Ryan Habbena: Examining Tongues – Part 2

June 4, 2012

Back in the December, 2011 episode, I spoke with Ryan Habbena, pastor of Conquering King Fellowship in Eagan, MN about his studies on the phenomenon of tongues. Specifically in that episode, we addressed tongues as described in the book of Acts. This month Ryan returns to pick up the discussion by examining the phenomenon of tongues in I Corinthians 14.


An Outline of the Discussion
  • Tongues is seen in scriptures primarily in Acts & I Corinthians
  • Tongues speaking in the New Testament is a fulfillment of the prophesies of Joel 2 and Isaiah 28:11 that say that the Lord will speak through people of foreign tongues (or strange lips).
  • Speaking of the mighty works of God in a language other than Hebrew is a fulfillment of the previously mentioned prophesies.
  • Speaking in Greek and Aramaic would have been seen as radical.
  • When considering the phenomenon of tongues speaking in I Corinthians 14, the full (literary) context must be considered. Ryan begins describing what is going on in chapter 14 by taking us through chapters 12 & 13.
  • The Greek term Glossa, which is translated tongue, means either the physical tongue or language. It is used the same way the English term is used.
  • The Greek language was so widespread throughout the Roman Empire of the first century, that those who didn't speak it were called Barbarians.
  • The issue that Paul is addressing in 1 Corinthians 14 is the problem of different languages being used within the church.
  • Corinth was a port city, which made it multi-cultural and multi-lingual.
  • Corinth was the only city/church that Paul addressed tongues with.
  • The HCSB (the Bible translation that Ryan uses for this discussion) translates “tongues” as “languages.”
  • Wherever you see tongues, you also see prophesy going on.
  • The fact that the First letter to the Corinthians was written in Greek is a strong indication that Greek was their primary language.
  • Chapter 12 opens with proclaiming (the Gospel), it addresses that no one can preach the truth of Christ except by the Spirit of God.
  • Chapter 13 was written to instruct how to treat each other in Love.
  • Paul lists various gifts that believers should desire, in order of preference, and speaking in “tongues” is last on the list.
  • Among the primary points that Paul is seeking to get across in chapters 12 & 13 is that believers should be striving to build others up, not build up themselves.
  • Many terms, such as “apostles”, “deacons”, “prophets”, and others are often used in more than one manner: a general sense, and a specific (or grander) sense.
  • Several gifts listed in scripture as “spiritual gifts”, don't strike people as particularly phenomenal, such as managing, helping, administrating, etc. This is well within the literary context of tongues speaking.
  • The primary nature of spiritual gifts is for God to build up a believer in order to bless those around him.
  • Love is not selfish.
  • Speaking in a language that others don't understand is frustrating to them, and is useless to their edification.
  • The context of those speaking in tongues in chapter 14 clearly shows that the speaker knows what he is saying. He is not babbling, nor speaking in a language he hasn't learned before.
  • An outsider entering a congregation where everyone is speaking different languages would lead them to believe that that congregation is crazy.
  • Ryan had first-hand experience with this understanding of tongues during a trip to Thailand. Most of the people he spoke to did not know English, so he required a translator to speak to the people there. He had opportunities to preach the gospel without a translator, but knew that this passage in scripture forbids him from doing so.
Scriptures Referenced
  • Joel 2:28-29
  • Isaiah 28:11-12
  • Acts
  • 1 Corinthians 12-14
    Additional Resources

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