Date: Mon Oct 09 1995 - 16:15:38 EDT
In a message dated 95-10-09 09:31:26 EDT, Stephen Carlson writes:
>That the technical terms GLWSSAI, GENH GLWSSWN, and EN GLWSSHi (-AIS)
>LALEIN (always anarthrous) refers to xenolalia, as suggested supra, is
>a minority position.
>I think it is fairly clear that those terms referred to ecstatic utterances
>["GLWSSA," BADG (2d ed. 1979) "There is no doubt about the thing referred
>to, namely the broken speech of persons in religious ecstasy."]. This is
>not surprising, given the cultural context of the Corthinian church.
The term "GLWSSAIS LALEIN" was a term used by the Greco-Roman culture to
refer to the pagan language of the gods produced through people in an
ecstatic trance. This was always gibberish. It was not a known language.
The word used for this ecstatic religious experience is "eros." It was an
ecstatic, erotic, sensual religion designed to affect the senses. The error
of the Corinthians was to pervert the gift of God with these practices.
These practices were rampant in the secular society of Corinth and had
infiltrated the church at Corinth as well. Satan always tries to counterfeit
God. Whenever anyone rises up to speak for God, we should "test the spirits
to see whether they are from God" (1 John 4:1). Remember that Satan is "the
god of this world" (2 Cor. 4:4) and "the prince of the power of the air, ...
the spirit that now working in the sons of disobedience" (Eph. 2:2b). Satan
transforms himself into "an angel of light" (2 Cor. 11:14).
I am convinced that what we see today is a repeat of what happened in
Corinth in Paul's day. We are allowing all kinds of perversion to affect the
church. But we must understand that the church is called out of the world,
to be separate. We are not to be like them (Matt. 6:8).
God never intended for believers to pray in an unknown language
unintelligible to the speaker or listener. Examine every prayer in the Bible
and you'll never find an example that even suggests that prayer should be
incomprehensible. In fact, in Matthew 6:7 Jesus said, "And when you are
praying, do not use meaningless repetition, as the Gentiles do, for they
suppose that they will be heard for their many words." The word for
"meaningless repetitions" is the Greek word BATTALOGEW. LOGEW is our word
"to speak." BATTA is not even a word. It is what we call onomatopoeia.
That is, a word that sounds similar to what it represents like "buzz" is
used for a bee, or "swish" is used for something passing by very fast. Jesus
was saying we should be speaking gibberish, "Batta, batta, batta...."
The Bible defines it own usage of terms. We must look carefully at the
context of the Bible and let it speak in its own sphere to define what its
words mean. Be careful not to bring in other pagan practices that may use
similar terms and foist them on the Bible. Today when Christians speak of
love, they mean something entirely different than what the world means. We
have our own vocabulary. Similarly, the Bible should be allowed to have its
The bottom line is this. 1 Corinthians 14 represents a perversion of
the use of tongues. It is not an example for the church to follow. It was a
wedding of the Greco-Roman culture with the church. It was not Paul's
intention to commend such things, but to oppose it. You can understand this
by studying the chapter carefully.
Some of the above thoughts are from my Pastor, John MacArthur in his
study guide "The Truth about Tongues." These are out of print, but you can
check to see if any copies remain or get the cassette tapes for the teachings
by calling Word of Grace, 800/55-GRACE. The study guide goes into much more
detail than I can give here.
If you have any questions on any part of this, feel free to E-Mail me
Professor of Greek at
Logos Bible Institute
13248 Roscoe Blvd.
Sun Valley, CA 91352
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