The Twelve Men Part 4 of 4
by John Lowe
In the first place, these men were Jews, and tongues was a Jewish sign. Everywhere the gift of tongues is mentioned in Acts, Jews are in the picture. That is understandable, because tongues was essentially a sign to the Jews.
Those who cite this incident as the bases for giving the Holy Spirit to people today and cite it as proof that people who have the Spirit speak in tongues betray a misunderstanding both of the work of the Holy Spirit in this age and the significance of tongues in the early church.
In Acts 19:6, we have the last instance of the gift of tongues in the Book of Acts. The believers spoke in tongues at Pentecost and praised God and their listeners recognized these tongues as known languages (Acts 2:4-11) and not as some “heavenly speech.” The Gentile believers in the house of Cornelius also spoke in tongues (Acts 10: 44-46), and their experience was identical to that of the Jews in Acts 2 (see Acts 11:15). This was of historic significance since the spirit was baptizing Jews (Acts 2) and Gentiles (Acts 10) into the body of Christ—“For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. (1 Corinthians 12:13).
Today, the gift of tongues is not an evidence of the baptism of the Spirit or the fullness of the Spirit. Paul asked, “Do all speak with tongues?” (1Corinthians 12:30) and the Greek construction demands NO as an answer. When Paul wrote to his Ephesian friends about the filling of the Holy Spirit, he said nothing about tongues—“Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18). Nowhere in Scripture are we admonished to seek a baptism of the Holy Spirit, or to speak in tongues, but we are commanded to be filled with the Spirit. Read Paul’s letter to the Ephesian church and note the many references to the Holy Spirit of God and His work in the believer.
7 And all the men were about twelve.
Paul is not definite about there being 12 men; Luke’s expression, “All the men were about twelve,” makes it unlikely that he attached any significance to the number. He certainly made nothing of it.
End Notes: 1
(Acts 18:25, KJV) “This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John.”2
(John 7:39, KJV) “(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.)”3
There is evidence that groups existed well into the fourth century who claimed John the Baptist as their founder.4
The word “disciple” means “learner,” or “follower,” and does not always refer to Christians (Matthew 9:14; 11:2; Mark 2:18; Luke 5:33; 7:18, 19; 11:1; John 1: 35; 6:66).5
(Acts 8:14-17, NIV) “When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to Samaria. When they arrived, they prayed for the new believers there that they might receive the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit had not yet come on any of them; they had simply been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.”6
(Ephesians 1:13-14, NIV) “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.”7
(John 1:32-3, NIV) “Then John gave this testimony: ‘I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. And I myself did not know him, but the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’”