All Churches in New Testament Filled with Spirit and Tongues

All the churches in the New Testament were filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues.

This may come as a shock to many modern day believers in Christ Jesus. In the first century, there was only one church. Only one denomination–a Pentecostal or charismatic church.

Today, the religious landscape is crowded with denominations. We have Baptists, Lutherans, Catholics, and whatever, in almost every town. Some even consider Pentecostals to be “fringe’s,” “or on the “fringe” of things. However, in the New Testament era, it was the opposite. All the churches were Charismatic or Pentecostal. Let’s examine the evidence.

Before probing the evidence, I plan to show three historical facts: 1)Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit. 2)Jesus fulfilled His promise on the day of Pentecost. 3)Jesus’ promise included speaking in tongues.

Jesus Promised to Send the Holy Spirit

Jesus often spoke of the Holy Spirit and promised to send Him [in the future].

John answered and said to them all, “As for me, I baptize you with water; but One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to untie the thong of His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire” Luke 3:16 NAS1995.

Nevertheless, I am telling you the truth. It is for your benefit that I go away, because if I don’t go away the Counselor will not come to you. If I go, I will send him to you John 16:7CSB.

I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever John 14:16 NAS1995.

These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues Mark 16:17 NAS1995.

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him? Luke 11:13 NAS1995

And while staying with them He [Jesus] ordered them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, He said, “you heard from me, for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.” ESV Acts 1:4-5

On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink.  Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”  By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified NIV John 7:37-38.

The Promise of the Spirit Fulfilled

When the day of Pentecost arrived, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance ESV Acts 2:1ff.

Jesus understood the promise recorded in Luke 3:16 to be the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. From the very beginning, the promise of the Holy Spirit included speaking in tongues!

But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel: ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams;
even on my male servants and female servants
in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy
ESV Acts 2:16—18.

Peter thus identified the outpouring of the Spirit [on Pentecost] as the long-awaited promise that God would send the Holy Spirit.

Jesus Fulfilled His Promise by Simultaneously Pouring out the Holy Spirit and Tongues

Jesus taught in Acts 1:4-5 that His promise to send the Holy Spirit included speaking in tongues. How do we know? Because He gave them together at the same time, in the same event. We call this event Pentecost. It marked the birthday of the Christian church.

The outpouring of the Holy Spirit and the manifestation of tongues came simultaneously. The Spirit and tongues came at the same time. They are part and parcel of the same event.

Jesus taught Nicodemus (recorded in John 3) that the Spirit is like wind. Nobody can see the Holy Spirit; people can see only the signs He is there. This is the way it is with the Spirit; nobody can see the Spirit; tongues are the sign He is there.

Coupled together, the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues comprise the foundation of the church.

Tongues were the outward sign of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost. Tongues are the outward sign of the Holy Spirit in our day.

Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured out this that you yourselves are seeing and hearing ESV Acts 2:33.

This Scripture is key to understand the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Some folks try to separate the Holy Spirit from God-given tongues. Jesus made no separation.

The Spirit and the tongues which they saw and heard which the resurrected and ascended Christ poured out was none other than what He and the Father had promised. Make no doubt, they could not see nor hear the Spirit, but they could hear the speaking in tongues and see the speakers.

Now when they [the Jews, none of whom believed Jesus was Christ and Lord,] heard [Peter’s message declaring the Risen Lord Jesus was the Giver of both the Spirit and the tongues], they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” And Peter said to them, “Repent [of your unbelief] and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself” ESV Acts 2:37-39.

Notice the reiteration of the term “promise.” Peter invited them all to receive the promise.

The Father Promised to Send the Holy Spirit and Fulfilled His Promise by Sending the Spirit and Tongues at the Same Time

Jesus promised, I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper [Greek parakletos] that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth John 14:16-17 NAS1995.

And again, the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name. . . . John 14:26 NAS1995.

Peter testified the following word on the day of Pentecost after the Holy Spirit and the tongues of praise were simultaneously given:

Therefore having been exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He has poured forth this which you both see and hear Acts 2:33 NAS1995.

The Apostles Affirm All Churches in New Testament Be Filled with Spirit and Tongues

Now when the apostles at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent to them Peter and John, who came down and prayed for them that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for he had not yet fallen on any of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit. Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, saying, “Give me this power also, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit” ESV Acts 8:14-19.

Who were these apostles at Jerusalem? They were the original eleven apostles [Peter and John and James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot and Judas the son of James (ESV Acts 1:13), plus the newly-appointed Matthias (Acts 1:26).

Together, these twelve came to a significant and far-reaching conclusion: something was lacking with the revival in Samaria! Their response was didactic for the entire church throughout the centuries. If subsequent leaders and pastors had learned and taken similar action, the church could have preserved her God-given power throughout the centuries.

What action did the twelve apostles take? They immediately designated two of their top leaders as emissaries to Samaria to rectify matters according to God’s will. Peter and John accepted the call and travelled to Samaria. Upon arrival, they prayed, and laid their hands on them [the Samaritans] and they were receiving the Holy Spirit.

How could the 12 apostles know that these recently-saved Samaritan converts had not received the Holy Spirit?

How could Simon tell they [the Samaritans] were receiving the Holy Spirit?  It was something objective and overt because Simon was not a spiritually sensitive nor mature believer. However, the sign was clear enough for him to offer cash to Peter and John. The apostles recognized the event as part of the continuing outpouring of the gift that accompanied the immersion of the Holy Spirit. More about this in a moment.

Nor was this event any mystery to Peter and John. They recognized a pattern developing: What Peter recognized and preached from the scriptures (Acts 3:24), what happened at Pentecost, also occurred in Samaria by the supernatural action of Jesus Christ. Receive the Holy Spirt and tongues also come. As Robert Ewing, apostle and founder of the Church of the Living Water used to say, “Get a new pair of shoes, and the tongues come with it!”

Later, Peter responding to criticism for eating with the Gentile Cornelius, defended himself by saying, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them just as He did upon us at the beginning. And I remembered the word of the Lord, how He used to say, ‘John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ Acts 11:15-16 NAS1995.

Therefore, if God gave them the same gift [Holy Spirit coupled with tongues] as He also gave to us after believing in the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could stand in God’s way? NASB Acts 11:15-17  When they heard this, they had no further objections and praised God, saying, “So then, even to Gentiles God has granted repentance that leads to life.” NIV Acts 11:18.

The fact that Jesus Christ from heaven sent His Holy Spirit complete with the evidence of speaking in tongues convinced the apostles of the reality of the conversion of this group of Gentiles. Think of it: Speaking in tongues was the objective reality which confirmed to Peter and the others with him that God had in fact saved the Gentiles. Speaking in tongues became central to the unity of the early church. Without tongues, the early church may have been divided along ethnic lines.

The significance of speaking in tongues for the apostles cannot and should not be disregarded. The greatest threat to the unity of the church at this early point in Christian history was the dividing line between Jewish Christians and Gentile believers. This division had brought ripples between the two ethnic groups as early as Acts chapter 6. The rift was repaired at that time by the appointment of Greek proselytes to the oversight of the food distribution ministry for the widows. Now the ethnic division was ready to erupt again. Aware of the brewing threat of division, Jesus from heaven doubled down and sent His Holy Spirit complete with tongues to preserve the unity of the early church. Notice it was not the Spirit alone. Speaking in tongues was the necessary and outward sign that the Holy Spirit had in reality been poured out.

While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit fell upon all those who were listening to the message. All the Jewish believers who came with Peter were amazed, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had also been poured out on the Gentiles. For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God. Then Peter responded, “Surely no one can refuse the water for these to be baptized, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we did, can he?” NAS Acts 11:44-47.

The Apostle Paul Affirms All Churches in New Testament Filled with Spirit and Tongues

Paul also understood the baptism in the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues as a simultaneous event. When people were filled with the Holy Spirit they also spoke in tongues.

Consequently, he followed the same practice as the original twelve apostles. In Acts 19:1-7 we read the instructive account of Paul’s actions when he found some disciples in Ephesus. And he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” They said, “Into John’s baptism.” And Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, Jesus.” On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. There were about twelve men in all NAS1995 Acts 19:1-7.

We have no reason to believe this was an isolated incident. Paul’s pattern was to make sure those associated with Christ were filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues.

After all, this same Paul was the champion tongue-speaker of all time. He was filled with the Spirit within hours of his dramatic encounter with the Lord Jesus on the highway to Damascus. in a further life-changing episode. Here’s the scene. On the highway, Jesus powerfully revealed Himself to Saul (Paul). Christ claimed I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. Rise and enter the city and it will be told you what you must do.

Paul was blind and in shock. For three days He saw nothing. Other men had to lead him by the hand. How humiliating! His immediate purpose in life [to punish and murder disciples of the Lord] was suddenly removed from him. He must have been an emotional wreck. For three days he neither ate nor drank.

Into that confusing situation. God sent a disciple named Ananias to the troubled Saul. Upon entering the premises, Ananias addressed the distraught man and called him a brother. Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road has sent me so that you can regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit. This was about 3 years after Pentecost.  Obviously, Ananias was a Spirit-filled man, experienced in the matters of the Holy Spirit. He obeyed God in a scary assignment. As a result, Saul not only received his sight, but was filled with the Holy Spirit about 72 hours into his conversion experience. In the letter we call 1 Corinthians, Paul (Saul), relates that he himself became the most prolific tongue speaker.

Without a doubt, tongues meant a lot to Paul. He had his own life-changing experience when Ananias laid hands on him. More of Paul’s words about tongues are recorded in the Bible than any other person. His teachings are the basis for much of our understanding about speaking in tongues today.

The Lord gave Paul clear directions regarding the Spirit-filled life. He concludes the longest instruction in the New Testament regarding speaking in tongues with a reminder of God’s commandments to him (1 Cor 14:33-34). It appears from these verses along with 1 Cor 7:17 and 1 Cor 11:16 that he gave similar teaching in all the churches.

Paul was the greatest proponent of the Spirit-filled life and ministry of speaking tongues in the entire New Testament. The only rival for this honor is Luke, the author of the gospel bearing his name and the book of Acts.

The Bible and the Early Church Affirm All Churches in New Testament Filled with Spirit and Tongues

Wherever the gospel was preached and Christ accepted, people spoke in tongues (Mark 16:15-17). This is similar to much of third-world Christianity today.

Many of the references above are quotes from the book of Acts. This book, written by Luke, was readily accepted by the early church. It was regarded as canonical along with the books of Luke and Matthew, Mark and John. Few writers other than the heretic Maricon disputed the canonization of the book of Acts. This book was from the beginning accepted as authoritative.

The four criteria for canonicity commonly cited are apostolic authenticity, orthodoxy [doctrinal accuracy], antiquity, and liturgical usage by earlier Church Fathers and churches.

As demonstrated above, the bible including the book of Acts, shows Jesus sending the Holy Spirit coupled with speaking in tongues. The early church readily adopted the book of Acts into the canon.

Many have attempted, even today, to separate tongues from the Holy Spirit. The Bible does not allow this separation. In fact, tongues and the Holy Spirit are glued together with superglue by the Bible and the early church.

The Church Fathers Affirm All Churches in New Testament Filled with Spirit and Tongues

Many regard Saint Augustine as one of the greatest intellects of all time. At one point he doubted the miraculous and gifts of the Spirit. Yet in 427 AD, just a couple years before he died, in his book ‘Retractions’ he wrote of all the miracles and power he had seen that had changed his mind. 

Augustine, the great Catholic bishop from 396-430 A.D. wrote in his famous work The City of God, “Who expects that . . .We shall do what the apostles did when they laid hands on the Samaritans and called down the Holy Spirit on them by the laying on of hands. It is expected that new converts speak with new tongues.”

John Chrysostom (347- 407 AD) was a notable Christian bishop and preacher from the 4th and 5th centuries in Syria and Constantinople and also makes a direct connection between receiving the Spirit, tongues and increasing use of spiritual gifts.

“…Well: what did happen then? Whoever was baptized he straightway spake with tongues and not with tongues only, but many also prophesied, and some also performed many other wonderful works… they [the Corinthians] at once on their baptism received the Spirit…And one straightway spake in the Persian, another in the Roman, another in the Indian, another in some other such tongue: and this made manifest to them that were without that it is the Spirit in the very person speaking…. For as the Apostles themselves had received this sign first, so also the faithful went on receiving it, I mean, the gift of tongues; yet not this only but also many others: inasmuch as many used even to raise the dead and to cast out devils and to perform many other such wonders: and they had gifts too, some less, and some more. But more abundant than all was the gift of tongues among them…” (“Saint Chrysostom: Homily on the Epistles of Paul to the Corinthians,” Phillip Schaff, 1889. Volume 12, Homily 29 NPNF 168-169).

What are the Names of the New Testament Churches Filled with the Holy Spirit and Speaking in Tongues?

To claim that all the churches of the New Testament were Spirit-filled and talking in tongues is a huge and astounding claim. Yes, and also, an an eye-opening assertion. If true, what are the implications for churches today? If true, what does this mean for you?

There are 21 local churches named in the pages of the New Testament. Other churches are alluded to in passing, but only these 21, by my count, are named as local churches in the New Testament. For this study, I define a local church as a church in a specific city as opposed to a general region or broader area.

Please check the list and feel free to add or subtract from it. If the Bible specifically calls them a church, I have included that church on this list. If the Bible does not explicitly call them a church, they are not on the list.

This does not mean that no other churches existed in the New Testament era. For example, Acts 15:41 asserts Paul was traveling through Syria and Cilicia [each a broad area], strengthening the churches. Those churches are simply not designated as local churches.

So–Who are the 21 Local Churches Named in the New Testament Filled with the Spirit and Speaking in Tongues?

In Galatians 3:1-5 Paul indicates four Galatian churches had all received the Holy Spirit through faith. He wrote the letter we call “Galatians” to these churches to anchor and amplify the foundational work of Jesus Christ in these churches and their members.

Remember Jesus, ascended and seated on His heavenly throne, made no separation between the Holy Spirit and tongues on the day He dispatched the Spirit on the day of Pentecost. To receive the Spirit included speaking in tongues.

Lystra: Acts 14:6; Gal 1:2

Antioch of Pisidia: Acts 13:14; Gal 1:2

Iconium: Acts 14:21-23, Gal 1:2

Derbe: Acts 14:20; Gal 1:2

Let’s go on to other local churches named in the New Testament.

Antioch, Syria: Acts 11:26, Acts 13:1 Antioch became the mother church, the model for subsequent missionary work. Acts 13:1-4 describes the Spirit filled culture of the church and how they operated.

Cenchrea: Rom 16:1 When I first started this article, I planned to show that all churches in the New Testament were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. I wanted to give evidence for that fact in all the named churches in the New Testament, but I can not provide evidence for the church in Cenchrea.

There only two New Testament references to the church in Cenchrea. Romans 16:1 is one, and another where Paul mentions a haircut! (Acts 18:18). Simply stated, there is no evidence to make any claim for the church in Cenchrea. On the other hand, there is also no evidence that the church was not filled with the Spirit and speaking in tongues. Maybe someday someone will excavate the city and find a rock that claims “all the church in Cenchrea was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues!” Would that rock convince anyone?

Here’s what the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia has to say about Cenchrea: A local church must have been established there by Paul, since Phoebe, the deaconess of Cenchrea, was entrusted with the Epistle to the Romans, and was commended to them in the highest terms by the apostle, who charged them to “assist her in whatsoever matter she may have need” (Romans 16:1,2).

Colossae: Col 1:2, 1:24, Philemon 1;2

The Holy Spirit is mentioned only once in Paul’s Colossian letter and the mention is significant. In verses 6 and 7 Paul is referring to God the Father and Christ Jesus. The reference to The Spirit in verse 8 completes the Trinity in the minds of the Colossian believers.

Epaphras evangelized in the area of the Lycos Valley. He is called a bond servant, beloved, and a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf (Col 1:7, 4:13). Christ, the resurrected and ascended One who had received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father had already poured out the Holy Spirit and tongues about 32 years earlier. Epaphras, as a faithful servant of Christ would not hesitate to minister the Spirit and tongues to the people and churches he was evangelizing. This he would do as a faithful servant of Christ and in behalf of Paul (Col 1:7).

Paul poured his life into Epaphras. He was Paul’s spokesman and trainee. It is unthinkable that this man, loyal and trained by the master church planter, would not minister the life of the Spirit in Colossae and beyond. To have done otherwise would mark him as “unfaithful” or “untrained.”

Corinth: Acts 18:1, 1 Cor 12-14 illustrates the depth of the instruction regarding tongues and the Spirit in this particular local church. No one doubts the church in Corinth was filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. This church merely needed instructions on how do manage it wisely. As Larry Christiansen has said, “The correction for misuse of tongues is not disuse, but proper use.”

The Corinthian church had a plethora of problems. I Corinthians exposes myth and misunderstanding that the fullness of the Spirit and speaking in tongues makes one a “super-Christian.” Instead, the Spirit and tongues prepares a person for service.

Crete: Titus 1:5 Paul identifies Titus as “my true child in a common faith.” “Like father, like son” we say today. The Holy Spirit and tongues were extremely significant in Paul’s life and ministry. Certainly, the great apostle passed these on to his true child in a common faith. Further, in Titus 3:5 “renewing by the Holy Spirit” is mentioned. Without a doubt, Titus understood and ministered the Holy Spirit and tongues to the Cretan churches.

If Titus had not brought the good news of the Spirit and tongues to Crete, he would not have brought the same (common) faith as Paul. Further, he would not be a “true child” of the apostle Paul. If Titus had failed to minister the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues to Crete, he would properly be called a “wayward child.”

Caesarea Acts 18:22 Caesarea was a ‘Holy Spirit hotspot” along the Mediterranean coast. Phillip ended up in Caesarea after the Holy Spirit transported him (Acts 8:39-40). He also had four unmarried daughters who prophesied in the area. In this city an angel visited Cornelius, the God-fearing Roman centurion. There Peter ate possibly his first meal with non-Jewish people, thus breaking barriers. The Holy Spirit fell on the household of Cornelius, giving them the gift of tongues, thereby breaking barriers and demonstrating to the Jewish believers that God accepted Gentiles into the faith. Also, Paul was kept in prison there for about two years during which he boldly testified about Christ before Roman authorities.

Taken individually or together, all these facts point directly to tongues in this “Holy Spirit hotspot.”

Jerusalem: Acts 2:5 Jerusalem is the site of the Pentecostal outpouring where it all began. The apostles were commanded not to depart from the city until they were “endued with power from on high,” which is a Biblical description of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. How long these Spirit-filled and tongue-talking apostles lingered in Jerusalem, we are not told. We do know, however, that at least some of them were in Jerusalem for the Council of Jerusalem more than twenty years later in 49AD. Obviously, the Jerusalem church had a Spirit-filled emphasis.

Let’s consider the seven churches of Asia named in Revelation 2 and 3. Were these Spirit-filled churches? Did members speak in tongues? If so, what is the evidence?

First, as we have noted earlier, Jesus laid the foundation of His church (Spirit and tongues) at Pentecost. And what a marvelous foundation for these churches in “Asia,” the western area of modern-day Turkey. Christianity endured throughout twenty centuries and continued uninterrupted for almost 2000 years until the nationalist takeover under Kemal Ataturk in 1923!

The charge to each and all the pastors (Greek=angelos, messengers) of these churches is identical: He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

Remember, none other than Paul was the instigator and founding apostle of all these churches. All seven were built on his founding work and philosophy of what a church should be (Ephesians 2:20). Together with the Lord Jesus Christ, the apostle Paul was the founder of these next seven local churches.

In fact, an unusual revival originated in Ephesus and spread throughout the region lasting for two to three years. The miracle-fed revival was so extraordinary that handkerchiefs or aprons were even carried from [Paul’s] body to the sick, and diseases left them and the evil spirits went out Acts 19:12 NAS1995. Even more remarkable, the revival was so widespread that all who lived in Asia [the region of the seven churches in the western-most area of modern Turkey] heard the word of the Lord, both Jews and Greeks Acts 19:10 NAS1995.

So the word of the Lord was growing mightily and prevailing Acts 19:20 NAS1995. The word of the Lord was the full gospel of salvation, healing, deliverance, the baptism of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues which Paul preached.

Let’s look at these seven churches together. Every one of the original members of these churches was most likely converted in the Ephesian revival. He would have witnessed the miracles, spoken in tongues, and been caught up in the life-changing revival. But, as time progressed, some began to cool off. The Scriptures relate the story . . . .

The charge to each and all the pastors (Greek=angelos, messengers) of these churches is identical: He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

God, the Holy Spirit, is calling the people through their preachers to renew their first love for Him. He is exposing their sin and distractions and enjoining the members to renew the power and prayer language they first enjoyed.

Laodicea: Rev1:11, Col 4:15

Pergamum: Rev 1:11

Philadelphia: Rev 1:11

Sardis: Rev 1:11

Smyrna: Rev 1:11

Thyatira: Rev1:11; Acts 16:14

Jesus filled this man, a former terrorist, with the Holy Spirit and tongues within hours of His encounter on the Syrian Road. The apostle Paul laid the Spirit-filled, tongue-speaking foundation (Hebrews 6:2) in each of these churches, together with Ephesus which follows.

Ephesus: Acts 18:19 Priscilla and Aquila, a husband and wife team lived in Ephesus. They took the mighty Apollos under their wing. He was a powerful preacher visiting from Egypt. But Apollos was acquainted only with the baptism of John the Baptist. So Priscilla and Aquila took him aside and explained to him the way of God more accurately. What was the way of God that they explained more accurately to Apollos? From the context we learn it was the ministry of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues. (Acts 18:24-19:7)

It’s also important to recall that many scholars consider the Ephesian letter to be a circular letter to churches of the entire area, not only to the church in Ephesus, but also to the believers in Laodicea, Hierapolis, (Colossians 4:16) Pergamum, Philadelphia, Sardis, Smyrna, Thyatira and beyond. In the Ephesian letter (Eph 5:18) Paul enjoins the people Be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another [or yourselves] in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. He thereby confirms his earlier ministry by encouraging the continuous outflow of the Holy Spirit.

As Dr. Charles Ryrie writes in the introduction to the letter of Paul to the Ephesians, “An Encyclical. Several things indicate that Ephesians was a circular letter, a doctrinal treatise in the form of a letter, to the churches in Asia Minor.”

Thessalonica: 1 Thes 1:1 Was the church in Thessalonica filled with Spirit and Tongues? If so, what is the evidence?

Paul, Silvanus and Timothy, the foremost church planters of the New Testament era came to Thessalonica about 49 AD at the zenith of their church planting efforts. God moved in demonstrable fashion. He backed up the gospel they preached with power [signs and wonders] and in the Holy Spirit 1 Thes 1:5 NAS.

The combo of the Holy Spirit and the gospel message created a mighty impact on the people of the town. Converts became imitators of Paul and the Lord. Jesus was the Baptizer of the Spirit and Giver of tongues. They imitated Him and passed on His ministry beyond their local region.

They also imitated Paul who imparted the Holy Spirit and tongues wherever he went. The Thessalonians received the word . . .with the joy of the Holy Spirit 1 Thes 1:6 NAS. Overflowing joy is one of the hallmarks of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. To be sure, not everyone overflows with joy at their initial baptism in the Holy Spirit. I didn’t. But the experience of joy is so common and profound that people have come to expect it and even doubt the reality of the Spirit if not accompanied by some type of ecstasy.

Paul knew that the Thessalonian converts had received the Spirit and spoke in tongues when he wrote his letter shortly after leaving town. He warned, Do not quench the Spirit 1 Thes 5:19 NAS1995. The apostle followed this exhortation with Do not despise prophetic utterances 1 Thes 5:19 NAS1995. Most acquainted with the gifts of the Spirit know that tongues stirs and creates the gift of prophecy.

In conclusion, evidence aplenty indicates the church in Thessalonica was filled with the Spirit and tongues.

Philippi: Phil 4:15 Was the church in Philippi filled with the Holy Spirit and praying in tongues? No explicit evidence exists to corroborate these facts. Nonetheless, Scripture drops definitive clues.

First, the Philippian church was close to Paul, like his “favorite” or “pet” church. Three times they helped him financially. What other church did that? And Paul’s letter to the church in Philippi is the most personal of any letter from him to any church. While his letter does include some chastisement, there is no hint of any frustration on the part of the author. Contrast this with His letter to the Galatian churches. My point is this. Frustration is the result of a ‘blocked drive.” If the Philippians were refusing to open themselves to the ministry of the Spirit, the great apostle would have become obsessed with instruction and encouragement to practice speaking in tongues. None of that is present. Nothing, Nada. Not a hint.

Second, and on the other hand, we find Paul very much encouraging the church in Philippi. The things you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you Phil 4:9NAS95. To make it explicit, Paul is saying “You have seen and heard me speak in tongues. You learned the Holy Spirit from me, now practice what you have learned!

Here’s a third clue indicating the church in Philippi was in fact a Spirit filled church. In Philippians 3:3, the apostle writes, for we are the true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh. This is a backhand way of claiming the church in Philippi was walking in the Spirit together with Paul and his team. Paul often contrasts the flesh with the Spirit (Gal 5:24-25; Gal 516-17; Rom 7-8). Here he claims the Philippians are in fact a Spirit-filled, as opposed to a fleshly, people.

Speaking in tongues was the norm among early Christians. It was universal. It was so common that Paul often did not mention it explicitly. It was “taken for granted.” As Augustine reported almost 300 years after Christ, “It is expected that new converts speak with new tongues.”

Rome: Romans 16:5 I know of no scholar who doubts the fact that the local churches in Rome (which together constituted the corporate church in the Imperial city) were Spirit-filled and spoke in tongues.

The Holy Spirit is referred to frequently in the Paul’s Roman letter, in fact, 24 times in some translations. (Other times the word “spirit” refers to the human spirit.) This includes 17 times in the famous eighth chapter of Romans.

Romans 8:26-27 contain the well-known phrases we do not know how to pray as we ought and He (the Spirit) Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words and He intercedes for us according to the will of God. These are commonly understood by many to refer to speaking in tongues.

Furthermore, at one time Aquila and Priscilla lived in Rome Acts 18:2 NAS1995. Consequently, we know from scripture that at least part of the Roman church was filled with the Spirit and spoke in tongues.

Paul makes clear in his epistle before coming to the city one of his primary motivations for visiting Rome: For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established [strengthened] Romans 1:11 NAS1995;

Speaking in tongues is generally the precursor to the other charismatic gifts. Here we find St Paul saying, “You already speak in tongues. I want to visit you to build on what you already are experiencing. Don’t stop with just speaking in tongues. I want you to continue on and receive words of knowledge, prophecy and the other gifts of the Spirit.”

In Conclusion, Were all Churches in the New Testament Filled with the Holy Spirit and Speaking in Tongues?

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