Questions From Readers
● Was the gift of tongues in the early church always manifested in languages used by men, or was it sometimes evidenced in tongues foreign to all men?—L. S., New York.
Paul wrote: “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but do not have love, I have become a sounding piece of brass or a clashing cymbal.” (1 Cor. 13:1, NW) Here Paul made a distinction between the tongues of men and the tongue of angels, and certainly the latter would not be understood by men. Yet it is evident that the gift of tongues by the spirit sometimes enabled men to speak in the tongue of angels. It is possible that at the time of Pentecost when the spirit was poured out some spoke in the tongue of angels, which because of its strangeness to human ears brought forth the charge that the Christians were intoxicated. Certainly drunkenness could not be used to explain the sudden ability to speak in various human languages, though it might be cited by scoffers as inspiring speech that was unintelligible to all human ears. (Acts 2:1-13) Without the gift of interpretation, it would edify no man, but would be as “a sounding piece of brass or a clashing cymbal”.—1 Cor. 12:10.
● Were not the gifts of tongues, healing, etc., to continue after the time of the apostles, according to Jesus’ words at Mark 16:17, 18?—A. J., Pennsylvania.
The authenticity of these verses is questionable, since Mark 16:8 ends with verse 8 in the old and reliable manuscripts Vatican 1209 and Sinaitic, though Mr 16 verses 9-20 do appear in the Alexandrine and other ancient manuscripts and versions. However, even these questionable verses cited in the above question do not say such things would continue after the apostles, but only after Jesus. These gifts to the early church could not have continued long after the death of the apostles, for it was only through the apostles that such gifts were passed on to others. (Acts 8:7-21; 19:6) Paul specifically said such gifts would not continue on: “Whether there are gifts of prophesying, they will be done away with; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will be done away with.” (1 Cor. 13:8, NW) The gist of Paul’s reasoning in the remainder of this chapter is that such miraculous gifts of the spirit were given to establish the early church while in its infancy, but that once established and mature it would no longer need such gifts of tongues, healing, etc., to maintain or bolster it up.
● If there is to be no resurrection of the wicked, why did The Watchtower quote Acts 24:15 from An American Translation, which reads: “There is to be a resurrection of the upright and the wicked”?—An Ohio reader.
We see no reason to be disturbed over the use of “wicked” in connection with the resurrection. We cannot be held down to one meaning and one application by the word “wicked”. It all depends upon whether the wickedness is deliberate and persisted in right along or whether it is done otherwise.
For example, Ephesians 6:16 speaks of the “fiery darts of the wicked”, and uses the Greek word ponerós; in fact, 1 John 2:13, 14; 3:12; 5:18, 19 all speak of the “wicked one”, using ponerós and meaning Satan the Devil. And yet in addressing his disciples in the sermon on the mount Jesus said to them: “If ye then, being evil [ponerós], know how to give good gifts unto your children,” etc. (Matt. 7:11; Luke 11:13) He also said God made his “sun to rise on the evil [ponerós] and on the good”. (Matt. 5:45; Luke 6:35) Colossians 1:21 tells us that we were once enemies of God “in your mind by wicked [ponerós] works”. Also Ezekiel 18:21, 23 says: “But if the wicked will turn from all his sins that he hath committed, and keep all my statutes, and do that which is lawful and right, he shall surely live, he shall not die. Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live?”
So we see that those who wrote the Bible used the words meaning wickedness or to be wicked in a general way sometimes, to include those who can be recovered to righteousness and spared from Gehenna. So An American Translation has committed no grave doctrinal error in speaking of a “resurrection of . . . the wicked”, neither The Watchtower in quoting that translation. Certainly here could not be meant deliberately wicked ones beyond the point of reformation, as referred to by Psalm 145:20: “All the wicked will he destroy.”
● In view of what Deuteronomy 4:15-23 has to say about the making of any graven image, would it be considered Scripturally correct to make photographs of individuals for display purposes of any sort, or for other uses?—P. S., Indiana.
The prohibitions as to the making of images had to do specifically with the making of images for the purposes of worship. The Israelites were not prevented from making images for other purposes, but since image-making in those times was almost invariably of an idolatrous nature, there was little image-making among the Israelites. However, there were images or likenesses of cherubim in the tabernacle, both on the hangings and on the cover of the ark. Solomon made images of oxen to support the laver for the temple, and images of lions for his throne. It would be far-fetched to connect the taking of photographs for any purpose, other than worship, of course, with the making of idols. Photography, painting and sculpturing can serve useful or artistic purposes in accurately depicting persons or things. Pictures are often educational, and it is said that a picture tells more than a thousand words.