The Betrothal Gift from the Holy Spirit
in the Plan of Salvation
by Steve Santini
2007, revised 2013
And they were all filled of the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues,
as the Spirit gave them utterance.[i] Acts 2:4
A fundamental understanding of the purpose of speaking in tongues gives one so gracefully endowed confidence through faith unto salvation
First and foremost, tongues are the sign that a soul has been betrothed for eventual union and inheritance with the Lord and his saints.
In Ephesians, Paul writes to the faithful in Christ Jesus;
In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,
Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13,14
The word sealed in the Greek text is sphragizo. It means to have a sealing mark on the outside to indicate the source and authority of the contents.[ii] In the Eastern betrothal process the family of the prospective groom negotiated a contract with the family of the prospective bride that was mutually binding. That contract was sealed. When the marriage was consummated the contract came into full force. At that point the new wife acquired the name of a new family and shared jointly in her husbands familial inheritance rights.
The apostles Peter and Paul considered the sealing of the Holy Spirit as the confirmation of betrothal. Jesus first came to present the betrothal contract and choose those who believed from Israel for betrothal. Jesus also spoke of his second coming figuratively as a wedding feast. When most of Israel rejected Jesus' overture for betrothal he sent Paul to explain the contract and extend the invitation to the Gentiles so that the feast would one day become full.
The seal on a betrothal contract was visible evidence of the contents likewise speaking in tongues is the outward evidence, or sign, that one has accepted the contract for eventual wholeness in union.
In the East a valued gift from the groom's mother to the future bride was the earnest that sealed the betrothal agreement. The sealed contract gave the promised bride a confidence that she was in the process under the auspices of the mother of the groom[iii] to become a wife and joint inheritor in her future husband's family. In the same way speaking in tongues builds faith under the preparatory guidance of the feminine Holy Spirit for eventual salvation in union.
But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Jude 20
He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; I Corinthians 14:4a
But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the children of God, even to them that believe on his name: John 1:12
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, II Peter 1:4a
On the day of Pentecost for the first time, through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ, unique external evidence of betrothal for divine union was manifested.
[i] Holy Spirit is in the genitive case. The Greek genitive case is one of possession and/or source. Without an enabling Greek preposition, as here, the translation filled "with" the Holy Spirit is not warranted. It should be translated filled "of" or "from" the Holy Spirit. As the Eastern groom's mother gave the prospective bride a personal gift to seal the betrothal contract it was the gift of Spirit from the feminine Holy Spirit that, on that day, sealed the betrothal contract with the 12 apostles and about three thousand others. See: Smyth, H.W., A Greek Grammar for Colleges, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1956 Pt 2, Chpt 11, #203
Also, in this verse, the word "speak" is in the Greek middle voice. The active voice shows that the subject of the sentence acted upon the object and the passive voice shows that the subject was acted upon while the middle voice shows that both the subject acted and was acted upon. The middle voice is not distinctly present in western languages but in the Greek and Semitic languages it is clearly marked by variations in spelling in the Greek or jots and tittles in the Semitic. This seems noteworthy in that both the Greek and Eastern cultures gave deeper thought to spiritual realities of being acted upon as they were acting.
[ii] Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, Strong, J. Gk #4972
[iii] Trumbull, H. C., Studies In Oriental Social Life and Gleams from the East on the Sacred Page, John D. Wattles & Co., Phildelphia, 1894 p.33