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Tongues of Angels


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If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. —1 Corinthians 13:1

What language do angels speak? I wouldn’t even try to guess, but if I did, I’d say Hebrew. Hebrew, after all, is the first language through which God has revealed himself to us, and I think it’s safe to say (though not with complete confidence) that it was Adam’s language, which he learned from God, but even if that is so, it doesn’t prove that Hebrew is the language of heaven. That’s one discussion we could have over this verse. Or, if we’re a little loopy, we could claim it as proof that “tongues” in the New Testament aren’t limited to known languages.

But none of that is remotely relevant. It simply is not the point.

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When he speaks of the tongues of angels, he uses a hyperbolical expression to denote what is singular, or distinguished. At the same time, I explain it rather as referring to the diversity of languages, which the Corinthians held in much esteem, measuring everything by ambition—not by fruit. “Make yourself master,” says he, “of all the languages, not of men merely, but even of Angels. You have, in that case, no reason to think that you are of higher estimation in the sight of God than a mere cymbal, if you have not love.”

Calvin’s Commentaries Volume XX, Commentary on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Corinthians (Baker Books, 2009), 1:419.



Posted 2019·10·09 by David Kjos
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Posted in: 1 Corinthians · Calvin’s Commentaries: 1 Corinthians · Charismania · John Calvin

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