine of Christianity (Luke 5:30, 39). Still, some Jews did become followers of Christ. Why the 12 chosen apostles were all Jews! But all the Jews needed convincing evidence God had made the switch. Thus miracles were used, including the speaking in tongues, to provide an undeniably public revelation. It was a kind of jump start for Christianity. The truly fine wine was not the old, but this “new wine”.
What else was achieved by the outpouring of holy spirit that yielded the speaking in tongues? The spirit also “anointed” those in the room, prospectively inviting them upon proving faithful to serve as future Kings and Priests of His heavenly Kingdom. By so doing, the Christian Congregation was “born”, a new nation that replaced the Nation of Israel as God’s “Servant” (Isaiah 43:10). Finally, the speaking in tongues would have been most encouraging to those given the gift. Imagine their surprise on receiving this amazing gift! Here are a few verses that verify the above points… Romans 8:16, 17; Galatians 3:28; 1 Peter 2:9, 10.
That the gift of speaking in tongues served as a spiritual “jumpstart” can be seen by the rapid spread of the message. It happened so quickly the Apostle Paul was moved to say at Colossians 1:23 that the “good news” had been “preached in all creation under heaven.” These words make it apparent there was no need to continue giving this gift endlessly. The Bible verifies that fact at 1 Corinthians 13:8. Suggesting a child puts away the things of a child when he matures, Paul tells us the congregation, as it grew up, the congregation would no longer need such gifts of the spirit. Although they would cease, faith, hope, and love – and especially love – would not cease. The Bible, upon completion, replaced the miraculous gifts. Nothing more is needed to identify the true religion.
The jewel of Christianity is the Way! But beware, Satan has sprinkled rhinestones in an attempt to hide it. Have YOU identified the true Christian Congregation?