In Acts 2: 6 - Was the miracle in the speaking or the hearing at Pentecost?
On The Day of the Pentecost:
The 'spirit holy and fire' baptism took place on the Day of the Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended from heaven with a ‘mighty tornado-like sound’ filling the entire place where about 120 people were sitting. Luke records - ‘tongues resembling fire’ being distributed and ‘sat down’ upon every single person and all were filled,' to the full extent with ‘spirit holy.
It depicts an “instantaneous full saturation or immersion in or coming under the ‘holy-spirit-power,” not the “evil spirit,” though. This was what Jesus said, ‘You heard from me’ and the ‘promise of My Father,’ the ‘baptism in the Spirit,’ or ‘clothed with power from on high’ to be ‘witness of Me’ (Luke 24:48-49; Acts 1:5, 8).
They Began to Speak in other 'Tongues' as the Spirit gave them utterance (Acts 2:4).
When the ‘120’ came out of the upper room and began speaking in ‘other tongues’ as the Holy Spirit was giving them ‘utterance to the crowd gathered.
Those thronged includes residents of Jerusalem and devout diasporas from various regions, were utterly amazed. Their mocking conclusion was that the ‘tongue speakers’ were 'full of new wine' – essentially drunk.
In their eyes, the behaviors and speech of the 120 people mirrored that of intoxicated individuals.
Peter explained to the mocking crowds - “For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour (9 a.m.) of the day.” Then he told them it is the ‘effects of the promised Holy Spirit being poured out,’ the ‘Spirit Baptism.’
Tongues or Dialects
A Closer Look at Acts 2: 4 - In this verse, the phrase ‘and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit was giving them to speak forth’ emerges as a focal point. The phenomena of ‘speaking in other tongues’ was the consequence of the being submersed in ‘spirit holy and fire.’ It was an impromptu, instant outburst of ‘utterance of unknown’ languages when they were immersed in the ‘spiritual power.’
They were all 'beside themselves' and 'spoke new tongues,' not in their native tongue for sure. It connects to Jesus' words in Mark 16:17 – 'And these signs will accompany those who believe in my name, they will cast out demons; they will speak in 'new tongues' (γλῶσσα λαλήσουσιν καιναῖς).
In Acts 2:4-13, Luke's narrative presents a nuanced depiction. Luke, a competent historian with a keen command of Greek, renowned for his accuracy of detail and the vivid evocation of atmosphere, reveals his effort to record the 'factual occurrences' excluding his own interpretation.
In verse 4, it's stated that 'they were all filled and began to speak in other tongues (γλώσσαις).' The subsequent verses—6, 8, and 11—further describe the phenomenon.
Then, Luke used phrases, such as 'we hearing them speak,' 'we hear in our native language' (διαλέκτῳ), and 'hear them telling ... tongues (γλώσσαις),' indicate that Luke's statement is based on the account from the hearer's perspective, not from the 'tongue-speakers.'
Based on Luke's records, the occurrence of 'speaking in tongues' at Pentecost is not solely centered on 'known languages' but rather on a form of 'new kind languages,' as this contextual analysis suggests.
a. The 120 disciples, filled with ‘spirit holy and fire’ and ‘speaking in tongues’ came out of the upper room and poured into the mixed crowds from various regions. They were gathered attracted by the great unusual roaring sound of wind.
The crowds were mixed, obviously not organized in separate language groups, and they were all confused and perplexed by what they witnessed. And the 120 were not obviously calling each language group to come together so that they could speak, rather, they were speaking in ‘new tongues in the mist of the crowd, and the hearers hear in their own ‘dialect’ or ‘tongues.’
Luke, a competent historian, was not there at the scene, but he investigated and recounted what he was told by some first-hand witnesses.
b. And there is the mocking comment – 'They are full of new wine,' meaning they have been drinking to the point of 'full.' This particular phraseology implies two things: first, the ecstatic mumbling speech and intoxicated appearance and behaviors. And then, perhaps under the influence of “new spirit.”
c. Incidents at Cornelius house and the church of Ephesus:
These instances provide clear examples of 'new tongues.' Remarkably, Peter and Paul, enabled by their ability to interpret these 'tongues,' distinctly comprehended individuals praising God using “new tongues.” Peter's recollection drew upon the Pentecost event and Joel's prophecy.
Notably, Luke's account records that the individuals in these incidents 'began speaking in tongues and prophesying.' Luke's deliberate choice of the phrases 'speaking in tongues and prophesying' in his narrative, coupled with Peter's recollection, not only underscores that 'tongues' were not 'known languages' but also establishes a significant connection between 'speaking in tongues' and 'prophesying.'
**c.**The ecstatic speaking in the Old Testament is also worth investigating.
It's worth delving into the phenomenon of ecstatic speaking in the Old Testament.
In 1 Samuel 19:20, Saul and his messengers encountered a group of prophets prophesying, and unexpectedly, they too began prophesying. Similarly, in Numbers 11:25-30, when the Lord bestowed His 'Spirit' upon the seventy elders, they found themselves prophesying.
The Hebrew term נָבָא (naba) -to prophesy - encompasses speech in religious ecstasy, whether accompanied by song or not, as well as the delivery of prophetic messages from God. However, upon a comprehensive examination of these situations, it becomes evident that these groups were engaged in impromptu sudden outburst utterance of incoherent expressions under divine influence, enveloped in a state of ecstasy.
However, upon a thorough examination of these situations, it becomes evident that these groups were engaged in more than mere coherent prophetic speeches. Their utterances took the form of incoherent expressions under divine influence, enveloped in a spiritual state of ecstasy. The contextual and semantic implications suggest that these occurrences can be seen as an Old Testament precursor to what we now identify as 'speaking in new tongues.'
This study delves deeply into the 'speaking and hearing' aspects of the remarkable Pentecost event described in Acts 2:6. Through a close examination of the biblical narrative, subtle linguistic nuances, and historical backdrop, it unveils insights about the languages spoken and the responses of both disciples and the crowd. This work highlights the event's significance in showcasing the Holy Spirit's power and challenges the notion that the tongues spoken were solely familiar languages. By thoroughly exploring this biblical occurrence, a more profound grasp of its intricate nature emerges, inviting further contemplation about the interplay between speech and hearing in divine communication. Therefore, the miracle was in the 'hearing,' and 'speaking in tongues' was a 'miracle to the 'spirit-filled 120'.