Question #2. “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:. “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost 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.
Question #3. Was the gift of tongue speaking to cease, and if so, when? The answer is “Yes.” This gift of the Holy Spirit was to end when the New Testament was completed. This was clearly stated by Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13. The verses tell us: “Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”
Paul refers to “that which is perfect.” The word “perfect” means complete or whole. At the time Paul wrote, the revelation from God was not in its final written form. Now it is complete. “That which is perfect” (the New Testament) has come and that which was “in part” (miraculous gifts) has been done away. So we can see that Paul’s inspired prediction has come true.
Tongue speaking in the New Testament referred to speaking in foreign languages not known to the speaker. There were three groups in the New Testament able to speak in tongues miraculously. None of these groups is present today. The miraculous gift of tongue speaking was limited in time to the period before the New Testament was completed. That time has come and gone, and so has the ability to speak in tongues, along with all other miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit. We have the Word of God. Let us follow it in all things and teach only the truth.