tongues

Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament:

glw◊ssa (Greek); gloœssa, gloœseœs, the tongue;

1. the tongue, a member of the body, the organ of speech: Mark 7:33,35; Luke 1:64; 16:24; 1 Cor. 14:9; James 1:26; 3:5,6,8; 1 Pet. 3:10; 1 John 3:18; (Rev. 16:10). By a poetic and rhetorical usage, especially Hebraistic, that member of the body which is chiefly engaged in some act has ascribed to it what belongs to the man; the tongue is so used in Acts 2:26 (eœgalliasato heœ gloœssa mou); Rom. 3:13; 14:11; Phil. 2:11 (the tongue of every man); of the little tongue-like flames symbolizing the gift of foreign tongues, in Acts 2:3.

2. a tongue, i.e. the language used by a particular people in distinction from that of other nations: Acts 2:11; hence, in later Jewish usage (Isa. 66:18; Dan. 3:4; 5:19 Theodotion; 6:25; 7:14 Theodotion; Judg. 3:8) joined with fuleœ, laos, ethnos, it serves to designate people of various languages (cf. Winer’s Grammar, 32), Rev. 5:9; 7:9; 10:11; 11:9; 13:7; 14:6; 17:15. lalein heterais gloœssais to speak with other than their native i.e. in foreign tongues, Acts 2:4, cf. Acts 2:6-11; gloœssais lalein kainais to speak with new tongues which the speaker has not learned previously, Mark 16:17 (but Tr text WH text omit; Tr marginal reading brackets kainais); cf. DeWette on Acts, p. 27ff (correct and supplement his references by Meyer on 1 Cor. 12:10; cf. also B. D. under the word Tongues, Gift of). From both these expressions must be carefully distinguished the simple phrases lalein gloœssais, gloœssais lalein, lalein gloœsseœ, gloœsseœ lalein (and proseuchesthai gloœsseœ, 1 Cor. 14:14), to speak with (in) a tongue (the organ of speech), to speak with tongues; this, as appears from 1 Cor. 14:7ff, is the gift of men who, rapt in an ecstasy and no longer quite masters of their own reason and consciousness, pour forth their glowing spiritual emotions in strange utterances, rugged, dark, disconnected, quite unfitted to instruct or to influence the minds of others: Acts 10:46; 19:6; 1 Cor. 12:30; 13:1; 14:2,4-6,13,18,23,27,39. The origin of the expression is apparently to be found in the fact, that in Hebrew the tongue is spoken of as the leading instrument by which the praises of God are proclaimed (heœ toœn theioœn humnoœn meloœdos, 4 Macc. 10:21, cf. Ps. 34:28 (Ps. 35:28); 65:17 (Ps. 66:17); 70:24 (Ps. 71:24); Ps. 125:2 (Ps. 126:2); Acts 2:26; Phil. 2:11; lalein en gloœsseœ, Ps. 38:4 (Ps. 39:4), and that according to the more rigorous conception of inspiration nothing human in an inspired man was thought to be active except the tongue, put in motion by the Holy Spirit (katachreœtai heteros autou tois foœneœteœriois organois, stomati kai gloœtteœ pros meœnusin hoœn an theleœ, Philo, rer. div. haer. sec. 53 (i. 510, Mang. edition)); hence, the contrast diatounoœs (critical editions toœ noi) lalein, 1 Cor. 14:19 cf. 1 Cor. 14:9. The plural in the phrase gloœssais lalein, used even of a single person (1 Cor. 14:5f), refers to the various motions of the tongue.

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2 thoughts on “tongues

  1. Megs says:

    So interesting. So what do we take away from this?:
    this, as appears from 1 Cor. 14:7ff, is the gift of men who, rapt in an ecstasy and no longer quite masters of their own reason and consciousness, pour forth their glowing spiritual emotions in strange utterances, rugged, dark, disconnected, quite unfitted to instruct or to influence the minds of others:

    That doesn’t sound like the goals of the gifts of the spirit for the encouragement of the church.

  2. Indeed, it does not. I haven’t read as much as I’d like yet, but I don’t find that tongues are ever “used” apart from evangelism in Scripture. So I find it so interesting that, in general, today, tongues is a form of prayer and used in worship services. But like I said, I’m not done with the research, so maybe church history has a few things to teach me. 🙂

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