New Testament History, Literature, and Theology
Session 21: Acts 2 and Tongues and First Missionary Journey
By Dr. Ted Hildebrandt
Welcome back. We have been covering the book of Acts and we started out with the early church and prayer and the order of the early church with the apostles and deacons and elders and early prophets in the church. We’ve talked about the purpose of Acts with Luke, writing in a catechetical and no comprehensive history of the whole church because it actually focuses on Peter in the first part and then Paul in the second part, and particularly the missionary journeys of the apostle Paul that we’ll be going over today.
B. Descriptive and Prescriptive in Acts
And so we are kind of edging into the book of Acts, as a historical document, be taken as you go from a historical document from back then into now and how do you make that transition when you have principles like: thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not steal, and thou shalt not covet. Those prescriptions come over and are universal and those are normative events for all human kind, for all time. But in the historical document you have, as in the Old Testament, you have things like Moses crossing the Red Sea and the water splitting. That happened once and God acted in a very powerful way but we don’t expect to come up to water and have it split for us. It was a one off kind of thing. In the book of Acts 1 it says, “tarry in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit comes upon you.” That’s not for us. I mean we’re not supposed to all go--I wish we all could go to Jerusalem--and wait in Jerusalem until the Holy Spirit comes upon us. That was done particularly in that one, it was a one off event that happened once in history and that’s not meant to be universalized or normalized in history. And so much of history is descriptive rather than prescriptive. “Should’s” and “ought’s” are prescriptive. So you have prescriptive things like, “thou shalt not kill” or “spread the gospel to all the world, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.” That’s something the church--that’s the great commission of the church—it’s to be done by the church. So that is normative, that is what we all should or ought to do. That’s prescriptive. Whereas, descriptive events would be things like Jesus walking on the water. I don’t expect to walk on the water, and that’s more descriptive, describing what happened. But what happened in history was a one off type of thing. What happened there and then is not meant to be universalized. So in the book of Acts, this question of what’s normative, what’s principle, what should or ought to be done and prescriptive for us all versus what’s descriptive comes up in the book of Acts. Particularly the discussion we are going to have today on speaking in tongues. We’re going to look at Acts 2 right now and we had talked a little bit about setting that up with some background.
C. Pentecostal Churches and Various Interpretations
My first experiences with tongue speaking back in the 1970s just after the civil war and so today what I would like to do is work through, and let’s just kind of review a little bit. We had a background discussion of some of the things there. On what basis do I judge whether something is from God or not? I had all these kids in this room and they were all doing things. How do I know whether it’s from God or whether it’s from themselves or whether it’s from some evil thing? What was going on there? Is experience always the best guide to making a decision? And so you say, “Well, I’ve experienced it.” Well, you have all sorts of experiences; I’m not sure experience is our best guide. The Bible is the sole judge of spiritual experience and so the Bible is what we know the scriptures speak from God. We base it not on our own personal experiences because our experiences can be made up in our head. Scripture though is God’s word and so we base things on that. Is Acts 2 normative for all times? Is that the way it should be for all Christians, at all times? What happened in Acts 2? Let’s just go over a little bit. Acts 2 is the great chapter on Pentecost. Actually there are whole churches named Pentecostal churches and they have done great work for the cause of Christ. And you have other churches, for example, more Mennonite type churches that will take the Sermon on the Mount. And so different churches focus on different parts of the Bible and that becomes their focus. And so, like a Mennonite Church, Sermon on the Mount, Sermon on the Mount, Sermon on the Mount. Then you know things that are contrary to the Sermon on the Mount they always interpret in light of Sermon on the Mount. So they’re very Pacifistic often times. You put some more passages on them, they don’t really handle those too well. How everything is seen through the glasses of Sermon on the Mount turning the other cheek that kind of thing.
Pentecostal churches will emphasize Acts 2. Of course, Reformed Presbyterian churches will emphasize Romans 8, Romans 9, the book of Galatians, Ephesians 1 and certain of those Pauline passages where they are real strong on predestination and election. So they’ll see the whole Bible, then, through Romans and Galatians. So when they come across a book like James, well then they see James in light of Galatians and Romans and not letting James necessarily stand for itself. Now, I realize I don’t want to make enemies on all this but it’s just different types of approaches. Messianic Christian community may take the Old Testament and up the level of the Old Testament and they see a lot more of Jesus in terms of him being Jewish than many normal churches--I shouldn’t say normal--but just many other churches would not play up the Jewishness of Jesus from the Old Testament in particular. So the Pentecostal churches emphasize Acts 2 and what’s going on here. And we all do that kind of thing in one way or another.
D. Context for the Passover Feast
Let’s just describe it. So, it’s at Pentecost that this is happening. Jesus died at Passover and then rose three days later. Then after his resurrection he showed himself to people for about 40 days there and then he ascends. So you have the resurrection, when Christ comes back from the dead. He then meets with the apostles, with some women, with two people traveling on the road to Emmaus. He shows himself to 500 people all at one time, and he shows himself to 12 people, the apostles at one time. He also then later on shows himself to the apostle Paul on the road to Damascus. So you have 500 people seeing Jesus, 12 people, then 2 people, in various contexts, not all in the same environment. One’s on the road to Damascus, couple up in Galilee fishing, and he appears there. So the geography is all-different, as is the diversity of the people who see Jesus. Jesus rose from the dead. That’s historical; we take it as foundational that that actually happened in history, not just in theology, but it actually happened in history and has been testified to by 500 people, 12 people, 2 people, the women, etc. etc. multiple time. So that’s Jesus rose from the dead.
He then shows himself for 40 days and then he ascends; that’s called the ascension, when Jesus goes back to heaven to sit at the right hand of the father. Then about ten days after that you have what’s called Pentecost. Penta means 5, like pentagon is a five-sided figure. Pentecost is 50 days after Passover. So usually Passover is in the spring, that’s when we celebrate our Easter for obvious reasons, Jesus actually died just prior to Passover then rose just after Passover. So Passover and Easter kind of coordinate for us. Then 50 days later you have the feast of Pentecost and these are--in the Jewish feasts in the spring, in the Jewish feast system they’re in the spring and usually they mark the harvest of the wheat and barley in the spring. They are the beginning of the harvest, the end of the harvest of the wheat and barley in the spring. The other three feasts that the Jews celebrate are in the fall, and those celebrate and are connected with the Feast of Booths, the Day of Atonement, and the Feast of Trumpets are in the fall. They coordinate with the harvest of the grapes, olives and figs. Those are the other harvest things that they do. The fruits, grapes olives and figs are harvested in the fall, and those feasts connect with that. So what we’ve got is there are three pilgrimage feasts that all people go up to Jerusalem for. Passover is one of them, Pentecost is the other one; those two are in the spring. The Feast of Tabernacles or the Feast of Booths or the Feast of Sukkot as they call it, as you have to live in a Sukkah, a little tent like structure, for seven days, that’s in the fall. All Jews are supposed to come to Jerusalem for these three feasts. So at Pentecost here is one of those pilgrimage feasts where Jews from all over the world will pilgrimage to Jerusalem for the feast of Pentecost. So there’s going to be people from all over the world, there at this time.
E. Three Signs of the Spirit at Pentecost
Now, what actually happens? There are actually three signs that happen in this feast of Pentecost and there are three signs that happen in coordination with the speaking in tongues. “So when the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place.” First sign: “suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting.” So the first sign was there was this mighty wind that comes in and fills the whole house. That’s the first sign. Second sign: “they saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them.” So now you’ve got the apostles with these tongues of fire on them, so the wind blows in, the fires is on them “and all of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues.” Now the word in Greek for tongues is glossa gives us the basis of what is called “glossolalia.” Glossolalia is what they call speaking in tongues. There are various manifestations of that but glossolalia is speaking in tongues. Actually glossolalia is the English term, but it’s based on the Greek word for “tongue” or “language.” The Greek word for tongue and the word for language are the same word. So tongue and language are the same word, this glossa. And so it says, “they spoke in other tongues, or in other languages, as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying God fearing Jews from every nation under heaven, and then when they heard the sound a crowd came together.” So you get the apostles but now there’s a crowd, “came together in bewilderment because each one heard them speaking in his own language.” So there’s a crowd gathered, they’re from all over the world and so there are dialects that are spoken in Turkey and Greece and various places. These Jews of Diaspora that were scattered come to Jerusalem and all of a sudden they hear them speaking in their own native tongue where they grew up in that foreign land. It actually lists the language, “they were utterly amazed and they asked, ‘Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans?’” Galileans would be like saying they were backward hicks. How do these hicks from Hicksville, know my language when they’ve never been outside of the Jerusalem Galilee area of Palestine? How would they possibly be able to know my language?” How is it then that each of us hears them in his own native language? Again, the emphasis on we’re hearing them in our own native language and they understand what’s being said because they hear it in their native tongues. “Parthians, Medes, Elamites, residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, and Asia [Asia, that’s the province in Turkey, not Asia like China], Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt and parts of Libya, visitors from Rome, both Jews and converts, from Crete and Arabs. We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongue, [or, our own language]. Amazed and perplexed they asked what does this mean? Some of them made fun and said, “‘They’ve had too much wine.’”
F. The Crowds’ Initial Thoughts and the Unifying Work of the Spirit
Now why would a person make that kind of comment? Is it possible that a person when they’ve had too much wine, they go back to their native tongue? So when a person’s drunk, suppose you’re from—let’s suppose you’re from America, you’re in France, and you’ve drunk too much, and while you’re in France you speak a little Parlez vous francais and you talk to them in French but then all of a sudden as you talk to them more and more, you get drunk, when you get drunk you’re going to flip back to your native language, that is English. So the people were saying maybe these guys are just drunk and they’re just parroting language or just flipping back to their own native language and things like that and they’re not speaking in the Greek or Aramaic, which would have been a more universal language for the Jews at that time.
So this is Pentecost three signs of the spirit and then you’ve got this baptism of the Holy Spirit. We should mention this baptism of the Holy Spirit comes on them and this is--I want to read what the baptism of the Holy Spirit is because this is actually a pretty important thing. This is where we get a reference to the baptism of the Holy Spirit is over 1 Corinthians 12:13. This describes what the baptism of the Holy Spirit is. 1 Corinthians 12:13. It says this: “for we are all baptized by one Spirit into one body.” The baptism of the Holy Spirit is that work by which the Spirit binds Jews and Gentiles into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--we are all given one spirit to drink.” So baptism is the work in which the Spirit binds Jews and Gentiles together, slave and free. Paul says over in Galatians 3:28, “there is neither know male and female, we’re all one in Christ.” We’re all given one Spirit to drink. So this is the baptism of the Holy Spirit doing the work of the Spirit that bonds Jews and Gentiles together into one church, one community.
G. A Possible Problem with Speaking in Tongues
So, now I think there’s a problem sometimes, I think with some of the tongue speaking that I’ve been around where a person that speaks in tongues viewing it as a way of getting to a higher level of spirituality. If you haven’t spoken in tongues you are kind of down the ladder on spirituality. You’ve got to be very careful about that. Judas, by the way, did miracles in the name of Christ. In Mathew 10, Jesus sends out the twelve. Judas is one of them and they go from town to town as preachers doing miracles. Judas was one of them. So a person that does a sign miracle in the name of Christ doesn’t necessarily meant that this person’s totally good to go because Judas, obviously, betrayed Christ. So you’ve got to be careful of somebody, if they say they speak in tongues then all of a sudden they’re instantly a spiritual giant. So you’ve got a person that’s known Christ for his life and walked with Christ and known Christ and things, and this person, now, who has known Christ for three weeks, speaks in tongues and all of a sudden he’s more of a spiritual giant than this person who’s known and walked with Christ for fifty years. So you’ve got to be careful about this instant spirituality thing, there’s no one sign that marks my spirituality. You’ve got to be really careful that’s really dangerous because what it does is rather than the Spirit bonding us together into one—you have things like one of my student friends this semester told me about this oneness church where, this oneness church says you have to speak in tongues or you are not a Christian. You have to speak in tongues or you’re not a Christian. That’s a problem.
You see some of the greatest saints that we know had never spoken in tongues so that becomes a real, a real problem. Let me just list some of those people. I’m not sure we’ll come back to this in the notes or not but it’s very interesting. There’s no record of Martin Luther speaking in tongues. Martin Luther, a great reformer, a great protestant, the whole movement there; Charles Spurgeon one of the greatest Baptist preachers of all time never spoke in tongues, John Wesley, as far as we know, never spoke in tongues; Billy Graham as far as we know, Billy Graham a huge evangelist of the twentieth century never spoke in tongues. By the way, does it ever record Jesus having spoken in tongues? Never records Jesus speaking in tongues. Well, you say, Paul says, “I speak in tongues more than they all.” Well, it’s more likely that Paul knew more languages because he was traveling around and he stayed for three years at Ephesus and two years in Corinth, where he would have picked up dialects from all over the place. So you’ve got to be careful with that; some of the greatest saints we know of all time have never spoken in tongues. So be careful of that.
The purpose of tongues and the charge of drunkenness as we just said people will change languages if they’re bilingual when they get drunk. Peter says, “these guys aren’t drunk as you suppose because its only nine o’clock in the morning,” It’s too early for that. So Peter refutes that charge. I think also one of the factors with this is that we’ve got to recognize that there is no New Testament yet. The book of Acts at Pentecost, we’re talking Jesus dying at AD 32, 33, there’s no New Testament. Mathew, Mark, Luke, John, none of those books have been written yet. The book of Acts wouldn’t be written until at least AD 60, in the mid 60’s, 64, 65 or something like that. All the Pauline epistles will be written at least 10, 15 years earlier where Paul will start writing. So there’s no New Testament. The work of the Spirit in this communication of God, this revelation of God comes through the Spirit because there is no New Testament at this point, and that, I think, plays into this as part of it.
But be careful of the second blessing kind of idea. “I’ve got Christ; I’m a Christian. But I haven’t got it all.” So therefore there’s a second level of spirituality and when you speak in tongues you automatically jump to that second level of spirituality. When you accept Christ you accept the spirit of Christ. Be careful about that kind of a thing, this instant spirituality idea I think is a very dangerous one. It fits very well with our culture by the way, because we’re a microwave culture we want things now. We want to be mature now, we don’t want to wait in our maturity and age into wisdom--we want it immediately. We want externals signs that will confirm our status and what I’m saying is that Judas had many confirming signs as well. So we’re not taught anywhere in Scripture to seek the gift of tongues, it’s not taught like that and here’s this comment about Christ, Wesley, Spurgeon, and Luther and I believe Augustine, Saint Augustine you can put into that category as well of all of whom never spoke in tongues. These are fairly important people, I don’t think you want to blow them off as spiritual midgets because they never spoke in tongues, so be careful with that argument. The purpose in Acts 2 speaking in the tongues was to communicate that Christ had risen and the Spirit had come down and that the Spirit was basically on these folks.
H. The Spirit Coming on the Samaritans
So, other groups what I want to do next is say at Pentecost the spirit comes on Jewish people that are gathered from all the world and the Spirit comes on them and they speak in tongues as a sign to those other people that indeed the Spirit had come on them, that Christ had risen and the spirit had come on them and Christ had ascended. But let’s look at other places where the same thing occurs. We’re going to see something fairly interesting here from some people through at the book of Acts. So if you jump down and we pick up our next passage here, chapter 8 verse 17 and let me work with some of these things in chapter 8 verse 17. Peter and John go up to the Samaritans. Now you remember the contrast between the Jews and the Samaritans and all the animosity between those two cultures and those two religious phenomena. Remember even Jesus and the woman at the well you know, “we worship God on this mountain, you worship God at Jerusalem.” and Jesus has to interact with this woman who’s a Samaritan who is pretty abrupt with Jesus about the Jewish way of doing things. So what we have in chapter 8 verse 17 of the book of Acts, it says, “Then Peter and John placed their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit,” and get this, “Peter and John place their hands on them,” Peter and John are representative leaders of the church. Notice Peter and John hanging out together those two guys seem to travel quite a bit together and they seem to be buddies and fishermen together up on the Sea of Galilee. Jesus called Peter and John the son of Zebedee and they were both fishermen there. So they had a lot in common, and traveled a lot together. Peter, James, and John were the tight three that Jesus allows up to the transfiguration, to the dead girl, special places in Gethsemane. James dies early; Peter and John hang out together. So we see here, Peter and John lay hands on the Samaritans and the Spirit comes on them; they receive the Holy Spirit. Now, it does not say in Acts 8 that they spoke in tongues but what I would suggest is that they spoke in tongues because what you want to have is the same thing that happened at Pentecost, the same way the Jews did. Therefore the Jews would not be able to say, “Well, we received the Spirit and we heard the speaking in tongues. But the Samaritans, they just received the Holy Spirit and they didn’t speak in tongues, so they’re not really as good as we are.” Then you should have this tension come up. So what I’m suggesting is that, it doesn't tell us that they spoke in tongues, but I think it’s something we may be able to assume that they received the Holy Spirit and they manifest the same gifts that the Jews did, so that it’s even-Steven. And so the Samaritans now--and you can see what’s happening. The Jews are welded into the church. Now the Samaritans, in Acts 8:17, received the Holy Spirit. The Spirit is building his church. Jews first and then the Samaritans in Acts 8:17.
The next passage that mentions the spirit coming on the group, is in Acts 10:44 with Cornelius. Remember that Cornelius was one of the first Gentiles who accepted Christ. And now you’ve got a Gentile accepting Christ. The question was in the book of Galatians and elsewhere: did the Gentiles have to become Jews first, in order to become Christians? See the Jews went from Judaism to Christianity. Now did the Gentiles have to become Jews first, that is, did they have to be circumcised, and then become Christians? In the book of Galatians, and actually as we’re going to look at in a minute, the Jerusalem Council in 50 AD said, “No, no, the Gentiles do not have to become circumcised. The Gentiles can become Christians without first becoming Jews.” That was a big important move. Cornelius was the example God used Cornelius and basically gave Peter a vision of food coming down. Peter says, “Hey, I’ve never eaten anything un-kosher. Everything I’ve eaten has always had “K” on the can. It’s kosher and I’ve never eaten anything un-kosher.” And God says, “Don’t call unclean what I’ve called clean.” This gives the message that foods were clean now, and that Gentiles were to be accepted. So there is Cornelius and Peter’s vision. Let’s look at Acts 10:44, and here’s what it says: “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. The circumcised believers (that’d be the Jewish ones) who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out, even on the Gentiles.” Can you hear the Spirit has been poured out on us, but even those cruddy Gentiles, the uncircumcised Gentiles now have received the Holy Spirit? And how did they know, how did they know that they received the Holy Spirit? They heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.” Then they were baptized with water after that. Acts 10:47 the baptism with water came next, but they were baptized with the Spirit. What was the sign of that they actually had been baptized by the Spirit? My suggestion is that the Gentiles probably were speaking in tongues. Each man heard them in his own language, what language would that be? If you are Jewish people and these guys are Gentiles, they spoke Greek, and you spoke Greek. All of a sudden the Gentiles may have broken into fluent Aramaic, or Hebrew, probably Aramaic. Then the Jews say “Whoa, these guys, they don’t know Aramaic because they’re more into the Latin role and Greek and they don’t know Aramaic.” And all of a sudden, they’re fluent in Aramaic and they praise God. And then they conclude, “this is from God.” In other words, the point is in Acts 10:44, that the Jews received the Holy Spirit, they spoke in tongues as a sign. The Samaritans received the Holy Spirit, they've been grafted in. Now the Gentiles, even the Gentiles now are grafted into the church and what is the sign that they received the Spirit the same way we did? They spoke in tongues. And so we know that the same way we spoke in tongues, they spoke in tongues when the Spirit came on them. So now you’ve got the church being what? It is now composed of Jews, Samaritans, and even uncircumcised Gentiles.
I. Adding John the Baptist’s Disciples to the Church
Now in the church, Acts 10 and however, there’s one group yet, that hasn't been fitted in here yet. And it’s very interesting. In Acts 19, there’s another group. Acts 19 is Paul on the Third Missionary Journey. On the Third Missionary Journey, Paul spends three years at Ephesus, so it’s easy to remember: Third Missionary Journey, three years at Ephesus. So Paul on the 3MJ, he makes a beeline over, and he stays at Ephesus, teaches the school of Tyrannus. So he teaches there for three years. When he first arrived there he meets these people. In Acts 19:2 it says, “He asked them, ‘Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And he asked these people, “Okay, you’re believers. Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” They answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” Paul says, “Well, then, who are you baptized into?” They respond, “We’re baptized in the John’s Baptism.” So these people at Ephesus apparently knew of John the Baptist and have been baptized by John the Baptist, possibly in the Jordan River. They had come to Israel, met John the Baptist, been converted under John the Baptist, but they didn’t know about Jesus. They went back. You know it wasn’t like--they couldn’t get on the Internet and Google Jesus and say, “O Jesus, the Messiah we believe. He was just crucified.” They didn’t know that. Communication back then wasn’t like Internet, instant access around the globe. So they went back. They knew John the Baptist. They believed, they repented of their sins as John required, and were baptized. They went back, they didn’t know about Jesus. So Paul then declares to them, Jesus, they received the Holy Spirit. Then Paul places his hands on them. Remember Peter and John placing their hands on the Samaritans? Paul placed his hands on them and the Holy Spirit came on them and what was the sign that they had received the Holy Spirit? They spoke in tongues. Again, my guess is probably Greek and Roman people possibly speaking then some language Paul knew Aramaic, or Hebrew or something like that. Then he recognizes it is the same thing. The Holy Spirit comes on them and they speak in tongues. These were some of John the Baptist’s believers who were left over that didn’t know about Jesus. They were believers but they just didn’t know, you know Christ died and rose again, they just hadn’t heard.
J. The Sitz im Leben in the City of Corinth
So now you’ve got Jews in the church, Samaritans added, Gentiles added, and now in Acts 19 you get some old John the Baptist disciples get added. When they get added they received the Holy Spirit and they speak in tongues. It was foreign languages they can understand so that Acts 2 is the paradigm for the whole rest of the book of Acts. In other words, all these people are doing the same thing. If it were different then Luke would have to say, “Well, they did the tongues but it wasn’t really the same tongues as we did. Now they were all the same thing, and in Acts 2 it lists the languages and so “they received the Spirit just as we have”--kind of idea. So the book of Acts then is foreign languages that they are speaking in.
Then people say, “What about the book of Corinthians, because Corinthians seems to be describing a different type of tongues.” And this is from 1 Corinthians 14 and so it’s describing the sitz im leben [situation in life] a lot of times of theologians whenever they want to say something they say it in German and it kind of adds weight to it, its gravitas, but sitz im leben means “situation in life.” They called it the sitz im leben. But some of you that have had Old Testament courses and they realized that many of the Psalms, the different genres of Psalms come from different sitz im leben and so in the book of Psalms you have each genre of Psalm coming from a different situation in life. What was the situation in life at Corinth like? What was Corinth like at this time? We’ll talk about this move when we talk about the book of Corinthians, but Corinth was a sailor city. Basically you had sailors from all over the world and they didn’t want to sail around the Peloponnese in lower Greece. You could cut off the two hundred miles by just going over seven miles of land. Today they have a canal that goes through there called the Corinthian Canal. They just built a canal through there. But it’s through solid rock and was hard to do. But in those days, they actually just pulled the boats up. And if they were small boats and just dragged them over this road things and dropped them in on the other side. Then they’d go off to Turkey. So, any of your stuff coming from Rome would go around and come into the Gulf of Corinth and then be transported. For the bigger boats they’d have slaves to transfer goods from one boat on one side, seven miles transporting, but it would save them sailing all the way around the Peloponnese. They’d be able to cut that off, and so this is a good way to save time. But as a result then, Corinth was a sailor city. It was actually populated by a lot of Romans soldiers as well. And you can see it had people from all over the world.
K. Speaking in Tongues in 1 Corinthians
People from all over the world went there and so here’s what Paul says. This is 1 Corinthians 14:2 Paul says, “For anyone who speaks in the tongue, does not speak to men but to God.” So from this, people gather that the tongues of 1 Corinthians 14 were a different type of tongues. That is, it was a prayer language. Whereas, in the book of Acts, the people actually understood what was being said because they heard them speak in their own language. The four passages: Acts 2, 8, 10, and 19; all refer to languages that the people understood.
But in 1 Corinthians 14 Paul seems to be addressing something differently. For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God. Indeed no one understands him, he utters mysteries with his spirit. “But everyone who prophesies,” now there is a contrast. Paul says, a guy speaks in tongues; “nobody understands what he is saying. He utters mysteries with the Spirit but no one can understand them. But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement, and comfort. He who speaks in the tongue, edifies himself, but he who prophesies (preaching) he who preaches or he who prophesies edifies the church.” So Paul is making a distinction here between a person who prays in a tongue and nobody understands them versus a person that preaches that actually benefits the whole church because the church can understand what the guy is saying. Now are these the same tongues that are in the books of Acts? And what I’m wanting to suggest to you is that the tongues in Acts and 1 Corinthians 14 are a little different. Let me read Chapter 14:14. It says, “For if I pray in a tongue,” this is Paul again, “if I pray in a tongue my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. So what shall I do. So I pray with my mind.” And then Paul in 1 Corinthians 14:19 says “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you, but in the church I would rather say five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in the tongue.” So Paul says, “you want to do the tongues thing, I can speak in tongues more than all of you but nobody is going to understand what I’m saying. I’d rather say five words that are intelligible than speak ten thousand words that nobody understands. That's what I’m saying. I want to build up the church, is the point, not just edify myself.” So, what I’m suggesting here and then let me just go down.
We talked about prophesy and tongues, and Paul’s contrasting prophesy or preaching in tongues. What I want to do at this point is just give you a scenario of what I think was going on. I think the tongues in Corinthians are different. I think it’s not associated with when the Spirit comes on them and they speak in tongues. No, he’s saying, it is better to prophesy or preach than it is to pray to God in this tongue, because you pray to God in this tongue and nobody understands you. Question: in Acts 2 did the people understand him in their original language? So what I’m suggesting is different.
L. Switching to Your Native Tongue
Now, here’s what I would suggest is happening. I’ll take you to example in my life. I lived in Jerusalem for a year with my wife and some friends, Perry and Elaine Phillips, and as we went to Church down this Barakah Church down below Bethlehem. It was an Arab church and so we learn to sing for example “en tahabibi” and we learned to sing some of “Jesus is my friend” in Arabic. I wasn’t fluent in Arabic but I knew how to fake it, you know, “Mah ha shalami” and idioms like that. I knew how to say the important things like “thank you” in Arabic. It was an Arab church. Now, let’s suppose then that I picked up some Arabic, and I’m praying to God in Arabic, but Arabic is not my native tongue, and so I can fake certain things and I kind of understand what I’m saying but let’s suppose the prayer gets really intense. So, I’m praying in Arabic, but question: when I’m praying in Arabic, do I have to think about every word that I’m saying? Because I’m not fluent in Arabic and so I have got to double think everything. I can’t pray fluently so I’ve got to think about it. But what happens if, all of a sudden, I stop thinking about every word in Arabic and I just start praying to God? Is it very possible that I would switch from Arabic back into English and start praying to God in English? Yes. Because English is my native tongue, when I actually start thinking about praying to God, I would pray in English. Then I could be fluent and I could express myself, whereas, when I’m praying in Arabic, its stilted and I got to think about what I’m saying. So what I’m suggesting is that it’s very likely that these guys were sailors from all over the world. They’re Roman soldiers, and others from all over the world and what would happen is that they would pray. And they would pray in Greek because everybody knew Greek. But as they got into their prayer, and they really started praying to God, they would switch back to their native language. Then when they switched back to their native language, nobody in the room understood what they were saying. And so Paul says, “Hey, don’t-- I’d rather say five words that are intelligible than ten thousand words that nobody understands. It’s better to preach where everybody can understand what you are saying then to pray in a tongue, because when you flip back to your native language, and you start praying in your native language, yes you’re praying to God alright, but nobody understands what you’re doing and therefore it doesn’t edify or build up the church.” So I think that’s what’s going on there at Corinth, yes, it's a prayer language. But Paul’s saying the whole prayer language doesn’t benefit the people and I think they are praying in their own native language and when they switch back to that language, nobody understands it.
M. Three Guidelines for Speaking in Tongues
And by the way, it’s interesting here. There are three guidelines given and I think as you read through in 1 Corinthians 14:28. Let me just read this. These are guidelines given by Paul in the Scriptures. If you’re going to speak in tongues this way, here are three guidelines that you should follow. What I ask you is--and I have been in many situations where people have been speaking in tongues, my question is, did they follow these three guidelines? These are the three guidelines laid out by the apostle Paul. Did they follow these guidelines? If anyone speaks in the tongue, two or, at most, three should speak.” I have been in groups where there’s not two or three, but there’s many, many people speaking in tongues. Paul says, if a person speaks in tongues, two or at most three should speak. So the first rule is: two or at most three. You’ve got a meeting, church meeting, two or at most three should speak in tongues. One at a time is the second rule--two or at most three, one at a time. How many times have I been in a service where basically you had several people, more than several actually, speaking in tongues, all at the same time. Paul says no, two or at most three, and they should be one at a time.
The third qualification is, Paul says someone must interpret. In other words, a guy’s speaking in tongues, he’s praying to God, nobody understands what he is saying. Somebody has got to interpret that. And again, I’ve been in many groups where they’re speaking in tongues and nobody interprets anything. Nobody interprets, and so those are three guidelines and by the way, those three guidelines are from Scripture: two or at most three; one at a time; and someone must interpret for the edification of the church. So I think it’s important to ask then, so this is 1 Corinthians 14: one at a time; two or at most three; and then there must be an interpretation. Somebody must explain it to the church what you just said in prayer.
N. God’s Language
Now for me, this is a more abstract argument, but for me it's a powerful one. You got to ask, what is God’s usage of language? Some of you had me for Old Testament and New Testament, and one of the big principles for me, actually in my life, and actually one of my callings in life, and actually what I’m doing right now with this digital video online stuff, is that God always speaks the same language, God always speaks the same language. Now if you’ve had me for Old Testament, you know that language is Hebrew because Adam’s name was “Adam.” Adam means “man,” or “dust.” You’re saying his name was “Dusty.” But Adam’s name was a Hebrew name. So if Adam’s name was a Hebrew name, God named him, then Hebrew must be the language of heaven, and God speaks Hebrew. Well, God does speak Hebrew, the Old Testament says “Thus saith the Lord, col amar YHWH and so God speaks in Hebrew to the prophets in the Old Testament. So Hebrew is the language of God, but you know what the problem is? Was Adams name really Adam? And as we explained in Old Testament, no, Hebrew didn’t exist back then. Hebrew is a dialect of the land of Canaan. It's a Canaanite dialect that was developed about 1800 BC. We know the development Canaanite doesn’t go back like all the other languages like Sumerian, and others that are much older. Canaanite developed about 2000-1800 BC. That's Hebrew. Hebrew is the Canaanite dialect. Hebrew is just the dialect of Canaan when Abraham migrated to the land of Canaan he began to speak the Canaanite language and that was the language that came down as Hebrew. Okay, so I’m saying is God, why did God speak Hebrew to Abraham and others? Because it was their language, and God speaks the same language. So now what happens when the Jews went to Babylon, they were carried away, the Temple was destroyed, in 586 BC, and Nebuchadnezzar carried off Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. Ezekiel, Zedekiah, and took them to Babylon? They were in Babylon for seventy years or so, and what happened then is they picked up Aramaic. Aramaic was the language that was used at that time around 586 BC, and they spoke Aramaic. So they switched from Hebrew to Aramaic. Now the two languages are kind of like Spanish and Portuguese, they’re sister languages, very closely linked with this, but nevertheless they switched to Aramaic. When they switched to Aramaic, what did God do? God switched to Aramaic and so the book of Esther and various other portions are written in Aramaic, and there are Aramaic sections of various books then that are later books that were added after the Babylonian exile. Then what happens, as we know from New Testament class, 333 BC, what happens in 333 BC? Alexander the Great comes forth and conquers the world, and spreads a “common language,” that he took and developed basically so his troops could all speak the same language. Wherever they went they spread this language called Koine Greek, common Greek. It was shared, it wasn’t a dialectical Greek like Attic, of Athens and the various cities in Greece had their own unique dialects. Alexander says, “I can’t have that, you’re in my army everybody has to speak the same language.” So basically Greek was a homogenized into one Koine called common Greek. Koine Greek went about from 300 BC to AD 300, so it’s about a 600 year period Koine Greek and then after about AD 300 it went into Byzantine Greek, and now we’ve got modern Greek, which is quite different, similar but different. What language was the New Testament written in?
Well, God spoke Hebrew to Abraham, and Aramaic through Esther, and then now in the New Testament the Jews switched to Greek language and the church uses Greek. Guess what the New Testament is written in? Koine Greek. What language does God speak? He always speaks exactly the same language; he speaks the language of the people. Whatever language they speak he speaks, God knows all things, he’s omniscient, he’s fluent in the Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek. By the way I think he can also speak Latin, did that for 1000 years in the church, I think he can speak English, Chinese, Korean, and the various dialects in India, Spanish, Portuguese, he can speak those things. So, God always speaks the language of the people, and I think that’s a really important thing, that God speaks the language of the people because he speaks to the ones he’s addressing. So, he doesn’t speak this mysterious language that nobody understands, no God speaks in a language that people understand. God is a revelatory God, he reveals himself and when he reveals himself he speaks in a language that people can understand. Moses, when God said, “I am that I am” in Exodus 3:14, Moses said, “Yes, I understand what YHWH means. It’s from the verb hayah and he knows that. So, here’s another thing too, so my suggestion is that God rather than flipping to languages that nobody understands in a group, God communicates in a language that the group understands that’s his pattern, that’s been his pattern for over 2000 years in Scripture.
O. Linguistic Analysis of Tongues Speaking
Now, linguistic analysis of tongues, there’s a guy named Samaran that did some linguistic analysis of tongues, and he basically taped tongue speaking for I don’t know it’s like five years he had various tapes of it and things like that. What he discovered in this kind of linguistic analysis of the tongues, these linguists are the kind of people that can go into a tribal group say in Indonesia, and sit down and the tribal person say, “buga, buga” and they say “buga buga” and pretty soon they describe all the phonetics of it and describe the sounds, the various tones and other types of things that a language might have, and then they build morpheme’s, little things of meaning and how do you make a plural, how do you make it singular, how do you say “I,” how do you say “you,” how do you say “they.” Do they even have an “I, you, he, she, it” system of first, second, and third person. Or do they use something different? And so linguists are trained with this so that they can decode almost any language on earth.
I want to recommend very highly to you some of the people of Summer Institute of Linguistics, SIL, run by the Wycliffe Bible Translators. The Wycliffe Bible Translators are going all over the world trying to translate the Bible into all these tribal languages, every language on the face of the earth and so they train their people in linguistics to go into a tribe where these people know nothing of the language and they live with the people for a while and after a year or two, three, or even 25 or 30 years, they basically decode the language and actually write down the language. Many of these tribal groups have never had their language actually written ever, it’s only been oral. These Wycliffe Bible Translators will go on and write it down and develop the scriptures and translate the scriptures into their language. So it’s kind of incredible, so these linguists are really good with languages is what I’m trying to say. So, basically they take the tongues speaking, and what Samaran describes is now tongues speaking isn’t of the devil. He says moreover it’s a learned behavior, and what he associates it with is…do you guys do philosophy? In philosophy you got Friedrich Nietzsche, and he says, “doing before being,” Immanuel Kant, on the other hand, says, “being before doing” and Frank Sinatra says, “do be do be do.” Now what's the point of the “do be do be do”? When Frank Sinatra sings a song and he goes “do be do be do” what does it mean? Can you hear the repetition of the “d” sound? You can hear the repetition of the sound you can hear the cadence of it. “do be do be do” what does that mean? And you say, it doesn’t really mean anything, he’s just bee bopping around.
Actually, many of you do the same phenomena in what’s called baby talk. How many of you have ever gone up to a baby and you scratch the baby’s face and you go “oochie coochie coo,” well what does that mean? Can you hear the repetition? And the baby says, “hey, man don’t touch me like that I can’t understand that.” That’s what the baby says, the baby can’t understand so you go “oochie coochie coo”, the baby can’t understand that either, so the baby says “speak to me in English man, I don’t do this oochie coochie coo stuff.” But what I'm saying is you do “oochie coochie coo,” what does that mean? You do high repetition of consonantal sounds with the vowels on the end and you can describe it. Well, Samaran says tongues speaking he had taped is very similar to that is “oochie coochie coo,” so it’s a learned behavior and a person can teach themselves it. You can start off with a sambala shishbala and you can go off on it. Kind of get into roll or groove of it and things and people can do that. I’m not saying that to put anyone down or anything but this is a linguist’s analysis of it and he says its just very similar to “do be do be do” talk or “oochie coochie coo” talk. Let me come back to this now, the tongues issue has in the late 1960s and early 1970s really split the church and you had a lot of these groups come in as charismatic groups and the old traditional Pentecostal groups, speaking in tongues started around 1900 the beginning of the twentieth century, people started speaking in tongues. Many of the old traditional churches really held off a lot of the groups that I was involved with the cessationists, they said God did miracles of tongue speaking back in Acts 2 but the miracles have ceased. So they’re called cessationists, and that was a different dispensation as they would say. Now God doesn’t really do that anymore.
P. Benefits of the Charismatic Movement
I think one of the great things coming out of the charismatic and Pentecostal churches is it kind of brought with it a spirit of passion and I think frankly some of the older more stayed churches have been really enriched by the sense of passion of songs that praise God and there's really a sense of praise and worship of God and where people throw themselves into it and these kind of phenomena occur.
When I first started teaching, I taught at a place called Graham Bible College, in Bristol, Tennessee, one of my first graduating classes was probably 20, 24-25 at the time I started teaching, and this Bible college, one of the guys I taught there was a Rev. Cook, who was much older than I was, probably has passed on now both he and his wife. Rev. Cook was graduating, and he was an old Pentecostal preacher, and at that time I had been ordained in a Presbyterian Church down in Bristol, Tennessee area. When he graduated his wife came up to me, and they knew I didn’t speak in tongues, but I really respected Rev. Cook. He was a godly man, he was a Pentecostal preacher and he was a godly man, I saw that in my classroom by the way he studied Scripture and by the way he loved Scripture. The way he loved the Lord was really apparent and I looked up to him even though he was my student I looked up to him because I saw in him a vibrancy and his passion for God that I admired. When he graduated his wife came up to me, basically she gave me this big ol’ Tennessean bear hug, she was a big lady and she picked me up off the ground. Now, that’s not such an easy thing to do but this lady gave me this bear hug and she picked me up off the ground and she said, “we’ve been praying for you and you are so close to receiving the Spirit.” By that they meant speak in tongues, I never have but anyways, now question, when she’s got me up in the air like that you say, yes ma’am, cause I mean you’re kind of pinned in there. Was that one of the nicest things anyone has ever said to me? The answer is: yes. What they’re saying is, the same Christ that we have, and that we are so passionate that we speak in tongues and do these things, you have that same Christ and you are so close and we feel close to you; we feel bonded to you. That is exactly what the Holy Spirit does is bond two people that are desperate, different in many ways but together. So that was one of the nicest things anybody has ever said to me, and I'm just saying be careful about these denominational distinctions. We live in an age now in which all those distinctives have been washed away in a certain sense and we despise anything that would separate us, and there's other problems with that however. There needs to be a tremendous amount of respect for more of the traditional people to the charismatic and Pentecostal people and vice versa, and I hope that would be the tenor after this whole discussion. We’ve had our disagreements and I've explained where I kind of stand but when it comes down to it, one of the people in this class this year she’s Pentecostal to the core and the big thing afterwards I talked to her was I want you to feel respected when you come out of this that I respect you for your Christianity and this issue of the tongues speaking doesn’t separate us. So, you can have differences of opinion on this, and we do and it’s okay. I guess my thing is take the good parts and I love the passions of the Pentecostals, and frankly some of us who are in that traditional context need more of that passion desperately. So respect with differences.
There are certain things in Christianity you fight over, those are the big things, and actually let me just say this, this is one of the most important things I learned from Biblical Seminary, “major on the major, minor on the minors.” A real person has to understand what are the major things, when somebody starts saying Jesus Christ didn’t rise from the dead, or it wasn’t a physical resurrection it was a spiritual resurrection and they start going off like that. Those are major things, you’re gutting the gospel. You’ve got to know what are the majors and you major on the majors, and you minor on the minors. This thing with the tongues speaking is really a minor issue, and it’s kind of like is Christ going to come back before the tribulation, in the middle of the tribulation or after the tribulation or frankly is there going to be a seven year tribulation at all? Those questions are like how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Major on the majors, minor on the minors. And what happens is people will always try to get you side tracked onto the minors and you’ve got to be wise enough to sort through and say this is a minor issue. By the way, some people will spend their whole life focusing on the minors, defending the minors, and trying to prove the minor issue. What I'm saying is don’t waste your life like that, find out the things that are really important, what is really important for Paul? He says, “though I speak with the tongues men and of angels what is that? That’s nothing if I have not loved.” Love is the important thing, major on the important things. How difficult it is to love other people, it’s easy to hate, it’s easy to separate and have differences but how difficult it is to love another person? And Paul says, major on the majors, Jesus taught what? He laid down his life for his friends and for his enemies and while we were still dead in trespasses and sins he gave himself up for us. So we as followers of Christ should be giving ourselves up for others even our enemies, so that’s part of loving. So love is a major issue obviously loving God and loving your neighbor.
Q. Missionary Journeys of Paul
This is a map of Turkey [Asia Minor] and the reason why we bring this up is because we are shifting gears now, at least we are going to shift in a second here to the missionary journeys of the apostle Paul and there's going to be a first, second, it’s going to be really difficult. There's a First Missionary Journey of Paul, a Second Missionary Journey of Paul, and a Third Missionary Journey of Paul and a lot of them take place in this area of Turkey. So Turkey is going to be what they call Asia Minor. This is Asia Minor or Turkey and Israel is going to be down there off of the map and over here is Greece. So you’ve got Greece and Macedonia. Macedonia is up there and Greece is down here, and this is Turkey. Do you remember that Paul came from Tarsus? Tarsus is right there where Turkey meets with Syria. Tarsus is not too far, just a little bit west of there. Then Paul is going to travel on his missionary journeys here, here is Ephesus, Paul’s going to be there for a while and Corinth that we just talked about here. Here is where Corinth is so and what we’ll be doing in the next few hours is going over is the first, second, and third missionary journeys of the apostle Paul. This is just a map. You guys have gotten into the PowerPoint’s and things so there's no need to kind of write this down per se, because you can pull the map from the PowerPoint, but I love this map it’s kind of a satellite image of it and I think it’s a good one.
R. First Missionary Journey: Walk-thru
Now, here is more of a schematic or a cartoon version of what’s happening, and this is the First Missionary Journey. The First Missionary Journey is from basically AD 46 to 48, now I don’t want you to know the date I don’t do much with dates in this course, there's one date here that I want you to know, I want you to know AD 50 as the Jerusalem Council, so we’re going to come back to this but AD 50 is the Jerusalem Council. Now when did the first missionary journey take place? Before the Jerusalem Council. So the first missionary journey of the apostle Paul takes place before the Jerusalem counsel, the Jerusalem counsel is at 50 AD. This is just before that. So it’s just AD 46-48.
Where do all the three missionary journeys of the apostle Paul start from? They all start from this place here, Antioch in Syria. There's a place called Antioch and this is where the missionary journeys of Paul all three of them start at Antioch. Do you remember that Antioch is the first place Christians were called Christians and we are going to see in the book of Acts, actually the Christians go by three titles--the people of the way, so this way is a big thing. The Way and actually in the NIV you'll see it with a capital W. They were also called the sect, the Christians were kind of like, inside Judaism they were called “the Nazarenes.” So they were viewed as you had the Pharisees, the Sadducees and now you have the Nazarenes, because they followed the man from Nazareth, Jesus Christ. Then they were called Christians first at Antioch, so Antioch in Syria. Now as soon as I say Antioch in Syria what does that tell you? Are there going to be several other Antioch’s? It’s like saying Warsaw, Indiana. I’ve got to say Indiana because if I just say Warsaw you’re going to think Warsaw, Poland.
So what happens, Paul goes on his First Missionary Journey and the Spirit calls him, and who do they go with? This is in Acts 13, and what happens on the First Missionary Journey. Let me just start out, the Holy Spirit said set apart for me Barnabas and Saul. Barnabas, actually his name means “son of consolation.” Barnabas was his nickname. He seems to be a big fellow who was an encourager of others. He particularly worked with the apostle Paul who was Saul.
Remember the early church didn’t like Saul initially because Saul was killing Christians. So when Saul actually converted to Christianity some of the Christians said, “This guy was killing people before. I'm not sure we can trust him. Is he going to try and infiltrate and try and kill us too? So people kind of stiff-armed him. Barnabas took Saul and brought him into the community. So Barnabas is kind of a peacemaker and a reconciler and a nice guy, “son of consolation.” Even on this campus I believe we have Barnabas groups, they’re encouragers, they’re known for their encouraging. “Set apart Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them, so after they had fasted and prayed they laid their hands on them and sent them out.” So these guys are apostello, they’re sent out. Notice the role of the community isn’t just Paul and Barnabas saying, “God has called us and therefore we need to go.” No, the community calls and acknowledges them and the community sanctions them, and says, “you guys can go,” and so they go out.
Where’s the first place they go? The first place
they go is to Cyprus. This island here just off the coast of Syria and just
below Turkey. From what I'm told from a man who lives there and has lived all
over the world and he says that Cyprus is one of the most beautiful places in
the world. I’ve never been there. I’d like to go there though, but the way
Richard Cleave has talked about Cyprus it’s just a beautiful, beautiful place.
Why did they go from Antioch to Cyprus? Well, that’s Barnabas’ hometown. That’s
where Barnabas was from, Cyprus. So Barnabas is saying he wants to spread
Christianity to his home territory.
S. Paphos, Cyprus
So he goes here, they go over to Paphos here, and
basically what happens, there's this guy names Bar-jesus who’s there and there’s
a governor Surgius Paulus, Bar-jesus means “son of Jesus” and by the way, there
were many Jesus’ back then. I think some people think Jesus is a special name,
just understand that Jesus is the Hebrew name for Joshua. Question: Were there
tons of Joshua’s back in Jesus’ day? Yes, there were. We know that from the
records, when you go back in the records you can see that there are many, many
Jesus’ back then. That is why they say Jesus of Nazareth. Here you’ve got this
Bar-jesus, he’s a sorcerer. What happens is this Bar-jesus sorcerer comes and
gets into it with Paul in front of the governor Sergius Paulus. Paul blinds
this guy, and Bar-jesus is blinded right in front of Sergius Paulus who’s the
governor. He sees it and is wowed. It’s amazing what happened and basically
Sergius Paulus then is convinced to believe because he saw this guy blinded. He
says, “Wow, this guy has got the power of God,” and so he believes. So is there
a connection between evidences sign miracles and belief? And the answer is yes,
at least in this case there was. Now not in all cases there are, but in this
case there was. So Sergius Paulus accepts Christ, he’s the governor, Bar-jesus
is blinded for a time. That takes place a Cyprus.
Now what happens next, and I want to go through these places kind of like single by single. Cyprus, Bar-jesus, Sergius Paulus believes Bar-jesus is blinded.
T. Perga in Pamphylia South Central Turkey
Now they set off and they come up here to Perga.
Now at Perga something happens, in Perga in Acts 13, actually the First Missionary
Journey of the apostle Paul is all Acts 13. Acts 13:13 Barnabas and Paul are
followed by John Mark who’s a young man. John Mark is taken from a wealthy
family. He is probably the guy who wrote the book of Mark. He was a young man
at the time. Actually he was related, he was a nephew to Barnabas John Mark
quits at Perga. So, John Mark goes back home possibly to Jerusalem possibly to
Antioch. John Mark quits.
Let me just read this, “from pathos Paul and his companions sailed to Perga…where John left them and returned to Jerusalem.” So he went back to Jerusalem. Now you say that’s not a big deal, he just went back home. It was a big deal, and actually Paul got so upset that when they start out on a Second Missionary Journey Paul says, I'm not taking John Mark with me this time. I'm not going to take somebody who quit like that. Paul objects to going with John Mark on the Second Missionary Journey. The tension between Barnabas and Paul is so big that it split their friendship. Actually Barnabas took John Mark and went back to Cyprus, Paul took Silas and didn’t go with Barnabas and John Mark he picked somebody else, Silas. Paul heads off by himself on the Second Missionary Journey. So the tension between Paul and Barnabas over John Mark was so strong that it broke their friendship. These guys had been through war together. Paul and Barnabas were really, really close because of the things they had gone through. So John Mark quits at Perga.
By the way, I think we have done it before, but I love this passage over 2 Timothy 4:11, which Paul at the end of his life, Paul knows he’s going to die, probably around AD 68, he says to Timothy, “go get John Mark and bring him here to me because he is profitable for me and my ministry.” So John Mark at the end of his life, Paul and John Mark are reconciled. Paul asks that John Mark be brought to him. Earlier, Paul would have nothing to do with him because he quit. So that’s at Perga.
U. Antioch in Pisidia
Now, Paul heads up to Antioch and you say, “O, no, another Antioch.” This is Psidian Antioch. Why do we have so many Antioch’s? Well part of the reason why is because there was this guy named Antiochus and remember back from the Alexander days, there's Antiochus, and he went around named all of these places and people named them for him. So what happens here? In Acts 13 they arrive at Antioch in Psidia, this is going to be what is called Galatia. There's kind of a northern Galatia and a southern Galatia and there are big arguments over this but we are just going to call this southern Galatia here. So he goes to Antioch and in chapter 13 verses 44 and following it says this, “on the Sabbath day almost the whole city gathered to hear the word of the Lord. Now when the Jews saw the crowds they were filled with jealousy and talked abusively against what Paul was saying,” Paul responds, “since you reject it and do not consider yourselves worthy for eternal life we now turn to the Gentiles.” So at Antioch, basically here’s what Paul does, Paul goes into a city. First thing he does is he scopes out where the synagogue is, he goes in and the first week he’s a traveling rabbi kind of person so he preaches in the synagogue usually the people are wowed. Paul is a bright and very good preacher. The next week then the crowd’s double and actually people from the town come, but actually what happens is with all the crowds the Jews get jealous. Then as they get jealous, they start opposing Paul’s message and then they usually kick him out, beat him up, stone him, do something nasty to Paul or Paul flees. You have that here, Paul preaches the first time in the synagogue, people hear it. The next time all the towns’ people show up, the Jews get jealous there’s opposition. Paul’s says basically at this point, now we’ve offered the gospel to the Jews, we are now turning to the Gentiles. So you get this turning of the Gentiles that happens at Antioch in Psidia here.
From there Antioch, he goes down to Iconium. And Iconium I don’t want to dwell on that very long, it is interesting too, Acts 13:48 it says, “all who are appointed to eternal life believed.” So you get the free will kind of, was it their choice that they believed or was it predestined that they believed, and that comes up in Acts. It’s an interesting thing outside the book of Romans the same kind of phraseology is used. So what happens at Iconium? At Iconium Paul preaches again and what happens is some of the Jews from Antioch come down poison in mind. There's a plot in Iconium to kill Paul and get rid of him. Paul finds out about the plot and he flees to Lystra. Is there ever a time to flee? Is there ever a time to run? And the answer is: yes. Paul in Iconium turns his tail and runs because they’re making a plot to kill him.
W. Lystra: Made gods/stoned
When he gets down to Lystra, Lystra is going to be a special place. You need to know there is several things that happen here that are very significant. First of all, actually let me check this out, chapter 14 in verse 12, and what's going to happen here at Lystra is pretty interesting on a number of levels. “At Iconium, Paul and Barnabas went as usual in a Jewish synagogue, they spoke there so effectively a number of Jews and Gentiles believed, but the Jews who refused to believe stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So, Paul and Barnabas spent considerable time speaking boldly for the Lord, who confirmed messages of grace.” There was a plot afoot and basically they found out about it and they fled to Lystra. Now here’s what happens at Lystra. “In Lystra there sat a cripple man in his feet who is lame from birth and had never walked. He listened to Paul as he was speaking Paul looked directly and saw that he had faith to be healed.” Notice the connection between faith and healing, “and called out, ‘stand up on your feet!’ At that the man jumped up and began to walk.” It was probably a small town. Everyone in the town knows this guy is crippled. He’s been crippled since birth, the guy all of the sudden is on his feet and jumping up and down. And when the crowd saw what Paul had done they shouted in the Lyconian language,” remember how we said there are these dialectical regional languages, so “they shouted in the Lyconian language, the gods have come down in human form! And Barnabas they called Zeus and Paul they called Hermes because he was the chief speaker.” So what you get is they’re first called gods at Lystra. He heals this crippled guy and the towns’ people conclude these guys must be gods they made this guy walk. Barnabas apparently was bigger than Paul and Barnabas is considered Zeus and Paul is considered Hermes because he is the main speaker. It’s kind of like the prophet who speaks for God and Zeus doesn’t say much but Hermes talks all the time.
There's an interesting description about the Acts of Paul and Thecla where we’ll get to later where Paul is described as being short, rotund, he’s bald headed, maybe that’s good, I'm like Paul, with a hooked nose and he’s very friendly. He kind of fits the role if you’ve been around in Middle Eastern culture, there are a lot of people like that.
All of the sudden then bad stuff starts happening there's this opposition from the Jews and all of the sudden the people go, and they get so angry at Paul, what do they do? Some of the Jews came down from Antioch and Iconium so it’s kind of like filtered in and won the crowd over. They stoned Paul and dragged him out of the side of the city thinking he was dead. So here the apostle Paul is stoned to the point where people actually thought he was dead. They drag him out of the city and throw him out of the city. So he heals a cripple, they’re made gods at Lystra, Zeus and Hermes, and then after the Jews poison their minds, Paul is stoned to the point where they think that they have killed him and drag him outside the city.
By the way, would that bust up his body? Other people have suggested that Paul had a problem with his eyes and seeing possibly having rocks hit into his head, busted up his eyes. You just never know, we don’t know all the details about it. We do know Paul had a thorn of the flesh, that he prayed to God three times to take it away. We know in another place Paul says, you would have torn out your eyes for me. So there's something maybe with his eyes that are bad as a result. Lystra is where Paul gets stoned to the point of almost death he was made a god there from healing the cripple. Do you see how fickle the crowds are, the crowds are hailing him as being this great god healer and then just a few verses later they’re stoning him to death. So I'm saying you can’t trust crowds, crowds praise one minute and then they do the other.
The other thing, let me just say this while we’re here now, so Lystra is the place where Paul gets beat really badly, made gods first from healing the cripple and then stoned to the point of death. It’s from Lystra on the Second Missionary Journey that the apostle Paul pulls one of his most faithful disciples and that is Timothy. Timothy is going to be from Lystra, the place where Paul got stoned to the point of death; Timothy is going to be from Lystra. So he is going to pick him up, not on the First Missionary Journey that we are on now, but the second about 4, 5, 6 years in the future he’ll pick him up.
X. Derby and the End of the First Missionary Journey
He goes to Derby, finally at last, and at Derby an interesting kind of conclusion to the mission. In Acts 14: 22, here’s how the First Missionary Journey concludes at Derby and Paul makes this conclusion. “We must go through many hardships to enter into the kingdom of God.” And so Paul ends is First Missionary Journey on this reflective note. There's a lot of suffering proclaiming the gospel of Christ, “to enter into the kingdom of God we must go through many sufferings.” Paul then retraces his steps up through Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch. Wee, wee all the way home. That is the First Missionary Journey, which takes place about AD 46-48.
After the First Missionary Journey Paul is going to return from Antioch, he is going to go down to Jerusalem, and they are going to have the Jerusalem Council in AD 50. Peter will be down there too. So, that’s the First Missionary Journey, now, actually 48-49 AD, so just directly before the Jerusalem Council is the First Missionary Journey in southern Galatia.
Y. Why Did John Mark Quit?
Why did John Mark quit? We didn’t talk about that but some people have suggested that John Mark quit when they first got to turkey because he was homesick, he was a young kid, he just got homesick. Other people suggest and I think probably more correctly as they hit Turkey Paul started taking over. When they were in Cyprus Barnabas was probably the lead character, because he was from Cyprus, Uncle Barney, but when they hit Turkey Barnabas seems to be put in the backlight and Paul seems to become the dominant speaker. It’s possible that John Mark felt a little bit miffed for what was going on with his uncle. There seems to be tension between John Mark and Paul and it’s possible that as the power shifted from Barnabas to Paul, Paul was obviously incredibly gifted that John Mark was disillusioned a little bit and bailed out at that point. So there are a couple possible reasons for why we don’t know, obviously I was just suggesting that in terms of his quitting and how do you react when somebody betrays you? I think some of this is with Paul, John Mark seems to have betrayed them and bailed out on them when they would get into, I Paul is going to be stoned almost to the point of death and trust is really hard to rebuild. Once somebody has betrayed you, you can’t just say I forgive them, just I forgive them. Trust has to be reestablished and trust takes time.
Z. Gospel to the Gentiles: Antioch in Psidia & Jerusalem Council
They go up to Antioch and Psidia and we said they go into the synagogue and they always seem to start first with the synagogue the third week the Jews become jealous, and at Antioch is where they turn to the Gentiles and start proclaiming the gospel to the Gentiles, which by the way, the proclaiming of the gospel to the Gentiles is going to be the focus of the Jerusalem counsel in AD 50. Did the Gentiles have to become Jews to become Christians or can the Gentiles go straight into Christianity. In other words, do they have to be circumcised? So, how does jealousy creep into a church? Into a synagogue, into a church, jealousy is a big thing. Now, Iconium, they proclaim the gospel there's belief, there's unbelief and there’s a plot and this plot at Iconium we said, led to them fleeing. And basically there is a time to flee, at Lystra he heals the cripple, they’re made gods, Zeus is Barnabas and Hermes is Paul. Then Paul is stoned to the point that they think that Paul is dead. On the Second Missionary Journey, Timothy will come from Lystra. Timothy’s father is a Greek and his mother is Jewish. It just shows the fickleness of public opinion and then Derby.
Jesus, by the way, is crucified, so there is this connection between suffering and growing. Somebody says, how do you know when a person is maturing, there is a connection between suffering and maturity. It occurs everywhere, I think Socrates said, “suffering brings knowledge,” Ecclesiastes 1:18, is one of the verses I hate in the Bible says basically the only way you get wisdom is through suffering and it’s tough.
So what does that mean to market Christianity. We market Christianity as success and you follow Christ and your life will go well but that is not necessarily true. Paul will end up beheaded and Peter will end up crucified upside down. To be a follower of Christ, where does it lead you? It leads you to the cross. The cross is where we are destined not necessarily wealth.
This is the First Missionary Journey then,
basically sweeping Cyprus and into this southern Galatia area. This is the First
Missionary Journey AD 48-49, just prior to the Jerusalem Council. Now, the
Jerusalem Council, we’ve talked about it and now let’s just add some details to
this Jerusalem Council and what's going on. The basic question is: how are the
Gentiles accepted into the church? Do the Gentiles have to become Jews first?
The early Christians were all Jewish so they were all circumcised. So, if
you’re a Jew and you become a Christian no problem but if you’re a Gentile and
you’re uncircumcised, you have to be circumcised first to become Christian. So
there was a big debate over this in the early church. That’s the Jerusalem Council.
Can the Gentiles become Christian without becoming Jewish first? That is do
Gentiles have to be no circumcised. What are the basics for one becoming a
Christian? What must you do?
I love this verse over in Acts 16 where we’re going to see it on the Second Missionary Journey, where the Philippian jailor asks, “what must I do to be saved?” Paul says, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” This is one of the clearest statements in all of Scripture in its simplicity. It’s wonderful, and scholars will try to make it complex, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and you shall be saved.” Now we ask the question, what does it mean to believe? And that is a good thing to pursue but a beautiful statement there.
Now, at the Jerusalem Council they do make some stipulations, the Jerusalem Council is described in Acts 15, AD 50. When was the First Missionary Journey? Just prior to this AD 50 was the Jerusalem Council, by the way when was the Second Missionary Journey? The Second Missionary Journey will be just after this AD 50 is the dividing point. The First Missionary Journey, Jerusalem Council, Second Missionary Journey. And it says here in chapter 15 of the book of Acts, unless you are circumcised, according to the custom taught by Moses you cannot be saved, some people were saying, “No, we believe it is through the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ that we are saved just as they are.” So they were basically told that they didn’t have to do circumcision.
There were a few things that they gave them that they had to do, not eating blood, it wasn’t necessarily things for salvation, but it was just, if the Gentiles and the Jews are going to come together into one body at the church there are certain things that are offensive to Jewish people. You shouldn’t be doing these things just out of courtesy to the other people in the church, one of them is no blood, another is no sexual immorality, it just makes it explicit. The Old Testament makes it explicit with no adultery as well, but they just reiterate this. No idol meat, no eating of meat offered to idols and that will come under some scrutiny later on in the book of Corinthians. So these things were specified largely they did not have to be circumcised, but they said for the sake of the community no blood, no sexual immorality, and no idol meat.
So Paul writes then, possibly there is debate over this when the book of Galatians is written. The First Missionary Journey Paul turns to the Gentiles, he goes back to Antioch… but before he does, he writes he possibly writes the letter of Galatians as his first letter now. My good friend Dave Mathewson thinks that Thessalonians was actually written first and Galatians was written a little later but there is debate on this to be honest. There are better scholars than I, and Dave is one in the NT there, and he says 1 Thessalonians was written first, Galatians I would put right now, Paul’s done the First Missionary Journey, the Jerusalem Council has made their decision and Paul then writes the letter to the Galatians. So he writes to Galatia there to the people that he went to on his First Missionary Journey. Then Paul writes Galatians and so as we go through this note when many of the epistles are written. So this Galatians will be written first.
Now Second Missionary Journey, they come up from Jerusalem to go back to Antioch because as we said, all three missionary journeys of Paul all start at Antioch in Syria so he’s going to go back to Antioch again. Why don’t we break at this point and we’ll do the second and third missionary journey next time.
by Rob Huseland and Timothy Carr
Rough edited by Ted Hildebrandt