Who was able to speak in tongues during New Testament times?

There were three groups in the New Testament who could speak in tongues, or languages they had never studied. The first group was the apostles, as we have already noted. They received the baptism of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost which gave them this power. The second group included those people to whom the apostles gave this power by laying their hands on them.  This is the way this miraculous gift was given. One example of this is seen in Acts 19. There certain disciples were given this power by the laying on of the Apostle Paul’s hands. Notice verses 5 and 6 “And when they heard this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.” Is there an apostle still living today? No. So there is no one who can give this power to anyone else. And no one is still alive today who was given this power by an apostle. Therefore, the gift of tongue speaking is not available today.


“But what about Cornelius and his household?” someone asks. They spoke in tongues without an apostle laying his hands on them. This is true, but this third group which spoke in tongues in the New Testament was a special group. Cornelius spoke in tongues as a sign that the Gentiles were to receive the Gospel along with the Jews. You see, until the events recorded in Acts 10 and 11 occurred, only the Jews had received the Gospel. But here God was making it clear that the Gentiles were also to hear the Gospel. To make this clear to the Christians (former Jews) who were present at the house of Cornelius, God gave the Holy Spirit directly to these Gentiles. By doing so, no one who saw it could deny that this was the work of God. It was a special event for a special purpose. It happened only one time. The Gospel is still being preached to the Gentiles, but no person is receiving the Holy Spirit as Cornelius did. Therefore, no person is speaking in tongues as he did. 

So we see the three groups in the New Testament who spoke in tongues. Each did so for a specific and special purpose. Those purposes do not exist today, and no one is speaking in tongues today.



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