Is drinking Alcohol a sinful act?

Can Christians drink Alcohol? Depending on which denomination you belong to, they may give you varied responses to this question. But what does the Bible say? Is it considered as sin according to God’s Law and Scripture? Let us look at the evidence.

The Main 2 types of Alcohol mentioned in the Scriptures
The Scriptures consistently mention 2 variants of alcoholic beverages; namely “wine” & “strong drink”. Wine was usually fermented grape juice while Strong Drink could be any form of Alcohol which was much more potent.
• H3196 – יין – yah’-yin – From an unused root meaning to effervesce; wine (as fermented); by implication intoxication: – banqueting, wine, wine [-bibber].
• H7941 – שׁכר – shay-kawr’ – From H7937; an intoxicant, that is, intensely alcoholic liquor: – strong drink, + drunkard, strong wine.

Non Alcoholic Wine is also mentioned throughout the Scriptures as:
• H8492 –  תּירושׁ – tee-roshe’ – From H3423 in the sense of expulsion; must or fresh grape juice (as just squeezed out); by implication (rarely) fermented wine: – (new, sweet) wine.
The 38 instances where new wine is mentioned – (Gen_27:28,37; Num_18:12; Deu_7:13; 11:14; 12:17; 14:23; 18:4; 28:51; 33:28; Jdg_9:13; 2Ki_18:32; 2Ch_31:5; 32:28; Neh_5:11; 10:37; 10:39; 13:5; 13:12; Psa_4:7; Pro_3:10; Isa_24:7; 36:17; 62:8; 65:8; Jer_31:12; Hos_2:8,9; 2:22; 4:11; 7:14; 9:2; Joe_1:10; 2:19; 2:24; Mic_6:15; Hag_1:11; Zec_9:17)

A) There was no restriction in consuming Alcohol other than specific cases such as Priests who go into the tabernacle and people who have taken a Nazarite vow, as seen below.

Lev 10:9 Do not drink wine nor strong drink, thou, nor thy sons with thee, when ye go into the tabernacle of the congregation, lest ye die: it shall be a statute for ever throughout your generations:
Eze 44:21 Neither shall any priest drink wine, when they enter into the inner court.
Num 6:3 He shall separate himself from wine and strong drink, and shall drink no vinegar of wine, or vinegar of strong drink, neither shall he drink any liquor of grapes, nor eat moist grapes, or dried.
Num 6:20 And the priest shall wave them for a wave offering before the LORD: this is holy for the priest, with the wave breast and heave shoulder: and after that the Nazarite may drink wine.
Jdg 13:7 But he said unto me, Behold, thou shalt conceive, and bear a son; and now drink no wine nor strong drink, neither eat any unclean thing: for the child shall be a Nazarite to God from the womb to the day of his death.

B) Alcohol was used inside the tabernacle for some offerings

Num 28:7 And the drink offering thereof shall be the fourth part of an hin for the one lamb: in the holy place shalt thou cause the strong wine to be poured unto the LORD for a drink offering.

C) God specifically allowed people who came to Jerusalem, to tithe and then be joyful. Strong Drink was specifically allowed in this regard

Deu 14:26 And thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household,

D) Alcoholic Wine was not prohibited in the 1st century church either. Paul advices for restraint when consuming alcohol but never prohibits it altogether.

1Ti 3:8 Likewise must the deacons be grave, not doubletongued, not given to much wine, not greedy of filthy lucre;
Tit 1:7,8 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre; But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
Tit 2:2,3 That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience. The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things;
1Ti 3:2,3 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach; Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;

E) Paul even advices Timothy to drink some wine as it would help him with digestion

1Ti 5:23 Drink no longer water, but use a little wine for thy stomach’s sake and thine often infirmities. 

F) There are many instructions in Scripture to keep away from Wine & Strong Drink as they could hinder your ability to follow YHVH wholly. Falling into Drunkenness is clearly condemned by Scripture.

Pro 31:4-7 It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine; nor for princes strong drink: Lest they drink, and forget the law, and pervert the judgment of any of the afflicted. Give strong drink unto him that is ready to perish, and wine unto those that be of heavy hearts. Let him drink, and forget his poverty, and remember his misery no more.
Isa 28:7,8 But they also have erred through wine, and through strong drink are out of the way; the priest and the prophet have erred through strong drink, they are swallowed up of wine, they are out of the way through strong drink; they err in vision, they stumble in judgment. For all tables are full of vomit and filthiness, so that there is no place clean.
Pro 20:1 Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is deceived thereby is not wise.
Pro 23:20,21
Be not among winebibbers; among riotous eaters of flesh: For the drunkard and the glutton shall come to poverty: and drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.
Pro 23:29-32 Who hath woe? who hath sorrow? who hath contentions? who hath babbling? who hath wounds without cause? who hath redness of eyes? They that tarry long at the wine; they that go to seek mixed wine. Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder.
Isa 5:11
Woe unto them that rise up early in the morning, that they may follow strong drink; that continue until night, till wine inflame them!
Gal 5:21
Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
Eph 5:18 And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess;
but be filled with the Spirit;
Rom 13:13 Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying.
1Pe 4:3 For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:

G) Even though Alcoholism and drunkenness is condemned in the Scriptures “Wine” is seen as a positive blessing given by God to man for his pleasure.

Psa 104:14,15 He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and herb for the service of man: that he may bring forth food out of the earth; And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man’s heart.
Psa 23:5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Ecc 9:7 Go thy way, eat thy bread with joy, and drink thy wine with a merry heart; for God now accepteth thy works.

H) There are many instances in the Scriptures where drinking alcohol has caused harm. These moments act as a reminder that Alcohol can become a large barrier in one’s life.

Gen 9:21 And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
2Sa 11:13 And when David had called him, he did eat and drink before him; and he made him drunk: and at even he went out to lie on his bed with the servants of his lord, but went not down to his house.

I) There are many examples to show that the drinking of wine was commonplace in the time of the Scriptures as well as the first century.

Gen 43:34 And he took and sent messes unto them from before him: but Benjamin’s mess was five times so much as any of theirs. And they drank, and were merry with him.
1Sa 1:14,15 And Eli said unto her, How long wilt thou be drunken? put away thy wine from thee. And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the LORD.
Luk 7:33,34 For John the Baptist came neither eating bread nor drinking wine; and ye say, He hath a devil. The Son of man is come eating and drinking; and ye say, Behold a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners!
1Co 11:21 For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.

Conclusion
Alcohol can be a touchy subject in Christian circles to say the least, being seen as a outward manifestation of piety. The Scriptures on the other hand goes against this trend and does not condemn the consumption of alcohol; only the excessive usage of alcohol and drunkenness. While there is a massive amount of evidence to suggest that using wine or other more potent alcoholic beverages is not an issue according to the Bible, whomever consumes alcohol should be fully able to control oneself, so that he/she does not fall into sin through the acts of drunkenness or alcoholism. While it is a better choice to distant yourself from alcohol, we must understand that there is no such precept in God’s Law or Scripture. It is a personal choice which should be taken with care!

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Is making Oaths prohibited? Misunderstandings regarding the Sermon on the Mount

It is a common teaching that as Christians, we should not make oaths or swear in the name of God, and that Messiah taught explicitly against swearing in His Sermon on the Mount. At face value it seems that Christ said making oaths/swearing which was a precept from the Law of God was evil. Have we misunderstood Christ’s words in Matthew 5:33-37 ? further study maybe needed to check the validity of this claim.

Oaths in the Law of God
While Oaths and vows seem to be the same, a vow is a “solemn promise” made between two entities, while an oath is a commitment one makes towards telling the truth or any other matter usually by calling towards something greater than him/herself.

The law is clear that words of an oath cannot be broken and that false Oaths should not be made in God’s name. The amalgamation of these two laws are what Yeshua mentioned in Matthew 5:33.

Lev 19:12 And ye shall not swear by my name falsely, neither shalt thou profane the name of thy God: I am the LORD.
Num 30:2 If a man vow a vow unto the LORD, or swear an oath to bind his soul with a bond; he shall not break his word, he shall do according to all that proceedeth out of his mouth.

In the Law of God, it was expressly stated that if one makes an Oath, it should be made in the name of no other entity or pagan god, but YHVH‘s name.

Deu 10:20 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.
Deu 6:13 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by his name.

There was also other laws which governed breaking of oaths and being a witness of such acts.

Lev 5:1 And if a soul sin, and hear the voice of swearing, and is a witness, whether he hath seen or known of it; if he do not utter it, then he shall bear his iniquity.
Lev 5:4 Or if a soul swear, pronouncing with his lips to do evil, or to do good, whatsoever it be that a man shall pronounce with an oath, and it be hid from him; when he knoweth of it, then he shall be guilty in one of these.

There are many cases in the Old Testament where an oath is made. It was strictly adhered to (Jos 2:12-14; 6:25) even if it was later revealed to be disadvantageous (Josh chap 9).

Missing the point of Matthew 5:34
When Christ says “Do not swear at all”, it is juxtaposed against the precept from the Mosaic Law “Do not swear falsely in God’s name, but complete any oaths you make”(Lev 19:12, Num 30:2). The Law was against swearing falsely in God’s Name. So here Messiah is simply saying do not swear falsely in any other matter or in any other entity whether it be Heaven, Earth, Jerusalem or your own head. The highlight remains on “falsehood”, not swearing itself.

Mat 5:33 Again, ye have heard that it hath been said by them of old time, Thou shalt not forswear thyself, but shalt perform unto the Lord thine oaths: But I say unto you, Swear not at all; neither by heaven; for it is God’s throne: Nor by the earth; for it is his footstool: neither by Jerusalem; for it is the city of the great King. Neither shalt thou swear by thy head, because thou canst not make one hair white or black. But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Verse 37 where the phrase “Let your yes be yes and no be no” is often the reason why many misunderstand this teaching. To state it simply, so far Christ has essentially only said that “you have heard it being said don’t swear falsely in God’s Name and that you should keep your oaths, but I say to you don’t swear by anything else falsely either”. He then adds the fact that swearing is not needed at all if you are a person who keeps his/her word. If you say yes and do it or no and don’t,(If you are a man/woman of his/her word) essentially there is no reason for swearing in God’s name or any entity.

Further proof that Messiah’s reasoning was only about swearing falsely in any matter
There is other evidence which can shed light on this passage, of which the Hebrew Matthew stands out. The Hebrew version of Matthew’s Gospel perfectly preserves the fact about falsehood as you can see below:

Mat 5:33 (Shem Tob – Hebrew Gospel of Matthew translated by George Howard) Again you have heard what was said to those of long ago: You shall not swear by my name falsely, but you shall return to the Lord your oath. But I say to you not to swear in vain in any matter, neither by heaven because it is the throne of God, nor by earth because it is the footstool of His feet, nor by (Jerusalem) because it is the city of God, nor by your head for you are not able to make one hair white or black. But let your words be yes yes or no no. Everything in addition to this is evil.

The Biblical Apocrypha book Sirach (200-175BCE) also carries the same theme of making oaths very conservatively, and keeping oneself altogether from making oaths which once you break, amount to sin and unrighteousness.

Ecclesiasticus (Sirach) 23:9-11 Don’t let your mouth get used to making solemn pledges,and don’t get accustomed to saying the name of the holy one. Just as a household slave who is constantly examined won’t be lacking bruises, so also the person who always swears and speaks the Lord’s name will never be cleansed from sin. People who make many solemn pledges will be full of lawlessness, and a scourge won’t depart from their house. If they break their solemn pledges, their sin is on them, and if they disregard it, they sin doubly, and if they swear falsely, they won’t be justified, but their houses will be full of misery.

Philo of Alexandria (20BCE – 50CE) who’s works influenced many church fathers had the same to say about oaths.

Philo: The Decalogue 84 That being which is the most beautiful, and the most beneficial to human life, and suitable to rational nature, swears not itself, because truth on every point is so innate within him that his bare word is accounted an oath. Next to not swearing at all, the second best thing is to keep one’s oath; for by the mere fact of swearing at all, the swearer shows that there is some suspicion of his not being trustworthy.

Matthew 5:37 is oddly similar to a passage in the central text of Rabbinical Judaism which also carries the same theme of keeping ones word and not making commitments which one does not intend on fulfilling.

Talmud, Bava Metzia 49a The Gemara raises an objection: Rabbi Yosei, son of Rabbi Yehuda, says: What is the meaning when the verse states: “A just ephah, and a just hin, shall you have” (Leviticus 19:36)? But wasn’t a hin included in an ephah? Why is it necessary to state both? Rather, this is an allusion that serves to say to you that your yes [hen] should be just, and your no should be just. Apparently, it is a mitzva for one to fulfill his promises. Abaye says: That verse means that one should not say one matter with his mouth and think one other matter in his heart. It is prohibited for one to make a commitment that he has no intention of fulfilling.

Conclusion
Words are connected to actions, and the power of words can be seen in the Laws of Oaths among others. When we say yes or no, we should all adhere to keep our word and as Philo explained; aim to be a person who is trustworthy enough to not need an oath from. As our Messiah showed us, we should not falsely swear in any name or entity although we are still able to make an oath if we need to, as long as we stay committed to fulfilling it by all and any means. It is better for us to be Christians who keep their word and be considered trustworthy enough to never have to or need to make an oath. Let us all keep away from evil by being true to our words.

What does the Bible say about Suicide?

The topic of Suicide has become a hot topic in the past few weeks after several celebrities went down this path. But what does the Bible have to say about this subject? Even though it is not specifically mentioned as a Sin in Scripture, God’s Law may have the answers we seek.

God’s Law is complex just like any other body of law. Sometimes it may not cover or specify a particular action as Sin, although there maybe similar judgments which can be used to narrow down on a clear answer for this particular action. Now we must understand that, suicide sometimes is not the most black & white of paths that some choose to tread. There maybe a multitude of reasons for someone to consider ending his or her own life; from depression, mental disorders, substance abuse, persecution or torture. The purpose of this study is not to judge any person, but to look at the judgments that God has laid out in His word against such an act. With that being said, let’s proceed.

In the Old Testament Scriptures and the New Testament writings we see a few individuals mentioned as having taken their own lives.

Jdg 9:53,54 And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and all to brake his skull. Then he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died. (Although Abimelech was probably going to die, he hastened his death thereby committing suicide)
Jdg 16:28-30 And Samson called unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, remember me, I pray thee, and strengthen me, I pray thee, only this once, O God, that I may be at once avenged of the Philistines for my two eyes. And Samson took hold of the two middle pillars upon which the house stood, and on which it was borne up, of the one with his right hand, and of the other with his left. And Samson said, Let me die with the Philistines. And he bowed himself with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords, and upon all the people that were therein. So the dead which he slew at his death were more than they which he slew in his life. (Samson avenged himself and also sacrificed himself to destroy the Philistines with his last breath. This may or may not be accounted as suicide)
1Sa 31:3,4 And the battle went sore against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the archers. Then said Saul unto his armourbearer, Draw thy sword, and thrust me through therewith; lest these uncircumcised come and thrust me through, and abuse me. But his armourbearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul took a sword, and fell upon it. (Saul commits suicide for fear of torture)
1Sa 31:5 And when his armourbearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise upon his sword, and died with him. (Saul’s unnamed Armour Bearer also commits suicide)
2Sa 17:23 And when Ahithophel saw that his counsel was not followed, he saddled his ass, and arose, and gat him home to his house, to his city, and put his household in order, and hanged himself, and died, and was buried in the sepulchre of his father. (Ahithophel who had conspired against King David and councelled Absalom, committed suicide in despair for being cast aside)
1Ki 16:18 And it came to pass, when Zimri saw that the city was taken, that he went into the palace of the king’s house, and burnt the king’s house over him with fire, and died, (Zimri commits suicide for fear of capture after he murdered Elah & his family)
Mat 27:3-5 Then Judas, which had betrayed him, when he saw that he was condemned, repented himself, and brought again the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, Saying, I have sinned in that I have betrayed the innocent blood. And they said, What is that to us? see thou to that. And he cast down the pieces of silver in the temple, and departed, and went and hanged himself. (Judas was so filled with guilt that he committed suicide)

While nothing really negative is mentioned about any of the above, other than Judas Iscariot; there is no specific mention of Suicide as a sin. In the case of Saul, Samuel prophesies to him from the grave in 1Sam 28:19 saying “tomorrow you and your sons shall be with me”; meaning they will join Samuel in Death. This shows that at natural death or suicide people go to Sheol (The Grave) and what is to come, comes afterwards. (Please read this link for further study on this subject)

Taking a human life
God is very clear that taking a human life is a punishable offence. As per His judgement, the murderer deserves death, as long as it was not an accidental death.

Lev 24:17 “Whoever takes a human life shall surely be put to death.
Exo 21:12-14 “Whoever strikes a man so that he dies shall be put to death. But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint for you a place to which he may flee. But if a man willfully attacks another to kill him by cunning, you shall take him from my altar, that he may die.
Num 35:31 Moreover, you shall accept no ransom for the life of a murderer, who is guilty of death, but he shall be put to death.

Your life is not your own
Suicide is essentially the extinguishing of ones own life. And we see proof to the extent that we don’t own our own lives, for God has paid a price for us. Our lives, then are a gift from God.

Eze 18:4 Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.
1Co 3:17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
1Co 6:19,20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.

Bought with a price
Being purchased by God is a mirror of the Exodus event where God saved the Firstborn of the Children of Israel, thereby making God the purchaser and owner of their lives.

Num 3:13 for all the firstborn are mine. On the day that I struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, I consecrated for my own all the firstborn in Israel, both of man and of beast. They shall be mine: I am the LORD.
Lev 25:42 For they are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves.
Num 18:15,16 Everything that opens the womb of all flesh, whether man or beast, which they offer to the LORD, shall be yours. Nevertheless, the firstborn of man you shall redeem, and the firstborn of unclean animals you shall redeem. And their redemption price (at a month old you shall redeem them) you shall fix at five shekels in silver, according to the shekel of the sanctuary, which is twenty gerahs.
Isa 43:1 But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

In the same way, if we are now bought for a price, thereby not being sole owner of our own lives, this would mean we have no right to extinguish our own lives. It would simply equate to murder as we are taking a life, and especially one which is owned by God.

Act 20:28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
1Co 6:20 for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.
1Co 7:23 You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.
1Pe 1:18,19 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
Rev 5:9 And they sang a new song, saying, “Worthy are you to take the scroll and to open its seals, for you were slain, and by your blood you ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation,

People who overcame
We can not complete this study if we do not look at the people who overcame the deepest pits of despair. Their lives can be an example to the one who contemplates suicide and the one who struggles with life without losing hope.

1Ki 19:4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” (Elijah was comforted by God when he felt he could go no further)
Jon 4:3 Therefore now, O LORD, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.” (Jonah who was depressed was taught by God on why his perceptions needed to change)
Job 2:9
Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” (Job suffered on all fronts to the extent where he was receiving advice to give up)
Psa 116:3
The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish. (Many of the psalms speak of the hardships that came on David)
Jer 20:14,18
Cursed be the day on which I was born! The day when my mother bore me, let it not be blessed! Why did I come out from the womb to see toil and sorrow, and spend my days in shame? (Jeremiah saw the oncoming destruction upon God’s people and was in deep sorrow)
Mat 26:38
Then he said to them, “My soul is very sorrowful, even to death; remain here, and watch with me.” (Yeshua went through darkness knowing the trials He was about to go through)
Mar 14:72
And immediately the rooster crowed a second time. And Peter remembered how Jesus had said to him, “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny me three times.” And he broke down and wept. (Peter essentially did the same sin as Judas Iscariot – betraying his Master)
2Co 1:8
For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. (Paul felt he could not go on with all the persecution that came their way)

The above examples show how we can and must go through trials and tribulations, putting our trust in God. Their are no shortcuts.

Conclusion
Suicide directly effects much more than the individual who walks down that path; rather having ramifications in the lives of friends and family. While I do not seek to judge a person who goes through with suicide, in the above way, a case could be made against suicide, although as I mentioned earlier, there is no direct command against taking ones own life. The above study is not a judgement against a life which is lost, but hopefully an explanation for all of us who could go through dark times in our lives.

The question boils down to whether the person who contemplates suicide believes his or her life belongs to God and whether he or she has willingly given it to His care? If so, you are not taking your own life, but a life which was paid for and bought by God, being under His ownership. In this way, it could be compared to Murder which God has specifically ruled against. So let us put our hopes in Him, and be encouraged that He will never let us go.

Corinthian Prostitution, Headcoverings and Authority

In the Letter to the Corinthians, Paul speaks of the head covering. As most of Paul’s writings, it is important to look at the Historical evidence and the context behind what he is writing. Knowing the audience and their surroundings will help us get a better understanding of what Paul speaks of. Did Paul confirm that women should wear a head covering? Why was this matter even discussed? Let’s investigate.

1Co 11:1-2 Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.

Paul starts by commending the Corinthians on keeping to the traditions set forth by the Apostle. What he is about to speak of, had to be a new instruction as Paul praised them for remembering him “in all things” and keeping everything the way he had instructed.

1Co 11:3-5 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.

In the above section, woman(G1135-Goonay) can be better translated as “wife” and man(G435-Anayr) as “husband”, as it is speaking of individuals who are bonded together. Because of this reason, Paul’s instructions are limited to the boundaries of marriage. The hierarchy which Paul provides can be summarized as per the below graphic:

A Husband has authority over a wife, while Christ has authority over both. God as the ultimate authority head, is in the top of the hierarchical structure, having authority over Christ, the Husband and Wife.

Verse 6, where it says “Every man praying or prophesying having his head(G2776-Kefalay) covered(G2596-Katah-on)”, can be better translated as “Every man praying or prophesying having anything on his head”… dishonors his head. In this instance, Paul is obviously speaking of authority as we saw in the previous verse, he said that a Man’s head is Christ. In other words Christ has authority over a man. Now he is saying that if a man has something on his “head” (which is Christ), it dishonors his “head” (which is Christ). Paul is obviously talking of something or someone superseding Christ’s authority over the husband. In relation to the previous verse, and as we will see in the verses up ahead, Paul is simply saying that if a wife usurps authority over a husband it can dishonor the rightful owner of that authority, who is Christ. Were there wives in the Corinthian congregation, which overuled their husbands publicly, leading to discord? Let’s read on.

Paul goes onto explain the exact opposite instance, where the wife uncovers her “head”(who is her husband) bringing dishonor to her “head”(who is her husband). Paul is simply saying if the wife does not recognize the authority of the husband, she brings dishonor to her husband. Paul equates such an act to being a woman who has her head shaved. The shaving of a wives’ head clearly is a picture of dishonor according to Paul. This is corroborated by Historians as there is evidence that women who had little to no hair were considered slaves, adulteresses or prostitutes.

Just so Cyprus too had its Demonassa, a woman gifted in both statesmanship and law-giving. She gave the people of Cyprus the following three laws: a woman guilty of adultery shall have her hair cut off and be a harlot — her daughter became an adulteress, had her hair cut off according to the law, and practised harlotry; Dio Chrysostom Discourse 64, section 2-3

But now that I see this maidservant, bearing a weight of water on her shorn head, let us sit down, and inquire of this slave girl, if we may receive some word about the matter,
Euripides Electra Line 109-110

Corinth was known to be a city run rampant with Prostitution. In Greek “I Corinthianise”(Κορινθι-αστής) was used to mean “I practice prostitution”. The 4th Century BC plays by Philetaerus, Ath.13.559a, and Poliochus, Id.7.313c were named Κορινθι-αστής “whoremonger”. Plato in The Republic 404c also equates “Corinthian girl” to a “Prostitute”.

After Antisthenes’ death he moved to Corinth, since he considered none of the others worth associating with, and there he lived without renting a house or staying with a friend, but camping out in the Craneion. For he observed that large numbers gathered at Corinth on account of the harbours and the hetaerae(“female companions.” The name was applied to a wide class of women, ranging from those whose marriages lacked legal sanction all the way to the lowest harlots), and because the city was situated as it were at the cross-roads of Greece. Dio Chrysostom – Discourses 8, Section 5

And the temple of Aphrodite was so rich that it owned more than a thousand temple slaves, courtesans, whom both men and women had dedicated to the goddess. And therefore it was also on account of these women that the city was crowded with people and grew rich; for instance, the ship captains freely squandered their money, and hence the proverb, “”Not for every man is the voyage to Corinth.””Source unknown Moreover, it is recorded that a certain courtesan said to the woman who reproached her with the charge that she did not like to work or touch wool: “Yet, such as I am, in this short time I have taken down three webs.” That is, “finished three webs.” But there is a word play in καθεῖλον ἱστούς “finished three webs” which cannot be reproduced in English. The words may also mean “lowered three masts,” that is, “debauched three ship captains.” Strabo – Geographika Book VIII Chap 6 Sec 20

Now Comana is a populous city and is a notable emporium for the people from Armenia; and at the times of the “exoduses” of the goddess people assemble there from everywhere, from both the cities and the country, men together with women, to attend the festival. And there are certain others, also, who in accordance with a vow are always residing there, performing sacrifices in honor of the goddess. And the inhabitants live in luxury, and all their property is planted with vines; and there is a multitude of women who make gain from their persons, most of whom are dedicated to the goddess, for in a way the city is a lesser Corinth, for there too, on account of the multitude of courtesans, who were sacred to Aphrodite, outsiders resorted in great numbers and kept holiday. And the merchants and soldiers who went there squandered all their money so that the following proverb arose in reference to them: “
Not for every man is the voyage to Corinth.” Such, then, is my account of Comana.
Strabo – Geographika Book XII Chapter 3 Section 36

He also mentions the following sayings of Gnathaeniŏn, who was the grand-daughter of Gnathaena(Athenian Courtesan): It happened once that a very aged satrap, Full ninety years of are, had come to Athens. And on the feast of Cronus he beheld Gnathaeniŏn with Gnathaena going out From a fair temple sacred to Aphrodite, And noticing her form and grace of motion, He just inquired “How much she asked a night?” Gnathaena, looking on his purple robe, And princely bodyguard, said, “A thousand drachmas.” He, as if smitten with a mortal wound, Said, “I perceive, because of all these soldiers, You look upon me as a captured enemy; But take five minae, and agree with me, And let them get a bed prepared for us.” She, as the satrap seemed a witty man, Received his terms, and said, “Give what you like, – Athenaeus Book 13 Page 581 section 44

Veiling of married women in public was common practice because of this reason. This may have been the reason Paul picked this particular tradition to explain the need for proper use of authority.

When someone inquired why they took their girls into public places unveiled, but their married women veiled, he said, “Because the girls have to find husbands, and the married women have to keep to those who have them!” – Plutarch Moralia 232c

So as we have seen with all of the historical evidences, Paul may have used the Covering/uncovering of the head as a metaphor because it was a common practice in places such as Corinth. With the heavy inclination towards debauchery in Corinth, Wives dressed modestly to show that they were unattainable. In this sense, the head covering acted as a sign of marriage (much like the wearing of a ring in our present time).

1Co 11:6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.

As we saw earlier, shaving of the head was a sign of a slave, adulteress or prostitute. A wife who uncovered her head in public, uncovered her husband by showcasing that she could be unmarried. This surely brings dishonor to the husband. In this way, Paul’s metaphor is spot on! He is saying that a woman who does not regard that her husband has authority over her in a Godly marriage, brings shame to herself and her husband, becoming like the Prostitutes, adulteresses and slaves of Corinth.

1Co 11:7-9 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. For the man is not of the woman; but the woman of the man. Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man.

If we use the same argument in the case of the man, A man who uncovers his head, or disregards Christ’s authority over him, dishonors Christ and in turn dishonors God. Paul mentions here that Man was created in God’s image, while woman was created in Man’s image, relating back again to the hierarchical structure he presented before.

1Co 11:10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels.

This particular verse confirms the theory set forth in this study, by speaking of wives having power(G1849 – also translated as authority) on their heads. The reason Paul gives is, “because of the angels”. Many see the Angles mentioned here, to be heavenly angels, although the same word (G32 – Angelos) can be used as earthly messengers (see Mat 11:10, Mar 1:2, Luk 7:24,27, 9:52, Heb 2:2, James 2:25). The latter interpretation makes more sense, as and when messengers from other congregations come to the Corinthian congregation, they should see that wives submit to their husbands(Eph 5:22, Col 3:18) and not a show of dishonor towards authority and hierarchy.

1Co 11:11-12 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.

Most of the time when hierarchy and authority is spoken of, people tend to think that the Husband can rule over the wife however he pleases. Paul quickly makes this clarification by showing that the wife and husband are equals before God, but only that the husband is responsible to care and lead the wife, while the wife is supposed to help the husband with their walk towards God.

1Co 11:13-15 Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

A wife who prays to God with an uncovered head is a person who does not submit to her husband’s authority. How will a wife who cannot submit to her own earthly husband, ever rightly submit to her heavenly husband? Finally Paul uses a metaphor from nature, showing how women are naturally given long hair as a covering while men are not.

1Co 11:16 But if any man seem to be contentious, we have no such custom, neither the churches of God.

As Paul closes his argument he speaks to “anyone” who may dispute his claims. The word man is not present in this verse, denoting that maybe there are some women who may dispute the Apostles claims that the wife must be under the authority of the husband. Paul closes the argument saying such a practice where the woman disregards the authority of her husband is not seen in any of the congregations, putting an end to the debate.

Conclusion
Corinth which was known for it’s prostitution, led married women to keep their heads veiled and being modest thereby showing that they were unattainable. Among the many problems in the Corinthian Congregation, there seems to be one where some wives were acting out of term bringing dishonor to their husbands and discord to the congregation. Paul used the metaphor of the head covering which was known by all married women, to teach them about authority and the hierarchical system inside the congregation. While there is no law which states a wife or woman must cover their heads, Paul himself is not asking wives to cover their heads in the above passage. Women are free to dress as they please, as long as they are modest. Wives can choose to cover their heads or not, as long as they submit to the authority of their own husbands; and in turn Christ the head of them all.

Also read: Do men have authority over women according to the Scriptures?

Gift of Tongues – Earthly languages or Heavenly?

In the Pentecostal Movement which has spread throughout the world, Preachers teach that the evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit to be the ability to speak in tongues. But what are tongues? Are they earthly languages spoken by a person alien to that language or an unrecognizable language which is not of this earth? Most of the “Tongues” spoken in the Pentecostal Churches are thought to be a Heavenly language which cannot be understood by anyone but people who have the gift of interpretation. But what does the Bible have to say about the matter? Do we have sufficient evidence to conclude that the Gift of Tongues is a Heavenly Language? This will be our task today.

This study is broken in to the following sections:
Section I – The History of the Pentecostal Movement
Section II – “Tongues” in the New Testament Writings
Section III – Gift of Tongues in Acts 2 – Earthly Language or Heavenly?
Section IV – Gift of Tongues in 1Cor Chapter 12 – Earthly Language or Heavenly?
Section V – Kinds/Diversities(G1085-Genos) of Tongues(G1100-Glossa)
Section VI – Gift of Tongues in 1Cor Chapter 13 – Earthly Language or Heavenly?
Section VII – Gift of Tongues in 1Cor Chapter 14 – Earthly Language or Heavenly?

Section I – The History of the Pentecostal Movement
A main part of modern Christianity can be identified as the “Charismatic Movement” which puts special emphasis on “Gifts” (Charisma in Greek) and was a off-shoot of the “Pentecostal Movement” which began in the early 1900s with the Azusa Street Revival in Los Angeles, helmed by William J Seymour. Seymour was a student of Charles F Parham, the American preacher regarded as the first to associate “Glossolalia” (Speaking in Tongues) as the evidence of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Even though many other sects in Christianity had previously approved “Speaking in Tongues”, the Azusa Street Revival would be the start of modern Pentecostalism as we know it.

Section II – “Tongues” in the New Testament Writings
There are four Greek Words used in connection with our study. The first “Dialektos” stands for a language, while “Glossa” stands for the tongue. The third “Heteroglossos” is a variation of the second and means other tongue, while the fourth “Apophtheggomai” stands for “Speaking clearly”.

A. G1258 – διάλεκτος – dialektos – From G1256; a (mode of) discourse, that is, “dialect”: – language, tongue. [Thayer Definition: 1) conversation, speech, discourse, language 2) the tongue or language peculiar to any people] – Only seen in 6 verses

Act 1:19 And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue(Dialektos-G1258), Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.
Act 2:6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language(Dialektos-G1258).
Act 2:8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue(Dialektos-G1258), wherein we were born?
Act 21:40 And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue(Dialektos-G1258), saying,
Act 22:2 (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue(Dialektos-G1258) to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,)
Act 26:14 And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue(Dialektos-G1258), Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? it is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.

B. G1100 – γλῶσσα – glōssa – Of uncertain affinity; the tongue; by implication a language (specifically one naturally unacquired): – tongue. [ Thayer Definition: 1) the tongue, a member of the body, an organ of speech 2) a tongue 1a) the language or dialect used by a particular people distinct from that of other nations] – Seen in 47 verses

Act 2:3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues(Glossa-G1100) like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
Act 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues(Glossa-G1100), as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Act 2:11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues(Glossa-G1100) the wonderful works of God.
Act 10:46 For they heard them speak with tongues(Glossa-G1100), and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
Act 19:6 And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues(Glossa-G1100), and prophesied.
Jas 1:26 If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue(Glossa-G1100), but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion is vain.
Jas 3:5 Even so the tongue(Glossa-G1100) is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth!
Jas 3:6 And the tongue(Glossa-G1100) is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
Jas 3:8 But the tongue(Glossa-G1100) can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
1Pe 3:10 For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue(Glossa-G1100) from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile:
Rev 5:9 And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue(Glossa-G1100), and people, and nation;
Rev 7:9 After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues(Glossa-G1100), stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;
Rev 10:11 And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues(Glossa-G1100), and kings.
Rev 11:9 And they of the people and kindreds and tongues(Glossa-G1100) and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.
Rev 13:7 And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues(Glossa-G1100), and nations.
Rev 14:6 And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue(Glossa-G1100), and people,

C. G2084 – ἑτερόγλωσσος – heteroglōssos – From G2087 and G1100; other tongued, that is, a foreigner: – man of other tongue. [Thayer Definition: 1) one who speaks a foreign language] – Only seen in 1 verse

1Co 14:21 In the law it is written, With men of other tongues(Heteroglossos – G2084) and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.

D. G669 – ἀποφθέγγομαι – apophtheggomai – From G575 and G5350; to enunciate plainly, that is, declare: – say, speak forth, utterance. [Thayer Definition: 1) to speak out, speak forth, pronounce 1a) not a word of everyday speech but one “belonging to dignified and elevated discourse”] – Only seen in 3 verses

Act 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance(Apophtheggomai – G669).
Act 2:14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said(Apophtheggomai – G669) unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all ye that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:
Act 26:25 But he said, I am not mad, most noble Festus; but speak forth(Apophtheggomai – G669) the words of truth and soberness.

Section III – Gift of Tongues in Acts 2 – Earthly Language or Heavenly?
With the above definitions we can put together a clear picture of the “Pentecost” event in Acts 2 and the “tongues” spoken on that particular day.

Act 2:3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues(Glossa-G1100) like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.
Act 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other(Heteros-G20187) tongues(Glossa-G1100), as the Spirit gave them utterance(Apophtheggomai – G669).
Act 2:6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language(Dialektos-G1258).
Act 2:8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue(Dialektos-G1258), wherein we were born?
Act 2:11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues(Glossa-G1100) the wonderful works of God.

Looking at the above we can clearly see that the “Other Tongues” mentioned in Acts 2:4 are the “different languages” which the variety of people spoke mentioned in Acts 2:6,8&11. The tongues mentioned in the Pentecost event are none other than recognizable languages of different nations. In fact all of the other verses we have seen above are recognizable earthly languages and do not seem to be any unintelligible language.

The two other instances where we see “the gift of tongues” (Acts 10:46 & 19:6) are also intelligible languages as the listeners could understand that the speakers were “magnifying God” in Acts 10:46 which was clear evidence that these gentiles were touched by the Holy Spirit, just as we see in Acts 19:6. The “Gift of Tongues” was evidence that God was using the gifted in a supernatural way. The gifted speaks to God and magnifies Him in intelligible languages in these instances, so that the audience that hears it, is convinced that God is doing something supernatural through these believers.

Section IV – Gift of Tongues in 1Cor Chapter 12 – Earthly Language or Heavenly?
Chapters 12 through 14 of the first letter to the Corinthians make much of the basis of the Spiritual Gifts including the subject of this study – The Gift of Tongues. Even though there may very well be many more, Paul lists 9 manifestations or gifts of the Spirit of God in 1Cor 12:7-10
1. Word of wisdom
2. Word of knowledge
3. Faith
4. Gifts of healing
5. Working of miracles
6. Prophecy
7. Discerning of spirits
8. Kinds of tongues
9. Interpretation of tongues

Then in 1Cor 12:28-30 Paul once again speaks of the ministries inside the congregation through manifestations of the Spirit
1. Apostles
2. Prophets
3. Teachers
4. Workers of Miracles
5. Believers with gifts of healing
6. Helpers
7. Leaders
8. Diversities of tongues
9. Interpreters of tongues

Taking a closer look at the Greek wording behind the Manifestation and Ministry Paul explains as “Kinds/Diversities of Tongues” in 1Cor 12:10&28, will help us to get a better idea of what exactly The Gift of Tongues is.

Section V – Kinds/Diversities(G1085-Genos) of Tongues(G1100-Glossa)
The word “Glossa” used in 1Cor 12:10 & 28 stand for the Tongue which is the physical member of the body as we have seen in Section II of this study. The Word “Genos” means “race/nation/ethnic group” as we see this word being a component of “Genocide”, which means “killing of a race/nation/ethnic group”. We also see the Greek Word Genos also translated in the same manner in the New Testament Writings, so that it means a “race, nation or ethnic group”.

G1085 – γένος – genos – From G1096; “kin” (abstractly or concretely, literally or figuratively, individually or collectively): – born, country (-man), diversity, generation, kind (-red), nation, offspring, stock. [Thayer Definition: 1) kindred 1a) offspring 1b) family 1c) stock, tribe, nation
1c1) i.e. nationality or descent from a particular people 1d) the aggregate of many individuals of the same nature, kind, sort]

Mar 7:26 The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation(Genos – G1085); and she besought him that he would cast forth the devil out of her daughter.
Act 4:36 And Joses, who by the apostles was surnamed Barnabas, (which is, being interpreted, The son of consolation,) a Levite, and of the country(Genos – G1085) of Cyprus,
Act 7:19 The same dealt subtilly with our kindred(Genos – G1085), and evil entreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end they might not live.
Act 18:2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born(Genos – G1085) in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.
Act 18:24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born(Genos – G1085) at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus.
2Co 11:26 In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen(Genos – G1085), in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren;
Gal 1:14 And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation(Genos – G1085), being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers.
Php 3:5 Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock(Genos – G1085) of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew of the Hebrews; as touching the law, a Pharisee;

With the evidence above we can clearly see that The “Kinds/Diversities of Tongues” pertains to physical languages of races, nations or ethnic groups, and could be better explained to be “Tongues of Diverse nations, races and ethnic groups”. This in turn will make “Interpretation of Tongues” in to the Interpretation of Languages of diverse nations.

Section VI – Gift of Tongues in 1Cor Chapter 13 – Earthly Language or Heavenly?
In Chapter 13 of the first letter to the Corinthians, Paul shows the virtue of “Love” above all other Spiritual Gifts. Specifically in verse 1 of chapter 13, Paul makes an interesting argument which is used to say that the “Gift of Tongues” pertain to Heavenly Languages. But is this a viable explanation of the text? Let us review:

1Co 13:1-3 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. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

The above statement that Paul makes in favour of “Love” is an exaggerated claim which is not to be taken literally. In other words, Paul is not saying that he speaks in the tongues of Angels, or that he understands all mysteries and has all knowledge, or that he removes mountains with his faith, or that he gave all his belongings to the poor, or that he gave his body to be burned. This is clearly “hyperbole” so that he can make the point of “Love” superseding all. We see a similar instance of writing in Gal 1:8 when Paul writes “But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you…” ; this does not mean that an angel from heaven has or will preach another gospel… but is a rhetorical way of helping explain the underlying theme. Therefore, this verse cannot be used as evidence of the “gift of Tongues” being a Heavenly/Angelic Language.

Section VII – Gift of Tongues in 1Cor Chapter 14 – Earthly Language or Heavenly?
It is important to note that Paul is speaking in the 14th chapter of gifts used inside the Corinthian Congregation. As we have seen in section III, the whole purpose of the Gift of Tongues was the spread of the Gospel, as unbelievers from foreign nations would come to see people who do not know their tongue glorifying God in those foreign languages. Inside the congregation, there was no need for the usage of the Gift of Tongues, as no one needed to be convinced to believe in God’s power. With this in mind, let’s read the chapter;

1Co 14:1-6 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. For he that speaketh in an tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?

In the first portion of the 14th Chapter, Paul starts by comparing the Spiritual Gifts of Prophecy and Tongues. While 1Cor 14:2 is one of the main passages to promote the idea that “Tongues” are a heavenly language, further study using context helps us understand what Paul is trying to explain to the Corinthians. In this verse, Paul says that “Tongues” are used to speak to God and not man. This has already been substantiated in this study, as we have seen in Acts where people endowed with the gift using it to magnify God. Furthermore, Paul says that “Tongues” are used to speak mysteries and that no one can understand them. We must remember that Paul is speaking of the Corinthian congregation here. If the members of the congregation speaks in foreign tongues inside the congregation, no man would understand them, inclusive of the speaker. They would be speaking to God, but speaking mysteries when it comes to the congregation who cannot understand the language and thereby only edifying themselves. In comparison, the gift of Prophecy helps edify the church/congregation. As Paul explains further, “Tongues” would edify the church only if someone interprets what was said in the foreign language to begin with.

1Co 14:7-12 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me. Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.

Paul writes that the people who speak with “Tongues” inside the congregation are speaking to the air, as no one understands them. He further explains that out of the many languages in the world none are without meaning. In other words every language can be interpreted, and if the language is not interpreted, the person speaking the foreign language will be counted as a “Barbarian” by the congregation. The word Barbarian (G915-Barbaros) means a foreigner and a non-Greek (Acts 28:2,4, Rom 1:14). So what Paul meant was that the person who speaks in the foreign tongue would be a foreigner to the rest of the congregation, and vice versa if the language is not interpreted. According to Paul, if someone is speaking in “Tongues” inside the Corinthian congregation they should aim to use it for the edification of the church.

1Co 14:13-19 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in an tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an tongue.

Because the speaker of “Tongues” should aim to edify the church with what he/she speaks, Paul advises the Corinthian congregation with the gift of tongues to pray that they can interpret what they say, as others should be able understand the uttered words and the gift should promote growth inside the congregation. Paul, who himself was endowed with the Gift of Tongues explains that “inside the congregation” he would prefer to say 5 intelligible words that teach others rather than speak a thousand which are unintelligible. Again, as we saw in chapter 13 verse 1, this is an exaggeration Paul uses to show what Corinthians should strive for.

1Co 14:20-25 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

Paul explains that according to the words written by the Prophet Isaiah, The Gift of Tongues is a sign for unbelievers as we have already seen proven through the Book of Acts. It was not a sign for believers inside the congregation, which is not the purpose of the Gift. He writes that if the whole congregation speaks in foreign tongues, and a fellow Corinthian unbeliever comes into the congregation, they will think the whole church to be mad. And again he compares Prophecy as a more coveted gift which in such a case can bring the fellow Corinthian unbeliever towards God.

1Co 14:26-33 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. If any man speak in an tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

Paul’s final advise to the congregation is that anything including “Tongues” should be done for the edification of the church. He lays out a system which is orderly by asking two or three to speak with interpretation provided or to keep quiet if no interpretation can be given. He explains that there should be no confusion inside the congregation, when delivering messages of Tongues or Prophecy.

1Co 14:34-40 Let your women keep silence 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. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant. Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order.

In verse 34, Paul tackles another problem in the Corinthian Congregation which was some “Wives” superseding and ruling over their “Husbands” inside the congregation, leading to more confusion and derision. He ends his advise on the subject by asking the leaders not to forbid anyone from speaking in “Tongues” but for it to be done in an orderly manner and for the purpose of edification in the congregation.

Conclusion
The Gift of Tongues which has become one of the highlighted gifts in modern Christianity, especially in the Pentecostal & Charismatic movements, is thought of to be a Heavenly language through which the speaker speaks to God. The above study shows us that “The Gift of Tongues” was given as a sign for foreigners to see the power of God. The Greek wording used in regard with this Gift, all point towards intelligible languages and even the Pentecost event in Acts 2 show us that the Gift the disciples received was also the ability to speak intelligible foreign languages. 1Corinthians 12-14 which makes much of the basis of the doctrine of Tongues, also point us towards “Tongues of Diverse nations, races and ethnic groups”. 1Cor 13:1 is a use of hyperbole by Paul to show that Love supersedes such Gifts. 1Cor 14:2 is Paul’s attempt to show that there is no use of a foreign tongue spoken inside the congregation especially without an interpretation, as the point of this gift is to bring foreign believers towards God. People inside the congregation who believe in God are not edified through such a gift especially if they do not hear an interpretation. In this way the speaker utters a mystery that he himself does not understand, nor does the congregation; being spoken to God through the Spirit. Paul further explains in the rest of the chapter that there are no languages in the world which are unintelligible, and that a person speaking in a foreign tongue would become like a foreigner to the others who listen in the congregation. He advises the Corinthians not to forbid anyone from speaking in Tongues, but to use the gift for edification through interpreting what is uttered, and to use the gift in an orderly manner.

Evidence that Passover was celebrated by the Early Church

In a time where Good Friday and Easter is celebrated by Christians worldwide, rarely do we hear of a celebration of Passover. But this was not always the case. Writings of Early Church Fathers prove that the 14th Day was even celebrated in the 2nd Century BC. Specifically between the year 150 and 155, there was a discussion between the Church of Rome and Church of Asia about the celebration of Passover and the completion of a fast which was practiced in their day. Eusibius of Caesarea, who was a scholar and historian of Christianity, and who was known as the “Father of Church History” records this as seen below.

In his account, we see Polycrates – a Bishop of the Asian Church testifying that Passover was to be celebrated on the “14th Day of the moon” when the “leaven was put away” and that the Apostles Philip & John among others observed Passover on that Day handing it down to everyone in the Church of Asia. Polycrates also mentions that a multitude of Bishops gave their consent to the same letter addressed to the Church of Rome.

Victor the head of Rome would try to excommunicate the Church of Asia (this would subsequently come to pass in 1054 as the East-West Schism) but was rebuked by others who felt it was necessary to keep the peace. Finally the 2 centers would agree to disagree, but with the rise of Rome, Asia would be sidelined till 200 years later Constantine the great would rule after the Council of Nicea, against the Passover and in favor of Easter (Eusebius, Life of Constantine Vol. 3 Chapter 18). Even in the 2nd century, when Polycrates made his case, It is unclear whether the Church of Rome understood what Passover meant and what the significance of the Sunday after Passover (The day of Firstfruits) was.

Considered passages from Church History of Eusebius – Book V

For the parishes of all Asia, as from an older tradition, held that the fourteenth day of the moon, on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should be observed as the feast of the Saviour’s passover. (Chap 23. Ver 1)

But the bishops of Asia, led by Polycrates, decided to hold to the old custom handed down to them. We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord’s coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate. He fell asleep at Ephesus. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead? All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven. (Chap 24. Ver 1-6)

And when the blessed Polycarp was at Rome in the time of Anicetus, and they disagreed a little about certain other things, they immediately made peace with one another, not caring to quarrel over this matter. For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp not to observe what he had always observed with John the disciple of our Lord, and the other apostles with whom he had associated; neither could Polycarp persuade Anicetus to observe it as he said that he ought to follow the customs of the presbyters that had preceded him. (Chap 24 Ver 16)

Those in Palestine whom we have recently mentioned, Narcissus and Theophilus, and with them Cassius, bishop of the church of Tyre, and Clarus of the church of Ptolemais, and those who met with them, having stated many things respecting the tradition concerning the passover which had come to them in succession from the apostles, at the close of their writing add these words: “Endeavor to send copies of our letter to every church, that we may not furnish occasion to those who easily deceive their souls. We show you indeed that also in Alexandria they keep it on the same day that we do. For letters are carried from us to them and from them to us, so that in the same manner and at the same time we keep the sacred day.” (Chap 25:1,2)

Conclusion
We see that there is significant evidence to say that the Passover preceded any other tradition and that it was handed down by the apostles as per witnesses from the Church of Asia. Even though all traces of the Passover would cease to exist in Christianity with the rise of the Roman Church, the history books are clear – Passover was the day celebrated by the Apostles such as John and Philip after the death of Yeshua and was the only tradition handed down to them in commemoration of the Passover of our Lord.

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The full account – Church History of Eusebius – Book V
Chapter 23. The Question then agitated concerning the Passover.
1. A question of no small importance arose at that time. For the parishes of all Asia, as from an older tradition, held that the fourteenth day of the moon, on which day the Jews were commanded to sacrifice the lamb, should be observed as the feast of the Saviour’s passover. It was therefore necessary to end their fast on that day, whatever day of the week it should happen to be. But it was not the custom of the churches in the rest of the world to end it at this time, as they observed the practice which, from apostolic tradition, has prevailed to the present time, of terminating the fast on no other day than on that of the resurrection of our Saviour.
2. Synods and assemblies of bishops were held on this account, and all, with one consent, through mutual correspondence drew up an ecclesiastical decree, that the mystery of the resurrection of the Lord should be celebrated on no other but the Lord’s day, and that we should observe the close of the paschal fast on this day only. There is still extant a writing of those who were then assembled in Palestine, over whom Theophilus, bishop of Cæsarea, and Narcissus, bishop of Jerusalem, presided. And there is also another writing extant of those who were assembled at Rome to consider the same question, which bears the name of Bishop Victor; also of the bishops in Pontus over whom Palmas, as the oldest, presided; and of the parishes in Gaul of which Irenæus was bishop, and of those in Osrhoëne and the cities there; and a personal letter of Bacchylus, bishop of the church at Corinth, and of a great many others, who uttered the same opinion and judgment, and cast the same vote.
3. And that which has been given above was their unanimous decision.

Chapter 24. The Disagreement in Asia.
1. But the bishops of Asia, led by Polycrates, decided to hold to the old custom handed down to them. He himself, in a letter which he addressed to Victor and the church of Rome, set forth in the following words the tradition which had come down to him:
2. We observe the exact day; neither adding, nor taking away. For in Asia also great lights have fallen asleep, which shall rise again on the day of the Lord’s coming, when he shall come with glory from heaven, and shall seek out all the saints. Among these are Philip, one of the twelve apostles, who fell asleep in Hierapolis; and his two aged virgin daughters, and another daughter, who lived in the Holy Spirit and now rests at Ephesus; and, moreover, John, who was both a witness and a teacher, who reclined upon the bosom of the Lord, and, being a priest, wore the sacerdotal plate.
3. He fell asleep at Ephesus.
4. And Polycarp in Smyrna, who was a bishop and martyr; and Thraseas, bishop and martyr from Eumenia, who fell asleep in Smyrna.
5. Why need I mention the bishop and martyr Sagaris who fell asleep in Laodicea, or the blessed Papirius, or Melito, the Eunuch who lived altogether in the Holy Spirit, and who lies in Sardis, awaiting the episcopate from heaven, when he shall rise from the dead?
6. All these observed the fourteenth day of the passover according to the Gospel, deviating in no respect, but following the rule of faith. And I also, Polycrates, the least of you all, do according to the tradition of my relatives, some of whom I have closely followed. For seven of my relatives were bishops; and I am the eighth. And my relatives always observed the day when the people put away the leaven.
7. I, therefore, brethren, who have lived sixty-five years in the Lord, and have met with the brethren throughout the world, and have gone through every Holy Scripture, am not affrighted by terrifying words. For those greater than I have said ‘We ought to obey God rather than man.’ Acts 5:29
8. He then writes of all the bishops who were present with him and thought as he did. His words are as follows:
“I could mention the bishops who were present, whom I summoned at your desire; whose names, should I write them, would constitute a great multitude. And they, beholding my littleness, gave their consent to the letter, knowing that I did not bear my gray hairs in vain, but had always governed my life by the Lord Jesus.”
9. Thereupon Victor, who presided over the church at Rome, immediately attempted to cut off from the common unity the parishes of all Asia, with the churches that agreed with them, as heterodox; and he wrote letters and declared all the brethren there wholly excommunicate.
10. But this did not please all the bishops. And they besought him to consider the things of peace, and of neighborly unity and love. Words of theirs are extant, sharply rebuking Victor.
11. Among them was Irenæus, who, sending letters in the name of the brethren in Gaul over whom he presided, maintained that the mystery of the resurrection of the Lord should be observed only on the Lord’s day. He fittingly admonishes Victor that he should not cut off whole churches of God which observed the tradition of an ancient custom and after many other words he proceeds as follows:
12. For the controversy is not only concerning the day, but also concerning the very manner of the fast. For some think that they should fast one day, others two, yet others more; some, moreover, count their day as consisting of forty hours day and night.
13. And this variety in its observance has not originated in our time; but long before in that of our ancestors. It is likely that they did not hold to strict accuracy, and thus formed a custom for their posterity according to their own simplicity and peculiar mode. Yet all of these lived none the less in peace, and we also live in peace with one another; and the disagreement in regard to the fast confirms the agreement in the faith.
14. He adds to this the following account, which I may properly insert:
Among these were the presbyters before Soter, who presided over the church which you now rule. We mean Anicetus, and Pius, and Hyginus, and Telesphorus, and Xystus. They neither observed it themselves, nor did they permit those after them to do so. And yet though not observing it, they were none the less at peace with those who came to them from the parishes in which it was observed; although this observance was more opposed to those who did not observe it.
15. But none were ever cast out on account of this form; but the presbyters before you who did not observe it, sent the eucharist to those of other parishes who observed it.
16. And when the blessed Polycarp was at Rome in the time of Anicetus, and they disagreed a little about certain other things, they immediately made peace with one another, not caring to quarrel over this matter. For neither could Anicetus persuade Polycarp not to observe what he had always observed with John the disciple of our Lord, and the other apostles with whom he had associated; neither could Polycarp persuade Anicetus to observe it as he said that he ought to follow the customs of the presbyters that had preceded him.
17. But though matters were in this shape, they communed together, and Anicetus conceded the administration of the eucharist in the church to Polycarp, manifestly as a mark of respect. And they parted from each other in peace, both those who observed, and those who did not, maintaining the peace of the whole church.
18. Thus Irenæus, who truly was well named, became a peacemaker in this matter, exhorting and negotiating in this way in behalf of the peace of the churches. And he conferred by letter about this mooted question, not only with Victor, but also with most of the other rulers of the churches.
Chapter 25. How All came to an Agreement respecting the Passover.
1. Those in Palestine whom we have recently mentioned, Narcissus and Theophilus, and with them Cassius, bishop of the church of Tyre, and Clarus of the church of Ptolemais, and those who met with them, having stated many things respecting the tradition concerning the passover which had come to them in succession from the apostles, at the close of their writing add these words:
2. “Endeavor to send copies of our letter to every church, that we may not furnish occasion to those who easily deceive their souls. We show you indeed that also in Alexandria they keep it on the same day that we do. For letters are carried from us to them and from them to us, so that in the same manner and at the same time we keep the sacred day.”

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God’s Appointed Times – A graphical study

Learning about YHVH‘s Appointed times was the turning point in my life, in which I saw a pattern that God had laid out. Seeing that Christ died on “Passover“, being buried at the beginning of the “Week of Unleavened Bread“, Resurrecting on “Firstfruits” and the Disciples receiving the Holy Spirit on “Pentecost(which is another of God’s Feast days from Lev 23) started a curiosity in me, which has fueled my passion of study and research. The Icing on the cake was that there were more feast days which were yet to be realised, but of which we had all heard in some sermon or bible study. The Feast of “Trumpets” signified His 2nd Coming, The “Day of Atonement” signified judgement and “Tabernacles” signified His 1000 year reign. “I was blown away”. Putting all of this together with Scripture to back it up, I hope the below Graphical Study Board will help you see God’s Plan and His Word in new Light. Click on below image for enlarged view.

Click on image for enlarged view

Click on image for enlarged view