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Praying in the Spirit: That Glorious Day When Tongues are Not Needed: Until Then … Part 1

Furthermore, in his use of Isaiah, Paul does not quote the original Hebrew, nor does he quote the Septuagint, its Greek translation. This, along with the incongruous parallels already noted, argues for a very loose and, thus, general correspondence between the two passages. It seems that Paul just wanted to capture the idea of the uselessness of everyone speaking in other tongues when unbelievers were present.

Because of the tenuous nature of the cessationist argument from 1 Corinthians 14:21-22, other arguments have been posed. One that has gained acceptance among non-charismatics considers tongues a sign of apostolic certification. Cessationists have attempted to link tongues inextricably with the office of apostleship, reasoning that if they can prove that apostleship has ceased, they have dismissed tongues also.


Tongues and Apostles

The first modern cessationist to develop the theory that tongues and the apostles were inseparable was B. B. Warfield. No one has improved his argument, but many have restated it. He wrote in 1918: “They [the special gifts] were part of the credentials of the Apostles as the authoritative agents of God in founding the church. Their function thus confined them to distinctively the Apostolic Church, and they necessarily passed away with it” (p. 6). Forty-five years later, Hoekema quotes Warfield in his argument and concludes that “the purpose and function of the special miraculous gifts of the Spirit was to authenticate the apostles as true messengers from God. … If the miraculous signs were intended to authenticate the apostles, they would no longer be needed after the apostles had done their work” (What, pp. 109-110). Stibbs and Packer come to the same conclusions concerning the “special manifestations” of the Spirit:

Their purpose, according to the New Testament, was dispensational rather than personal; that is, they were given to authenticate the Gospel and its first messengers, and to mark publicly the transition from the era of the old covenant to that of the new. The need for them ended when the apostles’ unique ministry was finished and the writing of the New Testament was completed.


Especially note the words “according to the New Testament” because it will soon become apparent that the New Testament nowhere states that (1) certain gifts of the Spirit were for the purpose of authenticating the apostles or (2) the gift or office of apostleship would cease.

Second Corinthians 12:12, “The things that mark an apostle—signs, wonders and miracles—were done among you with great perseverance,” is one Scripture that is used to wed tongues to apostleship. Paul’s argument, it is said, would be illogical if all Christians were performing these things (MacArthur, p.80; see also Romans 15:18-19). What the cessationists overlook, however, is that it was the Corinthians and the “super-apostles,” not Paul, who placed the emphasis upon “signs, wonders and miracles.” It was they who placed such phenomena at the top of the apostolic certification criteria. Paul’s writings indicate that for him apostleship was certified not by charismatic phenomena but by evangelism and changed lives. “You are the seal of my apostleship,” he told the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 9:2; see also Mark 16:15-17).

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Category: Spirit, Spring 2000

About the Author: Robert W. Graves, M. A. (Literary Studies, Georgia State University), is the co-founder and president of The Foundation for Pentecostal Scholarship, Inc., a non-profit organization supporting Pentecostal scholarship through research grants. He is a Christian educator and a former faculty member of Southwestern Assemblies of God College in Waxahachie, Texas, and Kennesaw State University (adjunct). He edited and contributed to Strangers to Fire: When Tradition Trumps Scripture and is the author of Increasing Your Theological Vocabulary, Praying in the Spirit (1987 and Second Edition, 2017) and The Gospel According to Angels (Chosen Books, 1998).

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