Speaking In Tongues


“But ye shall receive power, after the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).


“And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49)

God had made a promise to bless all nations with His presence in their lives. Jesus came to prepare a people to become the recipients of that promise. Said He: “He that believeth on me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified)” (John 7:38-39).

Here we have reference to the time when the Spirit was to be poured out on the true believers.

In referring to this on another occasion, Jesus promised: “Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth…” (John 16:13)


In considering these Scriptures, it might appear that the Holy Spirit had not yet been visited upon the human family — that the Holy Spirit was something far removed from man — from dwelling with, or being in Him. The opposite is true, however, for we find long before the birth of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit of God filled the lives of the people of God.

 “And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost:” (Luke 1:41)

Of the father of John the Baptist, it is said: “And his father Zacharias was filled with the Holy Ghost:” (Luke 1:67).

Many other texts could be mentioned which speak of the Holy Ghost indwelling God’s people. The presence of the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) has been evident from the beginning, working in men to accomplish the will of God and to bless mankind. With this in mind then, we ask what is behind the promise of Jesus concerning the coming of the Holy Spirit.


Understanding the religious attitudes and spiritual conditions of Israel in the days when Jesus walked the earth will help us better appreciate the special needs of that time.

Over a period of several generations, there had grown up in Israel a more righteous than thou attitude. They had come to regard themselves as somewhat of a super race, with a national God who did not consider, or recognize other races of men.

The Jews looked upon the Gentile people as dogs. The woman of Samaria was made to marvel that Jesus would speak to her for, as John 4:9 tells us, the Jews had no dealings with the Samaritans.

Peter’s statement in the house of Cornelius gives us an insight from the prevailing trend of thought of that day. “And he said unto them, Ye know how it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation…” (Acts 10:28)

Jesus was many times criticized because He ate and drank with sinners, or with those of another nation. This prevailing national idea of racial supremacy and religious superiority meant that Israel was guilty on two counts: of racial discrimination and of religious bigotry. These, by the way, are two of the prevailing sins of our day.

This situation is one to which we should give earnest heed, lest we should likewise be guilty. The beauty of the Christian religion is that it teaches us humility and, if genuine, will create humility in our heart. Christianity impresses upon its adherents that they are servants of the human family, and it is both a duty and a privilege to seek what is best for all concerned.

Although Israel had received superior laws and received more revealed truth than anything the Gentiles possessed, this did not make them better than other men. Goodness on our part must be in and come from the heart. It is not inherited.

We cannot inherit good, though a good background can and will be helpful in guiding us to the better things of life. Boasting of our heritage, regardless of its superior value, does not make us better than anyone else. It is our attitude toward such things that determines our worth.


“Therefore thus saith the LORD God, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste” (Isaiah 28:16).

Of this stone, Isaiah further tells us: “And he shall be for a sanctuary; but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both the houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 8:14) Also see Romans 9:33.

New Testament texts abound with reference to this stone as pertaining to Jesus. Jesus is spoken of as the stone that the builders disallowed (Acts 4:11). Reference is made to Jesus (1 Peter 2:4-10) as the stone on which the church is founded. Jesus spoke of this stone as a power of Judgment, saying to the Pharisees: “And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall it will grind him to powder.” (Matthew 21:44).

While Jesus was here on earth, and during His ministry, He supplied the teaching and the comfort that the Holy Spirit would supply after He was gone into heaven. He ministered to the immediate needs of the people. Israel, however, accustomed to the rituals of the ceremonial system — the meat and drink offerings; the material feastings, and the central religious activities at Jerusalem — could neither see nor understand who Jesus really was.

They were looking for their Messiah but they failed to see in Him the One for whom they were looking. Because of their attitude of racial superiority, their religious bigotry, and their dependence on fleshly ceremonies, they were void of the power and presence of God in their lives.

But let us go slowly in condemning them for we are bound today (in many cases) by the same, or similar attitudes, and many have fallen heir to the same self-righteousness that plagued Israel.

It was necessary, therefore, for God to work some mighty miracles and to send a double portion of His Holy Spirit in order to set at naught the sinful attitudes of Israel in the days of our Lord. They were stubborn and rebellious just as many professed believers today.


“If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you” (John 14:15-17).

Jesus represented the Spirit of God dwelling with the disciples. Dwelling with them was not enough. He must become their very life. In order to do this, He must dwell in them. That was His promise. The disciples could not sense their own individual needs while Jesus was with them in person. It was essential for their own good that He leave (John 16:7).

After He left them He would send the Comforter. A godly person in our midst cannot save us. We must be partakers of the divine nature of God in order to be the children of God.

Only those who possess the Spirit of God and are led by that Spirit are the children of God. Israel rejected the Holy Spirit, simply by rejecting Jesus their Messiah and His message of life.


“And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you...” (Luke 24:49). The promise of the Holy Spirit by our Lord was not the origin of this promise. Jesus was working for and with the Father to prepare a people for the coming of the Holy Spirit, according to the promise.

The promise is found in Joel 2:28-29. “And it shall come to pass afterwards, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out of my spirit.” Here is the promise of the Holy Spirit as given by the prophet Joel. This is the promise of the Father.

The first coming of Jesus was in response to prophecy. This is also true of the coming of the Holy Spirit.

Being filled with the Holy Spirit without measure, Jesus was the embodiment (the fullness) of the Spirit among men. He was with them, but He must also be in them to be their Comforter and guide; the promise of the Holy Spirit provided for our son-ship with God. Peter put it this way: “Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” (2 Peter 1:4).

Through the Holy Spirit, Peter said, on the day of Pentecost: “But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy” (Acts 2:16-18).

The promise of God to pour out His Holy Spirit upon all flesh was an open rebuke to Israel because of her religious bigotry and her feeling of national and racial superiority.

The Jews, which were gathered at Jerusalem, were filled with amazement at the events that accompanied the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.

As Peter addressed the assembly, conviction took hold of them and they cried out: “...Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37)

Peter’s answer was emphatic. “...Repent, and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children (Israel) and to all that are afar off (Gentiles), even as many as the LORD our God shall call” (Acts 2:38-39). This, said Peter, is what God had promised through the prophet Joel.

To verify the statement that those who were afar off referred to the Gentiles, let us turn to Paul’s writings.

“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ.” (Ephesians 2:11-12) Social, tribal, and economic conditions were not prerequisites for the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Jews or Gentiles, male or female, bond or free, the Spirit was to be poured on all, “…for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3:28)


It was the purpose of the Lord (in part) to prepare a people to receive the promised Holy Spirit, without which the gospel message could not be effectively preached to the ends of the earth.

He came to His own — to Israel — and from them, He was to take and prepare a people by conditioning them for the reception of the Holy Spirit in its fullness.

Having invited them to follow Him, Jesus taught them for three and one-half years, preparing and fitting them for service, and then commanding them to wait in Jerusalem until the power of the Holy Spirit should fall upon them.

Though Jesus had walked with them, performing miracles, teaching them, setting the example ever before them, the fleshly mind still controlled them. Neither could they grasp the significance of what He had taught them.

Not until they carried out His instructions to tarry at Jerusalem and had received the power of the Holy Spirit were they able to comprehend.


“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all in one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (Acts 2:1-4)

Jerusalem was the gathering place for all the Jewish festivals. Thus, on the day of Pentecost Jews of all nations were gathered there.

By way of answer to the exclusiveness of the Jews, the Holy Ghost caused these Jews to hear the gospel preached in the language of the countries from which they came, thus making it an international affair.

And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, “...Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” (Acts 2:7-8) This was God’s rebuke to them. Peter’s explanation helped them to understand that the God of heaven was not a God of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles, and that His salvation and His Holy Spirit was for all men everywhere.


“For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:” (1 Corinthians 1:22). Thus Paul wrote the Corinthian believers.

Later, in this same epistle, he added: “In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak to this people: and yet for all that they will not hear me, saith the LORD.” (1 Corinthians 14:21).

The gift of tongues was a special gift to the disciples, but there were present, on that day (Pentecost), Jews from every nation under heaven as witnesses to the miracle.

In writing to the Corinthians Paul was giving instructions on the proper use of the gifts of the Holy Spirit, as pertaining to worship services. “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not...” (1 Corinthians 14:22).

It is interesting to ask, do not believe what? Peter and others believed in God and His salvation but they were not yet ready to believe it was for the Gentiles as well as for themselves.

Tongues were for a sign to Israel. Paul told them this was written in the law. Law is used, in this case, to mean the whole of what the Jews recognized as the Holy Scriptures (2 Timothy 3:15). 1 Corinthians 14:22 has reference to Isaiah 28:11-12. “For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.”

Isaiah is called the gospel prophet. Much of his prophetic writings had to do with the coming of Jesus. Among other things, this gift of tongues was prophesied. He foretold also that, in spite of the miracle, they would not

hear. The majority did not hear but turned away and refused to accept their Messiah. In rejecting Him, they rejected also the Holy Spirit and His salvation.

God is a God of order. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, He brought His Son into the world. Jesus lived an orderly life and, through the working of the Holy Spirit, presented God’s salvation to Israel. Then, on the day of Pentecost, God sent His power to the disciples through the marvelous outpouring of the Holy Spirit in tongues as a sign to Israel, yet they would not hear.


Though Peter had received the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and was able to explain to the people who gathered what had happened, yet he retained a measure of disbelief, even beyond Pentecost. It was likewise true of others of the early church.

The record in the tenth chapter of Acts makes this very clear. Here, a vision is recorded (Acts 10:11-15) wherein Peter saw all manner of beasts, fowls and creeping things, and he was commanded to rise, kill and eat (verse 13).

Peter was in doubt as to what these things meant but it was soon revealed to him. The Spirit told him that three men sought him (verse 19). He was further told to go with them and not to doubt the outcome, for God was behind it (verse 20).

Taking other Jews with him, he went to the home of Cornelius, a Gentile. And he said unto them, “...Ye know how that it is an unlawful thing for a man that is a Jew to keep company, or come unto one of another nation; but God hath shewed me that I should not call any man common or unclean.” (Acts 10:28).

Peter then preached Jesus Christ unto them and even as he spoke, the power of the Holy Ghost (Holy Spirit) fell on them. They spoke with tongues and magnified God. Here the tongues were a sign for Peter and his company. Peter was convinced. He asked, “Can any forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” (verse 47)

“And they of the circumcision (Jews) which believe were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God...” (verses 45-46).

Here we see the early Jewish believers demonstrating a certain measure of skepticism. This disbelief ended when the Gentiles spoke in tongues when they received the Holy Spirit.

Tongues are for a sign to them that believe not, as on the day of Pentecost, so now in the house of Cornelius, tongues were for a sign that God meant His salvation for all people, not only the Jews.


In addition to tongues, God (through Jesus) gave other gifts. “...When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.” (Ephesians 4:8).

What gifts were given? “And he gave some, apostles; and some prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers” (verse 11).

Nine gifts are recorded in 1 Corinthians 12, and the gift of tongues is but one of these. It is not listed in such a way that indicates that it is a supreme gift or an essential one. Verse 28 reveals that God places these things in the church at His pleasure.

The Pentecost of Acts 2 sees all the nine gifts coming into the church, not just tongues.

Paul’s questions (1 Corinthians 12:29-30) clearly indicate that not all saved people have the gift of tongues (or all the gifts) and not any one of the gifts in particular.

In verse 31 he indicates there is something even more important than the gifts. Chapter 13 reveals to all men that charity (love) is, by far, more important for men to possess.

Following the ascension of Jesus into heaven, these gifts have been given to the church. They are tools by which saved believers can more effectively witness the way of salvation and fill the spiritual needs of mankind.

There is no assurance that possession of these gifts will give us eternal life. Paul makes it plain in 1 Corinthians 13, that unless we have charity we are nothing, and shall be profited in nothing, though we speak with the tongues of men and of angels.

Charity (love) is expressed by obedience to the divine will of God. “For this is the love of God that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous” (1 John 5:3).

Being filled with the Holy Spirit is one thing. The gifts are another. As believers, we are to “…covet earnestly the best gifts, and yet shew I unto thee a more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:31). Because the gifts are of, or from the Spirit, it is evident that we must possess the Spirit before we can have any of the gifts. Possessing them, we must use them to the glory of God.

The same Spirit gives the word of wisdom to one, and the word of knowledge to another (1 Corinthians 12:8). It is very important that we be able to distinguish between the fruit of the Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit. To please God, all must possess the fruit of the Spirit, though we are limited regarding the gifts. It is the fruit that bears the evidence that we are the children of God, possessing His Spirit.


While John the Baptist was baptizing in the river Jordan, he told his listeners: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and fire.” (Matthew 3:11).

Here John was baptizing with water. Later on, Jesus gave His disciples authority to do likewise. Man can baptize with water but only the Lord can baptize with the Holy Spirit. The baptism of the Spirit does not eliminate the need for water baptism. Both are needed. Both are a part of the terms of the gospel of Christ. One is for the remission of sins. The other is for power for service in the work of the ministry.

What is meant by “the baptism of the Holy Spirit”?

Comparing this with water baptism, it should not be too hard to understand. Water baptism is represented by a burial (Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12). We are told that “baptize” comes from a word that means “to dip, plunge or cover.” This being true, the baptism of the Holy Spirit simply means to be completely filled with the Spirit. It would take over our lives completely. It would cover us, fill us, and guide us.

An example of this can be seen in our Lord and Savior. Jesus received the Holy Spirit at the time of His water baptism. His life was completely guided by the Spirit of God. “...for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him” (John 3:34), meaning that God gave Him the power of the Holy Spirit without limit.

When Elisabeth was filled (baptized) with the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:41), she simply bubbled over with a testimony of truth. The same is true of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist (Luke 1:67). From this, we see that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is simply being filled with the Spirit of God.


When Jesus promised that God, His Father, would send the Holy Spirit upon His disciples, He told them to tarry (wait) in the city of Jerusalem until they were endued (filled) with power from on high. “For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence” (Acts 1:5).

Jesus ascended into heaven and the disciples waited for the promise of the Father as Jesus told them to do. They continued in prayer and in one accord. “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all in one accord in one place” (Acts 2:1).

“And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (verse 4). Here the filling of the Holy Spirit is the answer to the promise of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

The expression, filled with the Holy Spirit, is the same expression we find in speaking of others before the day of Pentecost. Therefore we must conclude that the baptism of the Holy Spirit is the same as being filled with the Holy Spirit.

Paul said, “And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess, but be filled with the Spirit;” (Ephesians 5:18).


A picture of the spiritual condition of the church in the days of Christ will help us to see the need of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Only thus empowered could they withstand the onslaught of persecution that was to come upon them as they took their stand for the message of Jesus Christ.

The Jews had become so self-righteous — so full of religious bigotry and racial prejudice — that any break with their established carnal society would be sure to bring down their wrath upon the offenders. How true this proved to be.

Furthermore, the ceremonial law system could neither give life nor forgive sins. They needed the true ministry of the Holy Spirit, which alone could implant the divine nature within them. This must be in the hearts of the true believers, for only then can they be saved. “If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his” (Romans 8:9).

The Jews needed conversion from a parental religious heritage, to a spiritual rebirth. All who responded were united in one family through the Spirit. This is why the promise was made that all flesh should receive the fullness (baptism) of the Holy Spirit.

All flesh (as has been previously explained) means all nationalities of people. God is not a respecter of persons (Romans 2:11).


“And there are differences of administration, but the same Lord” (1 Corinthians 12:5). On the day of Pentecost, the ministry of the Holy Spirit began in earnest to replace the carnal ministry of the ceremonial system as practiced by Judaism. No more offering of animal sacrifices. No more ceremonial feasting and drinking. No more centralized national worship (Jerusalem). No more dependence on a fleshly priesthood that was void of the Spirit of God. No more would they walk by sight but by faith. One supreme sacrifice had been made which ended forever the need for an animal sacrifice. That sacrifice was Jesus. All who accept Him by faith shall live.

There is now a ministry of cleansing, which operates in the heart of man through the Spirit — a cleansing not possible through the ceremonial law of

Moses. The baptism of the Holy Spirit established and sealed this ministry on the day of Pentecost.

That is why we find so many things taking place on that day. When both place and people are filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit the flesh has to go, whether of the ministry of Aaron or the tribe of Levi. The ministry is now operated by the Spirit of God, working through whomever God calls.


With the coming of the Holy Spirit ministry came also the gifts of the Spirit. Such gifts are tools (instruments) in the hands of the believers and are used of the Spirit in behalf of the salvation of souls.

Different gifts, used at different times and under different conditions, give evidence of the Holy Spirit ministry.

It was only natural that when this ministry began (with the baptism thereof), the gifts would be present for the work it was to do.

Those who were filled with the Holy Spirit “…began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). Many people can see only the gift of tongues (languages). This was God’s rebuke to Israel, due to the narrow-mindedness toward other nationalities of people.

Not only tongues (languages) were given to the Spirit-filled disciples on the day of Pentecost but also faith, wisdom, healing, working of miracles, and interpretation of tongues. All these gifts were in evidence on the day of Pentecost.

Chapter 12 of 1 Corinthians teaches that the gifts of the Spirit follow the infilling of the Spirit. The baptism of the Spirit gives “to every man to profit withal” — meaning everyone benefits (verse 7). Whether it is tongues or faith, healing or wisdom, it all comes through the same Spirit. It cannot come without the reception of the Spirit.


Many people seem to believe so. Paul did not agree with this kind of thinking. He said, “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1).

On the day of Pentecost “...there were... Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5) gathered for this festive occasion. This festival came once every year. It was Jewish and the Jews came from every nation under heaven for this gathering.

It had been prophesied that God was going to rebuke Israel by the use of other languages when He poured out His Holy Spirit on the people. Isaiah had written (under inspiration) “For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people…Yet they would not hear” (Isaiah 28:11-12). We find the Apostle Paul quoting from this prophecy in 1 Corinthians 14:21.

Paul also wrote on an earlier occasion, “For the Jews require a sign...” (1 Corinthians 1:22). Thus, on the day of Pentecost, we see the fulfillment of this prophecy and sign.

After Pentecost, the same pattern follows true. Peter was given final and conclusive proof that God is no respecter of persons when he visited the home of Cornelius, as recorded in Acts 10.

The gift of tongues was the witness to all Israel that God was (and is) the God of all languages and peoples, and not to Israel only. The Jews were given this sign as a proof. It was God’s rebuke to them for their narrow-mindedness and lack of missionary zeal.

We must remember that there were definite languages that the Jews heard, and understood, on the day of Pentecost. The interpretation was not of the tongues but of the meaning of the strange things that happened on that day. Peter was the interpreter for the occasion. He told these foreign Jews that the disciples were not drunk, as they supposed, but filled with the Holy Spirit.

They had been given this gift of tongues that they might talk to their brethren of the salvation, which is in Jesus Christ, their Messiah. The Spirit used Peter as he interpreted the meaning of what had happened, and about three thousand souls were added to the church on that day.

Tongues are no more a sign of the baptism of the Holy Spirit than any other gift such as faith, wisdom, or healing. There is still something far greater, which is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13.

Tongues are one of the gifts of the Spirit and can have a place in the ministry of the church. Remember, there are nine gifts of the Spirit. Not one of these gifts is evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Remember also, your destiny is based on revealing the holy character of God, holy living, not a gift of the ministry. I find no place in the Bible that eternal life is based on the manifestation of a spiritual gift, other than the Holy Spirit itself. The fruit tells the story from there on, in relation to your obedience to the law and commandments of God (Revelation 22:14, Matthew 7:21-24).


Even before the day of Pentecost, people were baptized (filled) with the Spirit of God. We have mentioned Zacharias and Elisabeth (Luke 1).

Simeon, and Anna, the prophetess, were also Spirit-filled people long before the day of Pentecost mentioned in Acts 2.

Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit as was John the Baptist. None of them spoke in tongues so far as records reveal but all of them prophesied. In view of the promise that your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, it is reasonable to expect that all who are Spirit-filled shall come forth with praise of God in song and testimony. Both male and female are in the same spiritual need. Both must receive the Spirit to be children of God. Both now worship Him in Spirit and in truth.

The Hebrew word Naw-baw, which is translated prophesy in Joel 2:28, means “to speak (or sing) by inspiration (in prediction or simple discourse)” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance).

Not all prophesying is in terms of preaching or teaching, or the foretelling of future events. The latter falls under the gifts of the Spirit.

The baptism (or filling) of the Spirit may be repeated. Those who were filled on the day of Pentecost received similar experiences again. “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31). Power to witness is not determined by how many gifts we possess, and use but rather by the fruit we produce. We find this truth plainly taught in 1 Corinthians 13. This does not mean we ought not to desire the gifts of the Holy Spirit. We are admonished to seek the best gifts according to 1 Corinthians 12:31. This same verse, however, tells us there is an excellent way. It is a way of bearing fruit by living in obedience to the will of God, and in demonstrating the love of God in our daily lives.


Many fail to prepare and thus do not qualify for this great gift of God — the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The ministry of Christ included the calling and preparing of men for the reception of the Holy Spirit. Three and one-half years were spent preparing the disciples for the work they were to perform. In addition to this training, it was necessary that they have the fullness of the Holy Spirit, the power for service. They also needed to learn to walk by faith and not by sight alone. Both of these requirements were met after Jesus departed from them.

The disciples of Jesus beheld His life of self-denial and witnessed His loss of friends, His lack of a home and many other material things. They witnessed the final betrayal of their (our) Savior and Lord.

All these and similar experiences were to be theirs as they went about among wolves and wild beasts while proclaiming the gospel. Practicing self-denial, and refusing to conform to the society of their times, or to go along with Rome, put their lives in jeopardy. This took special strength and courage. Though Jesus had lived the life before them and had conditioned them for these experiences, they still needed the power that only the infilling of the Holy Spirit could give them.

Jesus said, “ shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)

Few of us are willing to pay the supreme price for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. We will not walk the road of self-denial, go through the garden, or climb the rugged hill of Calvary. Loyalty, obedience, and self-denial are the terms Jesus laid down for discipleship. The same terms apply for the reception of the Holy Spirit, “...whom God hath given to them that obey him.” (Acts 5:32)

The household of Cornelius was preparing for their experience long before Peter arrived to tell them that salvation could be theirs through Jesus, Israel’s Messiah.


The fullness of the Spirit was poured out on the disciples of Christ on the day of Pentecost, after the ascension of Jesus into heaven. Did that end water baptism? Surely we all know the answer. Paul wrote all his letters after this time, and he taught water baptism in his letters to the churches. Romans 6 is often called the baptism chapter because it gives such a clear picture of baptism and its meaning.

The great commission (Matthew 28:19-20) instructed the disciples to baptize believers. This would, of necessity, be water baptism, as men cannot baptize with the Holy Spirit.

The baptism of the Spirit does not always occur after the baptism with water. The experience in the household of Cornelius (Acts 10) bears this out. On the other hand, neither does the baptism of the Spirit make void the need for the baptism with water.

Acts 10:17 reveals that the household of Cornelius was baptized with water after they were baptized with the Holy Spirit.

Water baptism is for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38-39). The baptism of the Holy Spirit is for power to witness to others in behalf of the gospel, and to worship and praise God in spirit and in truth.


Paul tells us that Jesus “...gave gifts unto men” (Ephesians 4:8). The evidence seems to show that the Corinthian church was blessed with spiritual gifts. These gifts have their proper place in the church (1 Corinthians 12) but are to be used in orderly fashion and for the advancement of the spiritual welfare of God’s people.

In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul tells us these gifts are for the ministry. By them, the church is to be established. The influence of the ministry is magnified through these gifts, which are granted by the Holy Spirit. They must, however, be used in orderly fashion.

Paul wrote to the church at Corinth about the proper use of spiritual gifts. He dealt especially with prophecy (preaching and teaching), tongues, and the interpretation of tongues. His instructions dealt with the use of these gifts in the church. Prophecy is emphasized as being greater than that of tongues (1 Corinthians 14:5). He rebukes the careless use of tongues and urged control and order. If anyone spoke in an unknown tongue, he had to have an interpreter or else keep silent in the church. This makes it very evident that such gifts are under the control of the user.

It should be noted that these gifts are for the ministry and the ministers of the church.

Of the women, he says, “Let your women keep silent in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law” (1 Corinthians 14:34). This is in keeping with Paul’s writings as found in 1 Timothy 2:11-12. Compare this with Titus 2:5.

1 Corinthians 14 deals with the instructions for the use of the gifts in the church assembly and is confined (limited) to the men who are called to the public ministry.

This is not to say that women have no voice in the church. Neither do we say that they are ineligible for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. The opposite is true. We have already referred to women who were filled with the Holy Spirit.

Gifts of the Spirit, which came into the church on the day of Pentecost, were for the work of the ministry and are therefore confined to the ministry. As mentioned earlier, the Bible tells us to seek for the best gifts (1 Corinthians 12:31).

As we seek for the gifts of the Spirit, let us also seek for heavenly wisdom that we may use them to the glory of God, not for fleshly ambitions as it appears today.

Remember, salvation is not based on the gifts of the Spirit, but rather on the fruit of the Spirit.

We are living at a time when there is much counterfeit teaching relative to the Holy Spirit, its work, and gifts.

Man’s natural (carnal) spirit has always led him away from God. The Holy Spirit leads us to God, giving us the power to be obedient to His holy laws. A spirit that leads us away from obeying God, His laws, His doctrines as taught and practiced by the Lord Jesus is not of the Holy Spirit.

A spirit or doctrine that substitutes any gift of the Holy Spirit cannot be of the Holy Spirit. It is not divided against itself. All Scripture must harmonize. Don’t form a private interpretation of some Scripture that contradicts the whole of any subject. If you do, you are wrong.

Written by Elder Kenneth Walker.

Used by permission.

Material from the book Answers to Your Bible Questions by Wesley Walker.

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Answers to Your Bible Questions