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God’s Word for You

Acts 2:4 other tongues

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Thursday, August 22, 2019

4 They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, because the Spirit gave them the ability to speak boldly.

Mr. Pieper, my Poynette Middle School industrial arts teacher, used to tell us, “Gentlemen, use the right tools for the right job.” He taught us about many tools, and how to use them effectively and safely. At Pentecost, the Holy Spirit gave out the right tools for the job that needed to be done.

The third miracle of Pentecost, and the one we usually remember it for, was this multi-language preaching that was given to the apostles. The scene Luke paints for us is that the apostles were suddenly enabled to speak in foreign languages without having learned them. An alternate view, that they spoke in ecstatic non-human tongues (“the tongues of angels,” as in 1 Corinthians 13:1) which were understood by men of foreign nations, is incorrect. The text clearly says that they spoke “in other tongues,” with “tongues” in the plural, meaning human languages, not many different angelic or ecstatic (?) languages.

The purpose of this amazing gift was so that they would be able to deliver the same sermon (verses 14-40). The sermon (Peter’s specific presentation is recorded by Luke) follows a simple outline:

    I, The miracle is explained, citing the prophet Joel (2:14-21)
    II, Joel’s prophecy has been fulfilled (2:22-24)
    III, Another prophecy, from David (Psalm 16) (2:25-28)
    IV. God has kept his promise (2:29-36)
    V, The crowd’s response is answered with the gospel (2:37-40)

We should look more closely at the words “the ability to speak boldly.” The verb “gave” is followed by an object infinitive showing the means by which the Spirit carried out this miracle in each apostle: He gave to them the ability to speak boldly or clearly.

Three miracles were worked by God: a wind to show his presence, flames to show those who spoke with his authority, and now giving the apostles the ability to communicate his message boldly to those who were present. God does not give with just one hand. He gives and gives. If he gives a task, he gives the means and opportunity for carrying out that task. If he calls a man stranded on a sandbar to go and preach to the people on a distant island, he will also rescue that man from the sandbar and give him a way to get to the island. If he gives a family more children than they think they can manage, he will give them the means to care for those children and the patience, energy, wisdom and compassion to do so. At Pentecost, he gave his apostles the incredible gift of being able to speak in languages they had not learned. He has given you the ability to communicate in a dialect of English that was unknown to your grandparents, and will not be perfectly understood two generations from now. Use this moment to speak to the people around you, who need the gospel right now. God will give you the opportunities you need. Use the gifts you have. They will be just the right tools for just the right job.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim Smith

About Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.


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