We’re currently examining tongues in Acts 2, and the previous post considered the question Are tongues in Acts 2 a gift of hearing, rather than speaking? Today I want to deal with two more questions.
Are tongues in Acts 2 a “heavenly language” understood only by interpretation?
Whilst this suggestion has been made for glossolalia in Corinthians, it is not even remotely credible in Acts, as there is no suggestion that any interpreters were present.
Are tongues in Acts 2 unintelligible, ecstatic speech?
If the tongues are not a miracle of hearing then it follows that they cannot be unintelligible speech. There is simply too much emphasis on the intelligibility of the speech for it to be ecstatic. The only “evidence” from Acts that it was ecstatic is that the disciples were accused of drunkenness (Acts 2:13). If the only reaction was a belief that the disciples were drunk, this would be evidence for ecstasy. However, according to Luke, the accusation of drunkenness is only one reaction. Many others affirm the intelligibility of the speech, both in the language (“in our own tongues”), and in the content (“we hear them telling… the mighty works of God”). Moreover, this partial accusation of drunkenness would more easily follow if the speech was the ability to speak in many human languages (see a future post). Therefore in Acts 2, Luke cannot be referring to ecstatic, unintelligible utterances.
Next time we’ll deal (in much more detail) with the question: Are tongues in Acts 2 the non-miraculous speaking of a human language?