Evidence of Speaking in Tongues in the Early Church

Historical evidence of speaking in tongues in the early church from the writings of Eusebius, Irenaeus, Chrysostom of Constantinople, and Augustine of Hippo…

A.D. 33 - The day of Pentecost:

"And when the day of Pentecost was fully come they were all with one accord in one place... And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." ACTS 2:1-4

A.D. 41 - At Caesarea:

"While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word... For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God." ACTS 10:44-46

A.D. 54 - At Ephesus:

"And it came to pass that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost... And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came upon them: and they spoke with tongues and prophesied." ACTS 19:1-6

A.D. - At Corinth:

"Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of Spiritual gifts, see that ye may excel to the edifying of the church... Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret... I thank my God that I (Paul) speak with tongues more than ye all." 1 CORINTHIANS 14:12-18

A.D. 100 - Eusebius (Church Historian):

Writing to the preaching evangelists who were yet living, Eusebius says: "Of those that flourished in these times, Quadratus is said to have been distinguished for his prophetical gifts. There were many others, also, noted in these times who held rank in the apostolic succession... the Holy Spirit also wrought many wonders as yet through them, so that as the Gospel was heard, men in crowds voluntarily and eagerly embraced the true faith with their whole minds."

A.D. 115-202 - Irenaeus:

Irenaeus was a pupil of Polycarp, who was a disciple of the apostle John. He wrote in his book "Against Heresies", Book V, vi.: "In like manner do we also hear many brethren in the church who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages, and bring to light, for the general benefit, the hidden things of men and declare the mysteries of God, who also the apostles term spiritual."

A.D. 300 - The Early Martyrs:

The early martyrs enjoyed these gifts. Dean Ferrar, in his book "Darkness to Dawn" states: "Even for the minutest allusions and particulars I have contemporary authority." He refers to the persecuted Christians in Rome singing and speaking in unknown tongues.

A.D. 390 - Chrysostom of Constantinople:

Chrysostom, Bishop of Constantinople, writes: "Whoever was baptised in apostolic days, he straightway spoke with tongues, for since on their coming over from idols, without any clear knowledge or training in the Scriptures, they at once received the Spirit, not that they saw the Spirit, for He is invisible, but God's grace bestowed some sensible proof of His energy, and one straightway spoke in the Persian language, another in the Roman, another in the Indian, another in some other tongues, and this made manifest to them that were without that it was the Spirit in the very person speaking. Wherefore the apostle calls it the manifestation of the Spirit which is given to every man to profit withal."

A.D. 400 - Augustine of Hippo:

Augustine, Bishop of Hippo, one of the four great fathers of the Latin Church and considered the greatest of them all: "We still do what the apostles did when they laid hands on the Samaritans and called down the Holy Spirit on them in the laying-on of hands. It is expected that converts should speak with new tongues."

"THIS IS THAT..."

"But Peter... lifted up his voice and said: This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; and it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out my Spirit upon all flesh." ACTS 2:16-17

What is "this"? This is what happened in the upper room on that first Pentecostal Sunday:

  1. The fire of God appeared.
  2. The sound of God's Spirit was heard.
  3. They were all filled.
  4. They all spoke in tongues.

What is "that"? That, said Peter, is what has caused this - namely, the Spirit of God poured out as promised.

Not a word from the Old or New Testaments suggests that this outpouring would be limited to one day. Bible teaching is to the contrary:

  1. The experience was for all (JOEL 2:28).
  2. Tongues was to be the sign (See MARK 16:17; ISAIAH 28:11-12; 1 CORINTHIANS 14:21).
  3. The experience was seen and heard (ACTS 2:33).
  4. It was continued throughout all generations (ACTS 2:39).

Why "this" is "that"? This is that simply because the Holy Spirit was identified with the experience of tongues. Take this scriptural confirmation away and we indulge in guesswork of the most dangerous nature. Whether in the house of Cornelius (ACTS 10:44), or at Ephesus (ACTS 19), the lack of THIS would have frustrated the receiving of THAT - namely the wonderful and satisfying gift of the Holy Spirit, with tongues.

Source: 'Revival Publications', Ballarat, Australia.