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God's Gift of Tongues by George Zeller

Posted by Matt Postiff December 4, 2013 on Matt Postiff's Blog under GeneralĀ 
God's Gift of Tongues

Here's a nice little book about the spiritual gift of tongues. It sticks close to Scripture and its organization is easy to follow:

  1. Tongues Predicted by Christ (Mark 16)
  2. Tongues Fulfilled at Pentecost (Acts 2)
  3. Tongues Fulfilled at Caesarea (Acts 10)
  4. Tongues Fulfilled at Ephesus (Acts 19)
  5. The Gift of Tongues in the Assembly (1 Corinthians 12)
  6. The Problem of Tongues in the Assembly (1 Corinthians 13:1-3)
  7. The Duration of Tongues in the Assembly (1 Corinthians 13:8)
  8. The Value of Tongues in the Assembly (1 Corinthians 14:21-26)
  9. The Purpose of Tongues in the Assembly (1 Corinthians 14:21-26)
  10. The Regulation of Tongues in the Assembly (1 Corinthians 14:27-40)
Appendix 1: Twelve Reasons Why Biblical Tongues Were Real Languages
Appendix 2: 1 Corinthians 13:8 and Temporary Gifts

The lengthiest chapters are the 8 and 9 regarding 1 Corinthians 14. Zeller has an interesting thesis in chapter 9 that has to do with 14:21, which says:

In the law it is written: "With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people; And yet, for all that, they will not hear Me," says the Lord. (1 Corinthians 14:21 NKJV)

Zeller notes a repeated pattern in the Old Testament, and in the New, that goes like this (p. 78):

  1. God has a message for the people.
  2. The people refuse to listen to God.
  3. God causes tongues to be heard as a sign of judgment.
  4. Dispersion follows.

The point is that tongues are a sign of judgment against unbelief. This view is not novel, as I have heard it preached by other dispensationalists. I have not heard about this idea in the recent debate on continuationism—but it would be interesting to hear the continuationist response. The "tongues for judgment" view is fairly convincing, as the pattern is evident from Babel through the major prophets and then into Acts 2. As such, it baffles me why some Christians are so insistent on wanting a spiritual gift that has to do with judgment and has such a low edification value (1 Cor. 14:5).

Zeller then uses this as the basis of his argument that tongues must have only lasted until the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 because step 4 of his paradigm (dispersion) was completed at that point and therefore tongues had served out their purpose. This is intriguing, but I am not convinced. (I understand the termination of tongues contextually from 1 Corinthians 13 and Ephesians 2:20.)

The book is by George W. Zeller, God's Gift of Tongues: The Nature, Purpose, and Duration of Tongues as Taught in the Bible, Wipf & Stock Publishers 2005, 126 pages including bibliography. This book was earlier published by Loizeaux Brothers in 1978. It is available at Amazon. A better way to get the book is to send me an email request through our contact page. I will get you in touch with Brother Zeller and he can get the book to you at a reduced price.

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