Acts 2 - spoke with other tongues (languages)

WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 3,552
edited September 3 in Bible Questions

What actually happened at Pentecost in this matter of the apostles "spoke with other [gr. heteros] tounges (languages)?

Acts 2:4–14 (KJV 1900)

And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?

And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,

Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,

Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?

Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:

The apostles spoke in languages which apparently were understood by those devout Jews who were present at Jerusalem for the feast of weeks (Jews from both Jerusalem and Judea as well as places from the diaspora (both eastern and western regions) ... which dialects of which languages did these Jews speak and understand? were those their different dialects of Aramaic (spoken in eastern areas) and Greek (western areas)?

Did the apostles speak those languages (which were actually languages they knew how to speak)? Cp. v.14 and Peter's speech ... it was understood by all but obviously not spoken in a dozen or so "foreign languages" which Peter himself did not understand ...

In which regard were the languages spoken by the apostles "other [gr. heteros = "different in kind"] languages? Other than what??

Obviously, the large crowd was not gathered in a small house, but - indicated by the reference to the "3rd hour / an hour of prayer" - in the temple area. Could it be that the totally astonishing thing was that these common people dared to speak of the mighty deeds of God in their "common" language rather than in the so-called "holy language" Hebrew that was "proper" to be used in the temple and which was "properly" used only by the priests serving at the temple ???

Peter's reference to Joel also indicates that common folks (and not just priests) would be filled with holy spirit and speak or declare God's word powerfully in the last days ... which was fulfilled in what happened there.

Comments

  • C McC Mc Posts: 4,050

    In view of Acts 2:1-11, let me state at the outset:

    1. The Holy Spirit is poured out on the disciples in Jerusalem, and to all who respond to the Lord’s call throughout the centuries (Acts 2:39). The answer to @Wolfgang's last question.
    2. The Holy Spirit is connected to speech through the words uttered by the disciples as symbolized through tongues (Acts 2:3, 4-11). Let it be noted that the passage in Acts 2:3 mentions tongues of fire and verse 4 mentions that the Holy Spirit filling the disciples. They spoke with other tongues. Linguistically, the word tongue is either an organ of speech or a known language.
      1. The preaching of Peter, whose sermon (Acts 2:17-21; 25-35), is saturated with the OT and by the word utterance (ἀποφθέγγεσθαι) in Acts 2:4.
      2. In Acts 2:4, it states that the Spirit gave them utterance (ἀποφθέγγεσθαι).
      3. In Acts 2:14, Peter addressed (ἀπεφθέγξατο) them by speaking and quoting from the OT.
      4. Also, Paul speaks (ἀποφθέγγομαι) the words of truth and righteousness.
      5. The Spirit giving them utterance implies a cognitive function that results in speech. This same word is used in the LXX to denote prophesying. See 1 Chr 25:1; Eze 13:19; Zech 10:2.
      6. Acts 2:29 references the death and burial of David.
      7. Acts 2:30 is based on the sworn oath that the Messiah would come from the fruit of David’s body in 2 Sam 7:12 and Psalm 132:11 and fulfilled in Luke 1:32, Rom 1:3, and 2 Tim 2:8.
      8. Acts 2:31 is based on Psalm 16:11.
      9. Acts 2:33 is based on Psalm 68:18 and Ps. 110:1.
      10. Acts 2:34-35 is a reference to Psalm 110:1.
    3. When one looks closely at the passage in Acts 2:17-21 it is a reference to Joel 2:28-32. See the others in this chapter:
      1. Acts 2:25-28 is a reference to Psalm 16:8-11.


    The Holy Spirit is also Lord (YHWH κύριος) is revealed by the fact that He teaches, convicts guides all into the truth and brings the presence of Jesus to his people (John 14:16-18, 26; 16:7-14).


    This is not the final word. I would you to add to the conversation in proclaiming biblical truth. CM



    SOURCE:

    • David G. Peterson, The Acts of the Apostles The Pillar New Testament Commentary (PNTC; Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdman’s, 2009), 142, 144, 158.
  • Most of your questions above don't have answers we can know from the Bible (or other sources that I know of), so about all we could do is make wild guesses. That might not be very helpful.

    One question you ask is what "other" languages did they speak. That should be easy. The Bible gives a list of some of those which you included above. You answered your own question.

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 3,552

    One question you ask is what "other" languages did they speak. That should be easy. The Bible gives a list of some of those which you included above. You answered your own question.

    which list do you have in view? a list of areas from where these devout Jews had come to Jerusalem? or is there a list of languages given?

  • byGeorgebyGeorge Posts: 60
    edited September 14

    You yourself posted the list in your quote from Acts 2:4-14 about 10 inches above here. But to help a little, in case you missed it, the tongue/language in which people from a variety of regions (see your own list above) was born.

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 3,552

    You yourself posted the list in your quote from Acts 2:4-14 about 10 inches above here. But to help a little, in case you missed it, the tongue/language in which people from a variety of regions (see your own list above) was born.

    The list of people and regions is not a list of languages ... some of those regions did not even have a particular language. My point about the languages spoken that day is rather that they were most likely Greek or Aranaic which were languages spoken and understood by many people, especially so by Jews of the diaspora.. Even though there were different dialects of these spoken in the various areas, they did understand what was proclaimed by the "theological unlearned" apostles, daring to speak with power in their common language rather than the "official temple service holy language Hebrew.

  • The list of people and regions is not a list of languages ... some of those regions did not even have a particular language.

    This is a tiny leap of assumption, but the writer seems to be indicating listeners hearing in a variety of native languages by stating a variety of regions.

    A much larger leap of assumption is that you are saying there was no miracle occurring at all; that all those "confounded" people from all those regions had the same language (or 2) and tongue (or 2) from the widely dispersed lands where they were born.

    "Every man heard them speak in his own language." but it was all either common Greek or Aramaic (probably) rather than the Jewish temple Hebrew.

    Respectfully, is that what you are communicating?

  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 3,552

    This is a tiny leap of assumption, but the writer seems to be indicating listeners hearing in a variety of native languages by stating a variety of regions.

    My understanding is based on (a) the fact that those same hearers from different regions obviously all understood what Peter than stated later in his language, (b) the fact that the record does not list languages but places from where people had come, (c) the audience was Jews, devout men, who at the time did share in a knowledge of Aramaic (despite differing dialects in different areas).

    A much larger leap of assumption is that you are saying there was no miracle occurring at all; that all those "confounded" people from all those regions had the same language (or 2) and tongue (or 2) from the widely dispersed lands where they were born.

    Now where does the text state that a miracle took place? From the overall context considerations (see points mentioned above), the great astonishment was that here some "common unlearned folks" were standing up in the temple are and dared to declare the mighty works of God in their own language, thus totally "violating" what was the norm (= learned members of the priestly tribes declaring God's message in the "sacred language Hebrew". This was revolutionary to Jews ... so much so that some figured these guys to be drunk!

    "Every man heard them speak in his own language." but it was all either common Greek or Aramaic (probably) rather than the Jewish temple Hebrew.

    Yes, every one there from those regions understood what was spoken ... just as they did when Peter began explaining what was going on, which he did not in dozen different languages at the same time, but which he did in the one language they all understood.

    Illustration from days of my childhood: In the 1950ies and early 1960ies still, LATIN was the "holy language" used in Roman Church for its various activities at church, and services were solely conducted by priests and other clergy. Then, with 2nd Vatican Council, things changed, and all of a sudden, folks from all over Germany who spoke different dialects of German understood what was said in mass because it was done in German ....

    What did Peter at Pentecost explain? That the apostles were performing a language miracle of speaking intelligibly in languages they did not know? No! He explained that now was happening what the prophet Joel had prophesied would happen => that God would fill common folks from among them with holy spirit and they all would speak, teach and declare on God's behalf !! That is what happened ... that was "the miracle" folks had been surprised with and which confounded them greatly.

    Respectfully, is that what you are communicating?

    See above ... I trust it will clear up and make more plain what I was and now am communicating.

  • byGeorgebyGeorge Posts: 60
    edited September 15

    Thanks for adding the above. You made it clear earlier, but your position was unexpected for me. You kindly explained more fully.

    I still prefer the solid traditional miracle version of the story. But if you don't want a miracle, you don't have to have one!

    Seriously, you have prepared a good argument with reasonable support. Interesting. Good job. I don't yet find your position convincing. Here is why:

    1. Interpreters were sometimes needed. That would be unlikely if all we have going on is Greek and Aramaic. Maybe some Hebrew or Latin.
    2. "...men, out of every nation under heaven," may be a figure of speech, but one might reasonably consider it unlikely that all those men spoke Greek or Aramaic.
    3. Observers seem to have been amazed and marveled. They aren't described as afraid or alarmed or angry. "Drunk" seems like an unlikely conclusion when men are speaking Aramaic to Jews.
    4. I would presume there was nothing unusual about speaking Aramaic of Greek in the temple. Hebrew was the formal language, but I would argue the plausibility that other more useful languages prevailed when dispersed listeners weren't likely to understand old Hebrew well.
    5. What makes you think that the "great multitude" were all stuffed into a temple? Is that the only place a "great multitude could gather?"


  • WolfgangWolfgang Posts: 3,552

    Seriously, you have prepared a good argument with reasonable support. Interesting. Good job. I don't yet find your position convincing. Here is why:

    Interpreters were sometimes needed. That would be unlikely if all we have going on is Greek and Aramaic. Maybe some Hebrew or Latin.

    Where in Acts in this record were interpreters needed or mentioned? It seems clear that such was not the case in this situation, reason is to be found in the context of the audience being devout Jews or proselytes who had come to Jerusalem for the annual fest of weeks.

    "...men, out of every nation under heaven," may be a figure of speech, but one might reasonably consider it unlikely that all those men spoke Greek or Aramaic.

    See above ... Jews and proselytes had moved from Palestine to many places. Also, Aramaic and Greek were known as "lingua franca" and were spoken in slightly different dialects, but were commonly spoken and understood over large areas of the near east at the time.


    Observers seem to have been amazed and marveled. They aren't described as afraid or alarmed or angry. "Drunk" seems like an unlikely conclusion when men are speaking Aramaic to Jews.

    Their comment about the apostles being "drunk with new wine" is rather a sarcastic statement ridiculing that such "common unlearned folks" talked about "things of God" and did so in their "!common language" ... an utterly silly, crazy, amazing and unimaginable scenario.

    I would presume there was nothing unusual about speaking Aramaic of Greek in the temple.

    Nothing unusual about speaking in Greek or Aramaic as such ... but there had never been some non-priest unlearned fellow daring to preach or proclaim in the temple area about things of God, where all such public speaking by priests was done in Hebrew.

    Hebrew was the formal language, but I would argue the plausibility that other more useful languages prevailed when dispersed listeners weren't likely to understand old Hebrew well.

    See above ...

    What makes you think that the "great multitude" were all stuffed into a temple? Is that the only place a "great multitude could gather?"

    The context (3rd hour - an hour of prayer, multitude gathered, feast of weeks, etc.) seems indicative of the temple (in particular the court of the temple) ... it certainly wasn't an upper room somewhere in town, nor am I aware of another public place where multitude could gather.

  • Good thoughts. Imaginging how things may have been is fascinating. Thanks.

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